Friday, April 29, 2011

Welcoming our new arrival

Breaking news - Finn's gecko (Pete) has hatched! I can't include a photo as currently he is very shy and hiding in his enclosure. He has so far shed his skin and eaten it, but now it's up to the boys to catch insects for him to hunt and eat. They are very excited and the bug-catcher is being used frequently. Seth's egg appears to be a dud, poor thing.

Still on Tioman Island - such a beautiful place that it is proving hard to leave. We intend to look for appropriate weather window in a week's time, or thereabouts, to head over to Borneo. Here we have been swimming, snorkelling, jungle-trekking, watching large monitor lizards, spotting monkeys, enjoying mojitos and pizza on the beach. Last night I watched the royal wedding in a beach bar, with a large crowd of international commentators. The general UN consensus was that the bridesmaid outshone the bride.

The island is covered in tracks cut through the jungle and we've had a number of walks to other beaches and even across the island. Very sweaty but worth the effort. Scott made himself a hammock (being tested by the boys, above) which he takes ashore to tie between two trees, for naps in between the guitar playing that he and Ole have been doing (also above). All very idyllic, really.

It's a marine national park here so we haven't been trying to catch any fish, though the large coral trout swimming around have been sorely tempting. Finn has swum through little families of clown fish ( Nemo fish) and saw his first sea snake. Sorry that this sounds like an advert for paradise. We are so lucky to be here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Island of the dragon princess

We are happily on Tioman Island, the largest of a small island group some 100 miles up the Eastern side of peninsular Malaysia. Legend has it that a Chinese dragon princess was flying over these waters to her wedding when she changed her mind, taken with the beauty of the scene, and instead curled her tail about her and became Tioman Island. Tioman is lush and beautiful, with many low-key resorts, diving schools and clear water.

We've yet again found ourselves in a small marina for a few days as Scott had to replace the alternator bracket (without which we cannot make power). This has meant many trips backwards and forwards to the little workshop he tracked down, where they were able to make him a new bracket. We've been catching up on school (please don't anybody tell the boys that it is technically school holidays) and I've been loving the chance to go for some early morning runs around the great hills and jungle tracks. The local eateries are good and cheap and we can get to the best beaches easily by dinghy – much too hot to walk in the heat of the day.

We've been doing lots of research into the next part of our journey – some 350 nautical miles across the South China Sea to Borneo. For those of you that need to look it up ( I won't tell you where I thought Borneo was until we started planning this trip), Borneo is the Malaysian West/ North part of the island and Kalimantan (Indonesian) makes up the South/ Eastern part. Brunei is a tiny independent country squeezed into Borneo on the West coast.

We're waiting for the right weather to present itself, though we are not expecting to actually be able to sail – a rare occurrence in South East Asia. What we are hoping for is not too much wind blowing in the wrong direction! Once we get there we'll be exploring the region of Sarawak for a few weeks, including the great Rajang River that will take us 70 miles inland to the city of Sibu. From there, North towards Brunei and Kota Kinabalu in the region of Sabah. Again, rivers to explore and hopefully jungle to traverse. Will keep you posted. The areas we're going into are far less visited than everywhere we've been so far. We'll be travelling with our friends on Red Boomer, which we're all looking forward to. In some places it's not wise to leave the boat unattended and having a larger group will make things easier.

A small plug - for those of you in Australia, we have another article coming out in Multihull World in the beginning of May and I think one in June in the UK version by a similar name.

For those of you who have been on tenterhooks since the last blog - the washing machine, now known as Steve Austin, is behaving nicely. The geckos still show no signs of hatching. How long is the incubation time for geckos?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Glossy Singapore

Since our last entry we've been in marina- world, both in Malaysia (Admiral Marina in Port Dickson) and in Singapore (One15 Marina on Sentosa Island). It's not possible to anchor anywhere in Singapore and so marinas are the only option. I love Singapore, with its gloss and high organisation. It's hot and sticky, of course, but whilst plugged in we can run the air conditioner and there's nothing finer than coming home after a long day of trudging the streets to a cool boat. The pool here at One 15 is also rather wonderful and there is a fully equipped gym, which I have managed to use every day. Ah the luxury!

Anyway, despite the sheen of Singapore appealing to my nature, we were here for the serious business of obtaining Visas for our onward journey. We have now secured our Visas for Indonesia and also Papua New Guinea, which is excellent news. The man at the PNG consulate was very helpful (and also rather lonely, I think, in his quiet little outpost on the 4th floor of an office block) and was able to give us our Visa six months in advance. The Indonesian Embassy was full of masses of people queuing each time we visited - there's a great deal of activity over the border between the two countries and much local labour here is Indonesian.

Scott had a lovely few days exploring the innards of my ailing washing machine, which managed to go up in smoke (not ideal on a boat) this week. He walked all over Singapore trying to find a replacement that would fit in the locker and when that failed he went on a further quest for spare parts. He then spent two days dismantling the whole thing - I think the thought of my miserable face anticipating 6 months of washing by hand was enough to spur him on. Anyway, clever man that he is, we now have the Bionic Man of washing machines awaiting my dirty laundry.

From here, we'll head up the East coast of the Malaysian peninsular and explore the Tioman Islands before cutting across the 400+ miles into darkest Borneo. I'm not sure why Borneo is reputedly so dark - any ideas anyone?

The school work is going well. We generally don't take school holidays as the boys have so many days off to do fun stuff anyway, so it's straight into Term 2 in the next couple of days. Yesterday I went against my nature and took the boys to Sentosa Island to the Luge - I generally try to avoid Designated Child Focussed Activities Including Expensive Rides but sometimes one has to do these things. They enjoyed it - I was nearly sick. Scott was still communing with the washing machine so managed to avoid it.

More soon. We can be tracked on the Yot Reps site at the following address: