We enjoyed a fairly leisurely final week at Langkawi’s Royal Yacht Club. Paul concentrated on engine and mast work while my days were mainly spent practising route-plotting on the Navionics app, looking up places to visit in Thailand; daily trips to the shop for dinner ingredients; creating my own vegan meals, and reading while listening to music or radio programmes – not a bad way to pass a week :). Below are a few pics of food items I’ve discovered and grown fond of here, either as snacks or in recipes.
Learning the Navionics app presented a few frustrating challenges for me. The first and foremost one being that I couldn’t distinguish between zooming in and zooming out! Whenever Paul told me to zoom out, I spread my fingers out, which created far less detail than intended, while zooming in had me drawing my fingers together, thus honing in on a place instead of looking at the wider perspective. Another problem was that I found the iPad to be hypersensitive to touch: an inadvertent brush with my fingers on the screen might transport me from the map’s fine detail of a marina berth to a vague spot somewhere in Southeast Asia. Once I’d conquered those challenges, I had the task of remembering the sequence of commands necessary to create waypoints, check water depth, any hazards in the area, location of buoys etc. As with most things technical, I’ll get the hang of it eventually and it will be a useful contribution to plot future passages, and rewarding to steer a course that I’ve plotted myself. This time, with Paul’s help, I created a route from Kuah to Rebak and I went to bed on Thursday night looking forward to following those waypoints from start to finish on the iPad in its stand in the cockpit, for the two and a half hour journey to Rebak.
Since it was only to be a short journey, and we had to arrive at the marina before 3pm (all the staff finish early on a Friday to prepare for prayers), we weren’t in too much of a rush to get away. It was about 10 15 by the time we were ready to depart, which would get us there around lunchtime. It was quite windy and I knew from past experience that this can cause problems when steering slowly away from pontoons but Paul said it would ‘be a doddle’ when I expressed concern. I turned the bow thruster on and waited at the helm while Paul cast off the stern line. In the short space of time he was walking to untie the bow line, the wind was blowing the stern away from the pontoon – creating a wide gap. I yelled at Paul to get on the boat but it was too wide by then and the boat began drifting further away with only me on board. My cries of alarm (which Paul says sounded hysterical and he was probably right, to my shame) must have alerted a guy from a nearby yacht because he appeared on the pontoon and proceeded to stop the bow hitting the power sockets. I was worried about the stern hitting the edge of the opposite pontoon but Paul told me to get to the bow and get a line to take back to the stern to attach to the cleat so he could narrow the gap and get on. I was struggling to cleat it properly, my head bowed in concentration and Paul was telling me it would be fine as long as it was attached when I heard a loud splash that could only be a person hitting the water. My first thought before looking up was that I must have really fouled up if he’d had to resort to jumping in. For a few seconds I didn’t know what had happened and all I could see was Paul’s cap floating away on the surface and then his head came up and after taking a breath, he quipped ‘who shortened the length of the pontoon!’ I knew then that he’d fallen in and he was having a bit of a struggle to get out (it’s really tricky to get out of the water at a marina because the pontoons are high, move a lot, and have sharp shells attached). He ended up having to stand on the line I’d attached to the cleat to heave himself up but my hand was in-between the rope and the cleat, causing me to yelp a bit as it was momentarily crushed. My main concern was obviously that Paul was ok and when I saw him standing on the pontoon, dripping wet but engaged in polite sailing chat with our neighbour I knew he was alright. With grateful thanks to the guy, we managed to manoeuvre the boat out of her berth and achieve a smooth departure.
Once we were out in the bay, and the fenders and lines were in, Paul was able to get out of his wet clothes and assess his water-damaged items. The table was soon strewn with notes of various currencies, credit cards, receipts, and more worryingly, his sodden passport. Meanwhile, in the cockpit, I was a bit concerned about the amount of traffic around us and discovered that the iPad was difficult to see without reading glasses and I found I couldn’t steer and keep us on the course at the same time. Once we’d got all that sorted and it looked as though we were finally on our way, Paul noticed that that the engine temperature gauge was showing it was in danger of overheating and we’d have to do without the engine. This meant Paul having to put the headsail up to give us some steerage, all of which took another hour and we were still in sight of the yacht club at 12pm. I wondered if we’d have to go back there but Paul was keen to do the journey to Rebak under sail even if we might be cutting it fine to arrive by 3pm. The next couple of hours were spent ‘tacking’ our way along because the wind was head on and as you can’t sail into the wind you have to ‘zigzag’ your way around it. It’s crucial to get the steering right while the other person adjusts the sail and all Paul’s instructions about wind direction, angles and judging the correct time to change course just wouldn’t go ‘in’ my head. I floundered, fouled up, panicked and felt so useless I burst into tears of frustration, too upset to even take in the beauty of the islands we were sailing past. Amazingly, after a few more attempts and a concerted effort to understand the basics, something clicked and I finally grasped what I needed to do (a lightbulb moment indeed :)). Nevertheless it was a relief to learn that the marina was near (also a relief to learn that the gauge was wrong about the engine overheating so we would be able to motor in after all). The waves were strong and high and it was still very windy right up until we were in the shelter of Rebak’s marina. I felt I could finally relax a bit then and in blazing hot sun we followed a member of staff’s signals to guide us in to our berth. When I looked around me and saw all the palm trees, the lush rainforest opposite and ‘heard’ the silence around us I realised just how beautiful a setting it was. A can of Tiger beer and a glass of wine later and the trauma of the journey began to fade. As Rafiki in ‘The Lion King’ famously said ‘it doesn’t matter; it’s in the past’. I’m still eager for the next trip (I just hope Paul is) 😉
Paul’s passport dried out and is fine, as is all his money. I wish I had thought to photograph of some of the day’s events – the wet money being laid out carefully on the table to dry was a sight to behold. We couldn’t stop laughing later that evening at the thought of Paul walking off the pontoon – it would have been exactly the sort of thing Harry Hill’s funny video programme showed. Anyway Rebak’s delights have been well worth the trials of the journey. We’re here for a few days and I intend to make the most of it.