Langkawi to Penang

So after leaving Langkawi, just outside the main harbour area I saw this boat, I had mentioned her before,  She was from Grimsby and had a rich history as a working boat.

This was the picture I posted last October. Very sad to see this, she has been on the rocks for six months or more now, so I can’t see her being salvaged, but who knows.

I headed off in very calm seas, but thunderstorms were forecast and I could see lots of them on the horizon, however they seem to like the land, Langkawi, behind me was covered in heavy cloud, and the mainland to my port side was the same, yet it was quite sunny over me for most of the trip.
This particular cloud set was heading for me, or so it looked, by this time I was well on my way and the winds were picking up to 15knots, so I rolled in the headsails a bit. I wanted to put a reef in the main, but by now the autohelm was not able to steer the boat. I had let her get unbalanced, with a full main, and not much headsail, she had a lot of Lee helm, or was it wetherhelm, and would veer widely off course. So I was left to hand steer for the last two hours of the passage. I could have started the engine, turned into the wind and sorted it, but I was enjoying the ride, regularly hitting 7+ knots. The wind had started off on the beam, but was now behind, and the waves were causing me to surge forward, almost like surfing, but at 16 odd tonnes, she takes a lot to surf. Not to many obstacles, but I got close to these fish sticks. These are big sticks, the water it 25ft deep here, the idea is that barnacles grow on them, things eat the barnacles, bigger things eat them and even bigger…. Then the really big fishermen come along and catch the big fish.
Talking of fish, I did catch one, honest, it was massive, well I reckon it must have been, but of course it got away, but the manner it did was amusing. I was trawling a line behind from my fishing rod, the lure was a big squiddy thing, big enough to catch a small whale, anyway, as usual, the reel started running out at speed, just as I was doing some other critical job, probably furling sails, by the time I got to the rod, and put the brake on, a lot of line had gone out. I took the rod out from its new holder on the very back of the boat, (Spoiler Alert) right next to the wind turbine, I could feel the pull from the fish, it was very powerful, I raised the rod high and then a bang, clunk and twang as the line snapped, First thought that the  fish had broke it, but no, I had got the line caught in the wind turbine and it had snapped at the end of the rod. Now, a little like my kedging cock up, I looked up to see the line was taught from the turbine, all the way back to the fish, so not all was lost, what was even more impressive was that the turbine was winding in my catch, the fishing line had wrapped around the blades and was now accumulating on the axle as the strong wind kept it turning. I thought this could be very cool, it would haul the fish right up to eye level, and then stop, I could just lift the fish off and dispatch it, if the turbine hadn’t already, I think there might be a market for something similar out there. A quick reality check, and I thought there’s not enough room for all the line on the axle, and like getting something wrapped on the prop, when it does come to a stop, the force of it can do some damage. So I stopped the blades tuning and slowly removed the line. By now the fish had bitten his way through the line and buggered off. While hanging off the back of the boat, high up, one hand on the turbine, one on the solar panels, and the cutters between my teeth, I thought one slip and it’s bad news, the autohelm would have just took the boat on it’s merry way, leaving me to pray for a fishing boat to pass! I must make a rule to clip on when on my own.

There were quite a lot of big fishing boats, and two of them had a massive net enclosing them, I thought I had left enough space to pass behind them, but as I approached I could see the top of the net, buoyed, and covering the area of a football field around the boat, incredible, I can confirm my gybe preventer does work!

I was making such good progress, I passed my first destination, and my second and went for the third and last possible stop before Penang, it was a very small island Pulau Bidan, but when I arrived the wind was blowing 20-25 knots from the north and the sea state was getting quite rough, perhaps 1.5-2 mtr waves and coming from the NE and NW at the same time. I found a corner where the waves were a bit subdued, but still rough, and within an hour of setting the anchor the wind shifted making it very rolly. It was now getting dark, so I just hunkered down, had a butty and an early night. As I have done the last two times I anchored, I set the Drag Queen App up to alarm if I move more than 300ft from my anchored spot, but forgot to press the activate button, so that was a waste of time. The winds dropped through the night, I checked every hour or so. Finally I woke at 8am to a calm sunny day, looking out the cockpit it was hard to match the image below with the harsh weather from the night before. But it was a gorgeous start to the day.

View from my anchorage at Pulau Bidan, NW to the left NE to the right, shallow ahead

From here it was 4 hours down to Penang, I had had an email from the boatyard that they could lift me out in 2 days time, then I got an email from Pangkor marina that it would be ten days before they could haul me, so I decided to head to the boatyard and anchor and chill for a day or so.
Penang was busy, lots more land reclamation going on, I went through a restricted area by mistake and realised when I saw a giant loch ness monster style pipeline sticking up, that explained the big yellow and black cardinal buoy on my port side, that should have been on my starboard side. These things aren’t on the charts as they happen so quickly, but no harm done.

This yacht was huge, the crew all waved to me as I passed, which was nice.

This next bulk carrier was even larger ,you can see the barge next to it being filled. I don’t know what the cargo was, but possibly powdered land they use so much of here.
So then there was the old bridge to pass, I wasn’t too worried about this, I had been under it a few times now, and knew we would fit.

The second bridge is a bit lower and really doesn’t look so easy, I really thought I might hit it, even though we have been under it twice before.

So as I approached the second bridge at the southern end of the island, near the boatyard I gave them a call on the off chance they had an opening, and sure enough they said to come over and they would haul me. Brilliant, but a bit scary as the entrance to the travel lift dock is fraught with jagged concrete obstacles, and a strong cross current is hard to handle. However the timing was perfect, we are getting into neap tides now, much milder, and I was 3 hours before high water, where the tidal flow is less. I got in with not much trouble. I could have done with my fenders a lot higher, but we didn’t scratch anything, the steel rub rail might need a polish.

So it was with great interest I watch the boat lift, and sure enough the damage from the grounding was superficial.

Scrapes on the bow where we hit the rock, gelcoat damaged, fiberglass intact.

After she was washed, the hull looked great, the antifoul has lasted the last year well.

I thought there was a bit of vibration from the prop, this explains it. This is just 6 weeks fouling, must make a note to keep cleaning it often. I have a very small amount of tiny blisters, but 99.99% of the hull is blister free, so I think the work we did last year worked well.

So the plan now is to fill the scratches and grooves, prime, then put another coat of antifoul on tomorrow. I have cleaned the prop and put a new anode on, tomorrow I will grease it, and possibly adjust the pitch if I can work out the correct setting. Then we launch on Thursday and I head south. I plan to get down to KL or maybe even Singapore before Kathy flies out. Then I am thinking we will try to get to America’s PNW after all. I need to be in Japan for the middle of May if I want to be safe from cyclones, The route is Singapore-Hong Kong-Japan-Seattle, so there’s a lot to do.

Paul Collister