Monday, 25 May 2009

Captain’s blog May

Well, last month ended in our arrival to the beautiful Island of Langkawi and we arrived in good weather, slack water and tied up in an orderly manner just stern stern with m/y Sinbad at the Royal Langkawi yacht club.

Dubey & Kalpu ready for the night

I was met by our agent, John Orr, and got the arrival procedures in progress. This time I was properly prepared and all crew had multiple entry visas to Malaysia, yessirree. In the evening John invited the crew for some welcome drinks at the marina Charlie’s bar. I met a lot of old faces that I’d seen at our last visit although the bar seemed a bit emptier than usual. People said punters were going elsewhere nowadays for entertainment. For dinner we went to the "The Pier" restaurant where one could get a decent Thai fare.

Following day was spent drumming up people who could repair our A/C plant that had given up during the trip here. In fact the plant got temporary repaired twice and we could use half the plant. I got a local contractor called Michael that had done the aircon plants at most hotels and resorts on the Island. In the evening we had a magnificent seafood dinner at Wonderland seafood restaurant.

After the contractors were all gathered and activated I left with Vivek and John for Lumut to check out the Grade No 1 shipyard. We were met by the OPrations Manager Fuad and we started with a walk around the premises. Grad No 1 is a new shipyard that has been operating for abt 2 yrs and so far has lifted 60 boats. The shiplift is a 800ton capacity lift with 12 slings. There are big sheds where paint jobs and aluminium works can be carried out and mechanical and electrical workshops. Great facility. I am planning to do our drydocking here just before the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Singapore.

Once our rendez-vous in Lumut was complete I continued towards Singapore to do my visa for Thailand as well as meet up with Roger Chan and Angie Ng. I checked out some new radar technology, bought some stuff for the ship and had lunch with Angie in Toa Payoh. Once I had my visa I was heading back for Langkawi, I took the bus to Alor Star and from there the ferry to Langkawi.

Same Friday we went running with the Hash House Harriers, almost all crew participated with 30 RM a head, it was beers and food included. We started the run along a small creek and ended up in a rubber plantation running through some fields and finally ending up circling in our old path and getting back along the same creek. All crew finished the run and we were welcomed by the hash circle that ensued in the aftermath of the run. Once the circle completed we had dinner at Silversands in Kuah town until late.

Next Saturday we decided to scout out the diving haunts near Langkawi. We put down
our tenderboat in the morning, loaded her up and off we went to Pulau Payar that is abt 10’ SE of Langkawi. Langkawi in itself don’t make good diving due to all the limestone so the seas are all murky. We made good speed in following seas and arrived P. Payar in abt 30minutes. The Island is a group of 3 islets and the biggest one has a resort on it (surprising considering it is a nature reserve). The Islets are covered in lush green forest inviting you to go native. We consulted our diving book and scouted around until we decided to dive S of the Island at a smaller islet. We geared up, me, Saini and Dubey went down while Rajaram and Kalpana were looking after the boat.

The visibility was fine around 10 meters and we saw some coral heads, a turtle, a Moray Eel, a reef shark, some parrotfish and numerous other fish. It was not really spectacular considering it is a marine preserve, but it was better than nothing at all.

The second dive we found a breaking reef near the S Is of P. Payar and down we went again. We must have hit some convergence zone for the Strait currents as suddenly the visibility went down to just a couple of meters and I stopped to admire clown fish at a sea anemone and I realized I lost my diving buddies. I waited the requisite minutes and I surfaced as the guys could not get back to find me. Once the other guys surfaced we started back to Langkawi.

By this time at late afternoon we had a stiff NW wind blowing and the waves were getting to 1,5m height. Needless to say we could not make 20+ knots in these conditions so we took 2hrs to get back to Langkawi and by that time I had nice sunburn that turned me into having a “boiled crab” look for the next 2 days.

Same evening we were invited for “pork night” at Ying Loong Makanan Laut (Seafood) restaurant. We were present in full numbers except standby crew (Sunil who don’t eat pork) and evening started with suckling pig, followed by roasted duck and wild boar curry. Very delicious food in good company, everybody went home not hungry at all.

Another evening I attended a quiznight at Pantai Cenang, very demanding questions and contest was won by the expat teacher team (not surprising). We managed as the Force India team, we held the tail…

Then I had to send Martula home for family reasons, she came back after a week at home. Rajaram and Sunil left for their annual leave as too, both will return to Phuket before July.

One night I arranged a BBQ on the jetty for 8 invited expats and the crew. The guests brought the beef, we supplied the braai, salads and beverages. Same time we took opportunity to sample out the new Four Seasons and Bohemia wines from UB Group that we received in Mumbai. The rose’ and white wines received very positive appraisals. Hope the word gets around.

21st I had dinner at Oasis, I had very delicious tex-mex food (chicken fajitas) and the hamburgers were massive and also the Indian dishes looked very delicious. A very recommendable eating experience with nice ambience.

22nd and 24th was again run with Langkawi Beach Hash House Harriers and the F1 GP in Monaco. The post hash dinner was in Thailand restaurant. The crew especially enjoyed the run but the F1 was skipped as everybody followed the IPL cricket as the Bangalore team was in the finals.

25th it was time to bid farewell to our agent John. We bunkered up and pottered into Thai waters. What happened then I will tell you next.

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