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. 










·         

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Pickled Beetroot


Pickled Beetroot.


If like us you found it hard to get canned pickled beetroot after leaving Australia here is a recipe that may interest you.  We have found fresh beetroot in market stalls and all the major supermarkets in Malaysia and Thailand. It may have been there in Indonesia but we were not looking at the time. 

1              large beetroot
1/4           cup water
1              cup white vinegar (5% acid)
1/4           cup sugar
1/2           tsp peppercorns
1              bay leaf
1/2           tsp prepared mustard or ½ tsp mustard seeds
3/4           tsp salt

Ready for peeling, doesn't look very pretty just yet


Peel the beetroot with a vegi peeler then wash thoroughly.

Peeled and washed ready to slice



Cut the beetroot into slices

Sliced into rounds, you could make julienne strips if you want


Place the beetroot into a saucepan and add the other ingredients and bring to the boil.


In the pot ready to go, make sure the slices are covered
 
Simmer for 25 minutes or until a beetroot slice can easily be pierced with a fork.

Pack beetroot into hot sterilized jars and top up with vinegar mixture.

Seal and store in a cool place.

We used to make up a large batch and store away for the future, but now we just do one beetroot and put it straight into the fridge after it has cooled in the saucepan.

This recipe keeps well in fridge for many months.

Notes: Be careful of the acid content of the vinegar purchased in asia, we got 25% acid and burnt the lining of the mouth doing a taste test.

The finished article

 If like us you will just put the beetroot into the fridge in a container you can experiment with the sugar content but if you are bottling the beetroot I wouldn’t as sugar is a natural preservative.

Irish Tea Brack


Irish Tea Brack

Just like a fruit cake, same same but different.


The finished article.....
This is a lovely cake to serve at morning or afternoon tea. It’s not an overly sweet cake and we have kept it for a week without refrigeration even in the tropics. We like the simplicity, and no electric beaters are required.

Prep time is minimal (10 minutes) other than the overnight soak for the fruit

1 Cup cold black tea
375 g mixed dry fruit
125 g mixed peel
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 cups self-raising flour
Honey for brushing on finished cake

Pour tea in a large bowl, add mixed fruit finely chopped mixed peel and the brown sugar. Cover and leave overnight.

Grease and flour a 20 x 8 cm loaf tin. Lightly beat the egg and add to the fruit mixture. Add the sifted flour all at once and mix well until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in a moderately slow oven for 1.5 hours, (175 deg C) hopefully it will turn a golden brown on the top. The loaf is cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool slightly in the tin then turn out on to a wire rack. To give the cake a fine glaze, while still warm after being removed from the tin brush the top with honey.

Serve sliced with butter.

To help shield the bottom of the cake from the heat of the gas burner on our marine stove we place an old tray on the shelf below to defuse the heat. 

We use the standard Australian metric cup. 1 cup = 250 ml

Variations: reduce the amount of mixed fruit and substitute dates. Golden syrup can be used instead of honey as a glaze and adds another flavour.