Coals to Newcastle
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Wed 31 Aug 2011 11:02
Reading about bad weather is probably a complete turn-off. It has not been a good summer and you have heard it all before. But we are in the wet season here and weather is having a big influence on our lives: total overcast for weeks on end; frequent squalls and heavy rain. The atmosphere above and below decks is humid, the coastal path flooded and even energetic yachties are kept under cover. “Projects” have had to be postponed. On top of all that has been Ramadhan during August followed by Eid so the locals have been a bit grumpy during the day and small shops and restaurants have been shut. A minor point of interest has been the difference in the hotel guests during Ramadhan. There have been no ladies dressed from head to toe in black but an increase in Indian and Chinese families. This has resulted in a slightly different atmosphere among the total island community.
Some of the squalls have been spectacular. This marina is very well protected but the boats roll in their slips and tug at their lines. “Heavy rain” seems to have new literal meaning. The drops appear to coalesce and fall from a prodigious height hitting our large awning, or us, with great weight. A week or so ago one of our number set off for Phuket – tough Aussies; big steel boat. Eight days later they were back. They got quite close but every time they set out on the final lap they were knocked back by gusts of up to 50 knots. Admittedly they did not have sails on board and were a bit handicapped by having a replacement engine strapped down on deck to be fitted in Thailand but even so..... They were delighted to be back within their comfort zone and more than ready to tell us all about it. Innocent hotel guests, hoping for a couple of weeks of sunshine as relief from the daily grind, scream in the ferry as it pitches violently on its way to and from the island. Once they get safely ashore the wind thrashes the palms round the swimming pool and there is not a lot to do in the wet for the holidaymaker on this small island.
And the rain came down!
When the path has been obscured by muddy puddles I have been using the exercise bike in the gym. Tame stuff, no doubt, but I have never tried one of these torture instruments before and I am quite impressed. It is sophisticated enough to be interesting whilst leaving me with legs like jelly for some minutes afterwards. During brief dry spells Mags has been trying out the re-surfaced tennis courts – the squash court is too dangerous in the very damp conditions. Today she joined her usual crowd at 0800 for yoga but they were all swiftly rounded up, martialled into three smart ranks and instructed in how to come to attention and stand at ease. Uplifting music was played, followed by the national anthem (I am afraid Malaysians do not sing very well) and the national flag was raised with due pomp. Independence Day. Having been stood down there were cakes and tea all round after which the frustrated fitness fanatics concluded that there was no point in bending, stretching and controlling their breathing after such sinful scoffing and returned to their boats for another day. It was rather sad that there was some lack of communication about the ceremony because there were all too few local people present - perhaps hotel staff could not be released - and more yachties would have been pleased to have joined in had they known.
There has been plenty of coming and going – people have been on the tourist trail or seeing the grandchildren back home. In consequence there have been entertaining meals at the Hard Dock and some excellent cooking to be experienced on this boat and others as we exchange visits, perhaps once a week. Despite the weather, plenty of fun and interest.