First a note. The Hole in the Wall that we visited is not the place that most people call Hole in the Wall. Our sailing guide book mentions a cyclone hole or hurricane hole on the northwest tip of Langkawi. That is the place that most people call the Hole in the Wall. The place that we visited was called by that same name by several cruisers on a sailing forum that I often read. One of them gave me the lat/long of what they called the Hole in the Wall and that is where we went. This was on the western side of the island called Pulau Dayang Bunting, which is slightly southwest of the main island of Langkawi. The place we visited literally looks as if you are going to sail right into a wall. When you are a boat length or two away, the opening becomes visible. Hence, the name of "hole in the wall." But the local chart shop had a handwritten note on a chart indicating that the cyclone hole on the northwest tip of Langkawi is the true "Hole in the Wall" so we stand corrected. Frankly, from looking at the charts, I think the "hole" we visited must be prettier and more dramatic than the cyclone hole. We will not be taking the boat to the cyclone hole to confirm this.
We arrived in Rebak Marina 10 days ago. This will be home for S/V BeBe until December 3 when we will depart for Phuket, Thailand. Rebak is located on a tiny island off the western side of Langkawi. There is a very nice (but tired) Taj resort hotel on the island, and the marina is attached to the resort property. It is isolated and very safe from crime and very protected from stormy weather, so this is a perfect place to leave a boat when traveling. We fly home to Houston in late October and return on December 1. I would have liked to have stayed anchored out awhile longer, but the marina had warned us that they will be filling up soon with arriving boats from the rally. We had prepaid for our slip back in May. But we are all too familiar with the "first come, first served" method of doing business and did not want to chance losing our slip should rally boats arrive early. The marina was damaged by the big tsunami just after Christmas 2005, and was basically rebuilt. So the marina is in much "newer" condition than the rest of the resort.
Bill and Amy of S/V ESTRELLITA met us upon our arrival and helped with the dock lines. They had arrived a few days earlier because they were scheduled for hauling out on Sept 19. Today ESTRELLITA splashed and is now back in her slip. Bill & Amy slept aboard BeBe while their boat was on the hard. They had to do all their own work for this haul-out because the yard manager had taken off the entire month in celebration of recently ended Ramadan. I don't know how they could work all day in this heat and humidity, but they managed and completed everything on schedule. I think they enjoyed sleeping in the air-conditioning aboard our boat as respite from their hard work in the heat all day.
On our first Saturday here we shared the cost of a rental car and visited several paint and hardware stores and various other shopping. Enjoyed a great lunch, although I have forgotten where. A local man rents cars to yachties for only 40 ringitt per day. A darn good thing too because the marina ferry drops us off at a place that is a very, very long way from town. The car rental guy delivers cars to the ferry dock which makes it very convenient as well as inexpensive.
Other than that one day trip, we have done pretty much nothing for the past 10 days. Our primary computer caught another virus (Antivirus 2010 from the Newsmax website) and Bill spent the day reformatting the drive and reloading all the programs. Thank goodness he frequently backs up the data files so very little was lost except all my games and a little program called 10,000 Recipes. I really liked that little recipe program but don't remember where we got it and did not bother to put it on any of the other computers. So when the primary computer had to be reformatted, I lost my little recipe program. (If any of my sailing friends have this program, please email it to me.) We have ordered a new computer to be built and will pick it up in Houston in November. We were down to 3 working computers and one of those is on its last leg, so it was time to buy a new one. We will be in very isolated areas in the Red Sea next spring and need to have computers we can rely on since we use a computer for our navigational software and charts. Time for a new one!
Our other almost daily activity has been the swimming pool. This resort has a very nice swimming pool. It is too easy to order margaritas and pina coladas at the swim-up bar and just sign your name. Have to be a little careful about that or we will have a big surprise when it is time to settle the tab at the marina office. There is a yachtie restaurant near the marina that is very reasonably priced, but the swimming pool bar is a tad pricey. About like prices back home. There is also an upscale restaurant at the resort if one is feeling the desire to splurge for a nice evening meal. We think the yachtie restaurant is used to train staff and try new dishes for the upscale restaurant. The food is okay but with a limited selection. I think we have already eaten every dish on the menu that we are willing to sample. Malaysian food is not that appealing to either of us. Beef Rendang is the best Malaysian dish that I have found so far. The yachtie restaurant here has Lamb Rendang on the menu, but I swear it is beef half the time. Whatever the meat, the spicy sauce is quite good.
The pool is wonderful for people-watching. Some of the guests are Muslim, with the women in the full head-to-toe black garments. One Muslim woman has a small boy and she takes him to the pool daily. Beneath her abaya (burka) she wears brightly printed long-john looking things. She wears these only when visiting the pool or beach; these leggings are not visible beneath her abaya at other times we have seen her around the resort grounds. These leggings have lace or eyelet trim around the ankles. It looks so funny to see these bright leggings poking out beneath the black abaya as she runs around after her little boy. So far she has not gotten into the pool, but if she does we know she will be wearing the full-coverage abaya. As her husband lays on a nearby lounge chair in his short-sleeve shirt and swim trunks. It is so not fair that the men get to wear cool clothing while the women swelter totally covered up in this heat. If the women must be covered in this heat, it is only fair that the men must also cover up.
On Friday I again took the marina ferry over to the dock on Langkawi. The marina has arranged with a vendor at the wet market to bring vegetables, cheeses and a few frozen meats and fish to the ferry dock each Friday morning. Glad they made this arrangement. Otherwise, we would have to rent a car to do grocery shopping each week. The vendor had a decent selection, though a bit pricey. Vegetables for a week's worth of meals cost me the equivalent of $20 USD. For this part of the world that is a bit expensive. But that is fine with me because of the convenience of having him bring it to us rather than us go to his shop. There is also a small shop at the marina that sells basics, but no produce. More of a gift shop with a few food items.
This guy worked one day by himself and then showed up the next day with a helper -- without even asking us if it was okay. We had agreed to pay him 20 ringitt per hour. When he showed up with an assistant, Bill told him the assistant would only be paid 10 ringitt per hour. They were fine with that. I am delighted to hire someone to do this work. Bill and I are too old to be working in the sun and heat and high humidity all day. The heat index here is 105F today. Today is the guy's third day of work and Bill told him he must finish today because we don't have any more cash. These guys are getting paid only 30 ringitt per hour (only $9.63 USD for the both of them) and they are doing a darn good job. But even at that cheap labor rate, there is a limit to how many hours we are going to let them work. We need to take a ferry trip over to Langkawi and rent another car so we can go into town and visit an ATM.
Road trip tomorrow!