Category Archives: Redgrove

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 57 we made it.

This is the same blog but I’ve added some photos.

Our position at 16.30(19.30 GMT) Saturday 18th March was
14 26.39N
060 53.38W
The anchor is down, thank God, literally as we’ve arrived safely in Martinique after completing our circumnavigation.

Our last 30 hours was fairly uneventful except for the mini drama of nearly using the Hydrovane rudder. Bill had noticed the steering was behaving oddly on his night watch and put the autohelm on. In the daylight he looked over the stern to see the Hydrovane rudder looking bent. We hove to (stopped the boat) to look at it and discovered the pin clipping it into position had broken. Fortunately Bill always ties it on as well so we hadn’t lost the rudder. It was brought back on board and was a passenger for the rest of the journey. Incredibly Bill doesn’t have a spare, he had already used it, so we’ll have to get one along the way. That was our only breakage on the whole trip which is pretty incredible considering the miles we have covered.

Barbados in the distance

We continued to sail through the day although the wind started dropped in the afternoon and we motored for 2 hours because we (I) didn’t want to slow down, until it picked up again. Barbados came into view about 4pm as we sailed past the north coast with the lights from the resorts twinkling in the dusk. I watched a cruise liner leave Barbados on the AIS and was SOOOO tempted to call them up and ask for a lift! I ate my last 4 squares of chocolate during my last night watch.

I awoke to 100% cloud cover and a line of squalls matching across the skyline. Bill went back to bed for his second sleep while I sat in the cockpit with the umbrella up because it was also raining. The wind disappeared so the engine was on again. The cloud and mist continued through the morning and Martinique was hiding behind it. St Lucia appeared about 8am, which is the island south of us, and Martinique about 8.20, but disappeared again. When Bill got up I made pancakes for our last breakfast at sea because we seem to have missed pancake day while we’ve been out here.

Camomile right on the line

I started to come out of my chrysalis like a butterfly and began to sing again, I haven’t been singing for a while and although Bill says it’s nice to hear me singing again I think he’s just being kind because he prefers it to the silence! As we were about an hour away from our finishing line the sun appeared along with a pod of spinner dolphins jumping out of the Caribbean blue sea to welcome us. The wind started to blow and the engine went off. As Martinique emerged from the cloud we were quite close and able to see the lovely houses built into it’s verdant green hills. As we’ve already written we crossed ‘the line’ at 1.30pm Bill and I hugged each other with me in tears and Bill pretty close. It’s just amazes me we actually managed to do it.

Turning Camomile back to Le Marin, Martinique

We turned Camomile back towards the marina and had to motor quite hard against the wind to get there. Even though it was only 4pm when we got to the channel we decided not to go into the marina but anchor in the bay in front of St Annes for the first night to ‘wind down’ slowly from the journey. Once we go into the marina my feet won’t touch the ground with washing, cleaning, shopping, etc.

Heading into the anchorage

 

 

 

Once anchored I felt an enormous sense of relief that we were safe and could relax. We spent a short time sorting out the boat then the bottle of bubbles came out. We didn’t have posh Boli like someone we know (!) but a nice South African sparkling wine that was very nice along with some cool white wine too. I had intended cooking lemon chicken and apple crumble but I put some Pringles and cheese and biscuits out to have with our drink and dinner got forgotten.

The celebrations begin

I spoke to Sara on Norsa for the last time on the net (the SSB doesn’t work very well in the marina) and said an emotional farewell, they have another 7 or 8 days out there but they aren’t coming in our direction. Not sure when we’ll see them again – the down side of cruising. 😦
So to sum up the journey we left Simonstown 9 weeks ago and spent 3 days in Cape town before leaving on 19th January. The journey from Cape Town to here was 5634 miles altogether but we stopped in St Helena for 2 weeks and 2 days. The passage just from St Helena to here was 3857 miles that took 27 days 9 hours or 657 hours giving us an average speed of 5.8kts which isn’t bad considering we’ve had anything from 3kts to over 8kts along the way. It has become our longest passage and, as I’ve already said, it won’t be beaten. Of those 657 hours the engine was only on for 77 hours, half of those were for charging the batteries when the day was cloudy. The solar panels and wind generator kept the batteries going for the rest of the time.

So we go into the marina later today for 5 or 6 days then we will start to make our way north to complete the rest of the 1500 miles or so to get us to Florida. We’ve got 6 weeks or so to do it which, hopefully, will be enough time. The plan is Martinique this week
Antigua next week
St Martin first week in April
BVIs second week in April
Sail to Turks and Caicos third week in April
Sail the last 700 miles or so to Florida (on the inside route) during the last week in April If there’s anyone on that route that we know we would love to meet up.

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I’ll catch up with them all in the Caribbean. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps) Stay safe everyone.

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Camomile completes her circumnavigation

This is the same post but I’ve added some photos.

WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP We’ve done it!!

Bill and Sue on the bow of Camomile

At 13.30 this afternoon Camomile crossed the ‘finishing line’. We have sailed around the world traversing all meridians of longitude, the equator and then met our outgoing track here. Eventually we’ll complete our journey and head back to the UK but for now we feel we can call ourselves circumnavigators. Very emotional moment. Can’t believe we’ve actually done it, just Bill and I on our own but that’s basically how its been for the last 8 years. We’ve joined rallies and cruising groups but once you leave port, particularly on ocean passages, you are on your own; completely unassisted.

The line between the green crosses was our track from 2010

From the UK we’ve traveled 58525 miles so far on the worlds oceans and our circumnavigation from this spot on the 11th January 2010 and back to it today was 52365 sea miles or to put it in another context, two times around the earth’s equator.
This voyage has taken us 7 years 2 months and 7 days visiting 44 countries, some more than once, and more islands then we could keep count of – maybe we rushed it!

We haven’t arrived back with a tatty worn out boat either, Camomile is in better shape than ever. During our circumnavigation Bill has kept her well maintained and she has had new electronics including new autopilot, vhf and ssb radios and a new dinghy and outboard as a result of insurance claims from storm damage. Bill has replaced the standing rigging and most of the running rigging (ropes), she has had new sails, stackpack, cockpit cover and bimini, a new cooker and I’ve replaced the kettle three times. Bill also repainted Camomile and replaced all the woodwork (grab handles, toe rails, etc) and the propshaft. So I say to all you yachties working on your boats getting ready to leave, like Bill’s rhyme says JUST GO, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to finish your boat on the way round.

Back stooped and shoulders sagging
Soul and body really flagging
Worn out and weary, time to retreat
Before this daily grindstone has me beat

Cast your mind to a white sand shore
Green palm fronds over sea azure
Trade winds there cool a simpler life
And roaring breakers mute that strife

Above blackest night and pin prick stars
Milky way and meteors
Beneath glowing wake eats up the miles
as mast and deck heel to the sails

Go cruising now my friend don’t wait
’till fatty fare ‘n stress slow up your gait
Real loved ones will support you swim or sink
Life’s hour is later than you think

exert from the Rhyme of the Middle Aged Mariner by Bill Redgrove

Three weeks in the UK

Father's day breakfast in the garden

Father’s day breakfast in the garden

 

and oh my goodness didn’t those three weeks go quickly but we managed to do quite a lot.  The party was a huge success and to see the look on the boys faces was worth the effort to get back on time. The next day was Father’s day and Bill hasn’t had Father’s day with the boys for years so we celebrated with a wonderful breakfast cooked by Thomas.  I even took my coat off for a few hours!

 

 

The new headquarters of the Thomas Cookie co

The new headquarters of the Thomas Cookie co

We hired a car Monday morning and drove to the other side of Maidstone to see Thomas’s new unit, the new headquarters of the Thomas Cookie co.  Bill and I had very proud of what Thomas has achieved in just over a year and with Sonal’s help. It turned out to be a good time to arrive because Thomas was grateful for Bill’s help with sorting out some shelving and other bits.  After making some plans the four of us drove into Maidstone for a coffee and a chat. It felt so strange walking around the town together after so long. Sadly James had to leave in the afternoon to fly back to Scotland.  Had he known we were coming he would have stayed longer but we planned to go to Scotland the following week.

Logan with Bill's shoe on

Logan with Bill’s shoe on

 

Tuesday we got onto the motorway to drive to Basingstoke to see my sister.  There’s so much traffic here and after travelling everywhere at 6kts it felt strange going so fast.  Angela looks after her grandson Logan, my great nephew 3 days a week and it was good to see him again.  When I was in the UK last May he was a babe in arms but now he’s walking around very cheekily including in Uncle Bill’s trainers!

We spent 2 days there but after we left I realised I didn’t get a photo of me with him but I love this one of Bill in training to be a Grandpa!

Great Uncle Bill in training to be a Grandpa

Great Uncle Bill in training to be a Grandpa

We had a lovely meal out with Angela and Terry on the Tuesday evening and a nice meal in on Wednesday with my niece Kirsty too.

Thursday was a busy day. After laying some flowers on my Mum’s grave we drove to Pitton to see Bill’s Auntie Hilary and Uncle John for a lovely chat and a delicious lunch. After leaving in the afternoon we drove to our sister-in-law Claire and Gordon for a light supper, more chatting and a comfy bed.

Friday we paid a quick visit to our lock-up to leave a few bits there (there really isn’t any more room).  I always feel sad when I see our ‘treasures’ stacked floor to ceiling – I wonder when they will all come out one day into a home? We continued onto Port Solent and the marine superstore to start buying the many items needed to take back. Another grave in the afternoon, Dad is buried in Littlehampton and doesn’t get visited very often so it needed a bit of TLC.

Finally we completed the loop and ended back in Maidstone in Thomas’s unit and I helped make some cookies. I was paid in cookies too, yum yum.

Saturday saw us visiting the chandleries of Gillingham and Chatham for more bits as well as some clothes shopping.

20+ sausage dogs going for a walk

20+ sausage dogs going for a walk

 

Sunday was market day but while Bill went to help Thomas on the stall I went with Sonal to walk my ‘grand-fur-baby’ Slinky with the other dogs of the ‘Sausage dog club’ at Cobtree park north of the town.  It brought back fond memories because I used to walk Nike there.  Slinky is only 4 months old so can’t walk far but he enjoyed meeting his buddies.  It was wonderful to spend time with Sonal and enjoyed our walk together.

Middle of summer and we all had coats on again.

Sonal with Slinky meeting his brother

Sonal with Slinky meeting his brother

 

This is Slinky’s brother and is the first time he’s seen him since leaving the litter, I wonder if he remembered him.

After our walk Sonal and I drove to West Malling to see Thomas on his market stall.  Also my other sister Amanda, my brother-in-law Alan and nephew and niece Tristan and Jasmine came to see us. After the stall was packed up we drove to the Kings Arms in Meopham and all enjoyed a delicious Sunday lunch together.  In the afternoon back at Thomas and Sonal’s house Jasmine was asked to be one of Sonal’s bridesmaids so the talk turned to weddings.

Sonal, Sue, Bill, Thomas, Alan, Tristan, Jasmine and Amanda

Sonal, Sue, Bill, Thomas, Alan, Tristan, Jasmine and Amanda

my selfie outside Sainsburys

my selfie outside Sainsburys

 

Monday 27th Bill and Thomas headed off to Ikea to get some shelving and other bits for the unit and I did something so normal for everyone but I was thrilled – I walked to Sainsburys! I took this selfie in the entrance and the other shoppers probably thought I was a bit daft but there you go. I had a great time buying all the stuff I can’t normally buy like nice decaff filter coffee, nescafe cappuccino sachets, t bags, stirfry sauces, best jam, oxo cubes, birthday number candles, as well as some strawberries and raspberries to just eat.

 

Tuesday was spent packing as much as possible in just 2 cabin bags for the Easyjet flight to Scotland. To take hold luggage on easyjet was £32 a piece each way! Thomas drove us to Gatwick for the flight to Inverness. Goodness it was cold when we landed. Another layer went on, Bill walked around with 4 layers including his jacket and I’ve had 3 with my coat. James was excited to have us in Scotland. We hadn’t been there for 2 1/2 years.

Coffee in the Walled garden cafe

Coffee in the Walled garden cafe

 

Wednesday morning we all went for a beautiful walk. It may be cold but at least it’s sunny. We walked to Gordon’s castle and had coffee in the tea rooms in the walled garden. It was a lovely start to our stay.  www.gordoncastlescotland.com

The area around the castle is stunning and it’s only a mile or so from James’s house.

Out walking

Out walking

Stunning scenery

Stunning scenery

 

 

In the afternoon we went into Elgin to get some shopping so I could make some of James’s favourite dinners.  That evening I started with a big lasagne and salad. James made the garlic bread.

 

 

 

Pretty foxgloves

Pretty foxgloves

 

Thursday was big excitement because James was offered a job in Saudi Arabia.  A great opportunity, we are very proud of him. So we went out for another walk to celebrate!

I love the wildflowers in Scotland, these foxgloves were every where, so rare in England.

 

The salmon staircase

The salmon staircase

 

 

 

We crossed a burn (a tributary of the river Spey) by the ford which also had a salmon staircase leading up the river.  Unfortunately it isn’t salmon season so there wasn’t any to catch.

 

 

The ford

The ford

The drone

The drone

 

 

Our destination was the cricket field so James and Bill could fly James’s drone, otherwise known as his pet!

Bill was given very strict instructions on how to fly it after James had launched it but he wasn’t allowed to land it. Now Bill wants one.

 

 

Bill in charge

Bill in charge

 

Beautiful countryside either side of the river Spey

Beautiful countryside either side of the river Spey

The old toll gate house

The old toll gate house

 

 

 

We continued our walk towards the Baxters coffee shop crossing the river Spey. This little cottage was once the tollgate for the old bridge, which is now a footpath and the new bridge lies alongside it and Baxters is the other side. Perfect.

 

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The new road lying alongside the old road

James wanted Bill to help him put some windows in his van so that afternoon was spent working out what was needed and shopping for tools.  I had a nice walk around Elgin instead. Made Chicken and chickpea curry for dinner

Beautiful countryside

Beautiful countryside

 

 

On Friday Bill and James were waiting for some parts to be delivered so James drove us all a bit further out to see more of the surrounding countryside. We were lucky with the weather.  It was normally sunny in the mornings for our walk or drive then clouded over later with the odd shower.  What we really enjoyed was the light evenings.  It didn’t get dark until 10.30 or even 11.00pm in Scotland.

 

Rolling hills

Rolling hills

James and the drone

James and the drone

 

 

and James took his drone.

 

Bill cutting out the window

Bill cutting out the window

 

 

 

In the afternoon the rubber seal arrived they had been waiting for and the installation of the van windows began. Bill started with the new reciprocating saw they had bought.  I could hear the noise from inside the house as Bill made a huge hole in the side of the van. James did the fileing and clipped on the rubber seal.

Working on the van

Working on the van

Cutting the other side

Cutting the other side

 

With Bill giving him the confidence he cut the other side himself.  It was quite brave of both of them cutting 2 big holes in the side of the van. Once the rubber edging was clipped in place on both sides it was left for the day.

I had my hair cut and Hailey arrived in the evening.

 

 

The windows in place.

The windows in place.

 

 

In the morning Hailey and I went to the garden centre for coffee while Bill and James put the windows in.  It was a two man job with one on the inside and one on the outside.  They looked really good when they were finished but I forgot to take a final photo.

Watching the seals

Watching the seals

 

 

 

 

In the afternoon we all went for a drive and saw these seals playing on the beach.

 

 

James and Hailey

James and Hailey

Findochty harbour

Findochty harbour

 

We continued onto Findochty to see the little harbour there. When we get back to the UK hopefully we’ll sail up to Scotland so it was good to look around first. The sea was really calm on that day. I wonder how often it’s like that. It was beautiful scenery.

Bill looking across the inside of the harbour.

 

 

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Cullen

Cullen

 

Further along the road we stopped at Cullen which had another small harbour but we wouldn’t have been able to get Camomile in there. The town was overlooked by this beautiful old railway viaduct.

All the little towns were very pretty.

 

 

 

Bow Fiddle rock

Bow Fiddle rock

Bow fiddle rock

Bow fiddle rock

 

 

The last place we stopped was Bow Fiddle rock. An amazing piece of sedimentary rock that had had a hole worn through it over millions of years. A very beautiful rock. We climbed down to get a closer look. It was covered in seabirds.

 

Gordon Arms hotel

Gordon Arms hotel

 

 

 

On the sunday we enjoyed another drive across to Lossiemouth that had a small marina that would be good for us but I left my camera behind.  For Sunday lunch we went to the Gordon Arms hotel for their delicious carvery.

 

James, Hailey, Bill and Nichola her mum.

James, Hailey, Bill and Nichola her mum.

 

 

Monday 4th July we packed our bags and left James’s house but the four of us continued together and drove for about 3 hours south to Broughty ferry near Dundee where Hailey lives. Hailey’s parents own a beautifully restored old mill. We were made very welcome and enjoyed a lovely dinner with all the family. It felt warmer now we were further south.

 

Broughty ferry castle

Broughty ferry castle

On Tuesday we went to explore the beautiful Broughty ferry castle built on the northern shore of the River Tay.  This 15th century coastal fort has faced many battles and sieges, and was rebuilt in the 19th century as part of the River Tay’s coastal defence system.

James and Hailey being big kids. Haha

James and Hailey being big kids. Haha

 

 

 

 

The new bridge

The new bridge

 

 

 

 

In the afternoon we continued further south to Edinburgh passing the new bridge being built over the Forth river.

 

 

The Grassmarket area

Victoria street

 

 

 

Wednesday 6th was Bill’s birthday. We had stayed the night in an AirB&B (we stayed in someone’s apartment) and James and Hailey had cooked Bill a wonderful steak dinner.  In the morning we all had eggy bread and bacon before exploring the city.  Edinburgh is a beautiful city.   In the centre all the old buildings have been wonderfully preserved.

 

The walls of Edinburgh castle

The walls of Edinburgh castle

This amazing structure has been erected up over the outer walls of Edinburgh castle for the military tattoo that would be taking place the following week. Once the festivities are over the whole thing is taken back down again.

We’ve been into the castle before so this time we went into St Giles cathedral.   There’s so much history in Edinburgh, it’s a wonderful place.

 

St Giles cathedral

St Giles cathedral

Bill in the VR headset

Bill in the VR headset

We walked down the hill into the shopping area to look around the shops.  James decided Bill needed to try a virtual reality headset.  To demonstrate it’s use it was showing some off piste skiing and a roller coaster.

All too soon it was time to drive to Edinburgh airport and say goodbye to James and Hailey.  We had enjoyed our holiday within our holiday.

We arrived at Gatwick and Thomas picked us up.  Most of Bill’s birthday was gone but the next day Thomas cooked him a delicious egg and bacon birthday breakfast.  I spent the day packing our bags which wasn’t easy with all the bits we had bought for the boat and ourselves but eventually it all fitted.  Bill spent one last day with Thomas in the unit. Thomas cooked our final meal which was a delicious roast pork dinner with crackling that melted in your mouth and scrummy roast potatoes. Sonal’s mum Meena joined us and we gave her a beautiful orchid for letting us stay with her (she lives 6 doors away from Thomas).

On Friday morning with a heavy heart it was time to say goodbye to Sonal, Meena and little Slinky. Thomas drove us to Heathrow after cooking us another wonderful breakfast.

We had so enjoyed the quality time we had spent with both the boys and Sonal and Hailey.

Thank you to everyone who we stayed with and apologies for those we didn’t get to see this time.

Islands of the Seychelles

Islands of the Seychelles

 

As we came into land at Mahe in the Seychelles I could see the islands from the window.

Our journey home continues.

 

Where are we now?

Sue with her first decent coffee in weeks

Sue with her first decent coffee in weeks

Just a quick blog to update where we are. After a protracted and arduous 10 day journey from Chagos to Seychelles we finally arrived on Tuesday 14th June. After checking in and fulfilling all the normal formalities we were able to explore the town. As most of you know I like my cappuccinos and a nice coffee shop was found.

The next task was find somewhere to put Camomile so she would be secure for 3 weeks because we were planning a trip.

Where are we going?

Ethiad A380

Ethiad A380

 

 

Within 2 days Camomile was ensconced in Eden marina and we had booked our airline tickets. This is the airplane we flew on. It’s an A380 with Ethiad.  The sky looks a bit bleak doesn’t it?

Where are we?

 

Bill on the tube

Bill on the tube

 

 

 

This looks like the London tube.  Bill was a bit sleepy, he’s also wearing a coat!

 

 

Thomas with Bill

Thomas with Bill

 

 

 

This was our goal. Our youngest son Thomas was 30 last week and his fiancee Sonal had arranged a surprise party for him and we were the surprise guests.  He had absolutely no idea we were in the country. We didn’t tell anyone, in fact we only knew ourselves the day before. It was impossible to plan and say for certain we could come because we had to make sure Camomile was secure first.

Bill with James

Bill with James

 

 

 

Our eldest son James didn’t know we were coming either and Bill and I managed to get to Maidstone without being seen despite the fact that James had been walking around Victoria station at the same time as us! Sonal was informing us of his whereabouts so we didn’t bump into him by accident.  Once we knew he was on the train we caught the next one and Sonal secured us in her Mum’s house just a little way down the road.  We organised an amazing entrance. James was filming the ‘Surprise’ for me live on skype thinking we were still in the Seychelles.  At the same time we were walking around to the back gate and I walked in to face James. The look on his face was amazing and he shouted ‘what are you doing here?’ then when Thomas saw me his face was fantastic as well.  Meanwhile Bill was still standing outside. I opened the gate and said ‘look who’s here’ Thomas was so excited to see Bill here too and then James joined them and there were lots of group hugs.

Thomas and Sonal with his birthday cake

Thomas and Sonal with his birthday cake

James, Bill and Thomas

James, Bill and Thomas

 

This morning Thomas cooked an amazing Father’s day breakfast for Bill and we ate it sitting in the sunshine.

We’ve got 3 weeks here so if you’ve got a spare room be careful you might get a pair of church mice standing on your door step!

Phuket to Sri Lanka day 4

Position at 10.00 Sunday 31th January
0758.789N
08854.623E
24 hour run from 10.00 30th to 10.00 31st 159 miles average 6.62 kph 465 miles to go

This is our fifth day at sea and still hanging on for dear life, literally. When I’m down below I have to swing from hand hold to hand hold to save me from falling across the boat because Camomile is heeling into a beam reach which she enjoys. I have a galley strap to stop me falling when I’m cooking which brings a whole new meaning to ‘tied to the kitchen sink’! It’s hot down below with all the hatches shut although the little one in the forward heads (bathroom) is open because it’s on the port side and doesn’t get splashed, just the odd trickle off the coach roof. At least the deck is nice and clean. We’re being very careful wearing life jackets when we’re on watch on deck. We also wear Raymarine life tags, which set off an alarm if one of us goes overboard while the other one is sleeping. We take it in turns to sleep and always have someone on watch although there’s only been one container ship on the horizon in the last 24 hours. Also no squalls for 24 hours and nothing showing on the gribs, although that doesn’t mean anything because the gribs aren’t always right. Harry the Hydrovane is steering us beautifully.
Food isn’t very inventive at the moment, we had a ‘slop dinner’ last night which was a bit of pasta with a boli sauce tipped over it. Might break out a homemade frozen dinner from the lovely Sailors shop in Langkawi this evening, beef Rendang I think. Yum yum.
You can see by our stats that we are making good headway. Our speed hasn’t gone below 6kts in the last 24 hours except when a freak wave hits us (bigger than the rest) and there’s quite a few of those. The waves were about 1 1/2 to 2 metres tall yesterday, which sounds big but they don’t break over us but lift us up and go under us. They’ve calmed down a bit today but we’ve also still got at least a knot of current helping us along.
On the net last night Nicone is still behind us to the south, Inspiration Lady is about 140 miles behind us and Tintin is only 35 miles to the north of us but slightly in front so looks like they will be buying the ice creams when we get in.
On my 18.00 log reading I discovered our longitude was 090 degrees east. Longitude are the long lines that go down the globe north to south. The Greenwich meridian line is 0 degrees. The 090 degree west was the Galapagos, one of our favourite spots around the world. 180 degrees was Fiji; another gem among our world travels. Now 090 degrees east is passed which means we are three quarters of the way around the world, although not three quarters of the way home because we’ve got to go to the Caribbean and back yet; but we are on our way home.
Another milestone passed last night was the half way point, it’s always better counting down; the second half always seems to go faster.
BTW I can’t see facebook. The website has an email address (it’s very obscure you won’t guess it) which I send an email to. It gets automatically posted on the website, which is linked to facebook. Our son sends us notes of messages, thank you for all your good wishes. I’ll answer them when we get to port. I’d love to hear from any one if you fancy dropping me an email. Our email address at sea is mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take out the spaces I’ve put in to stop spam)
I like to end on a funny note. I came up on deck yesterday and noticed Bill had tied the new ensign (flag) up. When asked why his reply was ‘Lizzy was tickling Harry on the chin’! Mad as a box of frogs, that’s all I need a skipper going senile!!

Visitors in Tioman

Chinatown

Chinatown

Finally got a decent signal to update the website.  I’m still writing the Chinese story but first a quick blog on what we’ve been up to. After arriving back in Terengganu on 20th September. We spent a couple of days unpacking, shopping, washing and fueling before leaving on 22nd.  Terengganu was a nice town with a good supermarket and also a very nice Chinatown area. The buildings have been nicely restored.

How about this classic car? Isn’t it pretty?

My kinda car

My kinda car

A hazy Tioman beach

A hazy Tioman beach

After spending a couple of days at Kapas, one of our favourite islands, we did an overnighter down to Tioman island arriving at the little marina Saturday lunchtime.  Bill’s sister Kate, her new fiancee Mark and our niece Daisy were due to arrive the next day.  Sadly the Indonesian fires were causing a bad haze and the beautiful views of the island were no where to be seen. After a difficult journey they finally arrived in the evening all hot and sweaty.  We decided to go straight out for a meal  because it was pointless having a shower and going out and getting all sweaty again. They were grateful for our air-conditioning unit.

Kate and Daisy kitted up

Kate and Daisy kitted up

The first day of their mini holiday with us was spent diving. Kate has a Padi certificate but was a bit rusty and Daisy wanted to do a try dive. There was a dive school just along the beach from the marina that didn’t have any customers on that Monday and were happy to take us all out. First Kate and Daisy had a little skills test in the water in front of the dive school.  Yn pronounced yen was very pleased with them.  It was great to get his undivided attention

 

All happy with their skills

All happy with their skills

Skills sorted

Skills sorted

 

 

 

Considering Daisy hadn’t dived before she did very well.

 

Yn's plan

Yn’s plan

 

 

After a little bite to eat (not to much) Yn sketched out a chart of where we were going.  There was a diving plan for Bill, Kate and Daisy while Mark and I were going to snorkel.

 

 

Kate and Daisy ready for the off

Kate and Daisy ready for the off

 

All the equipment was loaded into the boat and off we went.  As they didn’t have any thing to do that afternoon two of the other dive masters decided to join us so the three of them had a dive master each and it wasn’t an expensive day either. Bill has his own kit but Kate and Daisy hired their’s so with the skills test, the dive and the 5 of us in the boat it came to about £75 – bargain.

 

Daisy first

Daisy first

 

Daisy was very brave and went in first performing a perfect back roll out of the boat first time.

Followed by Kate who also did a perfect back roll.

 

 

Then Kate

Then Kate

Then Bill

Then Bill

 

 

 

 

 

All ok

All ok

 

Mark in the water

Mark in the water

 

They all disappeared below the water down to about 6 metres so not too deep but deep enough to enjoy the fish.  Meanwhile Mark and I were taken to the shallower side of the island so we could snorkel.  Mark was amazed by the fish and the coral, he said it was like being in an aquarium.

 

Mark with the coral under him

Mark with the coral under him

 

More coral

More coral

 

Even without the sun the colours were amazing and so many fish.

Everyone had a great time.  The boat even took us back to the marina to save us having to walk back in our wet swimmers.

 

Lots of fish

Lots of fish

 

Beautiful sri Buat

Beautiful sri Buat

 

The next day, Tuesday, we took Camomile out to Sri buat commonly known as the butterfly islands because there are two islands of a similar size and shape with a delightful anchorage in between them. When the tide goes out a large area in the middle of the islands dries out giving us good protection from the weather coming in from the south.  When we were there in July it looked like this

 

A smoggy view

A smoggy view

 

 

Sadly with the Indonesian fires causing a really bad smog across the whole area it looked like this

 

 

Kate relaxing

Kate relaxing

Mark doing a 'bomb'

Mark doing a ‘bomb’

In a way it was good that the sun was blotted out because they would have all burnt to a frazzle.  As soon as the anchor went down they were in the water.  Although we didn’t have the sun it was still far hotter than they were used to and getting in the water was a good way to cool down even with a water temperature of 26C!

 

 

Kate and Mark

Kate and Mark

Daisy managed to tip Kate out of the lilo ring

Daisy managed to tip Kate out of the lilo ring

I spent the afternoon preparing food for a bbq which Bill and Mark were in charge of while it was cooking along with quite a few beers. Normally we could have sat and watched the stars but the smog scuppered that idea. The disadvantage of coming out of the marina was that the air conditioning unit had to go off and even when it got dark it was still very hot.  Poor Kate and Mark didn’t have a very good night’s sleep as they had arrived from a New Zealand winter into 32C without time to adjust to the temperature so the next day it was decided to head back to the marina and get the air conditioning back on.

Before we left Bill took them for a little explore in the dinghy.  There’s a little island in the channel where someone has built a hut but sadly the beach is covered with plastic washed in from the sea.  They went onto the beach where there’s a nice little bay for snorkeling, although not as good as the island the dive team took us to, it was still fun for them exploring the crevices and rock pools.

Bill, Mark, Kate, Daisy and Sue

Bill, Mark, Kate, Daisy and Sue

Once back in the marina we headed out into the village for a meal ashore on our last evening.

Daisy and I went looking for monkeys before dinner and although it was already getting dark there were quite a few sitting in the trees above the road. Kate and Daisy went for a better look at them in the morning.

 

 

Mark, Kate and Daisy all looking a bit sad

Mark, Kate and Daisy all looking a bit sad

 

brother and sister

brother and sister

 

All too soon their visit was over and it was back to the little ferry port so they could catch the ferry back to the mainland then take the coach back to Singapore for their onward journey.  They fitted quite a bit into their 4 days but it had gone very quickly.  Photos were taken in different combinations.

When did you get so tall Daisy?

When did you get so tall Daisy?

Bye Kate

Bye Kate

 

 

The ferry arrived and it was time for final goodbyes.

 

 

Into the ferry

Into the ferry

 

All aboard

All aboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into the smog

Into the smog

 

Goodbye Kate it was great to see you and to meet Mark.

It was nice getting to know you Daisy.

XXXXX

Last day in Hong Kong

The old workings

The old workings

As today is our last day in Hong Kong we were going to try and mop up the things that we’ve missed.  It was still cloudy, I’m going to get SAD syndrome if I stay here much longer, but it wasn’t raining so it was the Peak tram first.  Having been there once already we knew the way and walked straight down there. The gates were open – we were in luck.  There a good display in the entrance of the workings. The gravity-defying Peak tram was the first funicular railway in Asia and has trundled up the side of Victoria peak at a steep 27˚ incline for over a century.

The Peak tram

The Peak tram

 

The tram arrived and we jumped on.  There isn’t any where for the tram to turn round so you face forwards going up and the driver walks to the controls at the other end of the tram. We got in behind a tour and they had all the seats on the right hand side but the left looked over the woodland on the way up.   We hadn’t had any breakfast so sat in the Pacific coffee lounge and watched the tram go back down again.

 

The Peak tram

The Peak tram

Amazing view

Amazing view

 

After breakfast we were ready for our walk and started off on the well signposted Peak circuit which is a flat 2 mile circuit giving breathtaking views over Victoria harbour and the city skyscrapers.

 

 

 

Panoramic view

Panoramic view

Building clad in bamboo scaffolding

Building clad in bamboo scaffolding

It was a bit hazy but not bad for the time of year.  Bill was fascinated by this building, not sure if you’ll be able to make it out but it’s entirely clad in bamboo scaffolding.  It has netting around the outside to contain any debris but as these building are 30 or 40 stories high it seemed amazing that they had used bamboo.

 

Waterfall

Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a little waterfall coming out of the peak

 

 

Big spider

Big spider

 

 

and this huge spider had spun his web next to the waterfall.  It was easily the size of my hand, not nice.  The circuit gives views over the islands south of Hong Kong island that we could just see over the trees.

 

Islands to the south

Islands to the south

Sitting among the Hibiscus

Sitting among the Hibiscus

 

 

 

A steep trudge towards the summit leads to Victoria Peak gardens that were once part of the Governor’s lodge.  Sadly the summit is fenced off and has an array of phone masts on top of it. It was very peaceful up there and decidedly cooler than the city with a nice breeze blowing through.

This puss cat was enjoying the sunshine.

 

Sleepy chap

Sleepy chap

 

View from the window

View from the window

As the weather was hazy and we were a bit short of time we decided not to visit the Peak tower which apparently gives good views of the city.  After doing the walk we felt that was the best view.  There was another great view out of the window going down.  You travel backwards going down the hill but we managed to get the front seat and watched the tram descend the hill.  It’s difficult to see how steep it is but you could feel the gradient as we traveled down.

Steep hill

Steep hill

Lucky lion

Lucky lion

Once back down again we looked for some lunch which isn’t always easy in Hong Kong.  Many of the malls along the water front either don’t have any where to eat or they were way over our budget.  Eventually we found somewhere after what felt like ages.

Once back out again I wanted to walk around the banking district because some of them have viewing floors but sadly it was a bank holiday for the 70th anniversary of VJ day and they were closed.  I rubbed the lions paw outside the HSBC building for luck and then we moved on.

Expensive shops

Expensive shops

 

 

The Landmark is a very expensive mall with very expensive shops in it but it was interesting looking in the windows.

 

 

Nice

Nice

Nice car

Nice car

 

 

With some expensive cars outside

 

 

 

83

 

We walked through Statue square and passed the neo-classical Legislative building with the Hong Kong cenotaph in front of it.  It’s difficult to photograph these building close up because they are so tall.

The HSBC building

The HSBC building

 

 

 

 

 

The building to the right is the modernistic but feng shui-friendly girders of the HSBC building.  Designed by Bristish architect Sir Norman Foster and completed in 1985 it was one of the most expensive buildings of the time costing more than HK$5 billion.

Happy smiling face.

Happy smiling face.

 

 

Our time in Hong Kong was coming to a close and tomorrow we fly to Beijing in China.  There is a lot to see in and around the city and I feel we will have to come back.

The last job of the day was pick up our passports from the China Travel company with our Chinese visas in them.  I had been nervous all day in case there was a problem but they were ready and waiting for us. So tomorrow it’s China here we come.

 

 

Happy Anniversary

A grey old day

A grey old day

Wednesday 2nd September was our 37th wedding Anniversary.  I had planned our trip around this date and the plan for the day was to take the Star ferry to Kowloon, walk along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, visit the Hong Kong museum of history, visit the Wong Tai Sin temple, tea at the Peninsular hotel, visit the jade market and the Temple street night market.  Seems like a lot but they were all fairly close together but we woke up to this. Grey skies and pouring with rain. We sat in our hotel room wondering if we should revise our plan but it would be difficult to change things now.  Any way we’re British and a bit of rain hasn’t stopped us in the past and it wasn’t going to start now. Luckily the bus for the ferry stopped right outside our hotel so we jumped on.

Complete with raincoat

Complete with raincoat

The Star ferry was started in 1898 by a gentleman called Mr Dorabjee Nowrojee.  At that time the only people allowed on the first class upper deck were Europeans and a collar and tie was mandatory.  These days any one can enjoy the 10 minute journey and at $2.50 a little over 20p, it must be the cheapest cruise in the world. The present 1960’s fleet are still berthed in the same fashion with a hemp rope being caught by a billhook.  The ferry has two entry points without a public stairway between the two floors.  We inadvertently got on the lower deck and rode as second class passengers.  It was still raining.

Our Star ferry selfie

Our Star ferry selfie

Storm clouds building

Storm clouds building

 

 

The rain had eased briefly and we started walking along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade which gave spectacular views back across Victoria harbour to Hong Kong island but the storm clouds were building.  We managed to get to shelter before this view….

 

White out along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade

White out along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade

 

 

 

……became like this. Could have been Brighton on a bank holiday!!

 

 

Bill being a geek

Bill being a geek

We sheltered for about 15 minutes then decided to abandon the walk and head for the Hong Kong Museum of History.  Fortunately Hong Kong is used to the rain and it’s possible to walk large swathes of the town either underground via the underground train system or over a series of covered walkways and we managed to get to the museum only a little damp.  The museum takes you on a fascinating journey through Hong Kong’s past from prehistoric times to 1997. As luck would have it museums are free on Wednesdays – lucky us. We spent several hours looking at the exhibits, it was very well done  except for this life size model of a junk rig which, as Bill had to point out, didn’t have it’s mainsheet attached properly – what a geek!

Lovely model boat

Lovely model boat

 

 

 

Also he noticed this model boat wasn’t rigged properly!

 

 

A replica of a temporary home provided by the government after typhoon damage.

A replica of a temporary home provided by the government after typhoon damage.

There was a lot of information on typhoons in the area and that many homes were lost and replaced with these temporary homes.  Didn’t look like a lot of room for 8 or so people.

The display dedicated to the British handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese government in 1997 was very moving with a short film showing old film clips of the day with Chris Pattern making his moving speech and then joining Prince Charles on Britannia with his family and sailing out of the harbour. It looked like a very emotional time for them all.

Anniversary tea

Anniversary tea

 

We came out of the museum to find it STILL raining and decided to abandon the trip to Tai Sin temple and go straight to the Peninsula hotel.  Most of this journey was completed underground and when we emerged next to the hotel it had stopped raining. The Peninsular is very grand and we were worried we wouldn’t get in and had taken some slightly smarter clothes to change into but there were people looking more bedraggled then us so stayed as we were.

What shall we have?

What shall we have?

The quartet in the gallery

The quartet in the gallery

There was a gallery for the musicians to sit in as they played nice ‘soft’ music.  We chose Peninsular afternoon tea with a selection of sandwiches and cakes.  The three tier cake stand arrived with two of everything and four warm and freshly baked scones on the bottom tier with jam and clotted cream.  We took it in turns to decide which ones we ate, some of the cakes were very rich; we didn’t leave any for Mr Manners.  We really enjoyed it and everything was delicious but decided it didn’t beat our tea party in Raffles last year for my birthday.

 

Two of everything

Two of everything

Wandering through the market stalls

Wandering through the market stalls

 

 

By the time we left it was 4pm and the sun was even trying to come out a little bit.  It was too late to go to the temple but Bill said it would be good to have a look around the Jade market and see if there were some ear rings I might like.  I found some really pretty blue mauve ones which he kindly bought me as a memory of our anniversary spent in Hong Kong as well as a nice pink and pearl necklace and a beautiful scarf.  I’m very lucky.

We wandered through the Temple street market as they were setting up for the evening.

 

 

 

The water front of Hong Kong island

The water front of Hong Kong island

Back at the water front the clouds had lifted and it was now possible to see the tops of the sky scrappers and Victoria peak behind them.  It was an amazing sight.  As it got darker each building had a set of LED lights creating it’s own little light show and altogether forming a spectacular display.  The tall building left of centre with the diamond patterns is the Bank of China headquarters, the smaller building to the right with the red lights is the HSBC building and the circle is a big wheel.  We waited until 8pm for the laser show which was also really clever.  Returning on the Star ferry we sat on the upper deck on the way back.

Our selfie

Our selfie

 

 

Once back in the city we made our way back up the escalator system to the Italian restaurant we found in SoHo on the first night, the Sole Mio for an amazing dinner.  What a wonderful day we had.

 

 

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary

 

Second day in Hong Kong

Our tram ride

Our tram ride

There was a bit of a shaky start this morning because the original plan had been to take the Peak tram to Victoria peak and walk round the circuit to see the view but when we got there the tram was closed for the day.  We were offered a bus but chose not to go up.  Hopefully we can do the tram on the 3rd.  We stopped for coffee to look through the guide book and decided to take a tram out to the Sheung Wan area to do a walking tour.

The Hong trams have been in operation since 1904 and represent the only all double decker wooden sided tram fleet in the world.  They operate on routes running east – west  along the northern side of Hong Kong island.  They cost HK$2.40 about 20p a journey and are very popular.

Looking back over the tram tracks

Looking back over the tram tracks

 

 

 

 

 

It looks very strange to see these lovely old trams running in between the glass fronted buildings and alongside the modern buses.  As they have their on tracks often they are moving faster than the modern buses although they still have to wait for traffic lights. We sat on the top deck and enjoyed our ride. My Dad would have loved it. I found it difficult not to imagine Dad and his friend Jimmy sitting in front of us.

 

Bill watching the tram coming the other way.

Bill watching the tram coming the other way.

Odd things in jars

Odd things in jars

 

Our walking tour led us through a journey into Hong Kong’s past as we passed dried seafood shops and herbal medicine wholesalers. They had some fairly dodgy looking things in their windows.  Despite what these look like we think these were dried sea cucumbers.

 

 

Man Mo temple

Man Mo temple

We visited several old temples but this is the Man Mo temple, it was the centre of civil life in the 19th century.  It was built between 1847 and 1862 by Chinese merchants and dedicated to the gods of literature ‘man’ and of war ‘mo’.  Back in the early colonial days the government only accepted oaths taken here rather than in a court of law.  Smoke curls from giant spirals of incense hanging from the ceiling that contain paper offerings to the dead. The atmosphere was very thick with incense inside and we couldn’t stay in there long.

 

Prayer papers offered to the dead

Prayer papers offered to the dead

The large spirals hanging from the ceiling

The large spirals hanging from the ceiling

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street board games

Street board games

 

The walk took about an hour then we got back on the MTR (underground) and took the train to Wan Chai area and had lunch in an English pub called the Queen Victoria in the red light district although all the girlie bars were closed..  It seems like an odd choice but we both choose PORK sausage with mash. We just don’t get pork sausages in Malaysia.  It was delicious. After lunch we wandered around the street markets which was really interesting. These two men were playing some sort of board game which looks like a cross between chess and draughts. There was a lot of shouting involved.

Bamboo scafolding

Bamboo scafolding

The stalls were selling everything from plastic flowers to underwear. There were the usual tourist tat stalls but all very friendly.  Bill looked up over the top of the stalls and spotted these guys erecting bamboo scaffolding. He counted about 20 floors up and we couldn’t tell if they had harnesses on or not. Even so it looked pretty risky.

 

 

 

Veggies on the left, live fish on the right

Veggies on the left, live fish on the right

We found an indoor market selling the most wonderful looking fruit and vegetables. I wanted to take some home! The stalls on the right had lots of tanks containing live fish. They looked fairly health but I felt a bit sorry for them lying there waiting to be killed.  They were also selling meat in an open stall but it looked a bit more appetising than the Malaysian meat and wasn’t covered in flies. They had red lamps in the lights to make it look good.

 

Fresh meat

Fresh meat

The old Wan Chai post office

The old Wan Chai post office

 

Finally we walked passed this dear little building sitting between all the high rises and next door to a very modern post office but this was the original Wan Chai post office and one of Hong Kong’s oldest. It has now been preserved and isn’t in use any more.

 

 

Views across Repulse bay

Views across Repulse bay

Back to the MRT and onto Exchange square to catch the No6 bus out to the seaside town of Stanley. It was a great journey for just $8.40 each about 70p.  Once we’d left the city the road weaved through much smaller towns with lovely views across Repulse bay.  It was a double decker and we sat upstairs to get a good view. There were quite a few upmarket apartment blocks that would have had wonderful views across the bay.  The journey took about an hour and was a good ride.

Stanley pier

Stanley pier

Little local boats

Little local boats

 

 

Stanley is reminiscent of an English seaside town complete with pier. We walked along the promenade to the market which had some lovely jewelery stalls but I managed to resist, I have so many already.  There were a little group of local boats moored in the bay which we felt drawn to.  Shame the sun wasn’t out but at least it wasn’t raining.

 

Stanley waterfront

Stanley waterfront

 

 

We stopped for some delicious waffles with ice cream before boarding the bus back to the city.  I really didn’t expect to find such diversification in Hong Kong but it was interesting and we enjoyed our afternoon there.

 

A view from the pier

A view from the pier

 

A day of ups and downs.

Flying on over the islands

Flying on over the islands

This morning started with a low when Bill’s alarm went off at 04.45 a quarter of an hour early!  We hadn’t had a very good night because we both kept dreaming we’d overslept and missed our flight but after showering and getting sorted out we realised today we were going to tick off an item on our bucket list.  Today we were flying to Hong Kong on the second flight of our adventure. It was due to leave at 7.10 our time and left right on time.  After a bit of sleep we landed at 11.05 – again on time.  It was a bit cloudy as we landed but nothing was going to spoil our day – or so we thought.

Landing at Hong Kong airport

Landing at Hong Kong airport

 

We are in Hong Kong!

We are in Hong Kong!

Bill had always wanted to come to Hong Kong and here he is there.  Amazing airport, very efficient.  We made our way through to immigration without any problems and as soon as we reached the luggage carousel Bill’s bag was already there but not mine.  I was thinking Oh no I’ll have nothing to wear but then more bags came through and there it was, that was a relief. As we entered the arrival hall there was  my favourite – Starbucks, coffee time!

 

Bill decided to go and raid the ATM for some money.  Oh dear the first two wouldn’t give him any.  Luckily third time lucky.  All on his own without my assistance, was this wise? We’ll see…..

The next job was get from the airport to the city.  That was made very easy by buying an Airport Express travel pass which allowed us unlimited travel for three days plus a return journey from and to the airport.  On the train into the city all was going very well.

The first stop in the city was the China Travel service where we intended to apply for our Chinese visas.  I have spent the last few months pawing through my Lonely planet China and had memorised  a lot of stuff one of which was the route to the CTS office and we found it first go.  I had everything ready, a form for each of us downloaded and filled in, a passport photo for each of us, a typed out itinerary and finally had printed all the hotel bookings, train tickets, flight tickets etc and had it all sitting in a wallet ready. I handed it all over with our passports which she started to shake.  ‘Where is his entry visa?’ she was shaking Bill’s passport.  She shook mine and out fell a piece of paper but where was Bill’s.  We went through the bag, his pockets, every where, NOTHING. Then she said she couldn’t process our application without it. DISASTER. His passport had been in his pocket with his wallet and we realised that while getting cross with the ATM machines it must have dropped out.  The lady said our option was to go to immigration downtown to try to get another one or take a daytrip to Macau and get one on our way back, which would be too late for our visa for China!!!

We both hit a real low.  At this point we still had all our bags with us so we continued on to our hotel to check in.  It turned out the hotel had a free shuttle bus that could drop us right next to the Immigration tower, someone was watching over us after all.  We dropped our bags in our room and jumped in the bus. I had the bit between my teeth at this point. I hadn’t come this far to fall at the first hurdle.  I marched into the building and, after explaining what had happened and eventually being pointed in the right direction, we found a friendly immigration officer with a pre-printed form (this had obviously happened before) who issued Bill with a reprinted entry visa.  RELIEF. I was so relieved I burst into tears, I could see all my plans floating away.

The start of the escalator system

The start of the escalator system

 

We made our way back to the CTS who processed our visa application.  What a day. That’s why Bill isn’t allowed to wander off on his own!!! By this time it was 5pm and it was too late to do the tour I had planned. So we amused ourselves with travelling on The Escalator.  This is the longest covered outdoor escalator system in the world and is the best way to travel between the central area, up through the mid levels and SoHo. It took two and a half years to build at a cost of HK$205 million roughly about £20 million.

 

 

20

 

All smiles now

All smiles now

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was even an M&S there complete with Percy Pigs!!

There was even an M&S there complete with Percy Pigs!!

A view of a street market

A view of a street market

 

 

This street market had lots of beautiful fruit for sale.  I liked the building next to it.  Can you guess why?

 

A view looking down

A view looking down

 

 

 

 

 

The view looking down from the top was really good.

So our first day in Hong Kong went from wonderful to awful to wonderful again and Bill took me for a delicious Italian meal to make up for all the stress of the day.  Bless him he’d been so upset that he’d spoilt everything but it all worked out in the end.  Tomorrow we can start enjoying Hong Kong.

Cheers

Cheers

 

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