Saturday, November 6, 2010

Danga Bay, Malaysia

November 6, 2010-Our exit from Singapore was much more dramatic than our entrance. We left the marina at 7 o'clock so that we could catch the tide. We passed the breakwater of the marina and looked out at the two markers that we had to pass between. There were standing waves because the wind had piped up to 15 knots in the opposite direction of the current. It was truly amazing. We motored through that and in about 10 minutes we were at the Immigration anchorage. The waves were still pretty rough, but we were able to hold our position without too much trouble.

We called Western Immigration but discovered that our main VHF radio had gone off, and Steve was unable to get it to work. We then pulled out our hand-held radio and called. We were told to stand by. We placed the radio in a holder, but because the waves were bouncing us around, it fell on the cockpit floor, and the clip that holds the battery broke off. Steve was able to hold it together with a rubber band so we called again. Again we were told to stand by. It was a bit uncomfortable on board so we were getting a little frustrated. Finally, the boat came along side and took our papers. The clearance process did not take very long, and soon we were on our way.

We had to cross the northwest fairway, which is where ships leave the main channel to enter or exit the anchorage. We had our AIS beeping alarms as fast as I could mute them, and we soon realized that we had two large cargo ships in the fairway coming at us. We had to slow down and actually make a circle until the two of them crossed in front of us. After that it was safe for us to continue.
The current continued to be rough and there were rips in several places, but we made it out to the main channel and then headed west and around Raffles Lighthouse. The waves there caused some major bow plunges, which sent the water spraying out from both sides. We finally entered the Johor Straits, where the water settled down, and the current was now in our favor. There were tankers of all sizes anchored here, as well as a huge oil derrick. We motored about 10 miles up the Strait, and then we had to sail under a bridge. That is always a little nerve racking to do that because it always looks so close.

We continued up the Strait staying between the markers. It was quite interesting to see the Singapore side, which had an electrified wire fence and large signs with skulls and crossbones on them. There were also dire warnings to anyone who tried to go over the fence. Police boats were spaced about every mile, and helicopters flew overhead. They are very serious about their borders.
We arrived at Danga Bay Marina and were directed to our slip. The dock was just finished the day before, so it is still a work in progress. We have power and water; however, the amenities are still a bit rough. Overall, though, it is quite nice. Steve was taken by van to a ferry terminal in order to clear Customs and Immigration for Malaysia, which was pretty painless.

On the 30th we went to a Welcome Ceremony and then had the rest of the day free, which gave us some time to catch up on things. We also enjoyed a wonderful meal at the Lazio's Italian restaurant at the marina.

On October 31, a kayak competition was held in the morning. That was followed by a technical briefing on the route up the coast, and the anchorages where the events would be held. Around 4 o'clock, we made a ghost from a sheet and used a balloon for a head. We put a stick through a coat hanger to hold out the sheet, and then we hoisted the ghost up into the rigging. About 15 kids arrived around 5:30 so we passed out candy and were impressed by some very creative costumes.

That evening the official rally dinner was held, and the food was amazing. We had a very large Lazy Susan on our table, and we were given appetizers, cuttle fish with squid, prawns, chicken, fish, rice, soup, and dessert-all served one at a time. It was exceptionally good food. A live band performed great music for us, and everyone got up to dance. We had a wonderful time and stayed until close to midnight-- late, at least for us.
November 1 was another free day so we walked to a nearby mall and purchased a SIM card for our cell phone. We ate lunch at Seven Spices Indian Restaurant and had the most amazing curried chicken with rice and vegetables.

The next day we took a taxi to Jesco Mall, along with Tin Soldier, and did some shopping, ate lunch, and picked up some groceries. The grocery stores here are well stocked with western foods and beautiful fruit and vegetables, many of which are from the U.S. We also bought a dongle for the USB port so that we can access the Internet without all the usual problems that we have had in the past.

We were able to get diesel fuel the next day, and I dropped off my laundry to be done. We also got our new dinghy all put together, put the new engine on, and went for a spin. The engine ran great, and we are very pleased that it is a bit bigger. We immediately pulled it out of the water and washed it off. We didn't want to spoil that "new" look.
On November 4 we were all taken by tour bus to see the province of Johor, which is at the southern tip of Malaysia. We went to a brand new marina that is close by. After that we went to the southern most point of Asia/the Malay Peninsula, where we walked a long way over a boardwalk and then took pictures with the Johor Strait in the background. Our next stop was to participate in a mock wedding and feast. The bride and groom were all dressed up in traditional outfits. We were served a fabulous lunch, and afterwards we each went up to toss rice over the bride and groom. Our last stop that day was at the pineapple museum, which turned out to be quite interesting. They had examples of the different kinds of pineapples and the different countries where they are grown. They also had two beautiful shirts that were made with pineapple fibers.

The tour was very informative and interesting, and the landscape was once again very lush and beautiful. There is a tremendous amount of building going on-mostly homes and freeways. So far we are impressed with Malaysia. The people here in Johor Province have been very friendly and helpful, and we feel very safe.

The past two days have been pretty relaxing. We did our last provisioning run to the Giant supermarket yesterday. Today we finished up the few chores that needed to be done before we leave tomorrow to head north to Port Dixon and Admiral Marina. We also wish our granddaughter Riley a very happy first birthday!

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