Hole in the wall

From a mile out you see nothing but a sheer rock wall, 150 feet high and running both ways for miles. Run up to the north a bit and a sliver of a crack appears—the Hole in the Wall, one of Langkawi, Malaysia’s hidden jewels. Once you’ve butted through the tidal outflow, a view like a Chinese landscape opens. Mangroves line the shorelines, and limestone cliffs climb 500 feet
Author:
Updated:
Original:
langkawi_hole_wall

From a mile out you see nothing but a sheer rock wall, 150 feet high and running both ways for miles. Run up to the north a bit and a sliver of a crack appears—the Hole in the Wall, one of Langkawi, Malaysia’s hidden jewels. Once you’ve butted through the tidal outflow, a view like a Chinese landscape opens. Mangroves line the shorelines, and limestone cliffs climb 500 feet straight up.

We anchored in the channel, and around us yellow mangrove leaves rode out to the sea. On the shore a golden kingfisher, whose iridescent plumage exactly mimicked the color of the leaves, took minnows from the water’s edge.

golden_kingfisher

Far overhead, Brahmani kites, locally called eagles, soared on the morning thermals. We took the dinghy into the estuary’s south arm to photograph them. As we lay quietly tied among the arching roots, two tourist launches raced in. They threw scraps to the eagles and immediately the air was thick with birds. Then, as fast as they came, they left—on a full plane—and there was silence except for the odd mewing call of the eagles.

At low water a troop of monkeys came out onto the mud flats to catch crabs. The juveniles leapt from branch to ground and squabbled loudly.

Up the north arm, a line of a dozen boats lay on long-term moorings. Most were home-built, boxy, roughly welded affairs. They listed ports-of-call from around the world. In the twilight the mood was full of broken promise and waylaid dreams, quiet as a churchyard.

That evening a big weather system came off the coast of Thailand. Squalls and heavy rain lashed the tiny anchorage. Moose hauled at her snubber, but held fast to the muddy bottom. Only wavelets played against the hull, although the lightning flashes showed a jagged sea running outside. The Hole in the Wall is the sort of anchorage that breeds courage.

Related

IMG_9978

Charter: More for Your Money

Though summer may not be when you typically think of escaping to a tropical island, it could, in fact, be the perfect time for a charter holiday. Despite popular perception, the Caribbean isn’t hot as Hades during summer. In fact, the highs vary by only about 8 degrees F ...read more

Riley-and-Elayna,-Sailing-La-Vagabonde

Sailing in the YouTube Era

At the risk of both dating myself and being accused of gross hyperbole, I will say this: it was a bit like 1964 when the Beatles first landed in New York. What I’m referring to is last fall’s U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis. Playing the role of the Beatles were not one, but two ...read more

Bill-Hatfield-copy-1024x665

Cruising: Solo Circumnavigators

There seems to be no age limit for solo-circumnavigators. Not so long ago we had Californian Jeff Hartjoy set a record for the oldest American to sail around the globe solo, nonstop and unassisted, at the age of 70. A few months ago, 77-year-old Briton Jeanne Socrates became the ...read more

bookrev

Book Review: One-Pot Wonders

James Barber Harbour Publishing, $14.95 I’ll bet a filet mignon against a can of Dinty Moore that almost every cruising cook has read and discarded a goodly number of seagoing recipe books. Some are so simple as to be insulting. Others require too many exotic and perishable ...read more

_DSC7508

A Great Lakes Sailor Rediscovers Cruising

It had been seven years since I’d taken my Westsail 32, Antares, out for more than an afternoon day sail. Such is the reality when taking care of an elderly parent. However, a year ago my dad passed away at the age of 100, and after we sold the family home, I found myself living ...read more

45191357

New Boats: Hinckley Sou’wester 53

The history of sailing is replete with examples of boats being repurposed after their initial launch—think of the famed yacht America also doing service as a blockade runner in the Civil War. Rarely, though, has an updated design done half so well as the Hinckley Bermuda 50’s ...read more

kos

A Troubled Cruise to the Aegean Sea

My goal, I thought, was modest: two weeks from Cyprus to Mykonos and then two more weeks for the return via Santorini and Rhodes. Not too much to ask of a boat, skipper and crew that had crossed the Atlantic. I had even envisioned the article I would write: Five Best Isles of the ...read more