Passage to Thailand: Telaga Fuel Dock

Hi Everyone,

   Yesterday Randal and I took a taxi to the very popular, very crowded Patong Beach which had been destroyed by the 2004 tsunami.  What has been rebuilt is a giant version of Key West or any other honky tonk place you can think of.  It makes Provincetown look sedate!  We had gone looking for the tour company that Randal had used in 2000 when his bike tour stopped here.  We had no luck.  After a few hours of wandering the streets in the heat but not really seeing anything, we returned to the east side of Phuket Island where our marina is located.  Today we will change marinas and go practically next door to Boat Lagoon because it is quite a bit cheaper, looks just the same, and has all of the boat supply shops.  We have to wait until 5 pm when the tide is high enough to move along the channel.  We plan to stay there about a week.  I want to go into Old Town Phuket and perhaps we will take a tour of some sort.  We’ll see. 

    Here are some photos and the longer version of the short stories.

Langkawi to Thailand

“Adventures unplanned are not always so grand!” Linda Burger, Randal’s sister.

“Oh yes they are!” Randal Johnson

    It’s traditionally bad luck to begin a passage on a Friday; but in the past we usually have for no reason other than coincidence. Our passage to Thailand began on a Wednesday. Our luck so far depends on whether you see the glass as half empty or half full. Tuesday we went to Kuah Town to check out of Malaysia and to provision the boat. It took us forever to find the right offices to in the Port Authority Building until a lovely tall Indian woman led us where we needed to go, twice! And we found when we tried to provision the boat that many of the best provisioning shops on Langkawi were still closed for the Chinese New Year celebration. Wednesday morning when we stopped at the fuel dock at Telaga there was no one there to catch our dock lines so I had to LEAP from the boat and tie us up myself! And mid-fueling we drained their fuel pumps dry so had to wait while the just arrived Petronas fuel truck refilled the dock tanks so we could finish taking on the fuel we wanted.

Since starting out we have had a mooring line break late at night forcing us into a night passage through at least a million anchored (but very well lit) Thai fishing boats. Six hours later, arriving at Phi Phi Island in the dark we ran a-ground though only briefly, while dropping anchor in the bay. (We do know never to enter a new port in the dark, but….) After a few hours rest we set off for Ao Chalong on Phuket. There we avoided all of the available mooring balls and anchored further from shore using our own tried and true anchor. It was the dinghy ride to shore to check in, get some Thai money and a Thai SIM phone card that provided the challenge. Because of the tide change on the beach, we feared our dinghy might end up stranded a good and goopy way from the water after our chores so we opted to tie up at the huge, greasy, inhospitable, busy tour boat pier that extends from the beach at Ao Chalong. We had to climb up the side holding on to the greasy steel beams. The check-in process had 3 times as much paperwork as usual though no real problems.

Our passage to the Royal Phuket Marina on the 21st was uneventful other than we forgot to factor in the hour time change so arrived an hour too early to enter the low water channel to the marina. But no problem as it was noon so we dropped our anchor and ate lunch while we waited for the marina speed boat to come lead us along the channel. So that’s the beginning of the longer version of all those stories.

Was our luck good or bad? All ended well so maybe we were really lucky given everything that could have happened. Especially the mooring ball episode. Randal had planned ahead sleeping on the bow of the boat so if/when the line broke he could jump up, start the engine and keep us from crashing into any other moored boats or back into shore. When we had originally picked up the mooring late afternoon,  the sea and wind were calm. Oh well.


The Telaga fuel dock.

Our gas tank lid is on the port bow and painted red so you can’t mistake it for a water tank. Randal and the Petronas gas clerk are just waiting while our tank fills. Looks almost like a regular gas station doesn’t it? This dock was actually the easiest fuel dock we have encountered so far.


When Randal had pulled as close as possible to the fuel dock I JUMPED from the ladder DOWN to the fuel dock, GRABBED our boat lines and HOOKED them to the cleats. I had never done that before. I did good! I do have to say that while I was waiting to jump it felt as if the boat was going a thousand knots and, that we were REALLY FAR from the dock and that it was 10 stories down from the last rung on our ladder. But you can see the photos so you wouldn’t believe that for a minute.


The sign on the ramp above the fuel dock.

According to our log book we arrived at the dock at 8:50 am and departed from the dock at 11:30 am. We actually had to wait about 30 minutes for the fuel clerk to arrive and sort things out. Then their fuel pump ran dry. Then we had to wait a fair bit for the pump to be refilled so we could finish fueling DoraMac. Most boats getting fuel are sail boats and they just fill jerry jugs not giant fuel tanks so 15 minutes probably does the trick. The Petronas station at Telaga had okayed our fuel request on Tuesday when we had driven our Mr. Din “borrowed”car there to check ahead and know what to expect. (While we were driving along, the car spontaneously stopped and Mr. Din had to come to show us the trick to get it going again. But then it stopped again and I didn’t want to drive up the mountain to Telaga with a suddenly stopping car so he had to come again and then swapped cars with us. OY VEY! ) We took on 1,980.2 liters @ 2.02 ringgits per liter = 4,000 ringgits. That translates to $2.24 per gallon = $1,169.60 which should hold us until next year.


The next dock over from the fuel dock

The blue building was the terminal for excursion boats and it was filled with waiting tourists. The tan building was a giant 7/11 type store for cruisers and luckily they still had some loaves of our favorite wholemeal organic Sailor bread and some yogurt both of which had been cleaned out at the small shop at Rebak Marina leaving us with a short supply for our passage. During the Chinese New Year with so many shops closed supplies had run low or totally out! Though Malaysia is a Muslim country there are many Chinese and they traditionally own lots of the shops.


Cable Cars

Randal and I had once driven up the mountain overlooking Telaga to ride the cable car but it had been closed for wind issues. When Randal’s niece comes to visit in March we will try it again. The views are supposed to be wonderful if I ever open my eyes.

Our first day’s cruise was a bit bouncy but the anchorage our first night was calm and cool. Not so our next one but that’s the mooring ball story!



Hi Everyone,

  Just a quick note to say that Randal and I are now at the Royal Phuket Marina and will stay for about a week or so. is the web address.  Our cruise here began with a stop at the fuel dock at Telaga Marina on Langkawi.  There was no one to catch our lines so I had to jump off the boat onto the dock, grab our lines with the boat hook and tie us up.  No problem.  That’s the short version.  Our second night anchoring at Rok Nok we caught a mooring ball;  but in the wind and swells the rope, probably intended for much lighter sailing boats broke at 11:30 pm.   Anchoring being impossible at that time we had to leave the anchorage and cruise all night to Phi Phi and anchor in the dark almost going aground. Whew!  That’s the short story.  We left there for Ao Chalong on Phuket where we had to climb up a pier because they had no real dinghy dock for yacht dinghies and we had to go ashore to check into Thailand.  That’s the short story.  The longer versions of these stories will come eventually with photos.  Our cruising weather has been good thankfully since we’ve had enough other adventures without bad weather.

Tomorrow we’ll start our touring of Phuket. 


Off to Thailand

Hi All,

  We’re off to go cruising through the islands off Thailand and up to Phuket.   We will anchor every night and stay at each anchorage until we want to leave.  We’ve no schedule and no place to be at any time other than back here at Rebak around the 10th or so of March.    Randal’s niece Tammy is coming to visit and we’ll meet her in Singapore on March 17th.  We will leave our boat here at Rebak and we’ll fly to Singapore to meet her.  Then we’ll come back here, get the boat ready and spend two days cruising to George Town, Penang where Tammy will see the sights before flying home all too soon.

  But as for the present, it’s really the first time we’re just going out cruising around with no schedule.  I think that will be quite nice and very relaxing.  We actually do like anchoring out but we’ve always been on our way to someplace else.  Now we’re just going cruising….

  We won’t have a steady way to send email so I might not write again until we return.  I’m sure that I’ll have billions of pictures of everything odd that we ate.  Everyone likes those stories.  With no Satellite TV or much Internet access we’ll get lots of reading done and hopefully some painting and guitar playing.  Sounds good to me.  Maybe we’ll even catch some fish but NO FISHING NETS!!!

  Hopefully when we return here all of you will finally be seeing an end to winter, at least those of you in Virginia.  Our New England friends have a ways to go.  But Spring Training is about to start for the Red Sox.  I can’t believe that I won’t be able to follow it everyday while we’re cruising.   Oh well: it’s a long season.  Hopefully very long. 


Dora Mac   This is the web address of our boat builder Bill Kimley.  Diesel Duck owners all contribute and Randal posts things occasionally. 

Baijiao Noodles Man

The only thing these photos can’t tell you is how wonderful it all tasted! Though it is just down the main street midway between the ferry terminal and the boat yard, I’d never eaten in this small Baijiao restaurant in all the times we were previously in China. This trip I ate there twice and it’s definitely a favorite. Hopefully it will be there next trip too! “The Muslim Restaurant” is what we all called it because the owners were Muslim, not so usual in Baijiao or Jingan. They are part of the Chinese minorities. We walked there with Stella and Bill because the boat yard cook had needed the day off. Stella ordered noodle soup and two lamb sandwiches for the four of us to share.  I ate till I could have exploded; it was so good. The flavor of “just made” noodles is so different than anything. They have a bite to them and wonderful texture. The broth was clear and flavored with cilantro which I love. Yumm!

clip_image001  After he made the dough he started the process of making the noodles.

clip_image002 clip_image003 clip_image004clip_image005

Twist and stretch!


The restaurant opened onto the main street of Baijiao. Across the road under the red tent they are selling plants used to decorate for Chinese New Year.


Making the individual noodle strands.



Into the pot!


Using her chopsticks as a scissors, Stella, Bill and Randal tackle the long stands of noodles. We shared two bowls of noodles that never seemed to end or empty.


Our lamb sandwich which tasted even better than it looks.

Randal and I went back another day, skipped the noodles so ordered three sandwiches. We were full after two but ate it all because it was so good. The bread, about the size of a medium pita, was just out of the oven light and fluffy and then toasted buttery crispy. The lamb and cilantro had a wonderful flavor.

Lucky for us we walked mostly every day from our hotel to the boat yard or we would have come home size X-Large!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Hi Everyone,

    Hope all of you are surviving the snow and cold.  I don’t miss it at all.  Oddly I do miss the cool Chinese weather.  We often only needed a light sweater which is wonderful anytime but especially compared to the heat of Rebak.  It really is energy sapping for us after being away and also having AC.  Going outside makes me just want to go inside. 

     Sometime this week Randal and I will leave for Thailand.  We’re really just going to cruise for a few weeks anchoring out most of the time.  We will probably cruise up to Phuket for a few days while we are there.  Not sure about our email access since we won’t have a Thai SIM card for our Internet phone modem and if we anchor out we most likely won’t find wifi that will reach our boat.  We’ll do the best we can but it might be a bit.  Unfortunately Spring Training will be starting and I won’t be able to check on the Red Sox everyday. 

     Our China visit was a visit "home" to friends. There were several surprised faces as we walked through Jingan and Biajio and were recognized.  Some things had changed.  Our favorite "Father-Son" food stall in the small pedestrian area was no longer there.  And the small restaurant where I’d taken the wonderful rainy day photo of the side street across the way is closed too.  But there is a large, well stocked grocery store just next to our hotel where I could buy our morning milk and yogurt supplies.  We did have a small frig in the room so we could keep items like yogurt, milk, juice and Coke Zero which we could find quite easily this trip.  Because we didn’t eat the hotel breakfast we always found fresh fruit in our room when we returned later in the day.  The fruit and vegetables in China are wonderful and easily accessible in Jingan in Biajio where it seems everyone has a garden. 

     We went to China to visit friends and also to talk with Bill and Stella about a summer train trip in China.  We’re probably not going to Tibet this time but Stella is coming up with other possibilities to take us to the northwestern part of China near Mongolia.  Most of the people in these photos should seem familiar though some of them have grown up and are now about to graduate from their universities.  Time certainly doesn’t stand still.




Randal Singkey’s mom, Singkey’s Stepdad, Singkey and me at the Butterfly Love Western Food Restaurant near our hotel. Randal had invited Singkey’s family and Bill and Stella (whom you know because they built our boat and were in many of our China stories.) Sinkey is one of the high school students we became very fond of while we were in China. Randal acts as somewhat of a mentor to Singkey encouraging her from his own life experiences. I’m Auntie! Later during our visit we went to visit Singkey’s home. Her mom also has gardens and makes wonderful dried sweet potatoes. For dinner they took us to a restaurant near their home and the food was wonderful. Singkey said her mom had been too shy to cook for us but I’m sure it would have been fine. Next visit! Again we felt our inability to speak Chinese very sad because it would have been lovely to speak directly to Singkey’s parents. It is truly wonderful that so many Chinese students are learning English!


Singkey and Randal with Singkey’s new computer. Randal decided that Singkey needed a computer while at University. She is just finishing her first year. Her focus is English and her goal is to become an English teacher. She has already been chosen to be an English coach to some of her classmates.


Zoey, me, BoBo at the Butterfly……Restaurant celebrating their forthcoming graduation from their respective universities this spring. BoBo and Zoey were in their last year of high school when we met. I spent a lovely day with them visiting their high school while we lived at the boat yard. And we made dumplings for New Year and they helped me find our wooded bar stools and they and their families visited our boat at the yard. Lots of good memories. Now they are all grown up! Through their emails we have shared in their university years. Zoey’s goal is to become a primary school teacher focusing on teaching Chinese or she might become a secretary. BoBo focused on business and worked hard to improve her English speaking and writing skills and it really shows. She wants to work for some type of international business. Both BoBo and Zoey are looking for jobs in Zhuhai where they hope to share an apartment but they also would like to work in Macau where there are many jobs connected with the gambling industry.


Bill Kimley and Slick at the boat yard.

Slick would come visit our boat when we lived at the yard and sleep over on our bed. Or sometimes he and the other cats would come in the morning and sit on the hatch screen over our bed meowing until we woke up and fed them. I don’t think Slick has really forgiven us for leaving. It took him most of this visit to warm up to me and come ask for food!


Stella in her garden at the yard;

a blue and yellow Diesel Duck Sedan under construction; Jingan across the Yellow Ocean River. Stella can provide the vegetables for most of the people connected with the boat yard and her extended family from her garden. There is a bit more of it not visible in this picture. And the garden produces all year round.


Eldest sister Sandy, Dad, Mom, Gotsome, BoBo at a wonderful dinner cooked by BoBo’s mom at their home.

Sandy is 27, is a university graduate, works for China Post in Jingan and is hoping to marry this year of next year. Sadly, BoBo’s elderly grandfather died in early February and it is their custom to postpone weddings rather than celebrate them during the year of the death. Custom also prohibits family members from visiting the homes of other people for the first 100 days after the death. (I hope I am correct about all of this.) Gotsome is in his first year of university and is focusing on marketing. Or maybe he’ll be a poet!


This is part of the feast BoBo’s mom cooked for us. Even with 7 of us eating we hardly made a dent in all of the food!


Zoey, BoBo, Zoey’s sister, Dad, cousin, brother, and Mom out for dinner at a restaurant near Zoey’s home.

Zoey attended BoBo’s family’s dinner and BoBo came to Zoey’s family feast. It was to have been at Zoey’s home, but because BoBo was not allowed to visit other homes for 100 days after her grandfather’s death, Zoey’s family took us all out to eat. Each feast we attended was wonderful with different foods to try. Because Randal and I were the “guests of honor” each time we were encouraged to eat, eat, EAT! And we did but there was always lots of food left for the take away cartons.


The couple who owned the restaurant. He was kind enough to drive us home after dinner.


Zoey’s brother and the sons of the restaurant owner.

I have other stories and more photos to share. Maybe when we return from Thailand

Hello from Jingan

Rm 3330 Golden Prince Hotel,

Hi Everyone,

  Yesterday was a marathon eating day!  We ate lunch at the tiny Muslim restaurant in Biajiao half way between the boat yard and the Biajio ferry.  We had noodles flavored with lamb and cilantro, fried eggs and small grilled buttery lamb sandwiches.  The noodles were made from scratch, by hand as we watched!  It was hard not to over eat.  They were wonderful.  I had never eaten there before: we’d always eaten lunch at the boat yard.  But it was Little Cook’s day off so Stella, Bill, Randal and I walked into Bijiao for lunch.  Dinner was wonderful homemade dumplings, vegetables, whole fried shrimp (with head and feet that one eats) and Chinese tacos.  They aren’t called Chinese tacos but I don’t know the name and that is a very good description.  You take a "soft taco" and spread it with a small amount of some flavored red colored sauce. Next you put some pieces of green onion and small pieces of roast duck in the center and roll it closed.  They were wonderful too.  Again we ate way too much.  I don’t think all of the walking we did to and from the boat yard; along the Yellow Ocean River Park, through the streets of Jingan, and then back from dinner to our hotel worked off even one dumpling.

    I think I will go for a long walk today and visit my "bamboo friends" at the park.  I hope they are still there.  Some parts of Jingan have changed.  There is a huge new supermarket just next to our hotel which is very convenient as we make our own breakfast in the room.  We have hotel breakfast vouchers but choose a small, simple breakfast in the room.  We have an electric kettle and a small fridge so it’s just cereal for us.  Our favorite food stall on the pedestrian mall is no longer there.  We called it the "Father and Son Restaurant" because it was owned by a father and son.  They made wonderful food and we liked them.  We’ll just have to try a different food stall maybe.  KFC and McDonald’s are still here and business is still booming! 

   Tonight we have been invited to dinner at BoBo’s home.  We will also visit with Zoey’s family and Singkey’s too, our three lovely Chinese friend whom we met when they were high school students.  Now BoBo and Zoey are about to graduate from their 3 year colleges and Singkey is finishing up her first year of her 4 year university.  All are home on the New Year break. 

   The weather alternates between comfortably brisk or almost too warm.  Definitely a nice change from HOT.  And you’re all saying, "yah right!" as you freeze through the latest snowfall.  We honestly don’t miss that weather at all. 

   So that’s it from us.