Follow the voyage of Steve and Maria aboard their sailing yacht Aspen as they sail around the world - from the volcanic rocks in the Caribbean and back again!
Saturday, December 4, 2010
S/Y Aspen – December 4, 2010 – Log #58
Position: 06 degrees 11’ N 099 degrees 46’ E (UTC +8.0 Hours)
After enjoying the excesses of Singapore we left on a fair tide, sailing to Malaysia and through the Malacca Straits. As we exited the beautiful Keppel marina one of our fellow Rally boats ran right onto a rather large reef. This was strange because the reef was marked by a building sized bright red marker! This was in broad daylight too. Luckily they have a steel boat and after several anxious minutes managed to get themselves free and underway again.
Then it was out into the dreaded Malacca Straits. This relatively narrow body of water is probably the busiest waterway in the world with huge ships from all corners of the globe passing through it. China, Japan, all of the Middle East countries, European ships and even a few ships from North America were all clustered around little Aspen. The supertankers glided by silently with their massive cargos bound for foreign ports. These Straits are also world-renown for pirate attacks on ships! Despite naval vessels patrolling these waters, daily boardings still occur by the pirates.
We traveled in a safety group of 8 boats northward, right on the edge of the large ship channel to avoid the ever present fishing boats too. These fishing boats are unlit at night and lay fishing nets right in front of us or where ever else they please, except inside the shipping channel. There the big ships just chew the nets up so the fishermen avoid the channel where we decided to go. Despite being right on the edge of the channel, the huge ships passed within one quarter of a mile from us at times. Our trusty AIS sounded out a warning with each new ship so our night watch appeared to be akin to a casino with the flashing lights and alarms going off all night long!
Malaysia is fairly poor, similar to Indonesia but without the corruption, at least what we have seen so far. There are Malaysians, Indians, Chinese and Japanese who make up the majority population of Malaysia.
Our first stop was at Port Klang, 20 miles from Kuala Lumpur. Port Klang is 15 miles up the most polluted river we have ever seen. The smell was strong enough to make flowers wilt and dogs cry. Exactly 15 miles up the river we came upon a floating dock near the middle of the river. This is home to the Royal Salangor Yacht Club. We tied up to the floating dock and watched huge piles of rubbish, as large as small islands make their way down stream, sometimes colliding with our boat and staying there. There was no electricity on the dock and we did not run our generator or engine to charge the batteries because the river water would clog the filters. That would not be a pretty sight. Instead we made the batteries work overtime and become very depleted!
We stayed 2 nights so that we could tour Kuala Lumpur, the capital. What an enigma that place is! They have the Petronas Towers, the tallest buildings in the world, or at least they were until one of the Middle Eastern countries decided to build a taller one. The city calls itself a mini-Singapore but it has quite a ways to go before that is really true. Bargaining for pirated DVD's in China Town was fun and we ended up with original movie DVD's in original packages for about $1.25 for any of the latest movie releases. We now have lots of movies to watch while on passage.
Right now we are sitting in a very nice marina at Langkawi, the northern-most island in Malaysia. The Marina is called Telaga Harbour Marina. We will leave from this popular tourist oasis in a few days to spend Christmas in Phuket, Thailand, only 120 miles away. There we will clean, check and repair Aspen, getting her ready for our next journey - across the Indian Ocean. There will also be lots of parties to attend once we are in the marina.
More pictures will be posted shortly on our blog site!
Sail on sail on Aspen...
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