d 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490



4th  Report for  2006:        

Bali, Borneo, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand

(October 20th-December 19th)


The first few hours after leaving Ashmore Reef, we made very good progress, but the wind got lighter again and we finally sailed along into the night with the spinnaker doing 4-5 knots. It became a night with many sail changes and the exercises continued into the next day. At some point when we brought down the spinnaker, the carbon-fiber funnel that feeds the spinnaker into the sock got a small crack and ripped the spinnaker cloth before we noticed. We had to take the whole thing down without the sock and retire it for the rest of the journey to Bali.

Somewhat later the hose for the shower on the bathing platform blew up, also unnoticed and we pumped some 500 liters of freshwater into the sea. Wasn't such a big problem as we had to motor the next day for several hours and the water-maker filled our tank again.

We had been warned not to sail a straight line to Bali, but to keep well south and approach from the south. This is because of a very strong counter current running out of the Lombok Strait between Bali and Lombok and then east. Keeping well off the island chain we had a positive current until we turned some 80 miles south of Bali.


From there we would have to go at about 3.5 knots to be at the entrance boy at first light. So we took away the Genoa and moved on with about 4 knots, not knowing when the counter current would hit us. We knew from Filia Venti, that it took them 18 hours for the last 40 miles!

The counter current came, but we could easily compensate it and where at the entrance as appointed to meet Mahi-Mahi at 5:30. With the first tide setting into Benoa Bay we sailed in. As always it was a special feeling arriving in a new place, especially if it is also a new cultural sphere. It all looked new and different now.  We finally arrived in Asia.

We followed the buoyed channel all the way in and anchored at the very end, right in front of Bali Marina. This Marina is the only one on Bali and if one is to tour the island, this is the place to leave the boat. Accordingly it is quite expensive for Indonesian standards and cost us as much per day as the place with swimming pool in Darwin.



When we arrived, the Marina was full - our new problem was that we had caught up with the Blue Water Rally. This Rally sails along the standard route around the world in the relatively short time of two years. We had seen some of the boats coming through Fiji, where they spent just a few weeks and they had just left Darwin for Kupang when we arrived in Darwin. It is just some 20 to 30 boats, but with most of them coming to Bali, the little Marina was quickly filled.

However the folks at the Marina are very creative and so we got some space, but had to move twice during our stay. While we were under way to Bali, we had talked to Northern Star on the radio. They had joined the Blue Water Rally for the leg from Darwin to Phuket, but plan to join us next year on the trip to South Africa, while the rally will move on to the Red Sea and the Med. 



But now their Autopilot had failed and they were now hand steering to Bali, so that Harald could have a look at the problem.


Meanwhile we had a great time exploring Bali, it is a very nice island with very nice people. All seem busy, working hard, trying to improve their life style and many of them are craftsmen that are almost mass producing artifacts like sculptures, kites, carvings or batik. Most of these things get exported and many we have seen in Europe for maybe ten times the price. Now we know where these come from.


We had some tours into the country, seeing a Bali opera, many temples and wonderful rice fields. And then, strolling through Kuta and shopping this or that is another nice pastime.

A few days later Northern Star arrived and the autopilot was brought back to work, with some instrument problems remaining for Raymarine in Singapore to sort out. 

But just to make sure they would not have to steer the boat all the way to Singapore, with just the two of them, Anne and Mogens had hired one of the crew that was signing off Gipsy Moth IV here in Bali.

This famous Gipsy Moth IV of the late Sir Francis Chichester is an interesting boat. Once designed to set the single hand round the world record, she is not particularly fast by today's standards and certainly the least comfortable boat we have seen in a long while. While in theory she is longer than Taniwani, she appears tiny and is so narrow that one feels like walking through an old submarine once in the cabin. 

Here in the tropics, the poor ventilation and poor insulation make her a sauna for the six crew that are cramped in a very confined space. We admire people that sail under such conditions and we found it great to see this classic lady in her element rather than the dry dock. We had a couple visits to her and heard lots of interesting stories from her crew. But in the end we were glad to be back on our decadent boat.

As much as we enjoyed Bali, we had to move on, given our tight schedule since the plan change in Vanuatu. It was now the 1st of November and we had some six weeks left to get to Phuket. We left the Marina at first light and moved out the channel. This early we expected a favorable tide, which in this case meant only 1 to 2 knots of counter current, rather than 3 to 5 knots.

We had agreed with Mahi-Mahi and Northern Star to put in a stop at the northeast corner of Bali, where there was supposedly a dive shop and some good diving. Mahi-Mahi and Northern Star left two hours later and had more counter current and so we would be the first boat to arrive and explore anchoring possibilities.

But before that we had a wonderful cruise along Bali's east coast: It is a very pretty island and from the sea looks yet different again. We regretted that we couldn't spent more time here and explore other parts of the island. 

Most of the long beaches were packed with little fishing boats, they are very special: A very narrow and sleek hull, almost like a dugout, with two spider like outriggers with arched beams and very thin floats. All feature a sail and most have a long-tail engine in addition. During the day most where laid up on the beach.

Once we rounded the northeast corner of Bali, we lost the radio contact with the other boats. Joao of Mahi-Mahi had phoned one of the two dive operators who had told him to anchor in front of his shop. We were not quite sure where exactly that was. 

So we searched up and down the bay of Ambat, but the ground looked rocky on our fish-finder and when we eventually saw the flag of a dive shop we anchored in 18 meters, yet the boat ended up in just 4.5 meters. Everything looked quiet ashore and so we decided to look for a better spot in a small bay. It took us several attempts to get the fouled anchor up, and then in the bay it was too deep, or too close to shore or too rocky.

 In the end we felt we would prefer to move on, but waited for the others to come around the corner and into radio range.

As it was now getting dark, we all decided to sail on north towards out next destination in the south of Borneo or Kalimantan as the Indonesian part is called. 

Now all these little fishing boats took to the sea and they were so many, that it seemed as one could just walk the two miles to the shore, from boat to boat. We also noticed some unmanned permanently anchored bamboo rafts about 2 by 3 meters. There were hundreds of them and while we hoped they would soon be behind us, there was no end to. We found them anchored in over 1000 meters of depth!

So our radar had to work overtime. It is very good and in these calm conditions picks up these bamboo rafts some 1.5 miles away, the little fishing boats even further, and fishing buoys about a quarter mile off. Still for the night watch it means no relaxing and frequent course alterations.

Next morning, around 11am we are close to the island Pulau Raas which would provide a nice anchorage and maybe some good snorkeling. But the wind is now quite good and we can make good progress with the spinnaker, so would rather move on. We discuss with Mahi-Mahi and they also want to go on, but then Northern Star comes in and tells us that they will definitely anchor, as their computer had stopped and they have no navigation at all. Naturally we all anchored and helped to get the PC working again. This gave us a relaxing day, with some nice snorkeling and good sleep with a night at anchor.

Luckily, the next day the wind was still there and we moved on towards Borneo. Our destination there was the town of Kumai, some 25 miles up a river. It is the best place from which to tour into the jungle to see the famous Orang Utans. 

We had read many reports from other boats that all suggested not to miss this trip up the river. Many recommended Herry as the best tour operator and we had contacted him from Bali to get instructions, prices etc. His instructions contained a series of GPS-Waypoints to find into the river entrance and up the river. On our charts, some of these were on the shore and so we had to approach this with some caution.

The next morning as we approached Kalimantan, the sun didn't come out, we seemed in a soup that looked like fog, but was clearly smelling like smoke. And as we moved on it got thicker and thicker. We had trawlers passing just 100 meters away according to radar, and we could hear them but not see them. Our eyes started to burn and our throats got sore. 

Northern Star was on the radio and told us he was near the entrance of the river and while we talked they ran aground on a sandbank. Got off and moved on.

We were now seriously thinking to forget the Orang Utans and sail on towards Singapore. But some boats from the Blue Water Rally where anchored in Kumai and told us it was worth every effort - Well then.


Another Blue Water boat, called Alexes, came on the radio and said that they had anchored in the entrance as they apparently lost steering. Later they came back on again and reported that there was no problem with the steering, but that the autopilot had taken a strange turn. They asked their friends to come back out to guide them into the river, but Northern Star told them that we were about to enter the river and they could follow us.

We could see them next to the entrance buoy on the radar, quite close to where Northern Star had run aground. We now knew that one had to turn sharp right immediately after the buoy, or leave the buoy on port despite of its green color. Soon we saw the buoy and then Alexes, the visibility was now 50 meters at best. But on the radar it became clear that Herry's waypoints were fine and the chart quite a bit off, especially further upriver. We followed the various headings through the shallow parts and Alexes followed close behind, then when the river got deeper again, we just kept in the middle using the radar - no shore could be seen.

We found the anchorage, dropped the hook and were soon visited by Herry who came on board to discuss the various options for the excursion into the jungle. Soon also Mahi-Mahi  arrived and all crew joined us on board of Taniwani, to hear what Herry had to say.

In short, smoke was really bad and they had even stopped flying into Kumai for a week then. As to Herry it was quite unusual to have such dense fog that late in the year, but the wind that had still kept moving us and saving diesel, was keeping the fires going. 

Given that our eyes were burning already and our heads were aching, we decided for the one day tour on which you get to see the same places as on the two or three day tour, but one travels on small speed boats at 25 knots instead of a nice live-aboard boat that moves at 5 knots. On the later you stay over night in the jungle which has its own attraction. Under normal circumstances we would certainly have picked the slower tour.

Service by Herry and his people turned out excellent. Fuel and Water were quickly delivered to the boats, at low prices and good quality. 

Our tour was to start early the next morning and last till sunset. Included in these tours is a guard that sits on your boat to make sure no items disappear and so a nice young man was delivered to Taniwani and was most happy about juice, cookies and a remote control to operate the radio and speakers in the cockpit. Off course the boat remains locked up.

Right on time two speed boats appeared to pick up the crews of Mahi-Mahi and Taniwani. One speed boat was loaded with Joao, Ligia, Lara, a tour guide and a driver, the second was just Beate, Harald, Marco and driver. And off we went at high speed down the big river that we came in, but after a mile or so we turned into a smaller river.

The air was still filled with smoke, one of the drivers had a mask over his mouth and we also covered our faces with towels. Occasionally one of our boats had to stop to remove weed from the propeller. Deeper in the jungle the air was better and then we could see beautiful birds and little monkeys in the trees. Bushes and trees were reflected in the totally black water and we even saw a small crocodile.

Our first stop was at a camp that also resembles the quarantine station. It was there that we saw the first Orang Utans. The guides all can keep them apart and know them by name. Like humans they are actually quite different and of different nature and character. Some are quite intelligent, some are maybe more aggressive and in such case the guide warns you to stay away from them. They are off course quite curious about us and one wonders who is watching whom here. Sure they would like to know what we carry in our bags and once in a while they manage to quickly grab one.

They also watch us carefully and try to imitate us. The story goes that one of them stole a canoe and paddled up the river and another one, jumped into a speed boat and started the outboard.

Most of the Orang Utans in this camp were orphans that had been brought up in one of the camps and in this camp they get reintroduced to their natural environment. They can come back and get food or what they need and many hang about the camp for years, others take off and are not seen for a while. One female was gone for a year, and then showed up just to proudly show her baby before disappearing again.

It is just a short walk from the camp to the feeding place, where every morning at 9am there is happy hour with free bananas. When we arrived there, the place was vacant and the guides started strange sounding shouts to attract the Orang Utans, but only one young male came swinging down from the tree tops to enjoy bananas and milk. Seems to indicate the others found enough food on their own.


It is another one hour speed boat ride to the main camp of the Tanjung Puting National Park. This station was founded in the seventies by the Canadian researcher Dr. Burite Galdikas - she lived with the Orang Utans for a year and has gone through big efforts to assure the survival of these wonderful animals on Borneo.

Walking from the landing place to the camp, all on nice raised walkways, we meet Pita, a young Orang Utang lady. She is pregnant, our guide tells us and she seems very relaxed sitting on the walkway and watching with intelligent eyes as we approach. Beate is thrilled and sits down very close to Pita who has one arm stretched in Beate's direction. A moment later they are gently 'shacking hands' just as we humans do. 

Eventually we say good bye to Pita and walk on to the main camp where we are received by Samson, a young mal, with apparently a good sense of humor. He loves to bleak his teeth and get photographed that way. He may look scary for a moment, but soon one notices that it is all fun for him and that he has a most friendly character. 

Joao is soon experiencing this, when he crouches down next to Samson for a joint photo and Samson gently lays his long arm around his shoulders as to say: "Hi cousin, where have you been all these years?"


While we are having the excellent lunch, that Herri, our tour operator provided, we fool around with a mom, with baby and a teenage kid. They love to pinch some rice from us and swing back on a tree branch to devour it with a happy face. Then we hear the rumbling of thunder and by 2 pm a tropical down pour is turning every path into a little river. 


Samson the clown, has ripped a branch from a tree and is holding it over his head as an umbrella. 


For us it seems we will miss the 2 pm feeding, as they don't do it when it rains, but since we were all waiting and our guide kept asking, they put it on at 3 pm. Maybe because of that delay or simply because he wasn't hungry, Tom, the biggest Orang Utan, that we all wanted to see, didn't show up.


As we drive back on the speed boats it is already getting dark. Maybe a bit early because of the smoke. The Proboscis Monkeys with their extremely long noses, looking like Pinoccio, are hanging in the tree tops by the dozens, ready for the night. 


A few of them still make wide jumps from tree to tree, once in a while miss their targeted branch and fall down several meters before catching another branch to stop their free fall into the river. But even if they end up in the water, the guide tells us, they are very good swimmers as opposed to the Orang Utans that cannot swim at all. We learn that monkeys with tails can swim, and those without cannot.


We didn't expect any rain and had left some of the hatches open on Taniwani and were wondering if our boat boy would notice - well he did and we found Taniwani dry and safe when we came back in the dark.

We had planned to leave immediately when back on board, night or day wouldn't matter as you see nothing any way, but then decide to have a rest and leave early in the morning. We have slightly better visibility, but once the river widens the shores still disappear and it is radar navigation all the way out.

It is 570 miles to Singapore and not the ideal passage: We have to expect lots of unlit fishing boats, nets, current against us, no wind or wind against us and closer to Singapore the densest commercial shipping on earth.

But at least the beginning is better than promised. While we navigate along the shallow south coast of Borneo, some 80 miles with depths of 10-12 meters and a few shoals, we get a nice south easterly wind that pushes us along just nicely. Also there are much fewer fishing boats than we had dared to hope. Still the visibility is very poor and we cannot see Mahi Mahi who is following less than 3 miles from us.

Early the next day we motor out the river, now with slightly better visibility.

Unfortunately leaving Borneo, the wind gets less and less. By the afternoon visibility improves and we can see Mahi Mahi again. We are now both motor-sailing at very low revs. which takes less than 3 liters of diesel an hour but helps considerably in the fickle winds. 
With 1.5 knots of current against us, progress is slow, over ground just 4-5 miles an hour. But this is not a problem, we will arrive when we arrive and life on board is good and lazy.

The third day at see is much like the second, almost no wind, except during some of the squalls, when we get a little extra push. The fishing boats are much less of a problem, than we had been made to believe from other reports. They are not at all aggressive and try to get out of your way when possible. In the night, when they see us approaching, they quickly turn on some flashing light and we can see all of them on the radar which is running non-stop. The few freighters so far have been harmless.

Now we are thinking about a little de-tour: By tomorrow we should be crossing the equator from South to North and it would be fun to anchor just right on the equator and celebrate. We discuss this with Mahi-Mahi and we work out a small island east of our direct route for that purpose. 

But it shouldn't work out: On the evening of our fourth day at sea, we are getting close to the equator, but would have to turn into an unlit maze of islands. Joao was worried as the moon wouldn't come up until after midnight and his radar doesn't work well enough to safely identify all the rocks, islands, fishing boats and nets. Also, Ligia, Marco and on Taniwani Beate had caught a flu and were not in party mood. In addition to this we got some wind and wanted to use it. So, equator party postponed.

In retrospect that seemed an even better idea, as when it got dark, hundreds of little fishing boats streamed out of the entrance that we had planned to take. A sea of hundreds of little lights, what a sight!

We pass the equator at 104 degrees 59 minutes East, doing 7.5 knots, depth is 26 meters, water temperature is 31 C.

The night is more busy with lightning, rain clouds, fishing boats and some close commercial shipping. In the morning we turn into the Riau group of islands, just south of Singapore. These islands belong to Indonesia, but some of the Singapore money has made it across the straits and one can see some fancier projects going on. One of these investments is the marina at Nongsa Point, which we chose to clear out of Indonesia. 

But before going into the marina we wanted to anchor out in these islands and it was still before noon, that our anchor fell after 4 days and 4 hours and 560 miles since Kumai. Our so far slowest passage at just 5.6 miles average.

Anchored for not even an hour, the sky darkens and soon torrential rain is driving horizontally in heavy gusts of wind. Visibility went to nil, but that shouldn't bother us now. We relaxed and slept most of the afternoon.

The morning comes and the weather isn't too inviting and so we quickly cover the 17 miles to Nongsa Point Marina which is situated on the southern side of the Singapore Straits and our coming closer to this dense stretch of shipping didn't get unnoticed by the navigation computer which got slower and slower trying to track over 200 targets. Oh well, right now we don't need to bother too much as we will not cross the straits until in a few days.

The marina is a bit run down, but was obviously very nice when new. It is not very busy, except for the Blue Water Ralley fleet, that is now almost completely gathered here. Aside of them and us it may be just 20% filled and obviously there isn't enough money to maintain it properly. If something breaks on a pontoon, whether it is a power outlet, a cleat or plank, it doesn't seem to get fixed.

We quickly learn this when the friendly staff directs us to a berth, that turns out to have no water or electricity. But we are welcome to pick any place we want and so we do, but before going to our final berth, we thought we could as well stop at the fuel dock and top up with cheap fuel - apparently half the price of Singapore.



By the way, all diesel in Indonesia, and Malaysia as we found out later, looks brownish, much like the Kava drink in Fiji and not the proper bright yellow that we are used to. Luckily we never had trouble, but we also religiously add biocide to avoid algae growth.

Next day we take a taxi to the shopping center. The center is fairly new and not even complete. The whole area around is just ugly with many construction sites. Shopping is cheap but not particularly interesting to us. Seems Singaporeans are taking the ferry over for some cheap shopping and a number of golf resorts along the street seem to aim at the same clienteles.

Today is Ligia's birthday and so we are invited to the Marian Hotel for dinner and later for drinks on Mahi Mahi.

We spend another day at Nongsa Point and it gets pretty empty here with most of the Blue Water Fleet leaving for Singapore. One boat in such a hurry that they forget to take one line off the dock and so just rip out the docking cleat. Well, one more broken berth that will not be repaired...

We are trying to clear out in the afternoon, so that we can leave very early in the morning to cross Singapore Strait. But the authorities here are quite bureaucratic and don't allow this, they also kept our passports, but promised to bring them at 7:30 - We shall see.
At 7 in the morning one of these thunder squalls starts pouring down on us relentlessly and it doesn't seem to want to end. No passports off course. 8:30 a boat boy from the marina delivers passports and clearing papers and within a few minutes we are under way. Nongsa Point is at the south-eastern end of the Strait of Singapore and our destination, the Raffles Marina is at its north-western end, at the western tip of Singapore, some 41 miles to go.

Looking towards Singapore, one has the impression one could just walk from cargo ship to cargo ship, they make up the horizon - there is no gap. Traffic in waters like this is regulated, much like on a highway: East going traffic on the south side, then sort of a median, which is called the separation zone, and then the west going traffic along the Singapore side. The main traffic has right of way and ships crossing, have to do so perpendicular and giving way to anything. It is not unlike a pedestrian trying to cross a six lane highway.

Our strategy is to go west along the Indonesian shore for a while and look for some less dense traffic in the street, and then quickly cross over to Singapore, and when there continue traveling west. Close to the shore one only has to deal with fishing boats, ferries, small tugs and the occasional cargo ship merging the stream from an harbor or anchorage.

Around 10:30 we see a good opportunity, only two cargo ships from the west. We pass the first sharp behind its stern and speed along at full throttle for a short while, only to realize that the second one is slower than we thought and we stop to let it pass close by.

In the east we thought we had seen a nice gap, but now a huge bulk carrier had merged into the west going stream accelerating quickly. So again full throttle and we manage to pass about 500 meters in front of the thing, which actually looks quite close. 10 more minutes and we are at the other side slowing down again.

Still one has to be vigilant, as many little 'side roads' in and out of Singapore cause a busy local traffic. Slowly we turn around Singapore island and at the corner we pass through a field of several hundred anchored steamers. Very impressive.

Just 3 miles from the marina, the sky gets pitch dark, lightning flashes all around us and the rain starts to pour down taking all sight. Mahi Mahi prefers to anchor and let it pass and so we follow suit and we both anchor near a huge power pant. We take the opportunity to have coffee and cake while we wait. Bringing up the anchor makes us regret the decision to anchor: The chain is covered with the most sticky mud we have ever experienced and it takes us half an hour to slowly take it up and rinse it with the water hose. 

Soon after that we are safely moored in the nice Raffles Marina. There were about three marina options Singapore, all with with their own pros and cons. Raffles is the furthest away from the center and with shuttle bus and MRT (sort of a subway), it takes almost exactly an hour into town. The other negative aspect that we soon found out about, was that every afternoon around 5 pm there would be a serious lightning storm with a heavy downpour. Apparently that is less so further east near the city center.


The good news is that clearing in is easy at Raffles since a customs officer comes out to the marina every evening, the rest is done by the marina staff. Going to one of the two others, means a nerve wrecking rendezvous with the customs boat first, and then an extra trip into town to the other relevant offices.

The problem with the RSYC Marina seems to be a pretty bad swell caused by the ongoing ferry traffic and the brand new "one-15" marina, (named after its latitude), isn't finished yet, has no facilities other than the berths and it is sometimes hard to catch a cab into town. That is all very likely to change in the near future as the aim of one-15 is to become a popular mega yacht stop.

On our first day, we didn't yet go into town, as we had several boat jobs to do, and we also got a visit from Jörg, the Trans-Ocean Club representative in Singapore. Harald new him from some forum discussions and email exchanges regarding boat electronics, several years ago. He had somehow spotted that we were approaching Singapore and sent us an email. He was most helpful telling us where to find the various things we had on our shopping list for Singapore.

The evening comes and we find out maybe another disadvantage of the Raffles marina: We are all a sudden in a war zone - machine gun fire, some canons, low flying planes.... The army training camps are right next to us, all in the western part of Singapore.

Next day we want to see and feel Singapore and so we take shuttle and MRT into town. It is all quite a contrast to what we have seen in the last years. We have mainly been in thinly populated places,  most with a simple standard of living. Now we found ourselves in a bustling first world city, with maybe a somewhat sterile touch. Well laid out with lots of interspersed green, all buildings well maintained. But the stress of a competitive life is on the faces of the people in the train around us. One wonders if the average Fijian in his small village or the busy Singaporean is better of - probably a question of perspective.



Though it isn't particularly cheap, the thing to do in Singapore is obviously shopping and eating out. Maybe even more than at home, the life here is centered around making money to buy the latest gadget and the offering is huge. So we thought we take to opportunity to look for a replacement of our main laptop, that was now four years old. That was not so straight forward, as one has to scan all the little shops inside the large consumer electronics shopping centers. After some time we found out, that what looks like hundreds of boutique like shops, is just outlets of many ten big dealers. The selection is huge and the prices are relatively high, considering that you can get the same thing in Germany for the same price including the hefty VAT there. But, being used to standard ASCII keyboards, Singapore was the place to get that easier and so eventually we ended up buying one.

Exhausted from the consumer electronics overload, we set off to another district not far away, where Jörg had told us we would find the roller bearings and lip-seals we were looking for. We certainly found what we looked for and for very little money, but these shops were a new experience: Small street front, then when you enter you see a long tunnel of shelves going back.


The (Chinese) founder, probably near 100 years old would sit in the back, appearing half dead, but obviously overlooking and still commanding two 'younger' generations - those who would serve you. It will take three people for your roller bearing, one who takes the order and then disappears in the tunnel of shelves, the next would wrap it up and write a receipt, and then the manual book keeping and cashier would be a women from the middle generation.


One shop had solely roller bearings, another solely lip-seals or oil seals. Fascinating. And so our first excursion into the city ends as a success: We have a new computer and all the bearings and seals we were looking for.


For Harald the next day is spent installing software on the new computer and fighting the usual compatibility problems, but Beate takes another tour to the city.

But not the whole day...

For five-thirty in the afternoon, we all of Taniwani and Mahi Mahi have been invited by Northern Star to the Raffles Hotel Bar, one of the old icons of Singapore and so Harald also made it into town, to meet up with the other shoppers. 

The speciality of this bar are the peanuts that you get with your drinks, unlimited amounts and you may, or actually should just throw the shells right onto the floor. 


In Singapore, where any littering is strictly forbidden and penalties are high, this bar must be an island for the folks to satisfy the pent-up littering urge. 


As it gets dark, we move on to the Swiss Hotel, another recommendation from Jörg. There one can take the elevator to the top floor and enjoy one of the finest views in Singapore. With Marina Bay and Singapore River in the foreground and massive skyline of the business district right behind. 

It was so nice up there, that we were seriously thinking about dining in the fancy top floor restaurant. But without reservation they would not take us, even though the place was empty except for a pair, with him seemingly making a proposal.

Oh well, we probably didn't look appropriate for that place and so we descent and take the MRT to the Lau Pa Sat, sort of a market where you can get your dinner by buying courses from different stands. It is quite scenic, half open air, half in an old Victorian building, embedded between the high-risers of the business district. Menus are pictures and one just points at whatever looks good...


Sunday, November the 19th. We are now 4 days in Singapore and the rain is pouring down onto Taniwani. We hope it will stop before our visitors come. Harald's brother Markus had mailed a former business partner in Singapore about our arrival and these nice people offered to show us Singapore. Now we were expecting them for afternoon coffee on Taniwani. 


The rain stopped just before Christine, Henry and their little 4 year old princess Mercedes arrived. This nice couple from Vienna had been living in Singapore for over ten years and had much to tell and show us.

After tea and coffee and inspecting Taniwani, we get taken along in Henry's Volvo. We hadn't been in a decent car in while and now gliding along on Singapore's excellent highways, was yet a new experience when compared to the MRT. We had expected traffic jams and the usual crowded city problems with cars, but all seems to move just nicely. We learned that by means of a little box in the car, toll or parking fees get automatically taken from your charge card and the price for a segment of highway may depend on the time of day, so to spread the load better. So it seems that as long as you pay, everything works really well.

Our nice hosts wanted to invite us for dinner at the Clarks Cays, where there are several nice little restaurants along the Singapore river - we went to sort of a micro brewery called "Brewerkz" with fantastic outside seating and a view onto the nicely renovated old storage houses. We have a nice dinner there and are unable to persuade our lovely hosts to allow us to pick up the tab. Rather are we invited to their nice home where over some excellent  Austrian wine we learn more about Singapore and their pet project:

Four years ago Christine read in the newspaper, that every evening all the bakeries were throwing away tons of bread and pastries, when they closed down around 10 pm. They were expected to have everything fresh and so were baking fresh bread almost until closing time. On the other hand, as rich as Singapore may appear, there are more poor and hungry people than the government would want to admit. As everywhere it is single mothers who are worst off and often cannot feed their kids sufficiently. 


Christine and Henry then talked to the bakeries and the big retailers and soon found many sponsors for their project, which aimed at bringing this excess food to those who badly needed it. This wasn't straight forward, as many of the Chinese families would feel a loss of face if their poverty became public. So they went to the schools to work with the teachers to identify those kids that didn't regularly appear at school, which was usually because they had to work or parents couldn't afford food and transport for the day. Now these parents would get a monthly ration of basic food, to be collected at the school. This gave the teachers the additional opportunity to communicate with the parents.

The project was an instant success and it grew into a little charity business that Christine is leading. It now has a few full time employees and usually quite a number of volunteers. The main duties are organizing fund raising events and distributing the food and gifts. It was good to meet people who go through so much effort to help others.


When we left late, the Laimers were still not fed up with hosting us strange sailors, and promised to pick us up the next day for some more touring of Singapore. As both had other (real) jobs, they would split the time with Henry entertaining us in the morning and Christine in the afternoon.

Henry took us first to the Swiss butcher, a famous gourmet shop, where we got all those lovely things we had not had in a long while and we bought plenty for the rest of the trip up to Thailand. Then Henry invited us for lunch into the Italian Restaurant in the Hyatt Hotel - typical places of Harald's former life, but we hadn't had this in a while and were thoroughly enjoying the food oasis.


The afternoon tour then was led again by Christine who took us along Singapore river, to many interesting places and in the end to the fantastically renovated Fullerton Hotel. 


A beautiful building from 1928, that then was for some time the postal administration, after that period it was deteriorating for a while and 1998 renovated at the highest standard. Especially the lobby and the ball rooms are a must see, and it is always worth while to have tea or a gin tonic there.

Again, and again, Henry and Christine, spoiled us with good food and drinks and we were a bit embarrassed being unable to pick up any bill. All we could do, was present good wine and grappa from New Zealand and make a copy of the TANIWAI book for Mercedes. Thank you again, Christine and Henry, your hospitality made this visit a lasting memory.


For our last two days in Singapore we were on our own again. With Mahi-Mahi we planed to do the famous "Night-Safari". It is essentially a night time visit to the zoo, and one can see those animals, that are usually active in the night. Joao was shopping in town and we had agreed to met around 6 pm at the zoo and we were unable to reach him, when already around 5 pm the first squalls started coming in. 

The drive in the shuttle bus was more like in a submarine. Then the MRT and then a taxi to the zoo where we indeed met up with Joao. But there seemed no end in sight with the rain and so we decided to eat in some food court and head home again. 

All that wasn't so easy we erred around in public transports for some time and eventually gave up and picked a taxi to bring us to the marina.

Wednesday, November 22nd, should be our last day in Singapore. No more excursions, some work on the boat, some last use of the fast wireless internet access that the marina provides and later in the afternoon, a talk about cruising up the Malacca Strait to Thailand, that was given by the marina manager, who's parents run a charter yacht in this area.

Then a final dinner on Taniwani, with Mahi Mahi and Northern Star as guests. We had something special this time, something that Joao had told us he would love to eat once again: Sauerkraut and Nürnberger sausages from the Swiss butcher.

The next morning we finally leave the marina and Singapore behind. Mahi Mahi and Northern Star are still staying a few more days to sort out a few things. Mahi Mahi will most certainly not leave tomorrow, on a Friday and is more likely to follow on Sunday. They only need to be in Phuket for Christmas, but we have to make sure Taniwani is berthed well secured when we fly home for Christmas on the 20th of December. So it seemed time for us to move on.

Like many other sailors, the two of us had caught a light flew in Singapore and we were still not perfectly fit, but then we didn't expect any rough sailing, more likely no wind, and would just motor up the dreaded Malacca Straits. And so we leisurely headed for a little island off the Malaysian shore, called Pisang, where we anchored for the night.

The vast amount of commercial shipping bears no danger, as they keep tightly within their separation zone and with the help of AIS the big guys are all well visible on the computer. We went along just outside the shipping lane and found that the small fishing boats, that drift around randomly keep closer to the shore. 
We were sharing our part of the straits, mostly with trawlers that would either go our direction or against, well visible and predictable.

With respect to piracy, we have heard that it was decreasing lately, and if there was any, it was aimed at the big commercial ships. There had not been any incidents with yachts in a long time. Some of the commercial ships do take the thread serious though and they are constantly running water throwers off their stern, and flood these fountains in light in the night. It would certainly sink any approaching small boat with the shear amount of water.

Aside of collision danger and piracy, there is a third and maybe more real threat in the straits, and that is the severe lightning storms that occur quite reliably every evening.

And so it was at our first anchorage: A lightning storm approached and the air was so charged up that the VHF had a black out for half an hour. The VHF is usually busy on all channels in this area, but then it became totally silent and all the many AIS targets vanished from the computer screen. Checking outside, we found the long antenna at the stern sizzling - not a good feeling. But it was soon over and we went to sleep early.

Still suffering from the cold we woke up at 2 in the night, and with both of us coughing and awake anyway, we thought we might as well get going again, this way getting into Port Dickson, 112 miles away, at daylight.

We weighed anchor at 3 in the morning, but the chain was so full of sticky mud, that it took another half hour washing it meter by meter, before we were moving again. We aimed offshore until a mile off the main shipping lane and then followed it northwards keeping that distance. The littel fishing boats showed nicely on our radar and when we got closer, they usually showed some light - blue or red blinking lights are the most popular. The trawlers seem defensive and try to avoid problems as much as we do - absolutely no problem.

Since leaving Singapore we were in Malaysian waters and eventually we will need to clear into the country. We heard that just south of Port Dickson, there is a nice marina where this can be done easily. So we sailed by Melaka, the famous old trading town which we really wanted to see. There is no good anchorage there and while it is possible to anchor unprotected just off the shore, we didn't feel comfortable to leave Taniwani there while visiting the town. The alternative is to do it by taxi from the Port Dickson marina, but that is a 100 km ride one way.

We seemed to be well in time to reach the marina in daylight, but at 5 pm, with just four miles to go, the daily thunder squall came in and we lost all visibility. This was just as we attempted to go inside a long reef, that parallels the shore and gives some protection to the marina and the many hotel beaches. We turned to the sea again and waited for a bit. 

But the visibility didn't improve much and given that daylight wasn't for much longer, we turned in assisted by radar and reasonably accurate chart. We reached the marina without problems and the friendly staff helped us to tie up and get connected.  Just some forms to be filled out in the marina office, and they needed the passports until next morning, to have them stamped by the officials over at the commercial port. Very, very easy.

For the next day we had planned to take a taxi to Melaka and in the morning we walked out from the marina towards the main road to find one, it was hot and we weren't successful, and so we returned to the marina office to have them call one for us. They told us that 7 people from the Blue Water Rally had just ordered a mini bus and it had 10 seats, and maybe they wouldn't mind if we joined in. 


They didn't mind and we got our trip, but it wasn't the big success we had hoped for. The taxi came with an hour delay, was more expensive than what we were told it should be, the driver had never been to Melaka and got lost several times, and the other folks had various ideas of what we should see, but all of us had no idea of the locations and their distances. We walked to most of the interesting places from our first stop, only to be driven there again. Add to this, that we paid for the entire taxi by credit card, ( they wanted up-front payment, and none of us had any Malaysian money ), and we should be paid back by the others, once they got money out of the cash machines in Melaka. In the end we found that two of the seven folks didn't bother paying us back, and while we think we know who, we are not 100% sure - such are the fellow sailors.

Nevertheless, the trip was quite nice and we got to see some very nice parts of Melaka, like the old Portuguese Fort and its bustling china town.




Back on Taniwani we had email from Mahi-Mahi: Bad News!

Still in the marina in Singapore they got hit by a lightning strike and now most electronics were dead: 

All Raymarine instruments and the auto pilot were dead. When they decided to come up to meet us as quick as possible, so that Harald could have a look at the problems, they found that also the charge regulators, for charging the batteries while the engine is running, were dead. So Joao replaced it with a spare that also had problems and then was too tired to take off. They would sleep the night and then come up to Port Dickson non-stop, without radar and will have to steer by hand.

One may wonder why they wouldn't stay in Singapore and get the electronics fixed there, but, as Northern Star has found out, the Raymarine dealer there is not very skilled. Add to this that Raymarine recommended to throw the stuff away, get new instruments and claim it from the insurance. Well, Mahi Mahi isn't insured, and even if they were insured like us, there would be a substantial deductible, in our case €7000.-.


So we decided to stay a day or two longer in Port Dickson, to wait for them and see what we can fix. It was a fine place to wait as it had a very nice swimming pool and on that weekend there was an international regatta for handicapped kids. We could admire how the kids just needed some help boarding the very clever designed dinghies and then took off single handedly joining the race.

Mahi Mahi arrived the following night and came in at first light. So the electronic shop on Taniwani opened and with a full day of work was able to revive some 75% of the electronics, for the remainder we didn't have the proper spare parts. It turned out that like so often, Mahi Mahi didn't suffer a direct hit, but the bolt may have hit the water very close to them and it was the strong magnetic field that destroyed the poorly protected instruments. The use of cheap electronic parts, like varistors and suppression diodes, could have prevented all the problems, but it seems that instruments for the recreational market are not built to such standards - well at least those of Raymarine are not. It may be intentional, because most people accept lightning as a higher force and would not blame the manufacturer and get new instruments, insured or not.

Yet, at the end of the working day, we had a working Autopilot, a working charge regulator and the wind instrument would at least show direction, but lacking a hall-sensor, wind speed had to wait. Speed and Depth was also working, but would not be sent out to other instruments any more. For the radar we tried to get schematics and some help to first determine whether the scanner or the display or both were broken.

Joao, Ligia and the kids were relieved and made up a song for Harald and then all of us were invited for a nice dinner in the marina club. 

Next morning both boats left for Pangkor, some 140 miles to go. Again dark thunderstorm clouds were above us when we left Port Dickson, and the wind was rather variable in speed and direction, but we made some decent progress. We sail through the usual Malacca Strait night with hundreds of little fishing boats that appear after sunset from nowhere. Approaching the island of Pangkor, we had to slow down a bit to get a bit of light for anchoring, which we did at 6:30 in the morning in a really nice bay. 

For the first time since the Torres Strait we are making the dinghy operational again - incredible! But here we have some use for it and in the late afternoon both crews go ashore to a nice beach, with very basic tourism. The small restaurant is excellent and we enjoy a really wonderful dinner, which including plenty of beer, is just about €5 per head.

Retiring to our boats, we agree to make an early departure (3:30 am) for Penang, some 80 miles to go. But sleeping seems not possible:  Around 10 pm, the most impressive thunderstorm sets in. Disco lightning show and the wind veering 180 degrees. On the radio we discuss leaving as we are now on a lee-shore. But the radar showes that the cloud would pass quickly and so we wait. It passes, but we also can see the next front approaching, this time moving in another direction and so we get off-shore wind. 

This second storm is even closer and has more to offer: We can now see the water boiling where the lightning bolts strike the water quite close to us. There is not much we can do than sit in the cockpit and watch the show with awe. Well after midnight, the show is over and we turn in for hopefully three hours of sleep, before weighing anchor and heading for Georgetown on Penang.

The trip there is uneventful with plenty of small fishing boats, and at last a bridge to go below, and by 3:30 pm we were moored in the nice new Tanjong Marina in Georgetown.


Georgetown is quite an interesting place: It was the first British settlement in Malaysia, founded 1786 and still is a busy place today with some 400,000 inhabitants. There are still many old buildings and some of them nicely restored, some almost ruins. 


It has a large China Town, a bustling Indian quarter, mosques, Hindu temples, Chinese temples and this multi ethnical mix and the blend of old and new, give this town a very special character.

We first tried the free bus service to the center, but it took quite long before a really derelict bus showed up which took us along with a huge local crowd. We made it to the Komtor building, of which we had heard to have a fantastic view from the 63rd floor. It was a bit complicate to find the elevators and we had to wander the chaotic shopping mall beneath the tower for an hour or so, before we worked out how to get there.



Normally one would expect a high price restaurant up at the top and maybe some extra viewing platform. Not here: The concierge called the lift boy, by walking up to the elevator and calling the lift boy via walkie-talkie. Once up, one has to walk through worn down foyer, past out of order bathrooms to enter what once was a restaurant. 


Now it is a vast circular room around the perimeter of the tower, the huge glass windows covering two levels provide a magnificent view onto Georgetown, if a bit darkened by the accumulated dirt on their inside and outside.


Inside you see a wild collection of flower pots, in some places interrupted by an assortment of cheap tables and chairs, all different. But you can slowly wander around the whole circle and get a view on the whole town. Once and so often you find a window or part of it clean enough to take a good photo.


And yes, it is sort of a restaurant: There is a corner where you can get some drinks and fast food by self service. Yet, the trip up the tower is really worthwhile and a nice, if unexpected, experience.

Back down in the busy crowd of people we wait for the shuttle, and wait and wait. Several cab drivers spotted us and offered a cheap ride back to the harbor, yet we declined as we hoped for the bus that zigzags through the town coming by many of the interesting places. But still no bus and then a skinny guy approaches us and offers a Rickshaw ride with stops at all the interesting places.


After some hesitation we accepted and never regretted this wonderful ride. He skillfully maneuvered the Rickshaw through the chaotic traffic and we enjoyed the unobstructed view at bumper level.


He brought us to many of the attractions, most memorable a huge Chinese temple, and finally we asked him to drop us in the Indian part of town where we wanted to shop a few things and then walk the short distance to the marina. A wonderful day in a very interesting town.

Early next morning, it is still dark, when we motor out of the marina. The Mahi Mahi family wanted to stay a few more days and then follow to Langkawi. We on the other hand only have a few days left to see fist Langkawi and then the islands around Phuket, before we would have to be in Yacht Haven in Phuket, where we planned to leave Taniwani during our Christmas Holydays in Germany.

There is Harbor construction and dredging going on, north of the Marina as we leave and we have to look rather careful to make out the demarcation buoys in the dusk. The silhouette of Georgetown looks impressive against the morning sky as we go out the shallow northern entrance. 



An hour later some wind sets in from the northeast and for the first time in a very long while we are close hauled again, moving swiftly towards our destination, Langkawi.

Langkawi is the northernmost of the Malaysian islands. Actually one bigger island surrounded by a group of smaller ones. We were told it is the most beautiful of the Malaysian islands, and best of all, it is a duty free zone.

There are many nice anchorages around Langkawi, and we hope to at least spend a few days in the area, before having to move on. We were now entering the area that was most effected by the huge Tsunami, pretty exactly two years ago. It has done lots of damage on the western side of Langkawi, including sucking out the pontoons and boats in Rebak marina, which we are told has been completely rebuilt. Actually almost everything on Langkawi seemed to have been rebuilt since.

But today's destination, the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, had not been effected. It is near the main town of Kuah, were we planned to explore the provisioning possibilities for next year and we also need to check in with the harbor master there. Another thing to explore for next year, is where to haul out for fresh antifouling. It will either have to be in Langkawi or in Phuket.

Approaching Kuah, we were stunned by the uge number of masts in the RLYC Marina, we hadn't seen so many sailboats in one place since Auckland! Once in the marina we understand why: Most of the boats are sort of resident, completely covered with sun protection and usually a standard household air conditioner set up on deck. Most look like they haven't moved in a year. 

Well, that is quite understandable, life in Malaysia is very cheap, the area is nice. And just across in Thailand they don't seem to like this clientele, they generally allow sailors one month and it is possible to extend to half a year, but complicated. 


Even for us, flying home from Phuket is difficult and involves a lot of red tape, including a bond of about €400.- per crew leaving the boat. Interestingly that is not so for passengers, and so most yachts declare everybody, except the captain as passenger!


But back to uncomplicated Malaysia: We found that alcohol and chocolate is particularly cheap in Langkawi, but general food, especially fresh stuff is limited. We spent two days in Kuah, eating out first at the little restaurant of the Trans Ocean Club representative, and then at the yacht club.



Monday, December 4th, we leave the marina right after breakfast and head out to the southwest of Langkawi where we hope to find a nice anchorage for a few days. We did find a stunningly beautiful scenery and a lone anchorage right in the midst of it. 

Vertical walls on one side, little islets on the other. Except for the murky water, this is one of the nicest spots we had been to lately, and we were also relieved to finally be out of the thunderstorm area of the Malacca Straits. Still it was a bit too hot for our taste and our attempts at swimming didn't last very long as there was itchy little jellyfish in the water.

Then a full moon evening, with a nice dinner in the cockpit and a view onto the stunning silhouettes of the steep walls around us compensates for any little shortcoming.

We still have a few days to spend and so we just move a few miles to another anchorage an hour away. There, we have heard is a freshwater lagoon, separated from the sea at its nearest point by just a 5 m high rock wall. 

The main access is a little further into the bay, with a long jetty for the day tour boats. We anchor more near the rock wall and take the dinghy there. Not having thought about shoes, we slowly clamber up the rocks, when me meet a few local youngsters, coming back the other way. They tell us that there is an old boat on the other side and that we are welcome to use it. 
We find the boat, it has a few holes, luckily above the waterline and we use it to paddle out into the lake to have a swim. An old story says that bathing in that lake enhances fertility.

Back on Taniwani, we are expecting Anne and Mogens of Northern Star for lunch. They had come non-stop up from Singapore and called us on the radio. We discuss plans for next year and since they want to be at the RLYC by the evening, we wish them good bye and a Merry Christmas, as we will not see them again until next year.

We still have time to move on to another anchorage for the night. We had seen this new development with a huge pier fro cruising ships at the SW corner of Langkawi and thought there might be a good place to have a dinner ashore. When we landed by dinghy in the little harbor, we found that everything was like dead, and all was built to accommodate large numbers of guests. It didn't seem inviting and may only open when a cruise ship is docked. So, back to Taniwani for dinner.

Next day we round the Southwest corner, and after just two miles, anchor off the nice sand beaches of Langkawi's west coast. This is where most of the resorts are. But there is also a public beach and some beach restaurants. So maybe we will be luckier here.

But before any such thing, we need to do some homework: We have to explore the facilities in the nearby Rebak Marina and we decide to just quickly go there by dinghy. This marina looks extremely sheltered in a lagoon inside of Rebak Island, only a small winding canal leads in. At first glance it is hard to comprehend how the Tsunami destroyed about everything in the marina, except the  boats up on the hardstand.

But people tell us that the pontoons and especially the pillars were not very strong and so the strong current of water flowing quickly in and out, just broke them loose and sent them drifting out to sea. Boats, with pontoons attached to them quietly sailed out the canal and a few made it without damage.

In the mean time everything was rebuilt and is much stronger, and in spring this year the marina reopened. The marina is at best 30% filled and at current they promote a special rate of just about €3 per day including water and power. We still prefer to stay at anchor, as it is very hot in the windless lagoon.

The facilities and travel-lift look very good, and Hamid, the contractor who had been recommended to us for doing the paint job, seemed a nice and honest guy. Prices for labor are very low, just the travel-lift is at international price level. We still have to see Phuket, but think it very likely to come back here for haul out next year. We make a tentative appointment in late February, to be finalized or canceled via email.

Back to the anchorage, Mahi Mahi had arrived and anchored near by. Together we go ashore for dinner, and this time successful. Over dinner we discuss the status of Mahi-Mahi's lightning stricken electronics: A few spares are on order, mails on how to test the radar had been exchanged with Raymarine, but they were reluctant to send schematics, which would have made trouble shooting much easier. But they had at least volunteered instructions on how to enter diagnostics mode.

So next morning we had another go at the radar and found a ground loop distorting the signals between scanner and display. Lacking  schematics to find the blown part, we found that disconnecting the normally isolated video ground solved the problem. It worked, theoretically with more noise on the signal, but we were unable to spot a difference to normal. So Mahi Mahi was back in business with radar. As this was all done very early, a nice breakfast on board of Mahi-Mahi followed.

Joao had just met some other boats, that routinely travel between East Africa and Thailand Malaysia, with the usual stopover at Chagos for a few months. We all were off course eager to hear their experiences and so Joao suggested a barbeque dinner on Mahi Mahi's terrace back at Rebak were the other boats were. It was good timing since we needed to empty our freezer anyway, and so we could contribute rarities like Yellow Fin, Wahoo and MahiMahi, some still from the Pacific. 
For the first time we now met Patricia and Heinz of the catamaran "Papagena". The nice couple had been doing the Indian Ocean circuit now for many times and were full of good advise regarding Chagos. So we really started to look forward to see this special place next year. We also learned that our plan to leave Thailand in early March was flawed and the best time to do the trip to Chagos, possibly via Sri Lanka and Maldives would be in mid January. This was no option for us any more, but we might be able to still leave in late February if we hurried up.

The problem is that the good wind dies out around mid February and than it becomes a slow and windless passage. Also February through April are the ideal months for Chagos, as the weather usually has light winds from the west, before turning to increasing Southeasterlies in May. And then another problem popped up: New regulations regarding visiting Chagos, much more restricted were in the making. We had to stay tuned.

Despite the low prices and great facilities in Rebak, me moved to Telaga the next day. It is said to be the cruisers favorite anchorage. There is a marina, but also, just outside, a good anchorage, well protected by two artificial islands.  

For us the main reason going to Telaga, was to get fuel at the very convenient fuel dock and the possibility to clear in and out of Malaysia there. RLYC also as a fuel dock, but we had been warned by other boats that the fuel there was sometimes very dirty - we didn't want to take the chance.

So we also anchored outside, took the dinghy in to check out the place and decided to take fuel and check out the next morning. Just before getting dark, Mahi Mahi also arrived in midst of a squall and they couldn't get their anchor to hold, even after three tries, and so they picked up an unoccupied mooring for the night. Holding around most of Langkawi isn't very good.

For us this was our last evening with Mahi Mahi this year, so together we had lobster still from the Minerva reef and long review of the highlights of the year. When we exchanged Christmas presents it was fun to realize that we had not only bought them in the same shop, but almost got the same gifts.

Saturday, December 9th. Malaysia is normally one of the easiest places to clear in and out, but today we had no such luck. The procedure normally requires to visit harbormaster, customs and immigration, in that order. There are brand new and clean offices in Telaga, but the harbormaster never showed up and so the other offices had nothing to do and had to revert to playing solitaire games on their PCs. For us it meant no clearing out unless we went to Kuah by car.

Renting a car in Langkawi is no problem, you just ask somebody, usually from the marina staff, to rent you his car and for about $10 you can have one for a day. So together with another yacht that had the same problem, we just got a car, drove to the big ferry terminal in Kuah and quickly cleared out there. Meanwhile Taniwani was still occupying one end of the fuel dock - not a problem.

It was 2 pm before we could leave and so we just went some 25 miles to the Butang group of Thai islands. The Thais usually tolerate yachts cruising up the islands, taking up to a week to get to Phuket. We pick a more remote island of the group for our night anchorage as we didn't want to pay the park fees for just one night - it is more than what a marina costs and we also do not have Thai currency yet.

The place was nice, but again full of jelly fish, so that we didn't dare going swimming. In the evening we were webbed in by some fishing boats laying nets all around us, with kerosene flares marking the boundaries.

Next day we had to move on and sailed to Ko-Rok-Nok. So far we didn't have really nice sailing in the Indian Ocean, but today was great: On a beam reach with the spinnaker we made the 45 miles in no time.

Again, Rok-Nok is a nature park, but this time we pick up a mooring between the two islands. It is a very busy place with lots of long tail boats that bring out tourists from the main land. 

Now the water is quite clear and we go for some snorkeling but only find lots of dead coral - disappointing. We hadn't looked at Taniwani's bottom since leaving Australia and we realize we haven't been snorkeling since then, now we were pleased to see that the paint we put on in New Zealand was excellent, the best we ever had (Ameron ABC#3). Also the special stuff on the Prop (PropSpeed) seemed to work well.

Just before sunset, the rangers come by and collect $30 from us, for just two people. It would have paid for a week in Rebak marina. Well it is for a longer stay in the park, but we need to move on and every island is its own park - so cruising here could get expensive.

It turned out not only expensive, but a rather noisy night, with tourists camping on the beach and long tail boats coming and going.


At first light in the morning we move on and sail 16 miles to a very small island group called Koh Ha Yai. It consists of five very small sandstone islets with steep cliffs and some individual pinnacles just off the cliff. We are lucky to be so early and so we can fetch a mooring between some of the steep rocks. Only a little later the many dive boats took over the place. Finally we had some very nice snorkeling with rather good visibility.


Unfortunately this is not a good place to stay over night and we wanted to meet Filia Venti in Phi Phi Don, so on we went the same day. It was in Fiji, that we last saw Heike and Klaus of Filia Venti and where we said good bye for good, as did not expect to see them again. Our change of plan to move on to South East Asia this year made us slowly catch up with them again.



Soon we anchor near Filia Venti in the large bay of Phi Phi Don. There are only three yachts here, but otherwise it is a very busy place with ferries, speedboats, long-tails, dive boats and fishing boats going in and out, so that the water is never calm.

Phi Phi is said to be amongst the ten most beautiful islands in the world and it is indeed quite nice with its little beaches and steep cliffs. It was and is again the major tourist trap in the islands around Phuket. Unfortunately it is also the place that was most devastated and there the Tsunami claimed a large number of lives.

There is hardly anybody on Phi Phi who hasn't lost relatives and loved ones. 

It is no surprise that all this is still visible and fellable on Phi Phi, while at other places only the new warning systems and marked escape routes remind us to what had happened just two years ago.

Though the village with its many shops seems to have been rebuilt and one can find dozens of dive shops, restaurants, internet cafes, boutiques and cash machines - here we get our first Thai money.

We check out the place together with Heike and Klaus and have dinner ashore.

Next day we continue on through the picturesque Phangnga Bay.

A detailed exploration of this interesting bay with the many steep rock structures will have to wait until we return to Taniwani early next year. We have to move on to our final destination: The Yacht Haven Marina in Phuket. It is situated in the small canal that separates the island of Phuket from the Thai mainland. We had heard good things about it and as opposed to boat lagoon it is accessible at any tide.
It is further away from Phuket town, but one needs a rental car any way and then it doesn't matter. We found the marina excellent and the staff super friendly and efficient.

What is now left is a lot of red tape: Get a car, drive to the air port to get the tickets which the authorities require to see, (luckily it wasn't e-tickets), then down all of Phuket to Ao Chalong Bay to clear into Thailand, then into town to pay the deposit. 



There is more to do before we fly home: We need to 'winterize' Taniwani for a two months break, then check out shopping possibilities for next year, check out Boat Lagoon Royal Phuket  Marina facilities for possibly hauling Taniwani out here.

Yacht Haven is a very good marina to leave a boat for some time, but not such a great place to live on the boat for longer. There is not much other infrastructure around, so it means going by car most of the time. Also Yacht Haven has no haul out facilities.

These facilities are available in Boat Lagoon and in the brand new marina right next to it, the Royal Phuket Marina. Both share an access channel from the sea which is so shallow, that boats like ours cannot go in and out on neap tide days.

Boat Lagoon: We had considered leaving Taniwani there and had also emailed them, but were told there was no space available for the requested time. After now seeing Boat Lagoon we were quite happy we didn't book it. It is a small basin surrounded by fancy apartments on one side and a dirty and noisy shipyard on the other. Various marine related shops around it. 
The contractor that would do the anti fouling job, turned out a really obnoxious guy and we walked away when discussing the job.




Royal Phuket Marina: Still under construction, looks nicer than Boat Lagoon and the hardstand and work area is far from the pontoons. And for a change we found a very nice and helpful contractor there.

Both are approximately on the same price level, and by international standards quite normal, yet the total cost of hauling out and getting new antifouling applied, is pretty exactly twice as much as in Langkawi. So we will go back to Rebak next year and get it done there.

In the end we have a few days left to explore and enjoy Phuket, which we thoroughly do and we slowly start liking the place.

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Click here for the next report, sailing Thailand and Malaysia again and the off to the Maldives and Chagos.