Saturday, December 10, 2011

Leaving Dirty Danga for Peaceful Pangkor

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry... or something like that!
I'd carefully planned our departure from Danga Bay to coincide with the slack tide. I'd written lists of everything to organise and check before leaving and I thought it was all under control. 

Heavy rain fell for hours the evening prior to our departure which changed the behaviour of the tide. At 6.30am, the water (filled with rubbish) was already rushing out! We left in a hurry and used ropes to control our movement so as not to bump into the expensive 'Wapiti' moored alongside. Safely out of the berth, our navigation software decided not to work! Our GPS also decided it didn't want to communicate with the laptop and I had a few panicky moments (we had to navigate our way through a shallow passage). Rene however, remained calm and in control. He astounds me with his ability to always remain calm!! He never panics, which is good because I do enough of that for the both of us. 
Ren sporting his busted lip as we motor up Johor Strait.
We motored out of the Johor Strait through floating rubbish, fishing nets and smog. After passing Raffles Marina, Rene went inside to sleep, leaving me on watch. I went OK until the autopilot, MeesteRay, didn't react in the way I needed him to. I had to hand steer to avoid hitting a fishing hut in the middle of the channel. Then I couldn't reset the autopilot, the AIS had dropped out and then the GPS froze. We were heading right into the big ships anchorage of the Singapore Strait and I panicked again. Ren came to the rescue and fixed up everything but it took time so we slowly motored through the huge container ships with me steering. How can I learn not to panic when things don't go the way I planned? 

We then fell into a rhythm of four-hourly watches. It was so refreshing to be out of dirty Danga Bay and into the Straits of Malacca (which are still polluted but more dispersed). With the sun shining and the breeze up, we even managed to turn off the engine and sail for most of the afternoon and night.
Sunset at sea - pretty special moment!
We eventually turned down the radio after midnight, after trying unsuccessfully to sleep through the continual noise, animal sounds, songs and chatter on VHF 16 (meant to be the emergency channel!) I turned it right down. Anima was accompanied by lots of container ships for the entire night but held a course right on the edge of the shipping lane, we were totally safe from having any collisions. We were however worried about pirates due to hearing stories of their increasing activity in the Singapore and Malacca Straits! These pirates are more likely to simply rob us of our electrics and cash than to kidnap us like in Africa but we still felt nervous a couple of times when a particularly ugly/fast boat came nearby. The trip took 3 days and 2 nights. After that first 24 hours of favourable conditions, the next 50 or so hours were not so good! The wind turned around to be on our nose and our speed slowed from 5-6 knots to 3! Boo! Anima slowly motored forward, making her way towards our destination. My morale dropped when our E.T.A (shown on our GPS) disappeared into another day away. Bugger! What was cool on this trip is that we had an internet connection for about half of it! We both are guilty of Facebooking during our watch. Though I did also manage to fix up my resume and apply for another job!

The second night was pretty dismal due to the increased wind strength from exactly the direction we needed to go! Rene hoisted the main and we tacked back and forth between ship wrecks, sand banks and local fishing boats in the darkness. This strong wind eventually eased off and we were able to head back on course, arriving in Pangkor Island Marina in the afternoon of our third day out from Danga Bay.

What a stark contrast to Danga it is! No floating rubbish, a helpful, friendly and genuinely nice marina manager, living fish swimming near the boats, quiet... the list goes on. We're glad we left Danga - it's so much nicer here!
Pretty Pangkor Marina

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