Limping up the Malacca Strait

Merciful Malacca Strait let us navigate its dreadful waters without drama. Or without major drama I should precise. There was still a patch of rubbish passed by night off Pulau Rumbia, with all sorts of unidentified objects hitting our hull with loud bangs which woke me up as I was off watch during the only night sail we had elected to do. And the episode of the fishing net for our buddy boat Brule-Vent who we noticed were anchored a lot further in the morning than when we went to bed. Early morning, they had found themselves drifting in the dark, only to realise their boat was wrapped in a fishing net. It was 5:30 and no sooner had they cut the net in a (failed) attempt to break free than a fishing boat rushed in to demand a hefty sum as compensation. Just as we had been warned was a common scam in this area. Our friends partially settled the bill but had to dive to rid themselves entirely of the net which was still caught in their rudder or prop. The fishermen were apparently impressed by Pascal, in his late sixties, who performed this by night, and expressed their gratitude as they left. Bittersweet taste, that of recognition by perfidious people.

No drama then, considering that at one point I counted fifty lights surrounding us, between navigation lights, fishing boats and cargo ships. It seems that fate had decided we had had enough daily lightnings and out-of-the-blue squalls (Sumatras) in Indonesia, and our share of damage done to the boat already. Indeed, one night, as I was about to hand over the helm to Thomas, I explained I had just unfurled our genoa in full, glad the wind had picked up after all and stabilized at 12 knots. But this air was in fact announcing a brief but sharp squall that didn’t give Thomas anytime to reef the main, as the speedo read 18, then 50 in a matter of seconds and by the time the main sail was down it had two long sad tears along the luff again.

That’s how, in Malaysia, our ripped main sail, which regular showers prevented us to repair, was still out of service, and we were left with only a genoa to leverage the surprising downwind conditions we had in the Strait. And so we limped, as best we could, thankfully receiving a push from a helpful following current, and the 470 nautical miles from Puteri Harbour to Langkawi were covered in 12 days of rather smooth motor-sailing with stops at Pulau Pisang, Tanjung Tohor / Muar, Melaka, Port Dickson, Pangkor, Pulau Talang, Pulau Rimau, Penang, and Telur Dayang Bunting (see chart), including one night sail (skippping Port Klang and KL) and a couple of touristic expeditions, one day in Malacca, two in Penang, and a maintenance stop in Pangkor to reprovision, fix our main with a few tarpaulin’s bits glued with Sikaflex, weld the crack on our boom, and say our goodbyes to Pascal & Marie-Laure who left their boat in Pangkor to explore Thailand by foot for the festive season.

We carried on and celebrated Christmas in Langkawi with WOLO, with a smorgasbord of French and German delicacies. Kids were happy to have a friend and we were happy to leave the Malacca Strait mostly behind us and the long days of no swimming in the uninviting murky waters infested with a multitude of jellyfish. We couldn’t wait to reach Thailand and its promised cruising paradise!

Published by Salome

Sailing, parenting, writing, dancing, and op-shopping around the world.

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