Malaysia 2016, Malacca Peninsula
February and March was used for maintenance, repair works, and 18 days on the hard in a full service shipyard in Penang where new rudder bearings were installed, the bottom of the boat got 3 more epoxy coats before 3 complete new antifouling paint layers. A new electrical head sail furler and a new 20 HP outboard for the dinghy completed the jobs.
We joined the Sail Malaysia Rally in Pangkor Marina, and sailed mainly during the days with anchoring every night on the way up the east coast of the Malacca peninsula. Many places were visited e.g.: Sebana Cove, Sibu Island, Tioman Island, Chukai, Kapas Island, Terenganu, and Redang Island. All very interesting places. The rally arranged very interesting bus trips that went to museums, turtle sanctuaries etc. and took place from Sebana Cove and Chukai, and in Terenganu we could do it with our own dinghy.
There was good snorkeling at most of the visited islands as well. The rally then went from Redang to the Indonesian island groups of Anambas and Natuna. On the way we passed many offshore oil platforms which with the burning gas flames were clearly visible during the night. Care also had to be taken to avoid the many fishing vessels which often were missing normal navigation lights.
The winds experienced in the South China Sea in January to the middle of the year were very week and always below approx 15 kt and came from all directions and with the usual influence from the landmasses. Motor sailing was therefore out of necessity the normal way of propulsion.
Malaysia 2016, West Borneo, The busy cities of Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, Miri, and Kota Kinabalu as well as the town of Kudat had much to offer in their different ways. A rally arranged excursion from Kuching to a sanctuary for orangutans was remarkable.
We docked in the different harbors and enjoyed the good restaurants, swimming pools, and other facilities. The west coast of Borneo is not so interesting and don’t offer good snorkeling spots. With the very large number of oil production platforms both belonging to Malaysia and Brunei, the many fishing vessels, and the many rivers discharging in the sea, a lot of all kinds of debris is floating here. Some of it like big tree trunks and waste metal items etc. from the oil drilling business makes a sharp lookout necessary, which of course is difficult during the night.
The Malaysian island of Labuan is the center for servicing the many offshore installations in the area, and there were dozens of supply ships etc. anchored here. The airport is very busy with cargo planes as well.
We shortly went into Labuan Marina; however during a dark evening with sudden squalls of 35 kt of wind we suddenly found the boat floating with most dock lines attached to the floating dock which was no longer attached to the piles in the marina. One line was connected to a neighboring dock which was still in place, where another boat was close to our stern and in danger of being squeezed between us and the dock he was attached to. Only a quick and competent action from the crew on this boat and some scary maneuvers of our own managed to get us loose without serious damage to the two boats involved. I was happy to learn that the rope cutter on the propeller shaft was effective since one of our 14 mm nylon dock lines ended up in the propeller during this ordeal. After that we were happy to anchor outside the marina where the remaining rope in the propeller was removed the following day.
Westward passage across The South China Sea, Kudat to Tioman Island
In August and September the South West Monsoon is the strongest here and due to this I decided not to tack all the way, so again motor sailing became the solution. We had some quite bad weather between Kudat and Labuan in the aftermath of a typhoon which had just passed the Philippines, which gave winds and rain from SW of 20 – 25 kt with 3 m waves and countercurrent. A welcomed stop for provisioning was therefore made in Labuan before proceeding.
I general the wind between Labuan and Tioman Island came from SW with 10 – 15 kt with a prevailing countercurrent. We had 2 – 3 thunderstorms a day with squalls of 25 – 35 kt of wind. The passage that went north of Natuna and the Anambas Islands amounted to 709 Nm, and was made in 4 days with 82 hours of motoring.
The trip from Tioman to Pangkor Marina was uneventful only with a few stops on the way and fueling at a barge close to Tanjung Pengelih. The boat arrived Pangkor Marina July 25th and will be docked in the marina until November 1st from which date we will sail via Penang and Langkawi on the way to Phuket, Thailand where we plan to arrive late November.