We woke to the sights and sounds of a storm early on Thursday morning. Loud claps of thunder, flashes of lightning and a heavy downpour greeted us as we prepared for our trip to Pulau Songsong. By the time we were ready to leave at 10.30, it was warm and humid – hot when the sun emerged from behind the clouds. I steered us out of the marina and into the bay, using the bow thruster for the first time, and I was pleased at how smoothly it went. Once we were in The Malacca Straits heading south, the autohelm took over the steering. This one is much more efficient than the one on Lady Stardust and is such a boon. It means that apart from keeping watch, we are free to move around and get on with other things. I’m still getting used to the navigation system on this boat – it looks complicated but I suspect it’s just a matter of becoming familiar with it.
A squall hit us after a couple of calm, pleasant hours at sea and Paul has described it in detail in his blog. I’ve experienced enough of them now not to be too alarmed by them. It’s mostly uncomfortable in several ways – more so for Paul who literally battles the elements up above. In the cabin, this squall provided a good test of how well things were stowed. With the boat rolling from side to side in the big waves, things were being thrown around inside cupboards and lockers and I could hear some alarming clanks and crashes. Some of the drawers flew open as if a Poltergeist was creating mischief and all the cans from the top shelf of the fridge ended up on the bottom. I positioned myself so that I was ready to sort things out and re-stow but nothing was broken or damaged and only a bit of tweaking is needed to ensure more stability.
Once it was calm again, Paul tried his luck with putting a line out to catch a fish for dinner. He’d been told the area was a rich fishing ground but he had no takers for his bait.
The island, as we approached it, reminded me of the ones Bear Grylls chooses for his TV series’ about surviving as castaways. I thought it was all rainforest but Paul said it’s just a huge rock, with trees planted on the outside of it as ‘decoration’. It’s also a military base so supposedly off limits to visitors but there was a group of lads on the beach happily preparing a barbecue for the fish they’d caught. There’s a widespread disregard for some of the rules and regulations in Malaysia: I like that.
When we’d anchored and the engine was switched off, the noises coming from the trees were hard to determine -birds, m0nkeys, or possibly both – but it was fabulous to sit and listen to them, along with the sound of the waves breaking on the shore as we ate in the cockpit. As the sun set, several small fishing boats came to cast and check nets near the beach. They all came fairly near to us for a ‘look’ and all gave us a friendly wave.
The promised return of the bad weather, came bang on time at 2am and again, Paul gives details of it in his blog. It was good to know the anchor held through it all, though and nice to be rocked back to sleep by the gentler waves when it calmed down again. Despite the broken sleep, we were suitably refreshed and all set to resume our journey onto Penang at 9am.