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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Dec 30, 2009-Langkawi Circumnavigation with Mike

We stayed well off the coast trying to avoid the puffs and lulls of the gusty winds sweeping around Langkawi’s tall forested peaks but even a couple of miles out we had shifty conditions and we had trouble keeping moving. Ahead the 47’ Herreshof Tradition was dealing with similar breeze and they looked to be stopped for a while. We hoped to get past them going outside but they got the wind first and shot out ahead with filled sails and a bone in their teeth and we couldn’t catch up. As we rounded the NW cape we got steadier wind and we waved goodbye to Tradition heading on northward as we hardened up and beat eastward toward Thailand’s Taratao Island.

It was good sailing. We’d been at the dock too long and when we pulled out of Rebak Marina with Mike Lim onboard as a guest and willing crew member for five days of cruising with fresh NE breezes in the beautiful Langkawi surroundings and it gave us the sailing fix we needed.

The day before Christmas we sailed up to Telaga for fuel, took a side trip to the cable car, and came home under spinnaker. It was fun sail up and back but Mike suffered a serious rope burn trying to douse the kite which was my fault for giving bad instructions but Mike didn’t complain even when Nurse Judy spread alcohol antiseptic all over the raw fingers; tough guy.

“Try these gloves next time Mike.” It was the least we could do.

We spent Christmas back at Rebak.

On Boxing Day, after sleeping off our Christmas meal and the effects of the night’s party, we headed north again from Rebak with the #4 up chasing Tradition and after rounding Cape Chinchin we crossed over into Thailand to investigate an open hong on Koh Belitong that we’d spotted on Google Earth. The hong was beautiful but was too shallow for Wings and we stayed the night half a mile away tucked behind Koh Panan. There were at least a dozen fishing boats also sheltering there but in the morning when we came on deck with our coffee for a look around they were gone.

Weighing the next morning the windlass groaned to a sudden halt, not moving in or out. It was jammed! The dingy was tied down on the foredeck and looking under it we found that the windlass had swallowed a loose rope which jammed up everything and broke the chain stripper. We got the anchor up with a bit of trouble and then motored out.

I asked Judy, “Can you just drive us for a while so Mike and I can look at this mess?”

“Sure”, then she asked, “Should we go back to the Marina to fix it?”

“No, I think I can get it working again.”

Mike and I spent most the day on the foredeck repairing it while Judy conned us to Hole in the Wall. It was another day with a nice wind and we could have sailed but keeping tools and parts in place on the foredeck with Wings heeled over seemed like more trouble then it was worth so we motored the whole way while Mike and I kept our heads down engineering new windlass parts which we completed successfully before the windlass was needed at Hole in the Wall anchorage.

The Hole in the Wall was a bit busy with tour boats running around but beautiful and after the tourists were all gone we picked some fish from the live tank at Hole in the Wall Resaurant and had a quiet and wonderful dinner at that floating restaurant. Later we sat out in Wings’ cockpit looking at stars and drinking rum and pineapple punches.

In a light easterly Monday morning we set the kite for the 22 mile downwind leg past the east side and around the south end of Langkawi to the fjord behind Palua Gubang Darat but the wind didn’t hold. Plodding along jibing for shifts which never materialized we overstood the southern cape in the strong ebb and finally motored the last couple of miles but it was worth it when we reached the fjord and dropped the hook in a truly magical place. In still, deep, waters we were surrounded by tall, thickly forested, cliffs reaching all the way to the sky. Eagles watched us as they soared above us and we listened to the splashes of fish jumping nearby.

A dingy ride to explore the island and one of the caves then to a nearby beach for a swim left us ready for dinner and more rum punches. Mike fished off Wings’ stern but I guess he didn’t have the right bait and no fishes were landed.

On the final day of this cruise we worked our way out of the islands and sailed up the west side of Langkawi in a nice, solid, #2 breeze, the best sail of the week, with blue water and blue skies, chasing another boat, which we didn’t catch, and too soon we were back in Rebak, the trip over.

All in all it was a great 65 mile circumnavigation of Langkawi and each of us will fondly remember the sailing and warm companionship we had aboard Wings that week.

Click here for more images from Langkawi

Click here to see the log book pages of our sailing trips in December 2009

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Langkawi

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