10 June 2015 | Straits Quay Marina, Penang
So, having had Dreamcatcher based in Singapore since 2006, we've made a change and berthed her in Penang. How'd this come about? Well, the sailing in Singapore has never been good from a wind standpoint and with the development of the new container terminal just one nautical mile to the west of our Marina at Keppel Bay, we've encountered a huge increase in waterborne traffic: barges, bum boats, dredges, ferries, and now with the container terminal completed, and increase in pilot vessels, and - those big "box boats", the container ships.
We've had Penang in mind for a while as an alternate place to berth the boat, as well as to live, once our time in Singapore is up with the collective sale of our apartment here. So, we put our names down at the tiny boutique marina at Straits Quay in Penang, and, 18 months after doing so, got the call from "Popeye", the marina manager (with whom GT used to sail in Hong Kong for 6 years) saying "I've got a spot for you, but you'll have to commit within a week as there's a 2 year waiting list!".
Scramble we did - what did we need to take off the boat, put back on? spare sails? spare anchors & chain? Now that our baby would be 400 miles away from us, it wasn't just a matter of being on the boat in 20 minutes. Additionally, Henry had ordered and installed a new heat exchanger which we weren't very comfortable with: talk about drinking the cool-aid - it seemed to ingest cooling fluid at a great rate and we thought at one point we might have to get it pressure-tested and send it back to the US. We eventually had enough confidence in it to leave for Penang after several days testing by "driving" around St. John's island near Sentosa.
We took the "back" route exit, south of Pulau Bukum around the oil tanks, wove our way to the south of the Sinki Fairway and into the Malacca Straits: a hot, still day. Arriving at P. Pisang around 1500 we dropped the hook just north of the two lovely islands in company with a couple of lovely old sailboats and spent a relaxing evening there, punctuated only by one short storm which had the good grace to strike after we'd finished dinner in the cockpit. Big breakfast next morning, then underway, northbound to Penang.
We'd planned to stop again on another night, maybe Pt. Klang entry or P. Pangkor, but time-wise we wanted to make it to the South of Penang island in daylight, wait at P. Rimau and then catch the high tide for entry into the marina. We've done this patch of water - the Malacca Straits - so many times now, and this was probably the most uneventful of them all. Apart from our after-dinner storm, the weather was perfect but alas, no wind, so the whole 388 miles was a drive. We dropped the hook in P. Rimau just south of the main island of Penang, at dawn, tidied up, put out the fenders and set up the lines, had a big breakfast, and set out the last 15 miles between Penang and Malaysia's mainland, to enter Straits Quay Marina mid morning, to a welcome from Popeye and his dock crew. So - Dreamcatcher has moved. Very different for us, not having our "baby" down the road after 9 years of it being so. Our plan is to be aboard Dreamcatcher for at least a week every month. The airfares are dirt cheap, and the berthing fees half of that of Singapore, plus, we have her right at the southern end of Asia's greatest sailing area - Langkawi, and only another 135 miles to Phuket and Krabi. We plan to circumnavigate Langkawi in November and then spend significant time in Phuket early 2016.
So starts a new era for Dreamcatcher and for us.