3 November 2001 (Bob)
again - finally! Monday morning we pulled out of Raffles Marina after 1
months of collecting barnacles and other growth on our bottom and set sail north
to Phuket. We traveled in company of our friends Peter and Jeanette from
the schooner Voyager. The high (low?) lights of the week?
Pulau Pisang - Anchored at the end of
the first day of motoring, the NE corner offered a peaceful scene within
hearing range of the shore birds and we relaxed and watched a large school
of dolphins feeding or mating (we were not sure) around our boat. When the typical thunderstorm blew
through at 1 AM the anchorage turned nasty, with 3' waves threatening to
pull our anchor loose and making sleep impossible. Voyager felt they
were too close to the island and pulled out at 0130 while we hung on until
0730 and continued to motor north.
Pulau Besar - We had to really push
this day - 65 miles is a bit much for one day, and we pulled in just as the
sun dipped below the horizon. This anchorage was a little more
sheltered, so the nightly thunderstorm only created 2' waves. We all
hung on until morning and set out for...
Port Dickson - After 2 nights at windy
anchorages, we were again ready for the luxury of a marina, so we pulled
into Admiral Marina in Port Dickson. Another high-class spot
with swimming pool, cold beer, nightly movies (some ghastly), a place to
meet cruisers, and a center for travel around Malaysia. Well-run by an
Australian couple, this is a very nice place. The weekend brought a
dozen racing boats to the annual ASEAN Regatta and Mumm 30's and a Farr 40
vied for line honors and beer consumption records.
Melaka - We hired a taxi and went 80
km south to visit this historic tourist town on the coast. Originally
established as a Malay/Arab trading port, it drew waves of colonial powers
as Portugal, Holland, and Britain exchanged control from the 1500's until
Malaysia was granted independence in the 1950's. The town has forts,
interesting architecture, antique shops galore, and root beer floats at
A&W. We had a good time, and probably should have stayed over
Next week: visit KL and prepare to continue
Ending 10 November 2001 (Judi)
was a recovery day after our whirlwind tour of the historical and quaint town of
Melaka. We planned and organized our trip to Kuala Lumpur (KL)
for Monday and
reserved a taxi to catch an "express" bus to KL. The rest of the
day was spent relaxing with friends around the beautiful pool at the marina and
watching movies in the small theater that they have at the resort. We
could definitely get used to this lifestyle.
early on Monday for our taxi ride to PD to catch the bus to KL. After some
confusion over whose taxi belonged to whom, we all finally jumped into one and
arrived at the bus station just as the bus was supposed to leave. But this
is Malaysian time and the bus finally left 45 minutes later. The trip was
supposed to be 1 1/2 hours in a luxury air-conditioned bus, but, in reality,
turned out to be 3 hours in a loud, dirty, air-con. bus. We arrived in
Chinatown, found our hotel and had lunch at a terrific little Chinese
Kuala Lumpur, the
capital of Malaysia, was not exactly what we had expected for a capital city,
but we spent 2 1/2 days exploring as much as we could. The highlights:
KL Tower - The main communications
tower in KL. Not very impressive itself, but it provides a panoramic
view of the entire city including the...
Petronas towers - these are the
tallest buildings in the world (although I believe there is a slightly
taller one now in Japan). They are built of stainless steel grid work
and are truly impressive. About 1/3 of the way up is a sky
bridge between the 2 towers and the public is allowed up only that far, but
you must get there early in the morning to get a pass as they only allow 400
people a day up there. We did not go, but were really impressed with
all the security in the buildings. It was eerie looking at them after
the attack and collapse on the NY world trade center buildings.
Historic, restored Malaysian house -
This house was a home of a village official about 100 years ago. The
family abandoned it and it was discovered, acquired, moved and completely
restored, piece by piece by the Kuala Lumpur Heritage society ( a
non--profit NGO). The design and workmanship was just beautiful
and this became the highlight of our trip to KL.
Cultural dinner and dance show at the
new Malaysia Tourist Information Centre. We enjoyed a wonderful
evening dining on traditional Malaysian food and being entertained with
custom dancers from all over Malaysia.
Night markets in Chinatown - This was
held on the street right outside of our hotel. Every night hundreds of
little stalls are set up and taken down in the early morning hours.
You can get all the pirated VCDs, DVDs, software you wanted, all packaged in
what looks to be original packaging, for $US1-2. Also available were
Gucci, Prada, Louis Vitton and other designer purses and clothes.
National Museum. OK, but it as a
little devoid of really good artifacts.
National Mosque - This as very
interesting. The public could go in as long as it was not
prayer-time. The men had to be suitably attired (long pants) and all
women had to don robes and head scarfs.
Railway Stations - The old station is
an architectural marvel, with a mixture of British empire and Turkish
motifs; the new one is shiny and modern.
We returned to Port Dickson by fast, clean,
modern commuter train from KL to Seremban. From there we took a 30 minute
taxi ride to the marina - a much more relaxing return trip. Our impression
of KL was, basically, that we were glad that we went, but that we would probably
not go back for another visit. A few more days of relaxing by the pool, a quick
top-up of our provisions, fuel up the boat and then continue to motor-sail up
the Malacca Strait to Port Klang.
Ending 17 November 2001 (Bob)
in cruising mode again! This week we made a couple of hundred miles
progress up the Straits. First to:
Klang - This is the main port of Malaysia and it services the capital of
Kuala Lumpur. We left Port Dickson at the crack of dawn and motored for 11
hours, tying up at a floating dock in front of the Royal Selangor
Yacht Club as a 2 1/2 knot current rushed by. The club was very pretty
and friendly and had good beer and food - we would recommend a stop-over even though it is a
little out of the way. We left just before the Raja Muda Regatta
(named after a Malaysian prince who circumnavigated on a Swan 68 in 1994-5).
- After 2 nights at the RSYC we steeled ourselves for an overnighter and
motor-sailed to Penang. This island was colonized by the British and
once vied with Singapore to be the prime settlement on the Malacca
Straits. Singapore won, and Penang settled into being a quaint
backwater. We found it to be delightful, with an exotic Chinatown and
Little India, Kampongs (houses on stilts that extend over the water) and lots of
'antique' shops. We walked a lot, bought some, and rode 'bumboats' (wooden runabouts
run people between their boats and the shore), grateful that we did not have to
run our dinghy in the strong current.
- Another overnighter that started with 15 knot winds and steep, square waves
brought us to Langkawi, a premiere vacation spot at the north end of the Malacca
Straits. We have just arrived, but we have already run into cruisers last
seen in Vanuatu, Fiji, American Samoa, Australia, Singapore, and probably more -
it is going to be hard to leave in a week (our current plan).
We are now 80% of the way to Phuket,
Ending 24 November 2001 (Bob)
Langkawi is a beautiful cruising
destination! A resort island that has been partially developed, it has
high peaks, beaches, rainforests and a few resorts around the edges.
Unfortunately the waters are fairly murky, probably due to high nutrient
levels. The outlying islands are heavily forested and used mainly by the
fishermen who ply the waters between them. The 'Lang' in its name
is for the beautiful sea eagle that soars over the anchorage looking for fish
that stray too close to the surface - it has a 5' wing-span and looks similar to
a bald eagle. The highlights of our visit so far:
Kuah - This is the main town on the
south side of Langkawi. It has a well-sheltered anchorage where 50+
yachts are spread out, some transients like ourselves and others
semi-permanent who thrive in warm waters and low-cost living. The town
is full of 'duty-free' stores where liquor may be bought at 1/2 the
Singapore price. During the day prayers are heard over the
loudspeakers at the mosque on shore as the faithful Muslims honor
Allah. The people have been friendly and our only problem has been
getting ashore. The dinghy dock we have been using is the subject of a
local dispute between the owners of the moorings we are using and the
(bankrupt) hotel we have to walk through to get to the street. So now
the dock sits, chained and unused, while they sort it out in court.
Thanksgiving - Judi prepared a
wonderful traditional Thanksgiving dinner, with turkey, stuffing,
vegetables, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and great apple pie to top it off -
delicious! We shared this with Jeanette and Peter, our friends from Voyager
who had to row their traditional skiff 1/2 mile cross the anchorage to visit
Birthday - Bob had a low-key birthday
(made somewhat traumatic by the fact that it is one of those that end in a
'0') and we celebrated with turkey left-overs!
Fresh Water lake - After a couple of
days at Kuah, a short sail took us to an anchorage on the West side of Pulau
Dayang Bunting. With the NE monsoon blowing this is the lee, or
protected side of the islands, but we were kept up much of the night as wind
gusts made us swing wildly at anchor, and a swell from the SW rocked us
severely - not much sleep that night! A walk to the lake revealed a
pretty swimming spot (full of resort tourists at the moment) and monkeys on
the trails watching the proceedings.
Pulau Gabang Dar - We decided to seek
shelter, and have tucked into a popular anchorage between Pulaus Dayng
Bunting and Gagang Dar (6°
11.1'N, 99° 47.2'E). Here we are in deep water
and sheltered by high cliffs all around us. It is very pretty although
we have not seen as much wildlife as we had hoped.
Next week we plan to hit (read the following!) a couple of other spots
in Langkawi and then set off for Phuket.
Ending 30 November 2001 (Bob)
This week ended with bang - quite
dramatically, but first the good news! Langkawi, we can see how people
can get trapped here for a year or more. We spent the week exploring new
anchorages and only touched the surface:
Fresh Water Lake - South
of the main island on Pulau Dayang Bunting is a fresh water lake, a short 10
minute walk from the sea. We anchored nearby in the lee of the island in a
quite pretty spot. Unfortunately swell came in from the sea to our
southwest and we rolled much of the night - probably rain squalls offshore that
built up the waves. The lake is quite pretty, but we arrived with a wave
of tourists from nearby resorts who swam and splashed and kept all wildlife well
hidden. Monkeys roam the trail looking for handouts from the visitors.
Fjord - South of the Fresh Water Lake is a pass between Pulau
Dayang Bunting and a small island that has steep cliffs like a fjord.
It was a beautiful spot with lots of birds, cicadas chirping, and sea eagles
fishing around us. It was one of the nicest and most protected places
we have seen in years.
Tengah - A short trip to north and we tucked into the SW corner of
Langkawi at a white sandy beach with cabanas and expensive-looking
anchorage is well protected and a short dinghy ride to resorts with cool
Royal Langkawi Yacht Club - Back to
civilization for a few groceries and prepare for the trip to Phuket.
This 'club' has an ideal spot, with bar and restaurants overlooking the
protected waters of Bass Harbour and unobstructed views of the scenic
sunsets. Unfortunately it has no breakwater, and the wakes from the
nearby ferry terminal make it a rolly place to berth. In any event,
they had no space, so we anchored for a couple of days as we rented a car
and toured the island and visited:
Datai Resort - a very beautiful
high class resort on the NW corner of the island with impeccable service and almost no customers; a
Seven Wells Waterfalls - a moderately
pretty set of waterfalls that can also be reached by foot from a nearby
anchorage. We were disappointed in the large amount of trash in
and around the water.
Gurung Raya - the highest peak on
the island (2500') with good views. The peak is covered with
Government buildings (looks like an officer's club) and satellite
control center, not tourist-friendly. We saw black-faced monkeys
with white eyebrows, unlike any others we have seen on the islands.
Rebak Marina - a short ferry ride
from the west coast, this is the only protected marina on the island and
about 150 boats enjoy the fully-protected lagoon and cheap food and
drinks. We decided to stay a couple of weeks and paint the bottom
here rather than in Phuket - fateful decision.
Up on a Reef! - On 29 Nov. we motored
around to Rebak and mid-afternoon we drove straight onto a reef 2-3' below
the surface at 6 1/2 knots. The tide was falling quickly, and we were
hard aground. Judi quickly checked to see if we were flooding (not
yet) and sent out a 'Pan Pan' (request for help) on the VHF radio. The yacht 'Ultimate
Warrior' responded and after an exciting hour was able to pull us off of
the reef. A quick damage assessment showed that we were taking on
water, at a slow rate, and our rudder was jammed so that we could not
steer. 'Ultimate Warrior' towed us the rest of the way to Rebak, and
here we wait to be hauled next Monday for repairs and the normal bottom
paint job. Full details can be found in our latest Up
on a Reef Horror Story. We consider ourselves VERY lucky that
we got off the reef with as little damage as we did, and really must thank Murray
and Chris on 'Ultimate Warrior' and the anonymous Malaysian fisherman
for saving our bacon that
day! And kudos also to SHANNON
BOAT COMPANY, the builder, who makes yachts that can take this kind
of abuse and suffer such small amount of damage!
So, we remain in Langkawi, hoping to make repairs
and get back in the water by 15 December - otherwise all workers here go on on
Holiday to celebrate the end of Ramadan until about Christmas day. Tune in
next week and see what happens.