The final leg

Sunday, August 31st, 2008
Almost exactly 2 wonderful years after setting off from Hong Kong with friends waving us off, on March 26th 2008 we entered One Degree 15 Marina on Sentosa Island, Singapore, to start the next era of our lives. Our dream trip covered 12,000 plus miles, 7 countries, hundreds of anchorages, 15 marinas and thankfully no pirates. The final month or so packed in three sets of visitors, a considerable amount of repairs to the boat and the last 500 miles down to Singapore via Langkawi and Penang.

On returning to Phuket from the Andamans, Surin and Similans, Sandra’s brother joined us in a Sunsail boat with his family. The two boats enjoyed a circuit of Phang Na Bay just east of Phuket, which was stunningly beautiful, with sheer limestone cliffs rising out of the sea covered in precariously attached vegetation. Unfortunately there was a lack of wind for good sailing but the places we visited made up for that. Highlights included the double hongs (lagoons) of Koh Phanak which have to be accessed through a 70 metre pitch black passage in sea kayaks, the snorkeling on the south tip of Phi Phi Le and the prawns purchased from the local fishing boats. A week disappeared all too quickly before we were back in Boat Lagoon – our lily white visitors now a golden brown.
Conscious we would be selling Tui Tai and that Singapore has few of the boat maintenance skills of Phuket, we embarked on a number of projects to prepare the boat. Our back lazarette had been leaking and eventually the plywood had succumbed. We had the master bedroom headboard stripped out putting in better drainage, better seals and better locks on the lazarettes. Problem solved. At the same time we tidied up the teak deck, wired in a new chart plotter and gave the stereo an overhaul. Fortunately, as the work was very intrusive and involved having the water and power off as well as copious quantities of solvents, we managed to stay off the boat first in Chris and Vicky Lenz’s bungalow on Loch Palm golf course (even managed a couple of rounds!), then with Cora and Eric in their lovely house in Boat Lagoon. With a few hours to spare we threw the workers off and made the high tide to exit boat lagoon with Eric and Cora as crew for the journey down to Langkawi, Malaysia.
We tried a couple of beautiful new anchorages before Eric and Cora jumped ship at Koh Lanta due to a concern with Eric’s health. Pushing on we tried Koh Ha Yai, a delightful set of 5 tiny islands in the middle of the sea, with apparently excellent snorkeling, but the swell was prohibitive – this anchorage is still on our to-do list. We probably had one of our best sails ever down to the Butang Group via Koh Rok Nok. Wanting to arrive during the day we had to slow the boat down in 20 knot beam reach winds. We ended up with a quarter of a genoa! After a final snorkel it was goodbye to Thailand for the last time and back into Malaysia where our final guest was waiting – Sandra’s mum. After frantic provisioning we enjoyed a few last anchorages around Langkawi including the picturesque Hole in the Wall where mother and baby Irrawaddy dolphins gave us a fabulous display.
After a short stop in Penang, to enjoy the old architecture and great food, we then continued non-stop to Singapore where a great breeze carried us round the end of Malaysia and into Singapore waters before we had to drop the sails for the last time to better dodge commercial shipping. Despite being the end of an era, it was hard to be unhappy as we arrived in One 15 Marina, in our opinion the best marina in Asia, and our home for the next 4 months. The marina is so peaceful (except the dockside parties) that our reentry from cruising back to a regular life was that much easier.
With new found space and terra firma, the children embraced their new life – bicycles, rollerblades, school friends, parties and play dates – normality for most children but novelties for ours. After the first few weeks in their respective schools we asked the children about home school versus normal school. Nikki’s answer was, “I like home school because Mummy and Daddy are my teachers, but I like normal school because you have friends.” Alex’s answer was, “I think home school should have more activities.” “Really?” We asked, “What kind of activities?” “Well, like art and music and PE”. Anyway both children seem to have settled in well, academically well up to standard, (despite their parents) and enjoying a variety of activities both in and out of school.
We are also enjoying Singapore, meeting many new people and having fun exploring a new place, not to mention year round sunshine and outdoor swimming and dining. Jon has set up his company and is working hard on that. Sandra is starting with DBS on September 1st. We have recently moved into a condo – spacious by any standards though particularly so when compared with Tui Tai – and now have a helper again. We received our stored furniture from Hong Kong to find we had been even more ruthless than we recalled – keeping pictures and antique cabinets, but nothing useful such as mattresses! The first half of August has produced some scary credit card bills furnishing our new home but our purchases are now all delivered, giving us somewhere to sit and sleep, though something to plug an iPod into is still on the shopping list…
Thank you all for reading our blog and joining our dream journey. We do hope you will all continue to keep in contact and come and see us in Singapore whenever you can. All visitors welcome.
 

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