Like a Weird Natural Cathedral with Beaches

If you ever travel in Thailand, do yourself a favour and visit Phang Nga Bay. Seriously, it’s even more stunning than the guide books say.

Travel in Thailand: Yana de Lys anchored in Phang Nga Bay
Yana de Lys anchored in Phang Nga Bay

In the Phang Nga Bay section of one of their Thailand Travel Guides, Lonely Planet says:

If Eden had an ocean it would look a little like this


Phang Nga Bay became famous when it was used as a location in the 1974 James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun. The towering limestone cliffs are breathtaking, other worldly.

I sailed around Phang Nga Bay in Yana de Lys but you can easily take a tour from Phuket or Phang Nga Town on the mainland.

Travel in Thailand Tip #2: Visit a sea cave in Phang Nga Bay

The Thais refer to the sea caves as “hongs” or rooms.

From the outside, the entrance to the sea cave on Koh Hong (Hong Island) is easy to miss.

Travel in Thailand: Can you spot the entrance to the sea cave?
Spot the sea cave entrance


But that’s okay, the tour guides know where they’re going in your sturdy inflatable kayak.

Anchored in Yana de Lys, we watched the hordes of tourists coming and going with amusement. Then when all the tour boats left we paddled in.

Discovering a hidden world

Inside we felt like we had found a hidden lost world. The sea cave was open to the sky, surrounded by soaring limestone walls. Like a weird natural cathedral with beaches. Stunning.

The sea cave was open to the sky, surrounded by soaring limestone walls. Click To Tweet

Sailing in Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay is a perfect cruising ground. Plenty of anchorages, no long passages. Well protected. When we were based in Yacht Haven our favourite anchorages were Koh Wai Noi, Koh Phanak and Koh Hong.

Travel in Thailand: Yacht Haven was our base for exploring Phang Nga Bay
Yacht Haven was our base for exploring Phang Nga Bay

Have you ever been to Phang Nga Bay in Thailand? What was your favourite island?


Sailing from Phuket to Langkawi (Don’t mention the pork)

Sailing cruises around Phuket Island: all I ever dreamed, but way way better

John Gray’s Sea Canoe


Five Islands Six Eggs and Four Resorts

Sailing home from Tioman Island on the tropical east coast of Malaysia, we stayed at some deserted islands and some with resorts.  Luckily the resorts welcome visiting yachties.  It would have been a very hungry cruise if they didn’t.

Yana de Lys anchored off Pulau Tulai. Our first stop sailing home.
Yana de Lys anchored off Pulau Tulai. Our first stop sailing home.

We weighed anchor after ten idyllic days at Tekek on Tioman Island. Our next destination was Pulau Tulai (Tulai Island) An epic 7.11 NM (nautical mile) voyage.

Talk about a stunning uninhabited island.

I snorkeled the low tide coral.  Plenty of those phallic looking sea cucumbers. My chef brother in law promised to send me a recipe. But I’m still waiting. The sea cucumbers are still safe. The other captain explored the mangrove forests.

Mangroves at low tide on Tulai Island, our first anchorage sailing home
Mangroves at low tide on Tulai Island

Next morning we woke up surrounded by local fishing boats. We waved to the fisherman as we left. They didn’t wave back. Just grinned and sledged. What were they saying? “Ooh you’re obviously not a real man pulling up the anchor while your wife drives?” I’d love to know. It felt good natured but alimak! I wish my Bahasa Malaysian vocab was more extensive.

Sailing home: weighing anchor at Tulai
Weighing anchor at Tulai while the local fishermen laughed at us

Sailing home slowly

We were sailing home to Johor Bahru slowly and reluctantly.  We’d have loved to keep going north.

Our next anchorage was Pulau Seribuat. About five hours away.

By this time the other captain was starting to express his concern at our poor provisioning. Eating angst was setting in. He was counting the eggs supply and cans of tuna in the food locker on a daily basis.

Slummin it at the Rawa Island Resort

Moving right along, the following night we anchored off Pulau Rawa. The Rawa Island Resort is very posh.

We’d had a yummy expensive meal and were ready to go home.

Oopsie. Low tide. Not enough water to take the dinghy out through the coral. Waiting waiting waiting for the tide to come in.

Around 8:00 one of the guys from the resort said “You’re going to be here till 10:30 man”. Then sweetly suggested he pulls us out from the jetty using a long rope. Yay. And God bless him it worked.

The next day we continued sailing home slowly via Pulau Babi Besar (literally Big Pig Island).

No shops on Babi Besar anymore

According to our Pilot (like the Lonely Planet for sailors) there was a shop on Babi Besar.

A gorgeous walk on Babi Besar Island on our way sailing home. But no shops for supplies.
A gorgeous walk. But no shops at the end.

We walked. We looked. We hoped. We were expecting a Tesco or an Aeon or a Giant. But no. Not even a 7 Eleven. Apparently the reported shop was closed down. The other captain’s provisioning angst was quietly escalating.

So we settled for a beer at the Aseania Beach Resort.

Lovely. Cold. All you expect of a tropical resort beer.

I was looking sadly at my empty eggs container. The waiter noticed, took it from me, and came back with six eggs. Free. We had a great dinner there too.

The toilets there were special in their own special way…

Sailing home via the Aseania Beach Resort. The toilets were all marble and gold leaf.
All marble and gold leaf. Shame the toilets didn’t flush properly

Three nights on Pulau Sibu

We anchored off the north of Sibu Island. The Rimba Resort is very civilised. European style service and hospitality. Lovely snorkelling in the bay.

We heard there was a village on the other side of the island. So off we trekked in search of provisions. The jungle walk from Rimba to the uber friendly Sea Gypsy Village resort was excellent. Didn’t see any monkeys on the way but there was a big pig lurking in the jungle. I suppose they’re safe on Muslim islands.

Guess what?  No village. No mini marts. No provisions. But a delicious local lunch of nasi goreng (tasty fried rice) at the only shop.

Still sailing home slowly

Time oozes when you’re sailing. We get excited when we’re doing five knots – about ten kilometres per hour. You see the next island as an imagined mirage. Like a visual whisper. Is it really there? Then it slowly slowly materialises before your eyes.

Our next stop was Jasons Bay. We held our nerve so we could be as protected from the rolly swell as possible and anchored with 1.5 metres under our keel. Lucky it was good mud holding. A storm raged around us almost immediately.

Our final stop before returning to Senibong Cove Marina was Tanjung Pengileh. We ate out of date two minute noodles for dinner. I don’t think they can kill you. If I don’t write any more blogs you’ll know I’m wrong.


Anchorage waypoints

Pulau Tioman, just north of the ferry jetty
N 02 49.333 E 104 09.563

Pulau Tulai
N 02 54.813  E 104 06.042 in 13 M sand
Pulau Sribuat
N  02 41.919  E 103 53.877 in 11 M sand
Pulau Rawa
N 02 31.291  E 103 58.318 in 7 M sand
Pulau Babi Besar
N 02 14.080  E 104 03.484 in 8 M sand
Jasons Bay (Tuluk Mahkota)
N 01 51.383  E 104 08.571 in 3.5 M mud
Tanjung Pengileh
N 01 22.820  E 104 05.543 in 6 M mud

Ten days in Tekek. And How We Missed the Waterfall on Tioman Island

An idyllic anchorage in front of the village of Tekek. Clean clear water. Great snorkeling. Duty free booze. We chilled out on Pulau Tioman (Tioman Island Malaysia).  Ten days had flown past before we even noticed.

Tekek is a quiet little town on Tioman Island Malaysia
Tekek Esplanade. These guys have been riding motorbikes since they were five.

Tekek is the “capital village” of Tioman Island Malaysia

Bats in the belfry at Tekek, on Tioman Island Malaysia
Bats in the belfry at Tekek
Capital village? Well I guess you can’t call it the capital city. You’ll find one marina, three duty free grog shops and three mini marts in the two street town of Tekek on Tioman Island Malaysia.And a million bats.

We were laying bets on the minimum age for motorcycle riders in Tekek. Maybe six years old? Or perhaps it’s a height thing? If you can reach the pedals you’re legal. Helmets might be illegal in Tekek though. I didn’t see one. Unless you count head scarfs?

It’s a long way to the top if you wanna miss the waterfall

We’d been told about the jungle walk to the waterfall.

We got directions from the guys at the Tekek Information Centre. Go right after the first mosque, then was it left after the second mosque? No signage of course. We were lost after the first 20 minutes. No one to ask. It’s a quiet little town.

After a few wrong turns we found the trail. Two and a half hours of mostly uphill climbing we found ourselves in Juara on the other side of the island. Alimak! How did we miss the waterfall?

We saw monkeys, butterflies, a spectacular frill necked lizard showing off in all its camouflaged glory. It was an amazing walk. But no waterfall.

As mentioned in my blog about climbing Frenchmans Peak, I never said I was fit, just up for it. So it wasn’t a hard decision to take a ride back to Tekek. I talked the driver into stopping so we could check out the waterfall on the way back. Underwhelming. Water but no fall. But I wouldn’t have missed that jungle walk for anything. Despite the way my leg muscles complained for the next three days.

The waterfall after the walk from Tekek on Tioman Island Malaysia was more of puddle than a waterfall
More of puddle than a waterfall

Don’t backpackers know how to party anymore?

I mentioned Tekek is a quiet town. There are no bars. The deal is you buy your duty free wine or beer or whatever and drink it at the table outside the bottle shop, or take it and drink it with your meal at one of the cafes.

Air Batang or ABC is a three km walk from Tekek. There are bars and backpacker joints for the people who come for diving holidays.

The other captain and I thought it might be time for a party night. You know, hit the reggae bars, a few cocktails… It was so quiet we nearly fell asleep! Young backpackers whispering over their bottles of water.

Different to when we were there 27 years ago for our honeymoon.

Well I think it was ABC. But I guess it could have been another part of the island.

We were in Mersing and the locals suggested we visit the island where they shot the 1958 movie South Pacific. I believe this urban legend is now disputed, but we believed them.

Eight hours later, on a slow boat with locals and chickens and goats, we landed at rickety jetty with a backpackers bar. Our accommodation was simple A frame hut for $2 per night. The “ablution facility” was a waterfall, complete with monkeys. But that backpackers bar rocked!

Huge flag on Tekek Beach, Merdeka (Independence) Day at Tekek on Tioman Island Malaysia
Huge flag on Tekek Beach, Merdeka (Independence) Day

Anchorage Waypoint

Pulau Tioman, just north of the ferry jetty
N 02 49.333 E 104 09.563 Sand in achingly clear blue water.

Are We Nearly There Yet? Sailing to Tioman Island


The Tiny Captain asleep on watch during our sailing adventures on the way to Tioman Island Malaysia
The Tiny Captain asleep on watch. Again.

Four anchorages.  Five people on board.  Cruising in company with a catamaran.  Join our sailing adventures to Tioman Island Malaysia on Yana de Lys.

Are we nearly there yet? Oh yeah, sailing adventures are always slow travel

We sailed with our friends Tina, Adrian and their eight year old, Chloe who live in the residential community at Senibong Cove.  They liked the idea of sailing, but wanted to experience real sailing adventures.
Tina won the World’s Best Galley Slave award.  Her meals and OCD inspired cleaning were legendary.
Adrian took to the wheel like a duck to water.  The other captain didn’t have the heart to turn the autopilot on.  Didn’t want to spoil his fun.

I suggested Chloe was the boat boy.  But she wouldn’t have it.  “I’m not a boy.  I’m the Tiny Captain. Are we nearly there yet?”

Our first leg was 20 NM (nautical miles) from the Senibong Cove Marina to Tanjung Pengileh.

We were five minutes out into the Johor Strait when two things happened.  Chloe asked “Are we nearly there yet?” for the first time.

And the other captain reported a hose leak in the engine room.  Alamak!  Not nearly as serious as when the drive shaft broke.

The other captain spent the time at our first anchorage replacing the leaking hose.  Kindly supplied, with free advice and reassurance from Adam on Soggy Moggy, (did you guess she’s a catamaran?) our cruising companion.

Adrian fished.

Tina cooked a spectacular dinner.

Chloe wanted to know how long it would be before we got to Tioman.

Tanjung Pengileh to Desaru. Still a long way to Tioman Island Malaysia

We set off early the next day.  At one point I counted 101 vessels in the shipping lane.  A safety boat stalked us.
We’d steamed clear of Lima Pass and North Rock when the hose broke.  Again.  So we sailed most of the way to Desaru in a sloppy swell with the wind directly behind us.
The anchorage was very rolly.  All night.
Our sailing adventure companions were close to mutiny.  Chloe wanted to take a speed boat to Tioman.  Adrian was seasick.  But Tina was fine and managed to cook up a sensational Teriyaki Beef and Rice.

Resort with no beer

The other captain briefly popping his head out of the engine room during our sailing adventures on the way to Tioman Island Malaysia
The other captain briefly popping his head out of the engine room


We made good time on our 40 NM leg to Pulau Sibu Tengah.  And anchored out of the swell behind the resort‘s sea wall. Yay.  No more talk of mutiny.
We mistook the call to prayer for the call to beer at the resort.  Dreaming of cocktails and ice cold beer we rocked up to find an empty resort which didn’t sell alcohol.
Plenty of deer, pooping around the pool.  But no beer.
Kay from Soggy Moggy must have known something we didn’t.  Kay declined to come ashore.  Citing a good book.  Our hamburgers we deesgusting.  “Nasty” according to the Tiny Captain.
The pool looked okay, but naturally the swim up bar wasn’t operating.  I was afraid of catching a disease from simply looking at the skanky service area.

Pulau Tioman (Tioman Island Malaysia)

Day four was all plain (motor) sailing to our idyllic anchorage at Pulau Tioman.  40 NM at an average of 5.4 knots.

Tioman Island Malaysia from our anchorage during our sailing adventures
Tioman Island from our anchorage

The other captain and I were here on our honeymoon 27 years ago.  I’ll tell you about Tioman Island Malaysia in my next blog.  I have to go snorkeling now.

Meanwhile feel free to share my sailing adventures blog!


Anchorage waypoints

Tanjung Pengileh
N 01 22.810  E 104 05.506  Excellent holding in mud.
N 01  33.519  E 104  16.222  Sand, very rolly
Pulau Sibu Tengah
N 02  11.064  E 104 05.667  Well protected behind the resort’s seawall
Pulau Tiomam
N 02.49.333  E 104 09.563  Sand in achingly clear blue water.

A Snake in the Sink and Other Fun at Danga Bay Johor Bahru

Sailing up the Johor Straits to Danga Bay Johor

Sailing up the western arm of the Johor Straits to Danga Bay Johor was an education in the stark contrasts between Malaysia to our port and Singapore to starboard.

Wonky stilt houses and untidy fish farms on one side, manicured parks and gardens on the other.

At one stage I remarked to the other captain it seemed they were blowing up the golf course on the Singapore side. Until I saw the sign identifying the Singapore armed forces site, warning us to stay clear as they practice using explosives there.

Steering clear of the invisible line

I made sure to steer well over the imaginary line delineating the border because we hadn’t cleared into Singapore and a Singapore customs boat plus two Sing police boats stalked us and kept a very very close eye on our progress.

Danga Bay Marina

The marina at Danga Bay Johor is now closed. It was built as a photo opportunity for the potential buyers of the condos planned for the site.

The marina at Danga Bay Johor.
Danga Bay Marina in May 2014. You can see the barges at work in the background. By October the wet area was all landfill.

An almighty thud

There were huge barges constantly filling in the Strait in readiness for construction.  One evening I heard some shouting from my boat.  Then an almighty thud.  A barge had bashed into our jetty. No people were hurt but the damage was extensive.

Damage to the jetty at the marina in Danga Bay Johor Bahru

A snake in the sink

Another of my more memorable experiences in the marina at Danga Bay Johor was when I discovered a snake in my galley sink.

I was on my own as the other captain had gone back to Australia to work. One morning I lifted the lid on my sink cover and saw a snake slithering round.  I immediately dropped the lid back down.  I’m pretty sure it was as surprised to see me as I was to see it.

And honestly I think it shat itself with the shock because it stunk seriously in there.  I peeked in one more time to check I wasn’t hallucinating before deciding to do the girlie thing and ask for help to get rid of it.

Asking for help

I asked some of the staff who were hanging out on one of the boats on my jetty, but they couldn’t help because they told me “We’re scared of snakes too”.
Then one of my neighbours, the Sultan of Darwin, offered to sort my problem. He came on board and calmly picked up the writhing snake with the multigrips he was using at the time.
I asked him to show the squirming monster to the staff. The staff were suitably scared.
The last I saw of my uninvited guest was when my obliging neighbour took it down below in his own boat to show his wife.

The Sultan of Johor

Speaking of Sultans, the Sultan of Johor Bahru’s residence is just over the road from the marina.  I walked past the grounds and the huge great blinking bling crown at the entrance regularly but was never tempted to trespass on account of the scary signage.

Sign outside the Sultan's residence, Danga Bay Johor
I guess the Sultan of Johor doesn’t want visitors

I have absolutely fallen in love with Johor Bahru.  After more than three years of resort islands its grittiness and purely unpretentious localness is incredibly refreshing.   But I couldn’t stay in Danga Bay Johor because the marina was closing down…


Johor Who? Three Things I love About This Dirty Old Town

Victim of a Crime in Johor Bahru Malaysia

Johor Tourism

Meet the Fishing Nets

Are you an armchair sailor? Or dreaming of floating round the tropics? Come cruising with me in these sailing blogs!  

Sailing blogs - Langkawi to JB. One of the many many fishing boats
One of the many many fishing boats we met between Langkawi and Danga Bay

Ten sailing blogs in one: Island hopping and day sailing from Langkawi to Danga Bay

The weather gods were kind to us when we sailed our yacht Yana de Lys south from Langkawi Island to Danga Bay in Johor Bahru .  
We weren’t hammered by any many sudden storms. We didn’t encounter much wind though, being so close to the Equator.  We spent a lot time motoring, rather than actually sailing.

We were in no rush, just day sailing our way down the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia. Our trip was just peachy, the whole way!  

Nine anchorages and two marinas

We made ten stops, mostly deserted anchorages:  Pulau Tuba, Monkey Beach and Pulau Rimau (Penang),  Sungei Dinding (Lumut) , Pulau Angsa, Che Mat Sin (Port Klang), Admiral Marina (Port Dickson), Pulau Besar, Tanjung Tohor, Pulau Pisang, Danga Bay.

(We’re navigating with Malaysian charts which refer to Island as Pulau, Tanjung as Cape and River as Sungei.)

First night at Pulau Tuba

We spent the first night at Pulau Tuba, just around the corner from Langkawi so we could get a head start on the 50 NM (nautical miles) plus leg to Monkey Beach at the north of Penang the next day.  It was one of the rolliest anchorages I’ve slept in.

Meet the Fishing Nets

Then we started meeting the Fishing Nets. 
At our second Penang anchorage off Pulau Rimau on the south western tip, the first net, drifting with the tide and current, wrapped around our bows. 
We were enjoying the happy hour view of the islands and the bridge and all of a sudden the local fisherman had caught our yacht Yana de Lys in their 200 meter long drift net.
The fishermen scowled at us when they cut the net off.  It happened so quickly there wasn’t time for us stop the capture ourselves.

Sailing blogs - Langkawi to JB. Sunset happy hour.
Happy hour

Langkawi to JB sailing blogs: Pulau Rimau anchorage
Pulau Rimau anchorage

Avoiding 87 fishing nets

The next day we avoided 87 fishing nets. 
It was easy enough to figure out how to avoid these nets as they were dragged between two fishing boats. 
At our deserted, idyllic anchorage that evening we listened to the call to prayer on the radio and, incongruously, to an Australian Football League match.  Our team the West Coast Eagles lost. Again.

Sailing blogs - Langkawi to JB. Like nearly all our anchorages, we were the only people at Pulau Talang
Like nearly all our anchorages, we were the only people at Pulau Talang

Heading for Lumut

Our course to Lumut was infested with fishing net flags. In shallow water.

The trick is to work out which flags go together and if you can’t avoid going over the net in between head for the middle, take the engine out of gear with enough boat speed to propel you forward and hope the net doesn’t end up wrapped around the propeller. 

Our strategy worked. But it was a slow 15 miles.

 Lumut International Yacht Club

The next anchorage was in front of the Lumut International Yacht Club. 

Lovely architecture but not exactly what we expect of a yacht club.  They didn’t serve food or drink or anything. 

The call to prayer sounded like a gentle romantic love song. 

The Lumut boardwalk infrastructure along the river is really pretty, with the most salubrious public toilets I have ever met.  The blokes toilet is actually a large aviary. 

Langkawi to JB sailing blogs: Lumut International Club. Home to seven boats.
Lumut International Club. Home to seven boats.

Langkawi to JB sailing blogs: Tempting venue in Lumut for tonight's dinner? We never found out why Roland was toting a gun...
Tempting venue in Lumut for tonight’s dinner? We never found out why Roland was toting a gun…

Langkawi to JB sailing blogs. Five star public toilets in Lumut.
Five star public toilets

Pulau Angsa, Che Mat Sin and Sungei Bernam

The next stops at Pulau Angsa, Che Mat Sin and Sungei Bernam, where we sort of blended in with other residents of the stilt burbs, were gloriously uneventful.

Some sailing blogs make it sound like hardship, but we were getting the hang of this cruising business.


Langkawi to JB sailing blogs: Pulau Angsa.
Pulau Angsa

Langkawi to JB sailing blogs: Sungei Bernam burbs
Sungei Bernam burbs

 The Admiral Marina, Port Dickson

Langkawi to JB sailing blogs: Marina inmates get full resort privileges at Admiral Marina
Marina inmates get full resort privileges at Admiral Marina

Then we caught our breath at the Admiral Marina at Port Dickson for a few days.

All very civilised, resort style.

It was our first marina stay after being at anchor for the last three years.

When I woke up the first morning with another boat’s mast looming largely right there in my porthole I had a nanosecond of Anchor Angst.

Until I remembered where I was and that our anchor hadn’t dragged, but we had deliberately parked this close to another boat.  Phew.

Port Dickson town

In Port Dickson we stopped for a beer at an unassuming café and ended up staying and eating and staying even longer absolutely spellbound by the chef constantly cooking a minimum of three high speed wok dishes at once. 

Like a highly entertaining live cooking show.

Langkawi to JB sailing blogs: Live cooking show in Port Dickson.
Live cooking show. It took three staff to keep him stocked with chopped ingredients to fuel his frenzy.

The Malacca Strait

On the move again the cargo ship traffic in the Malacca Strait was beginning to build up.

I’ve read sailing blogs about pirates in the Malacca Strait. It’s really the big boats we had to worry about, not pirates.

Langkawi to JB sailing blogs. We stayed out of the way of the big ships in the Malacca Strait.
Oh boy. We stayed out of the way of the big boys.

We poodled along in the slow lane with a constant stream of varied commercial vessels parading past in the fast lane.  Flying fish and dolphins kept speed with us.

A peaceful anchorage at Pulau Pisang

When we had just settled in to a very peaceful anchorage at Pulau Pisang some fishermen came up to us and politely asked us to move.
“Boss you move boat boss” indicating the nets they intended to lay out.  So, reluctant at first, we moved and were safe for the night.

Anchored in the middle of nowhere

It was different the next night when we were camped in the middle of nowhere out of the way of the shipping lane freeway. 
We were woken by a loud clunking near the bows to find Yana de Lys well and truly caught in a drifting net with increasing burden on the anchor. 
With no fishing boats in sight we had no choice but to hack the net off.  It came free with a super loud twang.  The pressure release was scary.  We apologized to the invisible fishermen.


The next night we made it to Danga Bay.  I’ll tell you all about it in my next sailing blogs.


A snake in the sink and other fun at Danga Bay Johor Bahru

Are We Nearly There Yet? Sailing Adventures to Tioman Island, Malaysia

Noonsite: The global site for cruising sailors


Don’t Mention the Pork

Island hopping from Phuket to Langkawi

We took a couple of weeks island hopping from Phuket to Langkawi. Some sailors do this trip in 24 hours but that’s just not our style.  We’re slow travellers.

Our first anchorage, Koh Phi Phi (Phi Phi Island) was pleasantly free from crowds. Unlike our last visit when we could hardly move on the island during the day for all the tourists, and there was uber loud doof doof music for the party animals every night.  This time the sound track was something so benign I didn’t even remember what it was in the morning.

 Koh Lanta

The next leg from Phuket to Langkawi was hard work with 30 knots on the nose on the way to the historic east coast anchorage at Koh Lanta.
I decided to give the anchoring way point from our last visit a miss.  It was being used by a sunken boat.  Sunk by politics according to the local intel.  The interested parties couldn’t decide who was supposed to pump the bilge until it was too late.

This yacht in our anchorage at Koh Lanta (sailing from Phuket to Langkawi) was sunk by politics apparently
Sunk by politics

The green prawn curry was just as delicious as I remembered from our first stay. When I asked the staff if the prawns were farmed or wild he articulately pointed out to the sea.


Old Town, Koh Lanta (sailing from Phuket to Langkawi)
Old Town, Koh Lanta

Koh Muk

It was an easy run to Koh Muk. At one point I looked out the porthole and saw fish jumping a meter out of the water.  Like something out of the film Nemo.

The other captain kept telling me about the dolphins he was seeing.  All I saw was water disturbances.  Hmm.

Cruisn. Or is the other captain dolphin spotting (sailing from Phuket to Langkawi)
Cruisn. Or is the other captain dolphin spotting?

The fabled Emerald Cave

We visited the Emerald Cave on the way to Koh Muk.

It takes a 70 meter swim through a dark cave to get into the sea cave or “hong” as the Thais call it.

Our waterproof torch ended up being allergic to water.

On the way back out we realised we had taken a wrong turn.  We had to back up in the pitch dark.  Maybe that was the way to the fabled pirate treasure.  We wouldn’t have found it with a dead torch anyway.

Inside the Emerald Cave, sailing from Phuket to Langkawi
Inside the Emerald Cave

Koh Taratao

The unmistakable limestone karst geology of the islands between Phuket and Langkawi
Limestone karst island between Phuket and Langkawi

We took our time slowly heading south down Koh Taratao. I guess we didn’t want our cruise from Phuket to Langkawi to end.

We stopped at three different overnight anchorages.  Did some of exploring.  Had a bit of stormy weather.

One day we took the dingy for a look up one of the rivers.

Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a dog swimming.  It was a sea otter.

We heard the last of the Thai radio we’ll be hearing for a while, because suddenly, it seemed, we were in Malaysia again.

The Langkawi time vortex

Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, when we were sailing from Phuket to Langkawi
Royal Langkawi Yacht Club
Monkey caution sign on Langkawi Island, sailing from Phuket to Langkawi


Monkey on the electricity wires, sailing from Phuket to Langkawi
Oh. Is that what they want us to be cautious of?

Langkawi is a time vortex.  Like the Hotel California you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave. We planned to say a few days. We were there for a month.

Bass Harbour, Kuah

Anchored in Bass Harbour, Kuah, we were waiting for some credit cards to arrive in the mail.  And waiting.  And partying. And waiting. And eating.  (The Bak kut the which is the only dish on the menu at the Shark Fing is still my benchmark for that delicious pork stew.)
And of course consuming and stocking up on the duty free grog. And catching up with old friends. And making new ones.  And provisioning for our next leg.

Don’t mention the pork

Naturally the shopping had to include pork espionage.  On a Moslem island they do sell this forbidden product but it requires being in the know. 
You have to go into the back room of a shop selling spices.  Quietly – I thought the proprietor was telling us not to wake the baby – to choose your cloak and dagger snaggers.

They were yummy too.  Sausages and mash for dinner at our first anchorage on the way to Danga Bay.


Meet the Fishing Nets Langkawi-Johor Bahru Sailing Blogs

A snake in the sink and other fun at Danga Bay Johor Bahru

Eagles – Hotel California

100 Plastic Water Bottles to the Rescue

I’ve dreamed of travelling since I was in primary school. I’ve dreamed of sailing cruises all my adult life.  My Almost Circumnavigation of Phuket Cruise was all I’d ever dreamed of but much much better.

Sailing cruises to die for: Yana de Lys anchored off the Butterfly Bar, Kamala Beach
The stuff dreams are made of: Yana de Lys anchored off the Butterfly Bar, Kamala Beach

December and January are perfect for sailing cruises around Phuket Island, Thailand

Our perfect sailing cruise began with three boats and three fun families anchored off Kamala Beach for Christmas and New Years.
The weather was just right for a leisurely anchorage crawl in Yana de Lys starting at Yacht Haven at the north east tip of Phuket, sailing in company with two more yachts: Sweet Robin and Black Pearl.

The Butterfly Bar was our second home

When we first arrived at the beach in our dinghies the staff at the Butterfly Bar made us feel so at home we made it our second home. 
They watched our tenders (dinghies) when we went out exploring for the day.  More on Yana de Lys’s tender later. 
The bar staff took our laundry, ordered our ice and had them all delivered.  Gave us use of their simple shower.  Cooked fabulous local food, and sold us cold beers. 
Kamala Beach is all eye candy according to the boys.  Plenty of Russian ladies parading in G-string bikinis and high heeled bling sandals.  Even the babies couldn’t have been cuter if they tried.  What’s not to love? 


Sailing cruises highlights: The kids getting ready to launch a lantern on new years eve
The kids getting ready to launch a lantern on New Years Eve

Misfiring fireworks

Of course there were lanterns to launch and lots of fireworks for New Years Eve. That’s how it is in Thailand.
Just before midnight a rogue firecracker travelled horizontally along the beach rather than up into the sky.  Straight into our tender. 
Yep.  Out inflatable dinghy was blown up by fireworks. 
Sailing cruises: oopsie our dinghy was blown up by fireworks
Blown up by fireworks
Fortunately no one was hurt! 

100 plastic water bottles to the rescue

It took a month, but the owner of the bar where the bad firecracker came from compensated us. We ended up with a better tender as a replacement.

In the meantime nothing could stop the most perfect of sailing cruises.

We simply filled the ruined section of the disabled dinghy with over 100 empty plastic water bottles, wrapped up the hole with plastic garbage bags and a whole lot of gaffer tape and continued sailing up the west coast of Phuket and beyond.

Sailing cruises misadventures: Our tender didn't look pretty but it floated in a disabled kind of way
Our tender didn’t look pretty but it floated in a disabled kind of way

An eclectic soundtrack

After our Kamala Beach anchorage we cruised slowly slowly for another month up past Phuket to Khao Lak.  
Along with the lapping of the ocean, the soundtracks we fell asleep to varied vastly.  At Khao Lak there was a weird kind of stereo with Johnny Cash covers from the north and tribal drumming from the south. 
Just the sea was the lullaby at our most peaceful anchorage, Thai Muang. 

We had Fleetwood Mac covers at the chaotic circus that is Patong Beach.  

Sailing cruises: Our anchorage at Khoa Lak
Our anchorage at Khoa Lak

All perfect sailing cruises have to end some time

You can’t really circumnavigate the island of Phuket because there’s a bridge at the north end.  So after Khoa Lak it was time to head back south and around the island to our home mooring at Yacht Haven.  And start getting ready for our cruise to Borneo.

Now I’ve said this before, but it’s still true: If you like my post feel free to share it on all your social media, because sharing is sexy.

And if the sailors reading this blog really want me to include the anchorage points I can. Just let me know in the comments.


Sailing from Phuket to Langkawi (Don’t mention the pork)

Are We Nearly There Yet? Sailing Adventures to Tioman Island, Malaysia


Before I Die…

Yana de Lys anchored in Phang Nga Bay. It only took 20+ years for the first of my sailing trips to happen.
Yana de Lys anchored in Phang Nga Bay. It only took 20+ years to make it happen.

I daydreamed of sailing trips in the tropics for more than 20 years before my dreams finally came true. A lot of life got in the way before I started cruising.

After we bought Yana de Lys  we spent a few years fixing her up in Langkawi, then heading back to Australia to make more money to continue fixing her up, then doing short sailing trips around the 99 islands of Langkawi, then going home to Australia to make more money. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat again. You get the picture Yogi Berra.
Not all of the things we fixed worked out as we would have hoped as we discovered sailing from Langkawi to Phuket.
If you’ve been following my sailing trips in the Stranded in Paradise series, this is the epilogue. If not, you can read the story so far in:

  1. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  2. Stranded in Paradise
  3. Still Stranded in Paradise
  4. I had my eye on a Monet but settled for a Van Gogh instead


Dreaming of a sailing trip when nothing goes wrong

When I first heard of Candy Chang’s Before I Die projects all I wanted to achieve before I shuffled off this mortal coil was sail Yana de Lys to a destination with no significant gear failure.
Well yay. It’s happened. And it feels goooood.

Yacht Haven. The first of our sailing trips from Boat Lagoon to here was trouble free.
Yacht Haven. We had a trouble free sail here from Boat Lagoon. Yay!

Dreams do come true in Yacht Haven

After spending eight months in Boat Lagoon Marina replacing the perished, seriously leaking teak decks and fixing all the things that broke on our way over from Langkawi we sailed up to Yacht Haven on the north east of Phuket.
Yacht Haven is as beautiful as its name make it sound. Perfect for sitting out the wet season and hanging out until we’re ready for our next move. And it’s just round the corner from our new playground: Phang Nga Bay.

We visited Koh Phanak in Phang Nga Bay on one of our sailing trips.
Koh Phanak in Phang Nga Bay.

Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay became famous when they shot scenes for the 1974 James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun. The towering limestone cliffs are breathtaking, other worldly. The sea caves are like weird natural cathedrals with beaches.

The sea caves are like weird natural cathedrals with beaches. Click To Tweet
Sea cave entrance. Sea caves were a highlight of our sailing trips in Thailand
Sea cave entrance. Inside the cave is a sublime spiritual experience.

So far we have stayed at anchorages off Koh Wai Noi, Koh Phanak and Koh Hong. We haven’t covered any vast distances (one day we made a major passage of 3.8 NM LOL) but everything that matters on Yana has worked just fine.

Koh Wai Noi in Phang Nga Bay as seen from Yana de Lys on one of our sailing trips
Koh Wai Noi in Phang Nga Bay

Okay there’s one tick off my bucket list. My next goal before I die is to figure out how to set up my financial feng shui so there is always more money flowing in than out. I’ve learnt you can’t survive on spectacular scenery and seawater. Any ideas?


What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

100 Plastic Water Bottles to the Rescue

Candy Chang: Before I die I want to…

I had my eye on a Monet but settled for a Van Gogh instead

View from our anchorage on Ko Phi Phi, Thailand with coral close to the surface
View from our anchorage on Ko Phi Phi, Thailand. Coral as far as they eye could see inviting us to dive in for a snorkel.

Ten grueling hours after leaving our safe haven on the east coast of Ko Lanta we finally arrived in Tonsai Bay at Ko Phi Phi, Thailand.  It’s only 30 NM (nautical miles).

Wondering why our trip took so long? Check out the story so far: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?Stranded in Paradise and Still Stranded in Paradise.

Were we going to make it to Ko Phi Phi Thailand?

The drive shaft was wobbling dangerously the whole way.  I concentrated on steering while the Other Captain kept an eye on the drive shaft down below, appearing white faced and chain smoking after each engine room check, a prophet of gloom telling me how bad it looked, providing an extensive litany of the serious structural damage we could be causing to Yana de Lys, saying he’s going to need a tropical holiday after this leg. (How about a holiday on Ko Phi Phi Thailand I wondered?)

How about a holiday on Ko Phi Phi I wondered? Click To Tweet

The whole situation felt scary and wrong.  Our average speed was just three knots (about 5.5 kmph) with the wind and choppy swell coming from the direction in which we were headed. Sailing wasn’t an option. We had to use the engine despite our profound misgivings.

To make things worse, we were towing our new super size Queen Mary dinghy, slowing us down by at least one knot. However we had managed to wrangle Thumper (the outboard) onto the deck, so that helped a bit I guess.

Queen Mary and Thumper on the beach at Ko Phi Phi in the foreground, a sunken longtail behind them and Yana de Lys, still floating in the background
Queen Mary and Thumper in the foreground, a sunken longtail behind them and Yana de Lys, still floating (yay!) in the background

Hordes of daytrippers

So, in between bouts of the Chief Engineer sweating it out in the engine room, trying to figure out how to fix the latest problems, we took a holiday on Ko Phi Phi Thailand.

We were told by lots of people before we arrived that Ko Phi Phi’s a rat race.  And compared to the serenity of Ko Muk and the laid back peace of Ko Lanta, Ko Phi Phi was swarming with tourists.

Every day hordes of young backpackers in bikinis and bare chests came in on the ferries. We could hardly move on the narrow walking streets, or in the shops and restaurants. And this was the quiet season.

By around four in the afternoon, the day trippers vanished leaving room to move but still plenty of action.

Stranded in paradise again

Another sunken boat in Tonsai Bay, Ko Phi Phi Thailand
Another sunken boat to haunt us in Tonsai Bay
Budget accommodation? In Tonsai Bay Ko Phi Phi Thailand
Budget accommodation in Tonsai Bay? Check out the crystal clear water.

We played at being tourists for ten days – snorkeling, drinking cocktails and even shopping.

There was a stall selling dresses printed with famous Impressionist paintings.  I had my eye on Monet’s Water Lillies, but they didn’t have my size (too big of course) so I settled for a Van Gogh instead.

I had my eye on Monet's Water Lillies, but they didn't have my size so I settled for a Van Gogh instead. Click To Tweet
Monet's Water Lillies printed on a dress for sale, Ko Phi Ph Thailand
Monet’s Water Lillies was too big for me

We were anchored in about 12 meters of clear as clear turquoise water. We could swim over to where the tour operators take the punters for snorkeling trips.  The water was a perfect temperature with outstanding visibility. There were more fish in our face than we could poke a stick at, although the coral was sadly degraded.

The weather was glorious and sunny for the whole time.  I suppose you could call it a voluntary stranding in paradise. Ko Phi Phi Thailand is certainly a tourist paradise.

... a voluntary stranding in paradise. Click To Tweet

Phuket at last!

The Chief Engineer (AKA the Other Captain) discovered and replaced a second broken engine mount. We discovered later our mechanic in Langkawi had tried to save us money by supplying non-marine engine mounts.

We set off for a last overnight anchorage at Ko Yao Yai before heading in to Boat Lagoon at Phuket once the Chief Engineer managed to reduce the drive shaft wobble, after endless hours of trial and error in the engine room.

This leg was an uneventful 16 miles, again at an average of three knots, but with very little swell.

We towed both the Queen Mary and Thumper, sacrificing even more speed. We figured it’s such a drama manhandling the 47 kg Thumper outboard engine on and off Yana de Lys, we’d probably be in terminal danger before we could use the tender as an tow vessel if we ended up in trouble again…

The final leg of 13 miles to the entrance of Boat Lagoon was even easier – no swell whatsoever, totally benign conditions.  We parked Yana in the mud at Boat Lagoon Marina.  Finally.


What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Stranded in Paradise

Still Stranded in Paradise