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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

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……..

Australia Road Trip 2015

Ashore Posted on Thu, April 09, 2015 06:36:14

On our return to the boat from New Zealand we had barely a week in our own bed until we were off on our Australian road trip. This time we had four weeks in which we planned to drive from Brisbane to Adelaide, fly to Alice Springs and then from Alice fly back to Brisbane. With such a vast country we were barely going to scratch the surface but we had a great trip covering many miles (sorry, kilometers) punctuated by visiting or meeting up with old friends.

From Brisbane we headed south down the coast towards Sydney calling in at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast – high rise hotels and apartment blocks behind the long stretches of sand beaches onto which the waves roll and surfers play. We stopped for lunch in Byron Bay and spent nights in the cute town of Yamba and then Coff’s Harbour. Crossing the border from Queensland into New South Wales we had to change our clocks by an hour for daylight savings. The coastline here stretches for miles with long beautiful sandy beaches interspersed by headlands on most of which stands a lighthouse.

We had a wonderful weekend staying with Erica (whom we met in Panama) in beautiful Palm Beach, a peninsular to the north of Sydney – better known to many as Summer Beach in Home and Away (sad but true). The weather was not at its best but we hiked up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse where we were nearly blown away – literally, and caught up with other cruising friends, Maggie and Peter on Shamara and generally had a very relaxing time with Erica and her friends. We then moved into the city for a couple of days of downtown sightseeing and an afternoon catching up with Martin Cowley, a colleague of Chris’ from our HK days – in fact the only time Sara had previously been to Sydney was for Martin and Jane’s wedding in the early ‘90s.

From Sydney it was on to Melbourne where the wedding theme continued as we stayed with Sally and Robert Green for whom Sara was bridesmaid in 1972!! We were undecided whether to drive along the coast between Sydney and Melbourne or whether to head inland via Canberra and the mountains. In the end we decided to stick to the coastal route – you would think we see enough of the sea but we definitely feel a strange draw to the water. South of Sydney in Jervis Bay are some wonderful beaches where the sand is as white as we’ve seen anywhere, and we swam at Hyams beach which claims to have the worlds whitest sand. Bush walks in Booderee National Park, picnic or coffee stops in Kiama, by Tuross Lake, Tilda and a visit to Buchan Caves – spectacular limestone caves just over the border into Victoria, all added to make it an interesting journey with nights in Vincentia, Merimbula and Taralgon. We saw lots of grey kangaroos around the Buchan Caves and before reaching Melbourne we went to Phillip Island where we paid a visit to the Koala Conservation Centre – they really are rather cute!

We had intended to go to the first of the quarter finals of the World Cup Cricket in which we thought England were bound to feature, but due to their appalling performance and not qualifying, we decided to scrap that idea. However we had a lovely time in Melbourne where we were made most welcome by Robert and Sally in their home in Sandringham. Dinner in their yacht club and a beautiful day around the Mornington Peninsular with lunch in the idyllic setting of Montalto Winery followed by a day in the city ‘doing the sights’. Melbourne is a lovely, green city with really elaborate buildings built on the gold-rush of the late 1800’s and many modern facilitates and venues for the arts and sport – all very close to the city centre.

Between Melbourne and Adelaide is the Great Ocean Road, built by soldiers returning form WWI in tribute to the comrades they lost. This stretch of coastline is simply spectacular – to the east are a number of world class surf beaches and then as you go west you see amazing features – stacks, caves and arches formed by the pounding Southern Ocean. Probably the best known of these would be the Twelve Apostles (there are no longer twelve) and London Bridge – an arch that collapsed in 1990 – take a look at the photos in the gallery. All along this coastline there have been numerous shipwrecks several of which are around the pretty town of Port Fairy where we stayed for a night. The weather was particularly stormy so we saw some vicious waves – we, for once, were very pleased to be on land. Other nights along this coast were spent in Apollo Bay and Mount Gambier and then we arrived in Adelaide, South Australia.

Adelaide seemed a relatively sleepy city, big wide streets with not that much traffic. We had a good look around the centre, took the tram to Glenelg on the coast and spent a day in the Barossa valley – now I know where so many of the familiar wines come from! Chris very gallantly drove whilst Sara sampled the produce – extensively!

The last part of our Australian trip was to the Red Centre which took us by air to Alice Springs – well that truly took us away from the coast. We hired a car and went out to the West MacDonnell Ranges to see the rich red cliffs of deep gorges, dry river beds, ochre pits from which the aboriginals get the red, white and yellow pigments, and Sara was able to take a dip in a refreshing waterhole (no crocs here). We visited the Alice Springs Telegraph Station (formerly called Stuart) where the telegraph line joining Adelaide and Darwin was completed in 1872. We then drove almost 500 km to Uluru (Ayers Rock). We stayed in the Ayers rock resort (only option but with all levels of accommodation) for two nights so we were able to see Uluru at sunset and sunrise. Our arrival coincided with a visit to Uluru by Faye and Stewart, friends from Hong Kong, and their daughter Georgina who we hadn’t seen since she was a baby – it was great to have a good catchup. Sadly there was complete cloud cover and it actually rained so there was no sunset – thank goodness we were staying for a second night so that we could witness the gorgeous rich red colours of the rock as the sun dips towards the horizon. The sunrise was equally spectacular and definitely worth rising early for. We took the opportunity of being up early to walk the 10.6km around the base of Uluru before it got too hot.

Uluru is a truly immense red rock as it protrudes into the flat landscape – it is incredible to think that it sticks up 450m above ground, but extends 5 or 6 km underground – one single monolith! About 30 km to the west of Uluru is the lesser known Kata Tjuta – a number of massive domes that again dominate the otherwise flat landscape.

Back to Alice and a flight on to Brisbane and our trip was at an end. We certainly covered a huge number of miles, had a great time and saw some wonderful areas of Australia, but we realise there is so much more to see – we are looking forward to seeing some of that as we sail north to and beyond the Great Barrier Reef.

In some ways it was a shame that our UK, New Zealand and Australian trips were so close together – but we had to make use of the cyclone season when we were not sailing – all were fabulous experiences but we are really pleased to now be back on board Tulu – our mobile home and look forward to not having to pack a bag or sleep in a strange bed for a while……..


Ashore Posted on Mon, March 09, 2015 10:25:48

How do you see, experience and get a feel for a country with as much to offer as New Zealand in just 6 weeks? Well…. we certainly gave it a good try. Armed with advice and suggestions from Kiwi cruising friends (and a few others), we decided to split our time one third in the North Island and two thirds in the South, hiring a car and staying in motels and B&Bs. This was interspersed with some very fine Kiwi hospitality from David and Brenda who had arrived home in Marlborough having crossed the Pacific in their yacht Bandit at the same time as us last year, and Doug and Hils in Geraldine.

We flew into Auckland and after a couple of days having a look around (the old America’s Cup boats were a particular attraction), headed north to the Bay of Islands, a very popular area for sailing and where many of our fellow cruisers are spending the Pacific’s cyclone season. Whilst there we visited the Waitangi Treaty grounds where the treaty between the Maoris and English was signed in 1840. Although relatively recent, the history of New Zealand is very interesting with its whaling, sealing and logging industries along with gold mining coming and going in several areas. Along side all of this is the relationship between the Maoris and European settlers – not always a comfortable one.

We drove down the west coast through the Waipoua Forest, home to the ancient giant Kauri trees, and then to the Coromandel Peninsular with its beautiful sandy beaches. From there we went to Rotorua – famous for the geothermal valley of Whakarewarewa with its bubbling mud pools, geysers and hot springs – in fact the entire area of Rotorua is littered with them along with the suphurous smell! This area is rather touristy – Hobbitton is not far away – but fascinating nevertheless. With guidance from our B&B hosts we went for some beautiful walks in the surrounding countryside which was very quiet.

Out to the Bay of Plenty and Napier, the Art Deco capitol of NZ. Napier was flattened by an earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt in the style of the time and remains true to that style today (well in the most part). Our last port of call on the North Island was the capital, Wellington, from where we caught a BlueBridge ferry across to Picton on the South Island.

We had crammed rather a lot into our first two weeks – scenery, history, museums, walks, nature, geology, and what seemed like a different bed each night (but wasn’t) – so there was a near revolt from a certain reluctant tourist – and it wasn’t Sara. It was therefore wonderful to be met off the ferry by good friends David and Brenda who made us so welcome in their home town of Blenheim. They showed us around, introduced us to friends and we stayed in the sleep-out at their vineyard where they grow sauvignon blanc grapes for the Whitehaven winery (delicious sav!) We also had a couple of nights sailing on Bandit in the stunning Marlborough Sounds where we encountered a pod of Orcas and Sara cracked stand-up paddle boarding. It was a most relaxing week, and just what was needed before the road trip round the South island.

We took the tourist train from Blenheim, down the scenic north east coast to Christchurch where we picked up another hire car. Christchurch was a real eye-opener – devastated by a shallow earthquake four years ago. It was quite depressing to see, four years on, the centre of a vibrant city laid waste and so many buildings still standing but condemned, awaiting demolition. Particularly poignant is the partially collapsed cathedral in the city centre. There is an air of optimism and regrowth with the Cardboard Cathedral and Container Mall – an area of cafes, restaurants and shops all in shipping containers. By chance, the opening ceremony for the Cricket World Cup was held not far from our motel so we went along to join in the celebrations – little did we know then how England would fare.

As we travelled through the South Island the scenery got more and more dramatic and spectacular – the lakes, rivers, waterfalls, mountains and glaciers providing the setting for some interesting drives and stunning walks – we even hires bikes a couple of times. Some of our favourites were visits to Mount Cook, Arrowtown, Milford Sound, Wanaka and Fox Glacier. One particularly memorable highlight of our trip was a day jet boating in Fjordland across Lake Hauroko and down the beautiful Wairourahiri river through the rapids to the sea – a 92km six hour round trip with a delicious bbq lunch at a trampers lodge in the woods – truely wild New Zealand.

Finally we travelled up the west coast, walking to the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers, visiting Hokitika and the pancake rocks of Punakaiki, finally crossing Arthur’s Pass back to the Christchurch area for a couple of nights in Akaroa – a pretty French influenced seaside town, before flying back to Brisbane and Tulu. It was a fantastic trip covering so much – museums, cities, spectacular scenery of all descriptions, adventure, the great outdoors and of course it would be rude to go to New Zealand and not visit the wineries in the many grape growing areas – we sampled a few!!

Christmas in the UK 2014

Ashore Posted on Mon, January 19, 2015 00:03:53

We left Tulu in Newport marina in the care of a neighbouring live-aboard and flew from Brisbane to London with a 7 hour transfer in Singapore. A long journey made so worthwhile when we arrived at Will and Charlottes flat to be greeted by them and Jonno who was in London for a conference. After a couple of nights in London we went on with Jonno up to Stamford for a weekend with him and Bex in their, previously unseen, new house which was lovely….great to see them settled in their own home. Our schedule continued down to Somerset via Chris’ brother in Surrey, to stay with Sara’s Mum and see her family. This was soon followed by a trip to Chris’ Mums in South Wales – and so the tone of the trip was set – lots of miles and so many different beds. It was wonderful to catch up with so many friends and spend time with the boys and the rest of the family. We even managed to get a week in our own house in Fowey where we were joined by great cruising friends Cath and Tim who had crossed the Pacific in their yacht Helena May the year before us.

Christmas was brilliant – It was lovely to get so many of the family together and meet extended family members (lots of engagements this year) – a huge thank you to Rog and Lou for hosting the day – 24 of us around the table for a magnificent feast. The day after Boxing Day saw us on the road again to Lincolnshire where we were greeted by snow – very Christmasy, and pretty but luckily did not stop us doing anything. We also managed to catch up with the Tattersall family, which was great. We flew to Jersey for New Year with Charlottes family – lots of bracing cliff walks to counter the seasonal food and booze. Then back for Jonno’s birthday in Stamford on the 3rd, with a ver pleasant evening in a local pub with some of the friends. The following day, Peter and Helen from Common Crossing drove from Norfolk for a lovely lunch at the George Hotel as we compared notes on our Pacific adventures. Then back to Somerset again!

Where did the time go? Before we knew it our 7 weeks were up and it was time to have a final few days in London with Will and Charlotte, and the added bonus of Jonno who was down for a training course, before flying back to Australia – neatly bookended.

We had a great trip, if a little manic at times, but many thanks go to all our friends and family who put us up and fed and watered us. It was lovely to be home and long overdue, but we are now back to traveling and after a week on Tulu to recover from the jet lag and make sure all is ship-shape we are flying to New Zealand for 6 weeks – well, it would be rude not to whilst we are down-under…………

UK Summer 2013

Ashore Posted on Wed, October 09, 2013 13:19:16

We arrived home to England at the very end of July to the most superb weather. At last Britain was able to enjoy plenty of sunshine and we were very lucky that this lasted through August and into September so we saw the UK at its best.

The trip kicked off with Elaine Haynes big birthday bash on board the SS Great Britain in Bristol, a great party that allowed us to catch up with numerous friends. After time in Somerset with family we headed down to our home in Fowey for the rest of August, sailing (could not resist) on various boats, both racing and pottering about the harbour and lovely days on the beach at Lantic Bay – such a wonderful part of the world! Jonno and Bex joined us for the madness that is Regatta Week – carnival, Red Arrows etc.

In September we took a road trip from Fowey to Inverness via South Wales, Southampton Boat Show (of course), Lincolnshire, Rutland, Edinburgh, Derbyshire and Somerset. Great fun to see so many good friends and family and get to see some of the sights of stunning Scotland. We had a lovely time when we spent a few days with the fishing party at Erchless Castle on the river Glass, near Inverness.

The boys have very busy lives with Jonno in his F2 year working at Addenbrooks Hospital in Cambridge, his girlfriend Bex teaching at Bourne Grammar School, Will working in audit at Deloitte and studying for his ACA accountancy exams and his girlfriend Charlotte working at PWC Legal. We did however manage to get together for a weekend in London the highlight of which was going to see the Mousetrap at St Martins Theatre – an Agatha Christie whodunit that has been running for 61 years – a ripping yarn enjoyed by all.

A final week in Fowey, a few days at Bridge Farm with Sara’s Mum, and then another weekend in London with Will and Charlotte and then it’s bye bye England and back to the boat to continue our great adventure…..

The Giant Leatherback Turtles

Ashore Posted on Mon, May 27, 2013 22:58:26

Last evening, with a full moon, we witnessed one of natures most amazing spectacles. Between April and July, in a small number of locations, the enormous, endangered leatherback turtles haul themselves up the beach at night to lay their eggs in the sand. We were very privileged to be able to go with a group of cruisers to remote Levera beach on the northeast corner of Grenada where there is a program to protect their breeding grounds. After a briefing we went to the beach to wait in the moonlight for the huge turtles to emerge from the water. They are very nervous creatures so we had to hang back along the beach until each turtle had dragged itself to its chosen nesting point above the waterline and started digging a deep hole with its hind flippers. Then we were able to approach and stand very quietly behind the turtle. She laboriously digs the hole, one flipper at a time, and once the hole is the depth of her flipper (around two feet) , she starts to lay her eggs. During this time the female turtle goes into a trance-like state so is not worried by onlookers as long as they stay behind her and do not use any white light. It was incredible to watch the large round white eggs drop into the nest, around 100 at a time, followed by a number of smaller, unfertilised eggs which are laid as well to help maintain the humidity level in the nest. The turtle then covers the eggs with sand making sure to compress the sand using the weight of her body and then flicking sand around to camouflage the area from the many predators. We were lucky enough to be able to touch a couple of turtles when they had just laid their eggs and were still in their trance. The ‘shell’ of the leatherback is surprisingly soft with seven hard ridges on it which allows the shell to flex with the pressure allowing them to dive to great depths. Each female can revisit the same beach up to nine times to lay further nests with about a week in between each visit – exhausting work for them as they are so ungainly out of water. After 65-70 days the eggs hatch, hopefully at night as the young are likely to dehydrate getting to the water in the sunlight. They have many predators ranging from sand crabs, who take the eggs, to killer whales who take the young turtles – in fact only one in every thousand eggs makes it to maturity – hairy stuff! Each nest that is laid will produce either all female or all male young, depending on the temperature in the nest. Generally in the dry season females are produced (they will return to the same beach to lay their eggs when they reach maturity) and in the wet season more males are hatched (they will never return to the land).

As you can probably tell, we were both blown away to watch the nesting at such close proximity and to touch the turtles. We could even see them crying – they produce tears whilst laying their eggs to protect their eyes from the sand. We have swam with the hawksbill turtles in the Tobago Cays and seen many turtles in other bays, but to see the giant leatherbacks nesting was very special indeed as I’m sure anyone who has also seen them will agree.

Trip to the UK and final weeks in Fethiye June/July 2012

Ashore Posted on Thu, July 26, 2012 15:57:47

We flew back to the UK on 20th June for a three and a half week trip to visit family and friends. The first highlight was supporting Jonno complete his first 1/2 Iron Man – the Costwold 113 which is a triathlon covering 113km which he completed in a very good time despite suffering a puncture. Then it was up to Durham for Will’s graduation with all his hard work paying off with the achievement of a 1st in Economics. We were joined in Durham by Jonno and Molly (Chris’ Mum). It was a memorable day, not only for the spectacular setting of Durham Cathedral, but also the torrential rain – something we had got quite used to by the time we returned to Turkey.

Then it was down to Fowey via Somerset for a week with Jonno and Bex, and Will for a short time. We soon remembered why we love Fowey so much – but it rained and rained! Next back to Somerset and then on to Birmingham for Jonno’s graduation – a doctor at last. After 6 years Jonno graduated in style picking up a number of prizes. We are very proud parents as both the boys have excelled at university and both have jobs to go to. In fact Jonno has started his foundation training based in Cambridge and Will is starting work in early October with Deloitte in London.

Having returned to Fethiye it was the time we were dreading – hauling the boat out of the water, scrubbing her bottom and antifouling as well as various other servicing/repair jobs that have to be done on dry land. With temperatures in the high 30’s and often over 40, this was particularly gruelling work, but very satisfying once completed. It is always nerve racking when lifting a boat and as you can see from the pictures we were in a traditional Turkish boat yard – far from sophisticated. However, all was well and it was a great relief to get back afloat and clean off the ‘boatyard grime’. Whilst we were in the boat yard we had a brief lunchtime visit from the entire Fox family as they were chartering a yacht from Gocek and called in to see us – such a shame that we were unable to go out into the bays with them, but their visit was welcome light relief.

We are now in our last week in Fethiye, so it’s time to stock up on all our favorite Turkish goodies, get all the laundry up to date and say our many good byes……

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