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Words from Tulu

Words from Tulu

These are the words and musings of Chris and Sara as they pursue their dream of sailing away on their catamaran called TULU

Keep up! What are we doing now?

Uncategorised Posted on Sat, July 27, 2019 20:08:39

A good question….three years on and we are………visit and find out.

Farewell TULU

Sailing Posted on Sat, August 20, 2016 11:15:00

On our return from our land travels it was time to clear our personal ‘stuff’ and deliver Tulu to Langkawi in Malaysia where she will be handed over to her new owner (you cannot sell a foreign boat in Thailand). We sold bits, gave away more bits, threw away even more bits and left most of the non-personal things on board. We packed what we really wanted to take home into 4 checkin plus one excess bags – not easy!

We checked the boat out of Thailand with customs and immigration, and left Phuket Yacht Haven to sail to Langkawi. We had good wind, rather big seas and luckily not too much rain and arrived safely in Telaga Marina a couple of days later. At 9am on Thursday 18th August we said our sad farewells to the boat that has carried us most of the way round the world – very emotional!

From Langkawi we drove back to Phuket from where we fly home (we already had the ticket – it’s just now one-way).

Having lived on board Tulu for the last six years it was never going to be easy to sell her (emotionally) but the deal is done and we can now move on to our next project of getting a barge to cruise the inland waterways of Europe. In the meantime we shall be living in Fowey in Cornwall, spending lots of time with family (if they’ll have us) and reestablishing our feet on dry land – but not for too long……..

As the pages and photo gallery of this website shows we have been to some wonderful places, met great people, and made some very special friends. We’ve learnt a lot (I hope) and loved life as cruisers. This will be our last post in this story – thanks for tuning in!

Chris and Sara xx

Land travels in Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar

Ashore Posted on Sat, August 20, 2016 11:08:08

As the rain poured and it was very hot and humid in Phuket, we left Tulu safely tucked away in Phuket Yacht Haven whilst we travelled to Cambia and Vietnam for three weeks. We started in Phnom Pen where we learned about the brutality and cruelty of the Pol Pot regime. Visits to the killing fields and S21 prison were sobering experiences. Then on to Siem Reap and the ancient temples of Angkor and the surrounding area. The most iconic of these being the extraordinary Angkor Wat. Whilst there, a visit to a land mine museum which runs a school and orphanage, made us realise that Cambodia still lives under a terrible legacy of the atrocities of war.

In Vietnam we started in the south with Ho Chi Min city, the Mekong Delta and visited the Cu Chi tunnels, another relic of the long years of war in Vietnam. We had a lovely couple of days in pretty Hoi An halfway up the long east coast and then flew up to the island of Cat Bar near the famous limestone castes of Ha Long bay. Our last stop was Hanoi staying in the heart of the old city and paid homage in the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Min. A performance of the famous water puppets was a definite highlight along with Vietnams delicious street food (that is Sara’s view – not shared by Chris sadly).

Whilst we were away, Tulu was on the market and various viewings and interest was rather a distraction. Not long after we got back to Tulu we received a very fair offer for her which we felt would be foolish to refuse. All of a sudden our time on Tulu was drawing to a close. We had our trip to Myanmar booked and paid for so we negotiated a handover of the boat on our return.

Myanmar is a beautiful country just opening up to tourism in the last few years following many years of oppression under strict and corrupt military rule. We flew to the relatively new city of Mandalay on the banks of the Ayerawaddy (Irrawaddy to us) River and visited all manner of Buddhist temples and small workshops. The river was in severe flood and many homes and villages in the area were inundated so countless people were camping in makeshift shelters along the roadsides along with their animals waiting for the water to subside.

From Mandalay we travelled by road to Monwya – more temples and rural way of life – then to Bagan, a visually stunning area with over 3000 pagodas – either temples, stupa or monasteries (I won’t bore you with the difference), many dating back to the 11th-13th century. Efforts have been made to restore many of them (an earthquake in 1975 did a lot of damage) but the restoration has not always been done very sympathetically. From Bagan we went to my favourite area – Inle Lake. We stayed in a lovely hotel on the lake and visited all the sights by open motorboat. We got a real insight into the way of life of the lake people with their stilt houses, floating gardens, interesting markets, craft workshops and not too many temples (well, everything is relative). Our last stop was in Yangon (formerly Rangoon). A brief visit, mostly in the rain, but plenty of time to see more temples and Buddhas in various poses – we did have to admit that although we were rather ‘templed out’ the huge temple of Shwedagon, the largest in Myanmar, was pretty spectacular!

Myanmar was well worth a visit – the people are delightful. They don’t have a lot but it seemed that nobody went hungry. The country is rich in natural resources and is very fertile. As it opens up to the world at large, let’s hope it doesn’t get spoiled. After 11 days away it was time to return to Tulu for the last time to prepare her for transfer to her new owner.

UK for spring 2016

Ashore Posted on Fri, June 17, 2016 10:23:39

We had a wonderful time in the UK and, despite the very wet winter and late spring, we felt that the notorious British weather was fairly kind to us. On the most important day of our trip, Jonno and Bex’s wedding, the sun certainly shone. Our elder son, Jonathan married his gorgeous girlfriend of many years in the pretty village of Fulbeck in Lincolnshire where Bex was brought up. It was a very special, relaxed and happy day shared with friends and family and we could not be more delighted to have Bex in the family.

We did the inevitable traveling around the country, but were also able to get some decent stretches in Fowey where we were able to unpack for a while and do some lovely walks in the spring sunshine – Fowey at its best! Mind you, it also gave us time to contemplate and think about what we do and where we go next. We do like living on Tulu in Thailand, but we are not sure if we want to stay too long. Our options would be to sail to through the Red Sea to the Med (too risky in our view), ship Tulu to Turkey (too expensive) or sail to South Africa, round the Cape and back across to the Caribbean (another few years and still a long way from home). We now feel that the time is right to get a bit closer to home and we are very keen to spend time in Europe. Despite this, we are not ready to give up boating yet so we have made the decision to try to sell Tulu in Asia and, if we succeed, to buy a barge in which we will cruise the inland waterways of Europe. To this end we did spend quite a bit of our visit home looking at various options and watched, over several visits, a barge being built by Bluewater Boats in Warwickshire. We also took an overnight trip to view a barge in Belgium and visited the WWI trenches and the Menin Gate in Ypres. A new build by Bluewater is our most likely choice.

We are now back in Phuket for the antifouling, polishing and servicing of Tulu before she was launched back in the water. We have been out at anchor for a bit, but are primarily in Phuket Yacht Haven marina. It is the rainy season (and oh my how it rains here!) so we are quite happy fixing all the little niggles that we have put up with and sprucing her up for her to be put on the market with a couple of brokers. That done, we are now going to take the opportunity to do some land travel and head off to Cambodia and Vietnam next week.

Who knows whether we shall manage to sell Tulu here, but we shall give it a go. Watch this space……..

Phuket, Thailand

Sailing Posted on Thu, March 03, 2016 10:17:49

Oh dear, we have been in Phuket, Thailand for nearly three months and this is the first time that we have put pen to paper – or should I say fingers to keyboard.

We spent our first week finding our way around before the kids arrived to spend Christmas with us on Tulu. Will and Charlotte arrived as scheduled but poor Jonno and Bex were delayed until the next morning thanks to a delay in Abu Dhabi – they were barely given a chance to unpack before we set off in an airconditioned (very welcome) minibus for a sightseeing tour of Phuket island. The rest of our 11 days together was spent out on the water on Tulu with the punctuation of Christmas Eve and Day which we spent with Tracy and Jonny – Charlottes mother and brother. On Christmas eve we took them out on Tulu, spent the night anchored off their resort, then had Christmas Day in the luxurious Six Senses Resort and Spa on Koh Yau Noi. Prior to that we had investigated the karsts and hongs of Phang Nga Bay (see photo gallery) and then we made our way around the south of Phuket and up the west coast to Nai Yang Beach just south of the airport where we were able to drop the kids on the beach to take a very short taxi ride to the airport. Their departure came all too soon – we had such fun paddle boarding, sampling the local food, swimming, beach massages, evenings playing Mexican train dominoes and generally relaxing and catching up on each others lives.

After a couple of weeks break, Judy (Sara’s sister) and her partner Barry joined us for 5 days at the end of their 3 month tour of Indochina, then Rog (Sara’s brother) and his wife Lou joined us for 2 weeks followed by Simon and Elaine for another 5 days. It was lovely to have such good friends and family with us – quite a contrast to the last two years when visitors have been very few and far between.

We have had some great sailing around Phuket and found some lovely spots. The west coast – despite the great beaches – is very crowded with jetskis and speed boats buzzing around and landing the dingy ashore can be challenging at times. Towards the Krabi coast on the mainland to the east, the scenery and the water is stunning, but again full of long-tails, the local boats which have truck engines (no silencers) with unprotected props on the end of very long shafts that they swing around to maneuver – they have to be seen and heard to be believed!

With Rog and Lou we were able to venture further afield down to Koh Lanta and Koh Muk further south where we found much quieter and clearer waters. With Simon and Elaine we spent our time in Phang Nga Bay amongst the spectacular cliffs of the karst limestone and investigating the caves and hongs (literally translated in Thai as “room”) where the roofs of vast caves have collapsed to create quite amazing natural spaces.

It has been over 20 years since we last came to Phuket and although the Thai people are still as friendly, the food still as tasty and the beaches still as beautiful, there is the inevitable enormous increase in the number of tourists and the infrastructure to support them. Despite that we are very comfortable in Thailand. We have plans to do some overland travel later in the year when we return from the UK.

As I write this we have just hauled Tulu out of the water and she will stay on dry land for three months whilst we go home to catch up with family and friends and most importantly celebrate Jonno and Bex’s wedding in April.

Malaysia West Coast

Sailing Posted on Sat, December 12, 2015 00:56:23

We decided that although we had been in a rally for the last four months we would join the ‘Sail Malaysia rally passage to Langkawi’ which started just after our arrival in Johur. The timing fitted well with our aim of being in Thailand by mid December and it was a good way to have a first look at what the west coast of Malaysia has to offer from a yachting perspective. Unlike in Indonesia this rally went from marina to marina with five stops in a month – we joined rather loosely – often making our own way and dipping in and out of the tours and dinners as we felt inclined. We had rather had our fill of cultural dances and buffet dinners by this stage and we soon realised that, although Malaysia is rather more organised and grownup than Indonesia (or so they like to think), there are many similarities .- to our surprise the language is virtually identical, Sara’s efforts to learn Bahasa were not wasted, although the level of english in Malaysia is excellent.

As we made our way up the coast we were appalled by the amount of rubbish and debris in the water. Sailing at night was quite hazardous so we tried to stick to day sailing if the distances between safe anchorages permitted. There are so many fishing boats laying nets, pots and trawling that it is hard to believe there are any fish left in the sea and the hundreds of boats moving in mostly unpredictable patterns made navigation quite a challenge.

Although the Malacca Straits coast of Malaysia was not particularly interesting and the water not very clear, we took the opportunity to take a day trip to Kuala Lumpur and spent a night in Melaka which is steeped in history. We were very excited to reach Penang where Chris had travelled several times on business and we had holidayed as a family when we lived in Hong Kong. Although it had changed quite a bit in the last 25 years the old part of George Town was largely the same and we thoroughly enjoyed exploring properly – its history and culture sharing much with Malacca. We had a wonderful morning on a Heritage and Taste bicycle tour of George Town. Our guide Ken was a real character and led us through the back streets on our ‘sit up and beg’ bikes whilst he blasted music from his mini ghetto blaster (or modern equivalent). The music ranged from Billy Joel, Elvis, Beatles to Celine Dion and the Gangham Style song. It was only the two of us and Ken so at junctions it was no problem, he put up his hand, blew his whistle repeatedly and the traffic stopped (mostly). We explored the Chinese clan jetties, Kongsi clan houses, temples, mosques, markets, street art and visited the Hong Kong Shoe Store where Jimmy Choo learned his trade and they still hand make shoes. We had breakfast of various rotis, visited the local market and then sampled Penang specialities such as Koay Teow and Penang laksa. Amazingly not once did Chris complain about riding the bike (not that the distances we that big). Penang was every bit as special as we remembered it and we look forward to sailing back down next year to explore further.

The same held for our next and final stop in Malaysia, Langkawi and we are looking forward to returning. The surrounding bays and islands are beautiful and the water getting much cleaner so it was lovely to be swimming again although not clear enough to snorkel (that could be a seasonal thing due to the heavy rains). Langkawi is a duty free island making it a great place to take delivery of imported boat parts so we picked up new nets (tramps) ordered from the States and fitted them whilst there as the old ones were no longer safe to stand on. We did not have long in Langkawi before it was time to say farewell to our rally friends and dash up to Phuket, get checked in and start finding our way around before the kids join us for Christmas. Apart from David joining us for two weeks in August we have not had anyone on the boat since leaving Australia and its amazing how you fill the space you have, so its time to stow things properly and get rid of a lot of the “we’d better keep that just in case” stuff.

We are going to be based in a marina in Phuket for the next three months and cruising locally from there. We are looking forward to it as we have been on the move for quite a while. Jonno, Bex, Will and Charlotte will be with us over Christmas and to say that we are excited would be the understatement of the year…….

Who knows what 2016 will hold for us. We shall be home in the UK for 3 months around Jonno and Bex’s wedding in April and then plan to come home to visit again later in the year before it gets too cold – its certainly much easier to get home from here than it has been for the last couple of years.

Belitung, the Equator and arrival Malaysia

Sailing Posted on Wed, November 04, 2015 08:01:28

We arrived on the island of Belitung, back in a haze of smog. This would be our last chosen official rally stop, from where we would check out of Indonesia. Each day had a different level of smog and smoke as the winds changed and soon conditions improved. We had a great time as most of the fleet congregated to go through official paper work for either visa extensions or checkout procedures. We took a trip to the main town and drove into the centre of the island to find the worlds smallest monkey, the tarsius, an endangered species found and protected in this area (see photo gallery, it is really cute!). We also took our dingy, with cruiser friends, to the Dutch lighthouse a couple of miles from our anchorage. It is quite a structure which was fabricated in Holland and assembled in Belitung in the late 1800’s.

Once we were checked out of Indonesia we still had nearly three hundred miles to go to get to Singapore and Malaysia. We travelled in company with a couple of other boats, Champagne Charlie and Shakti and together with them we made a long two day and one night trip to South East Lingaa and then day hopped the remaining miles. The highlight of this trip was on 30th October when we crossed back into the northern hemisphere after 20 months and 2 days in the south. We celebrated with an equator swim and the compulsory tot of rum (or Bintang beer in Chris’ case) which was shared with Neptune of course! That evening we had a wacky fancy dress party on board to mark the occasion – a first equator crossing for Champagne Charlie.

A couple more night stops and we could see the Singapore skyline ahead. Luckily for us the NW monsoon seems to be kicking in, resulting in clearer skies and less smog – however several huge thunder storms have sent our ipads, sat phone, mobile phone, laptop etc into the microwave – the nearest thing we have to a Faraday cage. The rain that has come with the thunder storms has given Tulu a very welcome rinse – but we still cant wait to get into a marina for a proper boat wash!

As I write this we are crossing the shipping lanes in the Singapore straits making our way from Indonesia into Malaysia – our destination is Puteri marina near Johur Baru, not far from the causeway over to Singapore.

Our four month journey through Indonesia has been wonderful – smiling friendly people living mainly simple lives in a vast archipelago nation made up of thousands of islands covering an area that spans 3000 miles. Indonesia is one of the most highly populated countries in the world with the majority of the population being moslem but there are large hindu, buddhist and christian communities. Apparently half of the 300 million population is under 21 which might explain the number of children every where we went, all giggling, calling ‘hello Mister’ and staring at the white people and their boats, while of course wanting their photo taken. We have had an a amazing journey and unforgettable experiences, singing and dancing, motor bikes, fishing boats, bright colours, dust, volcanoes, forests and above all generous warm- hearted people. The camaraderie of our rally fleet with always someone to share a drink or help out with repairs has been a real pleasure.

Saying all that – we are now ready to leave nasi goreng and cumbersome bureaucracy behind for a while!

Terima karsi. Sampi jumpa!

As we prepare to post this we have just tied up in Puteri Marina, not far from Johor Bahru, Malaysia – across the straits from Singapore. Our first marina for 4 months – mains water and power, shops, bars, restaurants and civilisation…………off for and Indian curry.

Ketapang, West Kalimantan

Sailing Posted on Fri, October 23, 2015 02:36:31

In the original rally schedule our next stop should have been in Kumai in South Kalimantan where we were to take a trip up the river to see orangutans in the wild. Sadly we were advised to bypass this stop as the seemingly perpetual forest fires in that area were reducing visibility to dangerous levels and the smoke was reported to be really bad. Therefore our next stop, still on Borneo, was Ketapang in West Kalimantan. Although covered in a layer of smog and gloom, the smoke in this area was not so bad.

The anchorage was 3 miles up the Pawan river. As we arrived we radioed ahead and a police launch came to give us a blue-light escort up the river showing us the way between the sandbanks. As soon as we had anchored, which was not an easy task as the river was fast flowing with eddies and currents and changing winds, we were urged to go ashore. Each boat, or small group of boats, was greeted on the dock by a welcoming committee comprising a local beauty queen, various officials and guides and a local priest who daubed our feet with a white liquid to protect us while we were there. They then gave us local woven sashes, local delicacies to eat and performed a traditional dance.

The jetty on to which we tied our dinghies was jam packed with locals coming to look at the boats, everyone wanting to touch us and take our photo – the jostling was such that if we wanted to walk down the jetty we had to have “minders” clearing our path. We were the first western visitors on yachts to arrive in Ketapang and were such a curiosity for the people of the area. Knowing this we were amazed by the high level of english of our guides – most of whom were high school pupils who have learned english in school and from watching english movies and listening to western music – one of our guides we an avid fan of One Direction!!

The people of Kalimantan are a real cultural mix with at least six religions – the strong Malay influence was evident. The Dayak Indians are the indigenous people of Kalimantan and we were invited to visit a Dayak village. We were entertained with the traditions of the Dayak people at what turned out to be a wild and bizarre house party. For many of us the most memorable part (not necessarily a pleasant memory) was when one of the heavily painted, be-feathered tribesmen bit the head off a live chicken and then proceeded to eat the head and suck the blood from the beheaded bird. This was supposedly to give him strength, and in a trancelike state he and several others balanced on a frame of upturned machete blades. Several other rituals were performed in various states of stupor. Much music, dancing, shouting and eating – certainly different to anything else we’ve seen, and as it turned out many of our guides had not seen these rituals before.

International Animal Rescue have an orangutan rehabilitation centre in Ketapang. Although this is not normally open to the public, the ministry of tourism requested they allow small groups to visit the facility to find out about their work. It was really interesting with the aim of their work to relocate wild orangutan who are in danger from habitat loss (principally due to forest clearing and burning for the palm oil industry) or rescue young orangutan and put them through an education programme to allow them to be released, if not into the wild, into the semi wild. Whilst at the centre the only orangutans we were supposed to see where the ones in cages that are “lost causes” – meaning that they are beyond rehabilitation and will have to remain in captivity. We were lucky enough to see a young orangutan being carried from “jungle school” to the clinic as it was rather lethargic and need to be checked out by the vet. All the time we were near where the orangutans are housed we had to wear surgical masks for infection control and there was the ever present police escort. From the rescue centre we went to the urban swamp forest where we saw gibbon and proboscis monkeys and were dressed in Dayak costumes.

The visit to Ketapang was regally rounded off by a gala dinner at the Regent’s residence followed by much dancing – particularly for Sara as usual – even with the chief of police! The following morning we headed back down the river, happy to be leaving the smog behind us, but sad to say farewell to the lovely people of Ketapang…..

(Unknown to us we were not leaving the smoke behind – a seasonal hazard in western Indonesia)

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