I imagine that my view of Malaysia and Thailand so far is pretty skewed. In Malaysia I’ve only been to the city of Penang, and the touristy island of Langkawi. The latter is beautiful, and has nice amenities for the (mostly Chinese) tourists, but I don’t imagine it is representative of much of Malaysia. Before we could leave Malaysia, we had to wait to get our spinnaker sent by ferry from the sailmaker. (This sail was our Parasailor, which ripped again. This time it was the wing, and the local sailmaker couldn’t deal with it, so we had him simply remove the wing and fill in the slot. Not a Parasailor anymore.)
We decided rather than sit in the marina, we would go cruising for a couple days. We went to an anchorage known as The Hole in the Wall. The narrow entrance is between two bluffs, and then you can go a kilometer or so up the inlet (river?) and anchor between mangrove swamps. Eagles feed in there, and there are monkeys on the shore, and there is a little floating village. And, somewhat shockingly, dozens of “long tails” (small boats with noisy outboard motors that stick far out astern) carrying tourists around to see the sights. Still a cool place to visit.
Then back to the marina to collect our sail. Also to replace a chafed-through topping lift (line that holds the boom up, so it doesn’t crash down on the deck when the sail is lowered). We tried to clear out of Malaysia, but the harbormaster left work early; we had to wait until morning. By the time we went to the bakery, and topped up our fuel tanks via jerry cans at the gas station, and spent most of our remaining Ringgits on frozen foods, it was too late to make it to Ko Lipe in Thailand. So we anchored in a cove on the NW corner of Langkawi, and went to Lipe the next day. We’re not in any hurry.
Our introduction to Thailand was also touristy, but much more international than Malaysia. As soon as we cleared in we found an ATM and got a local SIM card and bought smoothies and had an early dinner at a beachfront restaurant. Then back to the boat to get out of the crowded harbor, and motor around to the quiet side of the island, where there was a nice anchorage with half a dozen boats.
Next day we motored (wind seems to be rare here during this, the NE monsoon/season) a few miles to a place reputed to have excellent snorkeling. It was okay, not great. But it was wonderful to spend some time in the water. It is almost intolerably hot. Even as I write at 9pm it is only comfortable below with a fan on, and only slightly more pleasant on deck. And on deck one is accosted by the brilliant lights of the plethora of squid-fishing boats around.
We grabbed a mooring off of a national park for the night. We wondered how well maintained it might be. The water was 80 feet deep and not very clear, so we had no way to inspect. No problem. But today we met a guy on another catamaran who grabbed a similar mooring, and during the night found themselves on the reef. They were lucky that all they lost was one propeller.
We had another engine problem. Our control unit began giving an alarm that it couldn’t shift the port engine in/out of gear. While on our mooring, once things cooled off a bit in the evening, we removed the shifter control cable and found that indeed it was nearly impossible to move the shifter lever. Tim had worked with a mechanic in Langkawi before I arrived, and he seemed to know his stuff, so we called him for a consultation, and we decided to go back to have him take a look. We didn’t bother to clear out of Thailand or into Malaysia. Unlikely that anyone would notice or care. The mechanic fixed us up, minor corrosion problem. Chris is beginning to understand the cruiser’s definition of cruising — fixing your boat in exotic places.
While Tim worked with the mechanic, Chris and I took a taxi to a supermarket and stocked up. We also stopped at a local place for breakfast — egg roti and fresh squeezed orange juice for a dollar!
Now we are back in Thailand. Doing a slow cruise north, to nowhere in particular. There are a couple islands we have read about that we would like to see, but it is so damned hot that it is hard to care about much. No wind. No desire to explore ashore. Not much desire to even eat. By mid-morning we start looking forward to sundown. Oh well, we have about 11 days until we head west across the Strait of Malacca to Sumatra. Maybe we will go to Phuket, where I believe Maggie and Blue Wind are located. Maybe we will just visit islands, hoping for a little more breeze.