Tag Archives: boatlife

Help to careen and repair at Pulau Tioman

Here is a little insight into what we might just ‘do’ all day when we are not sailing, diving, snorkelling, relaxing or socialising with other cruisers.  And another story to add to the little known fact that cruising and boat ownership sometimes feels like endless repairs and maintenance in exotic places.

Tiki is in company with a mini flotilla sailing together here in the Tioman group of islands whilst the majority of the other boats in the rally we are part of retraces Tiki’s journey north from 2015.  Gillie is single handing her ketch SY.Tuppenny and Peter and Cath on SY. Kittani have been joined by a new crew member Kelly from the US. We all opted to stay in the islands, relax, grow gills and have a shorter journey when we eventually head east to Indonesia’s Anambas and Natuna archipelagos at the end of the month.   Tuppenny has had an annoying leak since… well forever according to Gillie but since she relaunched in March it got progressively worse until the bilge pump was being activated every 7 or so minutes, sometimes less. It was coming from the stuffing box which was supposed to be a dripless system.  Peter has a similar setup on Kittani and over the past weeks had helped tighten/inspect/loosen bits in an attempt to stem the flow to no avail.  It was stressful for Gillie and we were all nervous for her – an inspection and repair haul out was required with the nearest alternative for 100’s of miles being suddenly expensive and up a shallow river at Endau.  As it turned out emergency or not, this yard had extensive sandblasting work in progress and advised her not to plan arrival for several weeks.  An alternative was required, and fairly fast.
Fortunately large spring tides and a dead low reconnaissance at dawn revealed a potential for careening on a clean patch of sand next to the wall in the main town at Tekek, Tioman.  Gillie had the replacement spare ready onboard so Peter’s bravado convinced her she could do it with their help and our experience from years of drying out on walls in the south of England and Brittany came into play to tip the confidence scales. So with no time to waste our little group formulated a plan to get Tuppenny onto the wall at high tide, then again for everyone to be ready to assist her settle into a lean at the next low scheduled for just before sundown.
Everything went perfectly to plan and with her mast tied to a solid rail she settled into the sand and we all strategically sat on her starboard side with celebratory sundowner G&T’s to ensure a good ‘inward to wall’ lean.  It must have been a real novelty to have a yacht against their town pier as so many locals came to look, take pictures and many took the time to try (in broken English with our broken Malay) to warn us that the water would soon be gone, even offering to tow her to deeper water.
Then came the challenging part – inspection and repair.  We calculated the tides and worked out that at 04:00 the next day the propellor would be almost (5-10cm below) exposed and this state would last until 10:30 at most.  This gave Pete and Neil six full hours to effect the replacement with a little time to spare to call it if they needed to wait out an extra tide.  After dinner on the quayside opposite Tuppenny we returned to Tiki & Kittani and Kelly stayed aboard for some welcome moral support for Gillie.  I think they had a fairly sleepless night with the bow tilted at an angle forwards and ferry boat wash causing strange wobbling movements but importantly Tuppenny was ready for repair.
The boys went super early and started as planned whilst Cath and I had a bit of a lie-in and joined them later for moral support and to source some yummy roti canai for breakfast.  I’m not technical on the details but we arrived at 8:30 to find all mostly on schedule and that the cause of the leak had been the pipe which supports the propshaft having split and broken on the underside – probably many years ago – and the dripless system had been installed over the broken pipe.  Neil removed the propellor and shaft and ground fibreglass away to enable the new system to be installed on clean solid pipe.  Pete epoxied everything clean and expertly re-installed the replacement bellows system.  These tasks are easy for me to write in a sentence when in reality it took them the best part of 5.5 hours solid work against the clock and tide to achieve by bending upside down into squished barely accessible compartments, and with sweat constantly dripping from every pore in the tropical heat.
But by 10am there were finally some smiles on their faces and Gillie was almost in tears with relief.  The propellor was back on as was the new dripless stuffing box and the skies had darkened and started to pour with some much needed local rain. We waited out the downpour in the local breakfast cafe and left Gillie aboard to keep an eye on things as the tide rose over the propellor.  A triumphant “NO DRIPS!” was declared when she re-appeared after the squall passed – SUCCESS!
High tide arrived at 14:00 and we returned to assist with lines and traffic direction as there are lots of small boats zipping in and out of the canals.  Again everything went smooth as clockwork and Tuppenny was soon back with us on anchor with Gillie tongue-in-cheek declaring she now had something wrong with the bilge pump as it didn’t seem to be working anymore… because it didn’t need to!
It was a great feeling to have saved her lots of yard money, coming together to help a fellow cruiser and to have had everything turn out so well.  Now it was time to  celebrate and party cruiser style.  We relocated the next day to an idyllic remote bay and snorkelled the reef, gathered wood for the beach bbq, laid out the grass mats and drank bubbles in the sea, complete with a beautiful bamboo swing to play on.
No wonder we love this lifestyle!
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Uber – the traveller’s transportation lifeline

I love technology and simplicity and get very excited when I find new stuff that helps my life run a bit more smoothly – which is why I am sharing with anyone who will listen about my UBER experience.  Yes I have found UBER and am now wondering how I ever existed beforehand.  Well I do know really, I existed in a travellers world where I walked miles and searched for a taxi stand only to find myself joining the end of a queue so long I audibly groaned.  Yeah that was me.  Or I called a cab company with appalling attempts to explain my location in Malay/Chinese/Spanish/French/Thai.. you get my gist, only to wait eternally for the appointed car to arrive, or not arrive as was often the case.

Here’s my shameless plug – if reading this inspires you to create an UBER account please enter my referal invite code ubersalty123 and we will both receive free rides!

In Asia the cabs with the TAXI lamp on top are not always in the best condition, often no seat-belts or air-conditioning and with questionable cleanliness.  All over the world these branded Taxis charge such inflated rates I never get that ‘value for money’ feeling. Taxis in Perth, Australia wins this title with a $55 fare for a mere 13 minute and 14km drive.  Ok they did have seatbelts and I get they have to cover various license costs but I don’t really want to foot this if I don’t have to.

Then I found UBER.  This company uses technology to link registered drivers in their own vehicles operating their car as a small business with passengers like me and everything is managed through an App on your smartphone.  UBER determines the fare – not you or the driver – which is calculated by distance and estimated in advance and you know EXACTLY how long it will be before your driver arrives.  If this wasn’t enough good stuff the awesomest part is they are often over 50% cheaper than the corresponding taxi quote. Yep! that’s 50% travellers transport savings. Here’s a recent test quote for a ride I took towards Singapore – minimum fare for Taxi was $17 vs UBER $7 and I was actually charged $7.40 when I completed the journey.

Fare comparison for a 22 minute journey.
Fare comparison for a 22 minute journey.  The exact fare eventually charged by UBER was $7.40

For the booking you can choose what type of car you’d like from standard UBER-X through to UBER XL (Executive Luxury) depending on what is locally available.  Then you enter the pick-up point and destination (both with GPS locations) and this not only tells your driver where to find you but gives them the map navigation route to follow to your destination.  If there is more than one route option they will ask which one you prefer when they collect you.  But for me the real travellers magic is the that it conveniently manages the payment through your registered Credit Card or PayPal. Absolutely no cash is exchanged, no fare negotiation is required.  You simply get charged on the milage and demand rate.  If you are someone who likes to know these things upfront the fare can easily be estimated before you book.

There is no taxi rank here but I can see two UBER cars available within 2 minutes of me.  Once I book they get my GPS and I can track their arrival in real time.
There is no taxi rank here but I can see two UBER cars available within 2 minutes of me. Once I book they get my GPS and I can track their arrival in real time.

Travelling UBER feels very safe to me compared to flagging down any marked cab on the road.  Before the car arrives I have the name and photo of my driver, the car make/model and plate number to identify them with. In Malaysia I’ve been transported by Mums who do it part-time when the kids are at school, supply teachers making up the hours, Uni students supplementing their cash to study, people in-between jobs and similar friendly and interesting drivers were encountered in the UK and Singapore.  In Australia we met an entrepreneurial driver who had his own limousine hire company in Sydney but had recently relocated to Perth.  He had taken the decision to drive with UBER for 6 months to learn the streets and obtain first hand knowledge of the transport trends and anticipated costs in order to establish a similar set-up to his Sydney business.

My experiences so far have all been exceptionally good.  Beautifully maintained new cars sometimes bottled water, mints and even the daily paper have been offered.  Sure UBER is not everywhere (we found none in Spain) but for travellers and especially boating cruisers with no wheels and often no knowledge of the local area it is a real godsend.  Hey, if you look on the UBER map and there are no cars available you can always revert to old-school taxi/bus/pre-UBER existence!

So how do you get it? Easy! Log on to uber.com or Install the free Android or iOS app to your phone, launch it and follow the steps to set up your account and you are ready to go.  Here’s my plug – if reading this inspires you to create an UBER account please enter my referal invite code ubersalty123 and we will both receive free rides – now that’s UBER love 🙂

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Sailing into the wind – why would anyone do it?

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My grandmother fondly refers to me as her little bird, flitting from branch to branch and migrating with an inbuilt instinct. Perhaps this translates to our sea life as we are nomadic sailors, exploring the globe however the seasonal or Trade wind dictates. I guess that’s the best way to describe the grand plan, although anyone who knows me understands my plans are often scratched in the sand of a beach with a rising tide.

Trade winds are amazing. We purchased a beautiful chart of the tall ships trading routes which inspired dreams long before we moved aboard Tiki and has become my go-to map when dream planning our global course.   Normally we would be sticking closely to these seasonal highways, after all we are nomadic and want an easy cruising life. But sometimes we go against the wind, turn on the engine and reverse course. Why?

It irked me as we sailed south away from the idyllic turquoise waters and palm fringed islands of Terengganu state. I’m green with envy talking to other cruising boats in the area which are generally headed north or east as it’s the SouthWest Monsoon season with consistent fresh winds from the south. Their destinations include Cambodia, Vietnam, Borneo and the Philippines. Oh boy am I jealous! (read inspired)

Not us we’re going south, motoring not only into a headwind but a 2-3knot opposing current and swell.  It seems like madness and after a few nasty passages into wind through Indonesia Captain Crackers and I looked each other in the eye, spat on our palms, shook and swore never again! yet here we are.

Ahh but this time the madness has an olive grove gold and mountain peaked silver lining. This time I’m not complaining at all. Because this time for all the queasy seasick, thumping discomfort associated with this beat to wind sea leg there is a huge reward at the end. We are off on a land based awesome adventure in the form of GR11 hiking in Spain, woo hoo!

So why am I sailing south into the wind? In boatlife any long departure from our salty home means Tiki needs to be looked after in a secure yard or marina. Mediocre ones simply offer a pontoon to tie to. A good one in addition has security, will check her mooring lines, watch her waterline, listen for alarms and tie down anything which works itself loose in a storm.  Tiki is my home, she’s got soul,  I talk to her, we’ve got sand-scratched plans. She HAS to be in a good one and unfortunately there isn’t a big choice in this area, so back south towards Singapore we go.

Sailing into the trade winds? Normally would never recommend it, but this time it’s all good and the distances not too far. The real beauty of the trades to this nomad is that they will be here around the same time every year so my sand scratchings are free to follow them when we return.

Fixing bloggers block 101

What is happening with saltygardener.com?

 **crickets chirping**

Well for my 10 truly devoted followers you are all in for a bumpy ride over the next 3 weeks because I have signed up for a 21 day WordPress.com kick up the blogging butt. There is a daily assignment to blow out the dusty cobwebs and bring some life into both the site and the blogger I just know is within me.

Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
I’ve never kept a personal journal. Living a nomadic travelling lifestlye aboard a sailing yacht I have so many crazy things to write home about and for the past few years I have posted fairly reguarly on Social Media. But lately Updates / Instas / Tweets leave me feeling kinda hollow. So I got to thinking about family and friends who are not on Facebook and realised I have left them without news or escapism or insight into my wierdo ways for a few years now. I also really enjoy the extended writing, the composition and the story telling of the ‘old’ email days. Well actually before email I wrote and sent postcards and letters from my travels – yes I am one of those dinosaurs.

So I am going to blog with the same intention. If a post sounds like a letter home to family and friends then good, its supposed to.

What topics do you think you’ll write about?
I am passionate about how people use plants, about growing and catching my own food, self sufficiency and the natural world. I love to travel, dive, snorkel, meet people, take pictures, try anything edible, forage, buy local and cook from scratch. I aspire to live minimally, be fearless, keep my global footprint tinier than my tiny floating home and be better at fixing stuff. I miss my family and friends. I think I’ll be writing about all these topics.

Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
Friends, extended family, vicarious travellers, foodies, gardeners, bloggers, fellow nomads, live-aboards, minimalists, nurses, ethno-botanists, sailors, first mates & crew, farmers, sales people, scientists, cartoonists, fishermen, divers, free spirits, comedians, chefs, domestic engineers, musicians, retirees, managers, analysts, artists, drivers, students…
please see above “I love… meeting people”

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?
I really hope to have found a writing style that reflects who I am so that I can wear it comfortably and continue to write from the heart. I’ll have a larger, equally truly devoted group of followers who I feel connected to and eager to update on all the highs, low and epic parts of travelling the world by sailing boat. On the site design front I will learn more so that saltygardener.com can evolve into an organised, content rich blog which is easy to navigate and looks amazing.

Stay tuned!

Downwind sailing with a Parachute – lightwind trials in Platypus Bay

Setting off from the anchorage the wind was light and right behind us, the sun was setting gloriously in front of us – what better time to trial the new parachute sail?
We obtained a standard 28ft ex-army parachute from the US and set it up for the first trial sailing by dividing the lines equally and tying them off onto two steel rings.
One ring was attached and raised on the spinnaker line towards the top of the mast. The lower end was attached to a line and ran it through a shackle on the bowsprit then back to the cockpit.

The results were fantastic! Without a breeze to mention we were being gently pulled along at just under 3 knots. The type of breeze from behind and changing direction that would require lots of work using a spinnaker or any other poled sail was a wonderfully relaxing event with the parachute. We both lay on the foredeck with our arms folded behind our heads, looking up as the parachute changed direction with the wind as required – and it looks so peaceful.

The current setup which requires some tweaking causes it to manoeuvre with a jelly fish like motion. Meaning the vertical sides accordion in and out and a bit of maths is required to calculate how to alter the various cord lengths between the top and bottom sections of the chute.

We will adjust as we go to see the best setup – but a wonderful result for first trial.

Yacht Tiki – ours!


This buying a boat malarkey is pretty stressful. The emotional pull of a potential new home that has all the credentials to make our blue-water cruising dreams come true adds to the excitement, and to the level of impatience.

I am amazed at how quickly this boat grabbed hold of us and continues now to engage us entirely. We had looked at so many – over 30 in 3 months. There was an immaculate Ganley, a beautiful Morgan 38, run-down William Gardens, several Roberts refurb projects, Swanson 42’s, a long list of custom built steel and ferro varieties and even a selection of multihulls to balance us… we even got to placing offers on a couple which thankfully did not eventuate as, well, our hearts were definitely not in them.

And then there was Tiki, a Young Sun 43. Described by Greg in the Brokers office as “not on the market yet but nearly finished – fully refurbished just waiting for the new cushions that have been ordered”. “Let’s go take a look and see how she looks” says Rachael our Broker and we jumped in the car to add another to the long list viewed over the Xmas week.

The rain was falling and the tidal creek which cut the boatyard off from the road was rising as we pulled into Edge’s boatyard situated in the depths of the mangroves in Airlie Beach. There on the hard-ground was a beautiful double-ended canoe hull complete with full cruising keel, cutter rigged with sexy bowsprit and, well, what more do you need?!

We climbed the work ladder leading up tyro the centre cockpit to find a slightly different boat to the one we were expecting. She was nowhere near completed and our hearts sank. The timber decks had been removed and left unfinished. The teak railings had been smashed during transit in several places. There was abandoned rubbish and rusting tools everywhere we looked. Oh lordy-me what a mess.

the aft deck contained piles of mooring lines, fenders, detached bimini covers and various boat debris

The hatches were rotten and unsecured so it was easy to open her up and look inside. The rain was as torrential inside as it was outside due to the number of large leaks. It was like exploring a magical wet cave, with rainwater filling the bilges up to the solid teak floorboards which were all exposed. There was tropical mould everywhere and the spoils of the previous owners belongings which had succumbed to a “submerging event”, including the galley supplies so various critters had happily moved in and made the place their roach-ey new home. Nice.

This is where I re-iterate the part where a boat ‘grabs you’, as even in this terrible state I thought she felt absolutely gorgeous and I couldn’t get the smile from my face. I could see through the superficial to what was truly important to us. Her spacious sleeping areas forard and aft each with their own heads, a light and airy space to relax in the saloon, a great galley, amazing solid teak carpentry, she even had a separate workshop area crying out to store dive tanks and more.

Forard has a basket of rotting / wet food left on deck, the purple basket has broken glass and there is a spare portable toilet by the mast. There were actually 3 portable toilets onboard in addition to the 2 plumbed heads

Here is where Neil would add in the important observations about engine / sail inventory / seaworthiness etc which were duly noted as we rushed around trying to take it all in. Heavy rain and rising creeks and the realisation that this boat was nowhere near ready to be on the market meant the visit was very short. I never thought that it would be exactly one month later we would make an offer to buy her, and a month after that before she was all ours.

How amazing!