Friday, April 15, 2016

Hauling Out a Privilege Catamaran with a SeaLift Trailer

There are 3 ways to lift out a boat.  A Travelift, trailer, and crane.  Our owners manual has a detailed section on using the Travelift and crane but has nothing about the trailer.

We're tied to a tree and this trailer needs to be perfectly positioned
I contacted Privilege about using the trailer and got a very non-committal answer saying "we don't recommend it".  Other catamarans however claim that it is the preferred way to haul them out.  In the past 10 years, we have been hauled out 8 times and always by a Travelift.  We heard the FULL MONTY, a privilege 48, was hauled out with a trailer in Tahiti and cracked both their escape hatches.  In Australia, we saw a Privilege 48 being hauled by a SeaLift trailer and it seemed to work out fine.  So we figured why not give it a try.  It may also be a handy thing to know about for use in other parts of the world.

Trailer going down the ramp and under Tortuguita
Pangkor Marina has a SeaLift and the best price going for boatyard storage so we figured why not give it a try.  SeaLifts seem to be becoming a popular means to haul out since they are much cheaper to buy than a Travelift and the boats can be packed closer in the boatyard which increases the number of boats and therefore profit for the yard.

Pneumatic tubes (strapped to steel) that support the boat

We're finally being lifted.
They SeaLift goes down a ramp like a regular trailer and the boat is positioned over 4 pneumatic tubes.  The Catamaran is lifted from under the deck and a monohull is lifted by the sides of the hull.  The trailer needs to be submerged completely beneath the boat and due to the depth of the boat ramp at Pangkor Marina, high tides are a must.  They also only schedule one launch and one haul out each day.

Here are the blocks and timbers lifting the stern

On a Privilege catamaran, the underside of the bridge deck has two different levels.  It is lower where you step in to the salon.  If not compensated for, the tube would crush at this corner and the steel supporting the tubes would be hitting the fiberglass.  At the very least, there would be very high point loads created in this area.  To solve this problem, timbers are placed across the back of the tubes with wood blocks stacked on top.  This allows the aft structural part of the boat to be lifted albeit only at two places.  It also keeps the pneumatic tubes from cracking the Plexiglas in the escape hatches. 

All done and pressure washed.  It actually worked.

We thought we had everything arranged with the crew prior to 'the day'.  They were shown pictures from the lift in Australia, we made measurements.  They knew what timbers we needed to help support the hulls, etc.  Except when 'the time' came, it wasn't correct.  The board was too long and they had no real way to cut it or get one so late in the day.  There was also a huge language barrier.  My Malaysian was about as good as their English.

On the road again, with training wheels.
I ended up in the water with the workers stacking timbers and padding until we finally got it to work.   Booker was onboard when the weight shifted from the floating hulls to the center deck and she said it felt as if the boat was bending severely.  Not ideal, but next time the timbers will be the correct length.  I also think the tube air pressure should be lower to help spread out the load better.  It's really not something to screw around with because 17 tons of boat weight in the wrong place can do some real damage in a hurry.   

So, yes Privilege, it can be done.  As long as you are careful.  But that's true of anything.  Total time to haul, 2 hours.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Penang Island

Our last stop with the rally is Penang Island.  It's a 60 mile day trip so we decided to leave a few days early and kill a few days anchoring off the nice little beach at Pangkor Island where we had the catered lunch.  Big mistake.  We were buzzed all day long by motorboats and Jet Skis.  We did have a nice dinner on shore once all the commotion calmed down.

The following morning we moved to the next bay to the north along with LUNA BLU and FLOMEIDA. We swam to the beach and did some walking.  I helped Christoph troubleshoot his malfunctioning dinghy engine.  Turned out he had bad petrol from Indonesia.  Seems to have been mixed with diesel.  

Rimau Island Anchorage

We left this nice quiet spot the next day at sunrise which was a good thing.  Not that we were running out of daylight but that we barely anchored before the thunderstorms hit.  We anchored in a nice little cove at Rimau Island.  Just off the south end of Penang.  The thunderstorms were brutal and lightning was striking very close for a few hours.  The cracks and flashes were instantaneous, and loud.  We were with about 10 other boats and fortunately nobody was struck.  We spent the next day exploring Rimau Island but it was pretty overgrown and we couldn't get to the lighthouse. 

Rally going under the Penang Bridge
The Rally had planned a group sail under the Penang Bridge during morning rush hour.  About 50 rally boats from various anchorages rendezvoused an hour south of the bridge and we went in full convoy mode under the 2nd longest bridge in Malaysia.  Another 30 minutes further up the Selatan Strait, we dropped anchor in front of this leg's rally sponsor, The Straits Quay Marina.

The streets of Little India, Penang Island
We learned the bus system fairly quickly.  We went with LUNA BLU and LAZY LADY exploring the historic Capital City of Georgetown in search of culture, hardware, and food.  We ended up in Little India for a great lunch.  That evening the marina had free beer and food for Happy Hour.

Penang Hill Incline train tracks
The following day we took the inclined train to Penang Hill.  At 2500 feet above sea level, the air was cool and the view incredible.  

Notice the angle of the Incline train in the background

Georgetown from Penang Hill, still have haze in the air from burning forests.

Penang has a large Chinese population and we spent a few hours exploring the enormous Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple and monestary.  They have 10,000 Buddah statues.  Seems like they must have gotten a good price on them.

Buddahs everywhere

We go to the same barber.

Entertainment at Fort Cornwallis

The Penang Dept. of Tourism put on a great dinner for us that evening at Fort Cornwallis.  It is a star shaped fort built by the British in the late 1700's with some canons that date back to 1600.  We had use of the entire fort property after closing hours, the food was nice for us vegetarians, finally, and the entertainment was interesting.  They had the large Chinese dancing dragons, singers and dancers.

Buddhist Bunny

The following day, most boats departed to the north towards Langkawi and we went south back to Pangkor Island.  We passed CONVIVIA, who was heading up to Penang.  We've been trying to meet up with them since Australia but kept passing and never ended up in the same place at the same time.   Had a nice chat on the radio though.  Tucker is the guy who designed the Farkwar website.  They are heading across the Indian Ocean after Thailand so we may not cross paths for a while.

The day was long, the current strong, and anchorages were nil.  We would be making a night arrival at our anchorage and have to risk collisions with fishing boats.  We passed up an unfamiliar anchorage for the one on Pangkor Island that we already visited, were familiar with, and had GPS tracks from when we left a week earlier.  In 10 years of cruising, this was only our second night time arrival.  The next morning we motored over to our new home at Marina Island and started preparing Tortuguita for haul out and storage.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Pangkor Island

We arrived at the Pangkor Island Marina around noon.  The marina seemed to be very professionally run.  There were dock hands ready to show us where to berth and catch our lines.  The depth in our berth was almost nothing below the keel at low tide but 10 feet at high.

This marina is where we are thinking of hauling out Tortuguita for the season.  We scoped out the entire operation and were quite impressed.  It's not a professional boatyard like the Gold Coast City Marina in Australia but more like a DIY place like Marina Seca Guaymas in Mexico.  They have a giant shed where about 15 boats can be stored or worked on in the shade.  However, all masts must be taken off in order to get in the shed.

Marina Island sits between Pangkor Island and the mainland.  It is entirely man made over a 5 year period.  The island has the marina, a ferry terminal, small mall, shops, offices, restaurants, apartments, and a hotel along with a causeway connecting it to the mainland.

Marina Island

A very nice banquet for the rally
The marina manager, James Khoo, has sponsored this stop on the rally and set up a day trip and lunch out on Pangkor Island, and a banquet dinner.  We did find out that if the marina paid for the events, they would not be allowed to serve alcohol so James paid for everything personally.  Way to go James.

Good thing James provided the beer.

Grounds of the Buddhist Temple
Pangkor Island is a tourist destination with the clearest water that we have seen since Indonesia.  We went to a Buddhist Temple and saw fishing boats under construction.  Amazing carpentry skills and beautiful tropical hardwood.  We had a catered lunch on the beach and were all pretty much burned out by the time the ferry got us back to the marina.  A good long day!

Boat Craftsmanship


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Anchoring off Port Klang

We left at sunrise from Port Dickson.  I think I've said this before, but, you can never leave early enough.  Right outside the marina, the current had us down to 3 knots and we had 50 miles to go to Port Klang.  Port Klang is the major shipping port for Kuala Lumpur and most of Malaysia and looked to be our stop for the night.  

We could see other rally boats 10 to 15 miles ahead that were doing 8 knots but the current that they had just hadn't progressed toward us.  I found a very good way to tell what the current ahead is.  AIS targets can be seen 30-40 miles away.  The large ships' that are anchored all along the edges of the Malacca Strait show symbols on our AIS display.  They point in the direction that they are heading, even while anchored.  Small boats like ours, however, point only in the direction they are traveling.  When the current changes,  the large ships all change direction with the current.  You can actually watch the tide progress down the Malacca Strait by watching these anchored ships turn like dominos, but in real slow motion.

AIS Ship Traffic from

The early departure from Port Dickson was not much help.  The tide must have just switched so we pushed against the current for 6 hours until early afternoon.  Now that we were enjoying a nice push, it didn't make much sense to stop so our plan was to go as far as we could and just drop the anchor wherever we were when the sun went down.  There were a few possible places that looked like anchorages but what you see on the charts is a world of difference to what it really looks like.  On the chart below there are large green 'islandy' looking areas.  Our track is the purple line.  The plan was to tuck up behind one of these 'islands' for protection for the night.

In actuality, there are no islands.  These green areas are apparently mud flats but the water was so muddy, you couldn't see the flats.   


Here's the Google Earth view.

Notice the four green islands.  They are the same as the brown islands on the chart view.   The green areas that look like islands just don't exist.

So we anchored out in the middle of nowhere and as the tide changed, so did the current and so did the direction we pointed.  The wind and chop made for a noisy night. 

It turned out that was fine because around 2AM we were woken up by the sound of thunder.  The storms were a few miles away just south of those little brown islands.  We were a sitting target for lightning out in these flats.  The current was again now in our favor, so we pulled up the anchor and headed out for the fish trap free deep channel to our north.  This would give us a nice early arrival at Pangkor Marina.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Admiral Marina, Port Dickson

Front lobby entrance of the Admiral Marina

The Sail Malaysia 'Passage to Langkawi' rally is organized each year by a great guy named Sazli Kamal Basha.  He also does the Sail Malaysia 'Passage to the East' rally.  Sazli has a knack obtaining sponsors who pay for events during the rally.  Our $65 entry fee was paid back to us many times over by the free parties, dinners, lunches, and tours that we had.

Central Park, Malacca
Port Dickson is more or less between Malacca and Kuala Lumpur.  We took the public bus(es) with our friends Paul and Lilanne of LUNA BLU to Malacca for the day.  We made the mistake of not finding the Express Bus which cost us an extra hour in stops.  Malacca was the original main shipping/trading port for Malaysia for hundreds of years.  All trading routes between China and India/Europe go through the Malacca Straits. The port has since silted in and most shipping now goes to Port Klang.  You will sometimes see it spelled Melaka, which is the Malay name.

Entrance of the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum
We walked through the parks and ended up in China Town for lunch.  We did a tour of the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum.  This is a house of a wealthy Chinese/Malay family from the early 1900's turned in to a museum. We learned about their culture and how it was to live in this part of the world a hundred or more years ago.  We climbed 'the hill' to the Ruins of St. Paul's Church for a good view of town, met up with other cruisers for some beers and took a cab back to the marina.  Much quicker than the bus and not too much more expensive.

Statue in front of Batu Caves
The rally had a planned bus tour day of Kuala Lumpur.  We started out at the Batu Caves.  One of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India even though Buddhist and Muslim religions are also represented here.  

The stairs
It is really a beautiful massive place with 272 steps from ground level to the caves.  Women have to have their legs covered so the rent-a-sarong lady had a good thing going providing for the tourists.  A monkey thought Booker's earring was some kind of food, jumped on her and ripped it out of her ear.  Fortunately the loop pulled out and didn't damage her ear.  The monkey tried to crack it with it's teeth and smash it on concrete with no luck.  It thought it was some kind of nut.  I used the other earring to distract the monkey and he chucked the one he had on the stairs.  We were lucky to get it back.


Renting a sarong and the last time Booker's earring was intact.

The earring stealer.
Inside Batu Caves

Petronas Towers

We had lunch at the Petronas Towers.  They are the tallest twin towers in the world.  We've seen them in a few movies and even look bigger in real life.  The first 5 floors are just one huge mall.  Very expensive name brands which we had no interest in.

Making the handles for pewter mugs
We drove by the King's Palace but didn't go in because it was raining very hard and continued to the Royal Selangor Pewter factory.  We had never heard of Royal Selangor but it turns out that it is the largest manufacturer of fine crafted pewter.  It was interesting to see pewter products being made and how the discovery and mining of tin was a major source of economic development of this area.

Friday Night Market 'Street Food'
We did have a few free days between all these tours which came in handy to keep up with boat maintenance, etc.  The marina had a fine happy hour with marginal food and an over amplified band.  We did find good street food out at the main road and went to the Friday night market. 

Buddah's at the Kwan Yin Cave
Another bus tour was to the town of Ipoh.  We visited an organic farm/ecolodge and ate lunch at a Homestay Klawang.  We then walked through the Buddhist Kwan Yin Cave Temple.  

Ipoh Street Art
The Old Town area of Ipoh is very artsy and historic.  It is a short walk from the historic train station and mostly has Chinese influence but we had a great Indian curry at the Banana Leaf restaurant in Little India.

Team building, after the water balloon tossing exercise
As if all this was not enough, Sazli organized a team building event and lunch buffet for us.  We had four teams and had to work together and compete against other teams.  It was quite fun and educational.

Next, off we go to the marina at Pangkor Island.

JB to KL - (Johor Bahru) to (Kuala Lumpur)

Here's the layout of this part of SE Asia.  The Malaysia Peninsula is connected to Thailand and Burma (Myanmar).  Singapore is at the tip of the Malaysia Peninsula.  Eastern Malaysia is on the western part of the island of Borneo.  The Malacca Strait runs between Malaysia and North Sumatra, Indonesia.  The tides run 10-12 feet.  That is quite a bit of water to be flowing through what is essentially a river running from Thailand to Singapore.  The current is much stronger than anywhere we have been, with perhaps the exception of the Great Barrier Reef.  If you don't run the engines, you will essentially lose 6 hours while the tide is running against you.  Of course you will make that up when the tide is helping you but the day is short and night sailing is not an option with the hoards of unlit fishing boats out at night.


This is our first exposure to sailing Malaysia.  We should have left Marina Puteri as early as possible.  We could have obtained our port clearance documents the day prior but decided instead to wait for the office to open.  Big mistake.  The supposed outgoing tide never appeared and then the current of the Malacca Strait was against us.  This made a short day into a long slog motoring most of the way.  We anchored at Pulau Pisang (Banana Island).  We tucked up behind the island and had a good night until the land breeze started and we ended up with our stern getting slapped by waves coming across  the Strait.  Most of the Malacca Strait is less than 30 feet deep and we were told that if you want, you can just drop anchor anywhere.  A few boats did anchor off the island and apparently departed very early since they didn't have to navigate the shallows around the island.  They probably had slapping waves during the night also.

Pulau Besar (Water Island)
We had a long day as it was to our next anchorage at Water Island.  There were 6 boats anchored there when we arrived at sunset with a huge thunderstorm chasing us during the last hour.  There was plenty of lightning but we all made it through fine.  This was a nice island and would have spent a day exploring it had we not been on an agenda.  There is some type of deserted or lightly used resort on the north side of the island and beaches to land the dinghy.

We departed early for the short day sail to the Admiral Marina in Port Dickson.  This is the closest yacht facility to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.

The Admiral Marina.  By far, the nicest marina we have ever stayed in.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Johor Bahru, Nusajaya, Malaysia

All prepped for us to go to the US for a month

The heat in this part of the world is oppressive so we went shopping for an air conditioner like the one we bought at Home Depot in Mexico.  Ours no longer worked because the electricity in this part of the world is 240 volts and 50 cycles.  We didn't have any luck but found out that window type air conditioners are essentially not being made any more.  Our other option was a portable unit but would it would take 7-10 days to arrive to the store.  We would be gone and didn't want to deal with the delivery, etc so I found a better one online and ordered it to arrive when we returned from the US.

Add caption
We prepped the boat for extended unattended operations.  We took a few busses to the Singapore Airport and flew to Philly through London Heathrow.  I was able to go to my 40th year High School reunion.  We winterized the houses, pressure washed, stained decks, and enjoyed the nice fall weather and smokeless skies.   We flew back almost a month later through Los Angeles and Hong Kong, to Singapore.  We had just flown around the world.

Hong Kong skyline looking south

When we arrived, the rest of the Sail Indonesia Rally boats had filled up the Puteri Marina.  It was nice to get reunited with all our friends.  We have joined the Sail Malaysia Rally to Langkawi.  This rally is much shorter.  500 miles in 6 weeks vs. 2500 miles in 3 months.  It is a marina to marina rally and proves to be very social. 

By being in the Malaysia Rally, we get a 50% discount on berthing and boatyard storage at Pangkor Marina.   They use a trailer system to haul the boats which we have never used but they seem to think all will be fine.  Since we are finally out of the Southern Hemisphere and in an area where there is no cyclonic activity, our cruising season is not determined by seasonal weather.  For 3 years, we haven't been able to spend summers in New Jersey.  This year it looks like we can work that back into our lives.  Laying up Tortuguita at Pangkor Marina will also make it easier to base out of Malaysia and be able to travel by land around Southeast Asia.

The air conditioner was waiting for us at the office and will be well needed and used in these marinas.
The sponsoring marina stops are:

Hong Kong Streets

1.  Puteri Harbor, Johor Baru
2.  Admiral Marina, Port Dickson
3.  Pangkor Marina, Pangkor Island
4.  Straits Quay Marina, Penang
5.  Rebak Marina, Langkawi

We are planning to haul out at Pangkor but will go to Penang and then return back to Pangkor.  Langkawi will have to wait until next year on our way to Thailand.

Have our blog sent directly to your INBOX