🌷… For Kirsten … 🌷
After a frenetic three months working on Blue Heeler and after clearing out from Chalong Bay in Phuket, we were rewarded with lovely day sails across to Koh Lanta, Koh Muk, and Koh Lipe, testing the work from the recent refit.
From the beautiful Thai island of Koh Lipe, we left the ridiculously busy south anchorage and headed into a 25-30kn easterly wind. This made certain we couldn’t go directly to Telaga in Langkawi’s north-west corner as planned, but redirected us south to an anchorage outside the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden for the night. We headed to Langkawi to give Blue Heeler a chance to shake out any problems, pick up our packages from DHL in Kuah, also pick up our ‘normal ship’s supply’ of duty free booze to carry us through the next few months!
We anchored in the main town of Kuah for about a week, waking each day once again to the familiar sounds of the mosque’s call to prayer. Speed boats filled with young married muslim couples, some women peering out of black burqas and wearing fluorescent orange buoyancy vests, sped towards the surrounding island resorts. Our visit was worthwhile as we got a lot done, and with a cheap car to get around made it more enjoyable. Kuah is a pretty good anchorage and accessible to most things. Could use a few more good eating places though.
By sheer serendipity I found cases of Victoria Bitter (VB) beer when I was looking for Tiger Beer at the booze warehouse in Kuah so these were a special treat for us! Another pleasant surprise for me was to bump into a number of crew of a few yachts from the 2013 Sail Indonesia Rally. One fellow saw me lugging slabs of VB with my trolley and my blue heeler emblem on my hat. He said “You’ve gotta be from Blue Heeler?”. I guess our dinghy with “Blue Heeler” in large letters gave it away too… Stopping for a chat with some rally members was great to hear their stories of the subsequent rally and their future plans too. I myself enjoy reading other yachties blogs – the information is first hand, and in most cases invaluable to other yachties.
Clearing out of Malaysia at Telaga, we were happy to once more catch up with Claes and Laila of Comedie for more laughs and drinks as we discussed and solved most of the problems in the world over a huge Indian dinner. Sadly this would be the last time we’d see our Swedish friends for a long time and probably not until we reach the Med or Sweden in the coming years.
But the trip south identified a number of post-refit issues; nuts and bolts that rattled loose; wiring to be completed and other small tasks left over from the refit. While in Kuah we received our package from the US. We’d bought items from a number of US chandleries and had them consolidated through Shipito in the US so we saved on courier costs. Opening up our huge box of goodies was like getting early birthday presents. New blocks, Hella fans, windlass gypsy, LPG regulator, new dock and antenna for setting up our satphone to receive emails, plus other non urgent stuff.
One fairly drastic problem we had to resolve was the new metal post holding up our wind generator. Supporting the post were two metal struts but they were positioned too close to the blades. When hit by a strong gust, the blades bent back and chipped against the struts making the wind generator inoperative. The wind generator gives us plenty of amps so we couldn’t possibly travel without getting it fixed.
The dilemma we faced with getting this rectified was that we had to return to Phuket Boat Lagoon, but the entrance is too shallow without a spring tide. We had to get back to Phuket, into the marina and out within a three day tide window otherwise we’d have to wait two weeks, which is too close to departing for Sri Lanka. Anchored outside the marinas, we called Boat Lagoon but the marina office said they were full and couldn’t fit us in. We tried the nearby Royal Phuket Marina, but they couldn’t fit us in either. Don’t believe them! Wayne dinghied into the marina and saw Nai, the project manager of our refit. After explaining the situation to her, she was on the phone to the marina office yelling and waving her arms. She closed her phone, smiled at Wayne and said “Okay, you’re in berth K8”. I like her style!
We held our breaths waiting for impact as the depth sounder showed 0.0m for much of the way following old GPS tracking into the marina. Once in, Wayne immediately dealt with the wind genny problem, while I hired a cheap car (just outside Boat Lagoon a small car rental place for THB600 per day) and drove around for more provisions and to pick up the remaining canvas work from Muzza at Canvas Creations. I drove through the crazy traffic down to Chalong’s Villa Homepro store and bought the last four jars of Vegemite (thanks for the tip Laila!); onto Makro for three kilograms of salami, plus a lot of other stuff. The car was handy and we topped up our fuel jerry cans – diesel and ULP – from the 7/11. Ton and his team we’re very responsive and had the welding job rectified in no time. Lucky for us we have spare wind generator blades and with new ones installed our windy was purring away pumping in the amps. Phew! And while all of this was keeping us busy, the Thai protests continue. With over ten people dead and many protestors injured, there appears to be no immediate end in sight. I hope it settles down for the Thais as they are mostly very friendly people.
There’s also been a recent change for yachties when entering Thailand. It used to be a six month entry for your vessel with an option to extend for another six months. That was ideal for those storing boats to return home for the wet season or to get repairs as we did. From 7th January 2014 the rules have changed. We received a 30 day permit for the boat to match our 30 day ‘entry on arrival’ visas. This will be a pain for some yachties but we’ll only be here a couple more weeks so no problem for us.
So here we are again with our personal odometer ticking over another year and big goals on the horizon for us. 2014 has started as every year does – heatwaves across Australia; storms in the northern hemisphere; new babies for young families; foreign conflicts still filling the news. But the start of this year brought sadness to the Smith family in Victoria. On 16th January this year, a beautiful woman Kirsten Smith lost her battle against Niemann Pick Type C; following the fate of her brother Matty two years ago. Kirsten, one month short of turning 40, was a friend to my nephews Matthew (26) and Tim (24), also afflicted by this tragic disease. The 28th of February is Rare Disease Day throughout the world reminding all of us to appreciate how lucky we are and to think of those less fortunate, and also the broken hearts they leave behind. RIP Kirsten.