Malaysia @ Puteri Harbor - The start of the Journey
The journey begins with a short trip across the Johor Strait, the first step on the long journey that lies ahead. In our case, it was more of a RUN TO THE BORDER, since we were towing our dinghy across the border, which is illegal in Singapore. The good thing about it, however, is that the border is only 400m from the entrance of Raffles, so we had a pretty good chance of winning. And we did :)
So we're off to Puteri Harbor to get our visas to enter the country.
As always, passing under the 25m bridge was a bit nerve wracking. Even though our tiny little swizzle stick had plenty of room, the perspective made your palms sweat a little bit. The trip up the strait was pretty straightforward. There was no wind, so there were no sails. We motored at a steady 1700rpm and held a good 5kts against a super strong current.
Approximately .25nm from the entrance to the harbor, tragedy struck when the engine completely shut down. It was a quick drop of the anchor that saved our asses since the current was ripping us backwards on a collision course towards the ferry terminal. Lucky for us, it was less than 30 minutes of sitting before we had a little tow boat show up and side-tie tow us to the dock.
Regardless of how we got there, we got there!
I was very impressed with the harbor at first sight. I was even more impressed with the staff's friendliness and accommodating nature. As soon as we docked, a mechanic was working on the engine and a golfcart shuttled us to customs and immigration. We were back on the boat within an hour or so with a better idea of what happened to the engine and our Malaysian cruising documents!
Raffles Marina is nice if you like the resort style pool, bar (only open Friday-Sunday) and restaurant closing before 11pm. The drawing factor to Raffles is the people. Some of the nicest and most interesting people I've met at a harbor. But other than that.... there's just not a lot going on. Tack on that it's IMPOSSIBLE to get any work done if you need it and its a whopping $S1000 to enter and leave.. it's really not up there on my list of favorite stops.
As for Puteri, it's got fewer amenities, but a nice collection of bars and restaurants that stay open until 1am, nice bathrooms and showers, and I've already mentioned how helpful and wonderful the staff here is.
For example, we needed a new shore power cable and the gate guard told us that he was going to the nearby town soon and her would pick it up for us. An hour later we had a new 15m shore power line for $35 (USD.... UNBELIEVABLE
As for the area, it is clean and safe, and taxi's and food are cheap; mechanics, electricians, and any other services you may need are very easily accessible. Buying things for the boat and little bits and bobs here and there... what would cost us $200usd is now costing us $80. The difference is very remarkable.
So we're in the harbor for 3 days just getting everything ready, sorting the engine issues and going to visit the coolest cat, Jackie Chan at our favorite bar, "Rock Bottom" every evening. And finally comes the day to make our departure and head to Batu Pahat.
We get our clearance paperwork, get the engine running, and push off the dock around 1:45 p.m. Our next stop is the ferry dock where we will refuel. It was an in-and-out procedure, and the tanks are now full! We head south from here and I spent the first few minutes getting the autopilot calibrated with 100% success. So cruising towards the Malacca Strait and I see we're drifting off course. Lo and behold, I lost 90% of steerage in my starboard side! I throttled down and pointed to bow towards a mangrove area only to realize that if I tried to accelerate, NOTHING happened. I could only idle forward and reverse. So to the mangroves and dropped anchor in an area where we both actually really liked. Nice quiet mangrove with no boaters, far from traffic and peaceful.
After a few minutes of checking all the hydraulic lines and autopilot pump, I couldn't figure out what the reason for losing steering was so I decided to add just a little extra fluid to the system. When doing this I realized there was air escaping the lines. Not really a big deal as I just needed to keep working the wheel back and forth to force the air out and add more fluid as needed. After about 10 minutes or so the steering was in great shape. In my first inspection of the engine, I could see some air coming from the injectors STILL. It seemed to be pulling what appeared to be a small amount of air through the fuel filters ...sigh. Very gingerly and carefully, I did what I could to get the engine running and turned back towards Puteri, our safe haven.
Lucky for us we had a decent wind so we threw up the jib and tacked our way back up Johor towards the marina. All in all we sailed up like a champion and was back within an hour and a half. We even managed to get in WITHOUT GETTING TOWED!!! Woooo Hoooo!!!!!
So now after a day has passed, we have already pulled the entire head off the engine and did a full rework from the top down. Unfortunately, during the process the starter switch broke at the ignition. Therefore, the next mission will be finding and installing an oem version since this one is so old and peculiar. We're planning another day, maybe two depending on accessibility to parts, here at Puteri then with FULL confidence, we'll be making the first long leg of the journey and get some REAL miles under our belts :)
Updates on the engine and journey coming soon! Stay tuned :)
Smell the sea and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly.
Cheers, Jess :)
Jessica Stark from Riverhead?