Tue 28 Mar 2017 12:08
Another early start had us up before the light to haul up the anchor. Backs as straight as we can manage, bending at the knees, then: down to the right, up to the middle, down to left, up to the middle, over and over and over, whilst the other one tails the warp. A pause when we get the start of the chain on deck to transfer it on to the gypsy, then it’s back to: down to the right, up to the middle, down to the left, and up to the middle…. There can’t be many lifestyles where one has a full workout within 15 minutes of waking up!
Once the anchor’s safely raised and we’re on course there’s the sails to be hoisted and trimmed then it’s chill time. Time to grab some breakfast and a coffee. Time to relax into helming, feel through your finger tips how the the boat is moving though the water, find the balance point, start to bring her back to starboard even before the passing swell has finished pushing her to port… a good feeling. "This hand helming isn’t so bad” I was thinking, enjoying feeling so connected with Lochmarin. But then I needed a wee… “Phil! Can you take her again?”. And then I was starting to burn, we’d left the mizzen sail down so we could use the awning but the low sun was right on my legs…”Phil! Can you take her again?”. And then I was dying of thirst…”Phil! Can you take her again?”. Perhaps this hand helming lark wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. The first couple of hours were fun but the day starts to feel long when one of us always has to have one hand on the helm. But Otto (the auto-helm) was out of action and, with the current against us, we were motor sailing so Sadie (the wind self steerer) couldn’t do her job. Hand helming it was to be. Phil developed a really cool patented steering with your feet system to save having to have a hand held up all the time, and then, when I’d gone below to grab an hours catch up sleep, he devised a bungee system that would keep us roughly on track whilst one popped below to check the chart, or grab a drink, or take a wee. That was better.
Our anchorage that night was to be a little island not far from Malacca: Pulau Besar, one of the Water Islands. As we sailed up the Malacca Strait the shadows of all the centuries of ships that had passed that way sailed along with us. The same monsoon that had given us such a dreadful time heading into it had enabled ship after ship to explore and to trade, with plenty of wind to bring them back again as soon as the monsoon changed. All those spice traders with fragrant holds bringing their priceless cargo back to Europe, whilst dodging the pirates and the other traders who would think nothing of saving themselves the trip by taking another ship’s cargo. Ship after ship had passed that way, just as we were, looking for safe anchorage and provisions, and these islands had provided the fresh water they needed.
The trading was still going on, but it was big container ships and tankers now, anchored on the shallow shelf off the coast of `Malaysia. Staying in shore of the shipping lanes we passed anchored ship after anchored ship. Now and again the crew get bored waiting on orders. A little fishing helps pass the time.