Virtual Marina, Pangkor.

Mon 11 Oct 2010 10:01
Monday, 11th October
Pangkor Marina. 4:12.68N100:36.069E
All a bit sureal, this one. Yesterday had me plugging into a 10 knot northwesterly towards the Island of Pangkor, and begining to run short on fuel. I had done my research, and knew of a brand new marina on some recently reclaimed land in the channel between the Island and the mainland. A night arrival was necessary, as I had not been able to cast off from the pontoon in the Klang River until slack water permitted a risk free and dignified exit strategy. I emailed ahead to see if a night entry was possible, and was pleasantly surprised, it being Sunday, to get a positive reply. The instructions were to ignore the rocks and shoals shown on the charts, and to follow the GPS waypoints: everything had been dredged and cleared, I was assured. The night shift had been particularly exhausting, at 18.00 hours I had the sea to myself, an hour later I was surrounded by 27 trawlers, nets set, moving at my speed, all of us going in the same direction. I spent the remaining 30 mins of half light trying to locate myself in a place of relative safety. After dark, and one by one, the boats lifted their trawls and peeled away either back to port, or perhaps to the back of the fleet. They seemed to delight in buzzing me as they did so, passing in front, rather than behind, and really very close. Perhaps I was just paranoid, but certainly I must have been a nuisance to them: they clearly had a well rehearsed plan, and I wasn't part of it! By midnight we were close the Semblian islands: to which I gave a wide berth for fear of the 'strong and unpredictable tides'. On the final run into Pangkor I saw a towing tug's characterisic lights, but no sign of a tow. No sign that is until I saw the big black barge looming out of the dark moonless night at about 100 yards range, and fully 400 yards behind the tug. Plenty of time in fact to avoid it, but all rather unsettling. There are many many tugs and sand barges: it is how they are increasing the size of SE Asia, and seriously pushing up the price of sand into the bargain (buy silica!).
So finally I switched to auto, and let the waypoints guide the ship in. I was really watching the depth guage, reassuringly registering 5 metres as we sailed over some charted drying rocks, and then the alarm bell sounded to indicate that we had arrived. But where? Yes, we were very close to land, yes there were some piles in the seabed, and a couple of cranes. but this was a building site. And then, at 03.00 hours here were some builders, in their little hard hats, with a torch, waving at me. And in fact there was a segment of pontoon: gleaming aluminium, teak and stainless steel, to which I was directed and fixed. I thanked Bob and his mate, and through sign language all agreed that sleep was in order. Bulldozers woke me at dawn. Yes, I was not deceived. This was a building site. Builders came to the boat: even more out of place here than in the middle of the trawler fleet. One of them passed me a mobile phone: it was the helpful Marina Manager who had responded to my call for information the previous day. He was at a Superyacht Conference in Singapore: I rather got the impression that he hadn't been on site for some weeks. 'This is a building site' says I. 'Still?' he asks, incredulously. And then 'but a sheltered one, no?' We agree to 10 RM per day (£2): the cheapest building site mooring fee on the planet, provided his staff can get some diesel. Off they went several hours ago, with my precious jerrycans and a bit of tubing to syphon the fuel. It looked as though they were headed for the bulldozer's fuel tank, but now nothing and no one. Just like a British building site! As it is now evening it looks like the promised ferry trip over to the Island is now off the menu, at least for today.
Moral of the tale: don't believe everything you see on the internet, beware of computer generated images, but at the end of the day, a pig in a poke is better off than a pig all at sea.
I usually reread the previous blog, before sending the lastest, so as to avoid either gaps or repitition. On this occasion I see that in addition to the usual spelling mistakes and typos (there is no spell check), I had promised a little homespun on the subject of atheism. Now you will never know whether my deleted criticism had been aimed and the message or the messenger! But those of you who know me well....