Sailing Yacht SEA BUNNY

Singapore and Sail Malaysia 2008 rally

Three weeks R&R and urgent boat maintenance in Singapore had us ready to continue northwards on the Sail Malaysia rally to Langkawi.


Republic of Singapore Yacht Club - 22 October to 14 November

Tenpin winners

The contrast from Indonesia is startling. The Yacht Club is the epitome of a country club with all the luxury that this entails. The only downside is the marina structure, no substantive break water, so one can feel quite nauseous walking along the flexing pontoons being sited next to the busy ferry terminal. We can go back to being anonymous here after Indonesia.

Singapore hustles and it bustles and it shines with wealth. Indonesia had resources available for taking. Singapore does not. Instead the economy is built on servicing those anointed to distribute the world’s resources, resources mistakenly created in the wrong place for proper profits and consumption to occur. The MRT (mass rapid transportation) works, everything is spotless; in fact Singapore sparkles as a cooperative work of art in cleanliness and greenness. The worlds of commerce and service and consumption are driven at a blistering pace, and the people of Singapore are driven to that world. The people are plugged in, turned on, and tensed up as they fiddle with phones, handhelds, lap tops tethering them to their productive existence. Joy appears to be blanketed by drive. From past experience Chinatown is exciting and Little India breathtaking.

Priority here is to rest, do boat jobs and buy an air conditioner as the humidity is now physically slowing us down. During the next three weeks all this is achieved with great patience. The windlass was flown in from UK (ordered from EC Smith on Friday afternoon, on the boat on Tuesday) installed by the skipper with the usual degree of modification and expletives. A new gearbox came from the US, at about 1/3 the price wanted by the Singapore Volvo distributor and was fitted by a Volvo agent.

On the social side with the other rally yachts in Raffles marina Melbourne Cup Day was celebrated with the usual jollity at RSYC.  A tenpin bowling competition at Raffles  was won by the visiting team from RSYC in caps converted from Australian ones by Betty (Seventh Heaven)!

Deepavali lights

At Deepavali eight of us went into Little India to see the dazzling lights and share a curry. We swam in a magnificent pool at the end of everyday and had regular scrabble challenges with TP. A trip to Newton Circus food court was slightly disappointing.  It has been redeveloped with lots of permanent stalls arranged in a square and very hard selling as well as a few rip-offs.

Although we made it an enjoyable stay , it is not one that will be repeated because of the continual rolling. On the way out of the marina Sea Bunny towed a French bateau off the outer breakwater – never a dull moment!

Sail Malaysia - Danga Bay – JB (Johor Barhu), Malaysia - 14 – 18 November

 

We motored up the Johor Strait to Danga Bay - the anchorage near JB which lies on the southernmost tip of the peninsula and is the gateway to Malaysia from Singapore. It is linked to Singapore by a causeway with the newer Tuas crossing bridge some distsnce to the west. In a reversal of previous roles it provides an entertainment and retail outlet centre for Singaporeans. Singapore relies on Malaysia for its water supply piped across the causeway!

Check-in to Malaysia is arranged for us by the staff of the future Puteri Harbour Marina, which at the monent is a large excavation - they havent let the water in yet.  We didn't even have to fill the forms in ourselves, although when we later checked out we discovered we were missing the crew list stamped by Immigration

We are not fooled by the marketing hype that gives an artist’s impression and refers to the pristine blue waters of Danga Bay. We can see the scum and debris including dead animals – so no cleaning the black diesel streaked top sides and no swimming. This is a large fairly sheltered anchorage with easy jetty landing and access to daily needs. Rumour has it that a ‘free’ marina is to be developed here as the site is large.

In town there is Royal Abu Bakar Museum, former Sultan’s palace, is one of the best in Malaysia. It is a slice of Victorian England, crammed with treasures including hunting and set in fine gardens overlooking the strait and an easy bus ride away.

Being aware of the kudos points gained by having foreigners visit we accepted an invitation to a local wedding . We all went in dinghies a few km to the nbext river for the occasion. The entire community were there, we had a very interactive, jolly time, taking lots of photos.

As with every new country R spends time getting the latest SIM card for the telephone and for data and helping several other yachties who are not so technically skilled with their problems.

Getting to the restaurant

Sassli, a charming Malaysian business man, and his business partner Hadeep , with no background in sailing, has organised a bolt on rally to introduce us to his country. In time we call him the Pied Piper as he can persuade people to follow him to potentially dodgy anchorages for the sake of tourism! This was launched with an excellent buffet meal with unlimited free beer and dancing and the following day a tour of the city and local land marks. Lunch was at a waterfront restaurant.  However as it was a high spring tide the road between where the bus stopped and the restaurant was 6" under water!  We also went for a walk to the southernmost point of mainland Asia, visited an apiary, had a sales pitch for  local homestays and a museum dedicated to the pineapple.

18 – 24 November 2008 Port Dickson / Malacca (Melaka)

Shophouse frontage

Off we go again at the crack of sparrow fart towards Port Dickson, anchoring first at Pulau Pisang and then in heavy rain at Palau Besar, one of the Water Islands south of Melaka. Our fingers are crossed that the late arrival cats, in poor visibility, do not moor too close. Very squally night but no boats dragged. After berthing in Port Dickson we change berths so as to obtain electricity. Here we make plans to visit Melaka one world heritage site we missed when Richard was working here; and are off with the TP’s to stay in a lovely Chinese house converted into a boutique hotel. Because of its deep water and location on the strait that bears its name; it was a rich port long before being fought over by the Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, British and Japanese. Now its colourful history is a good money spinner for the tourist industry. All the main sites, predominately red Dutch and magnificent Peranakan architecture are within walking or river distance. I think that we visit them all including the Cheng Ho Museum ( the Chinese Admiral who may, according to Gavin Menzies author of ‘1421’, have sailed the fleet around the world) and the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum. This is a well preserved traditional Pernanakan town house.

Beaded shoes

In one of the traditional shops Susan and Nanette treat themselves to pairs of hand beaded mules.

It could be argued that in order to attract mass tourism has destroyed more heritage than it protected. See this in Jonker Street where without consultation traditional craftsman were evicted to make way for trashy souvenirs shops very sad – is this progress?

24 – 29 November 2008 towards Lumut

Intrepid turtle

Having been warned in Singapore of the threat of piracy in the Malacca Strait we agree to go on convoy with TP. The pirates with an illegal immigrant run in, for which it is the death sentence anyway, would not hesitate to take boats on the way out we are told. An early start sees us en route to Pulau Angsa, a tiny speck of an island with a lighthouse some 60nM away north of the channels off Port Klang. After a stormy passage with wind on the nose and three attempts at the anchoring dance, we hunker down for the night.

Next day keeping our eyes peeled for logs we mis sseeing a submerged one and the engine stops with a grinding noise. So all sails up and making 1½ knots nearly becalmed - really spooky in the Malacca Straits. A discreet VHF call (so as not to draw attention to ourselves) is made to ask if anyone knows of boat services in Lumut – silence. About an hour or so later Thus Way Up (TWP) with Dave and Patti give us a tow. Other boats are now aware of our plight so there are two potentially disabled craft! We feel a little vulnerable. Night comes on and the wind picks up, on the nose of course, so we are able to tack for some time then a final tow into the bottom of Pulau Pangkor at 0130 the next morning. Sarouni and Now a Days are there with search lights to guide us in - what a welcome. Next morning Grant is round with his hookah and under the boat before breakfast. He sees no damage to the prop, the engine starts and runs much less noisily than the previous day so we motor slowly into the naval town of Lumut. The tour laid on is to a snorkelling park, extremely tacky, then a turtle hatchery and a five-star resort hotel. Later we get much needed hair cuts. In the hairdressers ladies in Muslim headscarves do not blink an eyelid, when taking off their head gear for a cut and massage, in front of Richard and engage in limited conversation.

Towards Penang (Pulau Pinang) 29 November to 13 December 2008

Welcoming party

We cautiously motor round to Coral Bay on the west side of Pangkor Island where the water is clearer so that damage to the sterngear can be assessed. R found that the bearing tube, which was normally threaded onto the back of the stern tube, was free to rotate with the shaft indicating that the thread had stripped. OK so what to do now? We have some two part underwater epoxy purchased in 2001, maybe it has not gone off. Practice now takes place timing ourselves - S spreading the epoxy on fibreglass tape then handing it to R, waiting in full SCUBA gear who dives down to bandage the bearing tube to the hull; this all has to be done in 3 minutes before the epoxy starts to go off. Four bandages are applied with speed. Much later the epoxy supplier whom we have been trying to chase for years to replace our stocks asks us to write a critique on usage as although it it supplied to navies etc he has never heard of anyone using it for real!

We are quite tired by this activity and repair to the TP’s for roast lamb yum! yum! Pangkor is a local tourist island with a cottage industry of dried and salted fish the aroma of which wafts to the beach where there is plenty of smiles and laughter and much splashing about.

After a couple of lazy days and a 70 nM passage we anchored off Jerejak Island, off Penang, to wait for other boats for a convoy sail under Penang bridge A fishing net was launched around us at dusk but the guy said not to worry – he was right it didn’t tangle with us. We never did work out how he deployed it ahead of Sea Bunny, let it drift down both sides of the boat and picked it up aft of us without getting it round our anchor chain.

The day after our arrival the director of the local boatyard, Pen Marine, had organised a full day of activities.  We were picked up from the boats and taken to a local fishing jetty where buses were waiting.  First stop was the yard where presentations of the facilities available were given, then off to the war museum at the south of the island and culminating in a "hawker food extravaganza" at his superb hillside house.

Stuart and friend
Convoy

Next day the dressing overall flags were hoisted, and looking rather pucker, a convoy of 15 boats pased under Penang Bridge.

. Entering Tanjong City Marina a cross tide caught Sea Bunny and she ran up the pontoon onto Nick and Jen’s Devon Gypsy. No worry says Nick, a big chap, bending his guard rail straight again. Will make sure we go out at slack tide here.

Dare it be said yet another poorly thought out marina with attached ferry dock one side and blaring disco on the other and silting up fast but within walking distance to the delights of Georgetown. The reception is fabulous with tiny Chinese children playing massive drums and Indian dance music that get everyone going.

Trishaw ride

On Sunday we and TP indulged ourselves with a buffet lunch at the E & O Hotel and afterwards have a siesta. We remember Penang, R worked just north for six months 17 years ago. It has the largest collection of pre war houses in all S.E.Asia hence the heritage site. Most of these are in little India which the Chinese outgrew and particularly in Chinatown.

Khoo Kongsi

A trishaw tour took us to the Chew Clan jetty and on to Khoo Kongsi which is a lavishly decorated Chinese clan house that doubles as a temple and meeting place. This one is housed within a courtyard of houses built so as to protect it from the British. This and Hainan Temple (temple of the heavenly queen, dedicated to seafarers) in Labuh Muntri; which has a very peaceful atmosphere, are some of our favourite places here. Lots of cheap eateries here and some evenings the musically attuned amongst us have a jamming session which is lots of laughs.

13 – 17 December 2008 towards Telaga Harbour Marina, Pulau Langkawi

The sailing between the next two anchorages was a mixture of motor sailing and when sailing eventually being headed. First Talak Ayar Tabang,at the bottom of Pulau Dayang Bunting which has a long beach for walks where we put the big awning up so the other boats would not recognise us; really, faint chance with a large rabbit logo on the side of the boat! On the way to Teluk Kalabang a trawler passed very close ahead of us in daylight with no indication that he was trawling – close. We had a BBQ on TP and game of scrabble – Bunnies winning much to Stuart’s chagrin.

The final trip to Telaga was under full main and genoa, we were berthed and cleared customs and immigration by 1500 hrs which, when it work,s is called a one stop shop for clearances. The TP’s are here already so fill us in on all the good things they have found; laundrette, restaurents, veggie man on a Friday. The main town on this duty free island, Kuah, is 20 km away. We have a feeling that between the three marinas here we will become very familiar with it. Telaga is surrounded on two sides by mountains; a cable car goes up Mt Chinchang, but everyday that we are here it is cloudy or has stopped when we get to its base. On the shore line is the ruin of the traditional Thai house used for the filming of the King and I. The entrance to the marina is filled with the local fishing fleet of longtail boats. These are twenty-five feet long, powered by an unsilenced engine with a horizontally mounted fifteen foot shaft leading to a propeller on the far end ,hinged at the transom. The propeller is dipped into the water for forward propulsion. The last rally occasion at a close-by resort is lavish and saying goodbye to friends we have made in the last six months is sad. 

21 December 2008 to 03 January 2009 Pulau Rebak Marina

Silly headdresses

This is a small island off Langkawi with just a 4 star resort and marina with a chandlers taking duty free shipments from West Marine in the States and a large hard stand. To yachties it is dubbed Costa genetic, to the hotel guests it is a super hotel in an isolated spot, totally rebuilt after the tsunami. Possibly one of the safest places to leave Sea Bunny. This is where we have decided to spend Christmas, presents are already waiting for us from all of our three children – a hat trick! and what a lovely surprise. They will never ever know how much we miss them and how much we think about them.

There are masses of cleaning and boat jobs to do which start every day after S has been to Pilates at 0830 and stops for the daily swim at 1700 in the  resort pool. In organised marina life self discipline is important else nothing gets ticked off the lists. There is lots of merriment between boats and the resort is putting on a lunch time meal on Christmas day so a whole troupe of us are going. Christmas Eve we have Mike and Rosemary(Jemiah), Nick and Jen (Devon Gypsy), Peter and Jenny (Tiaka) and Ken (Ken B) for a meal this rolled practically into Christmas Day when there was a pontoon party with Dave and Patti (This Way Up) before lunch in the resort restaurant then another party with Alan and Mary (Investigator II) in the evening before we limped to the resort dance. Here Ken and S jived for some time.

Carol singers

After or because of all our boat work and merriment we felt too tired to join TP in Phuket for New Year. The resort put on an extensive evening buffet at the Hard Dock (cheap yachies cafe) for about 150 of us with fireworks!

Several HR’s have had their teak decks replaced in Boat Lagoon Phuket so we go to view the work and got costings We have always said ’when we get to Thailand we will do this’. At present S spends a week every year recaulking them, and even have to glue whole sections down at a time! We shall go over there and hopefully book for next year. R and civil engineer Stuart TP have over the last few months designed a ‘Structurally sound’ gantry with davits (so the dinghy can be hoisted at the stern of the boat) and this appears on our urgent list too. It is definitely good to get work done in Thailand as it is of high quality and cheaper than Australia or Europe. Perhaps this won’t be brilliant timing, given the recession, but we are here, fit and have the energy to go through the long process.

 

 

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Last Updated from Rebak, Langkawi on 4 November 2011


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