On January 13th, 2010 Richard and I purchased our new home Ultimate Dream from previous owners Paddy and Kev and set off from Yamba for the Gold Coast.
It was quite an eventful passage for us which you can read about in Multihull World Mag last year. It was here that we prepared ourselves for our passage north and finalized ties with the land.
Richard having sailed small cats before and I having no sailing or boating experience there was plenty of opportunity to learn given our full time cruising lifestyle. We chose our Lightwave 35 for its factory built quality and ease of handling; it was the ideal boat for us.
Sailing up the East Coast of Australia and meeting cruisers along the way heading to the Sail Indonesia Rally we decided this was the perfect opportunity for us to get ourselves overseas; our cruising dream.
In company with experienced cruisers, travelling through a country we both loved, we couldn’t think of a better way to begin our overseas adventure.
We made friends with a Swiss couple who we first met in Cairns and again in Cooktown who eventually became our sailing mentors, they were on their way to Darwin to the rally also. We travelled together up to Cape York and all the way to Darwin having many great day sails. Our first overnight passage was eventful when we lost all forms of steering at midnight which you can also read about in Multihull World Issue 113.
With our friends aid they supported us via radio contact to regain control of the boat in our difficult circumstances and we continued on to Gove to arrive safely; much to our relief. It was quite an ordeal and we were shaken but our vision was still set on getting to Darwin to join the rally. Throughout our time together, Karin and Jean Francois on Intiaq, helped instill in us confidence in ourselves and our boat and taught us invaluable skills in sailing, maintenance and navigation and filled us with endless stories of their 12 years of cruising.
We arrived in Darwin to join the other rally participants preparing their boats for the big passage. There was much anticipation and excitement building and after 2 and a half weeks of preparing the boat we were ready to leave. While Darwin is a nice town and has good resources for the boat with easy access into town via public transport, the tide variations made dinghy access not so user friendly. Bringing heavy loads to the dinghy then having to wheel it often a long way to the water was a real effort. So we were happy to say goodbye to Darwin and set sail for Banda.
After 4 nights at sea with 3m seas and 30kts on the beam our passage wasn’t the champagne sailing we had been expecting and with a loose rudder joint our autopilot was unable to hold course which meant having to hand steer and run off course for some time. Seeing Banda’s volcano in the distance was welcome relief as we got closer to our destination.
The Sail Indonesia Rally was an action packed schedule full of cultural performances, tours and dinners and proved to be the best way for us to get to know other cruisers and gain more valuable skills and knowledge. While the pace of the rally was often overwhelming and tiring at times for us new sailors, overall we thoroughly enjoyed our 3 months in Indonesia with the rally.
After leaving Indonesia we travelled to Johor Bahru, Malaysia (borders Singapore) then travelled up the Malacca straits to Langkawi and onto the West Coast of Thailand for Christmas 2010 at Nai Harn, with many other Australian cruisers and News Years Eve in Patong.
By early January 2011 we were preparing to head to the Andaman Islands, India where we spent a month cruising beautiful clear water, great fishing and picture postcard islands. We then returned to Phuket, Thailand to haul the boat out of the water and do our yearly maintenance. It had been a big first year for us and our Lightwave 35 had looked after us over many 1000’s of miles and through 4 countries.
While most of the rally participants were heading down the Malacca straits again we decided to spend another year in this part of Asia. For the off season we chose to cruise the West Coast of Sumatra for 2 months.
This is another fantastic cruising ground with isolated islands and anchorages. With minimal cruisers and facilities it was a very different experience to Thailand and Malaysia. The cruisers here were mostly surf charters and surfing yachties.
With clear water and plenty of fish most of them were too big for the fishing tackle we were running. We returned to Langkawi which was becoming our base and this is where we met up with family on holiday. The remainder of the off season was spent cruising the islands of Langkawi and Thailand sheltering on the east side of the islands.
We had now been sailing or on anchor for over 18 months and were due for some time on land away from the boat. With the offer of a friend’s mooring in Telaga, Ultimate Dream was secured while we jumped on a plane for Sri Lanka for one month.
We thoroughly enjoyed Sri Lanka’s culture and sights having travelled the country extensively and arrived back to Ultimate Dream refreshed and keen to cruise again. There was still more of Thailand we hadn’t explored yet so off we went through the islands for a short period before returning to Langkawi again to fly back to Australia for Christmas 2011.
Langkawi is a great place to stock up and with Duty Free being the key word, our provisioning was always plentiful.
Our plan was to head into Thailand and get all the way up to the Myanmar border. Koh Phayam and Koh Chang are Thailand’s closest islands and they are reknown for their easy going, beach bungalow, no frills lifestyle. Just what we wanted, minimal tourists and water activity ie no jet skis or long tail noise or beach parties. It was everything we were expecting and more; beautiful long beach, cheap and tasty eats and a walking track through the forest to enjoy. We had plenty of lazy days exploring the islands and paddling our waveski’s and after one month we headed back to Phuket for our annual haul out.
Ultimate Dream had been so well behaved that we decided after the necessary work had been done we’d have time for some creative work on her. After 2 months we were ready to launch her again.
We were fortunate to have good winds to sail to Langkawi and averaging over 7kts both days made each day a short one. That brings us up to present day (June 2012) and we are now restocking the boat again in Langkawi for our next 6 months cruising which will see us travel to East Coast Peninsula Malaysia and onto Borneo in time for the Rainforest World Music Festival in July (a real highlight) then onto the Philippines.
Happy days indeed. Richard and Susannah Living the Dream on Ultimate Dream