Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Malacca Straits and Hong Kong

26th October 2008


Goodbye Indonesia!


Checking out of Indonesia was very relaxing since customs and immigration make daily stops at Nongsa Point Marina. At 09:30 we cast off and headed the 15 or so miles across the Singapore Strait to Sebana Cove Marina. There was very little wind and we only managed to fly the headsail for a few brief minutes. Very soon, we were into the shipping lanes and it is very busy here - probably the busiest stretch of water in the world. With 5 large ships bearing down on us from the port side, we managed to get ahead of the second and, from that point, we had it fairly easy ducking behind one from the starboard side and keeping clear of two that had just upped anchor and that headed straight for us.


Sebana Cove is up a small river with a shallow entrance and we were on a falling tide but negotiated the entrance without difficulty and motored the 3 miles upstream to the "Resort". Checking in was simple and all done on-site even though the marina and complex seems to be in the middle of nowhere. The Resort consists of a Marina, hotel, pool, restaurant, air-conditioned gym, golf course and ferry terminal to Singapore. All built very nicely out of tone and very well kept. We also have free Wi-Fi here and spent the opportunity ringing folks at home, unfortunately Pete's daughter Bobby wasn't available a real shame as we really didn't know when we would be able to call again.


27th October 2008


We ventured into the small township close to Sebana Cove. The hotel arranges a shuttle that leaves at 10am and picks you up at 11:30am. After 10 minutes we realised that 1 & half hours was far too long as there was nothing there. We bought a few meagre supplies which consisted of reconstituted meat& gristle burgers & vegetables that had been well past their sell by date.


Even though the complex was very luxurious to us it felt like a prison. The yachts were crammed in &

apart from the pool there really wasn't much to do, we'll be glad to head off soon.


28th October 2008


Another day of boat jobs!


29th October 2008


We filled with fuel and chugged down the river to its entrance. There, we dropped the hook alongside another yacht and settled down for the evening and an early start the next day.


30th October 2008


Pete....


At 04:30, I got up with a feeling of unease since the wind had built a little and I started getting Naz ship-shape. Just before 05:00, the rain started and the wind blew like crazy 50 or 60 knots. I was out in the cockpit when the nose blew off the wind and we were broadside to it heeling at an improbable angle. Yup! we were on the move with about 500 yards to go before the mud bank. It was impossible to use the engine to round the nose up top the wind and I jumped to the front of the boat and coaxed the poor windlass to let enough slack on the snubbing line to get it off and then dropped another 15 metres of chain. That did the trick and, amazingly, we still have a windlass on the deck! I measured how far we had dragged on the GPS and calculated 250 metres.


The wind abated after about 45 minutes but kept quite strong until about 07:00 so we decided to stay another day and see what the weather was going to do next.


It is the first time Naz has dragged. We had 4 times scope out in thick potters clay (as was discovered when we pulled the hook) but the bouncing caused by the breaking waves was enough to hoick the hook out. Note to oneself: if there is swinging room, then dump loads of chain on the bottom.


31st October 2008


Today, we set off and motor-sailed around the bottom of Singapore dodging tugs, tugs towing barges, VLCC's, passenger ferries, cruise liners, local wooden boats, frigates and police boats all deciding to turn sharply to drop anchor or up anchor and head for us. We have now anchored by a small island at the bottom of the Malacca strait. The area that we targeted to anchor is packed full of local moorings (Plastic oil cans) and so we have anchored at the entrance to the local village. he village is half on land and half built on floating platforms. Very interesting, stinking of fish and infested with flies.


We overtook boat that was anchored with us the other day just before arriving here. They wanted to know which way we were going to drag tonight before deciding where they were to place themselves.


Indonesia & Malasia should be banned from having plastic, it's everywhere from drink bottles to bags and as you motor/sail you go through thick rubbish that goes on for miles a real shame. They also should be made to go barefoot as the amount of single flip flops & sandals floating is unbelievable!


1st November 2009


So. Having dropped the hook in a small area of deep water in not an entirely ideal spot alongside "Carronage" the other night, we went to bed. At 04:00, the wind picked up from the exposed quarter to about 40 knots broadside as the tide kept us pointing South. We slowly swung on out extensive scope until the depthsounder was reading 2.3 metres and we were staring at the nearby mudflats reflected in the warm ambience of the lightening. Fortunately, some freak of weather allowed the nose to point towards the channel (rather than the shallows) and I motored out further into the narrow channel and Fliss dropped the second anchor (already prepared and flaked out) to keep us off and reduce our swinging scope.


Carronade (we don't know their names) sat up with the engine running for a couple of hours.


So, this morning at 09:00 , we drove not sailed the 15 miles to Pulau Pisang again no wind at all.


2nd November 2008


Pete...............


At 02:00 this morning, there was also no wind but we set off motoring with the tide bound for the Water Islands (just South of Melaka). This is a 70 mile hop with no stops in between and we expected to get there at 16:00. However, 20 minutes after starting out, the wind picked up from precisely the direction we were travelling and blew 25+ knots in our face. Being dark, we did not know what was coming next and so put 3 reefs in the main ready to hove to. We did hove-to a couple of times when the wind picked up and by 06:00, we had fought to gain 11 miles. I was tired, Fliss was not feeling well and the thought of short tacks between the fishing paraphenalia near the shore and the shipping lane farther out for another 20-odd hours did not appeal. We turned around and went back.


Carronade had had another worrying night as the change in conditions had put them on a lee-shore. We had thought that they would have moved around the other side of the island by the time we returned but they whether to see where we would go and moved as we arrived back to anchor, this time, to the South of the island. In our brief chat from boat to boat, we learned that they were awake again doing anchor watch last night.









Watch out at night for the tugs and unlit tows






Fliss....


It really has been a miserable few days! You really cannot relax as which ever anchorage you chose you are guaranteed that the wind will blow in the wrong direction putting you on a lee shore. You really don't know what to do! It appears that if you anchor one side you get hammered by Sumerta winds that hit you early in the morning, if you anchor the other side you get hammered by squalls again that hit you early in the morning, if you decide to get up early & leave you'll just get hammered! so in summary you just get hammered what ever you do. Are we enjoying Malaysia? No not really.


3rd November 2008


Success this time! Another 2 boats joined us in the anchorage yesterday and everyone must have been watching everyone else since we all pulled the hook up at 04:30. Fliss had got up to check the weather and all looked clear and calm. She woke me up and ordered us to weigh anchor and depart. We took the passage through the two islands that comprise Pulau Pisang (Pisang means "banana" in malay) where C-Map shows less than 2 metres. Carronade had been through the previous day and had not recorded less than 15 metres.


The day was better than some previously encountered although we only sailed for about half an hour since the wind was either light or heading us too much. However, the thunder clouds dissipated as we approached within 3-4 miles and we had very little wave action that causes us to stop in our tracks.


We arrived at 17:30 and therefore had a very good run. Scary Monster (SkeerdeMunske) should be appearing soon since they have been with us all day and the other two smaller boats got lost in the haze about 6 hours ago - they will have to arrive by night - not nice as C-map shows you running across land and it is a direct digitisation of Admiralty chart 3947 - so that is no better!


Fliss..... no other boats appeared in the anchorage so we an only assume that they anchored on the other side.


Our plan is to use this anchorage as a base to explore Malacca as there is a ferry on Water Island that runs daily to the mainland from there you can get bus into Malacca.


4th November 2008


We had a lazy day and just motored to the other side of the island to see if any of the other boats were there, they weren't!


The Island itself is quite pretty but really it's just a resort under going renovation.


We originally thought we'd take the ferry across to Malacca but decided in the evening to take Naz over. That way if conditions deteriorate whilst we're ashore we'd be able to get back quickly.


5th November 2008


Fliss....


This morning, we upped the anchor and started motoring out to Malacca. After about 20 minutes, I did not like the look of dark clouds coming from that direction and my nervous system told me to get back where we had come from. Just after dropping the hook in our original location, the heavens opened and the wind blew and we had a number of thunderstorms blow through with a bolt of lightening much too close for comfort. The rain eventually abated but the wind continued setting up a set of waves coming straight into our anchorage. As a second set of clouds darkened the horizon I thought that, maybe, it would be a good idea to pull the hook up again, motor hard into the headwinds and chop and go around the other side of the island. This we did and the water is much quieter - we can see the general area where we were originally anchored and it is now covered with white caps.


We are very glad that we did not take the ferry to Malacca otherwise Naz would have had no-one to take care of her. As soon as the weather turns in our favour, we are getting outta here and going into a marina in Port Dickson for, hopefully, some security.


So, we are now hoping that the infernal conditions don't turn 180 degrees and hammer us from another angle - you really never know in this part of the world.


Have we upset the Gods????? maybe they don't like Arak as their nightly toast.


6th November 2008


Fliss got up at 02:00 this morning and suggested that we do a run for Port Dickson, I got up and stood on deck and did not like the headwinds and so we stayed. Big mistake on my part and I should listen to Fliss since the winds did stay light and now they are blowing 20 knots again and we are bouncing in our anchorage. We are hoping that the winds abate tonight (or swing slightly favourable) and we get an opportunity to head for Port Dickson early tomorrow morning. Fliss is getting cabin fever here and so we must get somewhere where we can do a bit of sightseeing and get off Naz for a while. A little retail therapy would go down a treat.


So, sailing here really is long, long periods of boredom interspersed by shorter periods of anxiety and panic. The rosy tint of the cruising life has worn off and it is simply hard work at the moment. We know that others are feeling it too. Oh Well, this will be a taster for Red Sea headwinds (although I believe that there are plenty of hiding places up the coast there and no sudden wind shifts or thunderstorms).


Fliss....


I was not happy at all! Here you have to be ready to leave as and when the conditions are clement. I can understand the skippers reluctance in leaving but we have spent far too long sitting on Naz. Our fresh provisions are non existent so we're having to be “creative” with our meals.

If the conditions are god tomorrow morning WE ARE LEAVING, even if it means tying the skipper to the mast, I will take Naz out.


7th November 2008


Well, we upped anchor yesterday at 02:45 and had calm weather until we reached Port Dickson. Actually, just South of Port Dickson where there is a marina that has a posh complex of swimming pool, gym, bar, internet, water, elec etc for 7 quid a night. Not bad at all and.....we can go to sleep without having to worry about where the wind is coming from next. The tall buildings all around have lightening conductors (which is good) but shelter us from the breeze so the daytime and evenings are sweltering.







You don't get this in the UK















For 7 quid a night











We arrived at about 11:00 just before the wind picked up and blew a good'n all afternoon. In the afternoon, we used the internet to research flights to Hong Kong. Fliss has Hong Kong on her "Must Do Before I Die" list and has talked about it many times. Well, we found some cheap flights from Kuala Lumpur and a cheap hostel right in the centre of Tsim Sha Tsui (Waterfront of Kowloon). Transfers, Flights and Accommodation came to 170 quid each and expenses should be low as long as we are careful. We leave from here on the 11th and return on the 15th (4 nights) by which time, so we are told, the NE Trades should have at least started to whimper into life.


So, we have found somewhere secure and Fliss has got her wish to "do some different other than sit on the bl*&dy boat".


Fliss....


I'd seen an advert in a paper in Singapore offering cheap flights to Hong Kong so when we checked into Admiral Marina I asked the girl on reception if it was possible. She said 'yes it was and it was very cheap &easy to go from Admiral Marina”.


It'll do us both the world of good to have some time away from the boat, it'll recharge our batteries for the next gruelling legs up the Malacca Straits.


The Asians really have wonderful Marina's as they are all set in luxury resort complexes. Admiral Marina is in a lovely setting with a great pool, bar, restaurant & a very good WIFI signal. The staff are immensely friendly and helpful and the answer to every question is “Yes”.


8th November - 10th November 2008


We spent a few days just exploring the local village & catching up on boats jobs.


11th November 2008


We set off about lunch time on Tuesday and the flight turned out to be 4 hours long rather than the two and a half that we expected. We arrived at just gone 10pm - our room in the Chung King Mansions had enough room to open the door before reaching the bed but it was clean and had a shower-cum-toilet en-suite (a bit like the heads on Naz). The Mansions are on Nathan Road which is known as the Golden Mile and is 50 yards from the airport bus stop, 100 yards from the underground station and a few minutes of walking to the Star Ferry terminal at Tsim Sha Tsui.


Fliss...


It really was a sensory overload! The billboards, huge TV screens all it up, thousands of people all milling about, the noise & cars was unreal after what we had been used to Pete and I felt completely out of our depths.


After trying to decide what to have for dinner (the Chinese menu's didn't look appealing) we opted for McDonalds. To us this was a major treat as we haven't had Western food in such a long time.


12th November 2008







Tai Chi in the morning











Main Island from Kowloon Waterfront









This morning we caught the ferry to the island and spent the day wandering through Wanchai and Central districts searching out the back streets and walkways where the locals hawk their wares amongst the market stalls. We took the tram up to the peak and were blessed with clear skies and not too much smog so had a good view right across to Kowloon and the New Territories. Lunch was in a local restaurant where I had roast pork and rice and Fliss had roast duck and rice. Hers was very disappointing and had too many bones and funny tubes attached. It was difficult dissecting with chopsticks. In the evening, we walked up Nathan Road and to the Poor Mans Night Market where thousands of people milled around the market stalls that sold every conceivable type of useless cheap rubbish and then found a local Indian restaurant that was not bad.





Central District Market














View from the Top








Fliss...


As we wandered along the waterfront towards the “Star Ferry” we were accosted by Chinese lady who invited us to join in a Ti Chi session. I was useless but Pete excelled at being terrible. Another life experience!


I just loved the diversity of life. The Chinese people hawking their wares whilst the sharp suited bankers strolled past to their elegant air conditioned office in a chic high rise sky-scraper...






Paper Lanterns














Outside the Mansions





The stuff the shops/market stalls sell are bizarre: we saw Deer Foetus's, deer antlers, bird nests, cages with live toads waiting in turn to be next for the pot, small terepines (illegal in the UK as they endangered species), conch shells & bizarre looking fish, do they really eat these things? And not to forget to the dried sea slugs.


The food, arggggghhhh!!!! skewered BBQ'd intestines, dodgy looking chicken legs. It seems that they really only eat offal... mind you saying that I thought that the meat & veg on the stalls looked delicious it's just the restaurants that serve the worst of the meat.


13th November 2008


Thursday, we again went across to the island and caught the bus to Aberdeen for a whisk around the harbour aboard a small ferry/junk. There were lots of these vessels lining the waterside and many plying tourists back and forth. We ended up having a very heavy collision with one accompanied by the sound of splitting wood and our ranting Chinese skipper. From there, we caught another bus to Stanley which is well know for its market (for tourists) before returning and catching the tube to Mong Kok to visit the flower market, the bird market and the goldfish market. In the evening, we walked to the Kowloon waterfront to watch the lightshow across the water that is displayed nightly at 8:00pm for 20 minutes. All the buildings on the Island light up, flash different colours and searchlights and laser lights pierce the sky from the tops of the larger skyscrapers - all to music piped from speakers along the waterfront. Evening meal at TGI Friday (we did not really like the Chinese food!).







(Dead) Bird Market












Main Island by Night








video






Fliss....


It's not that cheap to eat or drink out in Hong Kong.


It could be that we have lost all sense of “How much things cost in a big city” but a small beer at 42 – 50 Hong Kong Dollars seemed expensive (about 3.50 to 4.00 pounds). We're so used to counting the pennies and looking for the cheapest deals that we bought 2 beers at a 7-11 shop and took them back to the room. Much better deal at 17 dollars for two large beers.


14th November 2008


Pete.....


We again went across to the Island and caught the ferry to Macau where we wandered the length and breadth of the main island there. Macau has changed since I was last there and they have added the Macau Sky Tower (identical to the one in Auckland) and a number of huge casinos. However, search out the back streets and you can still find quiet squares and plazas that could have been transported directly from Portugal. Back in Hong Kong, we went to the little stall that sold alarm clocks to find it closed. We needed one to wake us up for the flight the next day so spent another half hour trying to find another shop selling them. Dinner in a disappointing pizza place and then knackered to bed.

















Portugese Macau











So, loads and loads of walking and doing. Luckily, the temperature remained in the low to mid 20's and the humidity was low which made it very pleasant indeed even though our legs are about to drop off.


Fliss.....


It was amazing and lived up to and exceeded my expectations, I loved it. What a fantastic place. Hong Kong in my opinion has everything you could want it's not just a big city, it's a living breathing energetic island not to be missed! I'm so glad we took the opportunity to go. It was the 2nd time around for Pete but he also had a great time.







Macau Tower












Macau Main Casino