Friday 22 September 2017

An evening in Batu Pahat - Malaysia

Morning sunrise over Pahat

Sungai Batu Pahat, Malaysia  – September 22, 2017

Translation: sungai = river, batu = stone and pahat = carving/chiseling.

Tidal data as per our chart plotter ‘T’ for Batu Pahat for September 22 & 23 2017.

Sept 22
Sept 23
0547           0.3
1114           2.8
1804           0.1
2338           2.7
0614            0.4
1146            2.8
1836            0.2

Waypoints for entry Batu Pahat (with many thanks to friends for supplying via HF Sailmail).

01° 46.9376' N   102° 52.5576' E 
01° 47.2917' N   102° 52.8914' E
01° 47.6600' N   102° 53.1500' E
01° 47.8556' N   102° 53.3573' E
01° 48.1900' N   102° 53.6100' E
01° 48.6000' N   102° 53.6300' E
01° 49.1200' N   102° 53.4900' E
01° 49.3350' N   102° 54.0310' E    in 5 metres. Good holding on mud

Anchorage WP8: 01 49.335N, 102 54.031E. This waypoint puts you just around a bend in the river with very good protection from a Sumatra if one hits. However you will be approximately 2.4 nautical miles from town.

Anchorage WP9: 01 51.165N, 102 55.447E. Note this way-point is close to the township. Friends who used this way-point dragged several times and had copious amounts of floating debris on their anchor chain. It does however put your right at the township.

The sunset as we waited for more tide.
After being smashed by a squall or more commonly known here as a Sumatra (no doubt due to the westerly winds blowing over from Sumatra) two nights previous at Pulau Pisang we decided to enter the river known as Batu Pahat for a good sleep within the protection of the river and out of harm’s way.

Our eta to the entry waypoint was 1530 (yes quite late due to no wind and a damaged/missing cutlass bearing slowing our revs to 1200 maximum) however this meant that at the shallowest section we could not enter. With no engine power to assist once we saw 2.2 on the depth sounder we turned about and dropped anchor in 3 meters of water to let the tide come in enough for our 2 meter keel to slip over the sand bank. We had no idea how far the sand bank extended as nothing we had showed depth data for this river.

Luck had it a fast ferry entered the river so we dropped markers as he approached. At one point he slowed right down so now we knew where the sand bar was and the extent of it. After he was in we moved out a bit further to deeper water as we had lost another .5 meter over the hour as the tide was still dropping. By 2000hrs we finally had enough tide to bring Matilda in for the night.

Entering anywhere in the dark is a little nerve wracking but we had to make a decision. It was either sit outside worrying all night about a Sumatra slamming us which was a strong possibility as it was mid-September – SW monsoon season or spend an hour, enter the river and putter up to the anchorage. After much discussion about our poor engine with no grunt to push through a 25-35 knot westerly with a swell from Sumatra all with a very high probability of being pushed back to the shallows and grounding or enter the river which we knew would only take about 1 hour – the decision was made to be brave. So by 2015 hrs we had our anchor up and made our way into the river.

This data was recorded as we entered. Note we have a 2 meter draft and the depth shown below is total depth (not plus our draft):
WP1                                 :2015
WP2              3.2 meters
WP3              3.3 meters
WP4              3.8 meters 
WP5              3.6 meters ** between WP4 & WP5 the depth sounder showed 2.5 meters for a while
WP6              3.3 meters
WP7              5.0 meters
Anchorage WP8      At  Anchor  : 2120    5.0 meters

Note:  there is a very shallow patch, we recorded 2.4 at: 01 47.2126N, 102 52.7856E.

** Depending on vessel traffic during the loading of barges it should be possible to follow the line of the river further to the east as you manoeuvre between WP 4 and WP5, this we would assume would be deeper water. 

Entry took us just over 1 hour but we did enter very slowly. We had our spot light out on the banks and we both were keeping a keen lookout. Once in the river and anchored we had a few drinks, something to eat and then just as we headed to bed a local fisherman came by our starboard side in quite a large vessel – the captain was hanging out his door yelling ‘Hello Mister, good evening to you’ as Bruce was looking out. They certainly put a smile our face. Then as we were in bed we heard a strange noise, got up to investigate only to stare in awe at a massive tug and tow passing on our port side this time.

In the morning we woke and I always enjoy seeing a new to us place for the first time. It was just before sunrise and I managed a few nice photos. As the sun did rise I could see large gouges in the hill sides, assuming they are mining rock or tin here.

After doing a bit of research Google and Wiki informed me that Batu Pahat is the name given for chiseling stone. One thought is back in c1456 the Siamese army camped in the river before attacking Malacca. They chiseled the rock in the hope of finding fresh water. Another thought is the name is given regarding the fortress made of granite rock, built by the Portuguese after capturing Melaka.

Here we were thinking that we could see a bit of the place and its only small jungle speck on the planet but there is a massive township just up and around the next bend. Almost worth going back to explore. The river opens up to a massive population of 417,458 local residents and has 525 villages. The images on wiki are impressive. The Sungai Batu Pahat (the river) runs for 12 km’s!

Thanks to Google Earth images, this is the town of Pahat.
We certainly enjoyed sitting and watching the local birds including several eagles hunting on the mud banks at low tide, we even saw a monkey but never saw a crocodile or an otter but maybe the croc’s ate all the otters?

Just as we wanted to leave the sky turned black with Sumatra. So we made a cuppa and waited for it to blow over. At this stage we were glad to be in the river, giving us fantastic protection as it blew pretty hard and dumped loads of rain.

Finally the storm passed and were ready to haul anchor and potter out. However after removing a bit of floating debris off the anchor chain, the anchor didn’t want to come up. Bruce had me moving Matilda forward, back and to the side but it wouldn’t come up. After much moving about and watching coconuts pop to the surface, finally the anchor chain groaned upwards only to reveal a massive tree trunk on the anchor. The anchor was actually wedged into the ‘V’ of the trunk. The limbs were at least 12’ long. Luckily for us a local fisherman was coming in and he assisted. It took us nearly 1 hour to remove the tree limb.

Once all cleared we took off. A small blessing meant we had good water under our keel and the depth only went below 3mtrs once to 2.6 mtrs.

Once clear of the headland, we were bound for Muar Town river 38 nautical miles.