Wednesday April 13

Enjoyed a final run around Rebak Island. Lea did a PB. Next was the relocation of “Gee Gee”, the little gecko that had kept the mossies away on board Gemini Lady. I gently captured her and placed her in a nice tree. She was looking a bit thin, hopefully she will do better in the tree.

Fixed up our final marina account including a big electricty bill for running the Aircon continuously ($85.00AUD for 10 days). Lines dropped by 0930 as we motored out into a nice fresh breeze. Main and Screecher soon replaced by the Spinnaker and we had a great sail for 3 hours before the wind died out again. Motorsailed and changed course from Penang to Palau Bidan trying to get a better sailing angle. Didn't help much and it was a long hot afternoon. Very ready for a cold beer at the anchorage.

Realised that the Topsail Insurance had increased our premium 55% not the 25% we expected. Emailed our displeasure to them.

Thursday April 14

Up at daylight to use the last of the flood tide down to Penang. We had a good sail, close reaching into the Penang Chanel. The air quality was dreadful and visibility poor, down to about 3 Nm. This improved later in the morning as we sailed down the channel.

We had a close encounter with a Penang Ferry. These iconic ferries have plyed the Strait for years and are still busy despite the 2 new causeways from the mainland.
This one wanted a closer look at us and crossed our stern closely. Lots of smiles and waves from the passengers and the crew on the upper deck even threw kisses to Lea.

We thought about taking the short cut alongside the causeway into the anchorage but with a 2 knot current pushing back up toward the bridge and a falling tide we decided it was too risky so went the long way around Jerajak Island. We wafted along under screecher while I fitted the new microwave oven.

No recipe book was included so will have to experiment a bit with the different cooking modes. It was an incredibly hot day with the afternoon temp reaching 38 degrees and high humidity.

Jon and Sue off Ocelot had settled into the old run down marina near the first causeway. Cheap and secure with the police wharf just next door. We delivered their new waterpump and after catching up over a bottle of wine we walked into Queensbay shopping area and enjoyed a fabulous meal at a large outdoor Indian Restaurant.

Friday April 15

A light start to the day with glassy water. We started with Main and Schreecher but soon popped the spinnaker and enjoyed a great broad reach for a few hours. The wind gradually backed until finally the Main blanketed the Spinnaker and it promptly collapsed and wrapped itself tightly around the retrieval lines. We managed to drop the whole mess straight into the locker without getting it wet and kept going.

We arrived at 1900 to be greeted by marina staff and John and Kerryn off Esoterica ready to catch our lines. New Views was out on anchor (avoiding rats) and Graham and Julie came ashore and all 6 of us went out for dinner.

On our way back to the boat we ran into Denise off Reverie and joined them for a nightcap. Reverie was up on the hard and Peter was busy grinding her back to bare metal as some of the paint was blistering. We also got to see the dent where she lay over on the reef back in Indonesia. Nothing that about 10kg of bog wouldn't fix. Still a lot of work for them to do but they plan to catch up woth the rally later in the season. Missed Ben and Belle off Ocean Jaywalker who had just flown back to Aus to pick up 60 kg of boat parts. They will probably still be on the hard when get back in November.

Saturday April 16

After checking the weather we decided to join Esoterica and do an overnighter to Port Dickson. Our first job was to untangle the Spinnaker so we puled it out onto the jetty and unwrapped the tangles. Then Graham came over with his data monitoring program called “Putty” to do some definitve tests on the NMEA output of the VHF Radio. Confirmed that there was no data output. Lea had organised morining coffee so we had 9 aboard Gemini Lady. This included Ray and Shaughnah off Parlay who we hadn't seen for a while. Another good catch up with friends from the Sail Indo Rally last year.

Leaving after lunch we had a fabulous Spinnaker run for 6 hours. Esoterica did very well under kite and wasn't far behind. We held the Spinnaker to last light and last wind at 2000. Esoterica had dropped theirs earlier and caught up to us under motor. We stayed close throughout the night. Plenty of fishing boats but easy to see. Only one incident with fishing nets but we got through OK although Lea got a bit rattled with it. She hates night passages in these waters. Our new instruments were fantastic, particularly the radar.

No wind so we motored all the rest of the way to Port Dickson.

Sunday April 17

Had a bit of current against us for the final few miles but a bit of breeze let us fly the Genoa for assistance. We had just tied up in the marina when the heavens opened and we had some refreshing heavy rain. The first rain here for months. We went and hepled Esoterica and Quiet Achiever tie up in the rain. The wind got up then and we had quite a squall come through. Boats still making their way down the coast got hit with gusts up to 30 knts on the nose.

Afternoon poolside then up the road to a great Chinese Restaurant with John and Kerryn and Terry and Adie off Beau Soleil.

Monday April 18

A delayed start to the Ropes Course so we got into the paperwork required to visit the Indonesian Islands enroute to Borneo. Even though the CAIT has been abolished, in Legislation, the outer islands still require it. As these islands are not Ports of Entry we also have to apply for another Social Visa. They even want a picture of the engine????

Had a great time going the ropes course and the climbing wall. Glad not too many participants showed up as it took a while to get us all through.

And Spiderwoman!

The safety gear and protocols were excellent and the equipment in great condition.

Tied the tarps over the cabin roof and were quite impressed with the heat reduction inside the cabin.

Afternoon poolside again. Lea managed 1.5 km. The pool is curved so that was a bit tricky. Met Rod and Heather off Psycho Puss a Lightwave 38. They are currently hosting onboard the 4 camera crew who are filming a documentary of the Rally this year.

Back to our Chinese Restaurant for dinner and topped up the phones at the Celcom Office.

Tuesday April 19

A 6 km run along the beach for Lea with a few weights in the airconditioned gym to cool down. I did a slower 5km. Spent the rest of the morning sorting out my BAS then poolside for the afternoon.

The Rally reception supper was on the balcony and same as last year with orange cordial, spring rolls and noodles. Met some new people; Ian and Merian off Songbird a Lagoon 50, Brain and Sue off Gypsy Rover who we had met before in Vanuatu and Graeme and Sue off Quiet Achiever.

A quiet drink in Sailors Bar to finish the day.

Wednesday April 20

5km fast walk and a few laps to start the day. Very little breeze. We chased up our new VHF Radio order from Whitworths as time was running out and we had heard nothing. Andrew replied apologising for being away on holiday. He is on to it now and I sent an email direct to Icom Australia to see if they could help.

We headed out at 11.00 am and motorsailled the first hour and a bit. Lea played with the new microwave and “Autocooked” some pasta which turned out perfectly. Our afternoon sea breeze can in and we enjoyed a good 5 hours under Main and Spinnaker. We averaged 8knots with 1.5-2 knots of current against us. Great sailing! A few boats had anchored on the NE side of Water Island but we wanted a quick get away in the morning so chose the SW anchorage. We were joined by Scott Free 2 and Meridian. Beautiful evening with a full moon and little cloud. However, a nasty wind over tide later on made it very uncomfortable night

Thursday April 21

We were away by 0500 with a good breeze. The monos had already left and were out of sight. the moon was still up and even the current was with us.

Another great sail under Main and Screecher. We soon caught and passed the 2 monos. The breeze died around lunchtime so it was motor assisted from then on. Lots of Screecher and Genoa ins and outs to get a bit of assistance. Scott Free 2 radioed that they had motor failure, no wind and that the 1.5 knt current was pushing them into the shipping lanes. Meridian turned back to help. We provided radio relay and Psycho Puss called in not far behind Scott Free 2 offering assistance.

We were the first to arrive at Palau Pisang and we enjoyed a quick skinny dip in the warm water. The afternoon seabreeze finally came on and gave us some relief from the relentless heat. The anchorage filled up with Rally boats; Psycho Puss, Meridian, Scott Free 2 and Jai Dee. Aqua Dreams and Umbraluna tried the Southern anchorage but soon came back to the north side.

A storm was brewing. The thunderstorm hit with a vengeance. Lightning was quite close and strong gusts from the NE meant we were on a lee shore. We turned everything off and disconnected as much of the electronics as we could. Phones and iPads into the microwave and jumper leads from the shrouds into the water. Even the anchor light was turned off. We noticed the other 2 cats were blacked out as well. The current held us broadside to the waves which made for a good shake up. Fortunately nobody dragged, which was just as well as 2 boats had engine problems. The storm soon passed and we ended up having quite a comfortable night.

Friday April 22

Another early start and a good 2 hour sail while the morning breeze held. The rest of the pack missed the breeze. We motorsailed into Johor Strait and found little traffic. We thought we had the tide timed perfectly, to catch the second half of the flood up to Puteri Harbour. However, we ended up with half a knot against us. Scott Free 2 and Meridian were 3 hours behind us and had current with them in the first half of the ebb. Go figure! Puteri Harbour Marina was not answering on Channel 18 so we. had to ring them. They claimed the marina was “full” but we were welcome to anchor in the basin. We were the second boat on anchor with about 5 behind us,so we hitailed it to the office to try to secure one of the 7 empty pens large enough to accomodate us.

The instruction we had been given back in Langkawi was that the marinas were strictly operating on a first in first served basis. When we gotto the office we found that the berths had all been booked by rally boats, many of which were not due in for another 2-3 days. No amount of discussion or arguing would make the marina staff change there mind that the marina was “full”. We could'nt even use a booked berth until the booked boat arrived. The loss of revenue was amazing. 15 boats ended up anchoring in the basin while at least 5- 7 berths remained vacant during the whole of our stay. I went on the war path and emailed everyone I could but to no avail. The day before our departure we had a sheepish offer of a berth. They had finally phoned a boat that had booked one of the vacant berths and found out it was in Raffles Marina and didn't need the berth. Numerous other stories surfaced about how other berth holders had offered to make room for the Rally fleet but management had ignored them. I think Sail Malaysia should boycott this marina. They made no effort to accomodate the fleet unlike Pangkor and Admiral Marinas that couldnt do enough for us.

A picture of the “full” marina at Puteri Harbour.

Saturday April 23

Despite the idiot management at the marina we had a good few days socialising, shopping, exercising, dining out and organising our Indonesian Visa's. Looking forward to a quick visit to Singapore to pick up Dave and Anne.

The Rally technical briefing was thorough and very informative. The program sounds fabulous and we all left fired up and enthusiastic.