Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dingding's revenge

I guess one shouldn't make fun of the name of a river while still anchored there. This one goes under the category of careless cruiser instead of clueless...

How did this happen? I came in at low tide, knew the range was about 2 meters which is more than I draw, and there were two sailboats upriver of mine towards the shallower side!

The cause? It turns out one of the two boats was a trimaran which I should have realized draws nothing, and the other had recently broken from its mooring and was grounded. The boats deceived me about the true nature of the anchorage. Plus, I never took soundings around my entire "circle." So when a strong squall kept the boat on the upriver side of my anchor, stretching the rode to the max, it put me on the tip of the mud which juts into the anchorage at only one point! Water goes out, boat goes on its side.

Makes for a blog entry and of course everyone at the yacht club knows me as the guy that hit the mud...

No problem getting off with a 2 meter range.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Malacca Strait

Six days out of Singapore and I've only made it up to Lumut. What a name... And the name of the river this town is on? Dingding...

I was going to take a serious rest at Malacca but they built a bridge over the river entrance! The SW monsoon isn't over so no chancing it anchoring off. I've gotten bits of real sleep anchoring off the coast a mile or two when the current reverses and the wind dies (Fortress anchor and half inch nylon works on depths over 150 feet pretty well when the bottom is mud). The dreaded sumatras(super duper squalls) are real but it isn't the wind or the chopped up seas that is the pain, it is the reduced visibility the rain creates when you get hit. There is more traffic on this stretch of water than anywhere I have ever seen. The nap timer was at an all time low of seven minutes. Radar is used often but it doesn't pick up the small guys.

Gear failure is a regular issue now, but it has been manageable. I had issues with the VHF (voltage drop in some wiring aways from the unit), windlass (I opened it up and used the pressure washer at Changi and got it to turn again, may need a few new parts), tiller pilot was thrown over the side, engine mounting bolt loosened and threw the shaft alignment off after how many hours? (I now check the color of the transmission fluid and shaft coupling clearance every fifteen hours).

Malaysia is ok so far, haven't seen much but the price is right. Checking in the country was free and I got a three month permit. Anchoring off Lumut Yacht Club and using their facilities costs $1.40 a day (dingy dock, showers/toilets and information). Today for lunch I had fried shrimp, sweet and sour pork, a thai style curried chicken and some green beans over rice for $1.30. Fresh watermelon juice was 60 cents. Basic iced tea is 12 cents at the place I had lunch. Bus to get around is 30 cents. Internet is 70 cents an hour. I remember paying something like 20 dollars an hour in French Polynesia...

I am getting close to some real destinations - less than 200 miles from Ko Lipe and those other "National Park Islands" in Southern Thailand. Two more stops in Malaysia (Penang and Langkawi). I doubt I will spend too much time in Lumut. Tomorrow the offlying island, Pangkor but ready to knock out the rest of this Malacca strait. Time to act like a tourist...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The other side of Selat Lombok

Pelican is on a mooring at the Changi Sailing Club in the Johor Strait off the island of Singapore.

Hopefully the grind that I started in Gizo is coming to an end. 4000 miles and only three stops. That isn't cruising... I'd take a break here in Singapore but this place is like a hyper modern shopping mall so it isn't to my taste. I walked around downtown and found myself getting bored. I'm definitely not in the South Pacific anymore. No kids arguing over who gets to hold my hand as I walk around the island. No more getting on my hands and knees and crawling towards the chief upon arrival. I didn't even get the custom guy's name here in Singapore. I need to get moving up the Malacca strait and find some islands off the coast of Thailand or Malaysia that don't have any roads or cars.

video #1 I'd been having problems with chafe on the spinnaker halyard and instead of going up the mast and seeing what was up with the block, I covered the end of the line with a piece of polyethelene tarp and wrapped it in duct tape. Of course, after three days straight of having the gennaker up in light winds, the block became so badly gummed up and jammed that the halyard was locked in place... Conditions were light for my punishment, about six knots but it still took about a half an hour to get from the spreaders to the top. I actually had to climb the mast twice on this passage. The second time when the snap shackle for the jib halyard gave and the halyard just shot right up to the top.
video #2 Selat Lombok is one of the main passes that connects the Southern Indian Ocean to Southeast Asia. The direction of the current never reverses in the main pass (except by season) so you have to go through a longer detour and time things accurately as the current is too strong to try and take on with the motor. Notice the extreme difference in sea conditions between the two scenes. Those small but breaking waves are being completely generated by currents colliding. There had been no increase in the wind speed and the distance from land is about the same.
Video #3 After pulling an all nighter which included hand steering with the engine for about nine hours, I finally made it through Selat Lombok right as the sun was coming up. I was about to set things up for some napping when I saw what looked like a flag flapping on the water. I figured it might be a fishing net marker but it was moving... And then I saw another and another. It turned out that there were hundreds, too many to count. Once it got lighter I realized they were fisherman on small sailing outriggers. Back to hand steering for several more hours. The fisherman would point which direction I should go to avoid their nets. There were so many I gave up and ran over a few and got yelled at a lot. At least I have the right underbody for running over Indonesian fishing nets as I didn't tow any or come to a stop. Those mountains in the backdrop are part of the island of Bali.
Video #4 It goes from about seven knots for almost the entire day to gale force for about a half hour before it slowly goes back down to seven. No seas, just a really strong wind blast. The rain is blowing so hard it is painful if you don't have any clothes on.
Video #5 Singapore Customs was a hassle. I wasted several hours going back and forth between different "grids" trying to do things right...
Video #6 There is only one free anchorage in Singapore and it has a bad reputation so I chose Changi Sailing Club on the NE side of the island. Pelican and my dinghy are both in the shot.