Sunday, November 21, 2010

Palau Pangkor

November 21, 2010—We left the marina at 8:30 a.m. and had a nice ebb tide to carry us back out to the strait, where we made a right turn and headed up the channel to the shipping ports at Port Klang. On this leg we were traveling with sv Sassoon and sv Umbra Luna because Tin Soldier had gone to Kuala Lumpur. As soon as we entered the main channel, things got interesting. Large cargo ships and tankers were entering the same channel so we stayed along the outside edge. We decided to cross the channel to the left side so that we would be out of the way of any ships. We passed the docks where the cargo ships are unloaded and watched two tugs as they spun a ship around 180 degrees and then with one tug on the bow and one tug on the stern, they pushed the ship into its small spot at the dock. The dock had rows of huge cranes that were unloading the cargo. It is truly amazing to see so many ships coming and going.

As we were passing the docks, a very large tanker passed us on our starboard side. After that we had no problems moving through the channel and up through a very large anchorage where ships were moored very close to the marked channel. We were weaving our way though them and noticed one ship washing the anchor chain, which meant that it was preparing to get underway, but we couldn’t see any black smoke from the smokestack. Just when we were in front of it, the anchor came out of the water, and then it began to move. We quickly turned to starboard to move out of its way, and as we passed the ship, the workers on the deck were waving and giving us “thumbs up” signals so I guess they weren’t too put out with us.

We exited the channel into more open water and soon arrived at Palau Angsa. There were fishing nets all around, so we carefully made our way through them and up to the island, where we found a decent place to anchor beside some local fishing boats. We made sure that the anchor was well set, and right after we were done, the engine overheat alarm went off so we quickly shut off the engine. Steve began to look for the problem, and he found that the bracket for the alternator had broken so the belt was not turning to run the water pump.

The engine was hot and so was the cabin, so working on the engine was not much fun. We began pulling out tools so that Steve could fabricate a new bracket. We had a length of aluminum stock on board, so we drew an outline of the old bracket on the aluminum and then used a hack saw to cut it out. Steve then drilled holes in the right places and proceeded to install the new bracket. I had every fan on the boat pointed at him while he was working to try to cool him off.

After two hours of work, he had the mount installed and the alternator back in place. We started the engine, and it ran just fine so now we just had to get the boat put back together. We took the rest of the day to get ready for an early departure, and we went to bed early, but neither of us slept very well. Another boat had anchored close to us and came near to us during the night so I kept checking our positions at regular intervals. It was also a bit rolly in this anchorage, and that made sleeping difficult.

We left at 1 a.m. and watched carefully for any small fishing boats or nets. Around 2:30 a.m. the boat slowed dramatically, so we knew that something had fouled the prop. Steve decided to go into the water to check. We had a lot of current so we tied a rope around his wrist, and I held a spot light on the water while he dove under the boat. He came up and said that he had to have his swim fins because of the fast current. We dug out his gear and also a rigging knife, and then he went back and cut away an old piece of nylon line from the prop. It took only 10 minutes or so to fix the problem, so we were soon on our way.

Our next challenge was a sailboat coming past us from the opposite direction. The three of us were side by side, and the sailboat seemed to be coming right at us. The boat did come quite close to us, and none of us can figure out why he decided to come right through the middle of three boats when he could have gone outside us. Anyway, we were now wide awake.

We approached a line of lights from the fishing fleet that stretched from our left all the way across to our right. At one point Steve counted 55 lights, and boats were moving across our path constantly. We stayed on our course, looking for an opening in the line. When we were almost to the line, an opening appeared in front of us so we sped up in order to get through as quickly as possible. Umbra Luna and Sassoon were in a line right behind us. Once we got through that group, there were fewer boats for the rest of the trip.

We passed one last group of fishing boats a few miles out from Pangkor, but it was now daylight so we had no problems. We arrived at Marina Island, which is built on reclaimed land, around noon and called the marina on the VHF radio. They sent a pilot boat out because we had to enter the marina through a dredged channel that was not very deep. Actually we had only 12 feet of water when we were in the main channel, and this entrance channel was a little deeper. We pulled in along a long finger dock, and the marina staff tied us up. This marina is so new that they were installing the cleats on the dock just before we arrived. All three boats were now in and secure. It was a very long day with very little sleep so we were all pretty tired and very glad to be here. We all got together aboard Sassoon for cocktails to celebrate our trip, and then we all relaxed for the rest of the day.

The next day we took care of some chores and then headed to town for groceries. The driver dropped us off at the Giant supermarket, but first we walked across the street to eat lunch at the White Coffee Café, where we had an excellent meal. We then quickly did our shopping and headed back to the marina. That evening Dave and Melinda on Sasson had Dale and Lorraine from Umbra Luna and us on board for a lovely taco dinner. We had a great time and really enjoyed getting to know these couples from Australia.

Yesterday I did laundry in the morning and then at noon we took the ferry across the channel to Pangkor Island. We walked to a local restaurant where we enjoyed lunch of barbecued chicken and rice. The meal, along with two sodas, cost us $3.00 USD. We then took our lives in our hands and rented a motor scooter so that we could drive around the island. Driving here is on the left side and there are rules, but no one follows them.
We drove around to the west side of the island where there are several “resorts” and stopped at a restaurant where we had a cold beer and cheese cake—an odd mix.

We continued up to the north tip and back down the east side. On the east side we came upon a boat building business, and the men were working on two large fishing boats. The boats were made of teak, and there were very large timbers of it at the site so Steve was drooling! They allowed us to walk on the scaffolding so that we could get a better view, and we found it fascinating to watch the process. The workers did much of the work using only hand power tools, and they used a manual chain fall to lift large pieces into place.

Next we came upon the satay factory where fish is dried, packaged, and sold. Fish of every size and type were available for sale, along with other local products. It was fun to walk around the store, but I had no desire to buy anything since eating dried fish is not our thing.

Our last stop was at the southern tip of the island to see the remains of a Dutch fort that was built in 1670. It was not very large, but we enjoyed seeing it and reading the informative signs describing the history of the Dutch on this island.

We left the fort and returned to the ferry jetty in time to catch the 3:30 ferry back to Marina Island. It was an interesting trip because we had three or four families with small children, and it was quite rowdy. By the time we got back to the boat we were pretty tired so we just stayed on board for dinner and a movie.
Today we returned to Pangkor Island with Sassoon and Umbra Luna to rent scooters and drive around again. We had an excellent lunch on the beach. We went back to the fort, and this time I had enough time to do a little shopping at the souvenir shop. We returned on the 4:30 ferry, and at 6 p.m. we all went to dinner up at the marina.

We will leave tomorrow for Penang, where we will spend a few days and then it is on to Langkawi.

No comments: