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Monday, 31 December 2018

December Newsletter 2018

News from the Crew of Matilda
December  2018 
Ships log: 
  • December 1st we pulled into Telaga Harbour, Langkawi, Malaysia fuel dock to fill up before heading to Thailand. Position of the fuel dock: 06 21.94N, 99 41.12E. The short channel in can be shallow and we need a mid to high tide to enter with our 2.1 metre keel. After filling our tanks and draining our cruising kitty we moved Matilda back to Bass Harbour, Kuah to re provision and check out. Position was 06 19.05N, 99 50.65E dropping the anchor in 5mtrs at high tide.
  • December 4th we left Malaysia and sailed most of the 33.4nm's to Thailand's Koh Tarutao anchoring beside Koh Panan. Dropping anchor in 5.3mtrs at low tide at 06 31.29N, 99 41.23E. Magic spot.
  • December 5 we travelled 44.7nm's to Koh Liang Tai and anchored right beside the karst - an incredible feeling of being dwarfed by the limestone cliff, the sunset was mindblowingly beautiful. Anchorage was at 07 06.52N, 99 25.49E in 9.9mtrs.
  • December 6 we motor sailed 18nm's to Koh Muk. Anchoring at 07 21.52N, 99 17.52E in 7.4mtrs. Be careful though, when we hauled anchor to leave our anchor was stuck in some rocks.
  • December 8 we did the long haul to Ao Chalong, Panwa Bali beach side. Motor sailing the 61.9nm's over 11 hours. Dropping anchor at 07 48.92N, 98 22.75E in 6.6mtrs.
  • December 11 we moved over to Ao Chalong - Pier side to go check in and re provision. We dropped anchor at 07 48.96N, 98 21.79E in 5.8 metres
  • December 13, we started our journey to the west side. Motoring 7.1nm's to Nai Harn. Dropping anchor in 12.3mtrs at 07 46.31N, 98 18.12E.
  • December 15, we sailed most of our 19.6nm's to Ao Bang Tao. Anchor was dropped in 6.9mtrs on sand at 08 01.62N, 98 17.04E.
  • December 17, mostly sailed the 39.4nm's to Ban Thap Lamu (Navy Base). Dropping anchor at 08 33.81N, 98 13.18E in 6.5 mtrs. Very well protected here.
  • December 19, lovely slow sailing to Ko Phra Thong, southern entrance. Travelled 32.3nm's and dropped anchor at 09 01.65N, 98 16.49E in 5mtrs right on low tide.
  • December 20, Motored 12.9nm's up to the northern entrance of Ko Phra Thong dropping anchor at 09 11.43N, 98 18.04E in 10.2 mtrs of water.
  • December 22, enjoyed a little bit of sailing but mostly motor sailed 36.9nm's to Koh Phyam. Dropped our anchor in this gorgeous bay at 09 45.63N, 98 24.24E right at low tide in 4.6mts.
Our girl on a rare day. Sailing (no engine running) with Big Blue out to port and the main over to starboard - known as sailing wing on wing. 
Crew log:
This time of year is full of many emotions for those of use who choose this life style. I (Deb) never find the time apart from loved ones easy and this month can be a challenge with all those sea miles between us and family. We had decided a while ago to sail (with any luck) up the west coast of Phuket, Thailand. Our end destination being Koh Phyam to enjoy Christmas Day and see in the new year with yachty friends.

Refuelling at Telaga is always easy. We were told that if we are exceeding 500ltrs we need to book ahead. Sharing this information for those who need it.


The sign up on the fence line.

Bowser with phone number.
Things change quickly in Asia and Malaysia is no exception. We found the check in/out procedure had changed in the short time we were there. They have added a step to include MAQIS - Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services.


This is the new order to follow.
Koh Muk is a fantastic location for us. Its very well protected and offers walking, swimming, snorkeling and cave exploration. Here are a few happy snaps from our easy/flat 40 minute walk one way to the other side of the island.


The east coast of Muk. The tide runs a long way out, even at high tide we can't anchor in here as its too shallow.

We see the fishing/taxi long tail boats all the time but never this close. Low tide is used to rest and maintain their craft.

Someones abandoned abode. The jungle is never far away.


Mookies is a very popular restaurant on the island. Its very clean, well presented and well priced.


The things you can do with time, a very sharp knife and a coconut. This little guy was beside the tipping box saying thank you. In Thailand it is Khup kun ka, for a female speaking and khup kun krap for a man speaking!

This is the best fruit bowl we have seen.


This cute little lady was out side a massage place. I would love one for my garden when the day comes.


Another very popular cafe: Mayow's. 


The limestone karsts have been melting 24/7 over millions of years, resulting in amazing formations.

Its incredible that anything can grow on the cliff faces - there is no dirt.

Incredible.


The structure on the hill side is one our favourite eating places. It provides the diner with an uninterrupted view of the sunset each night.
Koh Muk's location always gives us a magnificent view of the sunset each night.

Boat jobs are never ending. Bruce is always either maintaining, improving or repairing something. We have excellent cockpit lights but they have to be turned on from the control panel in the cockpit which is sometimes inconvenient. So Bruce decided to install a two way switch that we can use from inside Matilda.


Life's never easy doing jobs on a boat.

All this effort, in the heat for one tiny switch.
And here are the two switches he installed. Believe it or not this took the better part of a day.

From Muk we enjoyed a long days motor sail to Ao Chalong, stopping off at Panwa Bali for a day. Then motored over to check in. Seems lately every time we check in there are changes.


We had not noticed the last item before, re the AIS. Not an issue, just need to be aware.
We did our provisioning from Ao Chalong in two runs. The local supermarket called Macro and while its not the cheapest place to go we do enjoy the cleanliness, its air conditioned and has most things westerners like, plus a huge range of fruit and veg, its very good. Although we did have a heck of a time getting back to Matilda from the jetty. Due to the location you always have to anchor out a fair distance from the jetty here. A storm was blowing in the day we came back with our two backpacks and nanny trolleys full of goodies. The tender ride back saw us soaked to the bone but we had the foresight to take large garbage bags to go over our trolleys. Getting everything back on board was exciting and then hauling the tender in took some judging but glad it was done.

Next day we were happy to head south and around to Nai Harn, the most southern point of Phuket. We only stayed a few days and then left bound for Koh Phyam up the west coast. It was a welcome trip as we enjoyed the sailing. Our first stop was Ao Bang Tao. A lovely calm bay with a 4 mile beach front. We anchored up the northern end behind a small island and enjoyed a few days here swimming, walking and investigating in the tender.


The northern part of the bay has an interesting headland with a waterway behind it. Its very calm.

Bruce inspecting the new build.

This girl didn't fair so well.

Good to see a Sea Rescue base close by.


And here is 4 miles of beach - gorgeous.

Sadly this was washing up in the bay. It was one huge tangled mess of rope and fishing line.


Local kids playing in the surf.

I really want a pink flamingo. Not sure why that white unicorn is on top of the flamingo?

Amongst all the tourist hoo-ha some locals are fishing for their dinner. 

Love these little colourful birds flying around.


Loads of sunbeds everywhere.

Level One was a bar on the beach. It was huge, catering for all sorts. We could hear the loud music each day from Matilda and the day we walked past they had some dancers doing their thing.


The morning we left we heard voices outside. Popping our heads out to see who it was, it turned out to be a group of swimmers using Matilda as their turn point in the bay. What fun!!

From Ao Ban Tao we had a lovely sail past the northern tip of Phuket to mainland Thailand onto the protected water way of Ban Thap Lamu. This is a river system which is very well protected. Good depths inside and very busy. The port is quite large and a sector of the Navy is based here. There are good shops ashore to buy local supplies and to stretch your legs. There is even a great local hardware.


Sailing past Phuket's International Airport.

Ban Thap Lamu is a great place to be and I got to take more shots of some Navy boats.
Warship 455 proud at the dock.


Warship 512 was on our tail as we came in. She was turning as we dropped anchor.

Quite the sight: Warship 533 at the dock with the navy's tug 857.

Navy's tug 857 waiting to dock after assisting warship 512.

A couple of the locals heading out as we came in.





And from our cockpit we could see that rafting up here is very popular....





We spent a couple of days here enjoying the locals and their township. It was much bigger than we expected. As we took the tender ashore we got to get up close and personal with the fleets......


A close up of the orange and cream fleet. Love all the squid lights and their Thai flags flying proud.

A big girl front and centre. Shes a huge vessel.

Thai's are very religious and their beliefs flow to their boats. Nearly all boats have some kind of motif painted on the bow to ward off bad spirits.




From the tender we got up close to this J boat coming in. Its just huge.

Local fisherman amongst the mix.

Their nets are huge and it takes many men to arrange them each day.

A lovely splash of colour.
The township was full of lovely surprises.



Bruce with the roosters at the fishing dock temple.

A local electrician at work.



The electrician's boss in the work car. Not sure if shes nodding off or I got her mid blink.


Everywhere we looked there were fish drying out.

Close to the Navy base.

Sensational gates.

Glad we didn't need to use this building.

Local hardware run by a Chinese lady who spoke no English but she had everything you could imagine, a true Aladdin's cave.

Awesome house.

Local street vendors.

Bruce loved this local bike. We thought of all our biker mates.

The local store. We bought loads of goodies from this lady.

The famed Navy Wives Club restaurant. 
From Ban Thap Lamu we made our way up to the water way of Ko Phra Thong (love the names). The water way here was magnificent and we saw why quite a few sailing buddies have spent a while transversing these waters. Beautiful, calm, well protected and nearly no boating traffic. And some of the most sensational sunsets we have seen.


And here is Site arriving with one of their sons on board for Christmas. It was great catching up in such a beautiful spot.

Site bathing in the sunset.

The entire west coast delivers impressive sunsets every single night (this photo has not been edited in any way).

As much as the water way was quiet they still need to go about their business. This is a local water taxi who gave an enthusiastic wave every time he went past.

This is a 'slipper' vessel, which seemed very popular in this location, no doubt due to its size. They are a very fast little boat.
Finally we reached our end destination: Koh Phyam. This was as far north on Thailand's western coast we where travelling. We had heard many great things about Koh Phyam and we were not disappointed. We had finally made our destination for Christmas and to see in the New Year.


Approaching our anchorage at Koh Phyam, Warship 332 was sitting proud at the entrance.


There is always a good time to be had on Site, but Christmas day was extra special this year as we could indulge in spoiling 'Jack' and lapping up some time with someone elses kid as we miss ours so much.

After lunch we all got towed over to Icarus for drinks in a floating party - what fun.

A walk along the beach and looking into the cafes is so much fun. They offer something really different. 


There are always loads of dogs around, but these two really caught our attention. These puppies (two boys) were clearly from the same litter and they were mates. We loved watching them swim and great everybody, there were so happy about it.


This guy was still hanging around.
Koh Phyam has something for everyone. The beaches are loaded with groovy cafe to suit every ones wallet. The bird life is incredible. The people are friendly beyond belief. The water is clear, so we swam several times every day and the sunset, once again was unreal.


Love the middle hornbill - he's like 'so whatcha doin there boys'.

Can you spot the 5th hornbill?


This guy looks to me like he has white pants on and a black jacket - very formal.

The local cafe's all feed the hornbills rice.


We enjoyed spending time with Debi & Jono off Taka 'Oa

Taka 'Oa in the sunset.

Debi is a keen photographer and artist. She drew our Christmas card which was a beautiful shell. It was a pleasure spending time with her talking all things camera!


Then came New Years Eve. We had left the famed Hippie Bar for the nights celebration. This place is unreal. Its completely constructed from driftwood which has been lashed together. It had so many nooks and crannies its actually difficult to photograph. Our night was spent enjoying drinks and dinner there, and then back to Matilda. We had a lovely night with Debi & Jono.



The Hippy Bar from the beach.

The Hippy Bar from inside. Its a maze of wonderful nooks and crannies.

Yes we'd all had a few drinks then decided on a group photo - Bruce had the longest arms for the selfie.

And here is the last sunset of the year - very special.

And that finished off our year. It's been quite the experience on Matilda travelling around South East Asia. We miss our home family and friends a great deal, but are grateful for the friends who have become our family here in SE Asia. Bruce and I wish you all the very best for 2019.





Publications: 
Deb was thrilled to hear this month a piece she entered for the short story competition 'Travel Highlights' run by Robert Fear is to be published in his 2019 Edition of Travel Stories and Highlights book. Here is her piece and the photo to prove it!


Let there be Dragons by Deb Bott

Indonesia’s ‘Komodo Island’ is not for the faint hearted. The tour briefing said: not to run if we had a dragon charging us ‘yeah right’.
You smell them before you see them. Weighing in around 90 kilos and 3 meters long, the Komodo dragon is a frightening sight.
At the epi center eight dragons lazed in the hot sun. A staffer threw them some chicken carcasses and holy moly. 
All the dragons took off like grease lightening to get their share.
Now they were disturbed, crawling around the ground, slobbering, tongues smelling, they now wanted more and were looking at us!






What do we cook now we live on a boat?

For whatever reason people always ask us what we cook now we live on our boat. Our answer is always the same, 'we cook the same things we cooked at home'. Truth to be known we now cook & bake more on Matilda as we have the time. We both love cooking and have never once found it a chore or difficult to do so on Matilda. Our stove works well, we have an inverter to power up the mixer and our larder as we love to call it, has all the ingredients we kept in the pantry in the house. So what have we baked this month.....(Click on the highlighted item for the recipe).


This Lemon Cake was not the simplest to whip up but well worth the extra effort. 





We needed these Bread rolls for our burger night. 





An old family recipe Tomato Chutney
This is what 3 kilos of tomato's and 1 kilo of onions looks like when getting ready for the chutney.
All that goodness turns into cute little jars filled with tomato chutney!

Beetroot




These Homemade Burgers where just out of this world. They would not have tasted so good if not for Bruce's homemade beetroot, chutney, meat patties and of course the hamburger rolls.




Anzac Biscuits are pretty much a never fail.




Ginger Crunch Slice


This was delicious. The topping is butter, maple syrup and icing sugar with fresh ginger grated in the mix.
And for Christmas Day we baked: rum balls, a loaf of bread, 8 bread rolls, short bread biscuits and a Irish tea/rum brack cake. Incredibly we never took any photo's. 


But here we all are chowing down at lunch time. 
To finish off this years blog we share a wonderful photo of Matilda in the sunset at Koh Phyam, taken by our friends off Taka Oa.