Monday, August 30, 2010

Jellyfish and Sumatras

The waters in this part of the world are filled with jellyfish. In the small anchorage where we have been for the past 3 nights I have sat in the cockpit reading and watched jellyfish for hours on end.  Most of them are the sturdy, almost solid body, kind of jellyfish -- ranging from the size of my thumbnail to the size of a bushel basket.  I have seen none of the ultra large bright pink and orange  diaphanous jellyfish with the yellow centers that we saw farther east in Indonesia.  Those were beautiful in an eerie sort of way and reminded us of huge ocean flowers floating alongside our boat.  The more substantial jellyfish in the Malaysian waters have not one bit of beauty about them.  Interesting to watch; but not attractive.  And definitely plentiful enough that one would not wish to enjoy a dip no matter how hot the sun gets or how inviting the water might appear.

At 03:15 Saturday morning a Sumatra blew through.  Cruisers experienced in this area had warned us that we would not be able to make it up this coast without enduring at least one such storm.  I am glad we were in this protected anchorage when we endured our first one.  It seems that each sailing area of the world has a nickname for the most common particular local weather systems.  In the Mediterranean one finds the Meltimi and the Mistral, among others.  Along a certain section of the Pacific coast of Mexico one finds the Tehuantepekkers.  In Colombia and the San Blas Islands of Panama one encounters Chocasanos.  Here along the Malacca Strait one endures Sumatras -- so named because the weather systems move in from the west where the Indonesian island of Sumatra is located.  The sky blackens; winds pick up to 25-50 knots; heavy rain falls; and lightning fills the sky as the weather system moves eastward to the Malaysia coast until it wears itself out.  To me, the lightning is the worst element of a Sumatra.

We immediately jumped up to close the hatch in our bedroom and flip on the instruments to check the wind speed.  We leave an anchor alarm set on the GPS in our bedroom all the time, so obviously our anchor was not dragging.  Bill fired up the main computer and set a tight circle to monitor our tracking as we swung on the anchor in all directions for the next 1 1/2 hours.

It is funny how we each worry about different things.  Bill was worried about the anchor dragging.  I stood in the companionway worrying about the lightning.  His worry was more logical.  If the anchor failed to hold, we could start the engine and motor to avoid going aground.  If lightning struck the boat, there was nothing we could do about that.  Nevertheless, the lightning received all my attention.  I had already figured out where to point the boat under motor should we receive a lightning strike and lose our electronics.  I was prepared for that -- as long as the buildings on shore continued to have electricity and the shore lights remained visible.  I knew the compass heading to follow, but would need the lights on shore for depth perception to know where we were as we motored in relation to the known hazards of rocks and reefs and land.

By 05:00 the storm had passed and all was well.  Our anchor held (as it always has in previous heavy weather -- knock on wood).  We were not affected by any of the nearby lightning strikes.  And a big bonus was that the middle-of-the-nigh temperature had dropped from 84F to a very pleasant 76F.  It felt like air-conditioning blowing through the boat when we opened the hatches.  We went back to bed and slept until 08:30.  Cannot remember the last time we slept that late!

Today we are moving to the northernmost western anchorage on this island.  That anchorage will put us 3 miles closer to Penang, a/k/a Pinang.  The chart also indicates that there is clear egress at that anchorage, so we can leave before sunrise tomorrow morning.  Theoretically we could also depart this anchorage near Pulau Pangkor Luat before sunrise because we have the track of our friends on S/V B'Sheret who stopped here last month.  If we stayed right on top of their track then we could leave before daylight, but I would not feel comfortable doing that because there are so many rocks heading out of here.  Better for us to move to the more open anchorage.  Besides, it will be about 76 miles to Penang; and 3 miles less to go tomorrow might make a difference in whether we arrive before the marina closes.  There are several anchorages on the western side of Penang, but we need to go into the marina right next to Georgetown because there are several items we need to attend to in that city.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Port Klang to Pulau Pangkor near Lumut

28 August 2010 Saturday
04.12.538N 100.33.148E anchored at Pulau Pangkor near Lumut
Distance sailed 87 NM

Yesterday the anchor was up at 04:30 and we motored out of the very long channel at Port Klang. Really easy to maneuver in the dark in a large commercial port with properly lit navigational channel markers. It was a beautiful sunny day and we motored the entire distance to Pulau Pangkor, directly across the narrow channel from Lumut. We anchored in the small harbor on the southernmost tip of Pulau Pangkor behind the tiny island of Pulau Pangkor Laut, which I guess in Malaysian Bahassa means "little Pangkor island." On the tiny island there is a very nice and little used resort. On the nearby beaches of main Pangkor there are 2 more resorts of lesser quality appearance which show much more activity.

Java meets Venezuelan design fishing boat
When we first departed Port Klang and began to encounter fishing boats it was a relief to notice than none of them were using the drift nets buoyed to floating flags. It was much easier to avoid a boat than to avoid a boat attached to floating nets in random directions. The boats were very colorful and a different design than those seen farther south along the coast. These looked as if a Java boat and a Venezuelan boat had been furbling and produced a mutated combination of the two. Reminded me very much of the Venezuelan boats but with a brightly colored higher-prow Java influence. And they pretty much stayed out of our way, so life was good. This was our best day yet.

Totally calm glassy seas
The last 15 miles before this anchorage was heavily infested with these fishing boats, except these were using the buoyed drift nets and floating flags. The damn things were all over the place. Some of them had set up the floating flags and nets stretched for long distances with no visible buoys between the flags. It became impossible to tell which flags went together and know which way to turn to avoid running through a net. One guy had at least 6 flags all strung together with nets. The distance between each flag was longer than one might assume a net could be strung - and he had at least 6 of these all run together. Took us awhile to figure it all out and get around the whole mess. That one involved us making 2 circles before we got away from it. With no boat anywhere in sight! At least it is easier when there is a boat somewhat near one of these floating flags and you can sort of match them up and figure out which way to turn. When there is no visible boat but flags stretch as far as you can see in both directions, it is difficult to know which way to divert. Needless to say, Bill was more than a little annoyed and cursing all local fishermen by day's end. I did the driving and he was on the bow with binoculars. He was not a happy camper.

The last 10 miles to the anchorage we had not only the fishing nets to contend with but also a fairly strong adverse current. All day we had made good speed-over-ground. Every other day as we have progressed up this coast the tide has controlled the current. Rising tide put the current in our favor and descending tide put the current against us. That is really easy to remember as you sail up this coast. Tide going up and you are going up and you get the current boost. Tide going down and the current is going down the coast toward Singapore and will be against you. That little bit of information works everywhere along the western coast of Malaysia except when you are in a strait between an island and the mainland. In those straits, the currents run out on both ends of the strait as the tide rises. Anyway, we made very good time today because there was no adverse current until the final 10 miles from our destination. The currents are particularly strong around the Sembilan islands and rocks that one must pass en route to Lumut or Pulau Pangkor from the southeast. This was also the area where we encountered the heaviest fishing traffic.

A small part of the resort on Pulau Pangkor Luat
The wind also picked up and it was very pleasant when we arrived at Pulau Pangkor and dropped anchor. It was a very enjoyable night. We were anchored well away from shore and no bugs bothered us. Plus, we were receiving wifi signals from all 3 resorts. Then this morning we realized we were in the prohibited anchoring area which runs between the nice resort on the little island and the large resort on the main island. Luckily we had not dropped our anchor over the water line that also runs through this prohibited anchorage area. I don't know how both of us missed the chart markings for both the water line and the "no anchoring" when we arrived yesterday. Now that we were aware of what we had done, we did not feel comfortable staying there - even though no one had called us on the VHF radio and asked us to move. There were lots of small water taxis taking guests and staff to and fro from the 3 resorts. None of them had indicated that we should move. But we knew now that this particular place was off limits and we should move.

We pulled the anchor and moved over .3 mile to reset in shallower water.

And now flies are bothering us and the wifi no longer works.

The view from our cockpit.  Little water taxis back and forth all day
 Still the best place we have seen so far along the Malaysian coast and we are staying at least 1 more night.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Port Dickson to Port Klang

26 August 2010 Thursday
03.01.88N 101.20.46E Anchored at Port Klang (a/k/a Port Kelang)
Distance sailed today: 55.8 NM

Yesterday was the first day with wind suitable for sailing since we left Singapore - and we were sitting in Admiral Marina near Port Dickson. Figures. We have done nothing but motor or motor-sail since leaving Darwin. That is well over 2,000 miles of motoring!!!! During that entire stretch of sea we have been able to sail only 2 days because there has been no wind. Since leaving Singapore we have twice briefly encountered wind strong enough to sail, and both times the wind was directly on our nose.

Others have told us that "it gets better the farther north you go." So far that has been true. The sail today from Port Dickson to Port Klang was the prettiest stretch of Malaysia coastline that we have seen. The water is becoming clearer each day. It is now like the waters around Australia, which we thought were cloudy and very unappealing when we were there. After seeing the waters in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, we now realize that the Australian waters were better than we realized. We just had been spoiled by the beautiful South Pacific and Caribbean before that. We are looking forward to clear waters around Langkawi and north to Phuket.

Today there were far fewer fishing boats with drift nets to navigate around. And we even saw 3 dolphin! Cannot remember when we last saw dolphin. Certainly not in Indonesia; so it must have been well over a year. We trailed a fishing line for several hours and received no nibbles.

But the fishermen were just fooling us. Indeed they were out fishing after all. Just not along the coastline. When we reached the third green buoy inside the strait that runs to Port Klang between the islands and the mainland then we found all the fishing boats. The idiots had staggered drift nets buoyed completely across the shipping channel for about half-mile! We had just passed a tugboat pulling a large barge and we were under full sail (with the motor running just in case a quick maneuver might be required) when I spotted the first nets. I threw the throttle forward and tried like hell to get well forward of the tugboat and barge so I could cut across the channel to avoid the fishing nets. The current was in our favor. I was concentrating on avoiding fishing nets, ships and barges and did not watch our boat speed; but at one point I looked down to see we were doing 10.5 knots. Thank goodness Bill had insisted on putting out the sails. Otherwise, we would not have been able to attain speed fast enough to avoid all the shipping traffic and the fishing nets. The tug and barge followed me and missed the first 2 strings of nets, but he plowed right over the next string of nets and all thereafter. A barge does not have the maneuverability of a little sailboat. Sorry for the loss of the poor fishermen's nets, but that is exactly what the idiots deserved. Of all places to string nets all the way across, this was the worst spot possible.

We had planned to anchor just north of Port Klang, but when we exited the channel on the north side the weather conditions were not appropriate for anchoring up that way. The weather forecast was for 3 knots wind from 102 degrees. Instead it was 17 knots from 270 degrees. That would put us anchored on a lee shore with no protection. So we backtracked a few miles into the channel again.

We are anchored across from the big shipping terminal area, behind a sand bar. The current switches with the tide all up this coast, and this channel is no different. The current is now running around 2 knots. The breeze behind the island is nice. We are far enough from shore that there should be no insects. This should be a comfortable night.

Our plan is to depart around 04:30 tomorrow morning because the next leg is about 90 miles and we would like to reach the next anchorage during daylight if possible.
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Malacca to Port Dickson -- a short day

24 August 2010 Tuesday
Berthed at Admiral Marina in Port Dickson
02.28.561N 101.50.685E
Distance sailed: 42.1 NM

We motored close by Malacca (Melaka) after leaving Pulau Besar this morning. No wonder the Chinese and Indians and Arabians all chose Malacca for their major shipping port 500 - 800 years ago. The shallow road stead around the river entrance at Malacca must have been perfect for them. We could envision the area filled with ships at anchor off-loading trade goods and filling with more precious cargo to return to their home countries. It is huge and the perfect depth for anchoring hundreds of the old ships. Today, however, we were dodging fishermen in tiny boats with nets strewn to small floating buoys flying flags. It kept us on our toes to first see a floating flag and then try to identify which little fishing boat went with that flag -- then try to see the line of tiny floating buoys connecting the two, so that I could know which way to alter course in order to avoid fouling their fishing nets. We have an excellent line cutter on our prop shaft, but that cuts only the leading edge of a fishing net. The rest of the net bundles around the prop blades and makes a huge mess. This requires Bill diving with a good knife to cut it away. Our diligent observance paid off today and we managed not to foul any fishing nets.

For future cruisers, take note that we anchored on the eastern side of Pulau Besar in about 5 meter depth, with the small rocky island on the right due north of our anchor spot. Holding was very good in mud. It was a little rolly but not at all uncomfortable. There was free wifi, although very slow. When we left this morning, we sailed around the western side of the island rather than going through the cut. On the western side there was a huge resort complex which apparently is empty or abandoned. The only activity we saw was one security guard. There was no wifi on the western or northern side of the island.

At 15:00 we arrived at out intended anchorage at Cape Rachado. But the slight breeze of well less than 10 kts had whipped up the sea enough that the anchorage did not meet our approval. We would have been rocking and rolling all night and there was no protection should an unexpected blow arrive. So we motored into nearby Admiral Marina near Port Dickson. The clerk in the marina office did not ask for our clearance from our previous port, so I decided to go with the "Don't Ask; Don't Tell" policy. We have not yet cleared back into Malaysia since our short visit to Singapore. We cleared our of Singapore with our next destination listed as Langkawi. In Malaysia you are supposed to clear in and out of each port. That can be such a hassle when the official offices are not located near the marinas. So until someone asks to see our clearance papers, we are going with the original plan of clearing in at Langkawi.

The pontoons of Admiral Marina have seen better days, and friends who were here last month already warned us that the showers are not great; but the swimming pool is very nice. We shower on our boat anyway, so the condition of the marina bathrooms does not matter to us. The nice swimming pool is much more important. Their rate for electricity is double what we paid at Puteri Harbour Marina. We probably will stay here 3 nights before moving on. No real plans at this point. Port Dickson is a popular stopping point for easy access to visit Kuala Lumpur. We have already been to KL twice, so doubt we will make another trip there; but who knows.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Malacca Strait = debris, detritus, garbage floating everywhere

22 August 2010 Sunday
Anchored 1.27.885N 103.16.219E at Pulau Pisang
Distance traveled: 45 NM

First day on western side of Malaysia was great. Not enough wind to sail, so we motored all day. But the sun was shining all day; sky was blue; seas were flat; and the anchorage for our first night out in such a very long time was wonderful. So what if the wind was too light to sail; this day was perfect!

We slipped the dock lines at One Degree 15 Marina at 07:45 and motored the short distance to the Western Immigration Anchorage to clear out with Immigration. The officials promptly arrived at our boat and soon we were free to leave Singapore for the final time and we were on our way at 08:35.

As typical, there were hundreds upon hundreds of cargo ships and tankers in the area. As we continued westward through the Jurong Anchorage, at one point we had to dodge between 5 ships coming at us from every direction. A little exciting but very easily navigated. The anchorage at the end of the Johor Strait between Singapore and Malaysia was full. We motored through between the huge ships at anchor, only having to watch out for occasional speeding tug boats. Then, as we continued westward along the Malaysian coast, we could see the heavy shipping traffic in the Malacca Strait off to our port side. This will continue all the way up to Langkawi. The designated shipping lane is very close in this narrow section of the strait. Heck, we could even see all the way to the Indonesian island of Sumatra on this clear day.

We opted to anchor overnight at the tiny island of Pulau Pisang. This is not an anchorage mentioned in our sailing guide, but we have tracks for 3 other cruising boats who have anchored here. The others anchored on the northwest side of the island, but we decided to anchor on the southeast side because the wind finally started to pick up (to a whopping 10 kts) just as we arrived at the island. The wind was from the NW and we did not want to anchor on a lee shore, so we veered right a mile or two before the island and entered a “deep” channel that leads up near the island. The water depth was 11 meters almost all the way to the island. Then we turned sharply to port over a narrow strip of 3 meter depth before finding another “deep” channel of 8 meters. Since we draw 2.1 meters, we get pretty nervous seeing depths of only 3. Anchoring was a bit unusual because the current was so strong. The current held the boat sideways to the wind.

Bill decided to run the watermaker for the first time since early last October. We had pickled it, of course; and we wanted to run it for a couple of hours before using the finished freshly produced water. It is running now and is producing over 200 liters per hour! It is rated to produce a minimum of 160 liters per hour, and it usually produces 180; but this is the first time we have seen it produce over 200 liters per hour. TDS at 85 ppm. That is better than Evian. It tastes great!

There is a small gentle swell slightly rolling the boat in the current. The fans have cooled the interior to a comfortable temperature. I precooked dinner last night so I just have to heat it up so the galley won’t get too hot. I love it! We will be gently rocked to sleep tonight. I AM SO GLAD TO BE OUT OF MARINAS!!!

23 August 2010 Monday
Anchored 02.06.393N 102.20.554E Pulau Besar (Water Islands at Malacca, a/k/a Melaka)
Distance sailed today: 72 NM

Our first night at anchor required a lot of adjusting to the heat and humidity. That was to be expected since we have spent all our time in this part of the world sleeping in air-conditioning. About 04:00 I moved up to sleep in the cockpit where there was a pleasant cool breeze. By 07:30 we had weighed anchor and were off again. There was no wind until mid-afternoon when it suddenly jumped from 3 knots to 25 knots right on our nose. After half-hour or so it subsided to 12 kts just off the port bow and we were able to motor sail the rest of the day. At 17:45 we arrived at Pulau Besar of the Water Islands, located right at the entrance to Malacca. There is a resort on this island and we were able to connect with their wifi, albeit a VERY slow connection.

Today we passed a continuous stream of floating plastic bags, plastic bottles, beer and soda cans, pieces of lumber, logs and every other imaginable kind of garbage. Most of it harmlessly bounced off our hull, and we altered course to avoid the larger logs and pieces of lumber. What a mess!

The shipping traffic was heavy all day in the shipping lanes to our left, and there were large barges being pulled on very long tow lines by small tugs in the area where we were sailing. Less than half these tugs had AIS transponders. I was glad the day was bright enough to see them clearly. It was very hazy today and we could no longer see Sumatra to the left. In fact, we could not even see Malaysia on our right -- and it was very close by! We saw no other pleasure boats, just cargo ships and barges with tugs.

Then the last 10 miles to the anchorage we dodged small fishing boats and fishing lines strung long distances across our route. The key is to look for a floating flag and then try to find which direction from that flag there might be a series of tiny floats. It is often impossible to see the tiny floats until you are practically on top of them. These fishermen go right up to the boundary of the designated shipping lanes, so there really is no way to avoid them. One must stay constantly vigilant. Excellent reason for not sailing at night because I know these little boats do not have navigational lights. Good thing it is so easy to day hop up this coast.

Marine life is almost gone along this coast. Yesterday the only marine life I saw were large jellyfish. Today I saw 3 fish and 7 birds. No dolphin, but I wouldn't expect there to be any left here since there are almost no fish left in these over-fished waters. I feel sorry for the local fisherman trying to eek out a living from these waters.

There is a ferry service from the resort on Pulau Besar to Malacca. I don't think we will be going. No one who has visited Malacca has told us of any reason why we should want to go there. We will give it a miss.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saying final goodbye to Singapore

The first blog posting I wrote last night seems to have disappeared, so here is my second attempt.

Aaron reserved an hotel room inside the airport for his final night of vacation.  All 5 of us took the MRT (subway) out there, and Bill and I waited inside the airport while Aaron checked into the hotel.  We all enjoyed a Hong Kong style dinner and then all 5 of us (with attendant luggage)  trudged up to the hotel room, luckily not past the front desk clerks.  Some of us rested or slept off and on during the night.  Shortly after midnight Bill took Zachary to the Singapore Airlines counter.  Unlike in Houston, here in Singapore no family member is allowed to go with the unaccompanied minor to the gate; so Zachary had to say goodbye at the check-in counter for his 02:25 flight.  He would arrive in Houston after 23 hours flight time, stopping briefly only in Moscow.  Aaron and Elisabeth slept until the 04:40 check-in for their flight.  They had a more difficult flight schedule of Singapore to Hong Kong to Chicago to Houston, taking a total of 26 hours flight time.  I think the Moscow route is the best way to go -- unless you are flying free on earned points.  Oh, how I miss those days of Bill having almost a million plus reward miles on 2 airlines!  I miss those free flights!

Bill and I enjoyed a leisurely morning in the nice hotel room with king-sized bed and lovely large bathroom before taking the MRT back into the city to begin major provisioning for the upcoming Indian Ocean and Red Sea passages.  We won't begin the Indian Ocean crossing until January, but Singapore is the last place to find western products.  Cruiser lore says that good provisioning can be found in Langkawi and Phuket, but we have American cruising friends in Langkawi now who have scouted the local stores for us.  Based on their findings (or lack thereof) we know that cruiser lore is yet again wrong.  Most of the products we want are not available in Langkawi.  As for Phuket shopping, I cannot believe we will find things in the little town of Phuket that were not sold in the big city of Bangkok.  Western food items are specialty items in this part of the world.  Singapore has a number of stores that stock typical western foods.

After a bit of difficulty we located the Cold Storage supermarket near the Bugis MRT station.  There is another Cold Storage location in Vivo City at Harbourfront near our marina, but the Bugis location is a larger store with a better selection.  We had chanced upon the larger store when we took a wrong exit from the subway when Lynn was with us in June.  Otherwise, we would never have found this store.  (When exiting the turnstiles from the Bugis MRT, turn right to the end of the hallway and then turn right again.  Then take the first escalator up on the left.  At the top of the escalator, turn left again and you will find the larger Cold Storage supermarket.)

We filled our first shopping cart with non-perishable foods; checked out; and arranged for delivery the next afternoon.  Cold Storage delivers from any of their locations free of charge if one purchases a minimum of $150.  Our first shopping cart was over $700 so we were well over the minimum free delivery limit.  Next we filled a second cart with beef and actually identifiable cuts of pork.  In Malaysia, when we found non-halal shops, all we could find were cuts of pork block and pork knuckle.  Here we found actual center-cut pork chops.  Certainly were not passing those up!  Even found a couple packages of baby ribs!

Note to future cruisers: you will only find decent Australian beef in Singapore, and then only if you purchase carefully.  The Australian beef exported to Malaysia is truly horrible.  It is inedible except for the mince (ground beef).  The mince is extremely lean and is good.  We have learned that there are 4 grades of Australian beef.  The top grade is kept for Australians and is not exported.  The next best grade is grain-fed.  The third grade is pasture-fed.  The fourth grade is the inedible tough crap that is exported to Malaysia and Indonesia -- where they have no idea how to butcher it and sell block chunks of meat that are a total waste of money and time.  Cold Storage had whole ribeyes and whole tenderloins of both grain-fed and pasture-fed.  We opted for very well-trimmed whole ribeyes of grain-fed beef, which I cut into thick steaks and vacuum-sealed individually.  Soon our second cart was filled with $400 of beef and pork.  We would have bought more but that was all we could carry back on the subway and bus.  Two days later I bought another whole ribeye of grain-fed beef at the Cold Storage located in Vivo City near the marina.  I also purchased more pork chops at the Giant in Vivo City, but those were not the quality of the chops sold at Cold Storage.  BTW, Giant, Cold Storage and 7-Eleven are all owned by the same company.  So it makes sense that they share some of the same products.  But the higher quality foods are sold only in Cold Storage.

Next step of our provisioning (which should have been done first) was to empty all the food lockers and take a written inventory.  This is the only way to plan provisions for 6 to 8 months.  I had saved my provisioning notes from Panama, so we have a guide to follow to know the quantities needed of each item.  Taking inventory means cleaning out the lockers.  This is the time to throw out any cans that are rusting around the edges.  I found one can of fruit tucked in the back of one cabinet that was on the verge of exploding.  Lucky I didn't wait another day or might have had a huge mess inside that cabinet.   We have had only one food can leak once before, and that was a can of peaches.  This time it was a can of pears (but not yet leaking, thank goodness).  For some reason canned fruit does not seem to last as long as canned vegetables.  We rarely eat canned fruit but I try to have a few cans on hand for long passages when fresh is not available.  In the future I will make a special point of getting rid of any canned fruit when we complete long passages.

Before the kids left, everyone got to do their final favorite activity for the summer.

Aaron enjoying his last Tiger beer
BeBe finally got yellow cheese
Zachary lazing on his last day
And we got the traditional photo of BeBe standing beside the boom of her namesake, S/V BeBe.  We have similar photos of her beside the boom on her 6th birthday in Bonaire and her 8th birthday in Cairns, Australia.  Now we add this one of her a few days after her 9th birthday in Singapore.  Nice way to chart her growth progress through the years.  Hopefully she will have her 10th birthday photo beside the boom in Greece.
BeBe aboard S/V BeBe on 9th birthday in Singapore
 It has been a very busy  4 days since the kids left.  A major job was the provisioning, but there were several other chores.  We have had the fire suppression system for the engine room serviced by NOAH.  To our great relief we learned that it is not halon anymore; it is now CO2 and it good-to-go for at least another 5 years.  Who knows where it will next be serviced.  All the fire extinguishers throughout the boat have been either serviced or replaced.  A few new flares purchased to replace those expired.  NOAH also repaired our leaking dinghy and the patches look like they are holding well.   Heck, they even chemically cleaned it.  Looks better than it has in several years.  We now have a good supply of 2-part hypalon adhesive and a large section of hypalon material for any future dinghy repairs.  We plan to nurse this dinghy through a very long life.

The only thing we needed that apparently is not available in all of Singapore is a USCG approved horseshoe buoy that hangs on the life rail.  Ours is expired and the yellow vinyl cover is deteriorated by UV damage.  We see no point in buying one that will not meet USCG regs when we return to USVI or Puerto Rico.  I think the silly thing is a waste of time anyway.  If one of us falls overboard at sea, then he or she is toast.  Recovering someone at sea is not as simple as it might sound.  Why have a false sense of security just because there is a life buoy hanging on the rail.  We do also have a life sling, and that is more likely to help effect an at-sea recovery than a simple horseshoe.

Bill kitted up and dove on the hull again.  At least the water in this marina is clearer (and cleaner!) than that in Puteri Harbour in Malaysia and the visibility was much better.  He wanted to use underwater adhesive to securely attach the rubber cover for the B & G sonic speed sensor that he broke off when he tried to remove a barnacle a few weeks ago.  However, as luck would have it, when he removed the rubber cover he dropped it.  No way was the water clear enough for him to see a 3/4-inch circle of black rubber on a brown muddy bottom.  So we are attempting to source a replacement cover -- either in Phuket to be shipped to the marina in Langkawi or in Florida to be shipped to Houston and we can pick it up during our trip home in November.  Maxsea provides us with speed-over-ground data, but it is nice to also have the speed-through-the-water data so we can determine when we are sailing in current streams.  Until that black rubber cover is replaced we will not have the speed-through-the-water data.

We also had a seat cushion reupholstered this week.  I had gotten a bit too aggressive when cleaning a spot with a brush and had ruined a small section of a seat cushion in the main saloon.  Unfortunately, this ruined section was in a most visible area and it really bothered Bill to see it daily.  Amel provides a removable cover for the bed in the owner's stateroom, which is never used............well...........because it is a bed.   The only time one might want that cover in place is to take a photo of the room.  Otherwise, the cover is removed so you can make up the bed and sleep on it.  This bed cover is the same upholstery that is in the main saloon, so we had plenty of fabric to recover a seat cushion.  The newly recovered cushion was delivered Thursday evening.

Friday evening 2 very nice ladies delivered a few bottles of the new product RejeX.  Bill loves Corrosion X and uses it on everything electronic or anything that needs corrosion removed.  It is a wonderful product and indispensable on a boat.  The same company now makes RejeX and we plan to apply it as a substitute for wax on the hull during our next haul-out in Turkey.  Since Corrosion X is such a great product, we are hoping that they have gotten the chemicals right on this new RejeX product.  So nice of the ladies to go out of their way and deliver it personally to the marina.

Friday afternoon we asked the marina office to estimate our electricity through early Sunday morning and we paid the tab for the past 12 days.  Today we were cleared out with Customs for 07:00 departure tomorrow morning.  The plan is to depart Singapore at first light tomorrow morning and begin working our way up the Malacca Strait.  The advice we have received from several friends who have already made this trip this year is to NOT sail at night because of all the fishing stakes and fishing nets and unlit small fishing boats outside the designated shipping channel.  Pleasure yachts are not supposed to sail inside a designated shipping channel.  And there is all the fishing junk to avoid outside the shipping channel.  So it is strongly advised to navigate through this area during daylight.  We hope to find places to stop nightly as we head the 450 miles up to Langkawi, with longer slightly longer stays in Port Dickson and Penang.

Singapore has been one of the stars of SE Asia to us.  We like this city very much and will miss it.  We will be posting updates via radio email as we progress up the western coast of Malaysia.  Won't have internet access again for awhile, but email always works to contact us.  Just be patient waiting for a response.