SailingPosted by Chris Sat, August 20, 2016 11:15:00
On our return from our land travels it was time to clear our personal 'stuff' and deliver Tulu to Langkawi in Malaysia where she will be handed over to her new owner (you cannot sell a foreign boat in Thailand). We sold bits, gave away more bits, threw away even more bits and left most of the non-personal things on board. We packed what we really wanted to take home into 4 checkin plus one excess bags - not easy!
We checked the boat out of Thailand with customs and immigration, and left Phuket Yacht Haven to sail to Langkawi. We had good wind, rather big seas and luckily not too much rain and arrived safely in Telaga Marina a couple of days later. At 9am on Thursday 18th August we said our sad farewells to the boat that has carried us most of the way round the world - very emotional!
From Langkawi we drove back to Phuket from where we fly home (we already had the ticket - it's just now one-way).
Having lived on board Tulu for the last six years it was never going to be easy to sell her (emotionally) but the deal is done and we can now move on to our next project of getting a barge to cruise the inland waterways of Europe. In the meantime we shall be living in Fowey in Cornwall, spending lots of time with family (if they'll have us) and reestablishing our feet on dry land - but not for too long........
As the pages and photo gallery of this website shows we have been to some wonderful places, met great people, and made some very special friends. We've learnt a lot (I hope) and loved life as cruisers. This will be our last post in this story - thanks for tuning in!
Chris and Sara xx
SailingPosted by Chris Thu, March 03, 2016 10:17:49
Oh dear, we have been in Phuket, Thailand for nearly three months and this is the first time that we have put pen to paper - or should I say fingers to keyboard.
We spent our first week finding our way around before the kids arrived to spend Christmas with us on Tulu. Will and Charlotte arrived as scheduled but poor Jonno and Bex were delayed until the next morning thanks to a delay in Abu Dhabi - they were barely given a chance to unpack before we set off in an airconditioned (very welcome) minibus for a sightseeing tour of Phuket island. The rest of our 11 days together was spent out on the water on Tulu with the punctuation of Christmas Eve and Day which we spent with Tracy and Jonny - Charlottes mother and brother. On Christmas eve we took them out on Tulu, spent the night anchored off their resort, then had Christmas Day in the luxurious Six Senses Resort and Spa on Koh Yau Noi. Prior to that we had investigated the karsts and hongs of Phang Nga Bay (see photo gallery) and then we made our way around the south of Phuket and up the west coast to Nai Yang Beach just south of the airport where we were able to drop the kids on the beach to take a very short taxi ride to the airport. Their departure came all too soon - we had such fun paddle boarding, sampling the local food, swimming, beach massages, evenings playing Mexican train dominoes and generally relaxing and catching up on each others lives.
After a couple of weeks break, Judy (Sara’s sister) and her partner Barry joined us for 5 days at the end of their 3 month tour of Indochina, then Rog (Sara’s brother) and his wife Lou joined us for 2 weeks followed by Simon and Elaine for another 5 days. It was lovely to have such good friends and family with us - quite a contrast to the last two years when visitors have been very few and far between.
We have had some great sailing around Phuket and found some lovely spots. The west coast - despite the great beaches - is very crowded with jetskis and speed boats buzzing around and landing the dingy ashore can be challenging at times. Towards the Krabi coast on the mainland to the east, the scenery and the water is stunning, but again full of long-tails, the local boats which have truck engines (no silencers) with unprotected props on the end of very long shafts that they swing around to maneuver - they have to be seen and heard to be believed!
With Rog and Lou we were able to venture further afield down to Koh Lanta and Koh Muk further south where we found much quieter and clearer waters. With Simon and Elaine we spent our time in Phang Nga Bay amongst the spectacular cliffs of the karst limestone and investigating the caves and hongs (literally translated in Thai as “room”) where the roofs of vast caves have collapsed to create quite amazing natural spaces.
It has been over 20 years since we last came to Phuket and although the Thai people are still as friendly, the food still as tasty and the beaches still as beautiful, there is the inevitable enormous increase in the number of tourists and the infrastructure to support them. Despite that we are very comfortable in Thailand. We have plans to do some overland travel later in the year when we return from the UK.
As I write this we have just hauled Tulu out of the water and she will stay on dry land for three months whilst we go home to catch up with family and friends and most importantly celebrate Jonno and Bex’s wedding in April.
SailingPosted by Chris Sat, December 12, 2015 00:56:23
We decided that although we had been in a rally for the last four months we would join the ‘Sail Malaysia rally passage to Langkawi’ which started just after our arrival in Johur. The timing fitted well with our aim of being in Thailand by mid December and it was a good way to have a first look at what the west coast of Malaysia has to offer from a yachting perspective. Unlike in Indonesia this rally went from marina to marina with five stops in a month - we joined rather loosely - often making our own way and dipping in and out of the tours and dinners as we felt inclined. We had rather had our fill of cultural dances and buffet dinners by this stage and we soon realised that, although Malaysia is rather more organised and grownup than Indonesia (or so they like to think), there are many similarities .- to our surprise the language is virtually identical, Sara’s efforts to learn Bahasa were not wasted, although the level of english in Malaysia is excellent.
As we made our way up the coast we were appalled by the amount of rubbish and debris in the water. Sailing at night was quite hazardous so we tried to stick to day sailing if the distances between safe anchorages permitted. There are so many fishing boats laying nets, pots and trawling that it is hard to believe there are any fish left in the sea and the hundreds of boats moving in mostly unpredictable patterns made navigation quite a challenge.
Although the Malacca Straits coast of Malaysia was not particularly interesting and the water not very clear, we took the opportunity to take a day trip to Kuala Lumpur and spent a night in Melaka which is steeped in history. We were very excited to reach Penang where Chris had travelled several times on business and we had holidayed as a family when we lived in Hong Kong. Although it had changed quite a bit in the last 25 years the old part of George Town was largely the same and we thoroughly enjoyed exploring properly - its history and culture sharing much with Malacca. We had a wonderful morning on a Heritage and Taste bicycle tour of George Town. Our guide Ken was a real character and led us through the back streets on our ‘sit up and beg’ bikes whilst he blasted music from his mini ghetto blaster (or modern equivalent). The music ranged from Billy Joel, Elvis, Beatles to Celine Dion and the Gangham Style song. It was only the two of us and Ken so at junctions it was no problem, he put up his hand, blew his whistle repeatedly and the traffic stopped (mostly). We explored the Chinese clan jetties, Kongsi clan houses, temples, mosques, markets, street art and visited the Hong Kong Shoe Store where Jimmy Choo learned his trade and they still hand make shoes. We had breakfast of various rotis, visited the local market and then sampled Penang specialities such as Koay Teow and Penang laksa. Amazingly not once did Chris complain about riding the bike (not that the distances we that big). Penang was every bit as special as we remembered it and we look forward to sailing back down next year to explore further.
The same held for our next and final stop in Malaysia, Langkawi and we are looking forward to returning. The surrounding bays and islands are beautiful and the water getting much cleaner so it was lovely to be swimming again although not clear enough to snorkel (that could be a seasonal thing due to the heavy rains). Langkawi is a duty free island making it a great place to take delivery of imported boat parts so we picked up new nets (tramps) ordered from the States and fitted them whilst there as the old ones were no longer safe to stand on. We did not have long in Langkawi before it was time to say farewell to our rally friends and dash up to Phuket, get checked in and start finding our way around before the kids join us for Christmas. Apart from David joining us for two weeks in August we have not had anyone on the boat since leaving Australia and its amazing how you fill the space you have, so its time to stow things properly and get rid of a lot of the “we’d better keep that just in case” stuff.
We are going to be based in a marina in Phuket for the next three months and cruising locally from there. We are looking forward to it as we have been on the move for quite a while. Jonno, Bex, Will and Charlotte will be with us over Christmas and to say that we are excited would be the understatement of the year.......
Who knows what 2016 will hold for us. We shall be home in the UK for 3 months around Jonno and Bex’s wedding in April and then plan to come home to visit again later in the year before it gets too cold - its certainly much easier to get home from here than it has been for the last couple of years.
SailingPosted by Chris Wed, November 04, 2015 08:01:28
We arrived on the island of Belitung, back in a haze of smog. This would be our last chosen official rally stop, from where we would check out of Indonesia. Each day had a different level of smog and smoke as the winds changed and soon conditions improved. We had a great time as most of the fleet congregated to go through official paper work for either visa extensions or checkout procedures. We took a trip to the main town and drove into the centre of the island to find the worlds smallest monkey, the tarsius, an endangered species found and protected in this area (see photo gallery, it is really cute!). We also took our dingy, with cruiser friends, to the Dutch lighthouse a couple of miles from our anchorage. It is quite a structure which was fabricated in Holland and assembled in Belitung in the late 1800’s.
Once we were checked out of Indonesia we still had nearly three hundred miles to go to get to Singapore and Malaysia. We travelled in company with a couple of other boats, Champagne Charlie and Shakti and together with them we made a long two day and one night trip to South East Lingaa and then day hopped the remaining miles. The highlight of this trip was on 30th October when we crossed back into the northern hemisphere after 20 months and 2 days in the south. We celebrated with an equator swim and the compulsory tot of rum (or Bintang beer in Chris' case) which was shared with Neptune of course! That evening we had a wacky fancy dress party on board to mark the occasion - a first equator crossing for Champagne Charlie.
A couple more night stops and we could see the Singapore skyline ahead. Luckily for us the NW monsoon seems to be kicking in, resulting in clearer skies and less smog - however several huge thunder storms have sent our ipads, sat phone, mobile phone, laptop etc into the microwave - the nearest thing we have to a Faraday cage. The rain that has come with the thunder storms has given Tulu a very welcome rinse - but we still cant wait to get into a marina for a proper boat wash!
As I write this we are crossing the shipping lanes in the Singapore straits making our way from Indonesia into Malaysia - our destination is Puteri marina near Johur Baru, not far from the causeway over to Singapore.
Our four month journey through Indonesia has been wonderful - smiling friendly people living mainly simple lives in a vast archipelago nation made up of thousands of islands covering an area that spans 3000 miles. Indonesia is one of the most highly populated countries in the world with the majority of the population being moslem but there are large hindu, buddhist and christian communities. Apparently half of the 300 million population is under 21 which might explain the number of children every where we went, all giggling, calling 'hello Mister' and staring at the white people and their boats, while of course wanting their photo taken. We have had an a amazing journey and unforgettable experiences, singing and dancing, motor bikes, fishing boats, bright colours, dust, volcanoes, forests and above all generous warm- hearted people. The camaraderie of our rally fleet with always someone to share a drink or help out with repairs has been a real pleasure.
Saying all that - we are now ready to leave nasi goreng and cumbersome bureaucracy behind for a while!
Terima karsi. Sampi jumpa!
As we prepare to post this we have just tied up in Puteri Marina, not far from Johor Bahru, Malaysia - across the straits from Singapore. Our first marina for 4 months - mains water and power, shops, bars, restaurants and civilisation............off for and Indian curry.
SailingPosted by Chris Fri, October 23, 2015 02:36:31
In the original rally schedule our next stop should have been in Kumai in South Kalimantan where we were to take a trip up the river to see orangutans in the wild. Sadly we were advised to bypass this stop as the seemingly perpetual forest fires in that area were reducing visibility to dangerous levels and the smoke was reported to be really bad. Therefore our next stop, still on Borneo, was Ketapang in West Kalimantan. Although covered in a layer of smog and gloom, the smoke in this area was not so bad.
The anchorage was 3 miles up the Pawan river. As we arrived we radioed ahead and a police launch came to give us a blue-light escort up the river showing us the way between the sandbanks. As soon as we had anchored, which was not an easy task as the river was fast flowing with eddies and currents and changing winds, we were urged to go ashore. Each boat, or small group of boats, was greeted on the dock by a welcoming committee comprising a local beauty queen, various officials and guides and a local priest who daubed our feet with a white liquid to protect us while we were there. They then gave us local woven sashes, local delicacies to eat and performed a traditional dance.
The jetty on to which we tied our dinghies was jam packed with locals coming to look at the boats, everyone wanting to touch us and take our photo - the jostling was such that if we wanted to walk down the jetty we had to have “minders” clearing our path. We were the first western visitors on yachts to arrive in Ketapang and were such a curiosity for the people of the area. Knowing this we were amazed by the high level of english of our guides - most of whom were high school pupils who have learned english in school and from watching english movies and listening to western music - one of our guides we an avid fan of One Direction!!
The people of Kalimantan are a real cultural mix with at least six religions - the strong Malay influence was evident. The Dayak Indians are the indigenous people of Kalimantan and we were invited to visit a Dayak village. We were entertained with the traditions of the Dayak people at what turned out to be a wild and bizarre house party. For many of us the most memorable part (not necessarily a pleasant memory) was when one of the heavily painted, be-feathered tribesmen bit the head off a live chicken and then proceeded to eat the head and suck the blood from the beheaded bird. This was supposedly to give him strength, and in a trancelike state he and several others balanced on a frame of upturned machete blades. Several other rituals were performed in various states of stupor. Much music, dancing, shouting and eating - certainly different to anything else we’ve seen, and as it turned out many of our guides had not seen these rituals before.
International Animal Rescue have an orangutan rehabilitation centre in Ketapang. Although this is not normally open to the public, the ministry of tourism requested they allow small groups to visit the facility to find out about their work. It was really interesting with the aim of their work to relocate wild orangutan who are in danger from habitat loss (principally due to forest clearing and burning for the palm oil industry) or rescue young orangutan and put them through an education programme to allow them to be released, if not into the wild, into the semi wild. Whilst at the centre the only orangutans we were supposed to see where the ones in cages that are “lost causes” - meaning that they are beyond rehabilitation and will have to remain in captivity. We were lucky enough to see a young orangutan being carried from “jungle school” to the clinic as it was rather lethargic and need to be checked out by the vet. All the time we were near where the orangutans are housed we had to wear surgical masks for infection control and there was the ever present police escort. From the rescue centre we went to the urban swamp forest where we saw gibbon and proboscis monkeys and were dressed in Dayak costumes.
The visit to Ketapang was regally rounded off by a gala dinner at the Regent’s residence followed by much dancing - particularly for Sara as usual - even with the chief of police! The following morning we headed back down the river, happy to be leaving the smog behind us, but sad to say farewell to the lovely people of Ketapang.....
(Unknown to us we were not leaving the smoke behind - a seasonal hazard in western Indonesia)
SailingPosted by Chris Fri, October 23, 2015 02:35:35
On the two night passage from Bali to the island of Karimunjawa, off the coast of Java, we were certainly kept on our toes and had to keep a particularly vigilant watch all the time as we dodged fishing boats, fish attractors, tugs towing massive unlit barges, oil and gas platforms and of course cargo ships and tankers - mind you - at least the big ships are on AIS and are predictable! Saying that, we had a great sail and even caught a nice mahi mahi, our first in Indonesia.
Karimunjawa is a sleepy little town and island with good snorkelling and a generally relaxed atmosphere. We had our usual welcome rally festivities with the organisers inviting us to be dressed in traditional Javanese costumes for the evening. The ladies amongst us had visions of wearing the beautifully colourful slinky bejwelled outfits that we have seen so often as we watch the local dancing, but alas we were wrong - we were dressed in the most drab shapeless sacks you could imagine, but of course had to make all the appropriate noises about how lovely they were. Anyway it was a bit of a giggle and apart from sweating buckets as these outfits were over the clothes we were wearing, we had a good evening.
The next morning Lynne from Sunchaser and Sara joined a small group to take the ferry across to Java and travel inland to visit some of the iconic temples of Java. We left Chris and Peter on the boats as the thought of them travelling for hours just to visit a few temples was not worth considering - not Chris’ cup of tea. Sara and Lynne had a good time despite the four hour ferry ride followed by a seven hour journey in a minibus into central Java - not helped by horrendous traffic jams and a flat tyre! They say Java is one of the most highly populated islands in the world - and I can believe it - also with probably more motorbikes than most places. Even in the countryside the roads were really busy.
Having been travelling all day we arrived in Prambanan to watch the Ramayama ballet at the Trimurti open-air stage with a backdrop of Prambanan hindu temple illuminated behind - a stunning setting, beautiful costumes and mesmerizing dancing and the trials of a long journey were forgotten. The story of Ramayama is the Indonesian version of Romeo and Juliet - Rama and Shinta being the lovers. Although we missed the beginning this turned out to be the highlight of the trip.
After a night in Yogyakarta we visited the Sultans Palace then returned to visit the 10th century Hindu complex of Prambanan. This is the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia and is characterised by the intricate tall pointed architecture of its principal temples dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma and hundreds of surrounding shrines and reliefs depicting the story of Ramayans. In 2006 a strong earthquake destroyed much of the temple complex and since then they have been meticulously restored - an on going process at this World Heritage site.
In the afternoon we visited another Unesco World Heritage Site - the impressive Buddhist temple of Borobudur - another breathtaking visit. This temple was built in about 800AD in the form of a stepped pyramid and and sitting on each level are 72 stupas, each containing a Buddha figure. A series of five square bases is succeeded by three circular terraces representing the spiritual journey from the life of desire, through meditation to Nirvana. Built of blocks of lava rock it has nearly 1500 carved story panels and 504 statues of Buddha. Having been abandoned around the 14th century Borobudur was buried under layers of volcanic ash and tropical foliage until re-discovered by Sir Stamford Raffles, the British Governor General of Java in 1814.
From Borobudur we drove back to Jepara to spend the night in a hotel before going to the market then taking the ferry (a fast one this time) back to Karimunjawa - phew - a whilstle stop tour of some wonderful sites in central Java, but well worth the effort.
Back on Tulu, we invited a few friends over for sundowners to help celebrate Sara’s birthday. As we planned to leave at first light the following morning we decided to keep the birthday party low key - we should have known better - music and dancing on the aft deck with copious amounts of alcohol - oh well - we had a great night!
To everyones surprise we did manage to leave at first light the next morning for the passage up to west Kalimantan on the southwest of Borneo.....
SailingPosted by Chris Thu, October 08, 2015 03:39:19
Instead of stopping in Medana Bay on Lombok where the planned rally stop was, we decided to duck out of the official dinner this time and head to the island of Gili Air, just off the north west of Lombok. Along with neighbouring Gili Meno and Gili Trawandan these islands are a well known holiday destination among backpackers - we increased the average age considerably. The anchorage was very peaceful at night, but in the day we had constant washes from ferry and snorkel boats coming in and out. We originally picked up a mooring ball only to find that we dragged on it so we changed to a larger one which had a much bigger lump of concrete on its base. Together with a number of other rally boats we had a great few days of partying. The first night was Brooke’s birthday (Psycho Puss) and two days later was Lynne’s (Sunchaser) - each time we celebrated with cocktails on the beach followed by dinner - how civilised - so we didn’t get out of training we did the same the evening in between as well!
Gili Air was a lovely, very flat island, nice beaches and no cars - only pony and trap as transport. A pure holiday island with lots of single story hostels, cabins, shops, restaurants and bars. We were able to walk around the island and across the middle - past the one mosque for the locals. Everything comes on and off the island by boat and, with no vehicles, is unloaded by hand. We saw building stones being carried up the beach one at a time and the foundations for new buildings being dug by hand.
We slipped from the mooring ball in Gili Air (intentionally this time) at 2.00am for the sail along the north coast of Bali to arrive in Lovina beach before dusk the next day. During the night we had a full moon and by the time we were off the coast of Bali we had daylight which was just as well as there were numerous fishing boats out at first light and the coastal waters were littered with fish attractors - some of which were barely visible until very close - a known hazard in this area and hence the timing of the passage.
We only had five days in Bali which we were determined to make the most of. The island has a very different feel and look to it, principally as it is predominantly Hindu with ornate temples and architecture. The northern side of Bali is much quieter than the south where the tourist mecca is centred - Kuta beach near Denpesar, know for its large waves and parties. Although quieter, everything is relative, the roads were very busy with motor bikes buzzing amongst the lorries and buses, often laden with an entire family, and animals - we even saw a mattress on the back of a moped. In order to have a good look around we decided to take our lives in our hands and hire a scooter for the day - in fact we borrowed one from Dalman, the boat boy who greeted us as we came into the anchorage and who arranged to fill our cans with fuel. Unlike many we at least wore helmets - Chris drove and started off quite gingerly as we wended our way through the hills behind Lovina past paddy fields, clove and cocoa plantations taking in the intoxicating smell of the spices and the incense from the temples and shrines, trying to ignore the piles of plastic rubbish. As Chris’ confidence grew we got faster and faster and by the time we got in to the town of Singaraja we were swerving in and out with the best of them - luckily we returned to Lovina unscathed.
The rally’s stop in Lovina coincided with the annual Lovina Festival with lots of competitions, local music and dancing each day. We were invited to one such event which was billed as bull racing so we all walked along to a nearby village to witness this event and quite a spectacle it turned out to be. Rather than racing for speed the bulls, elaborately adorned with bells and bright colours, were paired into yolks pulling a low cart on which the ‘driver’ balances. They would go from end to end of the the field with their tails up and heads back - prizes being awarded for the most coordinated, high stepping bulls and seemingly the exuberance of the driver. Whilst eagerly awaiting the verdict of the judges (Chris had a beer riding on the result) we were yet again entertained with balinese dancing and music.
The following day, and our last in Bali, the rally participants were invited for a day out including a visit to the Brahma Vihara Arama buddhist temple, a cocoa museum, hot springs and we were welcomed into the home of the farmer in the village of Umagero - well inland from the coast. Chris decided that he had done with being a tourist so stayed with the boat whilst Sara joined the tour. It was a great day, again having a good look at the countryside, towns and villages (this time from the more relaxed seat of a car rather than a moped). The village of Umagero had not opened its doors to visitors before and their welcome and hospitality was overwhelming - the farmer (who employs most of the villagers) and his wife opened their family home to us and the village laid on a magnificent feast including suckling pig, with lots of music, dancing and entertainment for us to watch and join in with. There were of course the inevitable speeches from the owner of the farm, the village chief, the community chief and chief of local police (at least this time they were translated for us) all welcoming us to Umagero and encouraging us and our families to return soon. Just after the lunch and entertainment were finished the heavens opened and we had a huge sustained down fall - this was the first very much needed rain for five months and all the locals were overjoyed and credited us with bringing good luck to the village. Yet again we were humbled by the heartwarming hospitality of this very proud farmer and the Balinese people.
Although we could have stayed in Bali for quite some time there is still more of this wonderful country to see, so off we set for Karimun Jawa off the coast of Java......
SailingPosted by Chris Thu, October 08, 2015 03:34:44
The area of Komodo National Park was a very pleasant surprise for us. Although we were excited to be seeing the famous Komodo dragon we were unaware of the quality of the diving and snorkelling in the area.
Our first stop was in Waecicu Bay from where we were able to go (by boat taxi) in to Labuan Bajo for provisions. Luckily we didn’t need more than fruit and veg as the town itself was filthy, smelly and dusty - its only saving grace was a superb italian restaurant (Made in Italy) where we had dinner with Champagne Charlie and Anthem - our first truly western meal out since leaving Australia - great pizza and a decent wine list - so grown up!
We did not want to linger in Labuan Bajo so the next morning we headed out early to visit the island of Rinca to see the fearsome Komodo Dragons. We anchored in the bay near the rangers station, tied the dingy to the jetty and walked the few hundred meters along a path to the rangers station to pay our dues. Before we had gone very far we heard rustling in the undergrowth, looked up the slope beside us to see a dragon coming down to cross the path. Chris ran (very quickly) on whilst Sara tried to get a picture, but we had been warned not to get in their way as their bite is toxic enough to be fatal. They are the biggest of the world lizards, incredibly gnarly and though prefer to eat carrion, will eat anything including their young and each other. As we neared the rangers station we saw many more, but non so active. They can move very fast on land as well as being good swimmers. Most were basking in the sun or slumped in the shade. As you can see from the photos they really are the most prehistoric looking creatures - and quite a size. We went for a guided walk seeing more dragons and monkeys by which time it was getting really hot, so back to the boat to head off to find a nice peaceful anchorage for some swimming and snorkelling.
We spent five days in the Komodo area, each day anchored off a different island paddling, swimming and doing lots of snorkelling including a couple of superb drift snorkels being sluiced along the edge of the channel between the islands by the current - great fun, but you have to hold on tight to the dingy. The water clarity and condition of the coral was much better than anywhere we have seen in Indonesia so far and friends that went diving said it was the best yet - manta rays, sharks, turtles and the first big fish we’ve seen (they are protected in the national park and not fished to oblivion like elsewhere). The currents between the islands are fierce - as much as 6 knots making moving around quite a challenge but great if you get it right.
We were sad to move on from Komodo, but there are still many places to visit - next stops Lombok and Bali. As we left Gili Banta, our last anchorage, we went past Mount Sangeang, an active volcano which pushed out a puff of smoke as we sailed away.