Thursday, January 01, 2009

Malacca Straits - Part 2

17th November 2008

We left Admiral marina this morning at about 07:30 for the trip to Port Klang (50 miles). The wind started out in our favour for about 10 minutes and then turned 10 knots bang on the nose as the rain spilled down in an incessant drissle. Not a very nice sail but eventually, the rain eased and we motored our way through the short, slight chop.

After a few hours, the tide turned with us and we entered the Klang delta entrance at 8 knots SOG. As we turned into the river, we bore away and got the headsail out to get a bit of peace and quiet but, of course, the breeze had other ideas and we were soon headed again!

We decided to go to the Royal Selegar Yacht Club to use their facilities rather than anchor out in the river. The fallout from the industrial port clung to the back of our throats as we ploughed our way through the plastic bags, plastic bottles, polystyrene food cartons, old shoes and other detritus and were met by a guy in a dinghy who waved and showed us our pontoon mooring in the middle of the river. With a tide of 2 knots running, it should have been an easy ferry-glide in but the pontoon was not aligned with the flow and we could really only get the bows close-to. Anyway, Fliss jumped off, I did a leap of faith and we managed to get bow and stern lines on even though Naz was now 10 feet from the pontoon and pulling hard. Eventually, we managed to heave her alongside and settled down.

Rubbish floating on the tide

As the rubbish piled up between Naz and the dock, the Royal Selangor Yacht Club Ferryman deposited a couple of people on the upstream pontoon, I hailed him over and tried to pay for the night (we had already decided the state of tide for an early departure). Unfortunately, he could not tell us how much it was nor could he take any money so we left this morning without having been able to make payment. Oh well, really we should be charging them to clean-up our topsides!

18th November 2008

We left the Royal Sh177y Yuk Club and headed to Pankgor Island stopping twice to await more favourable tide. This allowed us to have breakfast and evening meal in comfort and took 6 hours of adverse tide from our passage. We arrived between Pangkor and the mainland about 03:30 and dropped the hook in the lee of the mainland.

Local Traffic

19th November 2008

We awoke at 10:15 and by 10:30, the waves and wind pushing us landwards were causing us to hobbyhorse quite drastically in the wind against tide conditions so we upped anchor and headed up the Dingding river to a place where Rod Heinkell suggested was particularly nice. Another bridge (built since the charts and cruising guides were published) blocked our path and it had no height printed on its side so we motored at zero knots up to it to find that we fitted under with a few metres to spare. We got there and it rained with a vengeance all afternoon so we spent the rest of the day sweating with the hatches closed and being pestered by a plague of flies. We did go out to have a shower but we were really too close to the Muslim village to sit out in the rain exposing ourselves.

20th November 2008

This morning, we motored down the river and went around the seaward side of Pangkor Island to a lovely little bay with a resort at its head. We were going to leave towards Penang at 01:00 this morning for the 80ish mile run but have decided to rest here for a day and leave tomorrow at a much more civilised 02:00 with, possibly, 10 knots of favourable wind. You never know, we might even get the cruising chute out and turn the engine off. We need to make our fuel last until Lankawi which is said to be a completely duty free archipelago.

Fliss had scraped her knee trying to pull Naz in to the pontoon at the RSYC and we have been treating the nasty grey patch with Iodine since then. Hopefully it will respond to treatment soon. In the meantime, no more strenuous jobs and no more kneeling and flaking the anchor chain. I have managed, after much persuasion, to encourage her to sit back in the cockpit and take some medicinal liquid elixir.

21st November 2008

Lazy Day at Pankor

22nd November 2008

We left Pangkor Island at 02:00 this morning for the run up to Penang, another long 80 mile slog under motor. Before dawn, we had some quite impressive displays of lightening which always has me on edge since there is nothing that can be done about being struck if unlucky. We have read about strikes and met a couple who were hit in Panama so that only enhances the nerves. We shall be so glad to get to Lankawi Islands and have a breather before passing into Thailand and hopefully getting some trade winds showing up.

The night watch is always interesting here with all the fishing boats around. They display an array of lights that variously include bright red flashing lights accompanied by the white neon tubes that are used to attract the fish. Many also have green flashing lights and blue flashing lights as well as an array of white, green and red fixed all-round lights. You never know whether they are stationary or moving nor which way they are supposedly travelling. Mixed in with all of this are the static nets which are bouyed at intervals with either red or green flashing LEDs. All of this is fairly simple to negotiate as long as you keep alert, avoid each boat and go around the nets. However, do not be deceived!! Amongst all these Christmas trees are ones that display a Port or Starboard fixed light topped by 3 white lights, there are quite a few of these and their towed barge hangs hundreds of yards behind and is invariably unlit - do not cut across their stern!

One of the various designs of fishing boats

Well, we arrived at Georgetown about 16:00 and are anchored at 5 degrees 24.5 North and 100 degrees 20.5 East. The guide books tell of a dirty anchorage with goopy muck on the bottom and not very nice. We had to move twice here because (1) we were too close to a barge when the tide changed and (2) we were too far out in the channel for tugs and tows to pass. Anyway, we hope that we are now settled and will find out when the tide changes again! At no point did we find any goopy goo on the chain or anchor and the water here is free of litter and dead bodies. So, quite nice really.

Fliss is going souvenir hunting in Georgetown. She is on the lookout for Chinese lucky charms that she has seen previously. Apparently they should only cost one Ringgit (about 20p) so our 50p will stay firmly in the purse.

23rd November 2008

We went into Georgetown today after a sampan picked us up from the boat and deposited us at the village adjacent to us. The village is Chinese, wooden and built on stilts over the water, a very pleasant introduction to the town. We wandered through the backstreets where most places were closed (being Sunday) but we found bustling life in the market places. A local man about 65 years old offered us a pedal-rickshaw ride for 3.50 quid and we took him up on the offer for a slow-paced ride past all the local temples and through "little India". Having found curries rather than Chinese Chicken Feet, we wandered back there and indulged in a multi-ingredient set of different dishes all served on a banana leaf - Yum Yum.

Georgetown Marketplace

Last evening Fliss was using the Nosy-Noculas and spotted a big sign down the coast that spelled T E S C O. So, after visiting the Penang museum (where we bought a mug for Nadezhda), we caught a taxi there in an attempt to replenish our stolen Marmite. Unfortunately, we searched in vain but found some decent meat, HP Sauce, salad cream, basil and a couple of new pillows (1.20 quid each) since ours were getting a bit minging.

Fliss' knee is starting to look a lot better and the grey sludge that coated it is starting to wash off with the Dettol baths so, hopefully, it will continue to respond to the cleaning and the Iodine cream.

24th November 2008

Another day wandering around the backstreets of Georgetown and through the buzzing marketplaces. We had a few attempts at booking a lift-out for Nadezhda to re-antifould the bottom but did not meet with success and, to be honest, we are really looking forward to getting to Langkawi and will try to haul out there. The costs there are not as much as Phuket but still very expensive and the marina could only lift and launch on certain days due to depth restrictions.

Bhudist Temple

25th November 2008

We upped anchor at 05:30 and headed off to Langkawi.

We had about 5-10 knots of wind close-hauled but with a little nudge from the engine, we made the 65 miles by about 16:30 and dropped the hook in Kuah Bay (06 degrees 18.5 North, 99 degrees 51' East). Kuah is the largest place here and we think that we could get most things sorted here.

26th November 2008

This morning, we went to port control and customs to formally check in (which we should have done all the way up here) and they processsed us quickly and efficiently. We rang Rebak marina who told us that they were fully booked for haul-out in November and told us to send them an e-mail - so back to Naz to send the e-mail and then, off to size-up the duty free shops - most of which sell chocolate in great abundance to the Malaysians who come here on short trips.

We then went to an internet cafe to research haul-out facilities - there was one in Thailand (Satun), that looked ok but a seriously winding, rising tide approach and we also found another one in Langkawi. Having then found the Jotun Antifouling suppliers (a shop with half-disassembled motors as its frontage), we called Waveriders liftout and then went to see them via taxi and booked a slot for Friday to be relaunched on Monday. So.....300 quid for lift and launch, 180 quid for antifoul and we are a lot, lot poorer than we want to be but we will be clean for beating up the Red Sea and all the way home.

Whilst at Waverider, we saw a boat called Zipedeedoodah from Dart who we had met at the 2005 boat show and then again at the Blue Water Rally seminar. Whilst I discussed details of lift-out, Fliss went over and said hello. They are with the Blue Water Rally and complaining of rushed schedules.

It rained all last night and has started again tonight. However, the NE Trades look like they might start to settle so we are loking forward to that. By the way...............We are officially out of the Malacca Straits - Yeeeeeeehaa!! So sorry to see the end of that!

27th November 2008

We ran around sorting out provisions for our lift-out and finding and ordering duty free supplies since this is a duty free port.

28th November 2008

Well, we eventually found the trade winds - early this morning blowing down the bay here and ending-up at the haul-out site. We towed the dinghy the few short miles to "Waverider haul-out" and anchored off since we were an hour early. I had in mind to go and check out the lifting bay with the dinghy and, after we had dropped the hook, there were people on the shore waving so I jumped in the Zodiac and went over. They said we could lift immediately and that I should take two workmen aboard to help take lines. I picked up the workmen, got the dinghy aboard and motored in with the wind blowing us one way and the fairly active tide taking us the other. The guys on the dock were telling us to go to starboard but the tide was already doing that for us so we crabbed into the haul-out and eventually ended-up touching the starboard cap-rail on their rubbing-posts with a little bit of scratching (a dab more varnish will sort it out). The haul-out was not enclosed - simply two piers standing on piles - so we bounced up and down on the waves whilst a diver went down to check the straps. Then, we were lifted, with the straps too far forward for comfort and balance but we are now settled on the hard with a clean bum and ready for antifouling.

The "Project Manager" gave us our bill and we saw that they had charged 100 quid for the diver. I told him that we had not asked for a diver and that they had not told us of this fee. "Did you not get our e-mail" he said. "yes I did" I replied. "So you know that it was part of the bill" he said. "No, I only received confirmation of the date" I replied. It turned out that they had given me confirmation of lift to the GMN account and a list of services/costs to the Gmail account. I asked whether we could negotiate the diver and the chap came back to me and negated the cost altogether. Top Man.

We have put new anodes on the rudder and are ready for masking and antifouling tomorrow. Unfortunately, today has been windy and rainy but we hope that it will abate by tomorrow when we will get going just after first light to make the most of the cooler part of the day.

29th November 2008

I got most of the seacocks re-greased yesterday and got up at 07:00 to mask-up and apply a spare half-tin of antifoul on the rudder and upper areas with Fliss filling-in with the brush. After that, I did the last 2 seacocks whilst Fliss went to the shower facilities to do the laundry and then we got on with the new paint to do an all-over coat which we managed to do without using the entire 5 litres. It always makes me nervous when applying because we normally only just manage to get around with one tin and, with the hot climate here, it makes it all the more difficult. Tomorrow morning, we will make the most of the early cool and do the next coat and then clean the topsides and we are (hopefully) ready for launch on Monday.

30th November 2008

The final coat went on before 08:00 this morning and I then did the fiddly bits such as bowthruster and impeller. After that, I spent the rest of the day cleaning and polishing the topsides. It is the most laborious job and sometimes I wish for a smaller boat with less freeboard. It is made all the harder with the heat but a refreshing wind evaporated the sweat.

1st December 2008

This morning, we got up early again and filled the water tanks and then the lift guys (about 10 of them) came to dangle Naz whilst I painted the bare spots left under the supports. There was a 15 knot breeze blowing under the piles that held the jetties that support the travellift and we threw a piece of paper into the water to prove that the tide was just on the turn going in the opposite direction. So, we launched and the boatyard guys held us with 2 ropes each to bow and stern whilst I checked all was ok and then we were off - just missing the shorter of the jetties as the tide took the rear and the wind blew the nose off.


All done and Naz looks beautiful again and hopefully, that will be the last of the great expenses before our return.

We went to the duty free shop today to stock up on cheap liquor and ciggies since Thailand will be much more expensive and alcohol is unavailable after that point. So, 5 months worth of provisioning to be done and space made for its storage. The last bit of supplies running is due tomorrow morning and then we are off to see some of Lankawi that is supposed to have beautiful anchorages.

2nd December 2008

We moved off lunchtime to a position 6 degrees 12' N, 99 degrees 46.8 East near the pregnant Maidens Lake. Apparently some god or other lost a child and then bathed in the lake and, ever since, childless women can bathe there to ensure fertility. We went and had a swim but, since we are not childless, we hope that this will prevent any unwanted conception.

The land is limestone and superb karst scenery, the lake is made from a collapsed cavern and has vertical cliffs around most sides with rich vegetation festooning the precipices.

Nadezhda At Anchor

3rd December 2008

Today, we took the dinghy South to visit the small islands just one or two miles away. They are also steep sided with undercut cliffs that you can drive the dinghy under to keep in the shade. There were a few caves but too high on the sides to reach or were not too deep to really explore by dinghy. After returning to Naz, we found that a slight swell was creeping into the anchorage and decided to move to make life more comfortable so we upped the hook and drove through the Fjord anchorage to its southern entrance - The Fjord anchorage is between Pulau Gabang Darat and the main Island and four yachts were already there making it a tight squeeze and so we are now anchored at 6 degrees 10.9' N and 99 degrees 47.2 East. We are hoping that the big bullets of wind that troubled us last night are not going to repeat themselves tonight - otherwise, the anchorage is much more comfortable with no movement at all.

Deserted Beach

4th December 2008

We moved a full five miles yesterday to a lovely little anchorage surrounded by islands and had a lazy day reading and visiting the small beach close by for a swim.

5th December 2008

More laziness today. We got up late (around 9:30) and eventually managed to get the hook up and travel another couple of miles to anchor alongside Nomad Life just outside Rebak Marina. The marina is completely invisible from seawards but you can just see a couple of mast tops poking above the hill that creates a completely landlocked basin for them. There is a nice breeze out here but it is absolutely stifling in there. We met up with Steve and Nancy from “Toboggan” who we last saw in Tonga last year – small world! Nomad Life and ourselves went over for an evening meal in the marina with them and caught up on all the gossip.

6th December 2008

We upped the hook again this morning and sailed back to Kuah in order to prepare for leaving Malaysia and entering Thailand. Tobogagn had followed us here and we had drinks aboard their boat in the evening.

7th December 2008

We did our last bits of re-provisioning and then went to the fuel barge to fill up. It was nice and simple and the diesel was only 2 ringgits per litre (about 5.5 to the pound) so we filled up with 323 litres.

Rain at the Fuel Barge

8th December 2008

This morning, we checked out of Malaysia and filled with petrol - again, only 2 ringitts per litre and got 25 litres. We went into town and changed up ringgit into Thai Baht and then motored off to the East side of the island (6 degrees 25 North, 99 degrees 53 East) where we are now peacefully anchored after a day of pouring rain.

Tomorrow.................Goodbye Malaysia – Hello Thailand!!