Still in the same place (between Pulau Rubiah & Pulau Weh) and we’ve been enjoying some lazy days. The good news is we also found some nice coral. Our daily schedule includes a leisurely breakfast, a snorkel or two – maybe a dive, reading and planning for our next few months of travel, some boat jobs, happy hour get togethers and dinners ashore.
We are sitting at anchor with four other boats that we sailed through Indonesia with in 2017. We shall all continue this year across the Indian Ocean towards South Africa. It’s been great to get together again and discuss our upcoming travel plans. We won’t all go the same way or leave at the same time but we shall continue to talk via SSB radio as we cross the Indian Ocean and meet up again in Madagascar or South Africa. We are also meeting other boats here that will transit the Indian Ocean this year. Several boats we know are taking a more northern route stopping at Sri Lanka and the Maldives and we’ll meet them again on the other side later in the year.
The weather has been rather benign - the occasional shower, mostly sunny skies and light breezes. The temperature ranges from about 33C during the day to 27C at night with high humidity. It doesn’t take much physical activity during the day to break a sweat. The best place to be is in the water!! The water temperature is about 30C so not real refreshing but very easy to soak in during the heat of the day. We often sleep the first half of the night on deck as it is just that little bit cooler than inside the boat.
We’ve been doing some diving with a local dive operation. They load up their boat with all the dive gear, pick us up from our boat and we are at a dive site within 10-20 minutes. Too easy!! Not fantastic coral or spectacular visibility but a pretty nice selection of fish and assorted sea critters. We are often diving in current making it more challenging but also beautiful with fan corals and feather stars.
There is a good selection of small restaurants onshore serving local and western food. The meals are very reasonably priced at about $3 or $4. Typically there is no alcohol served although we have found a couple that do. A few local tricks we’ve learned such as ordering ‘apple juice’ (nudge/nudge/wink/wink) and receiving an icy cold amber yeasty smelling beverage.
Several more boats will be arriving over the next few days in anticipation for a local ‘Marine Festival’ this coming weekend. We’ll be treated to local tours, dinners and sporting activities. Looking forward to it.
We changed anchorage and have moved a few miles west to Pulau (Island) Rubiah. A more touristy area with several dive shops, small hotels/guesthouses and restaurants. The water is lovely & clear with lots of fish. Haven't seen much for coral yet - will keep looking.
Forecast is for rain tomorrow but then the weather looks good for the next few days
The prices are pretty reasonable for diving here so may get the locals to take us out for a few dives.
We have arrived into Sabang after a slow motor with just a bit of sailing. Quite a steady stream of big ships coming over the top of Sumatra entering & leaving the Malacca Strait.
Two dinghy loads of officials to greet us with plenty of paperwork & smiles. Then we had to visit them in their offices to collect our paperwork & pasports. The whole check in process took about 4 hours.
Our arrival has coincided with a local festival with events & food galore.. But first we must check out the water & snorkeling. Water looks marvelous!!
Electrical and chart plotter problems sorted. A loose wire and a faulty update seemed to be the culprits.
Time to leave Malaysia and what a send off we received. Military ships galore as well as jet aircraft circling us in the sky. Or perhaps our departure just coincided with LIMA'19 (Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibiton)
So... we decide to motor over to Kuah which is the main town on Langkawi. We'll do a last grocery shop for fresh fruit & veg and then check out of Malaysia at the Harbour Master, Customs & Immigration. Right? Wrong...
First thing we notice is our one year old chart plotter/multi-function display at the navigation table doesn't want to turn on. Keeps trying, flickering and going off. No problem - we have another one at the helm station. No - it doesn't work because it is the slave and the nav table chartplotter is the master. No problem - we can navigate by eye and use the navigation programs on our ipad and iphone.
Hmmm the autopilot isn't working - it seems it can't find the GPS. No problem - we have a spare autopilot. Strange,,, there doesn't seem to be any power getting to it. Or for that matter to any of the pumps on port side (watermaker, galley sink, port head).
Well Eric - this is the cruising life at its finest - think we'll be here a few more days...
We booked Icaros into Rebak Marina for a few days and we took advantage of some cheap Air Asia flights to Penang. Bob & I visited the Indonesian Consulate to get a long stay visa. The rest of the time we enjoyed touring Penang, sampling the food and walking around historic George Town. We introduced Eric to some of the local favourites such as Cendol - an iced sweet dessert that contains worm-like green rice flour jelly, red beans, coconut milk and palm sugar.
Eric has come to visit. Most of the jobs on the 'To Do List' are done, the boat is laden with food and grog and now it's time to do some touristy fun things. Spent a few enjoyable days anchored off Cenang Beach. Nice beach to walk along with a great choice of bars and restaurants.
Painted & polished & ready to get back in the water. Looking pretty nice!!
We'll spend the next three weeks around Langkawi preparing for our next passage. Still a few more jobs on the 'To Do' list and lots of provisioning. Langkawi is a duty free island & they have some pretty good liquor prices. The waterline is going to be quite a bit lower...
Currently up out of the water at Rebak Island Marina to repaint the bottom & a few other jobs. Situated on a small island off of Langkawi Island. A nice resort next door complete with pool & swim up bar that we can use. A pleasant reward after a hard days work. We expect to be here about ten days.
Our last stop in Thailand was spent on Koh Lanta. Lovely beach full of restaurants & bars and best of all - no noisy long-tail boats. Could have spent more time here but shall take advantage of a favourable breeze & make our way to Langkawi.
A fun day yesterday. Started with a dinghy parade. Drone footage will likely appear on the Sail Thailand facebook page in a day or so.
A local boatyard hosted the day and we were treated to traditional Thai food, cocktails & beer, batik painting, vegetable carving and rope splicing. Several local boat related businesses were on hand with displays and info.
We're at a well protected anchorage/river but the murky water isn't conducive to swimming. Tomorrow night is the big finale for the rally and then we'll check out of Thailand and make our way back to Langkawi.
One of the Sail Thailand Rally activities was a beach clean up. We were joined by 20+ school children and about a dozen adults from a nearby resort. Only took an hour to fill several bags and this was quite a clean beach.
We are in Port Takola Marina near Krabi with its lovely karst landscape in the background. Have spent a bit of time enjoying their new restaurant/bar complete with live entertainment.
Ventured into Krabi town to find a shop to check that our main sail winch motor was OK. Have replaced a control box for the winches & so far so good.
Another day we rented a long tail boat with several other Rally members and visited a Muslim village community living on a nearby island. We checked out their rice farming, fish & crab farming, model boat building, wood carving, batik printing as well as one of their Seafood restaurants.
The past couple of days in Nai Harn Bay were spent socializing & saying goodbye to many. Thailand is a crossroads for our cruising friends. Some will remain in SE Asia for awhile, some will head to the Med, some will return to Australia & some like us will head across the Indian Ocean towards South Africa.
Yesterday we sailed from Nai Harn Bay towards Krabi which is the next stop on our rally schedule. We are currently anchored below one of the King's palaces. So far - no invite.
An interesting day of sailing yesterday... When raising the main sail, the electric winch struggled to get it to the top of the mast and then died - along with all the electrics. Not sure why it just didn't trip a breaker? We could get all the electrics going again but had to avoid using any of the electric winches (head sail & anchor) or they would knock out the electrics. Fun & games. Shall have to use man power until we get this winch motor sorted.
Day 2 of the Rally saw us visiting a Pearl farm in a nearby bay. About 1500 oysters hanging around in cages for 1.5 years. They don't have to feed them but they do have to clean off the barnacles & other sea growth each month. Then we were off to a rum factory... Need I say anything more !! Up to the highest point on Phuket Island to see Big Buddha and enjoy the views. The day was topped off with a terrific buffet dinner & excellent cultural theatre show at Siam Niramit.
We've come back into Ao Chalong to join up with the Sail Thailand Rally. Had a very nice lunch with everyone at the Phuket Yacht Club. There's only about a dozen boats in this Rally . We already know three of the boats. So nice to catch up with them as well as meet several others.
We have settled back into Nai Harn Bay at the South end of Phuket Island. A nice protected bay in this NE season. We're trying to have our days start with an early morning walk up to the lookout with sometimes a stop at a French Boulangerie on the way back. Lots of restaurants & fresh fruit vendors ashore to keep us happy. There's even a couple of reasonable snorkeling spots in the bay.
The Big Buddha is having a bit of trouble watching us through the clouds. An uneventful past 24 hours with not much wind or rain. The storm has passed us by but we may see a day or two of rainy conditions. We have our rain collection gear in place to try and catch some !!
Anchored at the top end of Ao Chalong under the watchful eyes of Big Buddha. The calm before the storm? Eerily quiet this morning. This bay is usually a hive of boating activity but there has been a ban placed on all boats leaving port until Tropical Storm Pabuk passes by. The eastern coast of this part of Thailand will bear the brunt of the storm & we should only feel the after effects - fingers crossed !!
We took advantage of some favourable breezes and have returned to Nai Harn Bay at Phuket. The weather forecast has a tropical storm moving into the area in the next couple of days. We shall move up the east coast of Phuket and find a snug anchorage.
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