Thursday, 28 January 2010

Happenings 2020 Number 17

Thailand Revisited

We returned to Malaysia on 1st. December, from where, ten days later “Envy” threw off her lines and sailed up to Phuket, Thailand for Christmas and the next 3 months.

Returning to Rebak

But all of a sudden things went terribly wrong. On day three in Chalong, Phuket while doing engine room maintenance, at anchor, Bruce accidentally broke off a thru-hull ball valve and sea water was flooding into the boat.

Fortunately friends were anchored nearby and, as Bruce sat there covering the hole with his hands, Audrey summoned help and we managed to smother the opening with quick drying marine putty, after which Bruce dived under the hull and jammed a wooden bung into the hole. The heartbeat rate was fairly racing there for a while!!

We were able to motor-sail up in strong headwinds to Phuket’s Boat Lagoon Marina where “Envy” now safely sits in a cradle on the hardstand awaiting this and several other maintenance jobs when the trades people return after New Year.

Meanwhile we’ve hired a Suzuki Jeep and will join yachtie friends for a beach BBQ Christmas Lunch in a pretty little bay on the other side of Phuket Island. So all is not lost by any means.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Happenings 2009 Number 15

“The Quiet Year?!”

Wow; for what was planned as a quiet year, all of a sudden 2009 became quite different!

It’s been another full year for the ‘Envy’ crew with mostly land travel and much less sailing. So here’s our story for 2009.

Having spent Christmas 2008 in Australia, January 2009 finds Bruce and Audrey visiting friends in QLD, NSW and VIC, then across to New Zealand before returning to the boat in Langkawi, Malaysia early March, as reported in “Happenings 14”.

Three weeks later we’re sailing, with very little wind, through Thailand’s southern islands up to Phuket, where we’ll spend just one short month mixing maintenance with leisure. Phuket boatyards offer the best marine services by far within this SE Asian area, so we had ‘Envy’s’ parquetry flooring totally refurbished to look like new.

‘Envy’ enroute to Thailand

We then take a ten day island hopping cruise back to Rebak Marina, Langkawi where, following a similar period layover, “Envy” moves on 70nm down to Penang.

Bruce had designed a new ‘NV’ boat logo and Penang offered the opportunity to have it drawn up professionally. For those who don’t know, ‘Envy’ derives from our names Napier (N) & Vidgen (V) – NV, with no connection to one of the “7 Cardinal Sins”.

New 'Envy' Logo and Boat Card

Exotic Penang offers much to tourists and is a favourite destination with its colourful cultural mix of Chinese, Indians and Malays, its excellent food and fine old architecture. Here we hire a car and stay in a friend’s vacant hillside unit with its sea views for three weeks while our Queensland expat author friend is away visiting Cambodia. His bright, airy unit is a welcome change from our less spacious boat, safely moored in the marina.

‘Yum Cha’ in Penang with Neil & Ley

Back in home-base Rebak Marina again we decide to circumnavigate Langkawi Island and spend time with yachtie friends in the lovely sandy northern anchorage at Tanjung Rhu, with its small fish farm incorporating a modest floating seafood restaurant. From here we went by dinghy for an exploratory day trip through the narrow tidal channels to the ‘Hole-in-the-Wall’, a protected ‘mangrove alley’ anchorage some 10 km distant.

Exploring ‘Hole in the Wall’

By now it’s July and the stormy SW monsoon ‘wet season’ is starting and we’re back in the marina for a quiet off-season, with no travel plans. But plans are prone to change.

We made a spur-of-the-moment decision to make a two month’s visit to Great Britain and departed Malaysia with Emirates on Sunday 26 July to Newcastle, England, via Dubai. We spent 52 wonderful days touring extensively through much of England and Scotland visiting relatives, friends, and attending Audrey’s cousin’s wedding in Gloucestershire.

Audrey hadn’t seen her aunt & uncle (Elspeth &Denbigh) and cousins in over 40 years and it was the “highlight of the decade” to catch up at last with these wonderfully lovely ‘rellies’; the whole clan had gathered together to celebrate Phoebe’s 21st birthday and Alex & Susannah’s wedding.

With Elspeth & Denbigh at the Wedding

Alex and Susannah

the Wright family – our hosts for the Wedding

During our seven weeks’ visit we enjoyed the luxury of having 3 vacant cottages/units to ourselves, all in superb tourist locations. Derek Brittain’s lovely cottage in Stockton, North Yorkshire (Captain Cook country), the Gregson’s hilltop ‘Rose Cottage’ in scenic Bradwell, Derbyshire and the Scott’s cosy unit overlooking a golf course in Edinburgh, in addition to staying with relatives and friends for the balance of our 51 nights, spending only a single night’s stay in a sea-front B&B in Kent; our total accommodation cost being ₤52 (A$ 104) for the entire seven weeks holiday.

Roman Baths – Bath

and View from ‘Rose Cottage’

Derbyshire Countryside

South-West England Farmaland

I can see you!!

Our new little red rented Nissan took us 4441mls (7400km) from the English Channel up through much of southern, western and northern England, including the Lakes District, and on up to the Isle of Skye off Scotland’s west coast; the Edinburgh unit was a great base, from which we both retraced our Scottish lowlands heritage as well as touring up the east coast for some distance, including a visit to famous St. Andrews Golf Club.

Highlights were multiple; they included the charm of old towns, thatched-roofed villages, picturesque country lanes, the history of Oxford and Bath, the English canal systems with their boats, the absolute splendour of the Derbyshire countryside, the scenic Cumbrian Lakes and Yorkshire moors, traditional fish and chips, visiting Capt Cook country, and the grandeur of the Scottish highlands to name a few.

Built 1434 - almost 600 years old and Whitby Harbour of Capt. Cook fame

Nelson’s Victory- Portsmouth and Heather in Bloom, Yorkshire Moors

Stunning Cumbrian Farmland and York minster Cathedral

one of several Vidgen Tombstones in New Romney

We visited “Kerfield” in Peebles, the splendid estate previously owned by Audrey’s Napier grandparents, the huge house since divided into two and both the lovely owners welcomed us in, showing us through this grand house. Everywhere we went the people we met made it all so very special.

"Kerfield", Peebles

Both the Napiers and Vidgens share interesting Scottish/English ancestry. Audrey’s great -great maternal grandfather, John Houlding, owned a Liverpool Brewery and played a leading role in establishing both the now famous Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs, and we were both treated like royalty when we visited the Liverpool Club and its great Museum. Audrey was the first descendent of their revered founder they had ever met!

At the Liverpool Football Club's Museum, John Houlding

We also had the pleasure of an overnight stay once again with my Jardine relatives, the newly appointed Clan Chief, young Sir William and his mother Lady Mary Jardine, and also visited two Jardine ancestral castles in their Lockerbie homelands.

Jardine’s ancestoral 'Spedlins Castle'

A special highlight was our trip driving up through the marvelously scenic Scottish highlands to visit our long-standing dear friend Sheena Scott at Kylerhea on the Isle of Skye, whom we hadn't seen in years, and in whose cosy Edinburgh unit we stayed; we've known Sheena since she and Audrey worked together in Brisbane 30 years ago.

Sadly, her author/photographer husband Alastair was away sailing back from Iceland, but we had four fabulous days of both recounting and making memories. A month more would still have been too short a visit.

with Sheena at Arroch Cottage, Kylerhea and Midge season in Skye

view from Arroch overlooking Sound of Sleat

The UK summer weather was quite good and all too soon we find ourselves returning to Langkawi, Malaysia, where we arrived back on “Envy” late at night on 17 September, ever grateful to Derek Brittain and Edith whose invitation to use his North Yorkshire cottage to visit "Capt. Cook country" was the catalyst that caused this most memorable and joyous event.

Farewell to Derek and Edith
our generous hosts for our ‘home base’ in Nth Yorkshire