Monday, 16 May 2016

Back to Kittani and the rally start

After a wonderful 4 months back in Oz with family and friends from November to February, it was back to Malaysia and the task of readying Kittani to launch and join the Sail Malaysia East rally and head down under. She had faired well on the hard for 23 months, despite the intense heat and humidity here in Pangkor Marina. Extracting a birds nest from the main sail covers was the only external sign of wildlife. Inside was rodent and insect free and no mould on the surfaces. These had been our main concerns whilst we were away and our preparations of washing everything down with oil of clove, the many moisture absorbing packets placed throughout, ant powder and cockroach baits all worked wonders.

By the time I arrived back, Pete had been busy for a month with a hundred different projects on the go at once. Inside, a final coat of lacquer had gone on all the newly installed interior walls, the fridge and freezer resealed and painted, engine serviced and our old radar reconnected and working. The latter being a real challenge to the original 35 year old piece of equipment as we had to cut the main power supply in order to have the mast removed and painted in Satun, Thailand. 26 splices later and she powered up again - an oldie but a goodie! Outside, the masts were being transformed, steps replaced, pulleys and shackles where they should be, lazy jacks and lines restored. We repainted the deck including the toerail and re stained the coach house so Kittani was looking pretty neat.

Whilst on the hard stand, we had run the engine, the generator and as much other equipment as we could, so now it was time to put it all to the test. Our departure day had finally arrived so at first light we waved goodbye to Pangkor, heading out of the Marina and turning left, following the west Malaysian coast south towards Singapore. Travelling with 'Tuppenny', the first day was a long one, pushing through to Port Klang and dropping anchor opposite the loading terminals just after midnight. Other than a couple of minor issues, all went well and we were pleased with the way Kittani had performed. 

From there we day hopped down the coast and headed into Puteri marina. Previously in 2013, we had stayed in Danga Bay Marina which no longer exists, so this was a new spot for us. A large roomy tree lined Marina with nice wide fingers and we managed a berth on the end of one of these allowing us to catch the sea breeze. Power hooked up and shade covers on, we ventured out to explore our new surroundings. Numerous cafes and restaurants are in the Marina precinct and at night all the trees are lit with blue and white neon lights. A popular place especially on weekends for locals to come and see the yachts, walk along the promenade, and there are always brides and grooms having their wedding shots done. Tomorrow we are off to Singapore for the night, to chase a few necessities and meet our new crew member who is joining us for the trip home.

Finally able to meet in person after numerous emails and Skype over the past few weeks, it was nice to sit down to a meal with Kelly. Her first trip to the east and we opted for a local food court sampling various dishes of finger food, some we were not sure just what we were eating, but all good. We had headed across to Singapore via the Tuas bridge, but returned via the causeway as we had to visit the Indonesian consulate in Johor Bahru and apply for our visas for Anambas and Natuna Islands. That done, it was back to the Marina and show Kelly her home for the next few months. The next few days were taken up with lengthy briefings about the rally, last minute provisioning, meeting our fellow cruisers as they arrived into the marina, the official gala dinner and welcome and a special event. We bought a copy of Game of Thrones and thought it would be nice to have some comfortable viewing. Neil from Tiki had hired a meeting room at the local hotel in the off we went to aircon, large screen, coffee and nibbles. At 5.00pm finger food and drinks were available from the bar....a bit decadent, but great fun.

                                The view from the conference room looking over Puteri Marina

                            Cold meeting room and even colder wine - an enjoyable afternoon


                               All good - the view, the wine, the air-con and the company 

Then it was time to head off.
As we made our way down the waters separating Malaysia and Singapore, we were closely watched by Singaporean authorities ensuring we didn't venture too far into their side. Anchoring the first evening halfway between the 2 land masses, we were surrounded by lights - blaring from the loading terminals on both Malaysian and Singaporean sides, from the massive container ships anchored out awaiting their turn in port, from those underway in and out of port, and a bright moon all made to light up the skies. Next morning we headed off shortly before sunrise and made our way down and around Singapore, keeping well out of the way of the traffic. When we reached Tanjung Pengelih and Malaysian waters again, we headed up river to find the fuel barge and top up our tanks - a much easier exercise than expected. So laden to the brim we sailed around the S.E corner of Malaysia and started out trek north to the islands. 

                        Some of the large floating obstacles in our way coming out of Singapore

First stop was Palau Sibu arriving late afternoon so no time to check out the surroundings. Next morning we motored around to a bay on the north of the island and had our first snorkel. Visibility was reasonable and the coral and fish life quite impressive. Whilst in Singapore, we purchased a Go-Pro camera so we're keen to try out photographing the underwater world. 



                     A couple of our first GoPro shots - still learning but not bad for beginners

The area is now dotted with island of all sizes - some tiny and nothing more than a few rocks. Others small with only a tiny village comprising a dozen houses. Then the large islands with villages on each coast. Each day the hardest decision is which island to pick next. Usually within a couple of hours motoring, we have made it to our destination by lunch time, then time for our daily exercise of snorkelling before getting everything together to go ashore for a beach barbque. Gathering wood to burn, the fire gets started and once the fire has died down, into the coals go the potatoes and we sit back in our chairs watching the sun slowing sink behind the horizon - another exhausting day ended. 


                       Ashore at Pulau Bebi Besar watching the sunset over the boats anchored out
                                                     Pete, Kelly, Neil and Heather (Tiki)

We ate ashore wherever we could find 'warungs' serving local food - much cheaper to eat out than cook onboard. Then the secluded white sandy beaches just called out for beach barbecues so out with out barby plate - an old plough disc serving us well. Sausages, sweet potato chips, onions and a salad to complement, who could ask for more.


                       The chef hard  at work.                               A sunset view - remnants of a .....?


                             Life as a cruiser - when everything is working and we can relax!



                                        Kittani and Tiki at anchor at Pulau Lima Kechil

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