Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Tempting Tiomans

View from Crystal Blues in the channel between Pulau Aur and Pulau Dayang
Easter holidays offered us a few days away from Singapore, so we decided to explore the Tioman Island group.  After clearing out with Singapore Immigration at dusk we motored east through the busy Singapore Straits and then continued on north overnight.

Crystal Blues arrived at beautiful Pulau Aur just in time for breakfast. There are three low key dive resorts here and a small Malay village spread along the two sides of the channel.  The anchor dropped between the two islands and we went for a swim in clean, clear water.  The cooling breeze, the towering rock escarpments and swaying coconut palm vistas enthralled us.  Hard to believe that such pristine beauty can be found so close to Singapore. Early next morning our neighbours and friends from Singapore arrived on MV Saraburi, so the partying quickly began - oh we really miss the cruising life....

Sweet sailing - Photo by Rod Steel
Sunset Sailing

Next day we moved on to Pulau Tioman.  Flat seas and a steady beam breeze of 10 to 15 knots showed Crystal Blues off at her sweetest point of sail.  Lucky for us there were a few avid photographers on the top deck of Saraburi. It wasn't long before Crystal Blues was sailing off into the sunset, with the log reading 8.5 knots for the next few hours.

Pulau Tioman

Sailing under the dragon's horns of Pulau Tioman. Photo by Mel Dow
According to local legend a Chinese dragon princess flew over these pristine waters on her way to visit her prince in Singapore.  She stopped here for a rest, fell in love with the beauty of the area and took on the form of an island.  Her horns are the peaks rising up through the mist, her scales the luxurious, green, leafy foliage and her claws are the grey boulders scattered along the shoreline.  She also vowed to give shelter and comfort to passing travelers.

Like the magical Chinese dragon, we too were cast under the Tioman spell.  As always Malaysian check in and out procedures were quick and easy.  We anchored off the marina and dinghied into to have lunch and explore.  The main town is a sleepy village beside the (tiny) airport runway.  A host of small cafes and duty free shops were spread out down the single central road.  As we walked a passing motor bike with side car stopped and gave a lift to a Chinese cafe.  We decided to taste a few bottles of duty free wine with our lunch and the cafe owner freely brought a bucket of ice, glasses and a corkscrew to the table.  Malaysian hospitality is really hard to beat.   Dinner time saw a regrouping of the crews and we headed for a Chinese Seafood feast.  After a late start on Sunday morning we headed back to Singapore.  The wind was there for us again and after 18 hours we were back at One 15 Marina and soon fast asleep, dreaming of cruising.....