Bon Voyage Asia, January to February 2009

make custom gifts at Zazzle
Rubber trees were planted in the late 1870's by a British Resident, Sir Hugh Low, in his gardens, from seed he smuggled out of Brazil or London's Kew Gardens.  It was not until the invention of the pneumatic tire in 1888, that rubber suddenly came into demand and rubber plantations sprang up across SE Asia.  Almost all the trees are descended from Low's original plants.  Above locals on the island of Koh Muk are processing the rubber (click to see video) through a mangle, then hang the sheets to dry.
"When in Rome" as the saying goes.  Thanks to our friends Rachel and Russ(R and R), when in Thailand do as the Thai's, eat bugs.   R and R actually enjoyed some large beetles, but left over were some lovely fried grasshoppers.  You can tell by Phoebe's expression, that she really enjoyed them, not!  At least she tried.  The maggots were better.
Drakes touches the sun on the island of Koh Lipe, in the Butang group of Thailand. 
Paradise spoiled.  Last March we traveled to Thailand and stopped at Koh Lipe, it was one of our favorite places, unpaved trails leading to isolated coves.  Six months later there is a small paved road with scooters whizzing passed you and long tail boats (did I mention how load they are?) with tourists everywhere.  The bay is deep and comes up very quickly straight onto coral.  You can see the bottom and snorkle right off the boat, however, with so many local boats zipping around it is not very safe anymore.  Blue Sky found one of the only sandy patches to anchor in and was secure.  You can always find a few idiots within a small anchorage.  Well in one day we experienced two.  The gentleman on the bottom right anchored so close that I could hand him a cup of coffee, he finally dragged far enough behind us that he was not a problem, except to the local boat he ended up hitting and tying up to. In the meantime, while he was dragging, the boat behind Jim anchored in the same place, "coffee anyone?"
We celebrated New Years in Koh Lipe with Rachel and Russ and even stayed up til Midnight, watching all the local restaurants shoot off fireworks and light laterns that fly into the night sky.  R and R are PADI dive instructors and certified Phoebe and I, during our stay. It is a lovely spot to learn to dive and is very diverse.   Drake is too young, but he enjoyed a fun dive to get aquianted with the equipment.  Now they are both hooked, more toys to buy! 

A blue Budda Batik hangs next to the establishment we frequented. 

Back in
Langkawi, we celebrated my birthday at our favorite restaurant, Mangoes.  It is run by an ex-cruiser named Michelle with her partner Lutz.  Phoebe and Drake pose in front.  My last two birthdays were spent at rolly anchorages, the wind was so strong we could not get off the boat.  It was nice to be spoiled.
R and R were spending their last days with us, before the flew off to the Phillipines looking for work.  They took the children up to the Seven Wells, after climbing six hundred stairs, you are rewarded with seven water falls that you can slide down.  After the hike they stopped at the petting zoo, where a monkey is very friendly with Phoebe. 

The gentleman on the right cooks our favorite breakfast, Roti Cinai, it is an Indian bread, fried.  Served with Dahl and curry sauce.  You can have it plan or with an egg, cheese or onion inside.  One is .30 cents, cheaper to eat out than cook on board.
Blue Sky had a leak in an exhaust elbow so we pulled into Telaga Marina.   With an engine that is temporarily out of commission it is not safe to anchor.   We were surprised one day by the arrival of s/v Glide, a boat we meet in Vanuatu.  Above their children Max and Gina relax on the beach with Phoebe, Sophie off s/v Sunburn and Namara off s/v Glayva.  In Telega, there are two man made islands to block the swell and wind, the children have taken over one and made it "Kids Cove."  After school we drop them off for the afternoon, where they have been very creative building a tree house and setting up camp around the fire pit. A perfect spot for sundowners and beach bbq's. In the middle of January we were treated to a partial Solar Eclipse.  On board were the x-rays from the Marquesa's when Jim hurt his knee, they were the perfect instrument to observe the moon passing in front of the sun.  The day after was Chinese New Year and we were treated to a lion dance at the Marina, click to see our video.  The costumes are so colorful and the performers so agile on their feet.  Climbing up four flights of poles and never waivering. 
Above left our friends Brendan, Di, Sophie and Finn off s/v Sunburn at "Kids Cove" celebrating Sophie's 12th birthday.  The children participated in all the traditional field games.  There was tug-of-war, three legged race & the always popular water ballon toss.  The adults even got in to the games and were thoughly worn out.  Finn from s/v Sunburn, Drake and Arran from s/v Glayva show us the famous moneky pose. Three boys all the same age, what are the chances of that.  We have been very fortunate to have so many boats with other children aboard.  Sadly when we leave, all of them are remaining in this area.

The next day we were treated by our dock neighbors Rinus & Maya, from Holland, to a day cruise on their Grand Banks,
m/v Big Boy.  We first stopped in at our old haunt, Rebak Marina & Resort.  Rinus needed to pick up some dive gear and we had the opportunity to pick up some spare anchor chain that we had left behind.  Once clear of the marina we cruised over to the Maiden Lake and through the Fijord anchorage before heading back to Telaga. Jim poses in front of the driving station saying "This will be our next boat."

Back in Telaga, Brendan and Di came over for sundowners on the aft deck of
Blue Sky.  Emma made up a batch of chicken fajitas with pico de gallo and real sour cream.  We still miss Mexico!  Fortunately you can buy Old El Paso products here; salsa, jalapenos, queso and tortillas.  I bought all the tortillas from one store as they have a very long shelf live and will be great on our passage.   Phoebe and Drake read in bed before lights out.

The harbor has been over run by jellyfish!  The two main species that have been floating around are pictured above.  The larger one ranges from pinks to purple, with thick tentacles that fish hide in, and longer tentacles streaming behind.  They are approximately 2-3 feet in diameter.  One day the children counted 101, could make a movie out of that.  We recently learned that they live only two to three months.  At least they are so large that you can see them coming if you are swimming. 
Shopping for a major ocean crossing is always an insane event.  We are "buying low" because we learned in French Polyenesia the hard way of not stocking up.  The water line is suffering, but it's consumables so it can only get better.  Cardboard is never allowed on board, as cock roaches lay their egss in the glue, and it is the number one way boats get infected.  Once we bring everything down to the boat we have to take it out of all the packaging, throwing away the cardboard and plastic. The fun part is finding places to stow everything, and remembering where you put it.  I write everything down now.  We will be two months in Chagos which is an uninhabited island.  After Chagos it's off to the Seychelles and that is where we can expect resort prices.  Malaysia basically has everything that one expects at home.  Chilean wine, Austrailian cheese, New Zealand lamb, English chocolate!  So it's stock up realitively inexpensively now or pay big in the Seychelles.  We are not expecting much in Madagascar so instead of stocking up for just a couple of months we are loading the boat to get us to South Africa.  That's about eight to nine  months from now.
The troup of dancers work their way around the island, performing at resorts, restraunts and marinas.  The scheduled time at our destination was 3:00pm,  the heat of the day.  We were sweating just watching them, and they are in full costume.  As the day wears on, the performance changes.   Last years performance which we saw at a beach resturant had the lion consume six beers in about 10 minutes.  They must all take turns being the lion as there is no way I expected the performers to be standing for very long, at least in the evening they are not climbing, just staying on the ground.
Along with provisioning there are many checks and preventive maintenance items we do on board to ensure the boat is safe and ready to go to sea.  Photos from left to right are as follows:  Rig check aloft.  Jim always does this prior to a crossing.  The first time I don't do a check is the time that something will break!  Checking all our navigation lights work.  Our Galley Port was cracked so we had to replace it.  We were able to source this in America but it took almost a month to get it all the way out here in Malaysia.  The third picture is me below decks changing out Raycor diesel fuel filters.  We changed every fluid aboard, the engine and generator,  while we had access to recycling facilities.  The last photo is of the Lewmar windlass.  This is the electric motor that lowers and lifts the anchor.  It's a pretty important item!  Well the "sealed" housing as you can see is not sealed, thus sea water/sea spray was able to get inside and corrode the contactor.  We contacted Lewmar in Britian and they immediatly sent us a new contactor.  I will now make the windlass a regular item to check, clean and prevent this from happening again.  This is just a short list of what we have done to get prepared.  We finally wiped the last item off the list and are ready to leave!   This will be our last log for a few months, as we will not have internet access until the Seychelles.  You can follow our track by clicking here or looking at our commercial link "Yacht Trak Position" on our index page.
Drake is like a kid in a candy store...Oh wait he is!  Purchasing our six month supply of chocolate.
Above is our version of Costco, we found the wherehouse that supplies the grocery stores, perfect for buying bulk.