31 October 2008
Arrived here after three overnight sails through a few storms and heavy rain. Lots of large traditional fishing boats and tugs hauling dumb barges kept Lex and I on alert all night, especially when the rain reduced visibility. Had a very close call with a trawler towing a net, when we couldn't work out what it was doing in the dark and the heavy rain, and what its lights actually meant! Boats seem to be moving quite slowly when they're actually coming straight at you... then it's off with the autopilot and on with the throttle when you work out what it's doing. Usually not until the last minute...
There were three thunderstorms on the radar on the last night, right across our path. (Memories of that movie "Perfect Storm" kept surfacing...) Lex managed to weave us a route between the worst of them so we didn't have too much trouble from them. The fishing boats also were thankfully left behind early in the evening, so the last night's sail was relatively pleasant. We had been planning to stop at Penang but the weather reports encouraged us to push straight through to Langkawi as it was only going to get worse if we stopped, and we'd be held up for days.
Well, Langkawi is wonderful! The marina is very sheltered, and entered via a long curving breakwater. We arrived very early in the morning, well before the dockmaster was on duty, so we just pulled into the first empty berth we saw. Lots of boats from all over the world - Dutch, German, British, American, Canadian, Irish and of course no shortage of Australians. The marina is on Rebak Island, just off the island of Langkawi itself. There's a very flash resort a few hundred metres away, where yachties are allowed to use the pool by the sea, much to Ali's delight. Not that pool rules have stopped her anywhere else I should add. The marina facilities are good, and there's a real community feel amongst the boats, something I haven't encountered elsewhere. We were invited to a birthday celebration the following night, along with about 60 others, at the yacht bar/cafe, where for less than $20 Aus we had wonderful food, and then entertainment provided by several of the yachties who'd brought along their guitars and mandolins. And of course being seafarers they all drink like fish, but in Langkawi they can afford to, because the whole island is duty free, and a good quality beer costs about 30c a can from the wholesaler.
Ali and I are flying to Melbourne on the 3rd November, and then up to Darwin the following week. Lex is hauling Malaika out of the water on the 6th, where it will stay for a couple of weeks while he puts new anti-foul below the water line, and repaints the topsides above. Our general plan is to leave for Thailand about the 16th December, and probably head west across the Indian Ocean in early January.
I'll be contactable on Lex's old mobile number 0412 302 127, while we're in Australia.