Saturday November 12
We arrived safely back at Gemini Lady after a long 19 hour day of travel. All ok onboard and not too hot, so very pleasant after the chill of Melbourne.
Rented a bomb for the day and started the reprovisioning. Fillled the jerries with diesel to top off the tanks.Price has gone up while we were away. Diesel now 65 Aussie cents per liter up from 50.
The weather was not great for leaving so had time for a big job. We decided we would replace the loose bathroom window so, as we had the car until 10.00am, we headed into town to try to find some acetone. Wasted 2 hours as none was to be found. Decided what we had was enough so got into it. This was a window we had done back in Darwin. The Fixtech 200 had failed in tensile and never seemed to cure properly and we found it quite sticky inside even after 18 months. This is the second window that has failed with Fixtech 200 and as our glass has to be bent and twisted a little I don't recommend it as it is too weak and soft. Roger from Lightwave Yachts had recommended we use Dow Corning 995 so we had returned from Aus with 10 tubes in our luggage.
We prepared the area like a Dexter scene with plastic everywhere to keep the old sticky sealant off the decks. The old Fixtech came off pretty easily after we cut the window out with a wire. While Lea cleaned up the glass I prepared the boat surface. I ended up grinding the fibreglass back a bit to create a flatter surface. The glass hides a multitude of boat building sins but I didn't fancy re fairing the whole area.
After getting everything ready we waited until the sun just went down to commence the reglueing. From the time we opened the first tube to pushing the window on was 10 minutes. The frenzy was needed to avoid the sealant skinning before we bedded it all together. All went well and after clamping it all we covered the window with black plastic to keep out the sunlight and then a tarp to keep it shaded and cool.
Morning run then a walk into town with a few things on our shopping list. We found some “Super Thinner” which had been recommended as an alternative to acetone. Lucked out on a new barrel for the lock of our new safe and also couldn't find any decent cheese. Picked up some greens and headed back to the boat. Lea reckoned we had done over 25,000 steps.
I pulled out the dodgy battery switch for the house battery and it fell apart in the process as it was all melted internally. We suspect this was another hidden consequence of the lightning strike. We had bought 2 new ones back from Aus so replaced both just to be sure. Set up Lea's new can crusher on a board so she can stand on it for stability.
Finally got to catch up with Michael and Sally off Tramp for drinks. We had just missed them about 3 times previously. Great to catch up with them but we were exhausted so declined going out for dinner and crashed early.
Wednesday Nevember 16
Poured with rain all night but stopped for my morning run/walk. Lea did a Michelle Bridges workout. Treated ourselves to a “massage”. Something got lost in translation and we didn't get the full body massage we were expecting. We got a foot massage and reflexology treatmeant instead. A bit different but very pleasant and we both felt like we were walking on air afterwards.
Todays boat job was replacing the winch handle holders as the old ones were very sun damaged and unsightly. Sould have been a 12 screw job but no the new holders didn't have the same screw hole dimensions so all the old holes had to be filled with gelcoat and refinished before the new holes could be drilled. So it turned into another 2 day job.
Lea declared war on mould and attacked it everwhere she found it with oil of cloves. Sandfly bites driving us nuts.
Lea too sore to run so joined me for my walk/run. Finnaly getting the boat looking ready for sea instead of a workshop. Party on Tramp and got to meet more of the long term “locals”. Impressed with the friendly and supportive atmosphere within the Marina community.
Walked into town to clear out of Miri at Customs and Immigration. Final supplies purchased and got a taxi back to the marina. Lea got into last lot of laundry while I spent 3 hours underwater on the electric Hookah removing the bags from the legs and props. The bags had done a great job keeping them clean but the growth around the fairing boots was very heavy with oyster shell. The rest of the hulls had to be cleaned of significant barnacle growth and slime. Visibilty under water was about 6 inches so it all had to be done by feel. I found out later that there have actually been croc sightings in the marina. Terrific!
A group BBQ had been arranged onshore and another big turnout. Everyone was super friendly and a few local Chinese and Expats came down to the marina to join us. Met Chai and Li who provided the BBQ and is always ready to help yachties find anything they need. Great people!
Saturday November 19
A cloudy start with rain threatening as we topped up watertanks, washed the mooring lines and then motored out at 0745 just as the rain started. Breeze came with it so we got 3 hours of unassisted sailing in. Then it calmed off again so motor was back on. Lea cooked a big pot of chicken and corn soup to go with the fantastic german bread we had gotten from Ola off Chez Nous. We could see how Miri Marina got the nickname ” the honey pot”. It would be very easy to adopt a local cat and fall into marina life pottering about and welcoming the transient folk like us.
Smooth seas and not as much debris as last time. However, we still bumped 2 logs during the night. The gas fields and attendant shipping were well light but we still monitored the radar intensely to avoid any of the unlit installations and vent pipes we were warned about.
Our half a super moon came up in the early hours and gave us some difused light from behind the clouds. it cleared later to a spectacular display of moon and stars. Easy day taking it in turns to nap.
Lea had a challenging night watch with 3 small fishing boats to weave between. Each boat was hovering near large surface nets that had only tiny flashing lights to show where they were. At least the near miss kept her awake and alert. It was a quiet night with flat seas and some sail assitance to the motor. A surprise increase in the breeze at midnight allowed the motor to be turned off for 4.5 hours as we romped along under Main and Screecher.
Land Ahoy! A pleasant morning motor sailing in calm waters and no traffic. The island of Sarasan appeared lush and mountainous ahead with brilliant white beaches. We had no current visa for Indonesia but thought we would anchor up for a good night sleep before continuing. We tucked in around the western side to get out of the breeze and anchored in 7m over nice clear sand. Not too shabby!
Our first visitor, in a canoe, came over within minutes of the anchor going down. A brief chat with lots of waves and smiles at other canoes and we settled down for lunch and a rest. About an hour later a little power boat arrives with 5 Indonesian Navy officials. They wanted to come aboard and check our papers. They were very friendly and polite. After checking all our papers they issued us with what looked like a 2 day pass and invited us to sleep in their office. There was even a suggestion of a night on the town and karaoke. All formalities done they asked for alcohol. We explained that we didn't drink on passage but were happy to provide them with soft drink. They stayed for about half an hour taking photos and chatting. They were nice guys. During their visit the wind had turned to the SW so once they left we up anchored and went around to the northern beach and found a nice quiet place just off the beach. The water was lovely and clear so we spent an hour cleaning the hull again picking off the barnacles and slime that I had missed in Miri. A good nights sleep was very welcome.
Tuesday 22 November
Comfortable night but with lots of rain and some swell. Went to start the motors but the Stbd motor turned over but wouldn't fire. Initially I thought it was a vapour lock which does happen occaisionally on this motor. I have always assumed due to to latent heat from the water heater. Usual basic bleed procedure to clear it didn't work so we headed off with just 1 motor.
Sloppy seas and a light SW breeze with just enough angle to give us some sail assistance and current against us. I had a few hours lying down and studying all my references on diesel engines.
Figured it had to be a fuel issue so I studied up on doing a full bleed of the fuel system. Later in the day the seas calmed down so I went down and cracked all the injectors and got Lea to crank the motor. Not a drop of fuel getting to the injectors. Bugger! Problem must be in the high pressure fuel pump which put me out of my depth completely.
Fired up the HF Radio and via Sailmail sent an email message to David Spencer, describing the problem and requesting him to contact a Volvo mechanic for any suggestions. While waiting for a response I figured the engine kill Solenoid may be the problem. David came back promptly and he too identified the Solenoid as the likely culprit.
We discussed it all over a few emails and he chased down a Volvo mechanic as well. The mechanic agreed that the Solenoid was the likely problem but thought it strange as they rarely fail.
Meanwhile we were bobbing along watching the skys around us turn dark. Mid afternoon the only 3 entities in the whole ocean converged on 1 spot. Us, a big squall and a large tanker. Stressfull half hour as we got hit with 32 knots and had to bear away across the bows of the tanker with full Main up. The squall was brief and violent and left a lumpy sea. The tanker disappeared into the heavy rain. We motored all night into the breeze.
A few more close encounters with ships as we passed through the Archipelagic Shipping Lanes 60 Nm wide. Its the main route between Singapore and China so always busy. Stil a few fishing boats about as well.
The motor droned on as we pushed into the breeze. We considered heading more north to get a better sail angle but decided to push ahead due west and pull into Bawah Island to work on the Stbd motor. After a long morning we were approaching Bawah as was another large squall cell. Terrific! Just what you need when you have to shoot a narrow gap in the reef with only one motor. We pulled the sails down before the squall hit and motored slowly around toward the Lagoon entrance. We hung back for 90 minutes until the rain cleared.
We had some waypoints and instructions but its fairly nerve racking to approach a reef and watch the depth sounder leap up from 80m to 3.2m (on a 1.9m tide at Tioman) in the blink of an eye. Scary.
Even in grey weather the lagoon is spectacular. High lush hills and beautifully coloured waters surround it. 5 moorings to choose from and lots of workers onshore completing a stunning new resort.
After picking up the mooring and enjoying a beer I was off to the Stbd engine room to pull out the Solenoid. My biggest shifter only just fitted. Sure enough it was stuck in the activated position preventing fuel flow to the high pressure pump. The coil still works but the spring return had failed. Tried to clean it a lubricate the spring but no good and couldnt see anyway to get it all apart. Pushed the pluger back in and refitted. Engine fired up straight away. One new Solenoid needed. Rigged a pulley and line from the manual shutdown lever to the engine hatch.
Emailed Dave with the good news and the job of finding a new one and getting it sent to Langkawi. Another beer in celebration of course.
Weather still from the SW so decided to stay another day. Pancakes then into more maintainence. Outdoor shower leaking, Saltwater presure leak and port toilet vacuum leak. Always a list of things to fix.
Then set up the dinghy and went for an explore of the NW lagoon. Tide was dropping so we had to leave that area or get stranded.
Went over to the main jetty and had a chat to the security officers there. Again, they were very friendly and ok with us stopping there for engine repairs with no visa. They said we were welcome to explore the lagoon but there was no invite to come ashore so we didn't ask. Our chat was cut short by another rain squall which developed and lasted most of the afternoon with gusts up to 23 knots.
Lea studied the weather from GRIB files I had downloaded via Sailmail and the HF. Saturday morning looks like the best departure time for Singapore.
I fired up the genset only to find the waterpump leaking again. So my afternoon was filled by rebuilding the waterpump again. Re polished the shaft but found the new water seals that I had in stock a fraction too big so refitted the old one with an “O” ring fitted inside to tighten the seal on the shaft. Had to leave the gasket goo to set for 12 hours so ran Stbd motor to charge batteries.
Once the rain had stopped, late afternoon we backfilled some of the port bathroom window in the high stress points with our remaining tube of 995. Clamps and window all holding well so far.
A still morning so we went out with our iPad and Dragonfly to survey the entrance chanel. Also took the GPS co ordinates of the 2 entrance buoys for the Navionics Community Layer. Checked the weather again and found Saturdays good window was delayed. I wanted to go and Lea wanted to explore more. Compromised on a morning exploration then lunchtime departure so that we would arrive at Singapore in daylight.
Checked in with the security team on the jetty again then off into the larger eastern lagoon to explore. Lea enjoyed a snorkel but the coral was poor and not much fish life. The resort complex is large and well spread out. It is supposed to open in March.
Back on the boat and underway by 1100 on a glassy South China Sea with 140Nm to Singapore.
Good passage with minimal deviations for ships, however, we did deviate south to go around a large electrical storm cell ahead of us. No rain on the cell so it was hard to work out how far away it was. Reassured by the fact that we couldnt hear the thunder. As we approached the convergence of the shipping lanes leading around Singapore at around 0200 the trafic started to build. We were soon in the thick of it thanks to favourable currents with 6 hours of darkness to go.
We were very surprised at how many ships were anchored just outside of the designated shipping lane, miles from Singapore itself. This made it harder to work out which boats were moving, their convergence path and likely future turns to funnel into the lanes. We stayed just north of the main channel which was fine untill we got to the point where vessels coming south down the Malaysian coast wanted to filter in. I find this stuff an exciting challenge but Lea hates it. Did I mention the occasional unlit fishing boats that barely show up on radar adding to the excitement.
We were very grateful to see the sunrise and the tidal current held for us all the way to Raffles Lighthouse. We then had to fight the tide up to the western coast of Malaysia in the Malaka Strait proper where the tide turned in our favour again. Again masses of ships anchored with thousands of containers.
Back in cell range for internet I confirmed the order of the new Solenoid with David. We decided to get it sent to Langkawi from Singapore as stopping in Singapore is a pain both in red tape and financially.
We pushed on to Palau Pisang through another big rainstorm. Lea used this to wash her hair. We had used less than 400l of water in the 7 days. We had decided against recommissioning the watermaker until clear of the dirty water around Singapore and the Melaka Strait.
Finally anchored of the island just before dark. 200 Nm from Bawah and a day ahead of schedule. Still had plenty of fuel so didnt bother with the fuel barge at Sebana.
A Sumatra woke us at 0130 with rain and swell but not too much wind. Every time we have used this anchorage (3 times now) we have had a storm. Boring day motoring up to Water Islands for the night.
A nice peacefull night then a loud call to prayer at 0430 from the island. We waited until 0900 for the tide to change in our favour then headed up to Admiral Marina arriving just before the afternoon thunderstorms.
Great to be on land again after 9 days on the boat. Lea hit the treadmill in the gym. I hit the pool. The rain eased so we walked into town for our favourite Tandoori meal. Topped up with fresh fruit and vegies ready for another early departure tomorrow.
Off at first light and picked up great current 20 Nm south of the Port Klang fairway buoy. This swept us along halfway through the chanel by 1430. As the current turned against us we anchored and waited for the tide to change again. Set off again when the tide turned at 2100 figuring the chanel and the entry lanes should be free of fishing nets. The Port Klang chanel is well lit and we gave way to 2 incoming tankers. The pilot boat kept a close eye on us. We cleared the chanel and headed north. By 0300 the tide was turning again so we anchored on a mud bank and waited for the next tide.
Another day of motoring and hard yards punching into it for the final 15 Nm to Pangkor Marina. Wind instrument died. Tied up and off to catch up with friends. Tikki, Ocean Jaywalker (now Samira), Spruce, Kittani, Aussie Anthem and Psycho Pus. Other aquaintances, La Passerola and Obsession 2. Ben and Belle (Samira) and Andy and Sue (Spruce) were well into major refits. Thier boats were nicely under cover with benches and work stations. They both appeared to be settled into the marina community with cars, apartments and lots of local knowledge regarding local stockists.
After a bit of a chat and conscious we were holding up work we left them to it and joined the Tikki crew for drinks with Peter from Kattani as well. Then we all piled ito Peters car with Sam in the boot and had a great dinner at a local Biryani Restaurant.
Thursday December 1
Starboard hull side washed. The black streaks came off a bit easier thanks to the polish applied 8 weeks ago in KK. The rain here is filthy. It must be the coal fired power stations. Laundry off to Ruz at the marina office then me up the mast to check the wind instrument. No problem found and working again so cleaned the contacts anyway. Lea's need for clean overcame her fear of heights so she went up to the first spreaders to polish the radome.
Borrowed Ben and Belle's car for the afternoon and went off in search of waterpump seals, engine oil, fuel and dry stores. Came back with the little car chock-a-block. Couldnt find any waterpump seals though.
Drinks and Chinese onshore at the outdoor bar while it bucket down rain. A fun night with everyone in good spirits catching up with old friends.
Lea off early for her run. I got stuck into servicing the engines. Lea scubbed the decks. Went part shopping with Peter and Neil. Ended up ordering new waterseals when proprietor promised they would be in by the next afternoon. Great party dinner in Lumut with the marina crowd.
Turned the boat around so Lea could clean the black streaks off the Port hull side. More boat cleaning and vacuuming. Back into town to pick up seals and go to Aeon for final fresh supplies. Belle and Ben over for drinks then dinner at 555 food court with Kittani, Tikki and Spruce.
The marina owner James Khoo was as hospitable and helpfull as ever. The marina is now very full and obviously all James' hard work is paying off. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay there.
Left at 0700 and caught the tide out of Pangkor. Caught up with Tikki who had left an hour earlier than us. They were sailing along nicely. Because our wind instruments were out again we had underestimated the breeze. We quickly got the Main and Screecher out but soon changed to Spinnaker. We had a great 45 Nm sail up to Penang. The wind backed behind us so we pulled down the Main and continued under Spinnaker alone.
We sailed under both Penang bridges with the kite up. Would have been a great photo from the bridges.
Made it to the Junk anchorage just before dark but too late to join Reverie and Evolution NT for dinner. Barrie and Katrina returned about 2000 and called us up. They felt we were a bit close. Marginal but we moved about 30m forward and everyone slept well.
We spent the next 3 days wandering around Georgetown waiting for our Thai Visa's. Un be known to us Monday was a Thai public holiday so the Embassy was closed. We had loved Penang last year when we visited, apart from the lightning strike, and enjoyed getting to know the town a bit better. We used an agent to get our visas save organising transport out to the Embassy.
Lots of street art and fine buildings. A great place!
Lea got a whole new wardrobe of lovely clothes and we both bought new Sketches casual walking shoes. New fender covers, Thai courtesy flag. New Malaysian flag. Shoes repaired by a roadside cobbler. Some great food. A haircut. Safe lock repaired and visited the museum. Even visited an ENT specialist to get my ears checked as we hope to be in the water lots in Thailand.
Thursday December 8
Passports complete with new Thai Visa's we headed north. Waited for the tide but motoring into a headwind. A tanker was heading into port and throwing up a large wake. I checked on AIS and saw he was doing over 15 knots. I could see the wake appoaching as a breaking wave but under estimated its size. I warned Lea to brace herself but didnt think of the open hatches. The result was 2 large waves that broke over the bow and dumped salt water onto both forward beds and into the Saloon. Both beds were soaked through to the matresses. The clean up took hours as the wind came in and we bore away to sail close hauled in about 15 knots. With the hatches all closed it was stifling inside and the motion pretty ordinary. Lea was not a happy camper. I kept out her way.
The wind backed to the NE and lifted us so we could almost lay Palau Paya. When the NE wind finally died down we dropped the sails and motored the last few Nm to the island hoping to pick up a mooring. When we finnaly arrived we picked up a mooring ok and went for a swim. With nice clear water we scrubbed the waterline of the green beard again as well as the Penang scum.
The resort onshore looked lovely with a great beach and roped off snorkeling area
As it got dark the wind swung to the east and increased. This created a bit of swell that made for a pretty ordinary night. At least the mooring held but I was up and down all night to check.
Friday December 9
The easterly breeze was still blowing so we abandoned plans to explore ashore and go for a snorkel. Headed off instead and enjoyed a bumpy but fast beam reach for the 20Nm into Kuah, Langkawi.
Anchored off the dinghy dock near Evolution NT. After touching base with Barrie and Katrina, clearing in was the first priority followed by restocking the cellar. Jabatan Laut was on a long lunch so we headed for the duty free shops instead.
The duty free liquor laws on duty free islands like Langkawi have recently changed in an effort by government to curb illegal trading and smuggling. New restictions apply and passports need to be presented and a database records all your purchases. Every fully licensed shop has a customs official in attendance. We are allowed 5l of spirits or wine and 3 cases (72 cans) of beer each per month.
We bought what wine we could and beer in 650 and 500mi cans. When we arrived the customs officer was out for lunch so the shop assitant advised us that we could probably get more elsewhere as stores with only a secondary license could still sell without restriction until December 31.
Many businesses in Langkawi, and presumably Tioman and Labuan, have been sent to the wall by these changes. Some say its another way the Malaysian Government can “stick it to the Chinese”. Anyway we taxied our stash back to the dinghy dock and sqirrelled it away. Took the dinghy back over to the ferry terminal and completed all formalities for clearing in.
Another Lightwave 38 was anchored close by when we returned so we went over for a chat. Jan and Terry off Ridgee Didge invited us aboard and we had a great chat about all thing Lightwave and cruising.
We hosted drinks onboard Gemini Lady to catch up with Peter and Denise (Reverie), Barrie and Katrina and Patrick off LeBarque. Great to see Denise and Peter again. They had a great 6 months cruising over to eastern Thailand and Cambodia with a land trip to Vietnam and Laos.
Patrick retired early as Elizabeth was sick and the rest of us went ashore for a good Indian dinner.
Saturday December 10
Dropped off the washing. Walked to wet market which was a bit further than I remembered. Fruit and vegies not so good today but we got what we needed. Caught taxi back and visited the International Paint distributor. Got some advice on what we will need when we strip the old antifoul off in Pangkor next year.
Found the little shop that supplies yachties and bought another 2 bottles of gin, 12 champagne for my sisters visit, 2 dozen white wine and 2 more slabs of beer. That should be enough to keep us going for 3 months with visitors. Had fun stashing it everywhere it would fit.
Left the anchorage but found the fuel barge unattended so kept on going to Rebak Marina. Berthed and while Lea started washing the boat I went up to the office. No parcel for Gemini Lady ???? Back on the email for the TNT tracking number but its on David's work computer and its the weekend so Volmag aren't answering. Office girl suggested it may be at the Parcel Post Office back in Kuah.
Lea and I completed the next stage on the bathroom window. The clamps have been on for nearly 4 weeks so if its not stuck now it never will be. All good so we completed the backfilling and edge coving. Came up quite well. Just needs a final clean up in a few days.
Late afternoon we went looking for Mary and Grant off EL Gato who we last saw in Sydney 2014 on there old boat Endurance of the South. They have subsequently bought a Lagoon 44 catamaran and have just completed Sail 2 Indonesia. On the way down we ran into aquaintances from last year who told us to come to the resort reception for the official lighting up of the Xmas tree and drinks. We happily changed course and joined them.
A bit of a speech, tree lights came on, 2 carols were sung then we were free to enjoy a delicious buffet of finger foods with mulled red wine. We soon changed to normal red and white wine and had a great time catching up with Misty and Peter, long term residents of the marina. We didn't need dinner after that.
Lea up at daybreak for a run. I covered and tarped the bathroom window. Bacon and eggs for a celabratory breakfast for completing the 1100Nm passage from Miri. Caught the 0845 ferry and hired one of Mr Dins bombs. No fuel in the tank and the closest servo closed. Made it into Kuah on fumes. First stop after fueling up with 5l was the parcel Post Office. They were terrific and searched the place thoroughly but no parcel for Gemini Lady. Not happy Jan!
Then off to Telaga to clear out of Malaysia followed by a visit to Sailors Meats to stock up on some of Lea's favourite sausages. Just managed to catch the 1230 ferry back.
Checked engines and found a split line on the engine oil pumpout. Fixed that, emailed Dave that no luck with the package then went to the office to fix our account so we could get away early tomorrow morning. Lo and behold they had found our parcel. A miracle!!
Fitted the new Solenoid and all fixed and working again. Emailed Dave and Aldrich at Volmag that all is well.
Still had time for an hour in the pool before catching up with Grant and Mary for Drinks on El Gato and then dinner ashore. Changing to a floating apartment has made all the difference for Mary and her enjoyment of the cruising lifestyle. Great finish to our stay in Malaysia
Monday December 12
Early depature and successfull refueling at Telaga before heading NW for Koh Lipe and Thailand.