Monday, November 17, 2008

Scrubbing in the rain

Joy of joys, as I left Klang the wind started blowing and with the newly repaired main-sail I was perfectly prepared to take full advantage. I'd cleaned the servo-rudder in Klang so the wind-steering was able to free me from demands of the wheel, a great start.

There was an unbelievably thick layer of barnacles encasing the rudder. Even though the water looked horribly polluted around Singapore, the barnacles seemed to love it. As well as rudder barnacle removal, I'd spent some of my time in Klang cleaning the hull - the water-line was still filthy from my stay in Johur Bahur and the sun seemed to have burned the muck into the gel-coat. The problem with trying to clean the boat in Klang was that as soon as a fishing boat passed, its wake reapplied an oily residue to the waterline. Klang had many good things going for it, but the dirty and rubbish-strewn river wasn't one of them.

The cleaning bug seemed to have infected me. As soon as the inevitable downpour started, out came the Jif - yes my bottle is so old it's still called Jif. I seem to have developed a frenzy of boat cleaning/repairing/improving prior to the festive season in time for my migratory visitors.

From Klang it was 95 miles to the nearest anchorage - an overnight trip. One advantage of not having a dusk deadline is that there's no need to maintain 5 knots+. It was a pleasant change to be sailing along at 2-3 knots under wind-vane steering while I liberally applied cleaner around the cockpit. By mid-afternoon the thunderstorm passed, leaving clear skies, a cleaner boat, little wind and a lumpy sea, but I suppose two out of four isn't too bad.

As I continued sailing into the evening, I still had 40 miles to go to the anchorage and the prospect of motoring through the night wasn't particularly appealing. I could heave-to or drift, but there were too many fishing boats around to risk it. Instead I decided to head inshore and anchor in the adjacent bay. By this time I was surrounded by the lights of boats. I'd pick out a light, assume it was a fair way off, motor towards it and discover I was suddenly on top of the boat. The lights used seemed to make it harder than normal to judge distance. To quote the pilot guide: "SE Asian fishermen subscribe to the International Christmas-tree System for navigation lights; the more lights and different colours the better. Orange, red and white strobes are much favoured". Even with the diverse range of lighting surrounding around me, there was one set of lights which looked distinctly different, and I ended up anchoring a little distance off. In the morning the lighted object turned out to be a restaurant on poles a couple of miles off-shore. I presume it was an all night "drive-in" for the hungry fishermen - "you catch-it we'll cook it"??
Coastal anchorage: 17/11/2008, N3deg 43.3' E100 51.6'

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