Saturday, April 04, 2015

Back to Telaga

After a few days exploring the south islands in the Langkawi anchipelago, we made it back to Telaga Harbour (N06°21.711' E099°40.832'). As our next trip would be over to Thailand islands, Telaga is an official "check-out-of-Malaysia" port.

Telaga is an out of the way port with a nice secure anchorage ringed with beaches. The numerous anchored boats are protected from sea waves by 2 small breakwater islands and the pleasant scene is marked by steep verdant mountains overlooking us from the north. From the anchorage, one takes their dinghy in past a faux lighthouse and resident monkeys scampering on the rocks eager for tossed treats, then through a short channel to the inner harbour marina.

Sea Turtle anchored at Telaga

Monkey mania

Once inside, we took advantage of the facilities which, among other things, were happy hours at the various harbourside restaurants, the fuel and laundry facilities, convenience store, and of course the official government border control offices.

And Telaga is where we could once again play badminton to get a bit of exercise...

No, that's not a halo!

As soon as the sun sets, the ocean horizon lights up with a multitude of green lights from local fishing boats, out for the night's bounty that the lights attract. No chance of anyone running into these fishermen in the dark! But what they did not have was the "longtail" motor which gives these boats their name. Sadly, almost all of them now in this Malaysian area have regular motors.

Friday, April 03, 2015

The lake

We rose to another hot and sunny day that began with a 10-minute dinghy ride to a jetty already swarming with tourists shuttled by longtail boats from Langkawi (Malaysia). The attraction was the 10-hectare freshwater lake on Pulau Dayang Bunting, the largest freshwater lake and the second largest island of the Langkawi archipelago.

It was a short walk from the jetty, up an incline, through a draw in the cliffs, then down some 100 steps to the rafts on the lake - along the route were many monkeys, some with adorable new infants! Signs at the lake indicated Lifejackets Must Be Worn which seemed strange to us having spent so much time swimming without such things and even au natural. Was it that many visitors don't know how to swim?

However after diving into the cool blue water, we realized right away that the freshwater, compared to seawater, made us much less buoyant and required some definite expense of energy to simply stay afloat.

Freshwater for a change

After swimming, we walked the boardwalk nature trail along the lake shore to a spot called the Miracle Border where we could see the ocean at a level some 12 m (40 feet) below separated by only a thin ridge of rock.

We diverted our return to our Sea Turtle to explore a cluster of smaller islands. There we spotted a cute romp of otters hanging out beneath a cut in the limestone formations with just their curious heads peering out at us. Above the otters, we admired the grey limestone cliffs textured with hanging gardens of streaming 30-metre (100-foot) long vines, palms, and bushes interspersed with weeping limestone stalagmites. We again dinghied right inside a couple of caves carved out by ions of erosion.

Dinghy spelunking

We left later in the day to return to Singa Besar for a relaxing evening.

Another day done

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Here and there

On March 30th after enjoying our experiences at the Hole in the Wall in the northeast of Langkawi Malaysia, we sailed back around to the west side and to the smaller private island of Rebak best known for its marina.

As of late, we've been taking it easy which is a nice way of saying we have been lazy and consequently certain boat jobs have been ignored. But there was one job that was impossible to ignore. The hydraulic steering showed signs of being "mushy" and lacked appropriate response from the wheel and/or auto pilot. It was just a matter of adding fluid, but it begged the question of where it was leaking, albeit slowly. Something that would have to be later traced and remedied.

Our bottom (the boat's bottom, that is) also needs to be painted as it's been 2 years since haul-out in New Zealand. Other big jobs that can't be ignored too much longer are new deck paint, stainless steel polishing, and teak wood refinishing. Sea Turtle seems to be lapsing into poor fettle and in need of some tender loving care!

Our initial plans had been to haul out soon at Rebak Island Marina but now we have decided it will be necessary to wait. More on that later.

We anchored on a lea shore off Rebak Island and the breakwater to the marina entrance (N06°17.382' E099°41.546') at 15:45. With an onshore wind, we would only leave the boat for a short time to meet up with Trevor and Jolanta of sailing vessel Magnetic which was on the hard. We walked the nature trail to the swimming pool of the marina and resort where we caught up on past travel adventures and tried to solve some of the world problems.

Then back to Sea Turtle to re-anchor in more protected waters (N06°16.175' E099°43.712') about an hour away from Rebak - at the spot where I had re-joined Jordan when I returned from Canada.

The next morning to the throb of the engine, we headed south for some island gunkholing. First anchorage an hour away was at Singa Besar Island (N06°13.854' E099°44.738') where we dinghied around some nearby rock islands. Singa Besar is a wildlife sanctuary for monkeys, deer, snakes, lizards, and birds. The island is also rich in unique rock formations and mangrove plants.

Another Langkawi anchorage

Then on April 2nd, we motored a little further south through mystical karst islands whose sheer limestone cliff faces rose straight out of the waters.

No beach here!

We dropped the hook in a narrow but calm channel between the 2 islands of Gubang Darat and Dayang Bunting where their cliffs towered above us (N06°11.366' E099°47.257').

As the cool of the evening approached, we saw a troop of monkeys exploring the rocky shore and night was ushered in by sweet avian chatter...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Maze of mangroves

We left Telaga Harbour of Langkawi Island (Malaysia) on March 28th at 14:30, arriving 4.5 hours later at the northeast corner of Langkawi Island (N06°27.433' E099°49.943'), near our destination of a place locally known at the Hole in the Wall.

We tucked into a very quiet anchorage, drinking in the beauty and serenity with only 1 other boat anchored, a trimaran from Canada. We noticed construction happening which appeared to be the making of an extension to the area.

The next morning, with computer and GPS in hand, we jumped in the dinghy to find the Hole in the Wall. Why a computer and GPS? This geopark area is a real maze of creeks and narrow gorges surrounded by gnarled mangroves and precipitous limestone karsts which are 480 million years old! So if we got lost, at least we would be able to find our way around and also our way back to Sea Turtle. Jordan only confirmed his navigation twice with the computer and we were spot on.

There were many tour boats with paying customers but we in our dinghy got the advantage of a free ride. Our first sighting was a sky full of majestic white and golden orange coloured eagles swooping with celerity down to the water, making it very difficult to capture them photographically.

As we continued onward, there were numerous troops of monkeys among the mangroves watching all the boats, staring back anxiously expecting handouts as everyone stopped for the perfect photo.

Mangrove monkey

We soon slowly went through a narrow man-made cut...

Cut through the karsts

We finally made it to the Hole in the Wall where on the cliffs of the entrance was a natural form resembling a human face.

Guarding the entrance

We pulled our dinghy up to one of several basic floating open-air restaurants all in a line. The one we stopped at had an interesting fish farm. Below in the water in nets were blue blooded horseshoe crabs with helmet shaped heads, LARGE grouper fish, local sting rays that would glide to the top of the water to be hand-fed, and many more varieties. The blood of horseshoe crabs is bright BLUE, not red, due to the presence of copper in their blood. This blood is presently worth $60,000 a gallon in the global industry for medical uses.

Crab's eye is dark spot at center (copied from internet)

What I found to be the most startling was a small fish called an archerfish. I have never heard of it before but Jordan has seen them on nature shows in the past. A employee of the fish farm would stick a piece of fish flesh to a board overhanging the water. The fish would circle around eyeing it up. Then with incredible accuracy, they would spit a shot of water up about a meter for a direct hit knocking it into the water where it would be gobbled up. Amazing!! What is intriguing to biologists is that light rays refract when they enter the water and somehow the archerfish naturally adjust its aim to compensate.

2 archerfish shooting at crickets (copied from internet)

We found our way back through the mangrove maze to Sea Turtle without the use of computer or GPS, and along the way, we also found a low tunnel (one of many tunnels and caves) that we dinghied through. Cool!

Nature's tunnel

It rained later in the evening, an indication of the rainy season that is slowly approaching...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Back on board

I spent 6 weeks back in Canada with family and friends where I even had the opportunity to go up to northern country to visit my Grandson and Great Granddaughter. She loves to have her photo taken, but my Grandson hates to have his taken!

More beautiful everyday

The weather back home was exceptionally good for winter time, but of course Jordan was in hot and humid Malaysia. When I arrived back on February 28th to the thick heat, I found walking only a couple of blocks exhausting and where time was the only means to acclimate.

But getting back out on the water and being back with my loving Captain was the most welcoming home coming. Jordan had anchored (N06°16.435' E099°43.663') conveniently close to the village, but many seadoos and motor boats pulling para-sailors speedily through the sky all about created agitated seas that rocked and rolled us till dusk. We soon decided it was time for quietude so we headed out to some ideal spots around the Langkawi archipelago.

March 6th arrived with sunlit seas and favourable winds as we sailed the entire 3 hours northward to Telaga Harbour (N06°21.717' E099°40.696').

Several boats were in the Harbour well protected by 2 small outer islets with sandy beaches. Nearby was a mock lighthouse that marked the narrow channel into the marina restaurants and other facilities. One evening on one of the little islets, we had a fire and potluck supper with fellow boaters. A little relaxing mellifluous guitar music by another boater provided some entertainment.

Occasionally the wind piped up, causing the sea to lave the shores with small agitated waves.

Ashore internet was available and was usually not too bad. We were unable to connect from Sea Turtle. Price was inexpensive at 5 Ringgits per 24 hours ($1.35) or even better at 18 Ringgits for an entire week ($4.87). Laundry service was available as well as several nice Harbour view restaurants, a store with basically "junk food" items, and a gas station. Other than that, Telaga is somewhat out of the way and with that it provides a certain calm atmosphere.

We found an area that had a badminton net set up under shade. We spent several early evenings batting the birdie back and forth and then quenching our thirst with delicious, tall, strong, 2 for 1 margaritas at a restaurant afterwards. This bit of exercise gave us a break from what was becoming a daily routine of just hanging out.

A couple of times we rented a motorscooter for the 15-minute ride to the small town of Peland or a little further to Kuah where we could find a good variety of groceries and supplies. In the park of Kuah, is a beautiful lily pond where the lilies were in bloom.

Even the bees found them attractive!