Monday, 20 December 2010

Just had to let you all know - Jim is a grandfather for the 3rd. time. Elsie Jane Wright was born to Charlotte and Jon at 2238 on 20/12/2010 9lbs. 8oz. in Christchurch NZ.  A new life enters the world - a very humbling feeling.
Jim and Gina


Saturday, 18 December 2010

Seasons greetings

Well, it's that time of the year again. Hopefully you are all surviving it in great style. We are on the boat in the Whangarei Town Basin Marina wishing this pesky rain would stop and awaiting the best Christmas present of all - another grandchild for Jim. Hasn't happened just yet! She was due on the 14th. but like most women likes to take her time! We're going to Tuakau south of Auckland for Christmas with Gina's sister Heather and her husband, Magan. Then back up here and hopefully away on the boat somewhere for a week or so. All depends which way the wind blows!
We hope you all have a happy Christmas and that 2011 is everything that you would wish for.
With very best wishes and lots of love,
Jim and Jean (Gina) 


Sunday, 12 December 2010

Almost home again

Tonight we are in Urquarts Bay again after a very pleasant, albeit slow, sail down from Tutukaka. The wind never rose above 10 knots except for the last half mile or so and so it was a good chance to try out our UPS again and it worked well. In those light conditions it probably gave us half a knot more speed but anything is worthwhile. And we practised gybing it and it all worked a treat. Last night we had a meal ashore at Tutukaka Marina (we weren't berthed in the marina) which was average but at least a change from eating on the boat. We'd had a good trip down from Mimiwhangata the day before but it was only 2 hours under power and as we needed to make water and charge the batteries we motored all the way.
The weather has been great the whole time but now showing signs of some deterioration - the farmers need the rain. We'll top up our fuel at Marsden Cove Marina in the morning and then make our way the 12 miles up to the Town Basin on the flooding tide. That gives us an extra 2 knots over the ground in places.
We're signing off now but will be back on the air again with more nautical news as soon as we set sail again. Lots to do between now and next April (only 5 months max.) before we leave for Vanuatu and ultimately Malaysia. NZ is undoubtedly beautiful but doesn't have a monopoly on beauty. We are looking forward to the next big adventure in our lives checking out parts of Indonesia, then Malaysia and Thailand. Seems very daunting sitting here in NZ but it's just a matter of one step at a time.
Once more watch this space!
Jim and Jean (Gina)

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

Tiare Taporo III Homeward bound

We have had a very relaxed time in Mimiwhangata; we've swum (albeit with serious goosebumps!) and generally just enjoyed the tranquility and the scenery. We've walked ashore but not too strenuously and now about to have dinner before an early start south in the morning. NW winds up to 35 knots are forecast for the afternoon so should be interesting if we decide to carry on south of Tutukaka! Keep watching this space!!
Thanks to Russell Radio for their listening watch. We've enjoyed renewing the contact.
Stewart - are the subs for 2010/2011 now due? We haven't had any notification; just what we've heard. If so we'll post a cheque or can we put directly into your bank account?

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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Mimiwhangata 8/12/10

We are still in Mimiwhangata tonight - just moved around the corner into Helena Bay and found a delightful landlocked bay which would only accommodate 3-4 boats. The usual sundowner and pasta for dinner in the cockpit while watching the sun go down. What a life!
Gina bought a nightie in Malaysia with "Georgeous" on the front but it is far too big - don't know how that happened. It looks hilarious! We went ashore this morning and had a walk to make sure the blood was still circulating - all in all a quiet day. Weather forecast seems to be quite obliging - going NW on Friday which will be good for getting back to Whangarei.
More news of riveting doings tomorrow.
J & G

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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

More nautical wanderings

After a slow start we eventually left Tutukaka and headed north under power and the trusty reefed main. We struck all sorts of conditions within minutes of each other. We had winds from the SW 5-20 knots and even NE 20 knots down to 5 again in as many minutes. We took our time and sailed as much as possible and finally rounded Rimariki Is. and headed into Mimiwhangata. It's a beautiful unspoilt place as DOC owns a big tract of it and there's a long white sand beach facing north which is ideal for walks. We are anchored in a small rock protected bay on the western side as SW winds are forecast tonight and it is more sheltered than the beach although at the time of writing this we are only experiencing a gentle rocking with no wind at all. We are going ashore in the morning for a longish walk and then we will head north again for Whangamumu. More walks are scheduled there to get the old limbs back to a semblance of fitness after the inactivity and food in Malaysia!!
NW winds are forecast for Sat/Sun so should be good for wafting us back to Whangarei. But we'll believe it when we see it!

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Monday, 6 December 2010

Back to sailing

Certainly different from motoring through Malaysia!! We left Whangarei on Sun. 5th. and motored down the harbour in a glassy calm. Beautiful morning but no good for sailing. Anchored in Urquarts, then the next day a reasonably strong westerly sprang up. We left under staysail and reefed main, then at Bream Head deployed the Genoa and doused the staysail. Had an excellent sail up the coast from there full and bye on the port tack. Made Tutukaka in good time and anchored in 12' of water just under a little headland which gave us some lee from the westerlies which were still fairly strong. Sundowners and dinner (chops and roast potatoes and veges) and fell into bed exhausted after our unaccustomed nautical voyaging.
We are now in Tutukaka and it's Tuesday morning. Windless and flat calm. We are leaving shortly for Mimiwhangata - only 12 miles up the coast. Hoping we might get some wind to get the old girl going but not looking promising at the moment (0745). Still, we need to make some water and power. Right at this moment Gina is chasing a blowfly around the boat in between doing her Pilates exercises on the cabin sole - the joys of cruising!!
Cheers from us
Jim and Gina

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Saturday, 4 December 2010

Langkawi Island 20/11

The day dawned fine and clear although had been raining at night. This pattern characterised almost our entire stay in Malaysia and we were very lucky as the NE Monsoon starts in November. We were picked up at 0900 and taken into the ferry terminal where we arranged to hire a small Proton car for 100 Ringitts (NZD 42) for 24 hours. We went to the local chart agency and arranged to collect the next day most west coast Malaysia charts as well as some Indonesian ones. Also bought courtesy flags for Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. All much cheaper than here.We then embarked on another island circumnavigation. Once clear of Kuah Town the scenery was beautiful. Soon after we found a boatyard and called in. There we found a Scotsman who said he couldn't live anywhere else because the price of beer would ruin him!! Had a discussion with him and his boss re our deck re-caulking problem and it appears we could put the boat into their shed with the mast in place. And labour costs half the price of NZ. So that's what we are going to do. We are keeping in touch with them.
Saw many beaches and resorts which would be great to come and stay at when next we are here. Some really outstanding places. Had lunch at another marina and continued on our way. Stopped at a wild life "park" but less than impressed with the conditions under which animals and birds were held. However found a "duty free" store and bought a bottle of Highland Park whisky (from the Orkney Islands) to replenish our diminishing supply!
Then happy but tired it was back to the Royal Langkawi still in time for happy hour and another very pleasant dinner overlooking the water and sunset.
Picked up our charts and flags and paid the bill. The owner "inadvertantly" had forgotten to credit the 50 Ringitts we had paid the previous day but once that was sorted all was well! Then back to the ferry terminal to return the car. We had a relaxed day before catching the ferry back to Pulau Penang at 1715. Spent the day in town having a leisurely lunch at a Chinese sports bar (!) and shopping for more clothes for the children. Beautiful sunset on the way back and then into Penang at 2030. Dark by then but Georgetown looked beautiful from the water all lit up. Good to be back at the Cititel.
Last full day in Malaysia! Feeling quite sad about that. Wandered the shops up and down Jalan Penang, lunch at a cafe and then took a taxi to the  marina at Port Swettenham. Very swept up facilities but suffers somewhat from the wash from the ferries - however, they are building a breakwater to hopefully fix that problem. We were dropped in Little India and then walked back to the Cititel by degrees including a refreshing Tiger at a backpacker on the way.  Checked the internet also while we were there.
After another siesta (we are now very mindful of Mad dogs and Englishmen!!) we enquired as to where we might find a very good Chinese restaurant. We were directed to the Foong Wet Heong, only a 5 minute walk from the hotel. Apparently at times there are queues in the street waiting for tables but we were lucky and arrived only about ten minutes before the rush. We had what was definitely the best Chinese meal we have ever had anywhere without question and our 6 dishes came to approx. NZD35 for the 2 of us. Another example of the value encountered in travelling in Malaysia. Unbelievable. Fully sated we then wended our way back to the hotel through the delicious warm tropical air, conscious that this was to be our last night in Malaysia. We savoured every moment.
Jean then fell into washerwoman mode again and washed all our sweaty clothes as she had been doing pretty much every night during the trip. She was great about this and in that regard it was no different from living on the boat except for not having to wash the sheets. We have lots of jokes about the "washerwoman" thing and now that we are back on the boat it's full swing again. We are moored right in front of the ablution block and it's a great social mecca when washing day is in full force.
But we digress.............
Again wandered up Jalan Penang and bought some gifts for Heather and Magan and our friends Hamish and Sara. Had a look at the Fatt Tze Mansion where one can stay - at a price. It was built by a wealthy Chinese merchant in the late 1700's and that had been a real rags to riches story. He became very wealthy and built this wonderful house which has now been restored to a very high standard. He was also a well known local philanthropist.
We left early for the airport hoping to secure the same seats as we had coming up on SQ to Auckland but were too early for the check in! We then found that they were taken so had to settle for what we could get. Had a good flight (1 and a half hours) on Silkair to Singapore and then an interminable transfer to another terminal by Skytrain and walking travelator to the SQ gate. That process took about 30 minutes and we weren't dawdling. Just as well there was enough time between flights. An example of security gone mad was water Jean bought just outside the departure gate and then we weren't allowed to take it on the plane. We had to tip it all out and then refill the bottles from a water fountain in the departure lounge. Seeing as how it was bought in a secure area in the first place we couldn't fathom that bit of logic!! Jean got a bit vocal with the security guy who in turn became quite stern!!
We took off at 2115 local time and then had nine and a half hours to Auckland. For some reason nowhere near as good a flight as going up but we landed on time at just after Noon NZDST on the 24th. (5 hour time difference). We followed quite a different route coming south too. When we went north we crossed Australia from somewhere north of Sydney and left Australian airspace near Broome in the NW. Coming the other way we crossed the coast near Perth and then came across the Great Australian Bight and Bass Straight before heading to Auckland. Probably travelling against the sun going this way was the main cause but we were exhausted and slept like the dead at Heather and Magan's. Jim didn't wake until 10 the next morning - still on Malaysia time!! 
All in all we had a wonderful time and it has gone in a flash - looking back it almost seems that it never happened. But that's air travel for you; when we travel back there on the boat at only one hundredth of the speed we're sure it will all be much more real!!
We hope you have enjoyed reading about our experiences and we are hoping to have some photos on the web site very soon. We just have to overcome our technological phobias!! It is now 0045 on Dec. 5th. and we are sailing later this morning for about a week where ever the wind blows us.


Land circumnavigation of Pulau Penang 17/11 and arrival Langkawi

We decided that the best way to see the island was by car while we still had it. We set off from Georgetown in an anti-clockwise direction and initially had a very scenic drive along the coast. Then we came to Batu Ferringhi where we bought some fruit and walked about. A very pretty and upmarket sort of place. In fact that seemed to sum up our entire stay on Penang; it seemed to have a more prosperous air than many other places but that's not to say that that others weren't attractive as well. Our whole impression of Malaysia was of general prosperity and an air of purposefulness. The roads were better than NZ's and housing variable but we saw some mansions as well as very modest dwellings, but no slums and no beggars as you see in India.
At times on Penang the road was very windy passing through some rugged country. We stopped and did the tourist thing with buying clothes for the grandchildren and also visited a butterfly farm. The had all manner of butterflies, insects and reptiles and snakes. The camouflage of the insects was amazing - like our stick insects only much more so. Then what looked like a collection of dead leaves was in fact a heap of frogs! Nature is truly amazing.
We came across some road reconstruction near the southern end of the island and it is going to be an amazing road. Just like Switzerland where in places the road is built on piers around cliff faces.
After a fascinating day we returned to Georgetown and then went for a walk and found a great Indian restaurant for a memorable dinner. All in all a day not to be forgotten and we hope that we can return in the very near future to experience Pulau Penang again.
Today we spent exploring old Georgetown. First we arranged to return the car 3 days early as we weren't going to have any further use for it. Then walking in the blistering sun. Soon decided to return to the hotel for our umbrellas and then, feeling like the British Raj we sallied forth once more. The umbrellas made all the difference and must have lowered the tempaerature underneath by at least 5 degrees. We decided to be really touristy so took a rickshaw ride to the ferry terminal to get acquainted with where the Langkawi ferry would leave from in the morning. Bought a small magnetised pewter chess set for the boat from a great shop not far from the hotel. They have a great sales technique - you see something for (say) 700 Ringitts (NZD 300) and you think (and say) "that's too dear". The shop owner then offers you a 66% discount and of course the tendency then is to think - what  a bargain!! In fact the "discount" should probably be more like 80% but you buy it anyway. Never mind, we were pleased with the chess set and it will while away many a long night on the boat swinging around an anchor somewhere.
Tonight we were lured into a definite tourist area to try one of the restaurants but should have known better. Very mediocre meal indeed. Stay with the locals should always be the maxim.
Up early. Breakfast at 0630 and left some of our luggage with the hotel where we were returning after Langkawi. Then taxi to the ferry terminal and eventually onto the ferry. These are about 80-100', twin-engined and do about 20 knots. They carry just over 200 passengers. They are airconditioned inside but do have a limited amount of deck space aft where one can actully see the scenery provided the exhaust noise doesn't deafen you! We were travelling light but the amount of luggage most other people had was mind boggling. There were all sorts from a couple of Dutch girls backpacking on their OE to an Iranian couple on holiday, a Malay/Indian couple on their honeymoon who insisted on having their photo taken with us and an obviously Moslem family with the mother in a full black Burqa and face covered. Apparently this is only worn if the husband insists on it - bit hard for us to accept in our society. But they were laughing and joking and  she seemed quite happy.  In fact in Malaysia this was quite rare although there were many women wearing headscarves which in most cases actually seemed to be fashion statements being quite elaborate with diamante decoration, etc. One wonders whether there is much religious significance, especially among the younger women.
After 3 hours across a very calm almost windless sea we arrived at Kuah Town on Langkawi Is. On the way over we had noticed several formations of long sticks floating vertically in tthe water in a circular pattern which must have been supporting a system of nets - all very well but definitely something to be looking out for at night when we are here on "Tiare". Approaching Langkawi reminded us very much of the Bay of Islands with many offshore islands and tantalising looking anchorages and beaches.
Langkawi is about the same size as Great Barrier but has a population of 70,000. We eventually managed to get a taxi. They have a peculiar system where you have to go to an office which allocates the taxi instead of just going to the head of the queue. Still, it was only 10 Ringitts to the hotel which proved to be another good internet find. It was the Citin Hotel - recently refurbished, very comfortable and room rate approx. NZD45! Many costs in Malaysia are so cheap by our standards. We checked in and then walked along the road in search of somewhere to eat as we were famished - there's no food on the ferries!
Then a siesta in our air conditioned room revived the flagging spirits. A couple of whiskies from our duty free stash improved things even more and then a taxi to the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club. We found the bar with no trouble (!) and gratefully availed ourselves of their happy hour with drinks unbelievably cheap. The bar sits on stilts over the beach and water and overlooks the marina with breath taking views to the west and the setting sun.It will be a great place to be on Tiare Taporo III. We met some of the locals - a Swedish guy living on his yacht and an Australian lady who ran a yacht brokerage among others. Then had dinner in the restaurant area also overlooking the marina. Copious quantities of very good Australian red wine!! Should point out at this stage that Langkawi is duty free to anyone - locals living there and visitors alike so alcohol prices are low. Probably not a good thing if one is addicted to red wine!!!


Thursday, 2 December 2010

Lumut to Georgetown Penang 16/11

0930 departure on the ferry back to Lumut - early for us!! A very pleasant sojourn on Pangkor Is. but time to move on - as Helen Clark says! No problem in retrieving the car which had been in a secure carpark (unlike the Whangarei Town Basin!!) and we were on the road. We should say at this stage that apart from a few heavy showers some evenings the weather has been generally fine contrary to expectations of floods etc. There had been floods in northern Malaysia a few weeks earlier but nothing occurred during our stay.
We drove north on the usual minor road through more oil palm plantations and had decided that in order to get further north a bit quicker we would need to get onto the toll road which runs from one end of Malaysia to the other - a distance of some 8-900 kms of at least 2 lane motorway - puts our goat tracks to shame.
We joined the toll road at Changkat Jering and the speed limit is 110 kph. But most traffic was doing much more than that! Shades of France and Italy! Feeling a bit peckish so we pulled into a motorway pitstop but couldn't find anything palatable except fried eggs!! Had a couple but almost immediately wished we hadn't as they were very oily and not hot! Further north we found our way onto the Penang Bridge which joins Penang Is. with the rest of Penang State. It's a most impressive structure covering at least 8 kms with a raised suspension bridge in the middle  over the ship channel. There was a special toll to pay for the bridge but one wouldn't quibble with that and it was cheap anyway. Everything was well signed and we proceeded with confidence and aplomb towards Georgetown. Georgetown like Melaka is a very old settlement with centuries of history. One imagines still some sort of sleepy colonial outpost but it's far from that. Motorways and skyscrapers are the norm. But Georgetown on Penang Is. (Pulau Penang) still has a great deal of charm with it's Little India and Chinatown. More authentic and redolent of everyday life than Singapore. We would have liked to have booked into a heritage type hotel, but while they are there, they are expensive. We had settled for a modern high rise hotel, the Cititel and certainly weren't disappointed. We had a room on the 10th. floor with a view to the north towards Langkawi (out of sight) and the venerable Eastern and Oriental Hotel in the foreground.
Jim's mother had visited Penang in years past more than once and always spoke fondly of the place and we quickly began to feel the same. There was a spectacular thunderstorm that evening which was quite a sight from our 10th. floor eyrie!! As usual it soon subsided and we found a very acceptable Chinese restaurant next door to the hotel - then again early to bed. Perhaps it's the age, but we certainly didn't feel like going out on the town after all the travelling!


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

island time

We decided that we needed to give ourselves a bit of a break from all this incessant driving and have some time out actually sitting on a beach!! So, we took our leave of Kuala Selangore without much regret and once again sallied forth. Easy and flat country through more endless oil palm plantations but with one difference in one area - very big rice paddies - in one place almost as far as the eye could see.
We were heading for Lumut which is the ferry terminus for Pangkor Is. We had read about Pangkor and it sounded a pleasant place to visit especially as it would be an anchorage for us on the boat. Lumut is a very bustling upmarket sort of place - sort of overblown Paihia! We were accosted almost immediately by an agent of the accommodation venues on the island but he was pleasant and gave us a number of places to choose from. We chose the Puteri Bay Resort which, though somewhat old, was reasonably priced and we weren't disappointed. We parked the car in one of several carparks for visitors to the island. The ferry ride was about 30 minutes by fast ferry - all inside and air conditioned - don't know how we would all have exited in an emergency! The ferry wharf is on the eastern side of the island so it was a 5 minute taxi ride to the resort on the western side. Easy walking distance from a small touristy village and right on the beach. Had a look at the beach and the shops and found a very good Chinese restaurant for tonight. You might be forgiven for thinking that food was something of an obsession with us!!
After a bit of a siesta during which we watched a very old film "Anna and the King of Siam" (forerunner of "The King and I") we went out once more and had an excellent meal at the restaurant. Chatted to the owner and his wife for a while and thence to bed.
First thing about 7 we went for a swim in the Andaman Sea. Nothing like here; the water was like warm silk and a great way to wake up. As things turned out this was to be the only swim we had in Malaysia so it was memorable. Didn't want to get out but we had things to see and do so after another filling buffet breakfast we strolled down to the village again to go on the net to book our Penang and Langkawi accommodations. That took about 2 hours!! We then enquired about hiring a motor scooter! Took Jim back to his days on Rarotonga in 1968!! We must have made a comical picture as we wobbled unsteadily off - first back to the ferry wharf to get some fuel as they hire them empty. A good ploy - they must make a bit on unused tanks filled up by visitors. Then further up the western side of the island. Over one steepish hill into the next bay. Not sure which was worse - going up wondering if the overworked little engine was going to get us to the top or down the other side wondering whether the brakes were going to hold out. Anyway we made it to Daddy's Cafe again right in the sand on the beach and soothed our nerves with a Tiger beer! We had been advised not to attempt a complete circumnavigation as the road was apparently quite rugged (more so than the one we had been on already) so we decided discretion was the better part of valour and after a not bad lunch we wobbled back to town.
Another siesta and then back into town for another Chinese meal. This time the place was bursting at the seams with large family groups at large round tables. The general hubbub made conversation difficult. Another good meal then we said goodbye to the owners who had been flat out. But they do it without any fuss or panic.  
Another long day so early to bed as we have to be up early for the ferry and the drive to Georgetown, Penang.