Monday, 30 April 2018

April Newsletter 2018

News from the Crew of Matilda
April  2018

Ships log:
Matilda got to spend most of April in Thai waters enjoying the amazing Phang Nga Bay! 

The pinnacles of Ko Sup - amazing limestone formations.
The first few days of April we where at anchor in the basin of PYH (Phuket Yacht Haven) as we were finally able to settle on a day for Mr Peh to come and give us a quote on new cockpit cushions. Once he had taken his patterns we headed out for a few days and found ourselves anchoring at Ao Labu South: 98 34.25n, 8 00.14e in 6.1 meters. 

This was our view of the resort 'Santhiya' on Yao Yai.
From there we went back to PYH for a few days then headed down south to Panwi Bali to meet up with friends. Anchoring at 07 49.01n, 98 22, 87e in 4.8 meters. Then back to PYH to wait for our new cushions. 

With new cushions in place we took off and enjoyed Yai Yuo, 8 01.48n, 99 33. 67e in 4.3mtrs. Next day we took off for Ao Chalong to check out anchoring at: 7 48.99n, 98 21.78e in 6.1mtrs. Once checked out we went over to Phi Phi Don, south side anchoring at 07 43.60n, 98 46.25e anchoring in 19mtrs. 

Now travelling towards Thai waters we dropped in at Koh Lanta, east side anchoring at 7 31.98n, 99 06.33e in 7mtrs. We did plan on spending the next day at Muk but a storm was hovering so we pulled in beside Koh Ngai dropping anchor at 07 25.36n, 99 12.61e in 10.6 mtrs.  Next day we went through another massive storm, once it was over we had enough time to make it to the calmness of Koh Tarutao anchoring in the bay at 06 37.52n, 99 41.18e in 7.5mtrs. 

Then around to Bass Harbour to check in to Langkawi at Kuah and then around to Telaga topping up with fuel before heading down to the Fiord anchorage at 06 11.22n, 99 47.27e in 11.4mtrs of water. Enjoying the well protected anchorage for our last night in Langkawi and our last anchorage for April.

Crew log:
April was a mixed bag for us. We are loving spending time with our friends on SV Basanti. Bruce and I spent hours playing games at anchor. We have been learning the finer art of dominoes, its more complex than we thought. We always love playing Uno and of course Mexican Train Dominoes. I am still working on Bruce to play backgammon with me!

We enjoyed doing some baking during the month: 
Bruce cooked up some Thai beetroot and it was delicious.
A lemon tart. Worked out well except I omitted to check the size of my dish, which was a bit too big so it turned out a bit thin, but it still tasted really good. 
My Sultana Cake turned out huge and kept us in morning teas for about a week!
It was nice to leave PYH for a few days in between visits from Mr Peh. He gave us a great price for new cockpit cushions and a few other jobs, so we went for it.  We anchored in a small bay off the island of Koh Yao Yai and this had us sitting just out of the SW' winds as we nestled in behind the tiny island of Koh Nui in the bay. We always love looking over to the impressive architecture of the Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort and Spa. It looks like something the rich and famous visit. Their guests have the most incredible view of the sunset each night.

Photo courtesy of Google Images. The is the view from a room in the resort on Yao Yai.
The first weekend of April was hard for me (Deb) as all my sailing sisters from WWSA - Women Who Sail Australia where all enjoying the 3rd annual GoTB - Gathering on The Bay in Port Stephens, NSW. I was bummed not being able to attend as I was invited to be a guest speaker and I was going to talk about our travels in SE Asia. The good thing is the gathering is gaining momentum and I will no doubt have another opportunity. What an amazing feeling it is to belong to a Facebook group that has perpetuated into a magazine and an annual get together where there are loads of speakers and fun activities all centered around women sailing.

Bruce is a huge believer in pro active maintenance, so he is always pottering around. We both know the benefits of keeping on top of the rust on our stainless steel. There is also the old line of thought that a clean boat is a trouble free boat and this is true to some degree. While we are rust washing and polishing Matilda, our eyes spot any fine cracks, loose bolts or potential problems. This allows Bruce to action things in the calmness of an anchorage.

Bruce has stripped all he could off Matilda's stainless frames etc so he could rust wash them.

We are very lucky to have a 'garage' which runs under the entire length of the cockpit, Bruce keeps a lot tools in here. So I often get to see Bruce in this position as he hunts for the tools for each job, which inevitably are always up the back!
During one of our times at anchor Bruce made a drink table that has a simple latch on arrangement. He used an old chopping board and I think it turned out rather well.

Our easy latch on drinks & nibble table
Mr Peh on board and making sure the inserts are fitting nicely. The rest are the photos of the cockpit cushion days...........
Mr Peh checking they fit nice and snug.

Mr Peh and his offsider putting on the glue for the stern seat, which is a bit tricky. 
Off they go in the tender back to the dock, to complete the job!

This is what our old cockpit cushions looked. We certainly had good wear out of them.
Very happy with the Sunbrella, Tweed to match our other canvas. 

Look at those cushions,,,4 of them!

We had Mr Peh alter our aft berth mattress. The batteries are under there so we had the mattress cut to make access easier. This is how Bruce and Ken got the mattress ashore to Mr Peh.
Early April we finally caught up with our rally buddies: Bev & Gary off Wirraway of Sydney & Mick & Gin off Wishful Thinking. We parted company over a year ago and apart from seeing Bev & Gary at home a few times we had not seen Wishful since February 2017. It's hard to explain how wonderful it is to see old mates. The catching up took quite a few beers!

Finally back together again at The Beach Bar, Panwa Bali - Phuket.

Glorious sunsets from The Beach Bar as The Big Buddha looks over us. The girls are displaying the international sign for 'my glass is empty and I need a refill please'!

Once all our work with Mr Peh was done it was time to enjoy some sight seeing. We spent a big day out with friends enjoying the sights of Krabi...I'll let the photo's tell the story.

Morning tea at The Sugar Bowl and it was delicious.

At the Tiger Temple.

Tiger Temple.

There are always monkey.

Inside the Tiger Temple, there are many Buddha's but we had never seen a green glass one. We believe it is glass and think it would have weighed a lot, at first we thought it was jade but it was see through.    .

This was one of many ways to give and support the Buddhist Monks, I thought the inscription was interesting.

As you do when your in a car away from your boats, you drive to the local marina's. Krabi is actually up a very large river system with a few marina's. The Krabi River Marina was very run down which is a shame however its not a place we would stay at.

This is Hans Christian, the same make as Matilda. Seeing this vessel in this condition made our hearts ache.

The is Port Takola, another marina, completely man made. They have literally dug out the basin and so far have one finger. It will be interesting to watch it grow.

We finished off our day watching the celebrations to bring in the Thai New Year - Songkran. Celebrated by throwing water on everyone. 
Sight seeing done it was time to make a move south. We enjoyed our trip down to Langkawi and look forward to our next Thailand visit. Maybe a longer stay next time.........

We always love Phi Phi Don, its action packed. On the way in to the shore we spotted this well painted fishing boat.

We decided to do 'The Walk' up some hideous amount of steps to view the famous Isthmus. The is View Point 1.

Still at view point 1, the gardens where very well done.

This is view point 2. Thanks to Bruce for making the final climb. The view is incredible.
Then down to Koh Lanta. We had never been here before and definitely worth a longer visit.
Koh Lanta has a lovely street full of locals selling their wares. One shop had these gorgeous owls out the front. Next door is a fruit shop which also sold spirits (top left).

The walk down the side of the Rareview Cafe for lunch.

The view from the Rareview Cafe, loads of islands to go exploring.
Leaving behind Lanta we headed down towards Muk but a big storm was brewing so we pulled in behind Koh Ngai. Here we saw lovely long sandy beaches, quite a few resorts and colorful boats all anchored. 
A hidden resort. Love the steps.

Next day headed down to Koh Tarutao. This place made such an impression on us, it could very well have altered our time frame home. It is magnificent, its huge and has loads of bays to shelter in both sides. One the way down we had a heart starter as we watched a water spout on our stern.
Janice captured the waterspout beautifully on our sterns. The tiny little dot to the right of the spout if a large fishing boat, we wondered what he was thinking.

Matilda heading into a bay of Koh Tarutao.

We sat for hours watching the clouds spill down the enormous crevices of the mountains of Tarutao.

After we had arrived at Langkawi, checked in and settled we all hired car and decided to drive to the highest point of Langkawi - Gunung Raya. Sady the tower was in disrepair and closed, which was a shame. Not that we would have seen anything anyway, we arrived in a to the top which was totally shroud in clouds - we wouldn't have been able to see a thing anyway. We have been up the tower a few times and the view is spectacular showing off all of Langkawi with 360 degree views. 

This was all the view we could manage at Gunung Raya - clouds.

On the way to Gunung Raya, we stopped at the Kraft Komplex (they are not spelling errors, thats how they write in Malaysia). While here the heavens opened and torrential rain fell. One the way out of the Komplex i spotted all the cats fast asleep in a corner of the taxi rank.

What a fantastic way to finish off the month and our trip in Thailand & Langkawi but in the only Fiord of Langkawi's water ways. It was pretty windy outside but couldn't feel a puff of wind in here.

Basanti anchored in the Fiord.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

SisterShip Magazine refloats after 30 years!

What an absolute thrill to have been published in the newly revised SisterShip Magazine.

I wrote an article on Penang, Malaysia for the debut release.

View the website for details of the online magazine.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

March Newsletter 2018

News from the Crew of Matilda
March  2018

Ships log: 
After sitting for 138 days, plus 2 at the fuel dock at Pangkor Marina, Matilda was ready to go. March 1st we headed out, being waved off by friends who came down to wish us well. Val & Richard off SV Kereru are great company and we will miss them. Lets hope we can catch up again when we are on our way back down south when the time comes.

140 days of the main sail being inside it's cover was a great place for the little swallows to build not 1 but 2 nests!
We motored Matilda 15 nm's (nautical miles) to a little island named: Pulau Talang, just north of the marina. We dropped anchor at: 04 25.276n, 100 34.69e in 9.3 meters on a falling tide. It was a great run and just as well it was short, as we had forgotten a few things prior to casting off the lines. The old adage of 'if you don't use it, you lose it', is so true when many things need your attention on a boat.

Next day we motored, because there was no wind to Penang. Matilda performing very well with her new bottom and our fears of a fixed prop slowing us down where pushed aside as she effortlessly maintained an average of 6.3 knots. It was a long day covering 70 nm's to The McDonalad's anchorage. We stayed here for 6 days to obtain our Thai visa. We dropped anchor at: 05 23.849n, 100 19.76e in 8.7 meters on a falling tide.

The anchorage at Penang showing the derelict marina where we can come and go leaving our tender in a safe spot.
After Penang, we then had another long day to Langkawi. We actually had some wind this day and sailed for 1/2 the 59 nm's. A lovely night was spent at Pulau Bunting. Anchored at: 06 10.759n, 99 47.995e in 4.4 meters at low tide. A great spot to watch the green squid lights in the distance at night. However, we did have 2 right beside us in the anchorage, giving a lovely green glow all over Matilda. We moved her the next day to Bass Harbour. This position puts us right near the main town of Kuah in a secure anchorage. We needed a few things from Kuah, so we stayed put for 4 days anchoring at: 6 18.88n, 99 50.48e in 4.6 at low tide.

A smaller version of what was out in the ocean off Langkawi. This guy anchored just off our stern.
We have a squid fisherman anchored off our starboard side creating a lovely warm green glow on Matilda.
Keen to reach our friends on Basanti in Thailand, we got some fuel at Telaga. Before we headed in to the fuel dock we anchored at: 6 21.65n, 99 40.49e in 4.2 meters. Thanks to some wind this day we enjoyed a sail over to Koh Adang, finally reaching Thailand waters anchoring at 6 32.43n, 99 16.76e in 17 meters.

Day trippers around Koh Adang.
There are loads of islands between Langkawi, Malaysia and Phuket, Thailand to stop at along the way. It is a great run with easy day sails and safe anchorages each night. We stopped at: Koh Muk: 07 21.52n, 99 17.48e in 8 meters, Phi Phi Don: 7 43.67n, 99 46.19e in 14.9 meters then over to Phuket (island): 7 48.99n, 98 21.62 e in 5.7 meters and anchored in Ao Chalong. We checked in and then made our way to Panwi Bali: 7 48.99n, 98 22.94e in 5.4 meters (also in Chalong Bay, over on the eastern side) and finally we got to see our friends.

Having bilge keels means you can pop your boat aground to do some work without a yard.
Both boats then moved around to Nai Harn for a change of scenery for a few days dropping anchor at: 7 46.07n, 98 18.24e in 10.1 meters. Then we moved Matilda up to PYH (Phuket Yacht Haven) as we needed to buy new batteries and wanted a quote on some new cockpit cushions enjyig the anchorage basin at: 8 10.49n, 98 20.09e in 9.5 meters.

We always enjoy the Thai architecture. These houses are right on the water line at Panwi Bali, Phuket.
Crew log:
I must admit after all the time spent on the hard stand it felt so darn good to be out of the marina and doing what we love best. Sailing Matilda. We had a chuckle on our first day out heading up to Pulau Talang as we had forgotten a few basic things. We had a lot of our gear put away due to the dust and grime in the boat yard and had forgotten to either bring things back out or we omitted to set up as we would normally - glad it was a short run. We both spent the time up setting up properly and checking systems along the way.

We spent 2 full days scrubbing our girl. Here her deck cover is on the dock, getting a good scrub before putting it away.
We spent the night on our own at Talang and really enjoyed sitting in the lee of the island. Arriving just after 6pm we had a lovely easy dinner and a few drinks in the cockpit. Before we knew it a few hours had slipped by as we talked about the last few months, both feeling proud to be out of the marina. It is easy to get 'marina itis' and remain put for some time, even years. The marina is well run, loads of friendly people about to talk to and all services are there making it all too easy to stay put. But we like being on the water and had our friends to catch up with.

In the morning we were swarmed by fisherman. Quite literally hundreds seem to be out on the water as the sun rose. We had to weave in and out of their nets and floats keeping us on our toes for a few hours. Matilda ran like a dream on her way up to Penang. Bruce was concerned the fixed prop would make her slower but that didn't seem to be the case on our way up. She ran well and we made very good time, arriving at Penang around 6pm. The anchorage is known as The Dump anchorage or as The McDonald's anchorage, due to its proximity to Macca's and of course the dump.

The McDonald's/Dump anchorage at Penang. The Golden Arches are to the right of center.
To be completely honest the anchorage was revolting, which is a dreadful shame for Penang. Currently the anchorages around Penang are difficult, even our favorite being closed for the time being with land reclamation works in progress. The Dump anchorage has a very strong current so you need to anchor in close to the abandoned marina fingers. This gives random but secure access. Secure because the gates to the marina fingers are locked by the fisherman, so your tender is safe at all times, but getting in and out of the complex is hit and miss. 

You do not want to slip in here. This is a shot taken at low tide at The Dump anchorage. At low tide the sea floor is visible exposing the many layers of garbage. It is thick with plastic bags, bits of old tarp, etc. There is no mud here,  just garbage. And don't start me on the stench!
Bad anchorage aside, we do love Penang. We love the old and the new making some of it quite eclectic. I don't think we will ever tire of walking the streets of Penang. It was here we meet John & Sue off SV Ocelot. They are a couple who are sailing the around the world and we have followed their blog since before leaving Brisbane. Their website is incredible and they offer the most amazing amount of free information. It felt so good to be able to say thank you in person.

SV Ocelot - a world cruiser.
Our main reason for stopping was to gain our Thai Visa. An easy thing to do here. For the address click here: The Royal Thai Embassy Consulate. It is easy to get to by using the Grab service.

This photo is inside the grounds of the Embassy. 
From a yachters prospective you will need to take:
  • The completed application form (if you don't have one prior to going, they have plenty there so you can easily fill it out on arrival)
  • A copy of your passport
  • 2 color passport size photos of yourself
  • Your ships registration papers (1 copy per applicant)
  • You need a sponsor for the application, most people use a marina they are heading too, unless you have a contact with a street address.
This is a tourist visa application and will give you 60 days for Malaysian Ringgit 150, (approx AU$50). If you don't want to spend the money or don't need 60 days, you can totally bypass this process and upon arrival in Thailand you can check in for free, for 30 days. 

A few points to keep in mind regarding the Thai Embassy in Penang:
  • The office is shut on the weekend
  • Opening hours are Mon - Fri. For applications 0900 to 1100. For pick up of your visa 1400 to 1500 (the next day of your application)
  • Mondays are reportedly very busy, either go early or wait until Tuesday. Once the office accepts 100 applications (remember some people are representing multiple applicants) they shut the door
  • We went on a Wednesday, not too many people and arrived by 0830
  • Your passport/visa is ready the next day for you to pick up
If you need an extension while in Thailand, you can go to the Thai Embassy in Phuket it is an easy process. Take all your papers, 1900 Baht and complete the forms in the office. This extension is for 30 days only. And they do it on the spot.

Once we had our visa's in hand we were off to Langkawi to stock up on duty free alcohol. Oh my gosh its so cheap. We had forgotten that its about 1/3 of the cost in Malaysia to buy beer and spirits here. 

Done. Our visa's are in our passports and we are good to go. Thailand here we come!!!
After we stocked up on booze, we filled up on duty free diesel at Telaga and off we went. Enjoying a lovely sail towards Koh Lipe and ended up dropping the anchor in 15 meters off Koh Adang (Lipe's big neighbor). A great night in a very calm anchorage with a few other yachts. It was great to be in Thai waters.

In the anchorage was the Star Clipper, a luxury paid passenger ship. She is a 4 mast tall ship and is 115 meters in length. I wish we had of seen her with all her sails up!
Enjoying another day sail we made it nicely in time to Koh Muk. A famous island for its Emerald Hong - a cave inside the island which is very impressive. We had been there before so felt no need to rush off. We did enjoy meeting Kelly & Wayne Turpin off SV Thorfinn. Kelly writes an extensive blog on their travels which we have followed since Cairns. For a peek at their blog click here. It was lovely enjoying dinner with them and a friend of theirs who enthralled us about his incredible tale of survival, all while watching the sun go down over our boats.

Sunset from Koh Muk. Many thanks to Kelly for sharing her photo with me.
From Muk we had a great 1/2 day sail to Phi Phi Don. Crazyville, but we love it. It is jam packed with tourists during the day making the water ways a little bumpy but by about 5pm they are all on land, no doubt finding a magic cure for their sunburn! Here we got to meet up with our dear friends off El Gato - Grant & Mary. The four of us spent the entire afternoon catching up over several and I think a few to many ales and talk about laugh. We watched a charter yacht try to drop anchor, and he couldn't do it - poor thing. But geez it was so funny. We enjoyed dinner ashore, I have found i really enjoy a good massaman chicken curry and I was not disappointed. It was fantastic to see our mates.

Hmmm nice little lotus tattoo.........
Next day, over to Ao Chalong to check in to Thailand, all too easy. Then a quick putter over to Panwi Bali, to finally cast our eyes on SV Basanti. She is a good looking boat. Our friends have bought their dream and now sailing in Thailand. We hope to spend many, many days with them. I think our jaws where sore for the first few days as we just couldn't get enough chitter chatter done between the four of us. 

At last we got to see SV Basanti. 

Janice, finally enjoying some down time. It was certainly a hectic few months for our friends buying their boat in Penang. 

While anchored at Panwi Bali we caught up with the lovely SV Charon. Richard is a character and we really enjoy spending time with him. He showed us there is a great street with quite a few shops only a short walk up a hill. This was great as we never knew this. There was a book store with the biggest cat we have seen, a 7/11 type shop, loads of great cafe's and way to many bike/car hire shops. We found very good, I would say almost new washing machines on the street which did a huge load in 1 hour all for 30 Baht! (AU$1.25). It was also here we meet for the first time James and Cindy off SV YouYou. They are a very interesting couple and we look forward to getting to know them better.

SV Charon sailed all the way from Tasmania. She is a very pretty boat.
Book store at Panwi Bali which serves lovely food & cold drinks

The resident cat at the book store, he loved a pat.
From here we took Matilda and Basanti around to Nai Harn. It is easier to do shopping etc as we are not restricted going ashore by the tide like we were in Panwi Bali. We shared the cost of a hire car for 24 hours with our cruising friends. Then spent 10 hours doing running around, it was quite exhausting. But we did achieve loads, including: finding new batteries for Matilda, met Mr Peh, the upholsterer and our friends did some of their running around. We had the best sausage rolls at a little shop at Boat Lagoon Marina, where incredibly we caught up with Mick of SV Site. And we all got to do our grocery shopping at Macro. It was great to be able to have a dinner with the crew off YouYou before they headed south for some engine repairs.

YouYou, hauling anchor to head south to complete some engine work. We look forward to seeing them again.
Once we were all done the girls enjoyed a beer over looking the bay from Nai Harn Yacht Club and had a quick catch up with Kelly. Then we all had to haul our shopping down 3 flights of steps and out over some massive rocks to the pontoon where our tenders where to get the shopping back to our boats - phew. Once back on board everyone was exhausted and needed a day off from the Big Day Out!

A fish farm at Phuket Yacht Haven, we enjoy the morning and evening jungle sounds here.
We then moved Matilda up to PYH (Phuket Yacht Haven marina). By coming here we were in a good position to receive our batteries. Our batteries took a day to install due to logistics but worth every penny. I wrote a blog entry, click here to read about that.

New batteries coming in.
That sees March out. A busy month that's for sure, but here we are doing what we love best and loving every minute.

I do love black & white photos. This is a sunrise shot from PYH looking towards mainland Thailand.