Sunday, 18 June 2017

Langkawi 10 weeks on

Hi to all,
As usual we hope that this finds you all in the pink.
We arrived back on Langkawi on April 11th. and as mentioned before spent a fairly listless first month slowly recovering from this viral flu that seems to afflict many people here. We think we caught it on the aircraft, but who knows. Anyway, we have finally got back on top of things but scheduled boat work has taken a back seat for a time.
There has been the normal socialising that happens in a marina, particularly this one with relatively cheap alcohol and a bar (Charlie's) which has been here since time immemorial. We've hired a car twice a week and done the normal provisioning - sometimes all the way to Matsirat! That reminds Jim of Waiheke days and the local who referred to the eastern end of the island as "the Bottom End"!! Sounded like a trip across the Nullabor and took all of 20 minutes on sealed roads. Hope we're not becoming as insular as that old codger.
Jean has joined the gym at the Westin Resort which is only a 15 minute walk up the road. She enjoys that, except that you need to be aware of the monkeys and a couple of wild dogs, especially around dusk. The monkeys can be a problem if they think you are carrying food.
Jim is swimming regularly in the marina pool. He has had to berate the marina staff fairly often to drum it into their heads to add chlorine daily, but at night - not in daylight as sun destroys chlorine quickly. After about 3 weeks we think the message is finally getting through!
We've met Poppy and Peter who are babysitting a B&B at Tanjung Rhu at the northern end of the island. Poppy was staying at Jo's in Whangarei when we first arrived there. Peter is German and Poppy a NZ'er. They seemed to be enjoying their Langkawi sojourn.
We've been making plans for our up-coming trip to Colombia. It will be great to be again living in a property that we own after a number of years. We can't wait to get there. We've been researching places to go in Medellin - Salsa dance studio, fabulous organic markets etc etc. We leave Langkawi on July 14th. and fly out of Luala Lumpur on Turkish Airlines. Only 18 hours or so on the ground at Istanbul which is too long to stay in the airport so we have booked a hotel nearby. Then Turkish again direct to Bogota and after just a few hours there we fly with Viva Colombia to Medellin where we arrive on the 16th. We return on October 12th. - the only material difference being a 3 day stay in Bogota as we haven't spent any time there before.
Life in Langkawi has been diverse and very pleasant, although we'd have to say that we are getting a little jaded and are increasingly feeling that it's time to move on. Problem with that is that the boat hasn't sold and an opinion received from a classic yacht broker in the U.K. was to the effect that there is "zero chance of selling a yacht like ours in SE Asia". Virtually at any price. So, what to do? Sailing back to NZ would be a difficult and long-winded business. It would involve much sailing against the wind and it would be necessary to go back through Indonesia and then north along the PNG coast to New Britain and then down to the Solomons, Vanuatu and/or New Caledonia. Then the on the wind slog down to NZ and a lackluster yacht market. Frankly neither of us relish that thought at our age. To sail on round S Africa via Mauritius, Reunion and Madagascar is out for the same reason. The other route past the south of Sri Lanka and India, through the Gulf of Aden and up through the Red Sea is out for largely a different reason - piracy. Not to mention the distinct possibility of 50 knot headwinds going north up the Red Sea. The piracy seems to have died down a bit lately but the risk remains high and frankly it's a risk we are not prepared to take. We don't relish having the boat looted and then probably sunk and ourselves taken captive and held for ransom. That's just not going to happen.
So, that only leaves shipping where the old girl would be craned into a cradle on the deck of a specialized yacht carrier in Phuket, Thailand. They travel the Red Sea route, but they take on mercenaries before getting to pirate alley and with a ship's vastly superior speed are unlikely to have any problem. Port of discharge at this stage is likely to be Genoa, Italy which would be absolutely fine. The shipping cost has come down substantially since we first discussed the possibility 2 years ago so it is a viable option. And there's a brand new marina at Bizerte, Tunisia which is even cheaper than here on Langkawi so not all bad.
In the meantime we have listed the old girl (the boat!!) with a classic yacht broker in the U.K. and also Vinings in NZ so she might sell in the interim. That would be our preference and of course it would enable us to adopt our new lifestyle ashore almost immediately but there is some little niggle which suggests that a Mediterranean experience in those historical waters (the west Italian coast, Elba, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, Greece, Crete, Tunisia (where the ancient city of Carthage was), Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Gibraltar) would be the experience of a lifetime and we've already had some of those! Still, there are experiences to be had everywhere - it's just a matter of how circumstances pan out.
After our first month of feeling listless we have begun doing some boat jobs. Problem with those here is that after around 10 am you have to stop as the heat becomes overpowering and you can easily become dehydrated before you realize it. We've been washing the boat to get rid of mildew which at this time of the year is an on-going process but not as bad as in Whangarei we'd have to say. Then there was some deck caulking which had been re-done in Krabi about 18 months ago. It had badly deteriorated and was partially melting. We think they'd used some out of date caulking material. So we ripped it out using our newly acquired Makita oscillating multi tool (we'd had a Fein previously) and re-caulked the offending areas using International Evidure timber sealer first. Not the best to do these things piecemeal, but it works medium term and the decks are not leaking, even in the tropical downpours we get at times up here. Some overdue re-painting of the bulwarks and the boom will have to wait until our return. In addition we need to clean some mildew off the Genoa and sanitise the interior (which ex nurse Jean is good at) before leaving the poor lonely old girl for another 3 months while we flit off to Colombia. Still, she could be in for a whole exciting new experience very soon. 
We've been enjoying renewing acquaintances around the island and especially here in the marina. There are the girls in the office (Tini, Effa, and Shakila) who usually regard Jean with amazement and wonder just what she is going to do or say next! And there is Azrin, the marina manager - official title Harbourmaster.
Gavin and Jeanine Ganley are here with their steel NZ registered Ganley designed yacht. Gavin's brother Dennis designed all the renowned Ganleys but sadly passed away at a relatively early age. He also designed the original rig on Tiare when she was launched in Wellington in the late 70's. There is Ary who usually manages to find a car for us, sometimes at short notice. He has his office at the Jeti (about a 10minute walk from the marina) where the ferries to Penang, etc berth. been spending some pleasant times with Lorraine and Graham, who we first met in Bundaberg. They have a lovely 65' steel cutter which was originally built in S Africa. Went to dinner at Cocos a few times with them as well as at the ubiquitous Wonderland Food Store here in Kuah. Two of the best places to eat on Langkawi.    
We bought a Spanish lesson language pack with CD's and explanatory books at the Post Office in Murwillumbah, NSW so we have been trying to get at least a rudimentary knowledge before we arrive in Colombia. Thanks to Sara (Jean's old friend in Murwillumbah) who recommended it. Sara, who Jean and Perry flatted with in Milford in Auckland in the late 70's, subsequently married a Spaniard and lived in Malaga. Hence she speaks Spanish fluently.
Ramadan has been on for the last month which is a bit irritating at times because it makes the Malays even more lackadaisical than normal! They aren't allowed to eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset which is nonsensical, because in this heat you need to drink all the time to avoid dehydration. But it's one of the things one must accept and plan for if one is staying here for any length of time - and particularly if any boat work is needed. We learnt that a couple of years ago when we were hauled out at Rebak - one of the most frustrating experiences we have ever had.
Finally we cannot finish this blog without reference to Emirates Team NZ and how right now they are 3-0 up against Oracle Team USA in the final of the America's Cup 2017 in Bermuda. The Auld Mug is once more in sight , but ETNZ must be very careful and concentrate on their own performance which has improved hugely since the regatta began. It has even been suggested by commentators that OTUSA is even capable of attempting to force ETNZ into a give way position and then collide with them to damage the boat sufficiently to severely damage their chances. Of course there is also considerable risk for OTUSA in doing this because they could suffer the same fate. But nevertheless ETNZ must be aware of the possibility and watch their backs like a hawk to ensure that such a situation cannot develop. Possibly easier said than done. There is now a 5 day lay period with racing set to resume next Sunday. However, looking good so far - GO EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND!!!!!!!
And now really finally - the absolutely shocking and disgraceful attacks on the legitimately elected President of the United States of America. Severed heads, flagrant lies by the leftist so-called mainstream media, and now lies and innuendo as regards the investigation of President Trump for obstruction of justice. This apparent investigation has never been officially confirmed and is almost certainly not happening, but that doesn't stop the traitorous media from claiming this to be true amid many more lies. They are traitors because they are prepared to totally hobble the functioning of government, particularly when external threats are so real - terrorism and North Korea to name a few. This is creating extreme division at a time when unity is needed more than ever. There are of course also the economic threats where the US is definitely on the back foot after Barack Obama caused the national debt to double from 10 to 20 trillion dollars. Trump's task is huge and he must have the unquestioning backing of his own party who have majorities in the House and the Senate.
But this isn't happening and one needs to ask why. The GOP (Trump's own party) seems to be prepared to send their country down the drain simply to preserve their own jobs and the political status quo. Whatever one's personal view of Donald Trump, the fact is that he is prepared to upset the political establishment and "drain the swamp", and he should be supported in this endeavour if America is to survive in a world becoming increasingly strident and determined to attack America on all fronts - military and economic.
Perhaps one can expect these types of lies and innuendo from the screaming left - aided and abetted by media owned by people who are trying to profit from a political meltdown. But it certainly shouldn't be expected from people who represent a right of centre party (the GOP), and who should be putting their own country's interests first and foremost. Makes one wonder what threats could be being levelled against GOP politicians - and maybe their families. There was the premeditated shooting of some GOP politicians who were practising for a charity baseball game. The shooter may have been deranged, but clearly was single-mindedly intent on killing as many of the GOP as he could. It was just very fortunate that there was a security detail present that prevented this outrage from happening. And now we see the House debating a bill to allow House representatives to arm themselves.
The only way out of this appalling mess is for Americans to support the democratically and legitimately elected President of the United States. And for people everywhere to stop believing the "fake news" and "alternative facts" pedalled by the anti Trump media. We notice that almost every article about Trump in the NZ Herald is by-lined "the Washington Post". But what can you expect from Granny Herald?!! Unfortunately most people believe what they read and never question anything.
We had to get this off our chests because we believe it is important. If anyone has another view - either in support or to the contrary - we'd be more than happy to see it and maybe we could have some robust debate! After all, that's what democracy is all about.
With all best wishes and love from us.....................
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Royal Langkawi Yacht Club


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