Sunday, July 19, 2015

177 NM in one day

Our noon-to-noon mileage since yesterday was 177 nm, or an average of 7.3.

We had to work our way through some squslls in the morning, but by mid-afternoon the weather had cleared. However, the GRIB files have forecast a drop and wind and a change in direction to be more behind us. It's already happening. We're "creeping" along at 4.5 knots right now, and anticipating starting at least one engine at some time during the night.

Maybe in the morning we'll put up the big spinnaker, when we can see the squalls coming.

All is well. The crew is eating well and smiling. We have been dragging fishing lines, but so far no luck.

482 miles to go to Labuan, with fairly light air forecast the whole rest of the route.
At 7/19/2015 11:30 AM (utc) our position was 02°39.68'N 107°42.69'E

Singapore to Borneo - Day 1

We transitted the south coast of Singapore on Friday. It was a nerve-wracking experience with ships everywhere.

The Busy Harbor of Singapore

The Busy Harbor of Singapore

Even the Vesper Marine AIS was almost useless there were so many targets. It was most useful feeding the AIS into OpenCPN, but neither laptop I had was happy with so much activity on the USB bus. (Not quite sure what was going on, but it was frustrating. I kept getting USB Device Not Recognized--not sure if it was heat or too much activity, or both). (Several days later I discovered that the problems were caused by a very "noisy" inverter. Once I turned the inverter off, I never had another USB serial port problem, but we were gone from Singapore by then)

Migration Looking Very Pretty

We made it safely into the anchorage in Malaysian waters on the east side of Singapore by 5pm, and were joined by our friends on Migration. We have been following Migration ever since we got in the Pacific-always a year or two behind them. But they just finished a 2 year refit in Thailand (which Bruce DOESN'T recommend), and so we finally got to meet them in person.

We rowed over to their boat for happy hour on their voluminous (trimaran) deck. The boat is gorgeous--so the refit was successful in the end (it's a 45 year old 46 ft Cross tri, but now looks brand new).

We left this anchorage yesterday morning and headed on our 702 nm trip to Labuan, on the coast of Borneo. There is lots to see in Borneo that we are skipping by, including the Rainforest Festival near Kuching. But we just can't see everything.

We are in the SW Monsoon season, so the winds are southerly. Since we got clear of the channel and turned the engines off, we've been sailing at 7-8 knots. We put one reef in the main when the daily wind came up, and another in this morning in squally weather. And we're still doing 7 knots. We have about 530 NM to go to Labuan.

With a 3rd person on board, watches and sailhandling have been easy. Kevin has been very useful in helping us figure out all the boat systems. (I have a blog half-written about all that stuff, but want to get the passage report in...)

All is well, ETA Labuan Wednesday afternoon local time, if we keep this speed up. (But softer wind is in the forecast).

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Short Stop in Singapore

Besides the fact that it was on our way, the main reason we stopped in Singapore was to pick up some new refrigeration equipment.

The new boat has a tiny dorm-room type refrigerator and a very large freezer. We could live with the tiny fridge by putting a lot of stuff in the freezer, but then you are in and out of the freezer all the time, and it's very inefficient. So Dave wants to build a proper refrig, so we can save and store massive amounts of veggies and cheese, like we do on the old Soggy Paws.

We had thought we'd have to ship a new Frigoboat system in from the U.S., but we got creative and started looking around regionally. We did find a dealer in the Philippines, but his prices weren't very competitive (30% import duty). We finally found a great deal--duty free in Singapore, and we arranged to pick it up at Raffles Marina when we went by Singapore.

We didn't really want to go into Singapore itself with the boat. Raffles Marina is expensive, and clearing in to Singapore is expensive and time consuming. So Dave wanted to stay in Malaysia, but drive into Singapore to pick our equipment up. This turned out to be logistically more difficult than we imagined. We figured we'd just rent a car for a day for $30-$40 and just drive over and pick it up. Or hire a taxi to do same. Unfortunately, none of the car rentals will let you cross into Singapore from Malaysia. And the taxi drivers we talked to all wanted around $100 to make the trip.

So Dave asked around, and rounded up Kevin and another friend, and they did it by bus. Bus-bus-(immigration stop at the border)-bus-taxi to Raffles. Lunch at the Raffles employee cafeteria (the regular restaurant was shockingly expensive). Then taxi-bus-(immigration stop)-bus-bus. For 3 people (and boxes), the whole thing cost about $40 including lunch. And, did I mention, we picked up not one, but THREE refer systems (2 for friends).

The only problem was, coming back across the border to Malaysia with boxes in hand, a Customs guy wanted Dave to pay 30% duty. Dave tried to tell him the "yacht in transit" story, but we forgot that we are Malaysian registered, and therefore don't qualify as a foreign yacht in transit. He wanted us to go across the street and fill out reams of paperwork. Finally Dave asked to talk to a supervisor. Dave explained the whole situation to him--that all these units were headed out of the country on our yacht, which was only temporarily Malaysian registered. He must have been pretty persuasive. The guy let him through with no duty and no paperwork.

Our Next Frigoboat Project

The Puteri Resort and Apartment Complex is pretty extensive. The original idea, beyond the standard resort concept, was to be a place for people who worked in Singapore to live more cheaply than Singapore. There is a ferry terminal and a nice Customs/Immigration building. A short ferry ride each day delivers Malaysian workers to jobs in Singapore. But the developers forgot to clear the idea with the Singapore officials. So far the ferry only services a route to Indonesia, not Singapore right across the canal.

The marina is pretty nice, with nice clean showers and a working do-it-yourself laundromat. There is a very upscale bar on top of the resort with an "infinity pool" and a workout room with showers. The marina has a shuttle bus that runs to the nearby huge mall a couple of times a week, and to the "Night Market" (a nearby local market with food stalls). Life is easy there and some people we met have been in the marina for a couple of years. (Indonesia and Malaysia are the "Caribbean" of Australia... lots and lots of Aussies here on their 2-3 year cruising adventure).

We did lots of projects while we were there, including a massive top-up on diesel, from jugs. Malaysia is another subsidized fuel place, and like the last place like that we were in (Ecuador), selling fuel to foreigners is a regulated process. So most marinas just don't. But there's always a helpful guy... Though the gas station price of diesel in Malaysia is about 2 Ringgits (50 cents) a liter, to have it delivered to your boat in a 5-gallon jug, the price is 3 ringgits a liter. This is a huge rip-off, but the markup is about what you'd spend to rent a car and do it yourself, and a whole lot less work on your part.

We are starting to sort out the fairly complicated electrical system. We discovered once we'd gotten all the right switches in the right place, that our start battery was pretty much stone dead. "Oh, that's why the Link 2000 says 10 volts when you switch it to the start battery." Dave picked up a new start battery at the night market, but we still have to figure out how everything is getting charged.

Sorting Out The Batteries

I got the Soggy Paws names on the bow, finally.

The Final Step of our Renaming Ritual

Impala left the day before we did, to beat down the Sunda Strait and around the SE end of Sumatra, before heading west for the Indian Ocean. We've been running into Nick since we met them, just dismasted, in Ecuador. Not sure the next time we'll run into him. That's the tough part of making such good friends from all over the world when cruising.

Impala Heads for the Indian Ocean...and Ultimately the Mediterranean

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Down the Straits of Malacca

Once we left Penang, we day-hopped, in long days, into light south-southeasterlies, for the 340 miles to Singapore. There is a reversing current in the Straits that can run up to 2 knots. We were fortunate that we happened to catch the current cycle right, so our "underway" times were mostly with the current. Most days we were up at the crack of dawn and underway until just about sunset. There is so much fishing activity at night inshore, and so much shipping activity offshore, that day hops are the most prudent way to go.

Typical Malaysian Fishing Boat

Constant Procession of Big Ships in the Straits

We stopped for an afternoon in Marina Pangkor on our way back through--to top off our water supply and go get a few more provisions & boat misc, including a bowline for the dinghy. We rented the marina car for a few hours and stopped in 4-5 places plus bought another $100 of groceries. We pulled out of the marina at 6pm and anchored out at the SE-most cove at Pangkor Island, to get an early start the next morning.

The next day we were underway at first light for a tiny anchor spot at Pulau Angsa, just north of Port Klang. We motorsailed with both engines on, averaging 5.8 knots for the day. We got the hook down just before dark, after a 73 nm day. (03-11.14N / 101-13.12E).

The next day we had to go through Port Klang, a busy shipping port with a narrow channel and a vicious current. Fortunately our timing was great and we rode a favorable current nearly all day. It was interesting the mix of shipping that we saw going through Port Klang.

Some of the Strange Boats We Passed in Port Klang

Rounding the point after Port Klang, we could finally head more easterly and actually turned the engines off for a couple of hours. The afternoon winds were whistling up through the Straits to almost 20 knots, so the guys got good practice at reefing our big main. At one point we were doing 7.5 knots through the water and 9 knots over the bottom (with strong current assist).

The wind eventually died and we had to turn the engines back on. We motored into Admiral Marina south of Port Dickson around 4pm. This is another resort/marina that looks like it's failing. There was almost nobody there at the hotel, though the marina was pretty full. Though we're in the middle of Ramadan--most Malaysians defer their vacations until the party time after Ramadan.

We decided to rent a car for a couple of days and drive an hour south to see the old town of Malacca (Melaka), while the boat was secure in the marina. We had a great time walking around the old part of town, but it was blazing hot, so we didn't see as much as we would have liked.

Colorful Tourist Shops in Old Towne Malacca

One of the Many Temples in Malacca

Malacca River

Having a Cold One by the River

Dave was captivated by the old guys who were hand-sifting the mud at the side of the river for old coins. Dave ended up buying quite a few of the old coins and a few other old artifacts. Kevin and I told him they were probably fakes, but he was undeterred. So we have a handful of (maybe genuine) 400 year old Dutch and Portugese coins.

Genuine Malacca Tourist Stuff

We had a memorable meal at the old Portuguese waterfront area a few miles south of Melaka.

The Best Seafood in Malaysia - At the Portuguese Section of Malacca

On our return to Admiral Marina, we wanted to pull into their fuel dock to top off on diesel, but they said it wasn't working. Fortunately we weren't desperate and could wait til we got to Puteri Marina near Singapore to fuel up.

Three more days of slogging into (mostly) light noserlies and we finally turned the corner into the Johor Strait, the narrow waterway that separates Singapore from mainland Malaysia. We anchored for short overnights at Pulau Besar and Pulau Pisang. (Pulau means Island in Malay, if you haven't figured that out by now).

We pulled into Puteri Marina, a resort/marina complex on the Malaysian side, about 2pm. They put us right next to our friend Nick on Impala. Nick and his pick-up crew are leaving to cross the Indian Ocean in a couple of days.

The Intrepid Impala Crew

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Side Trip to Penang

Our first task on getting underway was to head for Penang, where we planned to meet up with a surveyor, to get a formal survey for the new Soggy Paws. Our new insurance company, Topsail, from the UK, doesn't actually require a survey for insurance purposes. But they do require a "rig survey" for any boat with rigging over 12 years old.

After inquiring of several surveyors in Malaysia and Singapore, none of whom were available in the next month, and all of whom wanted an arm and a leg, we got wind of a cruising guy in Langkawi who does surveys for a reasonable price. Better yet, he was planning to spend a few weeks cruising in Penang (halfway between Langkawi and Pangkor). And even better yet, this kind soul offered to bring our new dinghy down to Penang for us...eliminating all the need for going another 70 miles north to Langkawi before we set off south for the Philippines.

After a stop overnight at Pulau Talang (04-25.02N / 100-34.56E in light NNE winds), we headed north for Penang.

Ahhh, Finally at Anchor!!

It was a long, but uneventful light-air motorsail.

Kevin Cranking the Main Up for the First Time

On approaching Penang from the south, the first thing you notice is the "new" bridge, which doesn't show up on our 2010 CM93 chart. Even on the brand-new-constantly-updated Navionics and Jeppeson/C-Map charts on our Android, the bridge is only drawn in as a black line, with no height information at all. Fortunately we had already been assured that there was plenty of height for us. There are no height markings on the bridge itself at all.

Around 6pm we anchored next to Geoff's boat, Arnak, in a protected spot next to Pulau Jerejak (05-20.66N / 100-18.91E ). Within a few minutes, Geoff came rowing over in our new dinghy. It's a very nice 10ft Aluminum Bottom RIB built by APUS in Langkawi. Not exactly what we would have bought had we had time to shop around and ship something in, but we needed something for this trip and to leave with the old Soggy Paws when we sell her.

The next day, Geoff came over and did a thorough survey and we spent a lot of time chatting about cruising things in general. We were sorry we were in such a hurry that we didn't get a chance to socialize with them a bit more.

Dave spent the afternoon getting the 5hp outboard running properly.

Dave and Kevin Working on the Outboard

The first problem we ran into was the squeeze bulb on the fuel tank was completely shot. Fortunately, Geoff had a used spare that he let us buy from him. Meanwhile, Kevin was on his hands and knees in the Stbd Forward Head, working on clearing the blockages in the lines. Later he did the same in the Aft Head. What a good crew!

Finally, just before sunset, Dave called the outboard "good enough", and we were able to go ashore for a meal. The outboard still needs a little carb work--it stalls as soon as you throttle back--but the crew was clamoring for "shore leave", so he had to give it up. The current runs pretty swiftly in the anchorage area (in both directions according to the tide), so we really needed a working outboard to get ashore.

Shore Leave!!

We had a nice--but pricey--meal at a Japanese cook-it-yourself-on-the-table. We were headed for the stalls at the market, but the lure of cold beer and air conditioning sucked us in to the restaurant.

We left at the crack of dawn the next morning, to start heading south towards Singapore.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Launched and Ready to Go!

Amazingly, we were launched on schedule on June 29.

The Pangkor Marina Lift

Here We Go!

As soon as we were in the water, Dave turned on the engines. We held our breath that everything would start. The engines started right up, thankfully. But there was only a dribble of cooling water coming out. We only had 100 yards to go, downwind, to the dock, so we backed right off the lift, quickly motored to the dock, and shut the engines down. Once we were safely tied up, Dave got the Port Engine cooling water going by just revving up the engine some. But the Starboard engine still wasn't pumping water. It took a whole day, and a phone call to John, the Previous Owner, for him to work through the possible issues and get that going.

Dave on Skype with the Previous Owner in NZ

Meanwhile, our friend Kevin from s/v Miss Behave joined us from Australia. We met Kevin and Irina on their beautiful boat in Palau last year, and Kevin was one of the guys who went with Dave on the second trip to Pelelieu. Kevin jumped at the chance to come have another adventure with Dave. (Thank you, Irina, Kevin has been a blessing)

Kevin and Dave Working on the Starboard Engine Cooling Water System

Luckily, it was no major issue, just cleaning up a bit, and we had both engines running smoothly.

The next problem holding up our departure was the Windlass. It hadn't worked at all when we surveyed Blue Moon before we purchased her. But John, the PO, assured us that it had been working well, so we figured it would be no big deal to get it going again. We quickly narrowed the problem down to the solenoid--it would go down and not up. A bit of banging and checking wires and contacts didn't solve the problem, so Dave took the solenoid out and tried to open it up. It's a nicely sealed unit, and opening up was a problem, especially with not much in the way of tools aboard. He finally borrowed a Dremel from another boater and got inside. A few minutes cleaning up corrosion and it was working again.

Dave Working on the Windlass

These Windlass Foot Switches Were Not the Problem!

Meanwhile, my job was helping Dave clean out the lockers, provisioning, and continuing to work on our cash payment issues. On Monday, James Koo, the very helpful Pangkor Marina Manager, took us out in his car to help us find what we were looking for. In 2 short hours, we visited 3-4 hardware stores and a bank, and came away with all the hardware bits Dave was looking for, and our Western Union Cash Advance. It took almost an hour to get the money--lots of paperwork, and the international computer system was down--but it all worked well in the end, and I would use Western Union again in a similar situation.

Of course, Dave didn't take any pictures of me on my hands and knees scrubbing the yard dirt off the boat canvas, but here's a "looking in lockers" photo.

Trying to Sort Through the Lockers

Another thing on my list was applying the new name on the stern. We also bought some big name appliques for the bow, with the requisit paw print, but applying those hasn't made it to the top of the list yet.

The New Soggy Paws

One of my good friends asked "What did you do for a re-naming ceremony?" My answer: "I applied the new name!"

So stocked up, crewed up, and the critical maintenance items dones, we are taking off this afternoon to head north to Penang for a short visit. We won't get off until late, so we'll spend the night at an anchorage just 10 miles north of Pangkor, and get an early start in the morning.