Bumps in the night and changes of plan
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Sat 11 Feb 2012 06:09
We are having a quiet day off. Aren’t they all, aren’t they all? Quite right but we are telling ourselves this is quieter and more beautiful than usual. We are tied to a buoy in a very picturesque spot in the Bintang group of islands about 30 miles west of Rebak. Instead of returning to our berth today we have decided to enjoy the lonely peace and quiet and go tomorrow.
We had a small adventure on the way down. We generally like to confine ourselves to day-sailing between Rebak and Phuket because of the proliferation of fishing boats with bright, unorthodox lights and very-hard-to-see fishing floats that could foul our rudder or propeller if run over. We stopped for the night in the Koh Rok group, two pretty islands surrounded by reefs. A French version of TV’s Survivor series was filmed here. The National Park rangers have laid mooring buoys to help prevent anchoring over the coral and we were fortunate enough to find the best of them free, in a fairly protected spot and apparently deep water. Not deep enough. The wind got up about bed- time and the swell followed soon after. Then a shift in wind direction and low water spring tides resulted in nasty bumps in the night. It is very disturbing to the mariner to be woken at 0515 by a series of bangs as the cast iron keel thumps down on rock. There were six bangs before we had leapt on deck, cast off and pulled away in the dark, round a catamaran that had arrived during the night and out to sea. I don’t suppose there is any damage – none is visible on snorkelling down – but we don’t like it! Not one little bit! As consolation we had an excellent, speedy sail down to the Bintangs.
In the end we spent four weeks in Phuket and had hoped and expected to get all our bits and pieces sorted out, but were ultimately frustrated. The replacement generator is up and humming, a mal-functioning gps antenna was replaced and the drowned bow-thruster motor got ready for re-installation but the electricians overlooked the ruined solenoid (a heavy-duty electrical switch) and there was difficulty in sourcing a new one. Our 30 day visas expired so we had to check out and shall have to return once again. Actually we are not too sorry. It is very useful to keep the boat and all the equipment working and ourselves “in the mood”. It is good practice for the “real thing”. We enjoy life in the Boat Lagoon marina. There is always plenty going on, friends come and go and we have excellent relations with the locals. The hairdresser is a profuse source of delicious gossip and even the dentist was a pleasure to do business with.
We have changed our cruising plans yet again. We sometimes feel like apologising for all this indecision but perhaps there is no need. The latest plan is to leave Rebak about June and travel slowly down the Malacca strait calling possibly at Penang followed by Port Dixon from where we can do a short overland trip to Malacca. Then to Singapore for a few weeks and across to Nongsa Point marina on Batam island in Indonesia. We were towed there with a failed damper plate in 2009. We hope to check out of Indonesia, traverse the Sunda strait between Sumatra and Java and reach Cocos Keeling in time to leave for Mauritius in September when the full force of the SE trades has abated. South Africa by Oct./Nov. as before. A small factor in triggering the latest change is that because of the solenoid problem we are not ready to leave now for the northern Indian Ocean route. More important reasons include the benefits of making the necessary southing in easy stages and with interesting places to visit and the larger group of boats that plan to go that way. The couple with whom we were planning to cross by the northern route are selling up and flying home. Anyway, an extra few months in this part of the world will be no hardship.
We read that there has been some cold weather in Europe. It is very hot here. Away from our little air-conditioning unit it can become very uncomfortable.