Friday, 25 April 2014

Pulau Penang and now Pulau Langkawi Lat. 6 degrees 18.1' N Long. 99 degrees 51.1' E

Well, it's now 11 days since our last blog - that must be a record!!
We raised anchor from the Jerejak anchorage at around 1230 on the 15/04 as we had been told that we shouldn't start north to Georgetown and Straits Quay Marina until one and a half hours after high water. We figured that by the time that we had re-rounded the southern tip of Jerejak to head north we would be exactly on time. But - WRONG!! The tide remained stubbornly against us almost all the way past the passenger ferry terminal which was three and a half hours!! But not to worry - we had a fascinating trip between Penang and the mainland passing under the famed Penang Bridge on the way. We couldn't help a feeling of some disbelief that here we were on Tiare passing through these historic waters.
Penang was named Prince of Wales Island by the British way back in the early 1700's and of course has had contact with many nationalities well before that. There have been Indians, Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, British and now - the "Tiare Taporo III"!!! The Tiare's arrival is by far the most significant of course.
As in other parts of Malaysia, the development evident everywhere is most noticeable, especially since our last visit three and a half years ago. So many high rise buildings, the new bridge 9 miles long south of the original one, the port at Butterworth - the list goes on.
We continued on around the NE end of the island until we picked up the waypoint for the approach into Straits Quay. On the way we sailed past many moored ships and managed to make out the Eastern and Oriental (E & O) Hotel very similar in style and historic age to Raffles in Singapore. At the waypoint we turned 90 degrees to port to approach the marina entrance still about half a mile away. As we approached, it was fairly choppy with a strong onshore wind blowing and it started to get alarmingly shallow. At one point close in we had only 2' under our keel. We could see John Fergusson, the marina manager waving to us from the end of the breakwater and telling us on the VHF to pass two black poles to port. We kept the faith and pressed on until we were opposite the entrance where we turned hard to starboard to enter then almost immediately hard to port to enter the basin proper. We had to go astern as we made the final turn to ensure we cleared the rock wall. It's always stressful entering marinas when one hasn't been there before. Not so bad in this case but trying to decipher Malaysian English (Malenglish) on the VHF over engine noise and relaying half understood instructions from the cabin to the helm is character building to say the least. We berthed next to "Spirit of Tara" owned by Philip and Sheila originally from the U.K. They were very pleasant neighbours and gave us much useful information about Langkawi and sailing further north to Thailand.
Straits Quay is quite small (only 40 berths) and is always in great demand because it's now the only marina on Penang. There was another one but it was largely untenable due to ferry wash and finally completely broke up. SQ is surrounded on 3 sides by very upmarket apartment buildings with a most impressive tower at the entrance. There are restaurants galore - all fairly expensive. John Fergusson runs a tight ship. Everything is spick and span and everything works!! The facilities are spotlessly clean too which hasn't often been the case in previous experience. Access to Georgetown (the original historic part of Penang) is easy either by a 101 bus or taxi (10 Ringitts - NZD3.65).
The two things on our list to do during our stay were to get our anchor chain re-galvanised and to obtain our visas for Thailand. So we contacted Steelway in Butterworth who have a good reputation for chain galvanising and they collected the chain from the boat in the marina - all 175 kgs of it. On the 17th. we went to the Thailand Consulate-General to apply for our visas. Had to wait in an endlessly long queue as the previous few days had been holidays in Thailand and so a backlog had developed. By a great coincidence we met Tanya and Don from "Pedoja" there doing the same thing, although their boat was already in Thailand. We agreed to meet them again the next day when we would collect our passports and visas. This we duly did and enjoyed a bit of time together.
The chain came back to the boat a few days later all shiny and new looking - 1030 Ringitts (NZD375). No more rusty flakes on deck during anchoring!!
We also decided we had to take afternoon tea at the Eastern and Oriental Hotel which is a quaint ritual left over from the British colonial days. It was very pleasant. Jean had Jasmine tea while Jim had Assam. There were cucumber sandwiches, and petits fours. Not quite up to the standard we had expected but worth it for the experience. Somerset Maughan must have been out visiting because we didn't see him! It is a very grand building and we had a good look around while there. There is a grand ballroom and conservatory just outside. All still used we were glad to see and very evocative of a by-gone age.
We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant that we had favourable recollections of from our previous visit but, although still good, it didn't measure up the same. One should never go back. We walked past the entrance of the hotel we had stayed in before but sadly the female motorcycle cops were not in evidence. Probably just as well because at Jim's even more advanced age the health effects may not have been desirable! We also met another couple in the marina - Vivian who is of Indian ancestry and born in Malaysia and Christian originally from Germany. In the past they have lived in NZ for around 30 years. There was also an organic food market one morning and a wonderful organic vegetarian restaurant. They also run an organic fruit and vegetable farm in the hills behind and have a homestay there. When we return we will spend a night with them up there. Even Jim thought it was quite good and the vegetarian lentil dumplings to die for!
All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Penang and will definitely be back. But all too soon it was time to continue north to our haulout date in Thailand. We left on the morning of the 22nd. and had intended to sail/motor all the way to Langkawi non-stop. But we decided instead to break the 60 mile passage in two and so sailed more of a northerly course to Pulau Bidan 25 miles away. This would leave 42 miles for the next day. The anchorage was very peaceful and we caught up with much needed sleep after the excesses of Penang! Bidan is quite close to the mouth of a major river with lots of nighttime fishing boat traffic so we lit ourselves up like a Christmas tree. We had bought some flashing white lights so we clipped 2 onto the genoa sheets and had another 2 at the stern. In addition we had our lower nav. lights and masthead anchor light. All strictly illegal but no-one gives a damn about the rules here and the name of the game is BE SEEN. We now also have 2 solar powered flashing blue lights so we'll look like a Malaysian fishing boat anytime soon.
We left Bidan at daybreak (0700) and motored away on 322 degrees True. Uneventful except for trying to judge whether or not we'd squeeze ahead of trawlers coming across our course and dodging circular structures in the sea made of a collection of sticks. These are FAD's (fish aggregation devices) but different from those we had seen in Indonesia. Here the sea is relatively shallow (50' - 70') and they appear attached to the bottom whereas in Indonesia the depths were anything from a few hundred feet to a few thousand feet deep - and there they were floating. After a few hours we passed Pulau Paya to starboard and then began to make out the outline of Langkawi looming up in the haze. The wind had been some help earlier but now had dropped away to nothing and it was HOT! The approach to Langkawi is very pretty and scenic with many small islands all very green and heavily wooded. Very reminiscent of a tropical version of the Bay of Islands. We wended our way through the islands following the channel courtesy of the chartplotter and soon had the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club Marina in sight. We called them on VHF 69 and received our berth allocation as well as the information that we would be tying up starboard side to, so we then knew which side to rig our fenders and mooring lines. We followed a small scruffy Austrian yacht in and evidently they hadn't contacted the marina at all but nevertheless tied up at a berth on our starboard side as we approached. We were ascertaining just where our berth was when they suddenly shot out in reverse just in front of us which necessitated some serious revs astern on our part to avoid a collision. At moments like these one hopes that everything still works!! They then inexplicably shot into "our" berth and tied up. This occasioned Jean shouting at them to get them out. Otherwise we were going to have to shift all our lines and fenders to the port side to enter another berth and as that's mainly Jean's job, she wasn't having a bar of it in the heat!! They eventually got the blunt message and buggered off into another unauthorised berth! But not before nearly colliding with us again. All this kerfuffle which is typical of Malaysian inefficiency together with the actual berthing in the extremely hot conditions took a toll on us though and after we'd cooled off with a beer in the RLYC we suddenly felt we had to get back to the boat where we virtually collapsed. It's likely we were suffering from heatstroke and no amount of water seemed to fix it.
Still, we came right and the next day hired a car for 60 Ringitts which enabled us to do some necessary errands and shopping - not least of which was for duty free booze as Langkawi is totally duty free everywhere. You don't have to be arriving or departing to take advantage of that. This also extends to many other areas other than alcohol. We will buy our antifouling paint here too for the same reason. Neither do they have "plus plus" on restaurant menus - this is a 6% "service" charge and a 10% GST everywhere else. So, if one was going to stay in Malaysia, Langkawi is the place to be.
It's now 1830 on the 25th. and we are wondering where to go for dinner. What a life! However, we do have quite a route march to get ashore from our berth. We estimate around 300 metres to walk so it's not all beer and skittles!!
On a more sober note we usually read the NZ Herald on-line and of course we were aware that today is Anzac Day. Certainly a time for reflection.
More fascinating newszszs to come during the rest of our odyssey.
Love to all
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Royal Langkawi Yacht Club Marina
Pulau Langkawi

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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

TiareTaporo - the original

Just wanted to share with you an account of one of the old Tiare's last voyages after she had been sold. We have come across a guy called Des Kearns who along with his Thai wife runs a boat repair and maintenance business in Krabi, Thailand.  He worked for Baileys in Auckland in 1964. They had built the Tiare in 1913. She was there again in 1964 for maintenance but was in very bad repair and uneconomic to repair. However, she was bought by an optimist, a Mr. Christopher of Vanuatu and Des sailed on her for a few months. A huge coincidence which came to light after he saw my name in conjunction with "Tiare Taporo III".
We are looking forward to meeting Des after we haul out at Krabi.
Lotsaluv, Dad xoxoxo

Monday, 14 April 2014

Ipoh and finally leaving 12/04 then to Penang 13/04 Lat. 5 degrees 20.4' North Long. 100 degrees 18.9' East

As we hadn't spent any time in Ipoh on our recent trip to the Cameron Highlands, and as our battery regulator still hadn't arrived, we decided to go back to Ipoh for a night in this interesting and historic city.
We hired the same car again and, after a visit to the Aeon Supermarket, we headed inland for an hour until we approached the outskirts. Almost impossible to find one's way around as the tourist map we had was useless and there are very few street name signs. However, after much asking we eventually found our way to the railway station which is Ipoh's colonial jewel in the crown. It's a very grand opulent building in the British colonial style and which can be found in almost any major city of a former British colony. We wanted to experience all this nostalgia at first hand by staying in the Majestic Station Hotel which is contained within the station buiding but unfortunately it was closed for renovations. Hope they're not going to "modernise" it! In the meantime we had met a Scandinavian girl who lives in KL and who was staying nearby. So when we found we couldn't stay at the MSH we rang her to find out how to get to her hotel. We then spoke to the manager and after much Malaysian English managed to organise that they would send a guy on a pushbike to meet us and then guide us to the hotel. This person duly arrived holding a black umbrella because by then there were the usual afternoon thunderstorms about. At least the umbrella was easy to follow in all the traffic!! We eventually found our way to a very funky hotel which appeared to be an old warehouse which had been gutted and refitted with stark modernist architecture. Exposed steel beams and brick work with grey concrete wall board everywhere. However, a comfortable room with a shower like Niagra Falls and a concrete basin you could drown in.
We had seen from the outside some more of Ipoh's colonial buildings but the whole effect wasn't that great - although interesting. Ipoh was built on tin mining and apparently the early Chinese settlors fought amongst themselves to establish their dominance in the industry.
The next morning we were on the road again back to Pangkor. One thing we have noticed in Malaysia everywhere we have been and indeed when we where here 3 years ago too is the number of unfinished or abandoned buildings. There are endless properties with shops below and (presumably) living above. Then there are many new developments either unfinished or only partly occupied while at the same time there are plainly deteriorating properties nearby. Why they don't maintain existing buildings we don't know - maybe it fuels the property development business. They just appear to move from the old poorly maintained buildings to the new ones - so then the old ones just sink into a morass of deterioration. Then there are other buildings just unfinished which appear to have run out of money. Either way there are many of these blots on the landscape and it seems that no-one cares. A good example is the development around the Pangkor marina. There is a very impressive collection of modern buildings but when you get up close they are all empty and the infrastructure is crumbling. There's a Japanese restaurant which never seems to have any customers - one wonders at the freshness or otherwise of their food and just how long they are going to last.
Anyway, we finally received our new Smart Charger and Faizul installed it. Finally we were ready to go on the 12th. and we had a final night out at the Capri restaurant in Lumut with Toni and Peter who are wrestling with replacing their curved windows on their catamaran "Tigger". We had a great night talking about all and sundry as usual and then were ready for the off at high tide. All went well and we motorsailed in the usual fashion to Pulau Talang where we had anchored twice before! This time however, after a somewhat sleepless night due to a thunderstorm at 1 in the morning, we weighed and proceeded at 0700 on the 13th. Heaps of fishing boats usually proceeding across our course which is why we did not leave before daylight. Nets and lack of lights make daytime coastal travel mandatory. Very little wind and what there was on the nose. Frustrating but we had the tide with us for the first 3 hours and then for the next 6 against. However, we managed to maintain an average of 6 knots for the 60 miles which of course made for a long day. We skirted the outside of a huge shoal off the coast (Kra Banks) then altered course around the northern end of the bank towards the strait between Penang and the mainland. The wind increased to over 16 knots around this time (very perverse) and we powered up past Rimau and towards the new bridge from the mainland to Penang (about 9 miles long with a central raised navigation span). This is the 2nd. bridge to Penang which is a smallish island off the coast with a population of approximately 700,000 - about half that of Auckland. If they can construct 2 impressive and very long harbour crossings what is the matter with Auckland with a much touted 2nd harbour crossing? Len and his cohorts must go and so must the ludicrous idea of an "inner city rail loop". A 2nd harbour crossing is definitely a priority. Asia generally puts our country in the shade with their energy and development. However, NZ is almost Asian now and it won't be long before we are fully Asian - we wouldn't give it more than 50 years. We need to bow to the inevitable whether we like it or not. Mind you the current policy of allowing all and sundry to buy property in NZ isn't helping.
We passed under the central bridge span of the new bridge which as usual looked far too low and then anchored between Pulau Jerejak and Pulau Penang (totally knackered) where we still are. Very sheltered and peaceful. We'll probably go ashore tomorrow and then we will go to the Straits Quay Marina in the afternoon when the tide is in our favour - about 15 miles north. This will mean passing under the original Penang Bridge where we drove over in 2010. We'll stay there for 3-4 days before sailing to Langkawi.
It is a matter of extreme satisfaction that we have finally arrived at Penang because it was here that we had the most enjoyable time back in 2010 and although we always intended to sail here, it is with a feeling of quiet achievement that we are now here on the old girl- "Tiare Taporo III". It's been a long haul but we are here. We are looking forward to being at Straits Quay and enjoying afternoon tea at the Eastern and Oriental Hotel which is just like a smaller version of Raffles in Singapore. Maybe we'll meet Somerset Maughan sitting in a dusty corner somewhere!! And in Jim's case he still harbours fantasies of the two female cops he encountered on that earlier visit with their tight uniforms, guns and big motorbikes!! One can always live in hope!!!
Enough from us for now.............
Hope all is well and lots of love,
Jim and Jean

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Friday, 11 April 2014


Hi to all that could be affected by this sorry tale. We have had our boat insured with Northern Reef Insurance of Montevideo, Uruguay for over 4 years and have paid them in excess of NZD8,000 in premiums over that time. We have never had a claim. Then they wanted to charge us extra for Thailand and this, combined with a general unease at their possible claims paying ability prompted us to seek another insurance company. We have now done this and we are dealing with a well known company with much better terms, and absolutely improved peace of mind.
Anyway, we asked for a refund of unexpired premium as per the attached and received a 2 sentence reply from their agents, Edward William Marine Services of Malaga, Spain stating that there was no need for bank details (deleted for the purpose of this email) because there was NO REFUND!!! This was the most arrogant, disrespectful, discourteous and straightout dishonest reply to anything I have ever received. Apart from posting the details on this website, which we have advised them of, we will also be gradually posting these details on every cruising forum we can find as well as passing this information on verbally whenever appropriate.
We don't know what would have happened if we'd ever been unfortunate enough to have a major or total loss claim but are fairly sure from this recent experience that our situation would probably have been DIRE.
We were particularly saddened that the insurance had originally been arranged through Brian Hepburn - an insurance broker based in Opua, Bay of Islands, NZ. Jim had known and respected Brian for a number of years as a person who had many years and tens of thousands of miles of blue water sailing under his belt and it is inexplicable that we have now come to this apparent impasse.
For anyone reading this, we recommend that you do not insure with Northern Reef and if you are already insured with them, that you change insurance companies as soon as practicable, notwithstanding that you won't receive a refund of unexpired premium!!!
Jim Donald
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Pangkor Is. Marina
----- Original Message -----
Subject: Fwd: Re: NR 9492
Date: 08 Apr 2014 13:14:43 -0000
From: zmq5985

Good morning,
I sent the attached email to request a refund of unexpired premium after we cancelled our policy. We cancelled because we found another insurance company which did not charge us extra for cruising in Thailand. We then formally requested the refund. Following that we received a 2 sentence email from your agent, Edward William to say that bank details were unnecessary because there was NO REFUND!!! No further comment or explanation. We have never been treated with such dishonest disrespect or discourtesy in our lives.
We have replied to Edward William in the strongest terms and no reply has been forthcoming. We threatened them that unless a more favourable reply was received within 24 hours we would be publicising the whole sorry business on our website and indeed on any other cruisers' forums that we could make contact with.
We hope that this course of action will not be necessary and that you will make us a favourable offer as regards refund of unexpired premium.
Jim Donald
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Pangkor Island Marina

----- Original Message -----
To: "Edward William Marine" <>
Cc: "Brian & Joan Hepburn" <>
Subject: Re: NR 9492
Date: 06 Apr 2014 01:59:53 -0000
From: zmq5985

Attn: Michelle
Good morning,
I have your email dated March 31st. in which you acknowledge cancellation of the above policy and also advise that there is no refund of premium available because there is no refund available "in the final 9-12 months of the policy".
However, I have been perusing your "Northern Reef Yacht Clauses" and, depending upon which year's clauses one reads, either clause 22.2 or 21.2 states the following:
"This insurance may be cancelled by the assured when the insurers will make a time on risk charge based on the net premium using the following scale:
1 - 3 months 40% premium
4 - 6 months 60% premium
7 - 9 months 80% premium
9 - 12 months full premium"
It goes on to say that no refund will be made if the minimum premium applies. We don't believe that this latter point applies to us.
We cancelled the policy on March 27th. - 108 days before expiration of the policy. This is approximately three and a half months before expiration.
On that basis therefore it would appear that we are entitled to a refund of 60% of the premium paid. Even if your claim that there is no refund payable in the final 9-12 months of the policy is valid, it still does not apply to us because we cancelled outside this period.
We find it disappointing that you have taken the attitude that you have - particularly when we have been a client for the last 4 years and have never made a claim, except for just recently following on from the incident where another uninsured boat dragged its anchor and collided with us at Kupang in Indonesia. In this case however, we have not proceeded with the claim because our excess will exceed the cost of repairs.
You also state that it is useful for you to have details of other insurance companies' offers and conditions so that you can forward them to Northern Reef in order for them to maintain a competitive position. As we said to Brian Hepburn, we consider that it would be unethical for us to divulge such information which is confidential between us and any other insurance company. You should not need this type of disclosure to maintain a competitive position and indeed you should be proactive enough to achieve this without relying on your clients to encourage you to make various concessions that you should be making in any event.
Our bank account details are as follows:
Name of account
Account number
Bank swift code
We will be pleased to receive an appropriate refund in due course.
Jim Donald
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Pangkor Is. Marina
----- End of Original Message -----
----- End of Original Message -----

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Friday, 4 April 2014

Cameron Highlands

As the wait for our new battery regulator was taking longer than expected, we decided on the spur of the moment to hire the car we had had previously and go up to Ipoh and the Cameron Highlands on Wednesday for a couple of days. In the event we only passed through Ipoh on our way getting lost and having to ask the way more than once!
However, just beyond Ipoh we took the left turn up into the Highlands. We seemed to climb forever up a narrowing and twisty road. We stopped at a strawberry farm and bought - strawberries!! Fresh as well as dried - delicious and sweet. They grow the strawberries under cover in small plastic pots which are suspended on metal frames. Each pot is irrigated and fertilised separately. There is very large scale under cover fruit and vegetable production as far as one can see and much of it has been poorly planned and executed causing much environmental damage with erosion evident everywhere. Many plastic houses cling precariously to slopes at crazy angles. Interesting for Jim given his earlier experience of commercial growing of tomatoes and grapes in glasshouses back in NZ in another life!
We continued up and up through very dramatic and spectacular scenery as far as between Brinchang and Tanah Rata where we were to stay at the Iris House Hotel. 139 Ringitts per night which is about NZD50. The temperature continued dropping as we climbed and became a very pleasant 20-21 degrees. The hotel was a 10 story (or so) modern building of about 3 stars and our room was very comfortable. No air conditioning as it simply wasn't necessary. Not sure of the final altitude, but from a sign we saw earlier much lower down we estimated we were at around 2000 metres. No wonder that it was cooler.
After checking in we wandered through the local town and had a bite to eat at a local Chinese eatery. Then back to the hotel for a lie down before venturing out again for an evening meal in another local restaurant before crashing for an early night. The whole area is very touristified with many restaurants and overpriced shops. But interesting with a pleasant climate and many things to see.
The next day we decided early on that we wouldn't spend any time in Ipoh on this trip and instead elected to spend a leisurely day looking at the local sights with no time pressure. Ipoh has a great collection of old buildings from the colonial era but that will have to wait for another time.
We visited a bee farm which was interesting for Jean as she had had much to do with running a bee farm back in Whangarei.
Then we decided we would have lunch at Bala's Holiday Chalets. In a previous existence this had been a girls' boarding school opened in 1934 as a subsidiary of the Tanglin School Singapore. Anne Griffith-Jones was the 1st headmistress and when the Japanese invaded she was interned in Singapore's Changi Prison. However, she survived the ordeal and then continued only until 1948 at her Cameron Highlands school when Malay insurgents threatened the school's safety. The school was then forced to close but she continued with the Singapore school which thrives to this day as one of the leading international schools there. She retired in 1958 back to her beloved Cameron Highlands where she eventually died and is now buried.
The old school building is English Tudor in design and set in a delightful garden. The buildings looked to be largely original so it was like being in a time warp back to the old colonial days in the 1930's. We had a lovely lunch outside in the garden and then back to the hotel once again.
Then out to dinner at another hotel which was disappointing and in fact gave Jean a dose of MSG poisoning. It bucketed down with rain while we were there and then Jean had a restless night ahead of our early start back to Lumut in the morning. We left at 0630 in the dark as we had a 3 hour drive and had to get the car back by mid morning. A slow windy drive in the fog and dark for a while but then it started warming up as we lost altitude. This time we managed to bypass Ipoh with no problems and were soon back at the marina. The boat was fine but the news about the regulator not so good; it has been despatched (on Wed.) but may not be here until early next week. Still, we must just be philosophical as there's nothing we can do to expedite matters any more.
We continue to enjoy the marina life and the contact with fellow residents - Aussie, French, German and British. And we are pleased that the enforced stay has given us the opportunity to re-organise our haulout arrangements in Thailand. There's always a silver lining and we now have a much better haulout plan at Krabi Boat Lagoon which we shall regale you with as it unfolds.
Cheers and love from us...........
Jean and Jim

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