Friday, 17 August 2007

Four countries in four months (and more maintenance)

Travel brings power and love back into your life - Rumi
Arriving back at Tanjung City Marina in downtown Georgetown, Penang, on the 13 August, we once more ponder our Malacca (Strait) Meanderings.
Mostly tranquil sundowners
This is our third trip anchoring nightly along this ‘allegedly’ pirate-infested haven. Nonsense! Not even during our roadside anchorages, often 8 miles from shore in 8m of water – literally the middle of nowhere – have we been concerned. With an occasional visit from Malaysia Maritim or the local fishermen to break the monotony, we enjoy the chance to get a good sleep each night before moving on.
We have affirmed a strange phenomenon however in our meanderings – irrespective of the monsoon season and no matter which way we are headed, the wind is ALWAYS from the direction in which we wish to go. 

So what have we been doing for four months?

(Country 1) Departing Phuket on the 5 April, now with a working gearbox, we had the chance to visit other islands, including Koh Mook's 'Emerald Cave' and Koh Rok Nok, in between playing dodgems with the fishing boats.
Hi there!
Limestone cliffs are stunning

The Emerald Cave (Tham Morakot) is a secret lagoon hidden inside the island, purportedly used by pirates eons ago. The only way in is an 80m pitch black tunnel with limited headroom. You have to row in as motors are not permitted.  Thailand really is a spectacular country. 
Inside the Emerald Cave
Koh Rok Nok is breathtaking
(Country 2) Arriving back in Kuah, we were just in time for the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA). This exhibition takes place every two years and attracts the military might of a number of countries.
Bombarded as we enter Bass Harbour
This was amazing!  What is it??
Aircraft carrier
Better dressed Destroyer

After this magnificent display, all from the deck of Tientos, we took on 773 litres of diesel at the fuel barge, stocked up with western goodies and alcohol at the Duty Free, caught up with friends at Bobo's for farewell drinks and headed south.  The video shows the massive storm that hit Kuah as we sat at the bar.

We ducked behind Pulau Song Song seeing a massive storm approaching. The anchorage got quite busy with the Malaysian navy and fishing boats doing the same thing.  Back in Penang, we returned to our same spot at Tanjung City Marina where we caught up with Jeff from Pussyfoot who brought our mail from Australia. 
A good omen?

Clearing out of Malaysia again at Admiral Marina, we were still beset with storms. 
Never ending storms

(Country 3) We returned to One 15 Marina in Singapore and caught up with promised drinks by Terrance the Marina Manager. The construction was coming along beautifully. As we had to collect our CAIT for Indonesia and our visas here it was another opportunity to spend money during our fortnight stay. 
Catching up with friends for dinner
The Merlion image by 'Sentosa'
The marina here makes it so easy to refill our gas bottles, and three needed replacing. We bought a new Bosch 120amp alternator and, as one of the house batteries had died, switched to the planned new 4 x 230amp Trojan AGM batteries, (remember the battery box we built in Thailand?) Lots of security in the Singapore Straits monitored our crossing to Indonesia.
Singapore Police Coast Guard
(Country 4) Clearing again into Nongsa Point Marina at Batam, we could see the devastation the storms had caused; the pontoons were badly damaged, but we still managed a berth. 
Limited berth options
Nothing wrong poolside

The Louisa Anne Hawker, a historic British Lifeboat dropped in for a visit. I was impressed with their bright-work and asked the Skipper if he had a full time crew. No, they just varnished periodically. This became the norm thereafter for all my bronze.
Louisa Anne Hawker
Ex Royal National Life Boat
Weddings are very big here with lots of pomp and glamour and photographers!
We graciously allowed Tientos to be used for a photo shoot provided they removed the high heels.
Our first wedding photo shoot
Sat Pol Air (the Water Police) came for a morning coffee and managed to spend the day with us but Keith had an amazing time (being ex Water Police in Melbourne) checking out their boat as well. They were to become firm friends, yelling 'Mama Lea' and 'Papa Keith' every time they saw us in Indonesian waters.  Love those friends in high places!
The local Water Police
Don't mess with these guys
Apart from finding other exotic locations in the Riau Islands, we thought about heading for Anak Krakatoa for a look. This was not to be. 

Tientos hits a reef! See our previous post.

While we waiting for our new winch, we also arranged new cushions and a new VHF. 
New cushions
Then it was back to the wonderful islands cruising through the Riau group and down to Pulau Tuju, enjoying meeting locals and having our private time. 
Local children aboard
Keith towed them home against the current
They all lived here
Location, location location
Another quiet beach
Private paradise
Until the neighbour dropped in
Another local among the rubbish
At the end of June, we had to return to Batam for me to fly to Melbourne to sort out a daughter's crisis. So for me it was a ferry to Singapore and First Class on Malaysia Airlines (they were running a special luckily).
Keith did a solo run with Tientos back to One 15 Marina to wait for my return. He hit 45 knots in the Strait with steep seas. Good one Keith! When I returned on 27 July, we had a problem clearing Singapore because I had flown in from Australia, but it was soon sorted.
Another rather uneventful trip back to Penang, with seemingly more avoidance tactics around fishing boats but we were ready to celebrate Merdeka.

May all your bars be wooden and well-stocked!