Pangkor to Danga Bay
Tue 5 Apr 2011 11:32
31st March Anchorage at Pasir Bogak 04:12.205N 100:32.885E
1st April Anchorage in the Selat Lumut, near Port Klang 02:53.321N 100:17.722E
2nd April Admiral marina, Port Dickson 02:28.557N 101:50.744E
5th April Danga Bay Marina, Johar Barhu, 01:28.496N 103:43.368E
So there is the whole story really: closer and closer to the equator, so hotter every day, and so far as longditude is concerned I'm going backwards! In fact I'm well pleased with progress, and I seem to have had more than my share of luck with the weather.
In Pangkor I was a little surprised to find a Fowey boat tied up beside me, with the unlikely name of 'Police Car' He hadn't spotted me, so I did the usual opening gambit that's used with Fowey sailors. Where is Fawi, then, mate? Oh says he, Brian, in broad Straine, 'Back home in England, at least it was when my parents emigrated'. Seems there might be some tax dodge if you register your boat abroad: so for family reasons he chose the Port of Fowey, Cornwall. Best of chums after all that, and I downloaded his world wide set of Admiralty Tidal Streams: just what I needed for the Sunda Strait next month. Anyway Brian said he wouldn't advise an exploration of the Sembilan Islands: too deep to anchor, and impossible to find your way in the narrow channels after dark. But I was in pressing on mode, and got out to explore the Western side of Pangkor Island: actually very pretty, beaches and rocks, and several anchorages to choose from in which to cook supper and snatch some sleep before the next overnight run down to Port Klang. Armed with my new tidal stream atlas I timed my start to perfection, albeit at 23.00 hours at night! But it felt good to have nearly 2 knots of current with us, if only for six hours! One thunderstorm during the night, and the following hot balmy day saw us down to Port Klang. Wise now after last seasons sailing, I avoided the Port Itself and found an anchorage in a river estuary close by. Other Freight ships were anchored there too. I didn't pay them much attention as I looked for my 'spot': always a tense moment for me:not too shallow, not too deep, not too exposed, not too near anyone else etc. But on this occasion a good spot. When the tide turned, the boat swung round to face the opposite way. What I hadn't had the gumption to forsee was that the big freighters were also anchored only by their bows, and would also swing. The stern of one of these now loomed large over me, describing an enormous arc as her bows rounded up on the huge anchor. To tell the truth we missed each other by quite a distance, but more by luck than judgement!
Up at daybreak for the shorter run down to Port Dickson, and the eagerly anticipated luxuries of The Admiral Marina: hot showers, a pool, and internet! A sociable time there, as Brian arrived about the same time, and seemed to know everyone. So 24 hours to catch up on some sleep, and a cheap taxi run to Town for fruit and veg. Long discussions about strategy for the final leg down to Singapore: the narrow part of the Malacca Strait, and where you get the Sumatra Storms. Everyone but me had their very own 'sumatra tale' to tell. I was particularly impressed by one crew who sought refuge alongside a fishing village, but who were then bombarded with flying corrugated tin roofs! The difficulty is that Sumatras strike after midnight and before dawn. The direction of the strongest wind seems uncertain, they can be force 10. There are two possible anchorages on the 140 mile journey, but both are fairly exposed: you might not be safer anchored than at sea. At sea the navigable channel for small ships is narrow: towards the shore it becomes very shallow, out to sea there is the constantly busy main shipping channel. You have no directional control in 50 kts of wind. So, if you anchor you may be a little safer, but you double your risk exposure. I finally opted for the no stop option. 30 hours without sleep is no joke any more: it never was! But, we had the most gorgeous weather: a sunset, rare in these parts, clear skies overnight, and enough land breeze to hoist the sails and help the poor old engine along..Only one patch of thunder, and no dense trawler fleets. Again with the tidal stream atlas we caught three favourable tides with only two against. So dawn found me in the Singapore anchorage, but with plenty of visibility to dodge the anchored leviathans. Then north around Singapore Island to the Malaysian City of Johar Bahru. A pleasant run up the river. Villages and fish farms on the Malaysian side, and a continuous netting fence on the Singapore side, with patrolling police launches! Anchored off Danga Bay Marina, I'd emailed them a couple of days ago, requesting a berth: a formality, I've discovered. But not this time, They were full until November! No, not quite as it turned out, and I'm sitting in a 30 metre berth that has been reserved for three months now: whats the betting he turns up at midnight! The marina is a rather dismal affair. It's full because it's a cheap spot for the Australians to pack up and leave their boats for a month or two, and there are also some liveaboards with their collections of add ons, tarpaulins, barnacles and pot plants: it hardly creates the waterside view that the developers must have been hoping for. The other reason that it is full is that it is full of silt, and a third of the berths are unusable. The same story up and down the coast. This is an odd country, prosperous despite widespread corruption and hopeless planning arrangements: grandiose abandoned projects all over the place.
I'm off to get a meal out tonight, then some sleep, and tomorrow I will start to think about the next leg to Jakarta. One set of opportunities at a time!