Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
29 June 2015 | Suva Fiji
18 December 2013 | Auckland
05 December 2013 | Auckland
27 October 2013 | Vavau Tonga
12 September 2013 | Samoa
24 July 2013 | Moorea, Tahiti
19 July 2013 | Papeete
19 June 2013 | Nuka Hiva
02 June 2013 | Pacific Ocean
29 May 2013 | Pacific Ocean
24 May 2013 | Eastern Pacific Ocean
19 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
16 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
13 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
06 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
28 March 2013 | Belize
27 March 2013 | Belize
03 March 2013 | Panamarina, Panama

The weather gods remind us who is in control.

09 November 2007 | Port Dickson, Malacca Strait, Malaysia
The weather gods remind us who is in control.
Sixteen days in Singapore enjoying the sights, shopping, marina life and delicious foods, the weather gods decided we needed to pay our dues. Sunday morning, 7am still conditions we motored away from the marina, a last lingering look at the lovely pool out to wait for Immigration to clear us from Singapore. Immigration in the Western Anchorage is supposedly 24 hours, but not on a Sunday we eventually got cleared at 9.30am, should've slept longer and had one last swim. The wind had now risen to a 10 knots plus headwind, on a forecast that was meant to be variable winds. The current was still with us but wind against current meant a choppy sea and slower going than we had planned. Sunday is a quiet day for shipping around Singapore , there were still plenty moving about , looking left and right we got across lanes , only having to wait once for two large ships to pass. All the time the wind and chop increased, we moved through an anchorage area, 50 plus ships waiting to load and unload. Pisang Island our first planned anchorage was becoming an unrealistic goal as the daylight decreased and the wind increased. At 3.30pm we turned into the channel to Kukup 15 miles short of our plan, the tide was low we motored cautiously down a muddy channel, dropping to 0.6 of a metre under our keel, knowing it was mud on an incoming tide made it feel only slightly more comfortable. The next challenge was finding an anchorage amongst all the fish farms. Kukup is a town built over the water, and large fish farms take up the rest of the area . The large platforms are anchored to the sea with numerous ropes and understandably the owners didn't want us snagging them with our anchor. Motoring through the town and then back to the entrance we found a spot that suited us all.
Talitha was just securely anchored in the thick mud when the lightening, thunder and rain arrived. The lightening was very close so we decided to unhook our radios. Turn everything off we could. A few days before leaving Indonesia, friends on the catamaran Cat'chus suffered a lightening strike and lost most of their instruments and radios so we decided to be more careful from now on. We had agreed to keep our VHF on Channel 13 over night to stay in contact with our travelling companions on Swantje but we agreed it was more important to turn the radios off.
8am the next morning we left Kukup on a higher tide nearly 2 metres under us now. This is where the should'ves started, should've left earlier, should've stayed another day, and should've stayed in Singapore. More should'ves came to light as the day progressed, well it didn't progress it just got worse! We had planned to go the 15 miles to Pisang and stay the day there, by the time we got there the weather wasn't too bad, headwinds with slight chop but as soon as we decided to carry on the wind slowly built, the choppy sea developed further and progress was slow. Should've stayed at Pisang. We arrived at the spot we had chosen to anchor, Swantje was slightly ahead and they called to say there were too many fish traps to anchor. We were in shallow water with little protection, bouncing up and down all night with no protection from the wind did not appeal after some discussion we decided to carry on motor sailing over night, Swantje anchored. Should've stayed with Swantje .
That decision led us to have our worst ever night at sea. The Malacca straight is a difficult area to move through for yachts, often little or no wind, lots of shipping and many many fishing nets and boats. We had been prepared to motor, stay half a mile outside the shipping lane to avoid ships and nets the experts had said, they also said there would be no wind ... well they were wrong about the wind. Head winds in combination with current developed a choppy sea with some large holes. Progress towards our destination was very slow. Motoring straight into the chop was not an option so with 2 reefs in the main and the staysail up we motor sailed, tacking out as far as we dared into the shipping lane then back as far as we dared towards the shore and those dreaded nets. We took turns helming all night as neither auto helm or wind vane would cope with the conditions. Thank goodness for the radar.
By about 4am we seemed to be settled into a routine, that was until one of those Sumatra winds the Malacca straight is renowned for swooped down on us from out of the black night. The wind built quickly, by the time Alan scrambled out of bed and put his harness back on the wind had built from a manageable 15 knots to nearly 30 knots . Reduce sail the experts say when you see a Sumatra coming, a bit hard to see on a black night. By the time we got the staysail in the UV strip was nearly shredded. The rain bounced off the deck , the lightening came too close for comfort, unseen ships were close by, all those should'ves came to mind. The radar showed the ships comfortably far enough away and the large rain shadow sitting on top of us moving slowly off to the south.
Daylight arrived, everything always seems better in daylight we looked at each other and said well we survived the weather, all the shipping including the two ships that got dangerously close, things could only look up... which of course they did. The weather improved , still a head wind but in flatter seas, fishing nets to cope with, the Water islands in sight, sleep just a few hours away the day got better and better. By 2pm we were sound asleep anchored in the peaceful Water Islands, we had taken 29 hours to do 85 miles should've taken half the time. Stephanie and Wolf arrived on Swantje in the early evening, they had had a rough night at anchor, but we should've been there too.
The last day Water Island to Port Dickson was like a holiday, flat seas, sun shining, nets for only half the distance, auto pilot on and another nice marina waiting. Many of the boats already in Port Dickson had had bad weather all the way so we felt fortunate that at least we had one day of good motoring. The weather has improved and the boats travelling now are having an easier time, still the odd Sumatra, a few logs ( we didn't see those!), a thunder storm every evening and those ever present ships.
I know I've said it before this cruising life is not all cocktails at sunset, we do have to pay our dues so that those cocktails taste so much nicer. Here at Port Dickson its Tiger beers, two for the price of one, sipped on an elegant terrace over looking the marina and the sunset.

Vessel Name: Tuatara
Vessel Make/Model: Alan Wright 51
Hailing Port: Opua NZ
Crew: Alan and Jean Ward

Sailing in the Pacific

Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ