Sunday, 7 July 2013

Penang To Johor Baru - Heading South

We departed Straits Quay Marina in Penang at 07.30 Sunday morning, motoring south through a sticky haze.

Day One - The Fishing God Speaks

Penang wasn't going to let us go easily though - after 2 hours of travel we pulled up with a fishing net caught on the skeg.  So into the water I went, once again the little Powerdive Hookah system earned its keep. Less than six inches of visibility, but I found the net had caught on the skeg, so the clearance was simple enough. 

By noon we had cleared the inshore nets and traps and were at 05deg 09.38 North and 100deg 12.84 East.  

We're testing the new Delorme inReach satellite communicator on this passage, so you should be able to track our movement by selecting the "Where Are We" tab at the top of this page, and clicking on the link provided.

Late afternoon the south westerly has "freshened" to 15 knots, despite a local forecast of 5 to 10 knots.  We plowed on (literally) through lumpy and confused seas, with a lot of water over the deck.  Beating to windward in the Malacca Straits is a very frustrating exercise - up to 2.5 knots of adverse current means that at times we seemed to be going backwards.   We settled in for a longer than usual trip.

Day Two - The Weather God Shouts ......

Early on Monday things went slightly pear shaped.  Bashing into 20 knots,  we had short steep seas with a wave period of just 2 seconds. Kind of violent.  The deck was under water a lot, which was when we discovered the leak.  

Fortunately the admiral was off watch below and she heard the water running in - we had just dived through a specially nasty one and had a foot of water over the deck at the mast - and so the mast cable hawse pipe was leaking.   

First time it has been seriously tested since we refitted 4 years ago.  We dried things up, added more self amalging tape to the hawse pipe and pushed on.  Conditions improved as the day progressed, and we entered the shipping channels at Port Dixon just on dinner time, about 12 hours behind schedule.

Day Three - The Fire God Speaks

At 4.00am on Tuesday we find ourselves motoring south with less than 1 mile visibility.  Almost no wind and no swell, but a thick layer of smoke and haze from the forest burning in Sumatra.  An unusually tense passage, watching radar, AIS targets and using the Mark 1 eyeballs as best we can.  And of course it stinks - the boat smells like a bushfire.

Early this morning the Admiral (she) was on watch whilst the Captain (he) had a snooze.  She had a fine sail with 9.0 knots through the water and flat seas.  When the wind dropped she hit the start button and the Cummins God spoke very quietly - the engine coughed once and refused to fire.  Diesel engines only need fuel, air and compression to run, and we knew we had air and compression - it had to be fuel supply.  I bled air from high pressure fuel pump and away she went - this is supposed to be a self-bleeding system.  Something else to check in Johor.

Day Three Later  .... The Kitchen Goddess

Later in the day the stars and heavens re-aligned, and the Kitchen Goddess emerged from the galley with a delicious sweet curry, dalh, rice and poppadoms.  So we had dinner for two in the cockpit, chilled wine, fine food and a magnificent sunset.  Cruiseheimers must have had already set, for that rough passage was nothing but a dim and distant memory.

We arrived in Puteri Harbour just after 1.30pm on Wednesday - our tenth trip through the Malacca Straits, and every one of them memorable.

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