Friday, 11 May 2007

Line Dancing in the Malacca Straits

With our fourth uneventful Malacca Straits passage under our keel, we are now safely tied up at One Degree 15 Marina in Singapore. We hope to be here a week before transiting across to Kuching in Sarawak, Borneo.

We departed Penang midafternoon on May 8, with tidal assistance and a reasonable weather window. Eventually the tide turned and took the wind with it. For the next two days we had noserlies, even when we made a course change. Ah well, we did have a pleasant sailing moment on Tuesday evening, but the remainder of the trip was motor sailing, then just plain motoring.

As we moved down the Straits we were accompanied by continuous lines of really big ships, heading north and south. There were amazing gas ships with their camel like domes on deck, huge panamax car carriers, bulk freighters, cruise ships and coastal freighters. Large shipping movements along the Malacca Straits conform to the traffic management schemes as detailed on the charts by pink lines and arrows. These pink marks are followed religiously by all. We choose to sail just outside this area and have found it to be mostly clear of tugs, barges, trawlers, local fishing boats, nets, fish traps and other distractions that hug the coast. The only really challenging sections are where there are designated crossings into coastal ports of Malaysia. At one of these crossings last year we collected an interesting piece of flotsam. With the engine disabled, Neil dove over the side and cleared the proppellor of heavy rope. These surprises only happen at 2am!

Our last week in Penang was filled with festivals. We celebrated Wesak Day, (Buddha's Birthday) and also the First Full Moon in the Hindu New Year calendar. What a treat to be part of these


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