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angkawi, Malaysia and Taratao, Butangs, Phuket, Thailand in Asia

A Cruise around Langkawi - by Caroline Thompsett

Here be Dragons

I feel incredibly sad that my week sailing and cruising onboard Meniscus is at an end - but also unbelievably relaxed - a quite different person who boarded a week ago, rather anxious and unsure what to expect. I certainly didn't expect such perfectly delicious and healthy food and such a laid-back skipper. My worry about being five minutes late at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club seems ludicrous now. We were three onboard. Mark, John a designer and lecturer from London and me, a stressed out anaesthetist - a rather incongruous mix, but we all worked well together and downed a surprising amount of gin (strictly after hours) that facilitated some intensely detailed discussions on design and marketing.

Setting off from Kuah we turned west around the coastline to spend an afternoon and overnight in a sheltered cove with a protecting islet. At least a dozen sea eagles circled overhead while we explored the shore, in the dinghy which had been nibbled into entrances of numerous caves. Inside stalactites and bats hung down amongst the enormous spiders webs - quite spooky. After a swim around the boat we were introduced to the intricacies of water conservation onboard - a spray bottle to rinse off the salt water.

A Bramany Kite Caroline

Next day we continued up the coast looking for an inlet marking the mouth of a mangrove lined navigable river seeded with fish farms. My first efforts at navigation, some anxious moments with the depth sounder. Eventually we found the Kilim River and our success was crowned by the attendance of two pink Indo-Pacific Dolphins. Once moored we decided to explore by dinghy. First a tiny tributary of the river thickly blanked by mangroves with enormous hanging fruits and heavy scent. Cutting the motor we immersed ourselves in the strange sounds of the swamp, bird cries, monkey calls and snapping twigs before reluctantly starting the outboard again and turning back. Aswan the 13 year old son of the fish farms owner insisted on showing us his as he fed them on fish scraps. The sight of his skinny wrist disappearing into the maw of a giant sting ray was distinctly unnerving.

"Just ten minutes by dinghy up river." An interesting trip in the pitch dark leaving a bright trail of phosphorescence in our wake - but worth it to try some local fish and prawns.

Buffalo Bath Labuanbajo

Off to Tarutao - More navigation exercises, more sailing, more discussions and a bit of a haze. Next day an unforgettable experience learning to snorkel in the Butang Islands. Clear water, mixed coral reef, giant blue clams and brightly coloured fish. White sugary sand shaded by huge broad leaved trees. Back on the boat the monkeys we saw on the rocks seemed unreal.

It was a long motor sail cruising back into the wind to reach Rebak Marina. Utterly exhausted, hot and sticky, I found mooring time in a marina most unnerving. Once it was over no force on earth could have kept me from heading straight for the hot showers. The Rebak Marina resort was so beautiful and so perfectly designed and stylish that John instantly decided to book himself in for a few days before he left the island.

Sunset over Lombok Tony and Brenda

Our last day of sailing manoeuvres in the bay ended with a trip ashore and a modified pub crawl along the beach at Pantai Cenigan and Pantia Tengah. Until the dinghy disappeared. Pausing only to down our Margaritas in one gulp and throw 20 ringit at the bemused bar staff, we legged it down the beach to dimly see a possible dinghy shape floating out to sea. Who suggested that you steal another dinghy to retrieve ours while I waited onshore to deal with any objections. An unforgettable experienced - really the icing on the cake.

"A thousand thanks - I've had a great week!"

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Yacht Charters, Sailing Holidays,, Sailing and Cruising

angkawi, Malaysia and Taratao, Butangs, Phuket, Thailand in Asia

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