Puteri Harbor to Port Dickson - 160 nautical miles
A combination of anxiety, excitement, nervousness, and happiness... those are all the feelings involved with our FINAL departure from Puteri Harbor. The engine is 98% in working order, still some issues with the fuel pump and some air making it into the fuel lines, but so far it's been very minimal. Most of the issues can be avoided by some routine checks as we're moving.
Our departure from the dock was a breeze; we pushed off around 7 am and were planning a route to Malacca, a haul of about 125 miles. Coming down the strait was easy enough. We had a lovely current in our favor as well as a pleasant breeze blowing straight from our beam. We came around the southern tip of Malaysia within a few hours and after passing Kukup, the seas started picking up and the current switched against our favor which slowed us down by a few kts. As we trekked on, the seas and wind got progressively worse until we decided to bail out and take shelter at Palau Pisang, only a mere 35 miles from our starting point at Puteri.
Palau Pisang is a gorgeous island with great holding ground. We were able to load the dogs up in the dinghy and take them ashore for some island exploring and much needed leg stretching. Once we returned to the boat, it was time to relax, have a bit of wine and cheese and watch one of the nicest sunsets either of us has seen in a while.
The tranquil and peacful setting didn't last long though. Just after sunset we started getting current and waves coming from the stern matched against a strong wind coming from our bow, a pretty nasty situation since the boat is now ALL over the place. We ended up sitting like this for an hour or two then decided we would pull the anchor and head to the other side of the island in hopes of better protection from the waves. 20 minutes later we arrive to our second anchor spot, lots of other fishing boats around. However, instead of finding any kind of protection, we found that the wind, waves and current were all coming from different directions! We had waves hitting up from the side, current running from bow to stern and wind blowing across us AGAINST the waves. It's really an un-fixable situation so we decided to abandon hope and stay where we were, rolling, pitching and heaving from side to side, back and forth for the entire night. Aroud 4am, still haven't been able to sleep, a massive squall starts coming towards us. I was laying down when I heard the wind pick up, then that unmistakable smell of rain... So it was a bustle to pull down the cockpit covers, close hatches and zip up, and just in time. By 4:30am we were sitting in 40kts of wind and torrential downpour. Luckily, we have a GREAT enclosed cockpit so we stayed dry for the most part. The only hard part of being fully zipped up is that it gets pretty damn warm and stuffy with no air flow. But I'll take being dry over a little warm any day.
The storm lasted for about 3 hours at which point the morning sun was starting to shed some light on our situation. We pulled anchor around 8am, with no sleep, beat up and a tiny bit miserable, we started making our way towards Malacca. It's kind of a part of the lifestyle you really just have to accept... things can't be all rainbows and butterflies all the time. Today was a PRIME example of NOT being rainbows and sunshine. Just 2 hours out, we were surging through 5 to 6 foot seas. It was relentless.
I may not have mentioed this yet, but the currents here are pretty insane compared to what I'm personally used to dealing with. The difference in tide height is average of 3 meters (10 feet) between low and high tide. This means that between the points of the slack tide (the highest and lowest points where the tide switches) it is running FAST either in your favor or against. In our case, we were running AGAINST the waves and against the tide. So essentially we were going nowhere fast.
By some stroke of luck, we managed to find some coordinates for an anchorage up a river nearby, the Batu Pahat river. Now from my perspective, I was an immediate "Hell to the NO". The charts we were using showed the coordinates as A) less than 1ft of water and B) Had us driving over LAND to get there. So I already had my reservations about this idea. As we got closer, we quickly realized that this area had been devastated by the recent monsoon and we were sailing through a flood zone. The waves were still pretty horrible. This was pretty much my worst nightmare as I'm navigating unknown terrain with zero visibility in the water and getting rocked by waves frorm the side. What else could possibly go worng?
Funny you should ask. As we approached the mouth of the river, the engine stopped. Not once, but TWICE. The cultprit was traced back to a fitting in the fuel lines on the suction side that had deteriorated and was seeping air in the fuel filter. As a result, we had to throw out the jib to keep from rolling into the rocks. Twice I had to bleed the fuel system of air WHILE rolling like crazy. This was one of the most insane moments of my sailing experience. But at the end of it all... we made it. And it actuall turned out to be a GREAT little anchor spot. Great holding ground and no issues with waves or swell. The occasional fishing boat would pass and ask if we were lost or if we needed help, I'm guessing they didn't see many sailboats as far up as we had gone.
If anyone would be interested in the exact entry and exit route for the river, feel free to comment or message me for the coordinates. It's reall a great area to have in your arsenal if you happen to get caught in rough weather like us.
We ended up staying at this spot for two full days and leaving on the third. During this time we were able to do some repairs to the mast stay lines, some outboard repair and some minor fixes around the Swizzle. Leaving was much nicer considering I knew that the route was good, we left on the outgoing tide, near high, just to makke sure we didn't have any surprises. On exit of the river we threw up sails and had a BEAUTIFUL ride up to Malacca. The stay on the river was WELL worth the effort.
We made it to Malacca in a little over 6 hours which was pretty damn good time. There we anchored outside of the marina, showered and went to the city which we found to be extremely pleasant. We made it back to the boat by midnight, maybe slightly over-served (shocker) but we had a great time regardlees and managed to get up nice and early for our trip up to Port Dickson!
Malacca to Port Dickson was absolutley stunning and so smooth. I think we've payed our toll to the sea gods and they are being nice to us now 😂
We arrived at port around 15:00, hooked up the shore power, cranked on the A/C and had a wonderful, relaxing evening with wine and cheese.
So that's the first chaper of many! We are going to be leaving Port Dickson tomorrow morning and will keep working our way North, towards Thailand. Hopefully the following days will be less eventful but just as beautiful as the last days have been. If so, there will be LOTS of pictures and videos coming you way.
Cheers everyone and we'll update you next week!