Welcome to the blog of the sailing yacht Sea Bunny.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Indian Ocean passage - posted from Pulau Intan Besar, Langkawi

Until recently it was our intention to cross the Indian Ocean to South Africa in 2012.  We never intended to take the Red Sea route back to Europe but, if we had, we would now be reconsidering the decision, as are many other yachts.

Favourable conditions in the north Indian Ocean are found in January to March.  The cyclone season in the southern Indian Ocean lasts until May, after which conditions become favourable.  In the past yachts have been able to wait out this gap in the Chagos Archipelago.

Unfortunately the UK Government has introduced new rules for 2011 which limit stays in Chagos to 28 days, which does not allow sufficient time for the weather systems to change so Chagos becomes impracticable as a stopping point.

An alternative is to sail back down the Malacca Strait to Singapore and then through Indonesia to the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java, thence to Rodriguez or Mauritius and on to South Africa.  While this route is not much further in terms of overall distance it involves a 3000 nautical mile passage in rough conditions - strong SE trade winds and a SW swell out of the southern ocean. This is a most unattractive prospect.

The Project Director has ruled out the northern Pacific Circuit route, despite the prospect of wintering in Vancouver or Seattle and getting some serious skiing in. Having looked at it the Skipper is not in disagreement with this executive decision.

We have not even considered the Cape Horn route, even though it would mean revisiting New Zealand.

At present, unless the Chagos situation improves, Sea Bunny is residing in Malaysia/Thailand.

Action we have taken to try to get the UK Government to reconsider the Chagos regulations is on our website.  Other yachties who are in a similar situation to ours may like to consider taking similar action.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Back in Langkawi - posted from Teluk Datai

We have returned to Rebak Marina as time before our UK trip does not permit us to go to Phuket for boat work. The sailing instruments returned from repair in the UK, after a near-miss lightning strike in Singapore, have been fitted.  This ran into a full day off for Susan's birthday - champagne breakfast in the resort restaurant, relaxation by the pool (plus S doing her aquarobics) - and friends (mostly new to us yachties) for drinks on Sea Bunny in the evening.

Now a romantic two week circumnavigation of Langkawi is in progress. Yesterday (Tuesday) first stop Telaga to top up fuel, then on to Teluk Datai at the north of the island .  Ashore for a walk in the late afternoon, after persuading the new outboard puchased in Penang to work.  Gathering thunderclouds indicated a return to base and the gusty easterly today had kept us indoors, transfering our CD collection to the new media player.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tanjong City Marina, Penang - Posted from Rebak, Langkawi

Since our last visit in November 2008 there have been a few changes at the marina.  The finger jetties on the pontoon nearest the ferry terminal have been removed -hurrah!  There has been further siltation - see the attached low tide picture.  Sea Bunny was on one of the outermost berths, even so was on the mud at low spring tides.  Boats passing at speed, particularly the police boats, set up significant surge in the marina - many yachts take up two berths, with lines to the opposite finger to hold them off.  We broke an 18 mm nylon mooring warp early one morning and lightly touched the boat next door, another Hallberg Rassy 42! There is still a very noisy disco in the adjacent entertainment complex on Fridays and Saturdays, from 2230 to 0300 hrs.
But wait, where else in the world can you stay for a fiver and walk into a world heritage town!

Georgetown, World Heritage Site - posted from Rebak, Langkawi

One might ask why the shophouses  in the main town on the island of Penang,Georgetown, were left standing so long in a poor state for them to be inscribed as a World Heritage site in 2008.  The answer is simply the rent act which did not make it worthwhile for the owners to pull down and rebuilt like in Hong Kong or Singapore. The central part of the town, which is the heritage part, comprises streets with revitilised shop-houses, colonial era government buildings, temples and Chinese clan houses.  Some of the buildings have been beautifullly restored but others are in a dire state of repair.  Several shophouses have burnt down - could be that there are restrictions on improvements/development making it uneconomic to redevelop with current use.

The Anglican church - St George's - has been beautifully restored, with government money.  It reopened on 20 February 2011 after 18 months.  It is said to be the only "national" heritage (as opposed to "world" heritage) building in town.

Shophouses are an excellent concept.  The ground floor is the shop, set back from the road.  The house is above it and extends five feet in front of the shop frontage, the overhang being supported by arches and columns.  The idea is that a covered pavement is thereby provided to give shelter from sun and rain for pedestrains.  Outside the walkway is the monsoon drain, sometimes covered, sometimes not, sometimes with foot-sized holes for the unwary.
Over the years many of the shops have extended their sales area into the walkway, which  also provides an excellent parking area for motorcycles,the asian motor car.  Pedestrians have to take to the roads, outside the parked cars.