28 May, 2008

East Coast Rally

Prior to leaving Thailand, we got one last bit of work done on the boat. We came to the conclusion that our fridge was on it’s last legs. At anchor, we needed to have the engine on for about three hours each day, just so there was enough juice in the batteries to keep the fridge running. Of course, that was starting to wear the batteries out…….. So we bit the bullet, and got Siam Cooling on the job, and we now have a wonderful new fridge!

On our last night in Phuket, we went to Nai Yang beach, on the west coast near the airport. Only a few tourists go there, it is nothing like Patong. We found this great little restaurant called Mamma Mias, and sat and had our meal at the bar. There was a poster for the movie Bridget Jones’ Diary on the wall, with a couple of scrawled signatures on it. Yes, Renee Zellweger and Hugh Grant had dined there! The second Bridget Jones movie was partly filmed in Thailand, near where we ate at Nai Yang. They stayed there while filming the movie. We just had to watch the movie, and also noticed that Ko Panyi, the Muslim village on stilts that we wrote about in our last blog, also featured in the film.

We stopped at Phi Phi Don on the way south. They got hit hard there by the tsunami, but tourism is totally up and running again. This is what the beachfront looks like during the day – longtails from one end to the other.

Just as we got to our next stop – Ko Lanta - our camera decided it didn’t want to play anymore, so that was the end of photos for a while.

We left Thailand, and arrived in Malaysia six days after having left Phuket. Our port of arrival was Langkawi - a duty free island – so we just had to stock up on beer and wine! There is a large expat community there, and because of this, quite a bit of western food. One of the big local supermarkets sells 2 kg blocks of NZ cheese. It’s amazing what you miss when you can’t buy it for a while! Suffice to say, I stocked up….

While at Langkawi, we stayed at Rebak Marina for a week. It really is a resort, with a marina attached. Yachties are treated just like hotel guests. There is a great pool and other creature comforts; no wonder some yachties stay there for months! We nicknamed it ‘Fantasy Island’, as although it is a great place, it is a little removed from the reality that is Malaysia.

And then it was south to Penang, and the ‘East Coast Passage’ – a rally starting in Penang, down to Singapore, then up the east coast of Malaysia and over to Borneo by early August. This is the first year the East Coast Passage has been run, and there are 14 boats doing it. Most are starting from Sebana Cove near Singapore; only three of us started in Penang. The rally can only get more popular in years to come, as the east coast is where all the great beaches and dive spots are, and the area is largely untapped as far as a yacht cruising destination goes.

The night before the rally started, we enjoyed the customary ‘gala dinner’. Quite a small event this time, given the small number of yachts starting in Penang.

On Monday morning 25 May we were off. We were the first yacht to leave, and managed to get under the Penang bridge without any problems. Although you know that the boat will go under the bridge, without the mast getting knocked off, it is still a little nerve-wracking until you have actually passed underneath! Shane wasn’t obviously too stressed, as he enjoyed his early morning cuppa…..

We arrived at Port Dickson yesterday afternoon, and head off on a day tour in to Kuala Lumpur this morning. We have been there before, but it should be good fun, as the host of the rally, Sazli, is taking us there.

I’ve just checked the date, and realised it is two years ago today that we moved on to Enzwell in Brisbane. Where has that two years gone??!!

For anyone that wants to check where the rally is taking us, go to
http://sailmalaysia.net/rally-info-east.html and if anyone wants to email us, the address is crew.enzwell@gmail.com

Heather and Shane

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