The Star Newspaper
Saturday July 3, 2010
Stories and photos by JOLEEN LUNJEW
Sunset cruises are fun.
The 19-course BBQ dinner was delicious, the drinks beckoned from the open bar and the guests happily chatted away. But I could only look on morosely, wishing I wasn’t so green from the rolling swells of the ocean.
Sea legs are not an asset of mine.
“That’s it! I’m going to sell my house and we’ll sail around the world on a yacht!” joked my partner.
Enjoy the saltwater Jacuzzi.
He was enjoying my extremely rare silence which lasted until we sailed behind the islands and into calmer waters.
We were aboard a 36-man, 24m-longschooner called The Tiki, owned by Crystal Yacht Holidays which runs Sunset Dinner Cruise. Guests are sailed past some of the 99 islands that make up Langkawi. If the group size is 16 or less, Day Dreamer, a 15m long catamaran is utilised instead.
The cruise departs from Awana Porto Malai at 5pm, so guests have ample time to settle in and get to know each other before the highlight of the cruise. We spotted a large monitor lizard swimming around the jetty as we were being ferried to our waiting craft. Didn’t know they liked saltwater.
There were more than 20 of us on board, including the crew. It was a fairly international gathering with representation from New Zealand, Australia, UK, China, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Japan. The Japanese couple brought along their baby.
Crystal Yacht Holidays sales director, Derrick Lee, 36, says that the best months with calm waters are from December to April, but the sunsets are not that spectacular then.
“Dramatic sunsets are usually during the rainy months from May to November, but large swells are common during that time, just like the ones we are experiencing now,” he says.
The Tiki can accommodate 36 people.
Oh well, you can’t always have the best of everything. As luck would have it, the initial trip out to the Andaman Sea was not as smooth as I had hoped. Winds were strong, waves were high, clouds were out and there was rain in the distance. Most of the guests looked like they belonged at sea, but for an unfortunate seasick few like yours truly, trying to keep our stomach contents in was a major challenge.
Despite the sea conditions, guests wasted no time starting up the party. In the spirit of duty-free Langkawi, the open bar was stocked full with spirits, liqueurs, wine and beer, which no doubt contributed to the chilled and friendly atmosphere.
For the non-drinkers, there was a choice of soft drinks, fruit juices and mineral water. The BBQ was cranked up not long after, and the mouth-watering aromas of the 19-course dinner soon filled our nostrils.
Much to my relief, we entered calmer waters after sailing behind the first of the islands and it was time for the famous “saltwater Jacuzzi” – basically a large rope net hung from the side of the yacht dragged through the water.
The oldest guy aboard, an Aussie named Rob, in his 60s, climbed in first, followed by an Aussie couple in their 50s. Rob, who had maybe one too many beers, had us all in hysterics with his antics. It was his 39th wedding anniversary and he intended to have a good time. It was very heartening to see the older couples revelling in the pleasures of life compared to the younger people on board who seemed to take life too seriously.
I decided to join the growing number of people below in the hope that being submerged in water would help with my seasickness. It worked! I felt much better as soon as I hit the warm water. Moving with the waves was much better than trying to fight it.
Clinging onto the net trying to stay afloat was so much fun! People splashed around, climbed over each other and, basically, just had a good time. The Japanese couple brought their young baby in for a dip, too, fully equipped with life jackets, of course. The crew kept on throwing down cold beers, which we gladly caught. It was a great bonding activity as we got to know each other better.
One by one, we climbed out as our tummies demanded attention. It was certainly a spread: salad, fish, chicken, squid, prawns, satay, vegetables – you name it, they had it. All food served on board are halal. Plus, the herbs and vegetables are organically grown from the owners’ garden.
Unfortunately, I became a bit queasy again after climbing back on board so that I couldn’t enjoy the sumptuous food. What a pity.
The trip was not just about good food, an abundance of drinks or great company. The scenery, as we cruised past the islands, was amazing too. We sailed past towering limestone outcrops with lush tropical greenery growing impossibly out of the rock, marvelled at the mystical Pulau Dayang Bunting (Island of the Pregnant Maiden) and watched in awe as large Brahminy kites, from which Langkawi got its name, circled overhead
Although the trip is sold as a sunset cruise, Mother Nature wasn’t up to playing her part that evening. Fortunately, nature’s beauty is not just confined to fiery sunsets. We enjoyed watching the tropical clouds tearing overhead and the rain squalls racing by on the horizon. The cooling breeze provided relief from the usually muggy heat.
Sunset cruises are a great way to discover the less visited islands of Langkawi and to meet people from all over the world.
Love at first sail
You know there’s something magical about Langkawi when people arrive for a holiday and stay on.
That’s the story of Jamie Allan Scott, 49, who is still in Langkawi 21 years after he first landed. Scott now owns Crystal Yacht Holidays, running a yacht cruise and charter business with his Japanese wife, Ryoko, who is in her late 40s.
The affable Canadian, who speaks more than five languages, used to run backpacker charters with his first 14m yacht where he’d sail from Langkawi to Phuket or Krabi in Thailand. These charters were free and easy and breathtaking for backpackers, with leisurely stopovers at remote islands in between.
Jamie and Ryoko of Crystal Yacht Holidays.
With an easy grin, Scott says they still operate the same route, but not for backpackers anymore. You can experience the same enthralling route now as a private overnight cruise.
When Ryoko arrived in 1993, they bought a 13m yacht and christened her Crystal Dancer after selling off the backpacker yacht. The couple began arranging exclusive cruises and charters for guests of nearby five-star resorts in Datai Bay. Their cruises were so popular that everyone knew them as the “Crystal people”.
In 1997, they moved their yachts to the Awana Porto Malai jetty and began offering daily cruises to tourists and guests from other hotels.
As they were widely known as the Crystal people, the couple decided to keep the name for their new business venture, and so Crystal Yacht Holidays was born in 1997.
Crystal Yacht Holidays is the first yacht charter company in Langkawi and the first to offer sunset cruises.
The Sunset Dinner Cruise is priced at RM250 per person, inclusive of food and an open bar. Other trips available include the Sunset Cocktail Cruise (RM200), Sunday Sunset Roast Dinner Cruise (RM250) and Geopark Day Cruise (RM310). Visit www.crystalyacht.com for details.