Sunday, October 24, 2010

A few Langkawi notes

Langkawi is the end of the line.  
........ or so we have been told by several people.  Not for us.....oh, very definitely not for us.....but it does turn out to be the end of the line for many cruisers.  From here they must either head off toward South Africa or the Red Sea, which is too daunting a challenge for some cruisers.  So they stop in Langkawi.  From here it is easy to visit Phuket.  But Thailand has more restrictive laws regarding both immigration and foreign flagged yachts, so it is best to spend more time in Malaysia.  Also from Langkawi it is easy enough to back track to Borneo.  It is also possible to sail up to the Philippine Islands and back.  We have met a number of cruisers who just go back and forth between Phuket and Borneo.  Works for them -- but that would drive us absolutely crazy!!!  Guess these folks don't realize that there are much better places to spend long periods of time.  To be completely honest, many of these "stuck" cruisers are Australian and a few from New Zealand; and they haven't seen the better islands much farther eastward in the South Pacific and they don't know how wonderful the Caribbean is for cruising.  So they think this cloudy, brownish water filled with jellyfish and horrendous currents is great.  Some of these "stuck" cruisers have been in this general area for as long as 7 years.  Oh my dear God, I would be going crazy!  But they enjoy it; so to each his own.  They think we are just as crazy because we are moving on westward soon.

Because Langkawi is the end of the line, it is also a good place to buy a cruising boat.  There are quite a few for sale here in Rebak Marina.  These are all fully-equipped for cruising and I should think the sellers would be willing to negotiate a good sales price simply to be rid of a boat that is in a location where they are reluctant to return and sail the boat home.  After all, delivery captains are pretty darn expensive.  So if they don't sell it here and are not willing to sail it home themselves, then they will need to be willing to negotiate on sales price. 

For sailing friends following in our wake:  DO NOT BUY COURTESY FLAGS FOR FUTURE COUNTRIES UNTIL YOU GET TO LANGKAWI.  There is a shop in Kuah town that sells copies of paper charts, and they also sell courtesy flags for almost every country.   The courtesy flags are a good size and are well-made.  We were not aware of this shop until we arrived here, and had ordered flags online from South Africa that were shipped to us months ago.  We bought flags for all countries we might visit all the way to Morocco -- India, Oman, Yemen, Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Malta, Tunisia and Morocco (uh-oh, just realized I forgot Gibraltar and Cypress).   Then we arrived here and found much better quality flags for lower prices.  Definitely recommend buying your courtesy flags in Langkawi.

There are some type of sea otters in this area.  We saw them at the marina in Penang, swimming beneath the QE2 bar/restaurant.  Shortly after we arrived here at Rebak Marina I saw 3 of the little creatures swimming near our dock late one afternoon.  They were adorable because they stayed in close formation and would stick up their heads and turn directions in unison.  Looked like a cartoon.  Another cruiser said these are seals, but they are definitely not seals.  When they dove and took off I could see their tails.  These are sea otters.  Funny thing is that no one has seen them again since that one afternoon shortly after we arrived here.  Wonder why they haven't returned.

Bill of S/V Estrellita; Howard & Linda of Dallas; us
There was a couple visiting the resort who chatted with several of us yachties, so 8 of us went to dinner one night at the little restaurant at the ferry dock on Langkawi.  The visitor works as a contractor in Afghanistan building runways for planes, and his British wife lives in their home in a suburb of Dallas.  She has lived with him in other middle-eastern countries, but spouses are not allowed in Afghanistan since it is a war zone.  It was interesting to hear first-hand accounts of what is really going on in Afghanistan versus what is published in news reports.

We have had the propane tank filled and the dive tanks filled.  Prepping as much as possible so we can get out of here as soon as possible after our return from the trip home.  Bill has completely disassembled and serviced most of our winches; there are 4 small winches remaining but those are almost never used.  Maybe he will get to those while we are in Phuket waiting for the monsoon to fill in so we can sail to India.   A friend has agreed to put our anchor chain back into the chain locker when it is returned from being re-galvanized.  We had hoped that the chain would be finished before we left to fly home, but it won't arrive back at our boat until 4 days after we leave.  Thanks very much in advance to Bill on S/V Estrellita for re-stowing our anchor chain. 

S/V BeBe on the right

There are 3 sister-ship Amels berthed in a row at this marina.  That is unusual for this part of the world.  We haven't seen very many Amels this far west -- none since leaving New Zealand, except for the one older Sharki model that visited Puteri Harbour Marina for a few weeks last spring.  Then we get to this marina and find ourselves berthed next to 2 other Amels that are the exact model as ours. (Two are stern-to and the center one is bow-to the dock.)   And there is another one dry-docked in the boat yard here.  And all 4 are Super Maramu 2000s.   The boat next to us is from Hamburg, Germany.  The one next to it is from Gibraltar.  And the one in the boat yard is from La Rochelle, France -- birthplace of all Amels.  The German couple on the boat next to us have been gone since we arrived, and they returned this morning.  We very much like the canvas awnings they have and learned that these were made here locally.  Had we known about this earlier we would have had duplicates made for our boat.  Now it is too late because we leave Tuesday morning for our trip home and there is not time to have the awnings manufactured.  Oh well, guess we didn't need these after all.  Wasn't meant to be.

And just to illustrate what a small world it is, just down the dock is a boat with hailing port of Port Aransas, Texas.  A query of the national vessel documentation shows that this boat is owned by  John Williams of Austin.  Either he is doing extensive travel or he is back home for a visit, because he has not been on the boat since we arrived at this marina.  Looks like we will miss saying hello to a fellow Texan half-way round the world.

While walking along the wall of the marina I noticed a small plaque dedicated to a cruiser who was killed at a nearby island in March 2009.  He and his wife were anchored overnight at a popular island.  They were boarded by several men who killed the husband during the ensuing fight with a hammer and then forced the wife to sail the boat to another location nearby.  They were soon captured.  Turned out these men were from Myanmar (Burma) and had been hired as crew aboard a Thai fishing boat.  But they were treated as slaves aboard the fishing boat and were starving.  They were trying to get free and jumped ship and swam to the anchored yacht, where the owner tried to fight them off and was killed.  It was easy for them to gain access to the yacht because all the hatches and the companionway were open because it was so hot.  I point out this story for all our family and friends who worry about our safety through the Gulf of Aden.  Bad things happen in good areas too.  The area we are currently visiting is visited by many thousands of tourists each year (mostly Europeans).  It is considered very "safe."  Yet this man was killed.  Another case of happenstance -- wrong place at the wrong time -- as can happen anywhere.  (Remember me being car-jacked at a "safe" location)  Next time someone starts worrying about us out here, stop and think about the annual murder rate in Houston.  I like our odds out here better.

1 comment:

  1. So sad about the murdered sailor, but like you said - your chances are greater in the city. We say the same when people ask us if we're worried about pirates. There is a risk in everything. However, I must admit that I don't think we're brave enough to continue across the Red Sea or Africa. Of course, that's probably because we haven't even experienced our first overnight passage. All in time! =)


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