Passage to Penang & Langkawi

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December 12th 2014
Published: December 16th 2014
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to Penang & Langkawi

From the small island of Pulau Talang all 4 boats were on the move before dawn for the long day of 60 miles to Penang. It was mostly motor-sailing except for the last couple of hours before the island when the wind picked up. Then we were dodging several fishing nets until motoring under the bridge - the longest in Asia I believe - before turning left behind Jerejak Island, about a mile south of where the others yachts had congregated.

On our way we had discovered our plans of getting Thai visas in Penang were scuppered as the King’s birthday was on friday so the immigration office would be shut - pooh! We could have so easily left a day earlier from the Pangkor Marina and now we would have to hope we could sort it through the extra expense of an agent in Langkawi, or come back to Penang. Normally we could have just waited until after the weekend but this would mean missing the end of the rally and our prepaid marina booking in Langkawi.

The next morning was the rally’s ‘Sail under the Bridge’ event for its 9th successive year. After a delayed start waiting for the organiser, and then later one of the boats who had an engine problem, a measly 6 of us motored slowly up to the bridge, flying every flag we could find. Luna Ray crossed first and then we all stopped at the Junk Anchorage a couple of miles further up the passage, where we found plenty of rally party-pooper boats that hadn’t joined in in the procession.

We rowed ashore briefly until the rowlock on one side detached from the dinghy - again!, so then we paddled/rowed and tied up to the jetty using an aft mooring rope to hold it off the barnacles. We strolled up the jetty with its many stalls & tourists to find a sign to say it was The Chew Jetty - a heritage UNESCO site! A short walk from here to the bus station and we hopped onto the Free Shuttle once the driver materialised. We hopped back off when things looked busy which landed us in the middle of Georgetown on the doorstep of a chinese restaurant where we had some dumplings. Using our 20 yr old guidebook we ambled around town taking in several temples, the old architecture, street art, and stopped at an indian restaurant in Little India to take a rest from the heat. After a tasty vegetarian Thali meal and a few drinks I led us to the fort which conveniently had a playground next to it to keep Alex happy while I took a look around.

From here we strolled back to the jetty to find our dinghy banging up against the pylons as our aft mooring line had been untied! I guess this is why most cruisers use the water taxis.

We had a morning of relaxing before the current turned and we headed north again out passed the protection of Penang Island and its coastal line of high-rises. We had a lovely sail in 15 knots of wind close hauled on flat seas - the boat solid on a steady constant heal. The wind died a few miles from the end of our 20 miles trip to Pulau Bidan and we flogged the engine to get there before a storm did. We managed to drop the anchor just before the heavy rain hit.

We had the small island to ourselves the next day as the other 2 yachts left - except for the family living ashore. Took a look around the island on the dinghy - got a surprise when we saw a reptilian head appear above the water - like a mini- Loch Ness monster - it turned out to be a large lizard (1.5m long) swimming. It was soon clambering up the beach- I didn’t know lizards swam.

On the beach there were a few beach combing treasures amongst the rubbish on the high tide mark.

That afternoon a couple of yachts joined us, anchoring in a preferable spot out of the swell that had built up that gave us a bit of a rolly evening - but it was cancelled out within a couple of hours as the offshore breeze picked up - making things more comfortable for us (but not the other boats).

We set off early the next day and enjoyed a close haul into 17 knots of wind. We were going to stop at Pulau Payer which is a popular place for snorkelling/diving but changed our minds for two reasons - one, as it is Marine Park you cannot anchor and the only moorings would be a rough ride in the waves that had built up; two we found from conversations with others on the VHF we were supposed to be checking into Langkawi (something to do with it being a Duty Free island).

After we passed the island the wind eased to eventually nothing, and the sea became glassy smooth as we approached Langkawi. Some other boats from the rally converged as we came up the channel, and all dropped anchor in busy Bass Harbour, opposite the main town of Kuah.

We had a day in the waterfront area at Kuah - checking in with customs and the harbourmaster, checking out the cheap booze, pictures with the giant eagle statue, lunch at KFC, followed by Baskin Robbins, did some shopping, and finished with a drink at McDonalds. We had to race back to Luna Ray to beat the worst of a rain storm as it crept into the bay.

The next day, we had a quick stop at the beach and I went to find the agent we had met the day
Eagle Square in Langkawi - Na and I at the bottomEagle Square in Langkawi - Na and I at the bottomEagle Square in Langkawi - Na and I at the bottom

Alex took this shot & apparently its a kite not an eagle
before to get my Thai visa from Penang. Then we lifted anchor and had a great sail down the west channel passed beautiful towering hills, racing dinghies and then around fishing nets. The wind was mostly in the high teens and gusted up to 24 knots!…not had that much wind in ages. Once passed the cruise terminal, we turned north toward Rebak Island. The canal to the marina cut into the island is hard to spot until you are almost in it. We drifted about while they decided which berth to put us in and then followed the direction to turn right after “the two catamarans at the end of the finger”. Then got the call we had gone the wrong way, so we reversed up to go down the next finger that also has two catamarans at the end of it.

Rebak marina is a great place as the adjoining resort means you are just a short walk back to the beach, a lovely pool (with wet bar) and restaurants. The marina welcomed us all with a “Cocktail Party” that evening so for an hour they served food, beer & wine ( but no cocktails).


Additional photos below
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A mosqueA mosque
A mosque


19th December 2014
Exploring Pulau Bidan


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