Friday, 30 May 2014

Top of the Gulf regatta and Kuala Lumpur visit

A few days after our visitors Cassie and Pablo left, we flew to Thailand. More specifcally to Jomtien Beach, just south of Pattaya in the Gulf of Thailand. Each year Ocean Marina hosts a big regatta called Top of the Gulf, this year was the 10th anniversary. Phil has been there twice, 8 and 5 years ago and has supplied sail for a few boats. One of them is the beautiful Souay (also means beautiful in Thai), a J41 owned by French-Canadian Jean. He had kindly invited us to come racing with him. Or more likely, he was keen for Phil to come, and I came along as part of the package.

The race consisted of one practice race day, and four days with several races each. The weather gave us some interesting conditions as the sea breeze fights the squalls that were building up over land. Sometimes the squalls simply killed our wind and dumped rain on land, but other times they gave us wind and rain. It did provide for lots of beautiful could photo opportunities.
The racing was pretty close and we did OK and on the final day we did really well, and we actually won our class, the IRC class 3, very cool. Each night there were drinks and sometimes food too, or else we'd go out for dinner with the rest of the crew, so we had some pretty long and very social days, good fun. After the race we stayed a couple of days and did a few touristy things with Jean. One funny thing was that Jean normally takes his visitors out sailing. Phil and I politely declined this offer, as we had just raced on his boat for five days, and because that we live on a boat and visit lots of beautiful islands, we didn't really feel the need for that. Instead we rather wanted to explore inland.
On our way back to Langkawi we had two days in Kuala Lumpur. It's our first visit to the city, but hopefully not the last. It's a cool city, relative compact and easy to get around, lots of contrasts (old and new), and some good shopping. Our hostel was right across from a huge H&M, how lucky was that! And we were also in walking distance from the computer and mobile phone mall, from where we spent lots of $$$ (yes, May is going to be very expensive). Pablo and Cassie happend to be in KL exaclty the same two days as us and stayed in a hotel just down the road from us, so of course we hung out some more with them, total bonus.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Guest blog post by visitor Cassie

Worth the wait, Cassie has kindly written a guest blog post from their visit on Sophia in the second half of April. Visitors are such a great reminder of how fantastic our cruising life is and Cassie's post below is a testimony to that. Thanks so much for coming to visit us and for writing this.

" I wanted freedom, open air and adventure. I found it on the sea " - Alaine Gerbault

With these words in mind, we set off for our own adventure on board SY Sophia!

Leaving behind the growing chilliness of Argentina and after re packing some summer essentials in Sydney we landed in the Malaysian night to a wall of humidity and boy did that make me happy! Astrid wasn't lying when she said 'no long pants or sleeves required!'

We awoke the next morning to a beautiful Langkawi morning, boats docked all around, the sound of water lapping at the boat, we were in heaven.
That same day we headed off to Thailand! I hadn't been onboard a yacht since Phil's Mum and Dad, Colleen and Ron had their old Beneteau cruising around the Whitsunday Islands and wasn't sure how this body was going to be on water again! Worse still was Pablo, being a mountain man rarely ever on water he had as I discovered been popping his sea sickness tablets from the night before! Luckily neither of us felt sick and we cruised happily into Lipe Island that evening.
Lipe was quintessential postcard Thailand! From the long boats, white sand beaches and azure blue waters it couldn't have looked more idyllic. We drank coconut and mango shakes, ate Pad Thai and curries and of course got our white untouched skin completely burnt! There is nothing better than being able to jump into sea water at any time the heat requires it!
We headed off in search of good snorkelling and weren't disappointed. On the other side of Lipe was beautiful coral reefs, full of vibrant fish and coloured anemones. We spent hours in these waters emerged in another world and time.
Exploring on Sophia opened up a whole new world of travel. There are places you can access and thing you can see are just not possible via land. We explored islands and trekked to waterfalls. We dove and swam and explored. We ate and drank and played too many games of Settlers of Catan! (Phil you are a monster!)
Its a wonderful world amongst this boating community, always there are welcoming neighbours to share stories and advice.. and not to mention recipes! Lucky for us we had the best cook around, Astrid is, as all the other boat families know, is a great cook! We were lucky to have fresh baked bread in the mornings and cakes for afternoon tea. (and thanks to Phil for being the best washer up around!)
After spending a blissful week or so around Thailand's wonderful islands and spending more time to the water than out, we headed back to Langkawi thoroughly toasted, salted and happy.
These two are living the dream! We enjoyed our time on Sophia so much and I in particular have been re inspired to pursue this lifestyle in the future! (currently familiarising myself with all things catamaran!)

Thankful to have such a great cousin in Phil and he in turn having such a great girlfriend in Astrid! Thank you both for the weeks of wonderful adventures and opening up your gorgeous home on the water to us! We will be seeing you soon, very very soon!

Cassa and Pablo

Thursday, 15 May 2014

April's cruising expenses for Thailand and Malaysia

This post is way overdue, but my old laptop packed up. I finally got a new one now, and yes, therefore May will be an expensive one!

April's expenses came in at NZ$ 1,104, so pretty average. It was atypical in that we had visitors for two weeks, Cassie and Pablo, and they kindly paid for several of our meals out, which probably explains why groceries is higher than eating out. Only other thing to note is how much more expensive laundry is in Malaysia compared to Thailand.