After the fast smooth first half of this section, we were hoping for more of
the same. But no, good times have always to be paid for, and we paid in
To begin with, the wind died a bit and the swell became more irregular and
lumpy. Next, we had a couple of really bad nights with strong, wet squalls.
After 90degrees east, we started heading north to round Sumatra, and things
just got worse.We both had sleepless days and nights due to the weather and
our speed dropped. As we approached the tip of Sumatra, a cyclonic system
was building to the north in the Bay of Bengal, and this was giving us
strong south westerly winds and building up big seas. As luck would have it,
we had to round Sumatra at night, and decided to take the offshore route
rather than try to negotiate the shallows and rocks on the inside route.
What a mistake that was! We had two nights and a day of dreadful
conditions, with 35 knot plus winds continuously and also very disturbed
seas regularly breaking over us. The inner route would have given us a lee
earlier and the terrible conditions would not have lasted so long. On our
chosen route, we passed a steel trawler, about 60 feet long, just stopped in
the water, with his stern and propeller rising clear of the water and his
bow ploughing into the waves, unable to make any headway. As we passed, he
changed course to try to make progress but could do nothing against the
nature of the sea.
At last however, we rounded into the Andaman Sea, where the waves
miraculously smoothed away and the sun came out. Our first evening was
magical; we saw what appeared to be tide in the water but as we approached,
we realised it was whales of all sizes spouting. Most of them were lazing
about on the surface and there were so many they seemed to fill the entire
sea. The largest were about 15 metres long, longer than our boat, and they
looked very black and angular. We were not sure whether to be totally
mesmerised by the experience or terrified in case of attack but we passed by
without incident, and that first night was clear, warm and without squalls.
The sky was lit up by lightning,and we could see for miles around. That
however was the good bit and thereafter day and night we were constantly
subjected to squalls, rain and lightning until we arrived at Langkawi.
Our arrival at Langkawi was another of those magical times. The sky cleared,
we saw yachts sailing for the first time since leaving Turkey and the
anchorage was big, with plenty room for us to drop our hook.The holding was
excellent,and the surrounding hills and islands were out of a holiday
We could not believe we had arrived; only 2 months and 2 days since leaving
Turkey; almost 6000 miles travelled; no problems with the yacht; we were
still speaking to each other and we had sailed through conditions we had
never imagined possible.