It was 31 January 2016 and we were travelling on a wide bodied jet from Brisbane to Singapore at almost 900 km an hour, 38,000 feet in the air.
Looking down at the boats strung like jewels across the Singapore strait, it seemed strange that in under eight hours we had completed a trip that in the previous year had taken us almost five months, sailing in our yacht SV Bali Hai.
During 2015 we had participated in the Sail to Wonderful Indonesia Rally that had departed Cairns on June 30 and ended on 8 November, during which time we had travelled up the wild and spectacular landscape of Far North Queensland to Thursday Island and then across the Indonesian Archipelago through a series of amazing islands, each more beautiful and intriguing than the one before.
We were the last of the rally
fleet to leave our final Indonesian destination and port of clearance, Tanjung Penang, as we had spent a wonderful week with our daughter sailing back to the perfect island paradise, Benan Island.
Her good friend from school, in Singapore for a job reccy, also paid us a fleeting visit and we spent a couple of joyful days anchored at a tiny sand island just a couple of hours away from the dirt and noise of the busy port of Tanjung Penang.
We had missed the start of the Sail Malaysia Rally from Puteri Marina, near Singapore, to Rebak Marina, Langkawi, but once we had cleared customs, passport control and quarantine (very smoothly thanks to our “Mr Fixit” on the Indonesian rally, Raymond, who had organised a lovely man from the tourist department to walk through the process with us) we set sail with the intention of catching up along the way.
As previously documented, we checked in at Puteri Marina, and sailed up the West Coast of Malaysia, stopping at Pulau Pisang, Pulau Besar, Port Dickson, Port Klang, Pangkor Island Marina, Monkey Island, Penang, Pulau Bidan, Pulau Perlis and ending up at Rebak Island in Langkawi.
We motored for most of the the trip from Penang with just a couple of short sails as there was very little wind. The Marina at Rebak was chock full of boats but fortunately we had booked our berth weeks earlier. Entry to the Marina was highly organised with two guys there to catch our lines and Richard from Charon also kindly popping out of the comfort of his air conditioning to lend a hand.
Our initial berth was horrendous- we were squashed in next to the widest monohull vessel in the Marina – MV Annie. We were concerned that if there was any wind while we were away over Christmas poor Bali Hai would get thumped and bumped as there was only inches between the two boats. Fortunately the Marina management moved us after Jonathan explained our concerns.
The final days of the Malaysian Sail to Langkawi Rally were busy – a fabulous bus trip round the island, meals and celebrations.
There were many farewells but also many promises of meeting up again.
Then a frantic clean up of Bali Hai, a frenzy of Christmas gift purchases, fridge and freezer contents given away, a quick pack of clothes and presents and then a race to the airport for our flight to Brisbane via Singapore.
We had loved our slow meander – sailing from Brisbane to Cairns, Cairns to Thursday Island, threading our way through the Indonesian Archipelago, past Singapore and up the West coast of Malaysia – but it was a wonderful feeling that we would soon see family and friends after just a few hours of sitting in a plane.
However, before we could blink it was already the end of January and we were winging our way back to Langkawi via Singapore to return to our home Bali Hai.
It was wonderful to get there and back so quickly but when it comes to the choice between high speed travel and a slow boat meandering – I think you know which one we would choose!