Friday, 28 February 2014

Nongsa Point

Hi everyone,
We are now in a pen at Nongsa Point Marina. 01 11.81N 104 05.84E. We had a great passage from Tanjung Piai - made great by the last three hours (of eight) being a wonderful sail.

Zen Again Track
Note the nice tacking angles!
We departed the anchorage at Tanjung Piai at 0745 this morning. The anchor and chain was very muddy indeed. No time to worry about that because two large cargo vessels were transiting the nearby channel which we had to cross. With that done we motor-sailed through a vast array of anchored vessels before again having to deal with several ships entering and leaving another adjacent port. To this point we had the tide against us and a NE breeze of 10-15 knots.

Dodging Traffic

Only a few AIS targets with CPA<1nm - no pressure!
All sorts of ships
As we approached the southern tip of Singapore a F15 Eagle was doing "circuits" above us at high speed, then a Singapore Navy patrol boat overtook us about 50m to port. They do like showing off their military hardware.

Singaporean Patrol Ship

Singaporean F15 pulling Gees

Once around the southern tip of Singapore we had to motor directly into a building breeze. After about 4 miles we took the opportunity of a gap in ship traffic to bear away and cross the shipping lanes - under sail and motor off! Superb. On the other side we had to set a course ENE which was directly into a veered breeze. We motored for about an hour, passing through a fairly narrow gap where there were impressive overfalls from the 3 knots of tide we had with us there. Once through the gap we decided to sail to Nongsa since motoring was now into a 20 knot and increasing wind.

We had a great sail to Nongsa under single reefed main and part-furled No 2 headsail. The wind built to above 25 knots but the boat was very manageable with this rig. The 1 knot of tide with us certainly heaped up the seas though! Our track looks great - nice 90 degree tacks (which are due entirely to the tide assistance). We tacked in and out between the Indonesian shore and the edge of the shipping lane. On arrival we followed our previous tracks into the marina. There's a nasty reef close to the entry which we managed to avoid.

Once in the marina we spotted uniformed staff waving us to our pen. As we've seen before Nongsa staff think everyone wants to moor stern-to, so if not one has to do a quick fender side swap. We avoided that since the next pen was free and suited our preferred orientation and our fenders. Once tied up alongside one of the staff identified himself as the clearing-in man. Marvellous! He stepped aboard and within 10 minutes we were cleared-in to Indonesia. He was happy with the copy of our CAIT (didn't want to see an original) and stated that extra crew listed on the CAIT don't matter (but undocumented ones do). Too easy.

Now to find a shower to wash off the salt and a bar to tone-down the "I've been sailing" grin.

Trust all's well where you are!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Tanjung Piai

Hi everyone,
We are now anchored at Tanjung Piai, at the southernmost tip of the Malay Peninsula. We are at 01 16.14N, 103 21.51E, in 5m of water. - only about 75nm to the equator! We arrived at 1710 and half an hour later had a light rain shower to wash down the decks for us. Good timing.  Our track is shown in green below...

Zen Again Track
The passage was pretty good compared to Zen Again's other passages in this area. We motored for about 55% of the time, and of that 2/3 was motor-sailing. So we sailed with the motor OFF for 45% of the passage which was great. The wind barely got above 12 knots true but was almost always ahead of the beam which helps in light winds. We logged 144nm (for an average of 4.7 knots) but covered 14nm less over the ground, so overall had the tide against us.

Many big cargo ships passed us as we proceeded SE just outside the shipping lane. We encountered about 8 tug/barge combos, but only a handful of fishing vessels. We saw very few fishing nets - far fewer than during Sail Malaysia in November 2012. Robert is rapidly getting his head around the lights shown by the various vessels, including the somewhat random lights shown by fishing vessels.

The defining feature of the passage was the haze.  Visibility was reduced to less than 5nm for most of the passage.  In the small hours of the morning we could smell the smoke and the loom of the masthead tricolour light showed smoke streaming past the masthead.  There were securite broadcasts on the VHF warning all vessels of reduced visibility and most of the big ships did seem to be moving slower than usual.

The boat went very well, despite still having a lot of barnacles awaiting removal. She reaches very well under full main and #2 headsail once the wind get to 10 knots or so.

Tomorrow we will head towards Nongsa Point Marina on the Indonesian island of Batam. We plan to spend a couple of days there. Hopefully our papers are in order for clearing in to Indonesia.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Departed Admiral Marina

Hi everyone,
This morning we cleared out of Malaysia and departed Port Dickson towards Nongsa Point, Indonesia. Clearing out was quite straightforward, with visits first to the harbour master then to the customs office next door where we were given our port clearance certificate. From there we took a taxi to the Ferry Terminal where we visited the immigration office and had our passports stamped. At the Ferry Terminal we met the crew of another yacht also clearing out and heading south. They are Malaysian but have their boat serviced in Singapore. They gave us a lift on the back of their ute and we had a chicken and rice brunch with them before returning to the marina.

After paying the marina bill and final preparations we departed the marina at 1120 this morning. We motored for the first hour, then had three hours sailing with a light SSW wind. We were only doing 3 to 4 knots but it was a pleasant sail. At 1600 we had to turn the motor on when the wind decreased and we were only making 2.5 knots boat speed. We've been motoring since then, doing 5.5 knots with help from the full main and #2 jib.

We are proceeding along the edge of the traffic separation zone, watching the steady stream of big ships passing by. It's very hazy here today and visibility is only 5 miles at best. So far we've seen very few fishing nets and no fishing boats. Hopefully that will continue overnight.

Trust all's well where you are.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Aboard again at Admiral Marina

Hi everyone,
Yesterday Robert and I flew up from Perth to Kuala Lumpur and took a taxi from the airport to Admiral Marina in Port Dickson. Twas pleasant not to have to do two flights to get to the boat.

Zen Again was in very good order apart from a lot of underwater growth on the hull. No mould below and only a slight accummulation of dust on the deck. Interestingly there was fur and droppings on deck. Perhaps a friendly rat guarded the boat in our absence!

Yesterday afternoon we went for a swim to start cleaning off the growth. Lots of barnacles unfortunately but we're getting rid of them in stages. I'm not surprised at the growth since the boat has been static for the over six months with only a couple of in-the-water cleaning sessions. The PropGold applied by Precision Shipwrights at Boat Lagoon is working very well - less growth than on the hull around it.

After the working swim we retired to the resort pool to recover. That was good! Then we further retired to the bar, which was even better. Like they say, cruising is yacht maintenance in exotic locations. Nice that this location has a pool and a yachty's bar! ;)

Between all the relaxation we've also been into town to reprovision the boat. We had plenty of canned food but needed to get milk, bread, fresh veggies etc. Last night we sorted through all the food aboard and prepared "meal bags" - ziplock bags with a can of stew, a can of veggies and a can of fruit which comprise our main daily meal.

We replaced the ATF lubricant in the engine gearbox, then checked oil and coolant levels and ran the engine for half an hour. All good. We printed out the final version of our CAIT, which arrived via email from Isle Marine Services. We obtained copies of some of our outwards clearance forms from the marina office and filled them in and scanned everything for future reference.

We are gradually going through our "prepare for sea" checklist which, in addition to the above, has so far included:
- mount/check all safety gear (lifering, lifesling, liferaft, EPIRBs, PLBs, torches, knives, jackstays, lanyards etc;
- riigged the boom brake and reaching sheets, and unlocked the headsail and staysail furlers;
- inflated the dinghy on the foredeck and lashed it down;
- checked all electrical systems including instruments, autopilots, VHF, HF, laptop, iPad etc;
- checked fuel and water tank levels;
- washed down the deck and cleaned the solar panels; and
- hoisted our ensign and courtesy flag.

Tomorrow morning we'll go into town to clear out of Malaysia. We plan to depart Admiral Marina late tomorrow morning. There has been a sailing breeze for the last two days - during the day at least - and we hope there will be tomorrow too.

Trust all's well where you are!