Off to Work

Thursday August 16

Our first job was to clear in and get our Customs Clearance form to Ruz at the Marina Office. Our shipment had arrived and was being held in a Bonded Customs warehouse at Port Klang. Again Sailrite impressed us with their prompt service.

Au Wei, our Sailmaker, came by and we arranged car hire and a test sail for him to study the old sails which were now really falling apart,

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and look for ways to improve on them for the new set. We spent the afternoon out in light flukey conditions but enough for Au Wei to come up with a few good suggestions. His knowledge from his racing experience was impressive.

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Finished the day at the German Resaurant in Lumut for a catch up with friends and to stuff oursleves with wonderful pork knuckle.

For the next few days we got stuck into Marina duties like catching up on laundry and polishing Stainless Steel. I pulled out the anchor winch again and stripped it down. We were all ready to order a new one when our friends Bell and Ben off Samira said they had the same Muir Atlantic 2200 winch but it had got wet with salt water and badly corroded. They were happy for me to strip it down and from the parts of the 2 electric motors I managed to rebuild one working motor. Their chrome parts and gearbox were in good order so we offered to pay for those as Lea wanted the newer shiny ones. I was very surprised to find how much lighter the bronze castings were on the newer Muir winch base. We also found that the end of our gearbox had basically dissolved under the Stainless cap that protects the gearbox from the falling chain so we needed the new gearbox anyway. Bell and Ben intend to use a new above deck unit as part of their major refit.

We also commissioned a new genset exhaust elbow, new ball studs for the gas strut on the crane and new anchor rollers from the local foundry and engineering works.

Wednesday August 22

The fabric and materials had all arrived and all the old covers removed from the boat and taken to the Sail Loft. It was a bit daunting as we rolled out the meters of fabric for the first time.

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We layed out the old pieces to use as templates.

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We rough cut all the panels with a generous margin then realised we had the wrong side of the fabric to the outside.

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Fortunately we could mirror all the cockpit panels but the GodPod would have to have  the grey layer to the outside. Not so bad we decided. Now we had smaller pieces much easier to handle on a smaller table.

Back to the boat to watch the Sailrite uTube videos again.

Thursday August 23

Au Wei had arranged for the FoxSew 4400 machine we would be using to be fully serviced overnight and ready to go.

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Today we tackled a door. Lots of corners and stitch lines. Flyscreen at the bottom and clear material above was sandwiched between the 2 layers of Stamoid Vinyl. We used lots of seam stick to keep the layers flat together while we sewed. Our new clear material was Stratasglass 40 Gauge. Very heavy and stiff. In hindsight we should have bought one sheet of this for the GodPod but used the lighter 30 Gauge for the lower doors and windows. We were using Tenora thread and this took a bit of getting used to as it handles like fishing line and getting the tension correct on the machine is quite difficult.

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While we took our first tentative steps with the sewing Au Wei watched on while repairing our Spinnaker.

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Lea was the steady hand on the scissors and the machine while I worked out logistics and assembly. We soon had our first panel complete.

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Our next 3 weeks were spend on the job form 7.30am to late afternoon. After 11 days straight we had a rest day but we were loving the job and enjoying working with each other. The results were looking good too.

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Our last jobs were new covers for the life raft, crane, dinghy and a mast bag for ropes. We had a few minor disasters like when Lea sewed on the box pieces for the crane motor on the wrong sides and a door piece that ended up short for some reason but these errors were soon fixed. Edge binding was a bastard and we had many redo’s on this part of the job. Even though we had the old pieces as templates we still ran into errors of fit and had to fudge things by millimetres to get panels for fit. A big stuff up was putting seam stick right over the stitch line for window cut outs. This created a nightmare job to cut the Stamoid smoothly and clean up afterwards. It all just took time and patience. At times we nearly ran of  patience.

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After hours social life of the Marina continued with fun card nights with Jenny  and Irvine on Backchat,  Steve and Liz off Liberte, Friday nights at Jooks Bar. Thursday night beer and fried chicken at Kopitan 65.

Thursday September 13

Finished! A few tweaks on the centre God Pod panel as the zip position was not quite right. New stitching left a line of visible needle holes but we can live with it. By now Lea was on more intimate terms with our sewing machine, fondly known as “Ruby ”, named after one of my son’s early “temperamental” girlfriends. Ruby was not in a good mood today but lea eventually got her to co operate for the finishing touches.

Friday September 14

Girls Day at the loft. Lea has dragged around the remnants of our old screecher for 3 years hoping to make bags out of it. She had also salvaged bits and pieces of our recently demised mainsail. Back at the Jemaja Festival we had met Mick and Janice off Zoa. Janice used to make bags out of old sailcloth so with the covers all done Lea was very excited to start making bags. So she arrange with Au Wei to have a girls bag making day at the Loft. Janice instructed, Lea sewed and Kerryn knitted.

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This day soon morphed into a full scale production.

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So Lea had all the family and friends Xmas presents covered and she also made some tool holders for Au Wei and spanner bags for Rod and me.

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Meanwhile I now had time to repair the rudder we broke going to Anambas. Both rudders were full of water so I decided to rebuild both. First job was to sand them back and remove the fractured material on the port rudder and dry them both out out. A few days in the sun soon did the job. Then I glued the side of the port rudder back on and 4 x 50mm thick blocks of foam to create the new foam core of the missing section. Bell and Ben had some foam scraps lying about. Then using the starboard rudder as a template I shaped up the foam.

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Sealed this with a peanut better mix of West System Resin and 410 microballoons. Also cleaned out old broken down fibreglass where the rudder shafts enter the blade. These areas were then reglued and sealed with West System Resin and 403 Microfibres. Then the blades were reglassed with 450gm/m2. 2 layers on port, one on starboard with overlaps on both leading and trailing edges. Then they were refaired with 411 Fairing compound, sealed with 2 coats of straight resin and painted with 2 pack epoxy. Another good result.

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Moving on to the mast. Our standing rigging was 11 years old and the Insurance Company wanted it renewed if we wanted to maintain cover under our policy. We had been in discussions with Au Wei for some time and he had ordered in all the new wire and fittings from Stalok in the UK as well as a brand new swaging machine from Sweden

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We agreed the best way to do the job was to lift the mast off the boat so we could check everything thoroughly. So I spent a couple of days disconnecting all the mast wiring, removing halyards, reefing lines, mast head wind instruments, TV antennas and the boom. Then we were ready for the crane. Au Wei organised everything and it all went very smoothly.

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With the mast horizontal we went over every Stainless Steel Rigging  fitting, removing them where possible to examine and re polish. The only problem we found was the sheave for the screecher had worn badly on its axel. A new sheave and axel were made locally. Au Wei used the old rigging to get the lengths correct for the new diamonds, jumpers, caps and prodder stays. The new swage machine did a beautiful job.

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I took the opportunity to fit a new TV antenna coax and a new line and mount for the wind instruments.

Tuesday October 9

On the spur of the moment we decided to join Rod and Heather on a 3 day 2 night road trip to Malaysia’s largest National park: Taman Negara. It was just over 400km away and took us all day to get there. It was an ominous start to the day when we found the hire car had a broken bonnet catch. Au Wei to the rescue again arriving in no time flat with a another larger car for us.

We were away by 9.30am. Coffee, fuel and ice were all required first up then off to the scenic Cameron High Plains. Lea and I have been meaning to get up here for years but this was the first time we actually made it. The coffee house had great variety of products for sale and the temperature  was lovely and cool. Fat fix at KFC for lunch then off into the countryside along the winding roads which had very little traffic apart from the odd log truck to slow us down. Passed a fairly unique road sign.

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The little village of Kuala Tahan sits on the confluence of the Tembiling and Tahan rivers. Very hilly and narrow streets. We found clean, purple painted accommodation and after a bit of haggling we settled into the Taman Negara, River View Hotel. We had 2 river view rooms and enjoyed the contents of the esky sitting on the balcony watching the log boats ply the river.

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We found a nice dinner down on one of the floating restaurants down on the river.

We came back to the riverfront next morning and while enjoying pancakes at Mama Chops restaurant for breakfast we planned our day. First we crossed the river to the NP headquarters.

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The list of animals listed as found in the NP is impressive: Elephants, Clouded Leopards, Black leopards, Tapirs, Gibbons, Dusky Leaf Lemurs and lots more including many birds. We headed off for our canopy walk. The wooden broadwalks made it easy going as we followed the river a way. Then we climbed the stairs to the suspended canopy walk.

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“Strict rules” of contact meant no photography, keep 10m apart and hold on. It was rope sides and a single wooden plank set on top of aluminium ladders as a base 40m up in the tree canopy. We still didn’t see any wildlife or birds but it was the middle of the day and hot. Some of the plants were spectacular if not a little weird.

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Lea and i decided to do the walk and climb to the high point Bukit Terisek so we left Rod and Heather and started climbing. Lots of steps and the trail was in good condition. Lots of birdcalls and rustling in the trees but nothing seen. The view from the top was nice but we were not sure if we were looking out toward Gunung Tahan at 2187m and Peninsular Malaysia’s highest peak.

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The descent down was a lot tougher with a steep track often badly eroded and slippery. however, we enjoyed the thick jungle until a load noise close by made us jump. We think it was a pig but Leas had all sorts of fearful fantasies of tigers lurking ready to pounce.

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We were quite relieved when we finally got back to HQ. and caught up with Rod and Heather.

After a much needed lunch we hired a river boat to take us upstream on the Tembiling River through the rapids and on to the village of Kampung Orong Asli.

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The people are indigenous Malays who look very similar to people from PNG. Their houses are very basic, made with rattan and palm fronds. Rod broke the ice with a group of men by offering cigarettes. They were more used to visitors turning up with a local tour guide. Once we expressed interest and indicated we wanted to purchase a couple of the blow pipes on display and pay the visitor fee they warmed up and gave us the full show of shooting blow darts.

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They are surprisingly powerful and deadly accurate. For hunting they tip the darts with a paralysing poison.

Back to the boat for the return trip, a few beers on the hotel balcony, a great dinner at Mama Chops and we were ready to crash.

Another pancake breakfast, then it was time to head back, stopping at and Ipoh wholesale meat importer for more supplies on the way.

Friday October 19

The mast is ready to go back on. A bit of a delay waiting for a 6mm die for the swaging machine but now all ready to go. Crane duly arrived and within 90 minutes the mast was restepped and the new rigging tightened. .

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Another very smooth operation managed by Au Wei.

As soon as the mast was back up we had the sealift come to lift us to refit the rudders and level the boat as it was a bit bow down and accumulating water in the cockpit.

As well as working we had been keeping fit with 3 walks a week up a steep hill nearby. Lea finished her bag collection:

13 tote bags, 4 iPad sleeves, 2 overnight bags, 2 spanner rolls, 1 screwdriver roll.

Saturday October 20

Started to fit the shade cloth burka over Gemini Lady to give her some protection from the sun. My neck was out so I let myself be conned to try Mr Yap and his buffalo horns.

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Not one of my smarter decisions. It hurt like hell. Au Wei measured up for the new sails. I cleaned up the old sail hardware to reuse.

Wednesday October 24

All too soon it was time to catch the bus to KLIA2 and our plane home to Australia, ending another full and eventful season in SE Asia.

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Back to Pangkor Marina

Sunday July 29

A 4.00am start with a bright full moon and glassy conditions as we pick up our anchor by hand. The flood tide helped us motor out from Jamaja Beach. As we turned toward Tioman Psycho Puss joined us after staying at the Palau Datu anchorage overnight. We were under full sail with the engine off by 6.30am.

A steady SSE at 8-10knots slowly increased to 12-15knots. we only had to dodge 1 ship and the mainsail held together. We could have gone with the screecher but were happy under headsail and averaged 8.3 knots for the 95Nm passage. One of the best passages we have had in Asia.

We arrived to anchor  at Telek Telek, Tioman well before dark.

Monday July 30.

Clearance back into Malaysia was smooth and easy and we also checked out of Tioman for the next day. Quiet day topping up the beer, wine and spirit supplies. Psycho Puss’s batteries are completely stuffed so they have to run their generator for many hours a day. We decide to fast track our return to Peninsular Malaysia so that they can get new batteries.

Over the next 2 nights, 3 days we sailed back toward Singapore with a night at Palau Tinggi and 1 at Tanjung Kelok an open roadstead anchorage 30Nm South of Jason Bay. Turned out better than it looked.

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We elected to return to Sebana Cove Marina for a few days and enjoyed our morning walks through the golf course. We started researching the feasibility of remaking all the cockpit enclosures and covers ourselves. Lea got onto the Sailrite website and did some costings. Initially we thought of just replacing the zips and restitching but closer examination revealed that the material was at the end of its life.

Our sailmaker friend Au Wei dropped in for a visit and to discuss the upcoming rigging replacement. We mentioned that we were thinking of tackling the awnings and he immediately offered us help and the use of his loft and an industrial sewing machine.

Wednesday August 8

On the move again after a nasty storm had passed by. Our journey today was co ordinated to maximise the tide assistance around the bottom of Singapore and up to Port Dixon. Our research indicates for an East to West Passage: Depart at local time of High Water before the higher Low Water of the day, 2 days after either the first or last quarters of the moon.

Lea had calculated some time ago the on the 8th August we should have the best currents with us during daylight hours. It all worked out well except for a few stretches where there seemed to be no current.

The forecast was for light winds so we were pleasantly surprised with a stronger than expected breeze on the beam making for some great sailing again.

Once heading north we kept out to sea on the edge of the shipping lane making for less worry about fishing nets and non AIS vessels during the night.

Easy passage had us pull into Port Dixon’s Admiral Marina and tie up before 10.00am. We bit the bullet and placed our order with Sailrite for $3700.00AUD worth of fabric, zips, bindings and threads to be delivered to Pangkor Marina.

Friday August 10

Heather and Rod had hired a car for the day to go to KL and pick up their new batteries from Selangor. So we tagged along and enjoyed catching up with Naz over lunch and browsing the luxury shops around Petronas Towers.

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Battery pick up went well after a bit of confusion and with a heavily laden vehicle we took it easy on the way back. Needed a rest day after that.

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Sunday August 12

Waved goodbye to Psycho Puss as they headed back to Pangkor, while we picked up a hire car and drove down to Melaka. Followed the road signs but got well and truly lost. Ended up 20km off course before we realised. Never mind, it was a nice drive through the country side.

Our first stop was Melaka Marina to see if it was at all usable. We dropped in at the office for a chat with the manager but he advised that the marina was all silted up and unless you were happy to park in the mud it was not an option. At high tide you could bring your dinghy in if anchored outside. Only problem with that is you are exposed to Sumatra’s the strong squalls that regularly hit the coast from the west.

We were a bit early to check in. We had chosen to go back to hotel Putri as we loved it so much last time. Centrally placed and a beautifully restored period building.

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Hanging out for a coffee we walked round to another favourite. The eclectic “13 States Cafe”. Great coffee and food. Also excellent service.

Although it was incredibly hot we wandered around the narrow streets getting reacquainted with the town and checking out the many sculptures on display.

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Then down along the riverfront and the old Dutch Fort.

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Climbed the hill up to the remains of the Bastion of Santiago part of the ancient fortifications of the city.

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We went through the Sultan’s Palace which was closed last time we were here. We ended up on the waterfront for a beer.

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Lea Melaka 2018

After exploring the bustling markets on Jonkers Street we ended back down at the river for dinner as the temperature was perfect and we could watch the tourist barges go by. The roads were full of brightly lit trishaws adding a carnival atmosphere to the place.

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Monday August 13

Leisurely morning enjoying the food and sights of Melaka. Explored the Ethnographic Museum which had a good collection of artefacts as well as good display boards in English and Malay. It is housed in the old Dutch Administration Building called Stadthys.

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Early afternoon we headed back to Port Dickson.

Tuesday August 14

On the move again early enjoying an excellent sail with a solid 15-20 Southerly behind us. Experienced a little wind against tide making the waves steep and nasty but we romped along at 7-8 knots SOG and 10 knots through the water. We timed our arrival at Port Klang to catch the tide through and exited the channel at the other end just as the wind dropped. So we turned east and anchored in 6m a couple of Nm off the coast thinking we were well out of the way.

As dusk approached we were approached by some fishermen who wanted us to move. we worked out that they had a drift net bearing down on us. We got the message across that our anchor winch was broken and it was too hard for us to move. Within the hour their net duly arrived and the fishermen deftly pulled it around us by one end. Problem solved we thought. Forgot that the tide turns and returns didn’t we.

The anchor alarm goes off at 2300 hours waking us from deep sleep. Our roaming net had come back and wrapped around us from the bow. The weight was causing us to drag backwards. No fishermen around to help this time. One end of the net was visible just behind the port transom so I dropped the dinghy picked up and tied off the end and dragged it forward. Lea was on the bow with a torch and boat hook to help. The net was draped around the anchor chain and streaming back down the side of the hulls. fortunately it wasn’t yet under the hulls so I pulled my end out in front while lea tried to feed it around the chain so it would drift down out starboard side. It was surprising how heavy the drag was but we eventually succeeded without damaging the net too much. Just as the net drifted clear of us the fishermen turned up.

A nice cup of tea to settle ourselves then back to bed.

Wednesday August 15

Woken by the anchor alarm again but this time it was just to indicate a tide change and time to get underway. The breeze was up and the current already running so it proved a slow and difficult process to get the anchor up using the spinnaker halyard. We only had 20m out and it took us over 30 minutes doing it in small increments to avoid over stressing the halyard.

The spinnaker was up immediately for a good morning run. Discussed dropping the kite around midday as the breeze was dropping. Decided to wait until after lunch. Glad we did as the breeze came back in and we had a blast up the coast all afternoon.

Arrived at Pangkor Marina at sundown.

Jamaja Festival 2018

Wednesday July 25

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We left Ayam Island early so we could get the anchor up before the breeze started. No problems using the spinnaker halyard and the electric main halyard winch to lift the chain about 3-4 metres at a time. We motored though the gap between the Islands with no problem and a minimum depth of 3.6m. At Jamaja beach we selected a spot close in to the action.

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First thing was to access the internet so we walked up to the school. The kids were back  and on a break so we were inundated with smiling faces and “hello misters”. I downloaded our emails and grib files while Lea entertained the kids with the iPad. They loved our photos especially those of Terempa. The photo of the turtle eggs at the market created a stir and the photo of the big hospital ship caused some cheering. There was a bit of argie bargie as the kids pushing close to Lea to get a better look.

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One little girl ended up lying across Leas knees, eyes riveted to the screen. Lea became aware that there were probably too many bikini shots popping up so later she prepared an edited photo file with the addition of pictures of Australia and its wildlife.

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Thursday July 26

Jamaja Festival Day 1

Our morning walk to the school for internet soon resulted in a throng of kids around Lea. Prepared this time with more culturally appropriate photos she quizzed the kids on Kangaroo’s and the like. She was soon buried in kids again. At no stage did any teachers come over to enquire what we were showing the kids. The trust was refreshing and we hope it doesn’t get abused. The 10th boat arrived during the morning making it 8 Australian, 1 from USA and 1 Malaysian registered yacht recently bought by an Austrian couple.

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Psycho Puss

Wishful Thinking – Mick and Ginny

Ariel – Brian and Lyn

Osbourne Star – Paul and Sue

Zoa – Mick and Janis

Amulet  – Chris and Nancy – USA

Willow – Geoff and Gwenda

Wirraway -  Gary and Bev

Xtrastatigy – Reinhardt and Marika – Austria

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We were all given free polo shirts and the opening ceremony was at 1600.

The usual speeches from a variety of dignitaries followed by Cultural dances and singing. A nice meal of traditional foods was served. Then the band played on into the evening.

Day 2

Early morning walk over to Letong about 4km away. The little market didnt have much but we managed to find enough fruit and vegies to see us through. Morning coffee with Mick and Ginny off Wishful Thinking. It was a good catch up with nice people we hadn’t seen since Sabang in December 2017.

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Today there was a traditional dance competition between 8 different groups. The costumes were wonderful.

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We had dinner ashore from the local store holders including roti, bbq fish, stuffed squid and satay sticks.

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After dinner the dancing continued. Later we were invited to a beach bonfire and we were served warm beer and more food.

Day 3

This was the big day with Canoe Racing and Gong Gong (like Pippies) diving.

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We all had a go at the canoe racing which was a lot of fun. I got close but couldn’t beat the locals

Lea and Sue entered the Gong Gong diving competition and did really well.

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However, their haul was again no match for the locals.

The girls then tried their hand at bowl dancing.

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While the boys acquitted themselves well in a soccer match against the locals. Our game was cut short because some dignitary wanted phots with us.

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It was a great day with lots of laughs and new friends.

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We had a wonderful time. Thank you to all the beautiful people of Jamaja who made us feel so welcome.

Anambas Islands

Thursday June 28

Psycho Puss refloated a bit before 5.00am and they anchored close by. At first light Rod was under the boat to check for damage. Luckily there was surprisingly little, much to everyone’s relief. during the morning we dinghied over to check if there was much damage to the reef where Psycho Puss hit. We could hardly tell where the reef was hit. 20 m either side of the spot and they would have sailed straight over the reef without touching. Cross this place off our list as far to many reefs and bommies.

Anchor up for a nice easy sail over the top of Matak to Pendjalan Island one of our favourite places from last time. Didnt quite get there ahead of a nasty squall so had to drop the sails early just before getting hit with 25knots and heavy rain. Appreciated the extra hands to pack up the main. The weather cleared just as we approached the anchorage. Both boats went close inshore. We tried to anchor on our 2016 spot but snorkelling around showed we were too close to a bommie. We messed around for while but  couldn’t get a clear 360 degree swing. Got around that by tying off the bridle to a small bommie to reduce our swing toward shore.

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Lots of local fishing boats started to arrive and surrounded Psycho Puss. They up anchored and moved away out in deeper water. We counted 39 fishing boats with up to 6 on one anchor by dusk. They were all friendly and did not bother us at all.

Quiet night as Rod and Heather recovered from the night before’s trauma.

Friday June 29

A gorgeous day spent swimming, walking and running on the beach.

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Snorkelled the south end of the beach in nice clear water. Reasonable coral and fish life.

Dave and I went over to Psycho Puss to check their battery issues. Found one very dead one and two others well down on capacity. Not good!

Saturday June 30

Rain day today. Lots of reading and an episode of Last Ship. The rain cleared around 1600hrs but the girls were in sloth mode so didn’t do much at all. Dave and I retrieved a couple of Psycho Puss’s batteries and attempted resurrection following Nigel Caldwel’s techniques of fast and slow discharge and recharge. May have made a slight improvement.

Sunday July 1

A calm morning with dark clouds on the horizon so we got going early and headed south to Meow Riau on Palau Mandarin. We anchored deep in the bay.

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Everyone was soon in the water snorkelling while I took some time out to read. Water was good but there was evidence of use of explosives in the past for fishing.

The afternoon bought heavy rain so Dave fabricated a funnel to collect rainwater off the cabin top. The girls soon had plenty of water for cloths and hair washing.

A quick check around before going to bed revealed Psycho Puss’s lights well in the distance. They didn’t respond to the radio so we launched the dinghy and set off to check on them. We found them just waking from their afternoon sleep. Before the rain came we had anticipated moving again in the afternoon. Hence not much chain had been put out. They were soon reanchored back up in the bay.

Monday July 2

Off early to catch the tide but soon had to furl in the headsail as a nasty squall bore down on us. We were heading to Moonrock Bay but thought it might be a bit exposed to these NW Squalls. Looked for alternative anchorages nearby  but non were particularly inspiring. The squall soon cleared so we entered Moonrock over the reefs and settled in about 10m on sand.

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Neither Navionics nor Isailor has any detail in Anambas so we relied on Ovitalmap all the time with reference to the Navionics Community Layer. Osbourne Star was already in the anchorage.

We were soon ashore exploring. The lovely beaches were littered with rubbish, mainly plastic and old fishing nets. Lea and I climbed an old logging track but couldn’t get to a view point. Back on the beach I collected and opened some coconuts.

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Our fresh food was getting low so the girls went through the cupboards working out a meal plan for the next 2 days. Rod and Heather both down with the flu. Hope we didn’t give them our Nepal Flu.

Fabulous roast lamb dinner and slightly burnt banana muffins for desert.

Tuesday July 3

Another wet and windy day which didn’t inspire anyone to venture ashore. A particularly vicious squall hit around 8.00am from the west but the anchorage is surprisingly well protected. Dave and I revitalised our toilet holding tank odour filters with fresh activated charcoal. These filters retail for over $150.00AUD each. A $15.00 bag of charcoal will give about 6-8 refills.

Late afternoon there was a break in the weather so we headed off to climb Moon Rock. In damp conditions we walked up the steep track  and were rewarded with fantastic views.

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Down on the beach we did a bit more of an inventory on the rubbish situation. David was documenting the rubbish and trying to work out its origins, we were horrified to find what looked like yachters rubbish with not very old wine bottles, soda cans, salami wrappers and a big zip lock bag of out of date medicines. We had been advised that Terempa Customs were confiscating out of date medicines off yachts. Is this where they end up?

Wednesday July 4

We were hoping for a clear morning to revisit Moon Rock for better photos but it was still overcast and cloudy. Another snorkel whi;le waiting for the tide to peak. We left at 11.00am and motor sailed to charge batteries. Ours was well down as we had run the inverter all night to run an independant smart charger on one of Psycho Puss’s batteries. We followed the short cut we mapped out back in 2016 cutting an hour and a half off the trip back to Terempa.

Another boat had just dropped a mooring as we arrived so we got the rockstar parking position in close. Laundry drop was no 1 priority.

Thursday July 5

A large navy vessel was in port doing cataract surgery for the locals. We did some provisioning but supplies were still scarce in town especially meat and chicken. We booked motorbikes for the afternoon. Our dinghy dock was sabotaged by a visiting General who deemed it unsafe (which it was) and had the ramp removed leaving us stranded ashore with our dinghy tied to the now inaccessible dock. I could get no help from the Navy officers so eventually we were rescued by Heather. We suspect the issue was more to do with making sure no yachties walked through the Navy Ceremony taking place.

Our afternoon ride around the Island was beautiful.

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Overcast but no rain. The roads are excellent and very little traffic. The undulating hills made Lea wish she had her push bike.

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Friday July 6

Chicken and fish were the mission so we set off at 0600 to be at the wet market early.

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It was sad to see that turtle eggs are still for sale at the market even though it is illegal.

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The locals prefer the smaller varieties of fish.

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So we found a nice small Mahi Mahi and got it for a great price. We also found some frozen chicken Maryland’s at the main market and got 5kg. All good but the laundry wasn’t ready. The lady said 4.00pm, we negotiated it to 2.00pm.

When we finally left the southerly wind was blowing hard. To save our dying sails we retreated for the night to bay east of Terempa Harbour. Well sheltered but deep at 20m. The mahi Mahi was fabulous.

Saturday July 7

A brilliant sail, close hauled SW down to Ayam Island in a 12-15 SSE breeze. The 1m swell made the ride a bit bumpy and through salt spray across the decks. Murrundi was already at anchor and John and Barb welcomed us in. On lowering the anchor Lea noticed the winch was considerably slower and seemed to lack power. Further investigation required.

Dave and I spent the afternoon removing the anchor winch and taking it ashore for the dirty job of dismantling. We found that the rear seal had sucked back in filling the electric motor with oil. Big clean up job but I had a new seal in stock.

Sunday July 8

Anchor winch reinstalled and tested. All looks good but suspect we need a new electric motor for it soon.  Ashore we explored and collected some more coconuts. Dave added to his photo collection of rubbish. The number of shoes amongst the plastic bottles was alarming.We gathered them all from a 20m section of beach.

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Monday July 9

A morning swim and snorkel. Coral was reasonable but not much large fish life.

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Then off to Padang Melang joining Murrundi and Tiger Balm. ashore we sought out the free WIFI available at the local high school. The 7km long beach is lovely and wide. No sign of rubbish as the locals do a good job here keeping it clean. People were very friendly with lots of greetings and waves.

There was a big storm that night which looked to be centred over Ayam Island, so we were glad we moved.

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Tuesday July 10

We planned to hire a couple of motorbikes to explore Jamaja. We had no luck at the local restaurant for scooter hire so we headed off to walk the 4km into town. when we got to the school we found the other cruisers there waiting for a sight seeing bus trip. We met Gusti, the local tourism go to man. We joined the group for a trip to the waterfall and Letong.

Gusti wanted to show us the new airport that has just been completed. The roads in were rough but the new airport is excellent and looks well equipped. At the moment it receives 3 regional flights per week with future  plans to take international arrivals direct from Singapore. Maybe then yachts can clear into Anambas at Jamaja.

We chatted to the head of security, obviously very proud of his airport while a squall bought torrential rain and thunder. We sheltered in the terminal building for half an hour while it passed.

Next stop was the waterfall, impressive after the heavy rain. A local family was enjoying the beautiful surrounds.

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Jamaja is not as mountainous as Terempa and the concrete roads not as smooth. Lots of small farms with lots of great looking cattle.

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Irrigation infrastructure looked a little run down and underutilised. We never did manage to find any beef meat for sale and even Gusti couldn’t help source any. Bugger!

We drove on to a couple of towns on inlets on the west side of the island. Again rubbish control was excellent with lots of bins around.

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It was a late lunch in the main town of Letong. The local restaurant service was dreadful and very frustrating. However, we eventually we got served and the food was good.  A fantastic day for about $12.50 per couple.

Wednesday July 11

We started out early hoping to do some snorkelling at Dikar Reef. We had another awesome sail covering the 40 Nm before lunchtime. Unfortunately we had to give the snorkelling a miss as the wind was too strong so we navigated up through the passage between Palau Bajau and Palau Pemutus to Pencil Dot Island. Again Ovitalmap was essential as many reefs extend out into the channel with little villages tucked in behind. Calmer conditions would be required for exploring this area further. We anchored NW of Palau Pendegung. It was too rough to venture out to Pencil Dot Island.

Thursday July 12

Anne, David and Lea took off in the dinghy early to try and find a sheltered spot to snorkel as the southerly was still blowing. They found some nice coral to the east of the anchorage but conditions were not ideal. A local known as “Eddie” was hovering around in his canoe so Lea gave him some food and a cap. He seems to be a bit simple but very friendly and appreciative of the gifts.

Disaster struck as we tried to up anchor. The winch stopped and there was a smell of overheated electricals.  We had 30m of chain still out which Dave hauled up by hand while I tried to manoeuvre the boat to keep the chain slack. We then headed back to Moon Rock Bay to rendezvous with Psycho Puss. It was a quick downwind sail. We took extra care where we dropped anchor as we did not want to have to pull it up again.

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Anchor winch was pulled out and stripped again. Analysis made us suspect the commutator so we cleaned, filed and polished this then reassembled. Testing showed it working intermittently but with lots of arking and sparks. Not looking promising.

Ashore that evening for sundowners we had a fire and fireworks.

Friday July 13

Had a more thorough go at the anchor winch commutator but even after that it only worked 1time out of 6. We worked out that some field coils on the stator must be shorted out. We reinstalled the winch with the back accessible so we could turn the stator to a live coil. Unfortunately the winch just did not have enough power to do the job. Time to work out a system for lifting the anchor manually. We were ok while Dave and Anne were onboard but we had a long way to travel on our own.

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Another walk up Moon Rock to stretch the legs.

Saturday July 14

The weather forecast was for more 20knot winds from the South so we decided to stay put. A small swell was making its way into the bay indicating it was pretty rough out there. Local fishing boats come and go en-mas leaving us wondering what they know and we don’t.

Ashore we tried the old logging track again and went further with good footwear this time. Still no view or phone service. Paul and Sue off Osbourne Star kindly sent a message to John off Murrundi to see if we could borrow his spare winch motor. Unfortunately he was using his spare and the other had a seized gearbox.

Nice afternoon on the beach with a fire to burn rubbish while enjoying sundowners with Rod and Heather off Psycho Puss, Paul and Sue off Osbourne star and Chris and Nancy off Amulet.

Sunday July 15

Anne’s birthday. Back to Terempa to go out for dinner. 50m of anchor chain retrieved by hand. Fortunately all the moorings were free in the harbour.

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Casual dinner at Poppies Chinese Restaurant on the wharf under the Chinese Temple with Heather and Rod

Monday July 16

More laundry dropped off then goodbye to Anne and Dave who took the midday fast boat to Matak and the airport.

We spent the next couple of days lazing around and re provisioning.From the wet market we bought some small squid to try. bit of an effort to clean them but they tasted ok.

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We cleared out on Friday 20th July. That took 4 stops and about 1.5 hours. Only fees were harbour dues of 10900Rup ($1.10)

We had another great close hauled sail to Jamaja. This time we put in a reef which made it a more relaxed passage. To keep the anchoring to minimum depths we headed into the beach where preparations were being made for next weeks festival. We rang Gusti to arrange hire of a couple of motorbikes. He insisted we stay for the festival. The ride around the Island was great. We stopped off at the waterfall for a swim. Some local girls were enjoying the area too.

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We enjoyed some lazy days moving between Ayam Island and the Jamaja beach. Lea and Rod took off on Mad Kitty to try some other areas for snorkelling.

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Then it was back to Jamaja for the festival.

Sebana Cove Marina to Anambas

Tuesday June5

Finally arrived back at Gemini Lady after 33 hours of bus,taxi, 2 planes, taxi, ferry ,taxi. Lea was absolutely exhausted and convinced she had infected everybody along the way. Malaysia Air had lost my luggage which delayed us in Singapore but at least the airport is clean and airconditioned. Bit sad when you get excited about going to a clean toilet with paper, soap and hand dryers. Good to be back in the First World.

We spent the rest of the week taking it easy as Lea slowly recovered. She enjoyed a very subdued birthday.  Next job was to fuel up and move to Sennibong Marina to get a 60 day Social Visa for our Anambas visit. Zacharia, the manager of Sebana Cove marina, looked after our clearance to Tioman Island.

The fuel barge tie up point was not very obvious so we rang them and they gave us instructions to tie up to what appeared to be a derelict ship. Anyway the fuel up went well and we took 581 litres. Spent a peaceful night anchored off Tanjang Pengelih before moving on to Sennibong with the morning tide.

Monday June 11.

Up early to catch the tide to Sennibong but found the alternators not charging. Lea steered while I spent the whole trip trying to fix the charging issue. No success and diagnosed that both my smart charge controllers were fried.

Lea navigated our way around the well marked channel but it was further than it looked on the chart. We were careful not to stray into Singapore waters as the patrol boats are very vigilant. US President Trump and North Korea’s President were were both in Singapore for talks, so security was especially tight.

It was our first time at Sennibong Marina and we were impressed. A fair bit more expensive than Sebana Cove but facilities were good.

After checking in at the office and getting advice from them that the Indonesian Embassy would open again at 2.00pm we timed our arrival at the Embassy nicely only to find it shut. We waited a while and othe local people turned up so we asked what time it would open. Finally we got the information that it was closed for 10 days until June 21. No posted info on their website or anywhere. A major Government Service just closes up shop for 10 days with no notice. Welcome to Indonesian bureaucracy.

Plan B. Spent just 1 month in Anambas and they miss out on a month of our tourist dollars. We spent the next 2 mornings provisioning at the nearby Aeon Supermarket. In the afternoons Lea cleaned the hulls while I changed our alternator smart chargers back to the old Balmar system, packaged up our fried Controller and mailed them back to Al in Seattle USA.  In our email discussions he indicated that this was a known problem for some boats with the Gen 2 units. He was happy to supply us with 2 new Gen 3’s which he believed had solved the issue.

Wednesday June 13

Marina bill was about $70.00AUD for the 2 nights. We filled the water tanks and headed out just after midday. A rain squall deluged us as Lea was tidying up the lines. The marina staff had told us we were ok to take the shortcut through Singapore Waters as long as we didn’t stop. As we expected we were shadowed and then asked to stop for questioning. The officers radioed through to a higher authority and then waved us through.

Lea wanted to continue on but I insisted on the sheltered anchorage of  T Pengileh again. Went to drop the anchor only to find the winch remote not working. I dropped the anchor from the helm switch then began yet another repair job. Eventually found that the wiring behind the remote connector had got covered in mud and the wires and rear terminals were corroded through. Fortunately we happened to have a new base in stock so this was soon installed and well sealed with silicon to protect the wiring.

Thursday June 14

Flood tide all day against us all the way to Jason Bay. Yes Lea, we should have kept going the night before and had the tide with us. The light breeze wasn’t much use but in the late afternoon we got the spinnaker up for the last 20Nm. Anchored to the chanting from the nearby Mosque which continued into the evening celebrating the end of Ramadan.

Friday June 15

A slow sail to Sibu Island, drifting under spinnaker in a 10knot SW’ly. A few gusts of 17-18 bought us out of our torpor so we pulled the kite down and continued on under headsail. Feeling lazy we even let a little trimaran sail past us. A bit of a beam swell developed and our $10.00 Bunnings fan that we had bought in Darwin took flight and smashed itself to pieces. Lea was devastated, she thought it would live forever.

I commissioned the watermaker and we ran the genset for a couple of hours. Wind against tide made for a jiggly night.

Saturday June 16

A quiet morning reading with a nice breeze flowing through the boat. We swam to shore and walked the beach. Several guests from the Sea Gypsy Resort were about too. The SE swell was still a bit annoying but we were too lazy to move.

Liz and Gustav from Bidule (French Canadians) joined us for sundowners after the afternoon rain storm had passed.

Sunday June 17

We hoped for a good walk ashore so headed in in the dinghy only to find the shore break already up and likely to get bigger as the tide rose. So we went back to boat and moved across to Palau Tinggi picking up internet service along the way. A response from RACV Travel Insurance told us they had accepted and paid for my hospital bill but not the helicopter evacuation to get to hospital.

We spent a bit of time motoring around the large lagoon of Tinggi to find a spot out of the swell. Settled in just of the jetty. It was a bit better than Sibu but not much. Snorkelling was not going to happen.

A late afternoon walk ashore found the friendly cats we remembered from our last visit. We found a great jungle walk behind the last resort on the northern end of town. We explored this for a few kms but distant thunder and ominous clouds drove us back to the boat to close those open hatches. The rain beat us by a couple of minutes but all was ok onboard.

Another peaceful night with turtles feeding nearby.

Monday June 18

The tide was incredibly low when we woke up and Bidule was very close to it. A great spinnaker run towards Tioman with a 7-10kt breeze with a gusty late afternoon and a great sprint at the end to the anchorage. We anchored close to our 2016 position in 5.5m high tide on sand.

Tuesday June 19

The anchorage was rolly when the tide turned against the wind so we moved in a bit closer to the rock groin hoping to get out of the swell.Our attempt to check in failed as we were told that the Harbourmaster was not back until 1300hrs tomorrow. We didn’t even bother with Immigration. The island was desperately short of fresh food supplies as everyone had been on Hari Ryia holidays and there had been no deliveries. There were plenty of tourists about and we wondered how the resorts were feeding their guests. No problem stocking up on booze, however. We met Alex and Jennie off Moggie of Arabia and joined them for lunch at a nice waterfront restaurant.

Sundowners with Sven and Dink on their powerboat.

Wednesday June 20

Another rolly night then off to the Harbourmaster. Easy check in and out at the same time then back to the boat. Lea was keen for a snorkel over at Telek Island so we bounced our way across in the dinghy. Lots of pretty coral and small fish with a strong current. We saw a few parrot fish and one black tip reef shark. The wind had come up so it was downwind surf in the dinghy back to Gemini Lady.

Dinner with Sven and Dink. They were having trouble with an overheating genset. They had tried everything so I gave them the last of my hydrochloric acid to clean out the heat exchanger. The restaurant was funny. They allowed us to  BYO alcohol but they wouldn’t touch the bottle and asked that we put it in the bin provided when finished.

We were hoping to leave next morning but the weather forecast was for very light winds.

Thursday June 21

We motored around to  Juara Bay on the Eastern side of Tioman and tucked in out of the swell in the southern corner on clear sand off the lovely beach. Chilled here for a while but there was no internet so we moved to the northern corner and enjoyed a walk through the village. The forecast indicated tonight was a good weather window so we headed off at 1700. We had a light ESE breeze, just enough to sail with full amin and screecher. It was a beautiful starry night and calmed as the wind slowly dropped out. Sometime after dark,Lea in bed, motorsailing along I heard us hit something. I quickly put the running port engine into neutral and heard something gently scrape down the hull. There was a bit of a thump and scanning behind with the torch I saw what looked like a tangled mess of rope and fishing buoys. nothing seemed attached and we were continuing on our way slowly under sail so I tentatively put the motor back in gear and on we went.

The shipping lanes were busy but the calm weather made for an easy passage albeit with a motor running.

Friday June 22.

We arrived mid morning at Palau Datu, and anchorage recommended to us by Psycho Puss. A lovely sand spit with crystal clear waters and coconut palms on the beach. Not a bad venue for my 60th birthday. Went ashore with the dinghy for a swim and some coconuts.

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When we returned I grabbed my goggles just to check the hull after the bump in the night and was very surprised to see that we had lost the bottom third of our port rudder.

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Our plans for leaving the boat at Sebana Cove for Xmas were immediately changed to another haulout back at Pangkor. A few locals dropped buy and managed to get some bananas. The sky turned nasty to we battened down ready for a storm. Fortunately there was not much in it but a bit of refreshing cool breeze to accompany the Beef Rendang Lea had cooked.

Saturday June 23

A heavy dew on the boat allowed Lea to scrub the decks as we motored off in glassy conditions pushed by the ebbing tide. We saw a dopey turtle just under the surface unfazed by Gemini Lady slipping by. There was a rain squall hovering over our intended destination so we diverted to Ayam Island instead. Good light and crystal clear water showed the way in into the northern anchorage and we dropped in 10m over clear sand. We were soon off for a snorkel; the light dulled with the clouds and rain but not before we got a few good pictures.

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The coral and small fish were plentiful but we saw no big fish. Lots of locals were enjoying the island and they gave us big smiles and waves as they left. We went ashore to find lots of rubbish and a few abandoned buildings. Plenty of coconut palms and the usual plastic rubbish including a surprisingly large amount of flip flops  esp. left foot ones.

Sunday June 24

A nasty NW storm blew though at 4.00am. We were up and watching as the anchor alarm went off but it was only due to pulling back on the chain. We had 45m out in 10m and held fine even with the NW swell we were exposed to. By morning the wind was SW so after a quick snorkel we were off again taking the breeze in the direction of Telaga Island. We had Ovitalmap Images stored so we entered the channel at Telaga Island on the west side and turned north. We wove our way up to one possible anchorage shown on the Navionics Community Layer but didnt like the look of it so headed out into the main channel and anchored near the northern entrance in 17m of sand.

Some local boys paddled out from the village hoping for beer and cigarettes. They got a quarter of Orange instead and were very happy with that.

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We chatted with them for a while in bits of broken English. They mentioned something about lobster but I couldn’t understand so let it go.

Monday June 25

A comfortable night with a nice through breeze. no fans needed for once. A young man in a canoe paddled over to offer us a painted crayfish. He called it “Udong” which we thought was ”prawn”. He wanted a pair of swim fins as an exchange but as we have no spare s we agreed on 150,000Rup ($15.00AUD).

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He also had freshly harvested conch shells but we said no to those. A morning walk on the sand spit revealed lots more rubbish and maybe evidence of a turtle nesting. Lea had a quick snorkel but found the coral poor in the shallows but it improved in the deeper areas and some large tropical fish as well. Her highlight was a lion fish.

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A gentle WSW wafted us under screecher the 7 Nm to Palau Genting Guyut. Lovely anchorage we enjoyed last time in 2016 too. After the usual late afternoon squall I set about drowning our crayfish and preparing it for the grill.

Tuesday June  26

The ebb tide seemed to be flowing NE and the 8-9 knot SW breeze took us all the way into Terempa. 4 new mooring had been installed since our last visit which is a great relief as anchoring in the bay was a worrying affair due to so  much debris and foul ground in the Harbour. It was a bit challenging getting attached to the moorings as there were no ropes, just a small eyelet to tie too.

We had our yellow Pratique flag up but after waiting a short while we decided to go ashore. The CPIQ office on the jetty was closed but had a list of phone numbers. We got one kind local to ring for us and we were directed to the Yacht Services Office nearby. Here we met up Mr J (Farizan) who showed us to the various clear in offices. All a bit backwards to the usual order. We did Immigration first and the novice there required us to find somewhere to get extra copies of our documents. Fortunately there is one close by. Then we had to wait while our passports were taken out back for a superior to check before we were given our free 30 day visa on arrival.

Next stop, Quarrantine, which is well tucked away in the back blocks. Very easy here with minimal questions, no “Green Book” and a certificate given with no charges. Then on to Customs. Here we encountered a very pedantic officer who insisted we do our online registration on yachters.com again due to some minor issues. This took forever as the Internet in Anambas is completely overloaded and slow.

Next was a boat inspection with the usual warnings about taking our copious alcoholic supplies ashore. Then back to the jetty to finally clear in with the harbourmaster. It seemed to have taken us forever but in reality it was two and a half hours to clear in. Not bad by Indo standards.

Our next issue was our Sim Cards. We were hoping to continue with the Sims we had used in Sumatra. Even tough they were still active they could not be used. so we had to do a new application complete with passport copies and it all had to be faxed to Jakarta for approval. Its getting harder and harder to get Sims anywhere now.  Mr J. got it all done for us for 150,000Rup.

Final job for the day was the laundry drop off with a plea to pick it up in the morning by 10.00am

Psycho Pus had come in to Terempa so it was a great catch up and have dinner with them. Much hilarity as Heather missed the ladder up onto the jetty and fell in.

Wednesday June 27

We had reasonable success restocking at the market. however, we could get no eggs of chicken and tghe prices were high. Psycho Pus were dropping off guests at the airport and we were picking up Dave and Anne so we headed across together to the Matak Island Anchorage. Again Ovitalmap was brilliant with clear satellite images of the reefs. However the anchorage was very deep at 20m with lots of plastic on the bottom. We didn’t feel secure so moved off as soon as Dave and Anne were aboard.

Rod and Lea went ashore to deliver and pickup our guests at the airport about 2km away. Lots of confusion about where to go for check in and baggage claim. Usually all passengers start and finish their trip from Terempa. Lea got a local to take her by motorbike to the baggage claim area. The rider was to arrange for a taxi to return to pick everyone up. That got lost in translation and didn’t happen so Rod to the rescue and he sent the Airlines, Air Xpress car for them. They loaded up for the 2km trip to the jetty. Lea politely asked how much, half expecting it to be free. She understood the 2 part and assumed it was 20,000Rup( $2.00AUD). That was fine but at the jetty the driver wanted 200,000Rup ($20.00AUD). That was not fine. A heated argument followed between Lea, Rod and the driver, Only last week when Rod had picked up his guests the fee had been 50,000Rup. In the end they gave him 100,000Rup and a “we are not pleased look” and walked off. There was a big audience of locals by this stage. Not sure who’s side they were on.

Welcome to Anambas Anne and Dave!

We were all glad to get away from Matok but did manage to get some eggs while we were there. In the fading light of late afternoon we headed over to Tenggling Island. The are is strewn with reefs and we relied on past tracks and community layer anchorages to put us somewhere safe for the night. Psycho Pus were not so lucky and missed a buoy marking the end of the reef. With a sickening crunch they parked themselves high and dry on the coral. Bugger! with a falling tide there was nothing they could do until the early morning high tide. Thankfully a high one

Chitwan

Friday June 1

Nima’s final job was to arrange bus tickets and a taxi to take us to the bus pickup point for a trip to Chitwan National Park. We joined Jon, Sue and Pema at the bus “depot” on the outskirts of Kathmandu Old City. The depot is just a line up of busses along the road. Street vendors filled the footpath in the early dawn selling hot coffee and snacks. We identified the correct bus and settled in for a long torturous ride. We had to leave early  as a section of the road in the mountains was closed between 10.00am and 4.00pm every day to allow for roadworks. Miss the 10.00am deadline and you are stuck for the day.

The journey had beautiful scenery as we wound our way from one valley to the next and followed rivers flowing through deep gorges below. A bit to close to the edge of the road for Lea’s liking.

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There were hundreds of brightly coloured and decorated trucks coming the other way. These were all coming up from India loaded with imported goods.

We arrived at the Jungle Wildlife Camp located on the river late afternoon. At $30.00USD per night including breakfast and wifi it was good deal. The rooms were nice and had A/C and a view from the balcony.

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After check in we had the hard sell by the tour operator for Jungle Safari’s, canoe trips and other tourist traps. We politely listened to his spiel  then headed down to the village where we booked the same Jungle Safari for half the price for the next day. As we returned through the village Elephants were walking back to their home for the night.

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Dinner at the Camp restaurant was dreadful so we crossed it off our list.

Saturday June 2

Our Jungle Safari was a very long hot day in a jeep. Lea was feeling dreadful but stuck it out as the wildlife we saw was amazing. The driver focused on the road while our guide scanned for signs of wildlife. We all sat in the back of the jeep with forward facing padded bench seats.

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Our guide had sharp eyes and soon spotted our first Rhinoceros.

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The elephant grass was high at this time of year but our guide had sharp eyes. We saw deer, fresh tiger tracks hornbills, kingfishers and many more, together with abundant orchids and wildflowers.

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In the afternoon we visited the old and famous Tiger Tops Resort. Now under caretaker control this Resort, within the Park was once a world renowned exclusive destination until the government shut down all accommodation within the NP.

It was a tough day at the office.

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We were glad to get back and enjoyed a great dinner at a local village restaurant.

Sunday June 3

A rest day and sleep in for Lea who was feeling dreadful. The same virus I caught in the mountains was now knocking her for six. Some justice here as she is finding out just how bad I felt. Sue and Pema went off bird watcvhing. We were content to watch a local Mahout bring his elephant down to the river for a feed of fresh grass.

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Lea spent most of the day in bed.

Monday June 4

Lea still very ill and the bus broke down so we were stranded for over an hour while mechanics were called to fix a ruptured brake line. Nobody spoke English so we had a a hard time finding out what was going on. The driver kept the engine and aircon going thank goodness. However, with no airflow condensation filled the ducts so when we got moving again every corner produced a deluge of filthy black water out of the aircon vents. We were unlucky enough to be sitting in one of the worst affected areas and our clean travel clothes were clean no more. I used the bus curtains to clean what I could.

The traffic was horrendous.

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And it got worse as we approached Kathmandu. It took us 8 hours on the bus  before we got a taxi to Pema’s House for a shower and a meal before catching our flight back to Singapore then the ferry back to Sebana Cove and the boat. Goodbye Nepal!

Back blogging and trekking

It’s been a long break since my last post. I finally had to give up trying to maintain the blog from an iPad app. Since the demise of my favourite app Blogsy, all the ones I have tried since can’t handle being offline. I lost countless hours of work creating posts offline only to loose them while trying to post. I assume the demise of Blogsy was due to the constant changes and updates to the IOS operating system. The designer must have got sick of it too. I am now back on a Windows Laptop using Open Live Writer. Hopefully it will be a bit more reliable for offline work. Any back to Nepal where I left off.

Monday May 28

Taxi pick up arranged by Nima for 9.00am. We left our large packs at Dragon guest House and have only our day packs for the next 4 days. It’s amazing how minimalist we’ve become when we have to carry the weight. Our coughs we still lingering and Lea’s was getting worse but otherwise we felt OK. Good to get out of the dusty city although it was a long drive out to Gokarna to pick up Nima then on to Sunarijal to begin our trek through Shivapuri National Park.

Up lots of steps to the park entrance; 1130Rup for us and 60Rup for Nima. More stone steps as we began to climb.

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We got caught in a thunderstorm with rain and hail. The foliage above was dense  so with brollies and pack covers we didnt get too wet. We walked through deep trenches, like an old railway cutting through the mountain.

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Ay 2400m. the path began to wind down to Chisopani our destination for the night.

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Our guest house was ok, but the neighbouring house was rubble and the one across the street leaning at an angle. All the result of the earthquake. The air up here was quite cool but the haze prevented us seeing the great views .

Tuesday May 29

Todays trek was mainly along a dirt road for 18km. It felt a lot longer with our packs and Lea was starting to struggle as the virus developed. A large dam project was under construction in the hills. Not much sign of habitation or wildlife up here. Lunch at a nice little guesthouse at Jhule. From here we descended then traversed across productive farm land. We stopped to sample some small plums off a roadside tree.

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Lea’s chest infection got the better of her a few kms out of Nagargot so Nima flagged down a passing car. It was steep going so we were glad of the ride. Nima was generous with our funds insisting that the driver, who wanted nothing, take 500Rup. We good tell this was way too much and not expected.

Lea was starting to feel like a cash cow and that we were being taken advantage of at every turn. Our hotel lacked atmosphere and expensive, especially with the extra 10% service charge and 13% tax or whatever. The 1500Rup room didn’t have a shower so we took the 2500Rup ensuite room. Lea promptly fell asleep while I went out looking for some drugs for her. There was a small pharmacy next door and they were very helpful.

Wednesday May 30

It rained heavily during the night but the clouds remained so we never got to see the famed views of the Langtang Himalaya Range. Lea was not well and Nima had a sore leg so we elected to catch the bus to Bhaktapur. Luckily we were up early and managed to secure seats on the bus as it was soon packed to brim. The bus moved off at a jogging pace and stopped wherever someone wanted to get on off with the fare worked out on the distance travelled. 90 minutes later we were dropped off outside the city gates. A friend of Nima’s had a hotel there which was very nice although the name was a bit controversial. The Swastica Hotel. Our room had a view over the ancient water cistern. The recent heavy rain had made it a bit murky though.

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We set off exploring wishing we had bought our Lonely Planet Guide. We worked our way to Durban Square but rain curtailed us a bit. We joined Nima and his friend at a local eating house. When the rain cleared we went back through the narrow streets and little temples back to the main squares and the temples. The many Bhuddist and Hindu temples and statues were built in the 15th to 17th centuries and many are undergoing repair.

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Water wells and public sitting areas were common on most corners. So many temples and shrines. A fascinating place with so much character. The locals are still living within the ancient architecture, often falling down around them. In the tourist shops we got good off season deals on beautiful high quality cashmere and yak scarves.  This place definitely deserves more recognition and exposure than it gets.

Thursday May 31

Our hotel owner organised a taxi at a good price to get us back to Kathmandu and the Dragon Inn. We walked to Pema’s in the afternoon and reunited with Jon and Sue. Nima joined us and Pema made the traditional Yak butter tea. We tried it but agreed it was not to our taste. It was our final goodbye to Nima and we gave him his tip.