Thursday, 1 March 2007

Tug Boat Crystal Blues

In early February Helsal II, a 60ft racing boat from Williamstown (our home town) was berthed in the Tanjong City Marina, Penang. She had been chartered out for the Asian racing circuit, and the client reported a missing propeller blade. Now Bill (the owner) had the problem of getting the yacht to Langkawi (60 nautical miles) for a haul out to replace the propeller. A quote for a professional tow made Bill’s eyes water, so we stepped in and offered to take on the tow, for a much reduced consideration.

Within two days her crew arrived, and had a whirlwind introduction to Malaysia. A towline was assembled from two long nylon hawsers (one ours, one theirs), with 10 metres of chain in the middle. We ran a bridle from our welded cleats on the aft deck.

The tow departed Tanjong Marina (Penang) just on dusk and after a smooth motor up the channel both boats flew their headsails - a #3 on Helsal II and a full genoa on Crystal Blues. With our engine just ticking over at 1000 rpm and very little strain on the tow, we motor sailed through the night into a stiff noserly and lumpy seas. There was so much wind we were running ahead of schedule, so sail was removed at around 5.00am. Two hours later, just after dawn, we approached the “skinny bit”. A quick radio check with Bill assured him that there was enough water for their 3.2metre keel.

Another three hours and we arrived at Wavemaster Langkawi where the day was spent warping Helsal II into the slip. Tension, sweat and all of our long lines were required for this job. Helsal II was lifted the following morning – but there was no damage to the prop and all three blades were there….. guess how Bill felt !

The following day they departed for Darwin, via Port Dickson. Crystal Blues maintained a daily HF radio schedule with Helsal II until they were approaching Kupang in West Timor. We understand the boat is now in Darwin, and look forward to catching up with the crew in Melbourne next month. Check out more photo's at :

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