Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Sailor’s Christmas in Phuket

Maria and Susan shoe shopping in Phuket

Sala Resort & Spa, our Christmas present to ourselves.

Our room at Sala came with our own pool too!

Maria and her new lady boy friends

Steve getting a fish massage

Blue Water Rally women at a birthday party

Thai dancers with Captain Steve

Lunch!!!

Hugo and Juliet, also part of the Blue Water Rally on Laroobaa. Hugo has a bandage on his head - must have been a shark attack.

Chrissy and Mark from Blue Magic, another Rally couple.

Tsunami warning signs are all over Thailand now.

Typical resort in Phuket

Food cart in Phuket

Night time at Patong Beach, Phuket

Phuket town gold sculpture

Touring around Phuket on the west coast

Royal Phuket Yacht Club beach

Phi Phi Don street. Where else can you wear scuba tanks along the main street?

Long tail boats at anchor in Thailand

The Emerald Cave. We swam 300 feet through a pitch black cave entrance and arrived inside of the Hong and onto this garden of Eden!



S/Y Aspen – December 21, 2010 – Log #59
Position: 08 degrees 10’ N 098 degrees 20’ E (UTC +7.0 Hours)

A Sailor’s Christmas in Phuket

Sail on the horizon got a landfall rendezvous
The captain steers a well-known course he steers her straight and true
As he trims the sheets and sings the songs he learned on boats and bars
These sailors spend their Christmas in the harbor ‘neath the stars

They’ve traveled through the doldrums, shallow seas and hurricanes
They’ve logged many thousand soggy miles with water on their brains
But Christmas ‘tis the season better suited for dry land
They’ll tell some lies, meet some spies and dance barefoot in the sand

These sailors spend their Christmas in the harbor on the hook
Phuket is hot and muggy so no work today,
Let’s shelve the old logbook

The mast and shrouds are filled with lights
‘Neath the waning of the moon
There is an air of celebration within the realm of King Neptune

Christmas is a time that’s filled with music, rum and cheer
The waterfront is reveling - the season has begun
These sailors spend their Christmas in a harbor having fun!

The continents keep drifting but the children sing and play
‘Cause nothing really matters, after all it’s Christmas Day

(with apologies to Jimmy…)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all our friends, wherever they may be!!

There are new pictures posted on the blog site too.

Sail on, sail on Aspen...

Love,
Steve and Maria

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Malaysia

Trying to sail through the shipping lane near Singapore and the Malacca Straits

Marina Keppel Bay, Singapore. Notice Aspen in the the far background.

Big ships and little sailboats

Klang, Malaysia. On a floating pontoon in the river. Notice the filthy water and all the trash!

Raffles Marina, Singapore. We did not stay here but it was a nice place to visit.

World's highest towers (Petronas Towers) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

An advertisement for a well-know tobacco product?

Shopping in Kuala Lumpur

A ground view of the Petronas Towers

Grocery shopping in Klang, Malaysia

S/Y Aspen – December 4, 2010 – Log #58
Position: 06 degrees 11’ N 099 degrees 46’ E (UTC +8.0 Hours)

After enjoying the excesses of Singapore we left on a fair tide, sailing to Malaysia and through the Malacca Straits. As we exited the beautiful Keppel marina one of our fellow Rally boats ran right onto a rather large reef. This was strange because the reef was marked by a building sized bright red marker! This was in broad daylight too. Luckily they have a steel boat and after several anxious minutes managed to get themselves free and underway again.

Then it was out into the dreaded Malacca Straits. This relatively narrow body of water is probably the busiest waterway in the world with huge ships from all corners of the globe passing through it. China, Japan, all of the Middle East countries, European ships and even a few ships from North America were all clustered around little Aspen. The supertankers glided by silently with their massive cargos bound for foreign ports. These Straits are also world-renown for pirate attacks on ships! Despite naval vessels patrolling these waters, daily boardings still occur by the pirates.

We traveled in a safety group of 8 boats northward, right on the edge of the large ship channel to avoid the ever present fishing boats too. These fishing boats are unlit at night and lay fishing nets right in front of us or where ever else they please, except inside the shipping channel. There the big ships just chew the nets up so the fishermen avoid the channel where we decided to go. Despite being right on the edge of the channel, the huge ships passed within one quarter of a mile from us at times. Our trusty AIS sounded out a warning with each new ship so our night watch appeared to be akin to a casino with the flashing lights and alarms going off all night long!

Malaysia is fairly poor, similar to Indonesia but without the corruption, at least what we have seen so far. There are Malaysians, Indians, Chinese and Japanese who make up the majority population of Malaysia.

Our first stop was at Port Klang, 20 miles from Kuala Lumpur. Port Klang is 15 miles up the most polluted river we have ever seen. The smell was strong enough to make flowers wilt and dogs cry. Exactly 15 miles up the river we came upon a floating dock near the middle of the river. This is home to the Royal Salangor Yacht Club. We tied up to the floating dock and watched huge piles of rubbish, as large as small islands make their way down stream, sometimes colliding with our boat and staying there. There was no electricity on the dock and we did not run our generator or engine to charge the batteries because the river water would clog the filters. That would not be a pretty sight. Instead we made the batteries work overtime and become very depleted!

We stayed 2 nights so that we could tour Kuala Lumpur, the capital. What an enigma that place is! They have the Petronas Towers, the tallest buildings in the world, or at least they were until one of the Middle Eastern countries decided to build a taller one. The city calls itself a mini-Singapore but it has quite a ways to go before that is really true. Bargaining for pirated DVD's in China Town was fun and we ended up with original movie DVD's in original packages for about $1.25 for any of the latest movie releases. We now have lots of movies to watch while on passage.

Right now we are sitting in a very nice marina at Langkawi, the northern-most island in Malaysia. The Marina is called Telaga Harbour Marina. We will leave from this popular tourist oasis in a few days to spend Christmas in Phuket, Thailand, only 120 miles away. There we will clean, check and repair Aspen, getting her ready for our next journey - across the Indian Ocean. There will also be lots of parties to attend once we are in the marina.

More pictures will be posted shortly on our blog site!

Sail on sail on Aspen...