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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November 16 - 18, 2012 Sailing from Port Dickson to Pangkor - Swelly, Smelly, Stormy, Strange and Just a Bit Scary

We knew that we would have a 2-knot current on the nose leaving Port Dickson, but that by 9 AM it should turn in our favor. Based on this information we decided to leave well after 8:00 AM.  No matter how well we tried to time it that countercurrent pushed against us until nearly 11:00 AM, but then by noon it had diminished bit by bit until we picked up the flow and rode with it. It is now 2 PM and we are flying at 10+ knots (SOG). We have not only picked up a 2.5-knot positive current, we also have a lovely 12 knots of wind abeam giving us a lift. We are inching closer into the shipping lanes as we near Port Klang, rather the shipping lanes are inching nearer to land and we are speeding over fishing nets with fingers crossed and prayers flowing upward that we do not get tangled. We've now moved our waypoint forward some 30 more miles because at this rate it would be a crying shame to stop. We hope to make that anchorage by dark.

The waters are becoming dirtier and dirtier resembling the color of café au lait. The entire front of Destiny's bow is slightly discolored from the waterways here. Several friends who have previously navigated these waters have told us that the shipyards in Langkawi and Phuket love to see yachts coming in from the Malacca Straits because they all need hull cleaning work! The water is also littered with trash and floating debris that has either fallen off ships and barges or has just been washed away from who-knows-where/what. This is not only hazardous sailing but nauseatingly odoriferous.

Right now we have entered the vein-like canals that meander through the islands outside of Port Klang. They are absolutely strewn with communities of floating fish farms. The stench is unbelievable. The waters are milkier and milkier and as we make our way along, we are passing dozens of boats playing out fishing buoys and nets. How can they tolerate this dead carcass stench? Obviously that is a rhetorical question, nonetheless, one that I continue to ask myself because right now I could just gag and am looking forward to getting through this area as quickly as possible. Fortunately, we still have a positive current of over 1 knot and should reach the anchorage within the hour. It has been a very interesting little journey to be sure.

Nearing the anchorage several other yachts emerged from another route through the rivers around Port Klang, racing us for the best spot to drop the hook. Isn't it funny how people not only do this in parking lots like Wal-Mart, but also in wide open waters? We backed off to let them rush on ahead – no point in crowding in - there is plenty of room but you can't tell them that. We spent an OK night until the swell moved in, which has become the norm here in Malaysia along with the terrifying evening rainstorms. When the nightly storm hit it sounded like a hurricane! No one warned us about these things when they sailed Malaysia in years past. I guess they didn't want to spoil our fun. It was not a pleasant night, although we did enjoy a beautiful sunset (the bonus) and snapped a photo of it with Bicho in the foreground.

We had one more night and two days sail to Pangkor. Taimada is a day ahead of us, sending waypoints for us to anchor along the way that they have found to be decent. It seems they are getting better weather than the rest of us. We hope conditions at the next anchorage are better than last night's. We enjoyed a cleaner journey on Saturday, arriving at the appointed stop knowing it was a bit odd from what Taimada had described to us. The actual "anchorage" was 200 meters away from a large house (hotel?) that had been built smack dab in the middle of the bay on massive pylons. 

How extraordinary. Land was miles away and in addition to the house, several lone pylons were scattered about in the water causing us no small amount of concern. We used up all of our guesses trying to figure out what this had been or is becoming. The depths were only 11 – 20 feet, and although it seems safe enough we soon discovered it is a thoroughfare for local fishing boats who buzzed us continuously coming and going making it very rocky. Not long after getting hooked we took a short rest before dinner – big mistake - I should have prepared dinner straight away because within the hour a hellish swell began and worsened as the night wore on. Dinner turned out to be cheese and crackers and as we braced ourselves to dine on this gourmet fare, a nasty storm hit us with the full force of Neptune's fury, churning up the shallow waters even more violently. We hardly slept from the thunderous cracks above and the slamming of waves against our hull. Daylight couldn't come early enough and as soon as it did we were out of there. The seas were calmer underway than they had been in the anchorage.

The sail to Pangkor was not bad, as we picked up a nice flowing current that took us nearly all the way to the little island called Pulau Pangkor, a pleasant spot outside of some resorts where at least a dozen of the Racing yachts were bobbing about restfully. Although we had an opportunity to go into shore for dinner, all we wanted to do was to sit peacefully on board and get a much needed rest.

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