Saturday, 28 May 2011

ROCKING AND ROLLING TO PENANG 27th May 2011.

We've arrived in Penang and a very welcome arrival it was after the last two days. When we left Singapore on the afternoon of Tuesday the 24th of May we decided to sail non-stop to Penang. We hadn't done that since November 2006 and seem to have forgotten the downside. Out of Singapore was easy with Immigration at the anchorage speedy and efficient we were underway by 3.00pm. We left the marina later than expected because the fuel system in the marina at One 15 is hopeless. It froths in the nozzle so badly that we had to fill Jerry cans then decant them into the boat. Painful!
There was no wind of any use so we motored up to the peninsular and set off into the shipping channel on dusk to travel with the north bound stream of ships of every size and description throughout the night. We were the smallest!. There were barges with tug tows heading south though, in the north bound traffic, which was a hazard, although all the ones we saw were lit correctly, a change from our last trip.
Huck, David and I did roughly three hour watches which with 3 people is far easier, giving everyone a 6 hour break.
Dawn on Wednesday we were approaching Melaka so we detoured inshore to sail close to the city then followed the coast during daylight hours. As dusk approached again we moved offshore to avoid the plethora for unmarked and badly lit fishing boats and nets. Once in the channel all went smoothly albeit slowly with current against us and only useless wind. By midnight the picture had changed however, with the wind picking up to 18 to 20 knots on the nose and large numbers of ships around the port of Klang. The sea had built and was short and steep causing a nasty hobby-horsing effect and occasionally knocking the boat speed back to only 2 knots. With a large thunderstorm visible on the radar we decided to turn  back a short distance and head into the port of Klang. The motion was now bearable and the boat speed much better, at up to 8 knots. The storm broke with a vengeance as we entered the port so with little visibility and the radar totally cluttered we hugged the left side of the channel, furthermost from the main port activity.  
Tanjong City Marina. Penang
On Thursday morning and we were all tired, having been unable to get any sleep in the conditions. In the fore peak berth I spent as much time in the air as on the mattress.!! The sea flattened as the day wore on and we approached Pankor Island at about 11pm with the conditions worsening again. The fishing fleet there is truly dreadful. The lights are the typical Asian Christmas tree lighting system, with even the occasional large ship showing flashing lights and no navigation lights. One fishing boat came straight at us down the radar screen. A course change of 30 degrees by us didn't deter it and with spotlights shining at us we were forced to turn a complete circle. I seem to remember something similar in the same place in 2006. Maybe its a local game they play with yachts!!. In our past experience in daylight, these events are usually caused by a net the fishing boat doesn't want you to run into. This was not the case on this occasion as we resumed our original course after the circle. It was however very unnerving. As the night wore on the seas built again and sleep became impossible.  
Friday morning at first light saw us 60 NM from Penang, everyone tired and the sea still messy.  By 11am things had settled somewhat but the wind was still useless. We were taking turns to get a well earned sleep. By 3 pm it was only 20nm to go and with a better angle we were able to motor sail more efficiently. Tanjong City Marina at Georgetown, Penang was a very welcome sight, and by 5.50 we were tied up with the air-conditioner running and the crew were all a much happier crowd!!
We had a delicious seafood dinner at the Shady Tree after dropping the Passports into Banana for Thai Tourist Visas and hit the pleasantly imobile "sack" by 10pm. 
The Shady Tree Penang
Not a peep was heard until 9.40 am this morning!!
David, Huck and I left Miri in Borneo on the 13th of May and have sailed 1100 NM. "Sailed" is a euphemism for "motored" on this occasion. We only had about 4 hours of sailing. We have motored 198 hours on this trip, sometimes down to only 1.7 knots. Since Miri we've used about 790 litres of fuel!. This would be our most inefficient trip to date....EVER!! On the upside, the old 65hp Volvo, with about 12,000 hours on it, hasn't missed a beat and still only used about 1 litre of oil.