Wednesday 21 December 2016


Malaysia 7 November – 4 December

Johor Bahru 7-9 November

Puteri marina at night
Puteri is a marina complex some 30 minute taxi ride from the city of Johor Bahru. Huge amounts of money are being spent making on the area with bars and restaurants in the marina complex and lots of high rise flats being built. We had seen nothing like this in Indonesia and the difference was quite a shock.

After getting back from Singapore, we spent the three days getting the boat ready and provisioning for the trip up the Malaysian coast. We ventured out into the city one night with Wishful Thinking, Matilda and Wirraway to eat at the local hawker stalls. After an hour and a half of exploring the city and not finding any eating place that served alcohol, we bought some cans of beer in a Chinese shop and sat in an alley way eating food from the local hawker stalls, surreptitiously drinking cans of beer with our meal. After dinner we walked 20m to the end of the alley and came out to a street that was full of restaurants and bars. How did we miss that!

Port Dickson 11- 19 November

We left the next morning for Port Dickson and anchored halfway, opting not to sail overnight due the number of fishing boats and nets.. We tied up at the marina the next afternoon which was attached to a hotel complex, complete with swimming pool. The marina was a long walk from anywhere but the rally had organised some coach trips for the 100 or so participants so that did not matter.

Kuala Lumpa

War Memorial
The caves
Our first trip out was to Kuala Lumpa. We made several short stops around the city to see the palace, the war memorial, a mosque and the Petronas towers – all short stops just to take pictures. The main stop was at the Hindu caves, high above the city in a natural cave that has been used as a temple for hundreds of years. An over enthusiastic use of concrete to build structures in the cave had not done anything to enhance the look of the caves – they really need to change their builders.

Roasting chestnuts
Chinese market
The final stop was in the city centre to allow people time to go shopping. As we had all been to Singapore it held little attraction for us and so we used the time to have a late lunch. The most interesting part of the day was exploring the Chinese quarters of the city, with its traditional markets. We even found a stall selling roasted chestnuts which I could not resist – very much a reminder of Christmas in London. Apart from the market, we were not particularly taken with KL although with more time we could have found some interesting places – not something you can do when on a coach trip.


Baba-Nonya restaurant
Malacca is a very old trading post, used as a stopping off point for ships sailing along the Malacca straits (it is halfway between India and China).  The coach dropped us off in the morning and was not due to pick us up again until 7pm so we had time to explore. We quickly ditched the guide in favour of wandering around on our own, and so did many other people. Our first priority after visiting the Dutch castle was to find somewhere for lunch – we wanted to eat the local Baba-Nonya cuisine in the Chinese quarters. The Baba-Nonya are decedents of mixed marriages between the Chinese and local Malay people and have their own fusion of culture embracing parts of both which goes back hundreds of years.

After lunch, Catherine and I left the rest of our little group to go to visit one of the Baba-Nonya houses which has been turned into a museum. The guide was very informative, talking us through how they lived, their religion and in particular the marriage ceremony which would last twelve days. All very elaborate with the bride wearing a different type of dress each day. The Baba-Nonya culture continues today.

Rickshaws are highly decorated
After a quick coffee we set off for the maritime museum only to find it had closed for the day but we did bump into Bruce and Debs from Matilda who had been for a tour on one of the local rickshaws. After extolling the virtues of the trip and the very knowledgeable driver, Catherine and I decided we would do the same, and with the same driver. He was nearly sixty and we did worry about whether he would make it around the city but he explained he had been doing this for thirty five years and loved it.

Our rickshaw and guide
Indeed he was very good at explaining both the history and the different buildings. It enabled us to take a personal tour, stop where we wanted and have a detail history of the places we visited. Well worth it and it gave us a rest from walking around.
Meeting for drinks

We met the others back at Sid’s pub on the river at 6am for a drink and a quick bite, exchanging our experiences of the afternoon. We finally joined all the rest of the tour back on the coach at 7pm after a jolly good day out.

Pangkor 21 – 26 November

Pangkor was 120 miles away and we (and about six other boats) opted to sail overnight rather than split it into two day sails. To avoid the fishing boats, we had to sail on the edge of the traffic separation lanes where we knew the fisherman would avoid and since they are wide lanes, we would be out of the main shipping traffic.

At 11pm we received a VHF call from another boat (Argonaut) who had wrapped a discarded fishing net around their propeller. With no wind, they were going to find a shallow piece of water to anchor so that they could dive overboard the next morning to cut it loose. They reported a lot of junk in the water where they were and all the other boats then tried to avoid that area. An hour later they had managed to free the net and were once again on the move, without the need to dive overboard (not something you would even think about at night).

We were soon in the same area but a mile to the east and came across the discarded nets and other junk floating in the water. Catherine was once again on the bow with a torch trying to avoid the debris for an hour before we came through that. We could relax again, for a while at least.

We had been tracking a storm for a couple of hours and it looked as though we would miss it. As it approached from the west, it started to build, and head straight for us. We had no way round this and it is the worst thing at sea – thunderstorms at night when the whole sky lights up with the lightening and the sound of the thunder reverberates around the boat.  We had four hours of this while visibility in the driving rain was near zero.  After very little sleep that night, we arrived in the anchorage around midday, happy to be at anchor and to be able to rest.

The marina manager (James) looked after us very well, finding us a berth the next day and providing five nights free berthing (he asked some of the resident boats to move out for the week to accommodate us). He also arranged two nights of food and entertainment  at his expense. The live band went down very well and had most of us on our feet dancing the night away. We were very impressed with how James managed the marina and it is a place where we would be happy to leave the boat when we go back to England in April.

Visit to the Island

The marina manager had arranged a trip to Pangkor Island, a short ten minute ferry ride across the sea. It is a very small island with a Buddhist temple, a ship building yard and a very good restaurant where they were taking us for lunch.

Boat builder at work
The island still has a very traditional feel to it – houses on stilts
Fishing boats built by hand
over the water and a boat yard where they build the traditional wooden fishing boats. As yachties, we were all interested in watching the largely extinct skills of wooden boat building, man handling huge beams of wood and getting them into the right shape. They were building a large fishing boat by hand like many of those that we had seen out at sea.

Traditional houses built over the water
Lunch on the beach
The highlight of the day was lunch on the beach in a beautiful bay with white sands overlooking some small and very attractive islands. The lunch consisted of eight courses, with new dishes being brought out one after the other. It made for a very relaxing afternoon and the food was the best we had eaten for months.


The next day we took the coach trip to visit the historic town of Ipoh. The stop off to see the railway station and the clock tower (built by the British) was short and we spent a few hours in the town – more than enough time. There only remains one really old street which is quite short and houses souvenir shops mainly.  Not too exciting.

Buddhist temple in the cave
The gardens at the back of the cave
The trip to the Buddhist temple built in the caves on the way back was worth the visit, mainly for the gardens at the other side of the caves. The caves had better builders than the ones in KL and there were some interesting stalagmites. By the time we left there we were ready to go back to the boat – we really had enough of coach trips and guided tours.

The castle
Monsoon rains bouncing off the turrets
Fortunately some of the others on the coach wanted to stop at acastle on the way back and this turned out to be the best part of the day. The castle was built by a Scotsman some 150 years ago for his wife but never completed. When he died she sold it and went back to live in Scotland. We climbed up to the castle just as the monsoon rains started and spent an hour exploring the castle and reading the well documented history of the family and the castle.

Makeshift rain coats

When it was obvious the rain was not going to stop any time soon and we had to be back on the coach, we fashioned some rain coats out of black plastic bags we found in a store cupboard. They sort of worked but we still ended up sitting on the coach, soaked by the heavy rain with wet feet from wading through the pools of water that had accumulated. At least it was warm and in the air conditioned coach we dried out quite quickly.

We left in the next afternoon to sail twenty miles to an anchorage leaving sixty miles for the final leg to Penang the next day.

Penang 27 – 2 December

We had been asked to arrive in Penang on 27 November and anchor off Jerejak Island. There was a marathon the following day and all the boats sailed under the bridge connecting Penang to the mainland as the marathon runners passed overhead. It was quite a site with all sails up and flags flying on the boats – shame that we got the timing wrong and there were no runners on the bridge. 
However we were received enthusiastically by the marathon marshals on the bridge.

Penang is one of the main tourist attractions in Malaysia, an old historic town owned at one time by the Dutch and then the British as port for shipping sailing along the Malacca straits, the gateway to the far east, Australia and New Zealand.  It is still a very busy and important shipping channel with a constant stream of ships passing in both directions.

We anchored off Straits Quay, a new marina complex with lots of shops, bars and restaurants. The anchorage was exposed to the north but the weather was calm. Catherine opted to get the bus into the old historic Georgetown with Bev (Wirraway) and Ginny (Wishful Thinking) while the men spent the day on boat maintenance – it is much easier when there is no-one else on the boat. It was a good decision since Catherine and the others effectively mapped out the town, found out about the bus routes and where we would want to go.


Hawker stall
The jetties where people still live
Street art
The next day we went with Wirraway into Georgetown on the bus. We headed off for the old quarters and spent the morning exploring the old streets together with the street art that is a feature of the town. We ended up at the quay to see the houses built over the water along the jetties that stretch out from the shore. Very attractive part of the town and we sampled some of the local food in one of the hawkers stalls.

Stret art telling the history of the Penang

More history told in art form

Finding the restaurant for lunch was a bit more tricky since the ones we had fancied were either closed, shut down or had moved. But nonetheless we found a good place to eat and we spent the afternoon taking a walking tour from the Lonely Planet guide to see the rest of the sights. We did not have enough time to visit the museum and planned to do that another day.

On the next visit to Georgetown we were joined by Wishful Thinking and Wirraway and after lunch together, Catherine and I headed back to the museum. We spent a couple of hours learning about the history of the town and all the people who had settled here – from India, China, Indonesia and eight other countries, all living happily together. The entry to the museum was one Ringgit (about 20p) and was one of the best we have visited with the story of the island well told.

We decided we would stay in Georgetown for a drink before heading back to the marina. It took us an hour and a half to find somewhere we fancied and spent an hour or so relaxing in a sofa being served cocktails. A real find, and better still, the bus back to the marina stopped right outside (we only found this out while we were sitting there and saw our bus stop outside).

Time to Move

The following day and while Catherine went into the marina complex to do some shopping I elected to stay on the boat to finish off some of the boat jobs. The wind came up together with a rough sea in the exposed anchorage and doing anything on the boat was a challenge. When Catherine came back at 6pm, we decided that we could not stay there and headed off with Wirraway and Matilda to the Junk anchorage (where the junk boats anchor) just as it was getting dark. Not an ideal time to leave but staying where we were would mean no sleep and the weather was not going to improve over the next couple of days.

We kept a careful watch for small fishing boats and nets on the five mile journey and we eventually found a place in the crowded anchorage. At least the anchorage was calm, sheltered from the waves and we left our cockpit light on all night so returning fishing boats could clearly see us. We slept well that night unlike Wirraway who had a junk boat dragging towards them in the middle of the night with the other junk boats shouting to wake up the captain of the boat before he hit someone.

Together with Matilda and Wirraway we left there the next morning to go back to anchor between Jerejak Island and Penang Island and met El Gato on the way, escaping from the uncomfortable anchorage at Straits Quay. We found shelter near the top the island, out of the wind and nicely protected from the waves.

A short dinghy ride to a concrete pontoon allowed us to walk into the nearby town for lunch and buy some provisions. We got a taxi back (it was a long hot walk) and we did not fancy carrying back all the provisions to the jetty. Wishful Thinking joined us later that day.

An Early Christmas Lunch

We all agreed that a lunch at the Eastern Oriental Hotel would be a good idea. Some of the boats wanted to go in early to do some sightseeing before lunch, others wanted to do some shopping and Catherine and I decided to go directly to the restaurant. We took the dinghy to the marina and called our first Uber taxi which duly arrived five minutes later. We were impressed and the driver was very friendly, having recently become an Uber taxi driver. Shame he did not read the destination correctly and took us to the wrong place and then managed to take us through the busiest roads on route to the restaurant (he was not a local). We arrived twenty minutes late (although everyone waited for us) and we had spent nearly an hour in the taxi for what should have been a twenty minute ride.

Lunch was a carvery with lamb, pork and beef together with Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes – quite a treat after eating local food for nearly five months. It felt like a lunch you would have leading up to Christmas in England except for the hot weather.

Afterwards a few of us headed up to a hotel at the top of the Penang as it was the start of the jazz weekend. We sat in the bar listening to a local band and deciding that we would like to bring the boats up into the bay the next evening so we could hear the main event which was to be outside, just off the beach. Sounded ideal, being at anchor listening to the music – what could be better.

However, the weather once again intervened and as we brought out boats up the next afternoon, the northerly wind once again had come up with a nasty swell entering the bay and no-one fancied that. So with that idea out of the window we carried on to Bunting Island to anchor and we had a very peaceful night. It also meant that we only had forty miles to go the next day to get to Langkawi which was another advantage.

Langkawi 4 December

We arrived in mid-afternoon and tied up in our berth. It was the end of the Malaysian rally and we had booked a week in the marina so we could relax and do nothing if we wanted. That is something that is difficult on a rally because you are always on the move or exploring the area when you arrive somewhere with limited time at each place. But now we had nothing we had to do or places we had to go – we have plenty of time!

Pool at Rebak Resort
In fact we have more time that we planned, mainly because we had run out of pages in our passports and needed to renew them to get a visa for Thailand. We were not able to renew them earlier since we needed the passports to enter Langkawi as it is a Free Trade area (everything is duty free). Once we had sent them off for renewal, we were not able to leave Langkawi until they return which could be up to six weeks. Well there are worse places to be trapped!

Sunday 11 December 2016


Singapore 4 – 7 November

After four months at anchor in Indonesia we were all looking forward to visiting Singapore and staying in a hotel. Also, you can buy anything in Singapore and we had some boat spares and a camera that we wanted to buy. We also managed to arrange a berth in the marina at Puteri so we could leave the boat without worrying about the weather.

Little India at night
We went with Wishful Thinking (Mick and Gin), Wirraway (Gary and Bev) and Matilda (Debs and Bruce) and we decided to get a taxi to the bus station and then take a bus across the bridge to Singapore. When we got to the bus station, we found that the cost of a taxi from there to our hotel was about £20 and it would mean we would get through customs much quicker and to our hotel earlier. The journey including forty five minutes queuing on the bridge only took an hour and a half and we were in our hotel in little India. Not surprisingly it is the Indian quarter of Singapore and cheap hotels.

We had agreed with the others that we would go to the chandlers the first day to buy all our spares and then go to the Sim City, a shopping mall devoted to selling electronic items.


As Catherine and I were walking along the street in the monsoon rains, we took cover in a restaurant where by chance so had the others. Just as well as none of us could actually find the chandlers where we had agreed to meet and it took a good hour of walking around before we figured out the address system in Singapore.

With some of the parts purchased we went off to Sim City, just to have a look at the cameras. Sim City was huge with all five floors selling every piece of electronic equipment you could imagine. Such a shock after Indonesia where buying bread is a challenge.

Catherine and I had both agreed we would not buy it that day but just to do the research. Needless to say that we bought a camera in the second shop we went into but at least that meant no more looking.

The Gardens

Artificiall trees seen during the day
We took the metro to the Marina Bay Gardens and met up with the others in the evening. Each night they put on a light show to music and it is a big tourist draw. The show was spectacular with big artificial trees in the centre lit up with multi coloured lights that changed with the music – more in keeping with Las Vegas than SE Asia. It was very well done. We all had dinner in the Hawker Centre in the park where you can buy Chinese and Indian food from a variety of stalls, all freshly cooked to order.

Exploring Singapore

The next day we all went our separate ways.  Catherine and I were going to do a walking tour of the city but not before I had travelled across town to buy some spares for our outboard where amazingly they had the right parts for our 16 year old engine. Finding the place was a challenge but it was a good two hours well spent – otherwise we would be replacing the engine.

We met for a coffee in the centre of town where there are 27 huge shopping malls just along one street. We are not shoppers so we quickly left there and set for our walking tour.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel with a boat on top
Modern architecture
The mix of old colonial building and stunning modern designs is very well done – one of the more attractive cities we have been to for a long time. We found a restaurant overlooking the river and while we had lunch we watched the dragon boat races where 750 competitors from around the world had gathered – including a team from the UK. The event was over two days so we only saw a few of the races but it made for a lively atmosphere.

International Dragon boat races

Raffles Hotel
Dirnks at Raffles
That night we met up with the others at Raffles Hotel, famous for  inventing the Singapore Sling. The prices are a shock but it is a very nice place to have a drink and most of us opted for the “on tap” menu – basically a fixed price for drinks for a two hour period and they keep filling up your glass when empty. Catherine did not fancy the “on tap” menu ordered a martini. Dazzled with a huge array of gins (excpet the one she actually wanted),  Catherine selected one after discussion with the waiter. It turned out to be their most expensive which we found out when we came to pay the bill. It cost more than my entire drinks bill for the evening!

Infinity Pool at the top of the hotel
Drinks at Marina Bay Sands Hotel
We spent the next day in the art gallery in the morning followed by a trip up to the bar on Marina Bay Sands Hotel – the 27th floor which is on the ship that straddles the three towers of the hotel. It is one of those must do tourist things and gave us a good view of the city. It was a very relaxing place to have a drink before we set off to meet the others at the jazz concert in the botanical gardens. It was a shame we did not have more time to explore the gardens since they looked wonderful. We sat and enjoyed the music in perfect weather listening to a very good band.

Concert in the park

Jazz at the Blue Elephant

Catherine and I wanted to go and eat in a restaurant in town while the others opted for a Hawkers market. We had loosely discussed meeting at a Blue Elephant jazz bar in the evening but had no idea where it was. After dinner we strolled along the river for about an hour on our way back to the metro when we spotted Gary and Bev in a bar – the Blue Elephant jazz bar. It was an open mic night so anyone could get up and sing or take over an instrument from the band.

The first guitarist who joined the group played a joint lead with the band’s other guitarist and they were so good together we guessed that must have practised together. But apparently not according to the band’s singer – people just come up and play. There are some talented people about.

A twelve year got up and started tuning up and the guitar looked too big for him. We did wonder why his parents let him out at midnight on a Sunday and were about to leave just as he started playing and we sat down again – captivated. He was alternating lead between himself and the other lead guitarist and filling in as rhythm in between – so confident for one so young (and talented). We stayed until the evening descended into Karaoke at which point the drunks had taken over. We had missed the last metro back to the hotel and took a taxi with Gary and Bev.

Back to Malaysia

The final day we I had to go and buy the new anchor. We had lost confidence in our existing anchor opting for one of the new designs which will reset even if they are pulled out – something that was very attractive after our previous experience. I had found a shop that had the anchor we wanted (I tried in Malaysia before we left but to no avail) and had to get a taxi back to the hotel – carrying a 27kg anchor on the metro was not going to work. Even the taxi driver was not happy about putting the anchor in his taxi when he felt the weight of it. We spent the rest of the morning idling our time away before getting the taxi back to the bus station in Malaysia and then a short taxi ride back to our boat, still safely tied up in the marina.

Now we could start thinking about our sail up the Malaysian coast towards Thailand.

Saturday 10 December 2016

Final weeks in Indonesia

Final Weeks in Indonesia  18-31 October 2016

Parai Beach 18 – 20 October

We arrived at 10am in the morning after our night sail, looking forward to spending a few days at anchor outside this upmarket resort. We anchored and one hour later we left as the anchorage was exposed to the SE trade winds and rolling waves were coming into the anchorage. Apart from the boat rolling violently so sleeping would be impossible, we were not going to leave the boat in an anchorage that was not safe. We sailed thirty miles further north and sheltered in the lee of the land making for a comfortable and safe anchorage. We missed out on all the activities at Parai beach but we had enough of poor anchorages.

It was a relaxing couple of days although the water was not clear so no swimming. Just relaxing, reading and BBQs off the back of the boat. Just what we needed.

Penuba 21 -23 October

Paradoxically as we travelled further north towards the equator (we were less than 100 miles south at this point) the weather got cooler. Cloudy skies reduced the heat during the day but at night we started getting more thunder and lightning. We sailed over night to Penuba and managed to avoid going through the storms using our radar to track them. We could see the lightening all around us which does not make for relaxed sailing.

Children loved the smash the egg game
Penuba is a small fishing village and they pulled out all the stops to entertain us with a day of traditional games. Three legged races, smash the egg on someone’s face (and hope that it is one of the hard boiled eggs) and dancing with a tennis ball balanced between two people. It had the feel of an old village fete and the locals seemed to really be enjoying themselves. It was a wonderful atmosphere.

Three fast three legged race
Start of the tennis ball dancing
Catherine and her partner won the tennis ball dancing competition after dancing through two songs without dropping the ball. I managed three lines of a song before dropping it – I blame the mayor who was obviously not a good partner.  We did not take part in the three legged race- the locals were far too good and it was on concrete and ran at hell of a pace.

After an enjoyable afternoon we had dinner in a local café. Twenty people for dinner in a café that probably served no more than five people in a whole evening. They did a great job, clearly overwhelmed but did not give up. We were then treated to an evening of music, with sofas set out for the rally under an awning.

Retrieving the coins from the flour
After some misunderstanding, the locals staged another morning of games for us the next day. I competed with two locals and another member of our rally to eat half a packet of dry crackers a boiled egg in the fastest time. No competition against the locals. The final game we were not invited to join in and the reason became obvious. It involved taking out coins from to a fruit covered in some sticky black substance using just your mouth which meant your face ended up covered with the stuff. 

A messy game

That was messy but the next bit was that all the coins where then put in a tray of flour and the teams had to retrieve them again using just their mouths. The flour and the sticky black substance made one hell of a mess of the competitors!

Once again we were sad to leave the locals but we had to carry on to our next destination.

Benan 25 – 27 October

Houses on stilts over the water
The day trip up to Benan was uneventful, another day motoring. The island itself is a tourist island with mainly Chinese people coming for weekends from Singapore and staying in the eco-lodges. You could see the difference tourism makes to an island – the infrastructure was in better shape and it had a wealthier feel to it – relative to the other islands although many people still lived in traditional houses on stilts over the sea.

Baby turtle bred in captivity
A rescued turtle
One of the main events planned was to release turtles back into the sea that had been either bred there or rescued. We must have released about 30 turtles back into the wild, some very small and some that were massive. Who knows how many will survive but it is good to see conservation of the sea in Indonesia.

Climbing the greasy pole
The villagers turn out in force
The island is very small and a couple of hours walking around pretty much  had the place covered. In the afternoon they staged some games on the jetty which attracted all of the villagers. Young boys tried to climb the greasy pole put up in the middle of the harbour (none succeeded) and there were boat races which we were invited to join in. There were two to each boat and our role was to and beat the drum while a local woman stood up and rowed. They insisted that we wore life jackets while the woman standing up rowing did not have one!

Catherine getting with the beat
The final stages of the race


The final dinner was held in the school yard and once again the food was excellent. We were treated with traditional entertainment and dancing with all of us invited to join in. I have got past any inhibitions in my dancing as everyone now knows I cannot dance and it has become a source of much amusement.

Equator Party 24 October

Neptune and his helper
The baptisim
We left Benan with just twenty miles to go to the equator and we found a good anchorage in a bay that did not exist on the charts,
almost exactly on the equator. In fact the monument on the island marking the equator was just behind us on the beach where we held the party. For the people crossing the equator for the first time, there was an initiation ceremony performed by a Norwegian dressed up at as Neptune. Each of the newbies had to show that they were worthy people and were then baptised with cold water.

We all brought dishes to share on the beach and Mick from Wishful Thinking brought a huge Kingfish he had caught on route – the first fish anyone had caught for months.  Everyone was in high spirits and we finished off the evening with fireworks that would not have been out of place in an organised display.  Wishful Thinking had found them through an illicit source in Bali - they are illegal in Indonesia. I am sure that the locals enjoyed watching the fireworks for miles around.

It was a great party and a good celebration of being back in the northern hemisphere – seemed like home again.

Tanjung Pinang 27 – 31 October.

Our last stop in Indonesia! We anchored in the river outside the city and it was the dirtiest river we had come across – rubbish floating up and down, plastic bags in the water. Just awful and lots of people had their anchors fouled by the rubbish, needing to keep re-anchor until they found a clean spot.

We were guests of the city to watch the events
The city was hosting a festival while we were there and we were invited as guests to watch the events. After two hours of watching a series of events, I had to go for a walk as falling asleep in front of all the other invited guests would not have been good form. Catherine however was really enjoying the performances and stayed. It was all well staged but just a little too long.

Lunch at the local restaurant
We passed a few days in the city with our friends from the rally, having lunch at the local restaurant where the locals ate (very good) and wandering around town.

Final speeches
The final night was a big dinner for three rallies – ours, the other (rival) Indonesian rally and a rally of motor boats from Singapore. We arrived 30 minutes late for the dinner (with most of the people from our rally who had been given the wrong time) in the middle of the speeches. That was unfortunate since I was supposed to be giving one of the speeches! However, I managed to tag on at the end and thank the hosts for their hospitality and present a flag signed by all the rally participants – the traditional gift for the hosts. The mayor seemed genuinely pleased and we had the normal round of photos of the two of us holding up the flag.

The night continued with a parade of brightly lit boats cruising along the beach which were beautifully decorated parading along the beach.  In all some 180 boats passed by and it was confirmed that it had achieved a world record for the biggest parade of ships in the Guinness Book of Records. This was all part of the efforts to attract tourists to the city, especially from Singapore which is just 50 miles further north.

We retired back to the hotel where we left our dinghies for drinks with all the other people from our rally. The skies blackened and at the first sound of thunder we all took to our dinghies and back to our boats.  Just as well as the wind came up to thirty five knots with a series of huge thunderstorms.

Another Bad Night

Mayhem ensued for the next four hours. Some twenty of the motor boats from Singapore all dragged and once a boat starts dragging they take off at a rate of knots – helped by the strong tide and thirty knot winds. And the motor boats were not the only ones that dragged as some of our rally also dragged (but thankfully not us this time). Everyone was on the deck of their boats and we ran our engine so that we could dodge boats dragging towards us. As the tide changed, all the boats reacted differently, and we had to motor out of the way of two boats, anchored far away from us but we all started swinging to a central point. It as bizarre as boats were lying at every different angle to the wind with seemingly no pattern.

To make matters worse, the motor boats that had dragged were motoring around the anchorage trying to find somewhere to anchor and several times we had boats a few metres away that were going to anchor right next to us and other boats. There was a lot of shouting.  And when politely asking people not to anchor so close did not work, many boats resorted to the shorted version consisting of two words. That always seemed to work.

At 3am the weather had calmed down and we re-anchored away from all the other boats, just so we could sleep without worrying. One of the worse nights we had had for a long time and we were all itching to leave but had to wait a further day for our port clearances before heading off to Malaysia.

Everyone was concerned about crossing the straits to Singapore, the busiest shipping lane in the world. It is an amazing sight with a regular flow of huge ships crossing the shipping lanes which are just 1.5 miles wide in places with ships going in both directions. However, we all crossed with relative ease and with great relief. We carried on around to the north of Singapore to Puteri Harbour in Malaysia.

We could now look forward to visiting Singapore before starting up the coast of Malaysia.