Admiral Marina (at last)

I’m in the Marina, tied up, cleaned, watered, shaved, checked in, and chilled.
When I woke, It took a while to find the little Island I was meant to have anchored off last night in the dark, then I spotted it, it’s just a few bushes  on a sand bank really. It’s there in the pic, if you look closely

Still everything was very calm and smooth, and nothing anywhere near me to worry about. The trip down to the marina was only 5 miles, so about an hour

On leaving the port, which is mainly a Gas/Oil port, with a huge power station, I saw this supertanker unloading, I assume.

It’s swinging on the large buoy in front, but from the buoy are two huge black pipes that come around the bow, along the port side and onto the deck. The buoy is connected to an underwater pipeline. Clever these big ship/buoy people.

So it was a simple entry to the marina, I had planned that the wind was going to blow me onto the pontoon, in a very cool manner, but when I pulled up, just about a metre off the pontoon, the wind was astern, instead of on the side, so I had to throw a rope ashore. All very easy really. I had been worried that the boat would behave differently with the new prop when I was doing all my usual shenanigans with, ahead/astern/ahead, wheel hard over, astern, ahead etc etc. However, I just glided in, a little astern and job done. Still with no current, hardly any wind, and a wide berth, it would be bad if I had made a mess of it.

The marina office needs my clearing out papers from Langkawi which I don’t have, but the guy said he will talk with his boss and sort something out. I do hope so.

Theres a little shopping area just outside the marina with restaurants as well, and the marina has a restaurant and pool, so I have all I need here. I can also hire a car and explore the area a little and do a big shop. I have checked in for 5 days, it’s about £12 / day here, very reasonable.

I probably won’t blog now until I’m ready to leave and have a plan.

Paul Collister

Port Dickson, I hope

I decided to leave at 10:30 this morning and try to get a web page built first, that I had promised to do this week. I had estimated the journey to port Dickson from Port Klang would be 6 hours, not the 10 it took. So I ended up arriving in the dark. The pilot suggested anchoring next to a small island in the bay, which is what I have done, except it’s too dark to see the island. I can’t wait till the morning to see where I am.

The route below shows I hugged the coast most of the way. There’s lots of ships around here, not many moving, but also lots of fishing nets.

Getting out of Klang was fun, I kept close to the mangroves on the way out, but at some point I had to cross the main channel as I was going south at the end. Lot’s of ships coming and going, but I sneaked behind a gigantic container ship and all was fine. I took some good pictures on the way out.

Once out of the river I was into an anchorage with about 25 big boats, tankers, lpg ships, bulk carriers and container ships. all sitting there looking a little sorry for themselves. It’s odd motoring past these huge ships when they are motionless and looking deserted. At the mouth of the river there were a load of dredgers/land planting ships

The coast here is very low lying, no hills or mountains in sight. I think we are roughly level with the Kualar Lumpur Main Airport.

No wind and a very flat sea, but that made the fishing nets easier to spot. The fishermen still come out to me to guide me around their nets. However there was so much debris in the water, I kept mistaking it for net markers.
I have mentioned before, the tides are crazy here, they rush in, and rush out, but the rushing out is mostly just more rushing in, so as the tides fell this morning I got 2.5 knots of current against me, slowing me down loads, but 6 hours later when it should have flipped and I would be racing along, the tide was still against me. It was only for half an hour that we were faster than our speed thru water. Consequently, we didn’t get here till dark. 

This is port Dickson in the distance, the tall white tower is the power station

And this is the pier and cranes for unloading the ships that bring the fuel for the station

It was just hitting sunset as I arrived at the edge of the bay, by the time I was inside it was quite dark, I had to look hard for the nets, the first one, a fishing boat guided me to the end of the floats, the second was to long and by the time I saw it I couldn’t be bothered backtracking to find the end. As I approached it, lots of concerned fishermen shone their torches at me from the end of the nets lines, maybe 500 mtrs away. I just slipped over the nets with no effect, which was nice.

Then I anchored near an invisible island, its on the GPS chart-plotter, but I can’t see it. It all seems very safe and calm here, tomorrow it’s just an hour or two to the marina, so I will have an easy morning, then head over. Time to go shopping, I’m out of eggs.

Paul Collister




8.4 Knots today, must be ok.

Well, take off 2 knots for a favourable current, still good considering I’m keeping the revs down. I think I got away with it, however, somethings not quite right still, I can hear a squealing at low revs from the prop shaft, there must be some line inside the bearing. But given that the prop shaft did about 442,804 (approx) revolutions today I think if something bad was going to happen, I would have known about it. I expect the worst that will happen is the prop shaft gets scarred and the bearing gets damaged. As soon as I can I will get a proper look at it, near some clearer water.

Clean shirt for the big departure

But first, last night’s mini trauma. One of the positive aspects of being disabled at the roadstead, was that it was safe there, the anchor was dug in very well, and I had a lot of scope out, for the depth, so even if the weather had got bad, things would have been fine. So just before the sun set I was alarmed to see the Garmin GPS telling me we had drifted 200ft, towards the shore. we still had a long way to go, so I let out some more chain, and backed down on it. The anchor was stuck solid in the mud. I assumed that when I was testing the prop shaft, I had driven forward and back, while at anchor, only a boats length or so, but that must have upset the anchor, seemed unlikely, but no big deal anyway.
Skip forward a few hours to 22:00 ish and I notice on the GPS we are drifting again, 400ft this time and in a bee line to the shore. The shore looks closer too, but still a long way away. I’m very confused, I look on the other GPS chart plotter, the iPad and it says we haven’t moved, but it has a lower resolution, so not as easy to tell small distances, but it would show 400ft all right. So this is one of those decisions I hate, conflicting evidence! You want to go with the GPS that makes life easy, but you can’t ignore the one that’s screaming danger approaches. So I decide to play safe, and pull the anchor up and motor off into the deep blue and reset the anchor. I haven’t had to reset the anchor in the dark on my own before, so that made it a worthwhile exercise in itself, holding the torch with one hand, the deck-wash spray with the other, and activating the windlass with the foot switch, just needed some cymbals on my back and I’d be sorted.
Up it came, and back at the helm I motored away from the shore, and guess what, the Garmin had me continuing to the shore at the same rate as before. The iPad showed me motoring away from my original anchored spot, I expect the iPad was wondering what the heck I was up to. Power cycling the Garmin, and guess what, it put me back at the original spot, plus the bit I had motored. I would never had expected this from the Garmin, maybe the iPad. I keep the Garmin running 24/7 as it struggles to acquire satellites sometimes, and as a software engineer, I’m putting my money on memory fragmentation/memory management problems in their software. A very informative exercise in all. Have they got a name for this age yet, like the “industrial age”, the “IT age”, well I think it should be called the “turn it off then back on age”, as we seen to have to do far too much of that.

So today I was up at seven, and left before eight. I’m out of bananas, so I had a cheese butty for breakfast instead, just two more nights, then I can get ashore and restock. I headed towards Port Klang, the prop made some squealing noises, but as I increases the revs, they stopped, there is no vibration, so I’m assuming I can get away with it for now. I made great progress.
I was on constant lookout for fishing nets, of which there where many, I had read last night that these surface nets with closely spaced white floats are ok to drive over, but I wasn’t going to risk it, the very thought of another prop wrap! However as I working my was around one net, a big fast fishing boat came screaming towards me, I thought, to push me away from his net, but he was on his way somewhere else, but he motored right over the net, so that gave me confidence. At the next net I went right over it, with a marker float 20ft either side of me. I dropped the revs and go into neutral just before I pass over it, but I don’t think that’s really needed. Later I had to dodge a guy laying these nets, he was doing about 5 knots as the net streamed over the side of his boat, I could see the white marker buoys on about 10 ft of line, so I guess thats how far down the net would be.

Pulau Angsa

I was planning to stop before port Klang at P.Angsa, but the spot was full of fishing boats, so I pushed on into the port itself. Port Klang is very industrial, and is on the river Klang, this is the main River from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, some 20km from here. All of the rubbish and waste (sewage etc) from the big city used to flow down here, but that’s been cleared up now, it’s mostly organic debris floating past me now.  There’s an anchorage marked on the chart, but the only boat there is a shipwrecked half sunken coaster. I anchored just along from him. The biggest tide I have seen so far in Malaysia or Thailand has had a range of 3 metres, normally more like 2, so I was shocked to find here it is 5 metres, I anchored in 9, but there is a shallower patch near me, which I hope I don’t swing onto at low water, or I will be aground. The current flows very fast here too. On one side of the river, where I am, it’s lovely mangroves, and I can hear the usual wildlife kicking off as the sun went down, on the other side it’s like Rotterdam docks, miles of container ships and other cargo ships. A cruise liner just passed too.

Tomorrow I will leave early, and head down towards Port Dickson, I will anchor somewhere along the way, and the following day, pop into Admiral Marina for some R&R, I might do a day trip into the town of Malacca itself. The Malacca straits are getting much narrower now, It wouldn’t take long to cross to Indonesia from here.

Paul Collister

By jove, I think I’ve got it.

That’s a quote made famous by an Irish man I think.
Yes it looks like I’m back in business, cooking with gas, flying the kite …. enough!

Up early this morning, I had not just a plan, but a plan B, a plan C and other ideas. My main thing was to be methodical. So I decided to wait for a slow current, difficult as we are close to spring tides, bright sunshine, and to have everything I need, working just right. I fixed up my breathing apparatus, if that’s not a bit too grand a term for an old bit of hose gaffa taped onto a snorkel

Next, I gathered together the tools for the job!

This is my anti-Jellyfish outfit, bloody hot, given it’s 35+ outside, at least the waters a little cooler.

and finally, into the water

Just so you know what Im working on, in the picture below, between the black hull, and the brass propeller, you can just make out a 1 1/2″ prop shaft. this turns, the hull doesn’t, so the fishing line or rope gets wrapped around the shaft and fills the whole gap up, compressing itself as it goes, until it’s all compacted in and forced against the front and back edges. It can even get drawn into the bearing the prop shaft sticks out of, This is called the cutless bearing, because it causes the prop shaft to be cut less, not cutlass which people call it as it sounds more nautical.
When I first dived the gap was full and the line was also wrapped all around the prop and the blades. Now we are just down to the gap.

Sadly when I first dived at about 11am, after 2 hours of tortuous spreadsheet based work, for my paying job with the wind turbines, the visibility was atrocious. So I sent the camera down, this time I swam down and held it at length to see what I was up against. I could feel the mess, but couldn’t see it. This video shows the problem.

Thee are some more stills above. I made three trips under the boat today, and by the end I had removed all of the line. There may be some inside the cutless bearing, but there’s nothing I can do about that now. I have run the engine in forward and reverse, and it’s fine, I was able to turn the prop with my hands underwater, and I think it’s free. I think it turns easier in the boatyard, but it’s hard to compare when your gasping for breath, and dodging jellyfish 😉

Two fishing boats called by today while I was in the water, one large boat, and he looked like he would help if I asked, but by then I was on a roller. In fact I was already thinking about the style of advert I might place in the local gazette, “Prop Shaft repairs unlimited” there’s definitely an opportunity round here 😉

The other thing I practised today was breathing with next to no air. Tim and I had a chat about how atmospheric pressure works and how deep I could go with the hose pipe. Not very deep it seems. This is very interesting, but I found I could get my head about 2 ft under water, which gave me just enough room to reach the prop, but breathing was hard. What surprised me was the slightest effort in using the knife or hacksaw exhausted me, and I couldn’t breathe. I usually panic at this point and launch myself upwards. I only learnt to swim ten years ago, and this scenario used to be nightmarish for me. But I found that I could adapt if I went very slowly, so as  soon as the lack of air started to affect me, I would slow down, or stop and wait a bit then start again. This helped massively, because before I had been exhausting myself going up and down, and doing very little cutting. it helped that it was very calm today and I had completely forgotten about the Jellyfish

I have a fly on board, I believe he has been with me since Penang, he seems to want to spend more time with me, he’s probably lonely, as we are now several hundred miles from his home, and he (could be a she) hasn’t had a chance to get to land yet. All the moths and mosquitos have long left, it’s very pleasant being offshore away from all of these creatures.

It’s too late to depart today, so I will be up early and away to the south. Thanks for the support and suggestions and I look forward to receiving the ROV on my birthday, should anyone win the pools and feels generous.

Paul Collister

Stuck at anchor still

Just a quick note to say that today’s attempt at removing the fishing line from the prop failed. It started well, but then my legs were stung by a jellyfish, I left the water pronto, and after a half hour, the stinging had stopped. I don’t have my wetsuit here, in fact my whole wardrobe is basically shorts and t-shirts, with some light trousers for more formal occasions, or when we go out in a mossy rich area. So I donned a pair of dirty old trousers and some socks that were last worn in Manchester and went back in. The visibility was awful, and I couldn’t see the prop at all, but I could feel the fishing line all bunched up on it, so I hacked away with various sharp implements until out of nowhere, a jelly fish swam into my face and decided to ‘have a go’. I started flailing around to get it away, which resulted in my arms as well as my face getting stung. I ended up on the wrong side of the boat for getting back on board, no ladder or ropes, but I had often wondered if I could easily haul myself back up using the wind steering frame bolted to the back of the boat. Guess what, I was up and over the back of the boat in seconds.
Then the pain kicked in, I can honestly say, that has to be the most painful thing I have ever experienced. It took about two hours to get the pain under control, and as I write this now, 10 hours later, and quite a bit of codine, paracetamol and Ibuprofen consumed, the pain is finally subsiding.
I didn’t think I would go back in the water ever again earlier, but I’m now working on how to construct a jellyfish safe suit with whats on the boat.

I took this GoPro picture of the prop to see how I got on, and the misty ethereal shape running up and down, is actually alive, and probably good for a sting too.

I contacted a local Marina manager for advise, he told me I was too far away for them to come out and help, and that I should try the coastguard. So I flagged down a passing fisherman this afternoon. He didn’t speak English, but seemed to understand my gestures and indicated he might be able to help. There are lots of fishing boats in the area, one of them must have a guy with scuba gear? Anyway a few hours later a fast fishing boat came screaming towards me,  they pulled up alongside, and I thought this looked promising, I asked if they had come to help, but they said no, they had come to see if I had any beer for them. Most odd, I told them I didn’t and they raced away laughing.
So I’m just about to cook dinner and retire, hopefully tomorrow will start off better. I have 12 eggs, so at three eggs an omelette, I’m cool for 4 days. although I think the mushroom filling is only good for another day.
If the wind picks up, it’s mostly about 5 knts through the day, I will set sail to the south and see how far I can get. I don’t fancy having to negotiate the nets with no motor backup, or having to anchor in a random place when night falls.
It seems it’s not all idyllic beaches and sunsets after all 😉

Paul Collister



Oh Bother, another mess up by me

Well I can’t really blame anyone else, although it is usually Kathy that reminds me to bring in my fishing line before I reverse.
I don’t really need to write anymore, do I!

I woke to a lovely morning in Pangkor today, had a bit of a lie in as it wasn’t  far to my next destination, about 35 nm, or seven hours?

Pangkor Laut, luxury resort

Pangkor Island covers the mouth of a river that heads to Lamut, a major port here and very busy. Below you can see some of the ships at anchor, presumably waiting for a pilot or a berth in Lamut. 




I left at 9:30 and arrived here abut 16:00.It was stressful at times as this area is worked by fishermen with floating surface drift nets, I don’t want to try to motor over one of these as it might not work out too well. I went well to starboard of the first one, one end has a buoy on it, the other a boat, however the buoy belonged to a different net, behind and staggered from this one, and as I approached it, I spotted the main net in front of me. I was able to turn and avoid it, then I motored for a long way to the end. By then the guardian of the nets, a team of guys in a fast fishing boat had motored up to me, almost running me over, they wanted to guide me through the nets, and there way of doing it was to put themselves between me and the nets, as I was keeping a good 100ft from the nets anyway, they came within a boats length of me, pointing the way. I did a U-turn around the end of the net, back the way I came, but now on the other side of the net, in between it and the next net. I travelled about 200 mtrs back, before I could get past the second net. The fishermen shepherded me along the route, then we all waved to each other as I headed off into the clear ocean, well clear for about 15 minutes, then another set of drift nets. This time I had a better understanding of the layout, and scooted around it easily. Not something you want to do at night, you wouldn’t have a chance.
It’s common for these guys and their nets to drift down on anchored boats at night, get wrapped around the anchor, and for arguments about compensation for the fishermen to start, so I wont sleep too easy here.
There’s nowhere within a daysail of Pangkor heading south that’s well protected. One pilot book I read suggested the open roadstead at 03°40’.40N 100°53’.62E, which is where I am now anchored. I had never heard of an open roadstead.

It’s just a bit of ocean, I don’t understand. One of the things I like about this activity is that I’m always learning new stuff, even though I have been cruising boats for over ten years now, I’m constantly feeling like a novice, and as recent events show, proving it too. “Open Roadsteads” are defined by wikipedea as
A roadstead (or roads – the earlier form) is a body of water sheltered from rip currents, spring tides or ocean swell where ships can lie reasonably safely at anchor without dragging or snatching. It can be open or natural, usually – estuary-based, or may be created artificially.
This is just ‘a bit of the coast’ but I have to say, it’s calming down nicely, the anchor set well, and “everything is going to be lovely” . To use a famous quote. I’m also hoping that lots of other boats have used this area so the fishermen keep clear, so far I haven’t seen any around here.

So everything went well, after I drop the anchor, I reverse backwards, slowly at first, this give the anchor a chance to dig in, when I see the chain go taut, I up the revs, and put more force on it. If it is holding and we are staying put, then I give it near maximum revs, I make sure the chain leaving the boat is very taut, and that it isn’t vibrating or jumping in any way, then I drop the revs, and put the engine into Neutral and let out another 10m of chain or so, just to be safe. Today went very well,  and it was while I was doing the high rev bit in reverse, that I looked over the stern to see how much turbulence my new prop setting made, when I noticed the fishing line going down under the boat. “S**T”, who left the bloody fishing line out when I’m reversing. Too late, the damage was done. I sent the GoPro camera down to have a look

The pic above is using enhanced underwater imaging software to make it look like it’s not even in the water, pretty amazing eh 😉
The main mess is in the gap between the prop and the boat, where it is wrapped around the shaft. This is normal, I had this on the baba 30, with rope and was able to pull it out by hand, but this is more difficult. I need to cut out the line. I dived down earlier, Tarzan style, holding my breath with a knife between my teeth, crocodiles in pursuit etc etc, but found I could only hold my breath long enough to get about two seconds cutting action. The waves were big too, constantly threatening to bonk the boat onto my head, plus the visibility not so good so I gave up after 20 minutes of hacking at it. I retired back to the boat to ponder, not before I tipped the dinghy upside down, bashing my head with the transom. Now if you know anything about dinghies, you will know they are 99% bouncy rubber, so how did the only hard bit, be the bit to land on my head. “Infamy, Infamy, Someones got it in for me”. this was followed by another disaster, but that can wait for another day, suffice it to say, I don’t have wind generated power anymore.
Back on the boat, I made a lovely pineapple and mango smoothie, which is just chilling in the fridge, and I’m going to make up a lovely salad with the last of the lettuce before it goes off. I have enough food on board to last several weeks, drink too, so there’s no panic. I’m working on a plan that, after consultation with my Personal Diving Consultant (Thanks Tim), may allow me to remove the fishing line.
Often its very calm at dawn here, so that’s when my plan will kick off, if all goes well, I will be on my way to a little Island near Port Dickson marina, just one hop away from the marina, where I plan to stop for a few days, and possibly visit the city of Malacca. If the plan fail, then back to the drawing board, and the start of a succession of omelettes, getting plainer each day.

Paul Collister

Bangla in Pangkor

All safely anchored in Pangkor, although a bit rolly, hopefully that should reduce as the wind shifts overnight, but I’m so tired it won’t matter, neither will the Bangla blasting across the bay affect me. Hopefully it will stop around midnight.
I was up just before the sun rose, making a coffee and checking everything was ready to go. It took a while to get the anchor up, 40 meters of chain, totally caked in thick mud, making the chain look like it was about 2 inches (50cm) thick. Need to standardise on a measurement system. Difficult on an American 40ft boat to use metric. I had to clean the chain with the deck wash, and every 10 metres in, pop below and flake the chain in the locker. I was away at 7:30, and set the controls for due south.Because I was starting from offshore, there weren’t too many fishing boats around, however I passed over several banks, 4-6 mtrs where the fishing boats gather. I came across a lot of pairs of boats like these two – 

I was a bit confused at first, but I quickly worked out they had a net strung between them, I could see the rope, however both boats often seemed to be struggling, black smoke galore, and lots of wash from the prop, as if they had a very heavy load. I wondered if the net could be very full.
A little later I scooted round the back of one of these pairs, not totally sure how far back the net extended, and was rather shocked to see the water a different colour where they had been fishing and where I was heading. Usually when the water changes colour quickly, and in this case it was very brown and muddy, it means a change in depth, we were in about 8 mtrs, and I wondered if there was a bank I was about to hit, and they were fishing there, as fish often like shallows. I slowed down and as I passed through the muddy water the depth didn’t change. Then I realised that these nets were dragging the sea bed, a particularly bad way of fishing in my mind, they kill everything in their path, and trash the sea bed. Besides that, they may be trashing my future home, where I will while away the hours with Davy Jones. I must look into this method more, a lot of fishing techniques used in Asia, especially Thailand have been made illegal.

So ten hours after leaving, I could clearly make out the island of Pangkor, very wooded, and full of holiday resorts apparently. Enclosing the anchorage I’m in is a small island called Pangkor Laut, which is home to a 5 star luxury resort, and a marina. I was going to haul out here  originally, but they couldn’t fit me in.

I looked in the first bay I met on the island, my problem is that the northerly wind last night, didn’t come from the north, but from the west, and although there was little wind today, the wind from last night was sending a big swell into all the exposed bays on the west of Pangkor, This bay was fine, but for the swell. It looked like it once had, or nearly had a resort there, but it all looks abandoned now.

I have tucked in behind a very small islet/rock but the swell is still making its way in, but it did make for a nice sunset picture

The engine/prop worked great on the way here, I was able to run the engine at a much higher revs, less smoke and I think the fuel consumption is looking ok. I was able to manage 7-7.5 knots through the water with no problem at about 3/4 throttle, more was available if needed. A lot of that is down to a smooth bottom and a shiny prop. Stop sniggering at the back please!
Tomorrow I’m going about 35 miles south to an anchorage just off the coast with no shelter at all from the sea, so I’m hoping for a calm night, otherwise I might have to backtrack to here. This stretch of coast is quite difficult to do in day passages. With each day I get a little closer to the equator. I’m just about 4deg North now, and about 100 deg East. Also the Malacca straights are narrowing as I proceed south. Shipping is going to increase a lot, after tomorrows anchorage, I will proceed to an anchorage near Port Dickson, that’s very close now to Kaula Lumpar and the main shipping port of Malaysia.
I read yesterday that the advice I got in Langkawi about checking out was wrong. I was told that I don’t need to check out until I leave Malaysia for Hong Kong, however, Langkawi is different it seems and I should have checked out of there. I may have to go back to check out, which will be a major pain. I will throw myself on the mercy of the harbour master in Port Dickson, and see if something can be worked out.

Paul Collister.





We’re flying

So we launched this morning, a little delayed, but that’s how things work here. All in all I’m very happy with the work they did in the yard here. They hauled me out within an hour of me phoning them, and we were back in the water a few days later. 

I’m getting quite blasé about the whole launching thing now, however, they had a guy helping who didn’t understand boats much and they almost scratched the boat when it was lowered, as the current tried to take it away before they got the shore lines on. In the end it went fine, and I reversed out into a strong current, I had swung by 45 deg before the bow sprit cleared the dock, so I had to reverse fast and whack the bow thruster on full power. It looked quite normal from the dock, but was a bit hairy from the helm. I also hadn’t realised that the dinghy was blocking my view, as I had lifted it up high onto the foredeck.

From the dock I motored down to Pulau Kendi, which is just an hour or so to the west. Lots of nets to dodge on the way. I was extremely pleased to find the new propellor pitch works well. I can now get the engine up to 3000RPM and the hull speed was nearly 8 knots, in calm water. I also burnt off a bit of soot on the way here which is good. I need to see how the engine performs on a longer run now.

This little island anchorage is my home for the night, I have cleaned the decks, and tidied up the boat, when you are on the hard, you can’t use the toilet, shower or the sinks, as the drains go out the side of the boat. The sink was particularly messy as I kept the old coffee contents in it 🙁

A lot of fishing boats are anchored here,  it seems to be the place to come for a nap, well protected from the big sea to the west and NW winds. The weather forecast is for light winds with a few thunderstorms, so nothing too exciting.

I will leave for Pangkor tomorrow morning at 7AM ish.


Paul Collister

All done, Launching Friday

The boats all ready to launch now, but the yard were late getting the paint on, so we slipped a day, but I’m more than happy as I gained two days hauling early.Once the hull / keel was properly cleaned and rubbed down in the damaged areas, it was clear that there was nothing to fill really, the gouges were in the crud mostly. So we applied primer and then another coat of antifoul and she’s ready to go. I made adjustments to the propeller, as it can be changed so that the angle of the blades can be finer or courser to the water. The exact setting (pitch) is critical to get the maximum power transfer from the engine to the prop and provide drive. It was obviously wrong, as the engine could only get to half the revs it should. This is typically caused by too much pitch, or too aggressive a propeller. The last engineer to take the prop off, didn’t put it back on properly. So that’s sorted, I’m hoping for a good improvement, but expect more fine tuning will be needed when the boat comes out next.

The keel, that’s the thin bit hanging down, is actually solid, and part of the boat. It’s made hollow in the mould, with walls that are very thick, I think more than 4cm, then the void is filled with iron crud, could be anything, but it weighs several tons. Once it’s all stuffed in, a polyester resin is poured in to seal and fix everything in place. So effectively it becomes one solid, very heavy piece that is part of the boat, with no joins that can fail. This I think is one of the strengths of this type of construction, and is why I suffered next to no damage in the grounding, not that I will be doing that again in a hurry! More modern yachts have an all metal keel, bolted onto the bottom of the boat, this makes them faster, lighter and much more manoeuvrable, but they occasionally lose their keel and sink. The bolts also fail or leak, but I think they are a lot better these days.

I got to use my new grease gun on the prop with some rather expensive grease I shipped out here. I’m no expert with grease guns, and suffice it to say, the prop, boat, me and quite a bit of the yard is well greased now.

From this angle the boat looks deceptively fast, shame that’s not true.


Above you can see the corner I’m tucked into and below the mass of mostly decrepit boats around me.

There was a big fishing boat blocking me in, it came in right after me, one of the propellor blades had fallen off, but when I got back to the boat it had been launched. Every day in the yard is a day of bills, and a day not catching fish, so they tend to turn around very quickly. I took the pictures below just before they motored off. I’m quite fascinated by these boats, they truly are working boats, there’s nothing fancy on them, and despite their crudeness, I expect there’s a lot you can learn from their minimalistic approach.

What’s with the fish?

Can you see the wheel?, is this where they wind it up?

Theres another old boat in the yard that intrigued me, it looked like the worst fiberglass boat I had ever seen. I wondered how the mould could be so bad, but then I worked out that this is probably a wooden boat and it’s been encased in fiberglass. Please tell me if I have it wrong, I can’t believe someone could actually turn out a boat this bad. The very thought that there is a wooden boat rotting away inside the fiberglass shell is just as worrying.

On an aside, I’m not going to name names, but if anybody wants to leave a bottle of vegetarian mushroom/tomato sauce bottle in the fridge, horizontally, could they please close the lid first!

So up early tomorrow, I need to clean the log before launch, thts a little propeller thing that sticks out of the bottom of the boat and revolves as we go along and sends pulses to the speedo, or log as we call it. This gives me the speed though the water, which is different from the spped on the GPS, which is the speed over the land below the water. The water either adds to my seed or takes away from it, depending on the flow of the tide.  It’s called a log, allegedly, because it used to be a log, thrown over the bow, and someone would count how long it took to get to the stern of the boat, from this the speed could be calculated. Not sure if this is the same log as in data logger, but I expect the log book was where they recorded the readings.
Then I need to fit the windvane steering rudder and vane, get rid of the rubbish and pay the bill. I expect I wont be away much before eleven, which is a problem, my next anchorage is by Pangkor, which is 60 miles away, which could take me more than 12 hours. The tidal currents get stronger now as I head south down the Malacca straits, so 5 knots seems like the best I can hope to average. I don’t want to sail solo in the dark, so I’m going to do a two hour motor around the corner to a little island called Palau Kendi I, have a lazy time washing the boat, and passage planning the rest of the trip south, then at 7AM Saturday as the sun rises I will be off to Pangkor, not the marina, but to an anchorage, just for the night then push on further south. I need to get close to Singapore for when Kathy gets out here.
The plan to sail to America from Japan in July is getting serious now, this is going to be the most challenging sail I have ever done, so I have a lot of prep to do. It’s a long journey for two people, could be 6 weeks or more!

Paul Collister

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