Sunday March 25
Then we took off into the lagoon to explore.
Sunday March 25
Then we took off into the lagoon to explore.
Wednesday March 21
Lucky we both didn’t jump in.
A civil 8.00am start and we have a bit of breeze. A great sail on a broad reach for an hour then back to motors for the rest of the day. Accross the top of Nias passed the lighthouse.
Late in the afternoon we saw our German friends heading out to surf the break to the south of us. Lea and I followed in the dinghy and watched them for a while. It looked like a decent wave and they had some good rides.
One local guy offered to get us some diesel but he wanted 10,000IDR/litre. I said no and he came down to 9,000 but no deal. Couldn’t find a restaurant for dinner so headed back to the beachfront Warung for a coffee. Here we met Marcus, an Aussie who has settled in Sumatra. It was interesting talking to him about living in Indo and managing the beaurocracy and corruption. Todi joined us and we discussed getting some diesel. We had a deal all agreed on, Rod off Psycho Puss waa in, the jerries were retrieved from the boats, then it all fell apart. Todi wanted to change the deal. Not enough tip, more money for the car…. We took our money back, packed up our Jerries and left. Todi is a nice guy but!!! Marcus, who had watched and listened throughout the negotiations just smiled. This is Indonesia.
Friday March 9
Up at 1.00am and a radar check for storm cells showed a big one close by so we delayed departure by an hour. 2.00am and the cell was even bigger and closer. Cup of tea time as we waited for it to hit us. Nothing to bad in it so we were away by 4.00am with a good breeze on the beam. Slowly headed us until we were close hauled then died completely by daylight so we motored the rest of the way. Made lots of water and got the smalls all washed and Lea got to have a Hollywood shower with lots of water to wash and condition her hair. Luxury!
Total Glass out as we entered a shoal area. We used all our navigation resources to maintain a deep path through. The Google Earth Kap files given to us by Jon and Sue off Ocelot were invaluable again. A big surprise to us was that the iSailor Chart App that Heather and Rod off Psycho Puss were using was spot on with much more detail than our Navionics Charts. I-Sailor has subsequently consistently proved since this to be far superior to Navionics on our journey so far.
Psycho Puss broke the recently done join in their endless line for the screecher furler and had to drop the screecher onto the deck. Otherwise it was an uneventful passage to Palau Mansular 10 Nm short of the big town of Sibolga. We picked up a bit of sail assistance in the afternoon.
An abandoned looking Christian Church sat up on the Point at the bay entrance. Good anchorage in 15m at the top of the bay.
Saturday March 10
Topped up the water tanks and flushed the watermaker before entering the harbour area. We picked out a great anchorage behind Sarudut Island near the Spider-boat fleet. 5M and good holding mud. Dinghy access via the local fishing jetty. 50,000 IDR per day to have our dinghies looked after by the jetty Warung locals.
Rod arranged a car to drive us around for 2 hours to get the lay of the city. After a supermarket visit, phone top up and general look around we went back to the boats to get jerry cans for a fuel run. Ran into trouble at the petrol station as they would only fill 3 jerries. The boys who were transporting us negotiated a price for us to get all filled. There is a bit of a glitch in Indonesia for us foreigners. The price of fuel is government subsidised for locals. Diesel is around 5200 IDR and Petrol 8000 IDR per litre. We believe there is another price for foreigners like us at around 8000IDR but Stations not used to foreign visitors are not aware of it. All they believe is that it is illegal to fill more than 3 jerries. It is an issue that needs to addressed and clarified for us cruisers. On the more remote islands we have less hassle but pay both a premium and receive what we call Indo Litres which are about 10-15% short on our litres. They don’t seem to get the fact that you cant get 25 real litres into a 20 litre jerry no matter how full but they charge you for 25 litres and will demonstrate with all sincerity that you have received 25 measures of their “1 litre” ladle. One day I must take in a true 1 litre measure and verify their ladle before buying. However, in the big picture its not an issue. We are still paying around 80 cents Aussie for diesel which is a good deal. Just have to remember its low quality, high Sulphur, fuel so do engine oil changes twice as often as usual.
Sunday March 11
Ashore early to get the laundry delivered before the bus pick up for the Lake Toba trip. Martin and I got a Tuk Tuk to the laundry Martin had organised yesterday. They had advised Martin that they would be open at 8.00am. We were sceptical is it was Sunday and sure enough it was closed. The sign on the door said 1.00 pm opening time for a Sunday. Back to the dinghy where I said goodbye to Martin and Ivy who had been travelling on Psycho Puss. I took the laundry back out to boats and caught up with Rod who was busy bypassing a leaking hot water service. We learned later that the pick up for the Lake Toba trip was very late and that Martin had to get another Tuk Tuk back to the bus station to sort it all out. They finally got picked up but all during the wait they were hassled by other locals trying to Hawk their services.
Apparently it was the 6 hour bus trip from hell in a crowded bomb of a bus with no aircon with a thousand hairpin bends. Lea reckoned the bus had been rolled over and straightened out for reuse at some time. Their were issues with locals smoking on the bus. One lady fell asleep on Lea’s shoulder and 3 near misses under heavy braking and crazy traffic. Glad I didn’t go.
The ferry ride over to the hotel and the rendezvous with Psycho Puss’ next guests went well.
Rod and I went into town with the laundry about 1.30 only to find the laundry still not open. Our Tuk Tuk driver was great and took us all over the place to find another one.
Monday March 12
The Lake Toba crew hired a car and toured around for the day visiting:
Sialagon Stone Chairs
Beautifully decorative Minangabau Architecture with sweeping buffalo horn peaks each end of the roof line
Fine detail carvings on the building facade.
Martin and Ivy are into Geo Cacheing and found one here.
Tombs on the mountain top
Lunch on the waterfront
Naiso Gap Falls
Then stunning views on the way back to the hotel.
Dinner at the local Reggae Bar and a Jam session. Great night out.
Tuesday March 13
No more bus’s. The Lake Toba crew hired a private car for the trip back to Sibolga. Meanwhile back at the boats Rod and I had been busy getting the Laundry done.
Our laundry lady was a real character and also did a great job despite Rod trying to convince her that Heather’s bra’s were mine. Every item had a tag stapled to it with either “Rod” or Tim”. The girls were getting stabbed by staples for weeks afterwards until they were all found and removed. Another load of fuel was organised for us by the local Warung at a good price. The people there were very helpful and we enjoyed a few cups of “coffee” with them. Rod sharing a packet of smokes also helped a lot.
Great to have the girls back and another boatload of guests on Psycho. We all went into town for dinner and sat down in a restaurant. Before we even ordered the table was filled with a banquet of dishes. We tried everything and it was all great.
Wednesday March 14
A clear night with no squalls on the apparent on the radar. Our 4.00am departure went without a hitch. I had to call up a ferry that kept turning toward us. After turning 30 degrees to avoid him and still having him coming straight at us I voiced my displeasure and told him to alter his course to starboard. Fortunately he did.
We arrived at the NW corner of Mansalar Island a bit after sunrise and went in close to the magnificent cascade straight into the sea.
Then we set course for the northern end of Nias Island. At one stage we changed our mind and headed for the Southern end only to reverse that decision 10 minutes later after further discussion. We saw a group of Sea Gypsies on an otherwise boring motor.
A bit of breeze in the afternoon helped us make up a bit of time so we arrived in Silia Bay just on dusk and navigated into the lagoon to anchor just on dark.
Friday March 2
An 0830 start was planned to time our arrival at Aroih Raya as the tide starts to ebb. Currents are very strong here, up to 3-4 kts so we didn’t want to be fighting them. The Aroih Cut is narrower and the tide runs up to 5-6 kts. We had a beautiful day and motored off around the tip of Wei Island passing the zero kilometre monument marking the western most tip of Indonesia.
Not technically the most western tip of Indonesia. There is a little uninhabited Island further West. But lets not let the truth get in the way of a good Monument.
An Easterly breeze sprang up and we had a great blast South under Main and Screecher for the 20Nm to our anchorage in Alurayean Bay on the Southwest of Palau Deudab. Nice Bay but open to the South so bit of swell rolls in making landing the dinghy a bit wet. A beautiful white sandy beach so we swam ashore and enjoyed a walk. Still lots of plastic rubbish above the tide line. Lots of driftwood had us thinking of a beach BBQ but with the tide and surf coming in we decided it was not the best idea. Besides we had decided to depart at midnight to catch the current and breeze down the coast so it was early to bed.
Moonrise was spectacular.
Saturday March 3.
The breeze was good at midnight once we were up and going after being awakened by PP as we had overslept. The current was supposed to be with us but it was hardly noticeable. The big moon stayed with us all night and lightning flashed in the distance all around us. The good breeze petered out after a couple of hours so the motor went on.
Daylight showed dramatic high peaks shrouded in cloud. We pulled into Chalang as we wouldn’t reach the planned anchorage until after dark had we continued. Carlos off Sea Monkey had generously emailed me a copy of his anchorages and tracks from his trip down here last year. We loaded these into our Ovitalmap App. The Chalang anchorage is a little daunting as normal charts are hopeless here. The reefs extend far across the entrance and with very little bright sun it was hard to pick. Following Carlos’ tracks got us into a nice safe place well sheltered from the NW where most of the bad weather comes from.
We found further delamination of the Main so spent a few hours doing more repairs.
We used up most of our remaining repair material so that’s it. Long may it hold together! Ivy and Martin had checked out the village and reported that the locals were very friendly so Lea and I went ashore to stretch the legs. (Jalan Jalan). The kids on the beach were very excited to see us and were all over the dinghy. Rod came over to offer them dinghy rides but that scared them off. Evidence of the Tsunami was everywhere. New USA funded bridges, massive erosion, damaged buildings and 3 storey Tsunami Shelters.
The little concrete village houses were all neat and well kept with fruit trees maturing nicely. Cattle wander around without fear of the traffic or people. Everyone slows down and goes around them. The Mosque is the central feature of the village and locals were hammering away and building something inside as we passed. Lea had had her shoulders and arms covered but her exposed knees caused a stir with the village males. The young boys on the beach were scantily dressed but the young girls on their roller blades were covered head to toe with hijab and long dresses. All were delightfully happy and excited to wave and say hello to us.
A few shops and local eating places were along the road but none seemed likely to be able to produce an evening meal for us so we headed back to the boat.
Sunday March 4
An 0730 start with no wind and a SW swell. We will not put up the main now unless the breeze is up enough to fill it. Big decision whether to turn back to Pangkor 700Nm or continue on 1700Nm. We decide to continue, just may have to burn more diesel than we prefer. We motored most of the day to cover the 50Nm down to Meulaboh. A coal fired Power Station was nearby and many barges, ships and tug boats were anchored both in the bay and offshore. Large and colourful, wooden fishing boats came passed on their way home for a closer look. They were filled with young, aggressively friendly locals keen for a closer look at the boats and a perve at the girls.
Sunset was very red, supposedly a good omen for sailors.
Monday March 5
A busy night with hours and hours of thunder and lightning close by and torrential rain. The anchor alarm went off with every wind shift but the holding in the bay was good and we didn’t move. Our plan for an early morning visit to the market was delayed by more rain. Eventually it cleared and we headed by dinghy into the canal that runs through the centre of town. We passed ice works, fuel station together with hundreds of colourful boats tied to the wharfs.
Lots of boat repair and boat building facilities. People were everywhere, all busy in this very happening town.
We found a place to leave the dinghy’s near the fish market and went ashore to explore. The market was awesome with lots of fresh produce.
The fish market was a bit confronting with so many shark varieties. At least they eat them all and don’t just take the fins.
We were all appropriately dressed and the people were very friendly but not used to seeing many Westerners. One man near the fish market spoke a little English so we chatted to him for a while. Lea was finding that a few of the the young men were giving her what appeared to be obscene hand gestures. Not sure!
Back on the boats we prepared for an overnight passage to Palau Banyak 130Nm south. It was a slow but easy motor all through the night. No usable breeze at all. However, it was very calm and we encountered no storms. THe sunrise revealed a squall line but it wasn’t heading our way.
We arrived at the delightful lagoon off Palau Belah and spent some time trying to find a good place to anchor, eventually coming back to where Sea Monkey had anchored in 17m of coral rubble which felt less than secure. Settled at last we were ready for a coffee and some rest. It wasn’t long before we heard persistent yelling from the main jetty opposite us. Lea checked through the binoculars and saw a group of uniformed people trying to get our attention. We ignored it for a while but then decided we had better go an see them before they commandeer a boat and come to us. So unshaven, tired, no shoes and not appropriately dressed we head across to see what they wanted.
It was the Harbourmaster wanting us to “check in”. Then the police, the navy and the army also wanted to check our paperwork. It was our understanding that we should not have to go through this again in Indonesia. Anyway I talked to them for a while and insisted that Lea and I go back to the boat to get cleaned up and dressed appropriately and also inform PP what was required.
We returned ashore in 20 minutes, cleaned up and dressed with Heather off PP and all our paperwork. Thankfully the officials had found an English speaking SAR Navy Officer to act as Interpreter. On a table near the foreshore under some trees we sat down while they poured over and photographed our documents and passports. Happy with the documents they now insisted on on a vessel inspection. Our interpreter assured it would only be 1 or 2. Everybody insisted on coming so we had 5. We insisted the Interpreter come so that made it 6.
So out they came for a brief look and lots of selfies. On a positive note they were all very happy and friendly. Only the army did not remove their big black boots. There was not a hint wanting any “fees”, they were just genuinely interested. We enjoyed chatting to our Interpreter who was at Sail Sabang last year with the Navy ship hosting the Scout Jamboree we saw. After the Rally the scouts spent a month on the ship sailing around Sumatra.
Finally peace and a quiet afternoon.
Wednesday March 7
Picked up Heather for a walk through town while the others went off for a snorkel. The town is very low lying and the streets and houses are built up above water level by coral rubble. Quite densely populated for a little island we saw 2 schools, a dental practice and many small shops. On the other side of the island are lots of boats many for the surf tour holidays. A mixture of dilapidated shacks next to sparkling new concrete houses brightly painted with shiny SS gates. They seem to be able to grow plants in the coral rubble with lots of Mango trees and others lined the well paved streets. One house owner was removing a hedge of Dill, so the girls asked for some.
We ran into the Harbourmaster we had met yesterday. Apparently he was expecting us to visit his office. He understood that the other officials had taken over but as he rightly said they shouldn’t have been involved. As the Harbourmaster and Captain of the Coast Guard he would be the one responsible if we needed assistance and he needed to know our plans and itinerary. It was a valid point and we apologised. We will ensure from now on that the Harbourmaster is the one we go to. We chatted a while and he informed us that the island escaped the Tsunami but that many people lost family members elsewhere. There is a mass burial site and memorial on the little island of Palau Bagu next to us.
Our next stop was 15Nm away at the bottom of Palau Tuangku directly opposite Bay of Plenty. No villages and stunning beaches. There is also a high tide dinghy passage through to the Bay of Plenty and its Surf Camps.
We explored, swam, found coconuts and had a great combined dinner on PP with Roast Pork, Green Mango Salad and freshly made Pina Colada’s. Dessert of freshly baked banana muffins. Good music and dancing party night. Fly screens all in to keep out the mozzies.
Thursday March 8
A very hot still day. Dripping sweat doing nothing. Took the dinghy over to Bay of Plenty through the mangroves. Glad we chose our anchorage as it is much better than the Bay itself. Off season at the moment but the breaks, though small were still setting up well. The camps were all closed but for a few local caretakers. Would be a magic getaway for dedicated surfer dudes.
Thursday Feb 22
A brilliant sail with a 15kt Easterly, broad reaching with full main and screecher. Just 7Nm from our waypoint at Koh Lipe I looked up to check the sail trim and noticed the seam just below the first reef point was coming apart. The split hadn’t gone all the way through but deamination of the taffeta and mylar left the area hanging by the carbon/technora threads.
No choice but to return to Langkawi and seek repairs. We put in the first reef to take the pressure off and motorsailed back toward Kuah. As soon as we were back in phone range I got onto Jon and Sue on Ocelot as I knew they had a sailmaker onboard today fitting there new sails. I sent pictures to them and Phil from Zoom Sails kindly had a look. He referred me to Yachtworx and Hanni there was very helpful and agreed to help arrange pick up of the sail tomorrow morning from Telaga Harbour. So we diverted to Telaga. Rang the marina but they were full so we anchored outside and set about demounting and packing up the Main once again. We are getting good at it and all went well.
Posted our disappointment on FB and our Sailmaker back in Pangkor messaged us to say he would drive up tomorrow, catch the ferry out to Langkawi and fix the sail for us. Au Wei had worked on the sail and advised us that early signs of deamination were starting to show. However, the area that failed was not related to work he had done.
We also learnt later that James Khoo from Pangkor Marina also saw Lea’s FB post and immediately rang Mr Teh to see if any assistance could be offered. Mr Teh had great delight in telling James that he had already been to the loft, loaded his ute with the necessary repair fabrics and was ready to depart first thing in the morning. We agreed to meet at Langkawi Yacht Club and informed Yachworx to thank them for their offer of assistance and cancel the morning offload.
Friday Feb 23
Off before first light to catch the tide to Kuah. Arrived just after 9.00am and contacted Langkawi Yacht Club. They fitted us in straight away and we tied up near Psycho Puss for an unexpected early reunion.
Au Wei and his assistant duly arrived and our sail was repaired at a very modest price. Unbelievable service! Au Wei used sticky back material after pulling off all the delaminated outer material. The first layer was a reinforced mylar sheet followed by a heavy tight weave cloth. He didn’t think anyone else would have that material and believed stitching in a Dacron panel would fail immediately.
It was a long hot afternoon on the dock for the boys.
We also thank James Khoo of Pangkor Marina Malaysia who also responded to Lea’s post with an offer of assistance. We can’t thank these people enough for the level of commitment, service and friendship we have experienced.
As an aside, our sails are Quantum Fusion M Carbon Technora commissioned back in 2012. We went against the advise of many in selecting these sails and those detractors have proved correct in regards longevity of these sails especially in a cruising and tropical environment. However, these sails have given us 6 years of stunning performance and beautiful shape, its just a shame the membrane breaks down in this environment. At least they will die doing what they do best, driving Gemini Lady forward fast. To any others considering new sails that won’t end up bags pushing them sideways (that means all variations of Dacron) our next sails will be Tri radial cut design with off the roll Carbon Technora Cruising laminate. They should give us at least 10 years, be easier to repair, and lighter.
We were and are a bit humbled by the care, concern and great service offered by our friends here in Malaysia.
A few beers with Au Wei before he went off for a shower and to catch the ferry before a long drive home.
The main was on the coach house roof ready to rig with battens in when the heavens opened and it bucketed down for a few hours. It had all settled by 8.00pm so we put the Main back on in the dark. We really are getting good at it.
Saturday Feb 24
A good morning run up the hill again but pushing it hard this time. Felt good! Met Jon and Sue on the way down. They have been doing the walk every day. Back at the marina we checked out. 147MYR plus 18MYR for water and power. Big price jump since last time. Re anchored near Ocelot and enjoyed a bonus sundowners with them.
Dinghied back to Charlies Bar at the Yacht Club for dinner. It was a bit of a Sail Indo 2015 reunion with Heather and Neal off Tiki, James and Cindy off You You, Heather and Rod off Psycho Puss plus Jan and Rich off Slipaway and Martin and Ivy who had joined PP for our Sumatra trip and a few others we didn’t know. Great night talking all thing cruising.
Sunday Feb 25
Anchor lifted at first light with a favourable tide and nice NE breeze. Once clear of the channel the spinnaker was up for 8 hours of easy sailing while PP was having the usual issues running dead down wind with the main blanketing the screecher. Motorsailed after dropping the kite at dusk until the breeze freshened about 4.00am.
Monday Feb 26
On daylight we popped the kite again and had a great run all day clocking over 102Nm in 12 hours. Ship traffic was much better this time with only one tanker in our path. Negotiated settlement saw us luffing slightly to pass Port to Port. PP wanted to go the other way to hold his goose winged screecher so the poor captain had to thread the needle between the 2 cats.
We had a visit from a small fishing boat a long way offshore. They gestured for food and drink so we dropped over an inflated plastic bag with some goodies in it. We were doing around 9 kts under kite so it was a bit hard to slow down. Hopefully they got it all ok.
Broke the rule and kept the spinnaker up after dark to within 3Nm of Sabang. Well, we figured light from the full moon counted. Took a mile to get the spinnaker doused and put away. Motored into Sabang Harbour and picked up a mooring. all settled by 10.00pm. We had covered 269Nm in 39 hours with only 8 hours of motorsailing from anchorage to anchorage. PP arrived a couple of hours later.
Monday Feb 27
We were woken by the Harbourmaster at 1.00am calling us on the radio. It took a while for us to realise he was calling us. He just wanted to confirm that we would stay on our boats until we were boarded tomorrow for formalities.
Another call in the morning had us scurrying around with 5 minutes to spare before the officials came. it took us a while to realise that we hadn’t turned our clocks back an hour for Indo time and there was no rush after all.
Our clearance into Indonesia commenced at 9.00am. We picked up Jack the Quarantine Officer first. He went through the boat and commandeered a beer for himself that evening. He also wanted to try out open bottle of red wine in the fridge. It was a very average red and he didn’t like it either. Paperwork in triplicate, inspection of the boat and medical supply box, all went well. Then he asked for our “Green Book”. We had received one back in Kupang in 2015. It is part of the old Indonesian Quarantine Red Tape that we thought had been abolished. We have not been asked for it since 2015. So we dug out our old “Green Book” and all was good again, Jack was happy.
Heather off PP picked up Jack and we went to pick up the next load of officials. This time with the help ofHeather and PP’s dinghy we had 6 aboard consisting of Harbourmaster, Customs and Immigration. Same, same checked everything and expressions of shock about how much alcohol we had. We knew the drill and assured them it would not go ashore (as if). The sky was turning black and the weather closing in. Formalities can’t be rushed, so we were going to be stuck with these guys for some time.
The rain came in a deluge together with strong wing gusts, thunder and lightning. A half hour with 6 blokes and limited communication is a long time. A break in the weather and we got them shipped over to PP. PP ended up hosting them for a couple of hours as a major tropical storm moved in and hovered right above us. Cost them a few beers too. Our Battery BMS tripped twice so we went dark ship, disconnecting and isolating everything we could and putting all portable electronics in the microwave. An hour or 2 later all was peaceful again.
Then it was into town to get our stamped “Green Book” at Quarantine. I got quite testy here when the lovely young lady doing our paperwork indicated that we needed to show our “Green Book” at every stop. Quarantine charged 60000 Rupiah ($6.00AUD) for the privilege. Immigration was next to retrieve our passports. Lots more photos and selfies but no problem. Customs kept us for a long time as we accessed their “Yachters” online system to enter our route plan. That all then had to be printed out on official non standard size A4 paper that doesn’t fit our paperwork wallets.
By now it is 1800 hours and we still haven’t visited the Harbourmaster. We have no conscience since he woke us up at 0100 in the morning asking for our clear out papers. An hour and a half later we are done.
Officially cleared into Indonesia and cleared out of Sabang to move on tomorrow. Only took 10 hours but we did sort out SIM cards and Internet access as well. (For a fraction of the price in Australia)
If I seem a bit snarky about it all I am. During the Sail Sabang Rally we were asked what could the Government do to encourage more yachts to visit. The obvious answer is to get rid of the red tape and streamline the clearing in and visa process. Since we first arrived in Indonesia much progress has been made in this direction and we appreciate that. I also must say the every official we have dealt with has been courteous, polite and genuinely friendly and competent. (With the glaring exception of the staff of the Melbourne, Australia Consulate). While we accept a home invasion for a thorough search at checkin procedure on entry, that is enough for our time in Indonesia.
Our long suffering Sponsor and Agent Raymond works tirelessly to remove the bureaucracy impediments that make life difficult for us. He has advised us that the Quarantine Office in Sabang, via his Government contacts in Jakarta, has been given instructions to forget about the “Green Book”.
At 19.30 we were all starving and thirsty. Found a local Warung for some Ayam Mee Goring.
Wednesday Feb 28
A perfect day dawned and we were off to the market to stock up with fresh produce. Had to look hard but we found a few gems. Parsley, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass and a huge hand of small bananas. Great pineapples and Honeydew melons. plenty of tomatoes and the abundant fish looked fresh and popular. A savvy local caught our attention and sold us on his omelettes. Enjoyed a good breakfast with local sweet coffee.
We dropped our mooring mid morning and headed over to Palau Rubiah. Safe, deep water entrance with great visibility. We picked up a spare mooring on the Ibioh side that looked brand new. Lots of blue tailed fish swimming near the water surface. Crystal clear water marred only by the large amounts of plastic rubbish.
Apart from the rubbish the fish life was great. We took the dinghy over to Rubiah Island and had a look around. Then went for a snorkel in the partitioned off area. Here we found a training ground fo new divers with motorbikes and swing sets underwater for fun. The coral was poor but the fish life abundant.
PP arrived lat in the afternoon after a motorbike ride around the Island. We went aboard for sundowners and met Christian a Danish travel guide holidaying here and who just happened to swim out to PP.
Thursday March 1
Georgeous place to wake up. Calm and pretty, albeit with an over zealous call to prayer in the early hours. All adds to the flavour of International Cruising. Internet hour just caused frustration as it is so slow. Walked over to the eastern side of Palau Rubia for a snorkel in the “Sea Garden”. Coral was either damaged or bleached but the fish life was good. Water clarity was awesome clearly revealing the numerous bags and bits of plastic waste.
Ashore for lunch in Ibioh with Kansa, a local tour guide, who chatted to us about Sumatra. Lea enjoyed the restaurant cats as usual.
Sundowners on Gemini Lady and we invited over Isobal and Guillermo from Tin Tin. Long term cruisers from Spain; they have just spent a month cruising the nearby Islands. While Isobel spoke good English it was hard for Guillermo. However, he managed to give me an education on the ITCZ which has such an influence on the weather in this area and the west side of Sumatra.
He now sends me a daily email with the latest map of the ITCZ. This gives us some idea about the probability of nasty storms, wherever we are in Sumatra in particular. He also gave us some good anchoring info in the nearby islands.
The plan tomorrow is to begin our journey down the West Coast of Sumatra.
Thursday February 8 2018
I will leave the Vietnam Trip for now and move onto our current trip. Even though we are supposed to be “cruising”, life is so full it is proving hard to keep up with the record of our travels.
Back to Pangkor with backpacks full of goodies as we maxed out our weight allowance. Our hand luggage was so tightly packed that Melbourne Airport Security wanted everything pulled out. Other than that it was a good flight. The bus to Pangkor was full so we had to wait for the later one, arriving back at the boat at 1.30am. Bloody hot compared to our recent trip up to Mt Hotham and Mt Feathertop.
Gemini Lady was in good condition with not much mould and all systems ok. First job next morning was to clean the cockpit area and move the dinghy back to its cradle. Pangkor is close to a coal fired power station so lots of black dust on the boat. Shade cloth covers over the front windows worked well to keep temperatures down inside. We borrowed Psycho Puss’s car and went off to Mr Teh’s sail loft to check out our repairs. All ok and a reasonable price. Food shopping next at. Aeon and its big western supermarket.
BBQ dinner at Jook’s in Lumut with the current crowd of yachties and caught up with a few familiar faces.
Saturday Feb 10
Early start off to the wet market with John and Kerryn off Esoterica. Great fresh pork and chicken but no beef. Local Roti Cheni for breakfast before heading back to the boat for more prep work. Mainsail delivered back and rear clear fixed with a new zip. All good we thought.
Evening walk with Kerryn and John over to the Marina Island Light Show, all part of the celebrations for Chinese New Year.
The magic and side shows were closed and it was fairly quiet but made for a lovely evening stroll.
Sunday Feb 11
Off for an early morning run. Lea wanted to regain her Strava Crown for her run. Got it with 8 seconds to spare. Next job was our favourite, not: putting on the mainsail. We already had had help to get it up on the coach house roof so the heavy lifting was done. I think we are getting better at it as it all went smoothly. Still a big job and took all morning in the tropical sun.
Removed the shade cloth covers and cleaned the rest of the boat of the black coal dust.
Impromptu drinks on Gemini Lady with Heather and Rod off PP, Kerryn and John off Esoterica and we met new friends Liz and Jamie off Esper an Oyster 43.
Monday Feb 12
We dropped Heather off at the laundry and took the car to clear out with Jabatan Laut and Customs. Quick stop at Aeon for some new bedsheets as Malaysian sized sheets fit our Queen Size mattresses perfectly. A few more food goodies then back to pick up Heather.
I dove on the props with the Hookah and cleaned off all the barnacle growth. Big mistake not to bag them before we left. Again, despite our good prep the primer did not bond well to the props so we had lost most of our antifoul. The rest of the hull and legs looked good with only a bit of slime. Note to self, “Propspeed” seems to be the best of a poor selection of options for the props.
Said our goodbyes and pulled out of Pangkor with Esoterica at 1400. Nice sailing breeze to the little island of Talang 13Nm to the north for a quiet night at anchor.
Woken by 3 gunshots very close by on our uninhabited island. A bit unnerving but we assumed some locals were hunting on the island, possibly shooting monkeys.
We were up and away before daylight, dodging fishing nets that fortunately had lights on their floats. A nice land breeze soon had us sailing for an hour. Back to motorsailing before the afternoon sea breeze came in and we enjoyed a great sail into Penang. Had a problem with the starboard motor. A blocked water intake caused the impeller to shred. First part of fix was to find the blockage. This turned out to be what looked like an octopus beak. Took a bit of clearing out (another reminder that I should have bagged the legs) but eventually water was flooding in nicely again. Then I had to clean out the raw water pump and the lines to the heat exchanger of bits of broken impeller. I also back flushed the heat exchanger core to make sure it was clear. All good, so reassembled with a new impeller. Primed and tested ok.
Sailed under the Penang Causeway and into the Jerejuk Anchorage in time for sundowners aboard Esoterica.
Wednesday Feb 14
Tried to take the shortcut just north of Jerejuk Island but the tide was too low, so after stirring up a lot of mud we retreated south of the Island to get north up to Straits Quay Marina. We advised Esoterica that their AIS was not showing up. John investigated his end and found no problem. So then I started checking our end and discovered the link cable from our AIS into the network was not working. Fortunately I had a spare lead and this fixed the problem. John and I have now both had the same problem with Raymarine Seatalk NG leads failing. Very pleased that John of Straits Quay Marina could fit us in over the busy Chinese New Year Celebrations.
After an afternoon checking out the Straits Quay Marina and a request from PP for some lamb roasts we fired up the big freezer only to find that the fan was not working. Emptied the pantry and checked the wiring. Discovered more “Rat” damage but that was not the problem. Fan was buggered. Had two in spares but the one that fit didn’t seem powerful enough. Decided to swap the vent fan from the Inverter/Charger to the freezer and fit the other spare new fan which was too thick for the freezer to the Inverter Charger. If that seemed like a mouthfull, so was the job. However, eventually all was done and everything working fine.
Revisited our favourite Food Court with John and Kerryn
Thursday Feb 15
Morning run along the foreshore path also popular with the locals for their morning exercise routines. Stocked up the freezer with 4 big Australia lamb roasts from Sam’s Gourmet Supermarket in the Mall then caught the bus into Georgetown. Fabulous Tandoori Lunch at Kapitan then off to wander the streets. Lea and I were keen to visit the Penang Peranakan Mansion Museum which we missed last time. Our guide was great and we enjoyed our tour of this traditional home of a wealthy Peranakan or Baba Nyonya (Chinese Malay marriage) home. The home is extremely ornate with exquisite carvings, lavish furnishings, imported tiles and wrought iron.
The new second owner of the house has also purchased the adjoining 2 houses and added displays of beautiful Chinese artefacts and jewellery. There is also a large collection of Nyonya embroidery, beaded shoes and traditional wedding attire.
It is a fabulous collection and well displayed, giving an insight into the lives of affluent Chinese in times gone by.
Georgetown is very quiet today as being the eve of the first day of Chinese New Year; it is traditionally a family day. Many businesses were closed and finding a restaurant for dinner was a bit of a challenge. After an average meal at a bar we took an Uber up to the Temple of Kek Lok Sei to see the light display. Again this is an annual event at the 127 year old Temple.
I like the one in front best.
Friday Feb 16.
Off to the Chief Ministers Reception at Spice Arena. The girls frocked up and we took an Uber down to Spice Arena, South of Georgetown. The arena was full of tables for VIP guests which included kids from orphanages and with handicaps. We caught up with Elizabeth and Patrick off La Baroque and the Perarduans some old friends from the 2015 Rally through Indonesia. Long queue’s for food but they were feeding about 5000 people we estimated. While waiting we were entertained by a vibrant young dance troupe, Acrobatic Chinese Dogs and popular local singer.
While eating there was more entertainment after the customary speeches. An excellent magician and a comedian juggler as finale.
Relaxing afternoon at a The Mansion waterfront Hotel Bar catching up with John and Cec off Delphian. Our favourite food court was closed so we settled for expensive burgers and fries at an Aussie Bar back at the Quay.
Saturday Feb 17
Morning run and final load of washing. Last marina for us for about 10 weeks we thought. Waited for the tide to come in before we could leave the marina. Silting is a big problem here due to massive land reclamation works nearby. THe afternoon breeze gave us a brilliant sail to Palau Paya. We arrived just on nightfall and found 1 free mooring. Esoterica was an hour behind and we prepared for her to raft up in the calm conditions.
Sunday Feb 18.
A few hours sleep before the building NE breeze made the raft up untenable so at midnight we set off for Kuah, Langkawi 20NM away. A beam on breeze and sea made for a bumpy passage. No main to keep the speed down as it was a pitch black night and fishing nets always a worry. Nice to drop the anchor in Kuah around 4.00am and get some more sleep after the local Mosques finished their early morning call to prayer.
Mid morning we emerged to find Reverie and Ocelot close by. Reverie had seen us as they up anchored bound for Penang but dropped it again to catch up with us. Moved Gemini Lady closer inshore and then visited Ocelot for a catch up and coffee. Lots to discuss re our Nepal Trekking Adventure coming up in May with them. Jon also had my 2 replacement Alternator Regulators.
Then out to Reverie to catch up with Peter and Denise. We organised a potluck dinner aboard Gemini Lady. Kerryn and John declined as they were on a mission to get up to Thailand. They went off to clear into Langkawi then out of Malaysia. Once the formalities were complete they headed off. They had delayed their trip to do part of Chinese New Year with us at Penang. We will miss their company.
Our potluck dinner was a great night, enjoyed by all.
Monday Feb 19
Cleared in then went up to the new chandlery at Langkawi Yacht Club to pick up the Spectra Watermaker Pickling Compound we had ordered. Looked at a new Fischer Panda NEO 5000i genset. Very impressive little unit. Then off to restock the booze cupboard for the next 4 months.
5 slabs Skol beer
4 slabs Carlsberg
1 slab Anchor beer
2 litres Blue Sapphire Gin
1 litre Spiced Dark Rum
18 1 litre bottles white wine
12 bottles Chardonnay
12 bottles Cab Sav
All for less than $500.00AUD
Took a taxi back to the dinghy dock and got a few looks as we loaded our haul into the dinghy.
Tuesday Feb 20
A 7.30 am meet up with Jon and Sue to climb the hill behind Kuah. A steep 8km round trip as part of our Nepal Training. Dinghy was stranded by the tide when we returned so enjoyed an iced coffee while we waited. Met Christine from Galacsea, an Amel 54, and were invited aboard for sundowners. Also discovered an Inerphase Forward Lookig Sonar Head Unit for sale on the noticeboard. Ours had died following the Lightning Strike back in 2015 and couldnt be replaced. Assuming our transducer is still ok this would be a great find.
Other jobs for the day included re commissioning the watermaker and readjusting the generator governor back to the old settings as now it was revving too low. Another trip to town to change some money. We also visited another supermarket just out of town and managed to get a good supply of frozen beef cubes. The fruit and veggies were awful so will need another trip to Billion Supermarket in the morning.
Spent a very enjoyable evening onboard Galacsea with Christine and JP, Sue and Jon. Great conversation and hospitality. We may sail with them out to Koh Lipe tomorrow as we set sail for Sumatra.
Wednesday Feb 21
Another hill climb this morning followed by laundry and last minute stock up with fresh food. Cleared out for depature tomorrow. Psycho Puss had arrived from Pangkor so we caught up with them to discuss our trip to Sumatra. We handed over the kayak we had picked up from Penang for them together with 1 of the lamb roasts. Prominent in our discussions was the recent big erruption of Mt Sinabung. PP was waiting to pick up friends on Sunday. We thought we would spend a day or 2 at Koh Lipe before we met up at Sabang. That was the plan anyway.