Mandolin Wind under Spinnaker  

Welcome to the Voyage of SV. Mandolin Wind

Martin & Sue


The Boat

The Crew

Our Plans

Ships Logs

Contact Us



East Coast Malaysia June 2012


This was our first visit to the East Coast of Malaysia and the area is certainly one of SE Asia's best kept secrets. With very few resorts, the natural beauty of the islands remains intact and the pristine. The white sandy beaches are relatively deck chair free. Without the crowds the locals have not become jaded and thankfully the arrogant tourist behaviour we so often saw ashore on Phuket in Thailand was absent.



And as an added bonus, our first stop was the duty free Tioman Island where we arrived just in the nick of time as our stocks of Baileys and Rum were becoming seriously low!

In crystal clear water we wasted no time in donning our sun suits and exploring the coral reefs.

Above: as we approached the Tioman Islands a rain squall all but obliterated the distinctive mountain peaks
Above: Being 'eyed-off' by the fish. Because the local dive boats regularly feed the fish, any sudden hand movements encouraged the fish to 'nip' our hands, thinking they were being fed !
Above: It's been a long time since we have had water clear enough to view coral clearly from the dinghy
Above: Our anchor chain was clearly visible in the clear water
One of the objectives of the Rally was to mix with the community as much as possible - and to this aim, a games afternoon was organised with the friendly locals at Tioman Island. We enjoyed such ‘olympic’ class events as Coconut Bowling, 3 legged racing, Tug a War, throwing water balloons etc.
Below & Right: watching from the sidelines as the yachties make fools of themselves!

Above: Martin with Cheryl from Odyssey 9 in the three legged race
Above: Bowling tropical style - watch the curve on that coconut
Above: Water Balloon Relay - this should cool us down!
Above: a toothless grin from the Master of Ceremonies!
Below & Right: 'Tug a War' - what chance did the tiny locals have against this lot!


After several days exploring the Tiomans, we continued our trek north with a long day sail of 100 nm to the Chukai River. In order to make the river before dark we upped anchor at 3am and dodged the fishing trawlers until sunrise at 6am. Being on the mainland, the river water was very muddy with a lot of rubbish in the water.This was not so surprising after an experience Kay (from Bach and Byte) had while going ashore. While stepping off her dinghy a friendly local offered to take her line and her bag of rubbish and before she could stop him he had tossed the rubbish into the water. When she protested he just laughed and shrugged!

Depite the unhealthy looking water we were thrilled to see both sea otters and large monitor lizards on the nearby river banks.  

  As a result of a problem with our water maker during our sail from the Tiomans (instead of redirecting the fresh water to our water tanks it flushed all our preciously made water overboard!) we were low on water so we decided to waste no time in pressing on towards Kapas Island in search of clearer water so we could replenish our nearly empty tanks.
Above: Ready to try out the local delicacy of Stuffed Crab with the guys from Bach and Byte and Splashdown

Despite nightly unsettled weather we enjoyed Kapas island. There were a few low key resorts ashore that served cheap tasty food. The snorkelling was great and the water was clear – although we did see the occasional ugly jellyfish in the water that did not impress us too much!

Above: Calm before the storm on Kapas Island

Above & Below: 2 views of Kapas Island
Above & Below: Mandolin Wind enjoying the mostly calm conditions


A rally function was held at a resort on nearby Gem Island (pictured right). The highlight of the event was the release of some baby turtles at sunset. Apparently you cant just empty them from a bucket into the water as they have to feel the sand as they make their way down to the sea. This triggers something in them ( their GPS ) which locks in the beach that they came from and they then know where to return to later to lay their eggs.

Below: A baby turtle makes the treacherous trek to the sea
Below: With Jim from 'Bach and Byte'
Below and Right: At the Turtle pool on Gem Island

From Kapas it was only a short sail to the mainland where we were able to tie up at a berth at Terengganu marina. Terengganu turned out to be a fairly large town where it was possible to purchase all the boaty things that yachties like to spend their money on! The marina was also very well located and it was only a short dinghy ride across the river to the central market and Chinatown. The downside to this luxury was that poor Mandolin Wind had to bear the indignity of suffering brown stains on her previously pristine sides (remember we had just hauled out and had polished the sides) courtesy of the very muddy river mouth.

This was a major rally stop and a formal dinner was to be hosted by the Sarawak Tourist Office. The theme for the dinner was 'anything batik' so a quick visit to Chinatown was necessary to secure the appropriate attire.

Above: Martin, Jim (Odyssey 9), Charlie (Seventh Heaven) and Jim (Bach & Byte)
Above: As we entered the dining hall we were each presented with a batik sash
A tour was also organised of the local area and a prerequisite for a visit to the Crystal Mosque was the donning of appropriately modest clothing. Very fetching!
Above: Looking Glam! Wendy from 'Cop Out', Bev from 'Splashdown', Betty from 'Seventh Heaven' and Cheryl from 'Odyssey 9'
Above: Charlie from 'Seventh Heaven' with Bev from 'Splashdown'
The tour also included a visit to the local version of a theme park where, aboard a tram, we toured replicas (somewhat smaller!) of famous mosques from around the world. OK, so have you heard of how tourists in Europe are 'churched' out? Sama Sama (same same) for mosques!
Our stay at the Marina coincided with Sue's birthday so we organised a get together aboard Mandolin Wind to mark the occasion. Martin made an early morning visit to Chinatown to buy a large slab of pork for the BBQ. The Chinese owner was bemused when Martin asked him to cut away the ample fat portions - 'best bit', he grumbled, 'you still pay for fat!'
Below: Cheryl prepares the cake but for safety reasons decides on only 4 candles!
Below: 21 again!

Below: Colin (Splashdown)
Below: Jim (Bach & Byte) and Alex (Splashdown)


Above: Bev (Splashdown) & Kay (Bach & Byte)
Above: Jim (Odyssey 9)

Unfortunately we hit some submerged rocks in our dinghy the next day and had to replace the prop on the outboard. This necessitated an extra 2 days in the muddy river while we waited for the prop to be flown in from KL. Still, there are worse places to be stuck and at least the Chinatown restaurants were close by where the Crispy Duck was to die for and the garlic prawns (right) definitely kept the werewolves away!! ( Yes that's garlic !! )




We now had 5 days to 'kill' until Nyz and Liam joined us aboard for a week's holiday. We decided to do a reconnaissance of the islands north of us to identify the best places to take them during their visit.

Redang Island proved to be a 'must visit' - the water was crystal clear, the bay was protected, the beach rivaled the whiteness of Whitehaven in the Whitsundays AND we could swim with the turtles around our boat.


When we gathered for a 'cook up' using a camp oven (courtesy Odyssey 9). We all donated either meat or veggies for the pot ! On the beach we were flooded with memories of 4-wheel driving in the Victorian alps and our legendary camp oven cookups. In honour of those memories we made golden syrup dumplings for the crowd and they proved to be a great hit with not only the Aussies but also with the other nationalities as well for most them had never tasted syrup dumplings before.

Below: Jim from Odyssey 9 cooking up a storm
Above: Enjoying a beer while waiting for the 'stew' to slow cook


We returned to Terengganu in plenty of time to meet Nyz and Liam's early morning flight. Once aboard, we wasted no time in casting off the lines and heading back towards the islands.

Below: At the Perenthian Islands we had the best of both worlds - world class snorkelling & cheap resorts ashore for dinner and drinks


Above: It was great having Nyz aboard (and Liam of course) and the girls enjoyed several soirees ashore for Mother/daughter time!
Above: Plenty of time to relax despite the hectic schedule of swimming and snorkelling

The water was crystal clear with no jellyfish to spoil the ambience so we spent a lot of time in the water exploring the sealife. At night, after dinner ashore, the challenge was on to see who could win the Mexican Train Dominoes tournament!
Above: Nemo!
Above: A very large Humphead Parrot fish ( about 1.2m long ) - often mistaken for a Maori Wrasse
Above: Clear water and lots of fish
Below: Two views of the Perenthians
Below: Swimming with the black tipped reef sharks was amazing (and slightly unnerving!)
  It was on Redang Island that Nyz and Liam treated us to a meal at a very up market resort where, at prices less than what it costs at a pub in Aus, we enjoyed cocktails on the beach before our meal at the 5 star restaurant.

The week went far too quickly and soon it was time to return to Terengganu so Nyz and Liam could catch their flight on to Vietnam to continue their holiday. However, before they left Nyz, Liam and Sue hit the Silk and Batik bazaar where Liam proved his credentials as the perfect boyfriend when he gave us girls a run for our money in the shopping and bartering stakes!

  Meantime,  poor Marty was busy doing "blue jobs", including taking on diesel for our next leg. Of the 2 x 200 litre drums that were delivered dockside, he had to reject the last few litres in each drum due to dirty fuel. Before he could object, the fuel agent tipped the rejected fuel straight into the river! ( We still had to pay for it though !! )

  We finished our big day out with a trip to the hairdressers for a hair wash, cut, head massage and facial for sinfully low prices.
All good things come to an end – and as soon as Nyz and Liam departed we had to retrace our steps back south for 200nm ready for our crossing to Kuching and the top of Borneo.  

Unfortunately, time was at a premium as most of the rally fleet had already headed off. Luckily for us, Splashdown and Two Up were waiting for us so we did not have to make the long passage on our own. This was particularly important as our crossing of the South China Sea took us perioulously close to the Indonesian owned Anambra Islands where pirate attacks were not uncommon.

Details of the 3 day bash south against wind and tide are better left unrecorded – suffice to say we had 3 trying days of bashing into choppy seas, fighting headwinds and adverse current the whole time. Just goes to show that cruising is not all fun!


For our last night on mainland Malaysia, we enjoyed a seafood meal ashore on Tioman Island before retiring early ready for our early start the next morning.

East Coast Malaysia had proved an unexpected but very enjoyable surprise but it was time to now move on as new adventures awaited and we were looking forward to exploring the wilds of Borneo.