Saturday, 26 November 2011

A Night to Remember!

Lucky us!
I was off watch and woke to hear the engine being shut off.  I listened for the sheets  to be released and the mainsail raised, but only heard silence, not good at 4.40am.  We were drifting with a fouled propeller, with Neil sitting in the cockpit locating the fishing boats on radar.  The pitch black predawn and an oily black sea  surrounded us, and we decided to wait the few hours till dawn before diving under the boat.
The PowerDive Hooker was set up on the aft deck.  Neil donned a pair of leather gloves and armed with a very sharp knife he dove overboard.  Five minutes later he hoisted up a floating fishing net that he cut from around the propeller.  We were on our way again....
Exactly two hours later the engine came to a screeching stop again,  but this time we could see the culprit.  We were trailing 6 metre loops of thick rope, which also wrapped around the propeller.  Fortunately we had the hooker set up, so Neil went for his second swim in the Malacca Straits, off Pangkor Island, Malaysia.

Strikes and Boom

Just like this!
The net and rope fouling on the prop was really just a minor annoyance after a bad night of electrical storms.  Around 20.00  hours Neil was preparing to go to bed  when we noticed a large storm on the radar.  Lightning and thunder was  focused on the mainland  and we continued to move ahead of it.  Or so it seemed at the time.  As the storm slid behind us it moved out to sea and then began spawning storm cells all around us.  Soon we were at the storm's epicentre , the lightning  was spitting and hissing all around the boat, lighting up our world, the thunder booming overhead.  Luckily we had just managed to weave through a fleet of anchored squid boats and could see them eerily highlighted with each flash.

We searched the radar looking for an escape route but the storm was traveling with us and growing in momentum, so we decided to turn tail and run away.  The rain pounded down  and with each lightning strike  it illuminated the white-out conditions that surrounded us.  We were not having much fun, but were relieved that we had an escape plan.  After 3 hours the storm moved out to sea and we turned back to our original heading.  Neil went to bed, and for the next few hours I watched the storm angrily boom and flash out towards Sumatra.
The Great Escape
At the Shade Tree Cafe, Penang
Apart from rope, nets and storms we had a dream run  up the Malacca Straits! We are heading, via Penang and Langkawi, to Phuket, where we plan to base ourselves for awhile.  With positive current and tide for most of the passage and no wind at all, we were really looking forward to a change of scenery.  We stayed at the new Straits Quay Marina in Penang, for 4 days and caught up with Kathy and Mark on SV Catchastar.

Crystal Blues is now berthed in Rebak Marina, Langkawi.  Neil has flown to India for work for the next two weeks.  Ley has been challenged to stock the boat with all things duty free in his absence.

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