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Anthem Adrift
What, Me Worry?
05/30/2016, Terampah

Monday 30 May 2016

Previously hinted that a forced sobriety might occur as word is that the 2 island groups being visited are very traditional and probably Muslim. This was a wee bit of prevarication. After some time in Langkawi and Tioman, duty-free ports where gin for example costs $7.50 a liter and they practically give beer away, sufficient ships stores were accumulated to get over the hump.

Another potential complication is that both Vietnam and Malaysia would prefer ownership and there have been incidents. Don't know how recent. Few cruising boats come, but the place is beautiful and would otherwise likely be quite popular. It's a convenient stop on the way from the East Coast and Singapore to Borneo plus water is clear, coral hasn't been bombed and snorkeling/diving are excellent.

Errata: Committed minor faux pas by assuming an actual memory instead of looking up information. Should know better. Island location is Siantan, not Siapan. Locals might ordinarily take offense, but probably have 3 or 4 different names for it themselves and anyway Indonesians tend to be very easy going. This tolerance doesn't however extend to flaggage as they insist that their courtesy flag be larger than the visiting yacht's country ensign. Since onboard US and Canadian flags are around 3 x 5 feet and courtesy flag is 12 x 18 inches colors have been struck and we go incognito. Although failure to observe international regulation is somewhat delinquent, flying two country ensigns doesn't cause much angst so why should this. Alfred E Neuman is a role model.


East is Least
05/29/2016, En Route Terampah

Sunday 29 May 2016

After hunting and pecking our way around a bit when arriving yesterday found an excellent anchorage in a large plot of sand at 7 meters with great snorkeling over inshore coral in wonderfully clear water. Best visibility since Tuamotus. Visit in the evening by crew of Aussie "Anthem" (we'd kill him and burn his boat for counterfeiting us if Adrian weren't such a nice guy and the boat weren't made in Canada - he bought it with that name), who were on the other side of Anak Island, was a pleasant surprise, but we were otherwise alone.

This morning snorkeled a wonderful reef around nearby rock island then went to where Adrian and crew Carmen, a lovely girl from Ukraine, had seen several big green turtles making little green turtles. No tracks up the beach from mommies making nests, so don't know what happens now. Anyway, unable to enjoy a bit of perving as we didn't see a single act of fornication (is that a naughty word?) or indeed the first turtle. Otherwise good.

Figuring we might find another boat or two around the big island of Djemadja to the south where anchorages are actually charted, motored down there to again be solo. Expect everyone is in Terampah on the main Anambas island of Siapan, about 30 NM ENE, where will transpire tomorrow clearance into Indonesia, a dinner and possibly even some fun stuff.


Although Anambas and Natuna reside east of peninsular Malaysia, they are one hour earlier at UTC +7. The sun rises and sets waaaay earlier. Borneo takes us back to +8, but by then we're even farther east, so it doesn't help much. This is all very curious and if our body clocks were paying attention, which they aren't, we would be totally discombobulated (that's like confused for you folks in Pinellas Park).

Thought we had dumped everything and would need to find a compliant ATM (a problem during last sojourn in Indonesia) to get spending money, but a nooks and crannies search unearthed 1 million, 2 hundred 59 thousand, 900 hundred rupiah. We're millionaires! Regrettably, however, considering it takes around 14,000 of the things to make a dollar, the emotional impact is somewhat greater than any practical utility. Still, 185 bucks goes a long way here when a full meal at a local eatery is $3 and high cost adult beverage may be difficult to find, so should be able to soberly struggle along for a couple of weeks until Sarawak.


Slow Boat to Indonesia
05/27/2016, Approaching Anambas

Thursday 26 May 2016

Delayed departure from Kapas anchorage to allow dinghy patch more cure time and have daylight for securing to davits without incurring additional damage, so now behind the curve. Need to average around 6 kts to make Anambas tomorrow with enough light to see numerous reefs. Hypalon glue catalyst for patch had dried out after a year, so used 3M 5200. Confidence running a tad shy of amok.

At noon there's a breeze, albeit only 20 off the port bow, sun shade is up and it's almost cool. Plan to continue coastwise until nearly abeam Chukai, late afternoon, then head away from convective wind to pick up prevailing southerly at which point we can close reach all the way into anchorage. This scenario requires correct wind forecast. Confidence runs a tad shy of amok.


As zephyr evolved into 19 apparent at a regrettably inconvenient angle, sea rose commensurately and we contemplated unlikelihood of finding Anambas before dark next day (today), decided to make for Chukai and start again this morning - better angle with early wind and more time to get there albeit a day later. Didn't get anchor down just inside the breakwater until almost 2100.

So far so good. Making southing and easting before wind, particularly near the coast from a low passing through the peninsula, backs. After motor-pounding yesterday, close reaching at 6 to 7 knots in one meter sea doesn't suck at all. We're savoring the flow of wind and sea in blissful peace for now because the air is apparently dead as Elvis on the north shore of Borneo during SW monsoon. Bring on the dead dinosaurs.


Can't say anybody took delight in the unexpected 30 kt. squall that traveled with us for an hour before we turned back toward Malaysia to wait it out, but it did allow first real sailing for awhile and probably awhile hence. Also didn't expect sea to be littered with ships, fishing boats and oil well detritus. Now gliding serenely 30 NM from island. Should be in early afternoon.

Expect minimal further inconvenience in having no Indonesian internet compared to recent comatose service. At least during 2 weeks solely with HF radio, expectations may roughly equal reality.


A Wind and a Prayer
05/25/2016, En Route Kapas

Wednesday 25 May 2016

After 2 OK dives, followed by celebration of same or perhaps Tuesday or possibly nothing at all, we screwed around all evening at the bar and restaurant with 4 other couples and didn't move to calm anchorage north end of island where the sober people went before dark. Uncomfortable roll all night continuing in AM induced revision of revised, new plan which was update of revision of revised old plan. Rather than chill all day and leave late afternoon for short 2-night passage to Indonesia, departed earlyish to motor in coastal wind shadow for better sailing angle with short overnight stop in Kapas (Kappas). Persephone (queen of Hades, a Tayana 48 crewed by Americans, but very nice even so) has same idea. Wouldn't be surprised to find others there who checked latest GRIB (Goofy Response to Idiotic Behest).

If one were gullible enough to believe above mentioned input, sails just unfurled to increase motoring speed by .6 kts, and importantly stop roll should help get hook down in Kapas before 5. Arrival in daylight will be good as front tube of dinghy is decidedly flat due, no doubt, to rubbing on a sharp edge of Hydrovane. Repair patch, if entire solution and glue is still good, will have sufficient time to cure while on passage. Reassessment of dink mounting technique is proceeding apace.

Embracing sloth and eschewing good judgment, did not get fuel for auxiliary and generator in Terengganu or Redang before venturing offshore. No worries as this is a sailboat with solar and windpower, which thusly has no need of this substance. Weather model extolled above guarantees it. Confidence runs amok.


Doing Good.. Well
05/23/2016, Pulau Redang

Monday 23 May 2016

One should be careful about what he (to avoid psychic damage, PC hysterics (both a PC and feminist faux pas) may substitute "he, she or it" or the plurally incorrect "they") asks for (hint - if you completely ignore anything inside parentheses (except this), it flows much better). After moments in New Zealand where we wished for warm weather or on passage to Fiji for less wind, our whimsy has materialized, but not quite as envisioned. Much like passing a never-ending law to cover a perceived dilemma, there are usually unintended consequences at least as bad as the original, usually temporary, problem. It's hot, it's humid, there's no wind. We should not, however, wish for a reversal as, in the scheme of things, this will not last and life will again achieve nirvana as conditions pass through to the next extreme. On the other hand, damn! Sure would be nice to feel a cool breeze.

Departed Terengganu earlyish to make welcome ceremony in Redang at 1630. Hope there's food. Tomorrow morning we meet the island chief. This could be interesting, but probably not. One should generally assume political leaders are narcissistic, power hungry, yet spineless weasels. For some odd reason most people have great reverence for their own corrupt poobahs, but agree about everyone else's. Now that I've alienated most of the people who've stumbled onto this blog, perhaps a more benign subject would be in order.

- Later

New benign subject and plan. Scuba at 0930 and 1400. Redang is a dive destination. Chief wants to promote it. Rather than taking the guy's word, we can better extol the virtues of his island with first hand experience and make him much happier than seeing his village. Rationalization makes life so much more enjoyable.

"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel." - Matt Groening, The Simpsons


05/22/2016, Kuala Terengganu

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Well color me green and call me an olive, received an email that Duyong Marina has taken delivery of winch motor gearbox shipped from UK. Heading there now to arrive around noon.

- Later

Not only the motor, but here's the engine controller too. It just appeared. Like magic. Somebody buy me a Lotto ticket.


Crystal Mosque is a 5 minute dinghy ride from Anthem and built over the river. Made of crystal and glass, the myriad facets reflect light and make it sparkle. At night it's lit in alternating red, blue and green like a Christmas tree.. err, well anyway it's very impressive. If a photo shows up on the blog that would also be impressive.. and magic.


Elephants (if you're under 3 they're hephalumps) are way cool. A sanctuary west of here takes in babies that would otherwise die because their mothers have been killed. Apparently the herd abandons them. This is not quite as easy as saving stray kittens. They're tamed, trained and can never return to a wild state, but outside of a relatively small developed area the compound is 60 hectares (a hectare is almost 2.5 acres or 10,000 Sq. meters) of natural forest with a beautiful river running through. We helped them have a bath in a river pool where they lay down, let us play with them and showed their impish side by spraying us with water (perhaps that was mischievous handlers). They're friendly, very large, grey puppies and only occasionally trample someone (Malaysia is blessed with few lawyers). Jan bought a small elephant for a gift. As the creature will be living with rabbit in the interim, this creates a potentially disastrous situation. Any appearance of bunniphants and there will be hell to pay.


Cleared out of Malaysia this morning promising required same day departure by 1800. Regrettably, a maintenance issue (TBD as necessary) will keep us in the marina, plugged in, with air conditioning until tomorrow morning. Living to the letter of the law is so difficult - especially when the opportunity to get caught is minimal.


Grumpy Too
05/16/2016, En Route Pulau Kappas

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Anchored on a large patch of nothing but sand yesterday afternoon we were chased off to the last of 4 moorings very near coral heads by a dive master from the resort who kept her boatload of divers waiting for 30 minutes while she hovered over us as we snorkeled around the mooring to make sure it was safe for the environment and the boat (barely), then hauled anchor and hooked on. Not sure her customers appreciated her waspish tenacity.

Karma apparently determined yesterday that previous imbalance had been corrected as we experienced a glassy South China Sea. Although occasionally encountering a rippled patch where air dips down to touch the water at 2 or 3 knots this is insignificant for sailing, especially coming from directly ahead. It nevertheless created a lovely cooling effect that in comparison seemed almost comfortable. Not quite the case today as we have a constant 0 knots and nothing can make the warm, hazy, particularly soggy air pleasant. Oh, it's smoky too.

Despite high humidity, the continuing heat and drought have resulted in wildfires and dense smoke over large tracts of the East Coast north of Chukai. Fortunately for us (and its residents), Pulau Tenggol is 15 NM offshore and not downwind. Not so for next destinations Kappas Island and Terengganu. Although not as deadly as the Marlboros I gave up 39 years ago, smoke and ash is not nearly as enjoyable either.

After replacing a cable, which broke departing Puteri Harbour, discovered that Morse, single-lever, engine controller was too worn to maintain throttle position with now lower friction and it has no adjustment. After trying Goldbergian arrangement of ropes, pulleys, bells, whistles, stern looks and adult verbiage, finally worked out that reducing spring pressure at engine sustains position for normal cruise revolutions until new, improved (with smaller footprint requiring, of course, addition of separate mounting plate) unit arrives. See yesterday's observation reference delivery fantasies.


Hope and Luck
05/15/2016, En Route Pulau Tenggol

Saturday 14 May 2016

Dodged a bullet by not beginning overnight passage yesterday, Friday the 13th. Superstitious sailors will simply not start a voyage on that weekday and adding the 13th is considered tantamount to suicide. Notwithstanding that departure in 2011 from New Zealand to Fiji on Friday the 13th was Jan's and my first and worst passage, we eschew such old wive's tale mysticism. By the way, if I were an old wife (you know who you are) I'd be pretty peeved about that phrase. Anyway, just to increase dissemination of completely useless information and mischievously displace data from currently utilized memory cells because you're so old you have no spares (you know who you are), the maximum number of these minacious dates you can have in a year is 3 and it must be a leap year. Go out and impress your friends... if you can still remember their names.


As usual didn't write squat while in port due staying busy and/or drinking heavily. Chukai (or Cukai) has a port, but the city is up a lazy river. Don't think Hoagy Carmichael did any dreaming here, but we enjoyed it and even the day-long tour to what was once the largest tin mine in the world and a batik 'factory' where nearly everyone discovered they couldn't live without some. We bought 4 shirts/blouses and a length of silk large enough to make a bedspread. In the unlikely event that someone begins adding photos to these scribblings, you can be appropriately amazed.

Now underway toward overnight stopover at Pulau Tenggol en route to Pulau Kappas for a potluck dinner tomorrow. Then have 3 days for the 10 NM to Kuala Terengganu where boat part shipment from UK may or may not await. UPS and customs have been farting around with it since the 3rd. Does not bode well for subsequent package that will not arrive in country for yet a day or two. As always we cling to a delusional optimism.


Gust Ghost
05/12/2016, Approaching Chukai

May the 4th be with you.

Thursday 5 May 2016

Shayne on Champagne Charlie blabbed over VHF that we were going to a dive hotspot on SW Tioman Island and six other boats showed up. Never mind, we all had a great time splashing around in the water looking at lots of sand and a bit of rock and coral aswarm with hoards of itty bitty fish. The diving was pretty blah, but there is a rather nice resort on shore where everyone went to support the local economy and have a great time. We all head into the big town of Tekek, a Rally rally point, tomorrow morning where at least some of us will dive several wrecks in the bay.


Rod Featherstone (Feathers) on Psycho Puss, who found a $1200 drone for only $800 (no worries, it's Aussie dollars), rousted us out of bed this morning at the unconscionable hour of 0815 to say he would be taking an aerial shot of the fleet at 0900. Man, what one does to avoid everyone discovering he's a misanthrope. Anyway, the little mosquito sounding thing got so far away that he was asking if anyone could see it. Jan honed in with her bat-like hearing to point it out. Hope the pictures are good.


Engaged in what was billed as "jungle trekking" to a waterfall with cool (as in temperature) swimming hole. True as far as it went: hot, steamy, not a breath of wind and jungle complete with monkeys. However, most of the 2 1/2 hours necessary to finally enjoy chilling our wobbly bits was spent climbing at a 30 to 45 degree angle up the side of a mountain. But for the pickup truck that brought us back home we might still be bobbing about, afflicted with terminal pruning, but happily reveling in hypothermia.


Despite Tioman being a fun, laid-back place (not to mention having duty-free adult beverages), one good snorkel and 3 pukey dives in the bay inspired moving on so we motored (has anyone mentioned that, concerning wind, there is zero, nil, naught, zilch, nix, zip, nada, diddly-squat, none?) 7 NM north to Pulau Tulai where was excellent snorkeling at Coral Garden and diving at Malang Rock: blue water with vis 15+ meters, swim-throughs, cool fish, lots of coral and a green turtle.


En route to Chukai, good news: found 4 star dive site, Tiger Rock, in open water which was, oddly enough, right where published Lat/Long indicated it should be, with help of dense swarms of fish above it. Bad news: Although current was just manageable, visibility sucked, badly. Canyons amidst the rockpiles hurried departure in case diving to free them would be necessary.

Karma, no doubt wanting to balance the scales, then gave us a completely unexpected 8 - 10 knot breeze on the starboard beam justifying carrying around those big white flappy things. Only sounds were from wind, wave and unmuffled engines of trawlers that took aim at us. At least they can't sneak up.


Now approaching Chukai at daybreak, ghosting along at 3.5 kts. No rush as the river is shallow and it's just past low tide. Except for 3 hours during second watch when shift occurred from port tack to starboard, sailed all afternoon and night. As there is no wind in Malaysia at this time, investigation is underway to determine cause.


Paradise Lost
05/03/2016, En Route Pulau Tioman

Monday 2 May 2016

After having good.. errr, usable 3G for months, we are far enough off shore at Pulau Aur to have been ripped, kicking and screaming, from the grid. No news from The Donald (to be perfectly honest, he's been so busy these last several months that he hasn't written to tell us, as he periodically did, how much he misses us.. he's probably still miffed that I thought he didn't have a chance in hell of getting elected US President) or Barack (OK, sure, I told him he was a horrible disappointment, but hey, friends should be able to overlook these minor disagreements), but there are compensations.

The water is blue. There is coral. There are fish. You can see both of these constituents while far enough away that a giant moray eel that you can't see won't eat you. Anybody remember "The Deep"? How about Jacqueline Bisset's set in "The Deep"? Looks like we'll be here until heading to Pulau Tioman (if not mentioned, pulau means island) on the 5th. Diving is suppose to be good there as well, but suspect it's overrun with flailing polliwogs.


Excellent dive this morning, 4 in a row over last 3 days. Huge humphead wrasse, a school of barracuda, huge boulders piled atop one another forming caves and lots of other interesting stuff. Then park officials came by with information that there is a 1 year prohibition on any activity, including snorkeling, diving and even swimming, around any island off the east coast except Tioman... OK, whose brother-in-law owns a dive operation on Tioman? Sazli Kamal Basha, our very good rally coordinator, sort of sorted it out and the department of tourism may rescue us from park authority pokey, but we decided to go Tioman a day earlier than planned anyway.


How many out there thought that every colorful, wee marine creature crawling over the bottom was a nudibranch (shell-less mollusk)? Show of hands. Well some of them aren't. Some of them are worms. Only nudibranchs have feathery gills at one end. Isn't life just full of fascinating crap? Tell all your friends.


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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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