Into the Malacca Strait.
Tue 5 Oct 2010 08:10
Teusday, 5th October
Admiral Marina. Port Dickson, Malaysia.
Position: 2:28.58N 101:50.692E
To be fair, even the Lonely Planet concedes that Port Dickson is nothing too much to write home about, but they didn't mention the open sewers, bustling with frothy grey/black water during the current wet season. But needs must, and this is where the Customs and Immigration Offices are located on this part of the coast. Very efficient however, and so far, no charges. The officials were all pleasant women: they seem to be able to put on a uniform without inflating their egos as they do so. Port Dickson is about 10Km from Admirals Marina, where I'm hiding from Sumatras. These are intense thunderstorms which move accross the lower Strait of Malacca, from Sumatra to Malaysia, hitting the Malaysian Coast between midnight and Dawn. This Marina is the sort of thing that I have become accustomed to lately: free pool, hot showers, free wi fi, and cheaper than Singapore. Die hards will say why not anchor out? But there is no protection on this coast, and the risk of a force 9/10 midnight buffeting on a lee shore is very real, with or without a lightning strike! As usual all the other boys in this marina have much taller masts than me: story of my life, but a comfort in a thunderstorm!
I left Singapore early yesterday, and managed the 135 miles up here in a shade over 24 hours, thanks to two splendid three knot flood tides, which outlast the ebbs in both time and strength (thinks: where is all that sea going to then? Better get David Hume back to consider that one, but I'm sure that these days a scientist has the answer, like maybe it trickles back down the western side of Sumatra. Anyway no sleep at all with shallow water on one side of me, and the shipping lanes on the other. Not to mention that oil rigs have sprung up since the charts were printed (not that you can see them at night: just huge arrays of lights, about a hundred feet up in the air). And then the obligatory thunderstorm, but quite mild, and easily weathered. The strategy here is to get through the lower part of the Strait ASAP, as this is where the Sumatras are most common.
I enjoyed my two weeks in Singapore: time really flew along. I did get to hear Mischa Maisky making out on his cello with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and it was interesting to find a Chinese composer, Zhou Long, on the programme. The Singapore Concert Hall is remarkable similar to B'hams Symphony Hall, but I guess that design is dictated by acoustics, and so they all end up the same shape. On the Outside it is quite different: it is exactly like Selfridges!
I was constantly amazed by Singapore's wealth, dear old England really is a second world country, but there is no place like home, and a few chilly autumnal evenings wouldn't go amiss just now! Plan to see something of Peninsula Malaysia over the next couple of weeks, haul out in Langkowi end of the month, and home. Best wishes to you all.