After eight years with a motor boat in Spain, Bryan Lewis and Dawn Strawford made the unusual change to sail

Bryan and Dawn have kept Ten Large, their 60ft Moody, in Langkawi island for the past two years and they couldn’t be more pleased with it. They are both relatively new to cruising, and bought the first of their two Princess motor boats in Ampuriabrava in Spain just eight years ago. “We used the boat almost as a caravan and when friends came, we’d go off round the bays, but nothing really very adventurous”.

But a delivery-skipper friend of his changed all that when he asked Bryan along as crew. “If it was a nice boat or destination I’d think: “I wouldn’t mind doing that.” He always gave me first option because he didn’t have to pay me. I did three or four trips like that from Brighton to Barcelona, as well as St Tropez.”

As his horizons grew, he started to think about changing to a sailing boat which could make longer passages. Five years ago he sold his haulage business in Hereford and, along with a partner, bought a Moody hull, which a local Spanish boat builder offered to fit out for him. Hence the name. “Every time I went near the builder, he asked for another ten thousand, or ‘ten large ones’, so the name stuck.”

A base in the EastAt first they based themselves in Cyprus. “Every year we used to visit Turkey, Greece, Croatia and Italy.” But after four years, they decided to leave. “We’d seen the Mediterranean getting busier and busier each year, and if you’ve got all the time in the world, like we have, it’s a short season. A couple of times we’ve set off in March or April and it’s bad weather and very cold. So we wanted to get somewhere where the season’s a bit longer.” They’d read about some of the problems in the Caribbean and didn’t fancy it. Instead, having spent a bit of time visiting Thailand, they decided to head east.

“We set off from Turkey in December 2002. Then on to Cyprus and Suez, where we spent two months in the Red Sea at a lovely marina in Egypt called the Alguna resort, 120 miles south of the canal. Had we known about it we would have taken the boat down from the Med and wintered there. The weather was completely different.” Leaving Egypt they went on past the Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, Oman, Cochin, Sri Lanka, and then to the Andaman Islands.
“We tried to spend a bit of time in each country. We spent over two weeks in Cuchin, which was fabulous, then two weeks in Sri Lanka and a just week in the Andamans where we want to go back.”

Apart from the long season, the best thing is the benign weather.
“We turned the Navtex on just yesterday just to see if it’s working. Nobody here takes any notice of the forecasts.” The biggest differ- ence they’ve found in Langkawi is the anchoring. “In the Med we’d never go out of sight of the boat. I don’t think we had a week when we weren’t sitting up at least one night. Here it’s all good holding and although we’ve been in some blows, you don’t get the seas with it. We’ve never used the stern anchor. We could have done with it once, when it was really uncomfortable all night, but you’re talk- ing once in two years – you can live with that.”

They do virtually all the maintenance themselves, unless it’s particularly technical. Parts are not too difficult to get, al- though everything has to come via Singapore. The paperwork is also very simple. “In Malaysia it’s literally a five minute job to check in all your crew. Phuket’s a little longer, but they’re very nice people. They never ask:
“Where have you been?”

How would they summarise the area as a cruising ground? “The cost of living is so much cheaper, and we don’t get big winds and we don’t get big seas. We’re not as anxious as we were in the Med.” You wouldn’t recognise Bryan and Dawn from the people who hardly moved during their first few years boating. “We’re leaving in about two weeks for Bor- neo,” Dawn says nonchalantly. “We’ll call into Singapore on the way. It’s all very relaxed. Everyone’s so friendly.”