A to Z of Destinations
Australia, NZ and South Pacific
A to Z of Experiences
Walking and trekking
Diving and snorkelling
Wildlife and safaris
Meet the locals
Frontier and expedition
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Visiting the Poles
Career breaks and BIG trips
Body and soul
Volunteer and conservation
Australia, East Coast
Everest Base Camp
Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railway
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights
Great Wall of China
15th December 2013
myWanderlust regular Liz Cleere sails from the Maldives to Malaysia, relishing the voyage, but also thrilled to arrive at her destination
Seeing land for the first time after an ocean passage brings a rush of relief, joy and humility. All thoughts of the journey evaporate and suddenly nothing becomes more important than reaching your target. And that's how we felt as the silhouette of Pulau Weh – Indonesia's northernmost tip – appeared through a primeval sunrise, revealing volcanic hills covered in thick forest and wisps of mist.
When we'd set sail from the Maldives towards Malaysia 12 days earlier, the only thing on our minds had been the passage ahead: 2,500km of ocean and adventure lay between our anchorage in Malé and the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club. Having patched and repaired the wounds our boat Esper had suffered during a storm, we set off into the blue.
The highest point in the Maldives is 2.5m above sea level, and by the end of the first day the last palm tree had disappeared below the horizon. We were now alone at sea, with no land in sight. A south-westerly blew from behind, and a steady current pushed us along, perfect conditions for sailing. And fishing: I fed out my trolling line, keen to catch supper with one of our new lures.
In the Red Sea the fish had been plentiful: tuna, barracuda, Spanish mackerel and mahi-mahi provided our daily protein intake. During the 13 days we spent at sea this time, we had to survive on canned tuna and pulses because the only fish I caught was one small trevally.
At first I blamed my failure on the over-fishing highlighted by Simon Reeve in his TV documentary, Indian Ocean. But when we sailed through a frenzy of leaping tuna the size of dogs and I still hadn't caught anything – the final indignity was when one jumped over my line – I dusted off the fishing manual.
Leaping fish were not the only memorable encounters we had with wildlife. After the initial horror of watching a masked booby dive onto my hook, we hauled the bird aboard where it spewed mouthfuls of seawater, had a two-hour rest, and then resumed its solitary wanderings.
We also freed two green turtles trapped in a tangle of net, and were elated as we watched them swim away.
The lowest point of the crossing was when the rudder of our autopilot fell off, which meant steering by hand in two-hour shifts for the remaining eight days. But my greatest thrill was being alone at night on the sea, with a warm breeze brushing my face, Scorpius stretching across the sky and phosphorescent spangles streaming off the dolphins that danced around the yacht.
On day 12, Pulau Weh reared up on the horizon. A day later we were in fabulous Langkawi, a duty-free island of plenty. We stocked up in modern supermarkets bursting with groceries; trawled fruit and veg markets stuffed with exotic leaves, durian and mangtosteen; perused fish markets selling prawns as big as your fist. We joined tourists and locals in laid-back beach bars and roadside cafes.
It was good to be on land. It was great to finally be at our destination.
myWanderlust-forumite Liz Cleere is exploring the globe by sailboat with her partner Jamie. You can follow her blog at www.followtheboat.com
View all posts from
You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login or get more from Wanderlust - register today!
Malaysia travel guide, including map of Malaysia, travel tips, accommodation, food and drink, attractions, culture, and weather in Malaysia
Maldives travel information, including maps of the Maldives, food, drink and where to stay in the Maldives plus the best time to travel in the Maldives
Incredible birdlife. Ancient rock art. Wild rapids. We head north from Cape Town to discover there’s more to South Africa’s buzziest area than the eastern Winelands…
The river caves of Laos’ Khammouane Province have long provided shelter, food and solace to its native Laven people. Now visitors can explore their history and hidden depths for themselves…
Liz Cleere discovers a delightfully laid back and remote island in the far north of the Andaman sea that remains untouched and home to a small band of intrepid expats
Liz Cleere and Jamie Furlong explore the culture, food and hidden corners off the little known Thai island of Koh Phayam, and ask: “Is this the best island in the world?”
Longterm sailors Liz Cleere and Jamie Furlong head towards Burma and a chain of Thai islands where nature rules and people are few and far between
Simply select the destination you’re interested in or the activities you’re looking
for and we’ll send your request to a select panel of tour operators.
Each operator will respond to your request individually. Your details remain private
and are not disclosed to any partners unless you decide to proceed with a booking.
SAVE 10% online with Rohan
Save 15% exploring Chile and staying at Tierra lodges
Save up to £600 per couple on Costa Rica Wildlife Holidays
Wanderlust sends out regular email newsletters – be the first to know about web
exclusives, competitions, hot offers and travel jobs. Register today!
I have read and agree to the Terms &
Where in the world are you? Add
#wanderlustmag to your tweets and share your latest travel adventures with
fellow Wanderlusters on wanderlust.co.uk
Get to know Wanderlust on facebook and bring all your travel-minded friends, too