Saturday 30 June 2018

June Newsletter 2018

News from the Crew of Matilda
June  2018

Ships log: 
The last few days of May saw us do a final clean up of Matilda at the dock at Pangkor, come June 3 we set out heading south, bound for east coast Malaysia. 

As we left Pangkor Marina, we were being called on the VHF radio by warship 135. It was a little daunting watching him approach us at full speed (only to pass on our stern) while asking us questions. His call was: 'Matilda, Matilda, Matilda this is the Malaysian warship 135 on channel 16 please respond'!
Log for the month:
  • June 3, Sunday: left Pangkor Marina and travelled 51.3nm's and called it a day as we were not going to make Port Klang so we stopped at an open roadstead. The chart showed us opposite Kg. Pasir Panjang. Dropping anchor at 03 34.23N, 101 00.86E in 8.3 meters on mud.
  • June 4, Monday: travelled 39.5nm's to Port Klang, northern end. Decided to anchor at 03 02.12N, 101 20.49E in 8.3 on sand.
  • June 5, Tuesday: travelled 12.8nm's with the tide to the southern anchorage of Port Klang at the mouth of Selat Lumat (the river system to Pulau Indah marina) dropping anchor at 02 52.75N, 101 17.26E in 7.4mtrs on mud. This anchorage is open to the SW, have an exit plan if a monsoon comes in.
  • June 6, Wednesday: travelled 43.7nm's to Pulau Arang Arang (Port Dickson, near McDonalds) dropping anchor first at 02 31.06N, 101 47.78E in 15.4 mtrs to get protection from the SE'ly swell. Before dark we moved her forward to 03 30.99N, 101 47.86E in 10.4mtrs all in mud and shell. We moved so as we were not in the way of traffic as this area is not very wide.
  • June 7, Thursday: travelled 45.2nm's to Pulau Besar, anchoring near the power lines at 02 07.23N, 102 19.89E in 8.5mtrs on mud. Good protection here from the SW storms.
  • June 9, Saturday: we travelled 72nm's to Pulau Pisang anchoring just off Pulau Sauh at 01 28.47N, 103 16.06E in 9.2 mtrs in mud. Fantastic protection from the SW and SE.
  • June 10, Sunday: travelled 36.5nm's to Puteri Harbour Marina - in a pen.
  • June 17, Sunday: travelled 52.8nm's to the Naval Base anchorage. Anchored at 01 23.07N, 104 05.72E in 8 meters at high tide in sandy mud.
  • June 19, Tuesday: travelled 50.3nm's to Jasons Bay. Anchoring at 01 51.44N, 104 08.55E in 5 meters at high tide on sand and mud.
  • June 20, Wednesday: travelled 24.7 nm's to Pulau Sibu. Anchoring at 02 13.99N, 104 03.43E in 12 meters at high tide on sand and coral. However, we saw a 'shelf' about 200 mtrs from us so we moved out a little to: 02 14.02N, 104 03.44E anchoring in 13mtrs.
  • June 24, Sunday: travelled 7.3 nm's to Pulau Tinggi, south east. Anchoring at 02 16.534N, 104 07.232E on sand in 6.5mtrs at low tide.
  • June 26, Tuesday: travelled 5.78nm's to Pulau Tinggi - north. Anchoring in 12 mtrs on sand at 02 19.00N, 104 05.98N on sand.
  • June 27, Wednesday: travelled 31.1 nm's to Pulau Tioman, east side at Teluk Juara. Anchoring at 02 47.10N, 104 12.43E in 7.6 mtrs in sand.
  • June 29, Friday: travelled 14.4nm's to Pulau Tioman, west side at the main town of Telok Tekek. Anchoring in 18.5mtrs on sand, at 02 49.35N, 104 09.53E.
  • June 30, Saturday: travelled 18nm's to Pulau Seri Buat/Sembilang north (AKA Butterfly Islands). anchored at 02 41.97N, 103.53.88E in 12mtrs at low tide on sand.

And to end the month the same way we started. As we anchored at Tioman Island these two Malaysian warships were anchored outside the anchorage.
Crew log:
On our odessy from the west coast of Malaysia to the east coast of Malaysia and north into the Thai gulf heading to Koh Samui, we covered a total of 505.53 nautical miles. June is a transitional month and its very difficult to make sailing plans as localised storms effect the weather predictions. So you just have to take what comes on the day and we had our fair share of moving against current, thunderstorms - more commonly known here as Sumatra's (because thats where they build up from), and wind coming either directly on our nose or from the SE making life a little bumpy onboard but we made it to Tioman.

We see many hazards in the water. This though was a surprise. Clearly a structure has been left to rot and these pylons are what is still remaining today. No lights means at night they are a serious problem to yachts.

This is a classic. Out in the water, about 3 nautical miles off the coastline we saw this house,,,,,why its there is anyones guess. At least it has light on the first pylon to the far let of sceen - we did wonder if it actually worked.
This particular fishing vessel is coming out of the Bernham River. The fleet that comes out here is outstanding, they just seem to keep coming. Their vessels are very large, we would estimate 70feet long and are very strong builds. This is either a purse seiner or a trawler, either way his nets are clearly visable on the starboard side. The good news is they all carry ligts and have working AIS units.

Another smaller local fishing boat hauling in his nets.

As we ghost along under our big blue spinnaker entering the Port of Klang, we must move over to give safe passage to the many monsters that come and go from the port.

We passed 4 of these enornous barges with cranes accompanied by their own tugs as we left Port Klang, bound for Port Dickson.
From Port Klang, we spent a night at Port Dickson and then moved down to Pulau (Island) Besar. We had such good protection here we stayed another day enjoying some swims and walks on the private (but abandoned) beach.

On the private beach there are many gorgeous houses all abandoned. Shame, as they are lovely.

Power lines to Besar.

Besar has a very busy jetty with the cutest little building to greet its visitors. The powerlines are huge.
After we left Besar for Pulau Pisang, our last stop before heading around to Puteri Harbour Marnia we saw operations to lift a sunken sand barge. The sand barges are massive boats, heavy - especially when loaded. We see hundreds of them along the Malaysian coast line and the reclamation works are in full swing here.

The operation to lift the sand barge was impressive.

To give an idea of the size of the boats, look at the two men in their work boat in front of the lifted sand barge.

This is the standby crane, held in place by two tugs.

The crane lifting is absolutely massive.

This is a sand barge that has not sunk. She is at anchor.
Finally arriving for a short stop at Puteri Harbour Marina while the Trump/Kim Summit was taking place.

Puteri Harbour Marina is a big comlex now. The high rises are a mixture of hotels, businesses and private residences.

Sunrise here is always gorgeous.
But sometimes the storms roll in, and the cloud fronts are very impressive.

There is about 3 storms front here,,,,,,
While at the marina in Puteri we had a resident water monitor lizard swim past each day. One day he/she went past with a rotten carcass of either a snake or eel in its mouth. OMG the smell was enough to make you dry retch - made us laugh later thinking how glad we are not water monitor lizard's and thinking 'ohhh yum I cant wait to get into this rotting carcass'!!!!

As usual it was mostly a work-a-thon while tied up at Puteri. We figure if we are paying for water, power and a dock we had may as well make the most of it. Here are some of the jobs we did:
  • engine oil change
  • gear box oil change
  • new fan belt
  • a good deck wash (again)
  • flushed the anchor well with fresh water
  • hosed out all our water maker filters
  • Bruce moved around a few fans so our bunk has more air flow at night, as its awful hot 
  • went through all the food cupboards and had a good clean out
  • plus we did loads of little bits and pieces that are better repaired or maintained while on shore power
On the way to Jasons Bay, we heard a hideous noise coming from the bowels of Matilda. Turned out the new fan belt had begun to shred itself. Glad thats all it was!
As usual we enjoyed cooking on board this month producing some yummy bits and pieces like:

Cheese Muffins - an old family favourite of Bruce's. The one turned on its side is showing its delicious cheesy bottom!

An old favourite which is so easy and never fails: Quiche. 

Bruce's Fruit Bun. Don't start me on how good this was. We ate it all in two sittings!

Anzac biscuts are always a favourite on Matilda. They are easy to mix, dont take long to bake and are so delicious.
We buy copious amounts of bananas in Asia. Its common to not eat them before they ripen a bit too much. So we always enjoy our banana bread.

Seriously, I think Bruce bakes the best bread ever!

Nachos with home made chillie sauce.

Oranage cake,,,,ohhh so good.
We did pretty well in the marina at Puteri. Originally wanting to stay on 4 nights, that turned into 6 nights as the Friday was a public holiday (so the marina office was closed) for Hari Raya signalling the end of Ramadan for all Muslims. 

Like many other yachties we have a love hate relationship with marinas. The endless water & power is wonderful and never having to worry about weather or dragging is great. However, the drain on the sailing kitty is the big downer. But I think the biggest plus is the people in the marina. As soon as we came in on the Monday a couple across from us immediately jumped off their boat and caught our lines. We struck up a lovely friendship with Al & Cristina and will miss them as we leave, but hope to one day see them at their home: Kota Kinabalu. 

Then we met Olaf and Dagma (Dagi). A German couple who just bought Icicle. They are sailing ourway as well. We are really looking foward to seeing them on the water and getting know them better.
The lovely Icicle 1. She is a Roberts 45' build and we particalary thought her anchor was top notch!

Bruce and Olaf on a disel run at Puteri Marina.
During our stay in the marina a friend of Bruce's took us out for a day in to the Panti jungle  for our first ever birding experience. It was such an amazing day, I have dedicated an entire blog page on our day, which you can read here. Thanks Tony & Evelyn, we are certainly looking forward to Fraser Hill!

This was our group for the day: Bruce, myself, friends of Tony & Evelyn are in the middle: Leipeng and Belinda.
From Puteri we commenced our trip under Singapore and up the east coast of Malaysia. We dropped anchor in some familar locations and some new ones. The journey through the Singapore Strait moving us from the west to the east is always a stressful day. I don't think i will ever get use to transvering these waters.

This is screen shot off our computer.  We use a navigation program called Open CPN. This allows us to view our track and all the AIS (Automated Identification System) near us - the green triangles. This is southern Singapore, a very small section of the Strait. The only blessing is, most of them are at anchor. Matilda is the red boat on the bottom of the screen.

The CS Development at anchor (thank heavens). She, along with her sister ships are over 1000 feet long.

The CS Poineer with two tugs who had just positioned her on her anchor. Look at the size of her bridge (the white structure where the Captain & crew steer from). She is also over 1000 feet long. They are called Super Tankers.
Once past the Singapore Strait and now on the east coast of Malaysis we could breath easy. Dropping our anchor at the Naval Base in very calm waters. These two anchored near us. The ship on the left is a fuel barge for local vessels and the other is a dredge, a very complex piece of equipment.

Leaving the calm waters of the Naval Base we had good days with a little bit of sailing up to the Tioman Group. We enjoyed days at Pulau Sibu,Tinggi south & north and then finally to Tioman itself enjoying both the east and west sides. During these stays we met a few people from New Zealand (travelling independently): Barb & Peter off Tiger Balm, and Di, Bob & Romi off Braveheart.

Tiger Balm peacefully at anchor at Pulau Sibu.
Braveheart II on anchor at the Butterfly Islands.

All our days were filled with snorkelling, walking, sundowners and swimming. 

Bruce loves Nemo!
The wonderful thing about this life is the way people drift in out. At Sibu our sailing family:Wirraway (Gary & Bev) and Wishful Thinking (Mick & Gin) joined us in the achorage. It was wonderful being together again before they headed off to the Anambas Islands for a month. 

Icicle, Wishful and Wirraway at anchor at Pulau Sibu.
After Pulau Tinggi, we made a move up to Tioman, thinking this would be our last stop for June but on the 29th a storm came in and hammered us at anchor. So the next day we moved up to join Braveheart at Pulau Seri Buat/Pulau Sembilang north anchorage.

Wirraway and Wishful enjoying sundowners on the northern beach at Pulau Tinggi. Gorgeous island but the rubbish was atrocious. 

Entering the anchorage on the west coast of Tinggi we saw this structure. Seems it has something to do with the Sultan, and many think it is his private fishing platform.
Yep we are all little excited to be together again!

Glad we were protected for this storm front as it bought with it torrential rain and strong winds for several hours.

East side of Tioman at Teluk Juara. The building far left was our favourite place to eat. We had a perfect uninterupted view of the sunset while eating cheap but delious food.

Our monthly newsletter has started to serve us well. A fairly new website called Zulu Waterways has been working hard since last year, to produce a free anchorage guide created by sailors for sailors.  We were asked us if we would contribute our anchorages to their SE Asia section as well as all our other Australian anchorage information - we said yes of course!

Something we have been omitting to highlight each month is our published articles in the Cruising Helmsman magazine. Here is a catch up:

January: AIS - a Comprehesive Guide written by Bruce.
February: All the Measurements you need to Cruise (Conversion Compendium) and Throttle Cable Jury Repair both written by Bruce and Deb had her The Hardest thing about Sailing Offshore article published.
March: Driver fix for Serial to USB Convertor written by Bruce.
April: Nothing published.
May: Look after Electrics written by Bruce
June: TI (Thursday Island) to Tual Indonesia written by Bruce.

You can purchase Cruising Helmsan magazines at your local newsagent or buy it online via their website to receive it electronically.

Deb is also a long term member of the FaceBook page: WWSA - Women Who Sail Australia. Recently a couple of members revised an old sailing magazine called: SisterShip. It's been a huge job and Deb was thrilled to have her article on Penang published in the first release of the e-magazine. SisterShip webpage is worth a visit.

To finish this hectic time, a favourite photo of the month............
Port Klang at sunrise. An early fisherman is collecting his drift net in the Klang River.

Wednesday 13 June 2018

June 2018: Bird watching in the Panti Jungle.

I spent the entire day suffering from lense envy!
Our time spent in Puteri Harbour Marina is always made special as we get to spend time with Bruce's work mate, Tony and his lovely wife Evelyn. Once again they went out of their way to make us welcome and this time they shared a bit of their life with us.

We didn't realize that earthy colors would have been best, we stood out like a beacons!
Tony giving Bruce some pointers.

Bruce getting into it, using Tony's suggestions.
Deciding to not go on the tourist route, Tony & Evelyn asked us to join them with two of their friends on a birdwatching morning in the Panti Jungle. To say I was a little anxious is an understatment. I am not a fan of the bush, let alone walking around in the Malaysian jungle and it was doing my head in. I will admit that when we were in the car and heading out to breakfast, I was feeling incredibly over whelmed.

I dont know why I worried, everyone was happy, helpful and dedicated.
Our time together started on a Wednesday afternoon, where Tony & Eveyln came and picked us up from the marina. To their surprise I (Deb) had never eaten 'Steam Boat' before, so we went off to their favourite place. It was very interesting and worth a try if you have never eaten it before. Bruce loved every morsel.

After our dinner, we went back to their home and had a lovely evening sitting around chatting. Next morning we all got up bright and early and off we went to have one of favourite breakfasts: Roti Canai with Teh Tarik at the town of Koto Tinggi. Then off to the jungle!

Some lovely sun light coming through into the jungle (so glad I wasn't walking around in this!). 
On the drive to the jungle, Evelyn and Tony shared with us that on one of the recent visits they saw elephants - in the wild! I was so excited to think I may see a wild elephant but it was not to be. We did however see elephant poo and Evelyn pointed out to me some slide marks that had been left by elephants as they climbed up a small embankment.

This is all we got to see of the elephants:their poo!

Go Bruce, he's got a bird in his lense.
Much to my relief, our birding day was all spent on a road (in the jungle) not actually trekking in the jungle per say. We had to share our road with cars and a quite a few trucks carting sand.

These guys went up and down all morning.
Being on the road we had to keep a look out for the trucks.
We had only driven in about 1 minute on the road in when we saw their friends, Belinda and Laipeng. The girls had stopped their car as they heard the call of the hornbills. As it turned out they had heard a pair of male and female hornbills calling each other, their call was quite loud. Thanks to Tony, he sent me photos with the names of the birds on the photo for easy identification.

This was to be the start of an amazing morning. We saw loads of birds and we admired both Tony and Belinda on their skill with their cameras. Tony likes to use his tripod to steady the camera and Belinda, who uses the same camera, likes to hold hers by hand. Both captured the most incredible photos.

Tony & Belinda using the same camera, but with different styles. Bruce joining them looked very professional, Bruce is that lense cap still on?
It's amazing how over the last few years we have met many birders, as they call themselves. We also like birds but have never gone that extra step ourselves to look for them. To be quite frank we were impressed. Our four keen birders were incredible. They have gained so much knowledge over the last 3+ years and during our morning they couldnt keep us any more informed. We learnt so much.

As hard as I tried, I searched and searched, waited, listened, searched again,,,,I couldn't see what they were seeing!!!

Poor Tony, he spent a great deal of his time being very patient with us both, trying to help us to see what he was seeing.
They could identify birds by sound, they knew a certain bird would come to a specific area and they knew the birds habits. We were astounded to watch our friends chatting amongst themselves discussing what bird they just saw right down to: female/male, adult/fledgling/young, nesting, territorial behavour etc.

Tony was so good, he knew a certain bird would be in a certain area - which turned out to be a small stream, at a certain time. So he set up his screen (for camouflage), sat down on his chair, positioned his camera through a slit in the screen and on his phone played the call of the bird he knew would come to the stream to drink. Sure enough it did just that,,,it was amazing.

Getting set up by the stream.

And here is Tony's little bird. This litle guy came to check out the bird sound (playing on Tony's phone) and satisfied he didnt have an intruder, decided enjoyed a splash in the stream.

Here are more of Tony's shots,,,,remarkable clarity!

Thanks to Belinda, here is a list of what she captured through the lens this day:

1 black hornbill (male and female)
2 black-naped monarch
3 blue-throated bee-eater
4 buff-vented bulbul
5 chestnut bellied malkoha
6 cream-vented bulbul
7 crested-serpent eagle
8 greater racquet-tailed drongo
9 hairy-backed bulbul
10 hill myna
11 large woodshrike
12 little green pigeon
13 orange-bellied flowerpecker
14 raffle's malkoha
15 red-eyed bulbul
16 thick-billed green pigeon
17 whiskered-tree swift
18 white-bellied woodpecker
19 white-throated kingfisher
20 yellow-bellied bulbul
21 yellow-breasted flowerpecker
22 yellow-vented bulbul
23 barbet (unable to i.d.)

And a few of her incredible photos, all shot without a tripod:
A flock of at least 6 Blue-throated Bee-eater up high up above the trees

Buff-vented Bulbul feeding a juve?

Chestnut-bellied malkona

Chestnut-bellied malkona was really busy flying from left to right collecting twigs for nest building.

Female Black Hornbill

Female Black-naped Monarch. Notice how yellow is the inside of it's beak. For Belinda this shot was whats called a 'Lifer' which means its the first time she has seen it in the wild and got the photo to prove it!

Greater Racquet Tailed Drongo minus one racquet

Hairy-backed bulbul

Male Black Hornbill

Male Black Hornbill

Lovely Orange-bellied flowerpecker

Large woodshrike

Yellow-bellied Bulbul

Yellow-breasted flowerpecker
Other than all these beautiful birds, we also saw a fair bit of other wild life:

The amount of ants on the ground was incredible. This line of ants were crossing the road in tight formation (until a truck ran over them).
Belinda was fast enough to capture this white tailed squirrel.

This big boy was scary. Bruce and I both saw loads of this ant wandering around alone.
Creepy big spiders.

A Raffles Banded Langur, photo by Belinda.

I think he is checking out Bruce's moustache!

And we saw colourful flowers & lovely green foliage. Bruce snapped lots of colourful fungi........

Just as we were all discussing finishing up as the clouds where coming over, we all heard a large crack in the jungle. I thought it was a tree branch falling down. But no sooner had we heard the cracking sound than a wild boar speed out of the jungle at an incredible speed crossed from one side of the road to the other disappearing in the thick foliage. We just all stood there, shocked and little frightened. The animal was so fast, if it had of ran into one of us, broken legs and goodness knows what would have happened. With our hearts pumping like crazy, we all jumped in the cars and took off for lunch, glad to leave the horrible stench he left in his wake behind us!

Thanks to Google Images, this is a Malaysian Wild Boar.
On our way to lunch, Tony & Evelyn stopped to show us the remnents of two WW2 bunkers. Built by the British, the bunkers housed machine guns to have some control on who came and went.

Tony and Bruce with a WW2 bunker behind them.
Shame about the graffiti.
Protection from the north and south. This position was the highest point of the road with views for miles.
After the near miss of a the wild boar incident, signalling the end of our bird watching, Tony & Evelyn took us to a very popular roadside cafe called: Kiang Kee Bak Kut Teh. Bak Kut in Chinese means 'pork rib' and Teh means 'tea', so a direct translation we were heading in for Pork Rib Tea. This is a favourite place for the Chinese to come eat. They even drive their fancy cars over from Singapore to sit and eat while admiring their nice cars. The cafe specialises in the dish called 'many pigs parts' - lucky for me they also sold tofu and vegetables. The main dish of pork ribs in soup was delicious. We must admit though, we did have some of the pigs trotters dish and it was very good. Bruce tried the stomach lining soup, he didnt mind it, but I dont think he is rushing back to whip some up in Matilda's galley!

Our lunch stop: Kiang Kee Bak Kut Teh roadside cafe. Image curtosy of Google Images.

Thanks gang for such a great day out!