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!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Island cruising

With me still back in Canada, Jordan and his visiting friend and author Rik continued their activities. As well as Langkawi Malaysia, they spent 3 days in the Thailand archipelago of the Butang Group, just a 7-hour sail away to the northwest out in the Andaman Sea.

There, the crystalline waters displayed an abundance of marine life making it an excellent diving destination. Jordan and Rik wanted to snorkel but unfortunately Rik had developed a condition with a symptom that gave him anxiety attacks when he attempted to snorkel. He succumbed to his fears but relaxed on board while Jordan took in the wonderment of the aqua environment...

2 corals dancing in the current

Shades of blue

As well as colourful coral (which isn't always around), fish were in abundance. An attention grabber was the lionfish with its display of feathery fins. It can live for 16 years and the male mates with several females whose eggs hatch in only 2 days. Those beautiful fins, though nice to look at, need respect as they are spiked with deadly poison so can't get too close for photos!

Sneaking up on the lionfish...

Quickly leaving the lionfish...

Of course, the cutest fish must be the clown fish aka Nemo from the movie! These 3 are swimming above their habitat of the sea anemone. Curiously, they are immune to the stings of the anemone.

Clowning around

At the quaint little beach village on Koh Lipe with its white sand beach as fine as flour, sea of sapphire, and  pedestrian paths and alleys instead of roads, Jordan and Rik ambled from cafe to bar to massage spa.

After Rik's departure of the 19th, Jordan was once again alone with Sea Turtle, waiting for my return.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Visitor aboard

During my absence while I was back home in Canada, the 6-month time limit to have the boat in Thailand was due so Jordan sailed Sea Turtle from Phuket Thailand to Langkawi Malaysia. It took him 3 easy days in which he had winds to sail most of that. Each night he was able to rest at island anchorages along the way.

Jordan enjoyed the cornucopia of the green hued water below while sailing through Thailand before reaching Malaysia.

Bright blue fish

Did you know that moray eels can live for 10 to 30 years! This fish (not reptile) eats meat and likes to hide in crevices, but here he is peeking out at Jordan.

Secretive moray eel

These giant clams, once they fasten to a spot on a reef, are there for the rest of their lives. They come in such a variety of bright or mundane colours and patterns. They are male for a year and then possess both male and female reproductive organs, but they do not fertilize themselves!

A pair of giant clams

Once in Malaysia, his time was occupied with boat jobs, daily workouts, and regular routines all at the easy pace of the cruisers' clock.

During my time away, Jordan's friend and author, Rik, flew down from China for a 10-day sojourn to experience cruising life, wile away the hours in philosophic palaver, and catch up on old times. They hadn't seen each other for about 13 years.

Most of their time was spent around Pulau Langkawi where Jordan showed Rik the typical interesting sites including the SkyBridge perched high up on a peak, accessed by a cable car lift. (Last year when Jordan and I visited the SkyBridge, it was having maintenance work performed so unfortunately we could not access it - see our blog posting of July 18, 2014 titled Scooting around Langkawi.)

Spectacular SkyBridge

This sunset silhouetting Sea Turtle and 2 longtail boats is an example of the ending to many of the days for Jordan and Rik.

Sea Turtle at sunset

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Mother's Sunset

It was with great sadness for family and friends when we paid farewell to my beautiful, talented, and caring Mother on January 25, 2015. It is indeed our loss, but I am sure for my Mom, she is now at peace in Heaven where she will even be able to see once again! Her last days had been difficult but now she is with other loved ones singing with angels and having a grand time up above.

Roses were always Mom's favourite flower and I believe she is still enjoying them...

Roses Grow In Heaven

I believe Lord,
that roses grow in Heaven.
Please pick a bunch for us,
place them in our Mother's arms
and tell her they're from us.

Tell her we love and miss her,
and when she turns to smile,
place a kiss upon her cheek
and hold her for awhile.

Because remembering her is easy,
we do it every day.
But there's an ache within our heart
that will never go away.

So as roses grow in Heaven Lord,
please pick a bunch for us,
and place them in Mom's arms
and tell her they're from us.

So now we must accept her fate and continue till me meet once again...