Batam Bound (revisiting Indonesia)

Dawn rose on a new adventure.

We had completed our port-exitting procedure on Sunday Feb. 11th. Our companions from El Misti, Hybresail and Shakti dined with us at a local Indian eatery that evening. So with first light we bod farewell to them and to Country Garden Marina. We were embarking on the first leg of your return to Indonesia. Current assisted, Brahminy Too made her way along Johor Straits, passed Puteri Ferry Terminus, under the 2nd Link Bridge and towards Singapore Straits.
10.30 am as we started heading east along the southern coast of “Singers” we had a good puff of wind. We were sailing!! Off went the donk (engine). With about 12+ knots of wind from the north (gusting up to 25), we clocked 6-7knots. Woohoo, back to the life we enjoy.
By 1pm we were in position to bank a hard right and commence our dash across the Straits Shipping lanes. The wind piped up to a persistent 17knots from the NE., a lovely angle. Fortuitously, there was no oncoming traffic while crossing the west bound lane and a large gap between the east bound tankers. Rompted it!! We won’t mention that Hans turned the engine off and sailed across Singapore Straits clocking 7 knots.

However, coasting the northern reaches of Batam Island, the sea became more choppy the further east we went. The bottom shelved possibly creating an upswell. The fetch from the north east was unobstructed and we had tide against wind. Hence our last 12 nm to the marina were the slowest. Our girl pitched and tossed as waves doused our decks and salt sprayed the sails. All things considered a grand excursion.

While still in Singapore waters we had been approached by the water police enquiring what our intentions were. As we came closer to our destination, first the Indonesian Navy then Customs circle us. (Perhaps their vigilence was heighten by the recent drug bust of a huge haul of methamphetimines in these same waters? The offending fishing boat had been towed into Batam.)

“The approach to Nongsa Point Marina is well beaconned”, as per the marina’s communications. Fortunately, our cruising guide book also gave clear waypoints for the entrance since the ferry channel directly beside our approach was similarly beaconned. That could have been confusing. Then, what appeared to be a sandbar stretched across the narrow opening between the lateral seawalls. Hans slowed our revs while Burney read the chart contours and the depth sounder. We had 3 meters under the keel with a rising tide. Enough.
Apparently, it was just a sandy wash due to the choppy conditions.

Huge tankers ply the straits while we sit at a marina rolling

In preparation for the CIQ check-in procedure, Hans hoisted  the Indonesian courtesy flag and the yellow quarintine flag. Nongsa had also requested the blue and white checked N flag be mounted, as well.  There waiting at our berth finger was staff to take our lines. Unlike the usual formalities of shuffling between offices gaining and giving various clearance/entrance forms and stamps or alternatively having several officers from each department board your vessel, we  simply handed the necessary documents to the marina representative who then visited the government offices on our behalf. Of course, the service cost $$ (Aus $100) but the convenience was indesputable.

CIQP Office at Nongsa Marina

As a note for other yachties following this blog, AIS was mandatory for all foreign yachts cruising in Indonesian waters. No longer was a “receiver only” acceptable. Furthermore, the MMSI number associated with the unit was nevessary to complete the registration forms. Officials were enforcing this law and have been known to physically check the AIS, taking photographs for evidence, and checking Citations and/or letters of warning were apparently being issued for noncompliance.

After photos of our vessel and its engine had been taken we had only till the next morning to wait till our passports were returned. A Domestic  Clearance was also issued which we were required to present at our port of exit from Indonesia ( Tual, in our case) to Australia.

All good, done and dusted. We were comfortably ensconced in Indonesia, again.

View from our cockpit

Dining options

Nongsa Marina

The morning swim

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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in Uncategorized


Our final days in Malaysia.

Petronas Towers as viewed from the KLCC Park

Upon landing in Kuala Lumpur in January, we treated ourselves to a few days exploring the capital of Malaysia. While our hotel accommodation was in Little India, our first outing was to KL’s Chinatown. Well known as a major market shopping street, we headed to Petaling Street.  However, we were more interested in the hawker cuisine spilling from the footpath onto the roads. A kaleidoscope of fragrances and noise assaulted the senses. Particularly with one business celebrating an officious moment with lion dancing, drumming and fireworks!!

Either boiled in broth or grilled. Street stalls

Fireworks and Lion dancers

Marveling the Petronas Towers was part of our itinerary, although we viewed them from a more relaxed angle while wandering in the shade in KLCC Park where fountains made a water symphony. The parklands stretched over many hectares which provided a calmer setting than the drum of traffic around the city. We had taken advantage of the free bus system. There were 4 main routes that interconnected. Hence, many popular locations were easily accessible or one could just sit back and enjoy the sight-seeing in air-conditioned comfort. Unlike the small free bus service Brisbane offered, these routes also catered for those working in KL starting at 6am and continuing until 11pm most days. Friday and Saturday nights the services were extended to 1am to further alleviate traffic issues. In addition the KL Monorail, high above the street traffic, although presently a rather simple 11 station network, it did connect other transport hubs and several tourist destinations. Unfortunately, the construction of the monorail had left piles of rumble still littering the city and created a obstacle for foot passage.

Shady spot in KLCC Park

The smallest Hibiscus blossom we had ever seen.

Hanging Hibiscus









Another destination which Burney was keen to experience was the world’s largest free flight aviary at the Kuala Lumpur Birdpark. As Burney had visited something similar in Singapore, rather than paying a rather high entrance fee, she suggested lunching at the Hornbill Restaurant. Whilst open to the public the dining balconies hang under the aviary canopy. We were delighted to have a Rhinoceros Hornbill perch nearby in a tropical palm while a much smaller Black Hornbill took a low tier. Opposite our lunch spot lay the Hibiscus Gardens that wound up the hillside while the extensive Botanical Gardens spilled along the waterway. Each setting offered grand views and lovely birding opportunities.

Aviary Netting









Rhinoceros Hornbill

Then it was time to see how our old gal Brahminy Too was fairing. Thanks to our “man on the ground” Faizal, we knew that she had been safe while we were visiting Australia. Not only did we receive regular emails but occasionally a photo, including the capture of a large rat in our cockpit!! Although keen to continue our travels, there was that never-ending list of “to do” items.

Rattus bigus

Nevertheless, our days at Country Garden, and indeed the country of Malaysia, drew to a close. We had been there since early January. A month longer than expected as Burney’s back complaints were escalating. After serious contemplation and research into the options, we decided to book a consultation with a neurologist who specialised in spinal surgery. Long story made short, the operation appeared to be a success and after 2 follow-up appointments, Dr Teo gave the “all clear” to start sailing again. (Though under advisement)

Keyhole surgery



It has been an interesting month with Burney working hard at her recuperation, while Hans checked systems on the boat. It’s amazing how suddenly something stops working? He found the anchor winch wasn’t working properly – corrosion on an electrical terminus. Oil was leaking into the bilge…from where? The oil filter seal was wanting. The fridge started freezing everything. In addition, we have become friends with a few more vessels returning to Oz in 2018. During the last days in Country Garden we saw first sv Shakti with Rosi and Mike arrive, then the Catamaran El Misti with Ralph and Jenn and also Brian and Anne from Hybresail who we knew from our 2016 Wonderful Sail 2 Indonesia Rally.


Rosi & Mike from sv Shakti

Recent arrivals “in the frame” at Country Garden

Hybresail joined us at the marina










Soooo, hopefully, all is well for our crossing of the Singapore Straits again. No ropes fouling the prop and damaging the gearbox, this time. Thank you!!

Cos we’re off……

Year of the (cutesy) Dog

Chinese New Year

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Posted by on February 22, 2018 in Uncategorized


2018, Back in the Land of Monkeys and Squirrels.








Barreling along the highway from Kuala Lumper (KL) to Johor Bahru(JB) in a bus, affords the opportunity to reflect on a very busy 5 weeks of visits in south-east Queensland. Palm oil plantations replace the Australian gum tree landscape. Oriental Magpie Robins catch the eye instead of Willy Wagtails and squirrels scamper up tree trunks while monkeys rustle the branches. Burney recalled writing in her notes “We’ve readied the boat for our departure: Seacocks closed, washed the ceiling in vinegar to prevent mould, removed foodstuff, turned the gas off and put rat sack in the cockpit. We’re off! returning to Australia for a whirlwind visit with new and old friends, family and a folk festival.”

It’s that moment.


When we first arrived at Coolangatta Airport on Nov 30th, we smelt Australia. One could bottle the essence of Australia and market it to expats. Although hungover from a sleepless night flight, we marveled at the sound of Magpies warbling and smiled when a Kookaburra cackled. It made Burney pause for thought reacquainting with bird songs not heard for 18 months as we wandered around parklands and later forest tracks. Then we indulged our taste buds feasting on Australian cheeses, tender steaks and oodles of wine. Let’s not mention piles of pavlova!! All our sense were brought to the party.

John, Ise and Monika

Leah, Suhebe and Leon

Roger and Janette (raj) with Nfeisa in the background

Peter and Joy

Ross and Rae

But the most memorable was seeing so many of our friends and family. Our “dance card” was fully booked with only a couple of rest days to recharge our “batteries”. Thanks to Hans’ brother, Martin and daughter, Monika, we were able to criss-cross the countryside in their borrowed cars. Gratefully, we lodged with whoever would have us and some even allowed us to house-sit when they weren’t there, themselves. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Kings Beach, Caloundra

Hans’ thirst for musical indulgences with friends at home and dropping back into sessions at the Celtic Corner in Manly and The Mill in Fortitude Valley was enthusiastically given full rein. Burney birded where ever she could but also with the Wader Group at Manly and with Marie Tarrant around Samsonvale.

Hans reacquainted with his former button box, thanks to Christine.

Christine at Celtic Corner









Needless to say, the whole month of December was a festive event. Mementos from our trips were shared and we abandoned ourselves in festive dining, whenever we arrived at a home. But ultimately, we celebrated the official event of Christmas with new friends, Doug and Michelle Tritton at Dingo Creek. In-laws or outlaws the Tritton/Dauncey families are to be united! We were overcome with sentimental happiness when Monika’s beau, Wil, proposed while we were in Australia. Then, Wil’s family opened their doors to the Dauncey clan both in Brisbane and at Dingo Creek Vineyard. (That included the cellar door at the vineyard) It was a fabulous couple of days. Hans provided the Christmas carols music but also Monika and Wil played ukes. The wines flowed, the food kept coming and the dogs played. A dip in the dam cooled us all on Xmas Day complete with floating drink carriers, thanks to Santa. As a further symbol of unity, Doug, Michelle and Wil organised a tree-planting event. We now have a part of Dingo Creek to nurture and enjoy into the future.

Wil and Monika

The Tritton clan

A mixing of the families


















Festive feasting









Death by pavlova?

A dip in the dam


















Come Boxing Day, the mighty Jazz, very heavily laden took us to the Woodford Folk Festival. (All camping gear provided by our dear friend Elaine. )

Elaine helps Hans load up the mighty Jazz

We have always loved Woodford.

Yet again, we worked as volunteers to earn our entrance and camping fees. As Waste Warriors, we street-picked the amphitheater every morning and tried to educate others on correct rubbish disposal. Proudly, this festival only allows compostable beverage and food wares. Hence the amount of landfill plastics leaving the site was greatly reduced by these better practices. Free to experience many of the acts performing when not working, we yellow highlighted our program. Memorable pieces included John Butler without his band and his wife, Mama Kin who made a very sassy appearance with JB. Katie Miller- Heidke was her usual dynamic self.

Let’s talk Rubbish

Plates, coffee cups and cutlery were compost.











Linsey Pollak, one of Australia’s most brilliant (and under-rated) composer/musicians was wildly innovative. In his recent productions “ Dangerous Song – blue” Linsey played animal calls using a midi-wind controller where breath, lip pressure and fingering control real animal call samples while Lizzie O’Keefe joined him weaving her voice in and out of the musical landscape of animal sounds. Stunning underwater cinematography by David Hannan (Ocean Ark Alliance) was projected onto a screen which appeared to be a large aquarium. Occasionally floor lights illuminated the two performers from within these extraordinary underwater scenes. Brilliant.

Linsey (right) with a New Year’s Eve dance band

Photograph of Linsey Pollak and Lizzie O’Keefe behind a projection screen showing creatures from the ocean. Performance of Dangerous Songs.

While Hans joined others at a joyful uke workshop every morning after work, Burney went for belly laughs with Martin Pearson and John Thompson and a variety morning show that might have been called “Snack, Cackle and Poop”?

Martin Pearson and John Thompson

Visiting the Folk Festival was another social occasion with many of our friends either visiting or camped for the entire week, like us. An exhausting but fabulous week!!










Peter Beutel, Ray Glancy and Elaine

The Fire Event. Jan. 1st 2018

Before departing, we had yet another visit with Hans’ family for a couple of days.

Martin (brother), Hans and Mother, Ise.

So that was it, for our 5 week “sojourn of sofa surfing in South-east Qld”. Feeling relaxed and ready for a few days playing tourist in Kuala Lumper, we were extremely taken-aback by the check-in staff at Coolangatta Airport. Considering we have made flights in and out of Malaysia to Cambodia and Nepal with no comments about our travel plans, we questioned the reasoning behind Australian ground staff disturbed by our lack of an obvious ongoing flight. Well, wrong thing to do!! Before we knew we had an avalanche of grief pouring over us. This was not Air Asia staff but the contracted AeroCare (Ground Handling Company) employees. Our counter person, supposedly called Customer Service, then enlisted her supervisor who was more experienced (3 yrs) who had a serious case of the haughtiness that small world-experienced people could display when given a little power. In our minds she became Ms Hoity Toity. The debacle lasted a very long time and it was only when we both decided to bite our tongues and grind our molars down in frustration that we let her have the last word…. Ms Hoity Toity was always going to have the last word. The fact that we had a valid visa for Indonesia in our passports didn’t fit with their experience. Yet when we explained we had a yacht waiting for us, they glanced over that with – “We can’t know your life story”…. So off we go glad to be through that obstacle.

But wait…not yet.

Border Force needed a chat after we went through Immigration. Ms Hoity Toity had reported us.

“I hear you’ve been making some trouble at the front desk” was his opening. Fortunately, he did understand. (And it helped that Hans’ surname was recognized. His brother works for Border Force) Pheew. You must realize that the whole experience left a very sour taste in our mouths. So much for being an Australian visiting “Home”.

Sailors be warned: carry your boat and marina papers when flying to Australia. The laws changed in 2015 we were told. However “Ground Handling after reading various sections of the Department of Home Affairs website, Burney is still trying to find the actual wording.

Photo Gallery of happier experiences.

A festive Turbo

Double-barred Finches

Grey crowned Babblers


Manly high tide roost Wader Group

Red-necked Avocet at Port of Brisbane

Comb-crested Jacana

The family Coot

Red-bellied Black snake photo by Marie Tarrant while birding

Unforgettable: the sound of a gaggle of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo

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Posted by on January 14, 2018 in Uncategorized


Cruising into Oct. conclusion….

Sunday 29 October, 2017

Johor coat of arms

It was 7.30am when the log book was opened and an entry written. Brahminy had just enough water under her keel but not enough to go around the fishermen with their netting buoys strung across the only passage that had some depths. While Burney went to observe from the bow, Hans stopped the engine on cue and thus the propeller, using the momentum to pass over the net. Then we were off.  +/- 50 nm to Pulau Pisang with a “lovely offshore breeze on the beam”.  Wind registered 13.5 knots and our speed was reaching 5.9 knots under sails. Large FAD’s (fish attracting devices) and fish farms dotted the passage. It was because we were so focused watching the approaching obstacles that we were fortunate to notice 2 bumps appear and disappear, breaking the water surface. ????? Thoughts rose and were cancelled in a millisecond, Turtle? Fish? Shark?  Stingray? Until Burney said “Sea Otters!” Yes.

Sea Otter







Encounters with sea otters are few and very far between. Burney had her first experience when birding on Pangkor Island. One scampered out of the neighbouring bay and along a creek bank before disappearing into the lush vegetation overhanging the next bend. Then, while standing at the end of the Chew Clan Jetty gazing out into Junk Anchorage near Georgetown, Penang, two were spotted chasing fish. Our last sighting was while exploring the Lake Gardens of Taiping where we saw them on 2 consecutive days. However, this was the first time we had seen them doing a coastal passage. The area around us had some shoaling banks and was less than a mile offshore. Perhaps it was an ideal fishing ground.

With a wind shift the genoa was furled. Thunder rumbled although there was no obvious front rolling through. Nevertheless our anemometer had completed a 180° shift of the dial before settling on a direct head-on sodding blow. With another 20 miles to cover, we were looking at a late arrival.

More fortunate was a fleet of monohulls heading north. The AIS described some as of Australian and American registration. Since Burney thought they were perhaps part of the Sail Malaysia Rally, Hans contacted one vessel on the VHF radio. Indeed they were with the rally and were heading for Port Dickson further north. Friends were also anticipating a couple of the American boats in Pangkor. Whilst we felt like the salmon heading against the flow, we separated saying our “fair swells and fine winds”.

Sail Malaysia heading north

Our memories of having previously anchored on the southern side of the island, Pulau Pisang, were unfavourable. There was an uncomfortable roll and wrap-around backwash. This time with light fading we edged gingerly between neighbouring islets till we found a well sheltered location. The sea bottom was reported to be of mud and shell so we dropped the anchor and reversed her into a firm holding. Possible storms were brewing.

Banana Island (Pulau Pisang)

What a remarkably restful night, it was!! Sometimes we’re lucky. Or are we getting better at this?

With a relatively short junket of 20 nautical miles to our destination at Country Garden marina in Danga Bay, Johor Bahru, we settled in for the ride. This section of coast was particularly interesting as we were approaching the confluence of Malacca Straits, Johor Straits and the Singapore shipping lanes. Tankers, and cargo ships plied the lanes, tugs (with no AIS) towed barges, pilot boats raced to and fro and great rafts of flotsam streamed along our hull. Ever anxious that a rope or large sheet of plastic might foul us again, we sat close to the gear lever. Should the slightest sound possibly indicate a snag, we would have pushed it into neutral and possibly reversed her slightly.

Project image

Sand dredging for development

The sighting of sand dredgers was a regular occurrence. Both Singapore and Malaysia were creating new islands with development for multiple high-rise urban centers in the planning.

“run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run…”

Near Port Tanjung Pelepas, while alert for any incoming or departing Big Girls as we crossed the shipping channel, we noticed tankers taking on fuel from bunkers (huge fuel ships). Other vessels had their center hatches open while diggers filled their cargo holds with coal scooped off a barge. Business was happening at anchor, not along the wharves, which we were accustomed to seeing. With the AIS on our chartplotter going into overload due to all the Singapore Straits traffic, we gratefully hung a left and cruised into Johor Straits heading for the 2nd Link Bridge which connected Malaysia to Singapore.

More barges of coal

A tanker bound for Thailand taking on coal








An invisible line exists along the waterway separating the two countries. Any craft breaching the boundary was often politely but firmly approached by the Singapore Water Police. Whilst never actually crossing the border, we, like most crafts, were shadowed for several miles. A Police escort, if you will.


Police coast guard

Look how tall that mast is. Raffles Marina

Asean Lady: quite an unusual configuration of a high-volume main hull and smaller outrigger hull. 88 meters length, accommodation for 22 guests and 18 crew








Approaching the 2nd Link Bridge with yet another dredger

Once back in Danga Bay and alongside our designated marina berth, 2 crew members from the Country Garden catamaran took our mooring lines. A full year later, we were reacquainting ourselves with the friendly people, the saluting security guards and the pool facilities of this gigantic residential complex.

Marina at Country Garden

Sharing the pool with some birds

The new beach bar with no beer, or wine or any alcohol actually. Mocktail, anyone?

All the towers had been completed with more than 50% of the apartment units having been sold. A few more shops had opened, too. For us, it was inexpensive berthing fees 1000 MYR (Aus $300) per month including water and electricity. We also had use of the pool, quite a bonus. With our beloved Elba cooling our home on the water, we settled in to plan our jaunt back to Brisbane for the month of December!

But first a few days birding the renowned Fraser Hill…..

Australian pumpkins
Oct 31st



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Posted by on November 12, 2017 in Uncategorized


More about Muar

The usual anchorages between the Johor Straits and Port Dickson were Pulau Pisang and the Pulua Besar. The latter was actually a cluster of islands known as the Water Island Group. We had the experience of it being rather open to the wrap-around effects of swell and thus an uncomfortable anchorage with potential storms. There were a couple of unsuccessful marinas in the area; one was at Malacca and another at Muar. In the early 2000’s the government attempted to provide facilities and create a world-class cruising destination for yachts along the coast of Malaysia. Unfortunately, although completed several locations suffered from severe siltation and/or poor wave protection. In a serious westerly or “Sumatra” storm they would be untenable. Muar, however did provide a meandering river suitable for anchorage. The issue was getting over the banks outside of the river entrance.

The meandering Muar River. Google image

Wednesday afternoon, Oct 25th we were forced to anchor near the lateral beacons approx. 1 mile from the mouth of the river as the tide was ebbing and the depths were too risky. Although feeling exposed we were extremely favoured with a calm evening. The town sat neatly on either side of the river. To our starboard upon arriving we saw a trimmed and landscaped riverfront dotted with old and new buildings. All tidy and picture perfect.

Ferry Jetty Tanjung Emas ramp

Peteri Street, a riverside promenade











Directly near our anchorage was Tanjung Emas Recreational Park jetty which serviced a short Muar River Cruise. It was there we would leave our tender locked to a pole on a boat ramp. Each shore visit prompted local interest with people gathering to exam the unusual inflated craft and the rarely seen caucasians visiting on a cruising boat. The typical dozen questions ensued: “Where you come from” “how long you stay here” How long from Australia” “ Just the two of you?”…. It was easy to gain information and assistance as the folk were so friendly. A lane of shady trees, benches, a promenade and a food court beckoned.

Mee Bandang Muah,
spicey but oh so nicey!

Hans unwraps Otak-Otak










We tried our first example of the local specialty, Mee (noodles) Bandung Muar. It was noodles in a rich and thick prawn flavor soup made from a combination of sambal, shrimp paste, cuttlefish and beef. A couple of grilled Otak-Otak served as hors d’oeuvres while we waited for our noodle soup. The banana leaves were wrapped around a fish paste made from the local catch, spices, chili and coconut milk. Then the packet was grilled. The texture was similar to smoked meat and children often ate them as a healthy snack.

Bike Hire with a solar panel lock (Rental is via a mobile phone app)

Muar (derived its name from the Malay word muara or estuary) was a very walkable town being flat. Also, the local government provided free bicycles. Having been a British administration centre, a series of colonial buildings shouldered the riverside with Chinese style shophouses lining the adjoining streets. Many of the official buildings featured  designs popular in 19th-century Europe and British colonies. High ceilings, verandas, columns, arches, louvred windows, decorative plaster and balustrades were common elements of buildings of that period. However, in keeping with local cultural populations some adaptions were apparent.

Clocktower Pavilon at Dataran Tanjung Emas

On the opposite bank an identical replica, built 1999-2005

British Colonial design Mosque Sultan Ibrahim
built 1925-30











The Muar Royal Customs & Excise Office. Erected in 1909.

In the riverside parklands was an old train engine. Muar was once served by its own railway network known as Muar State Railways (MSR). Operating from 1889 to 1925, it started just four years after the first railway line of the country from Taiping to Port Weld in Perak was inaugurated in 1885.

Hans in pink on “Mauve Street”

What were exceptionally charming were the matching coloured structures. Most of the promenade road had mauve shophouses, the next was yellow then pink. One of the cross streets was predominately blue and green.










We appeared to be the only non-Asians out and about. People passing in cars wound down their windows to wave. Everyone was smiling and polite. Children gaped while parents wanted photographs of us holding their child. Why? We do not know. Furthermore, it was the cleanest town we had ever seen, other than Singapore in S.E. Asia. Seldom was a piece of plastic seen floating on the river. Most out-of-the-ordinary.












With the forecasted weather presenting less desirable conditions, we lingered longer until Sun 29th . On another excursion ashore Burney suggested a street art theme. Nearby our anchorage was a very popular public square, Dataran Tangjung Emas (possibly translates to Cape Gold Square). Most evenings, families and young folk walked the esplanade area, lingering by the water for a sunset experience or played on the square. Vendors sold bubble makers, ice creams, illuminating gadgets or motorized cars for kindy kids to ride. It was there we recorded our first mural and became acquainted with a large family enjoying the precinct.

Brahminy in the background

Syamil’s family










Four different ethnic backgrounds taking a selfie

Clocktower mural

After that we wandered further along the back streets of the old town on a treasure hunt of street art.

An entire wall of a building

A real boat as part of the mural







Such clean streets, even the alley-ways

A recommended cruising destination, Muar

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Posted by on November 4, 2017 in Uncategorized


Cruising into October continued….


2016, Oct 31 anticipating the Singapore Straits

October 31st 2016 was the day Brahminy Too exited CIQ Port Tangjung Pinang in Indonesia before making her way to Malaysia. It has been 1 year. Although, we first anchored near the Puteri Port Harbour in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, a few days later we moved to a birth at Country Gardens Marina, Danga Bay.


Country Gardens, Danga Bay










And there we were again. Reacquainting with our local friend Faizal and settling into the comforts of (inexpensive) resort living. Not bad for 1000 Maylaysian Ringits a month ( a tad over $300 including water and electricity). The journey south from Penang was painless. Indeed a joy! We had the wind, and there was wind, and currents with us most of the time as we day hopped revisiting previous marinas and anchorages and exploring a new town. That was a bonus.

Australian Pumpkins for 31 October 2017

Brahminy Too off again

Having moved Brahminy Too out of the marina with the high tide late one afternoon, our cruising diary began October 10th, just after 4.30am, with the anchor up near Jerejak Island. Although, our arrival was too late for a high tide entry into Pangkor Island Marina, it was fascinating to navigate the Dinding River of Lumut in search of an overnight anchorage. Apart from the ferries to Pangkor Island, the Port of Lumut hosted a high-tech bulk terminal and stationed the Royal Malaysian Navy’s biggest base on the west coast of Malaysia. When Burney visited Lumut in the 80’s it was a fisherman’s village.

A bit of weather, that didn’t get us …

then…a bit of sunshine





Anchored near the port

Lumut’s base for the
Royal Malaysian Navy





Next day with the high tide, we started our run into the marina around 7.30am when we saw sv Matilda on anchor. We’d not seen them since Oct. last year with the arrival of our rally into Malaysia.  A quick catch-up was shouted over our bows as we passed. Snuggly berthed and checked in, it was a time to socialise with several sailors we have come to know over the 18 mths we have been cruising overseas. Then a few days turned into 9 days before we could continue our south-bound jaunt.


Lunch with the catamaran crew from Hybresail and sv Matilda

Dinner with Pepe and Bear off Beez Neez
























Unlike our storm-ridden voyage north along the Malaysian west coast, we experienced many days of favourable winds and fine sailing. The first day of this leg was Friday Oct. 20th. The “skipping fish” were busy dancing away from our wake. Not flying fish but possibly gar-like Needlefish: jump, shimmy on the tail, jump again and shimmy. Brilliant! They could cover 30-50 meters escaping from our boat’s heft. The breeze was coming out of the north-east corner. Then, as the wind died, the south flowing current kicked in. Now that was what we had signed-on for. Well protected in the Burnham River, on the border between the states: Perak and Selangor, we settled in for a quiet afternoon on the pick. The “Klang run” the following day would be a long one.

Northbound in 2016

Malaysian fishing vessels are now required to have AIS

After dodging a fleet of fishing boats, we had the breeze and current with us again. Brahminy always preferred 15 knots of wind to keeping her sailing well but Hans decided to endure the pains of hoisting the spinnaker to effectively make-way with winds lighter than that. What a beautiful sight that colourful sail was.

WoW!! When the currents started to funnel between the submerged sandbanks and the breeze peaked to 15 knots we were hooting along! Excitedly, Burney sat calling the speed 8.8, 8.9, 9 KNOTS plus.

That was a first.

9.6 knots Angsa Banks to Klang

Although local news had reported a serious downturn in the shipping businesses using Port Klang as various companies moved their concerns to Singapore, it was still busy as we slipped through in the late afternoon. Watching those “Big Girls” had become a fascination since we moved so often near international shipping lanes.

Mighty tugs and a big gal

It had been a 12-hour-day at the office but a good one. Anchor down with the sun setting and sipping a cool beverage, we watched the cruise liner disembark fully lit. Dry lightning flickered in the distance but all was well.

Port Klang sunset, view from our anchorage


“Mariner of the Seas” Royal International Caribbean








Hop, skip and one more day-jump and we were coming into Admiral Marina at Port Dickson on Sunday afternoon Oct 22nd.
Initially, we had been told there were no vacant berths available. Many yachts from the 2 x 2017 Indonesian Rallies were already travelling north booking marinas in advance, well before the programmed Sail Malaysian Rally dates of Nov 1-3 for Port Dickson. Although, we had Plan A & B prepared, we were right in assuming the north-bound fleet were hindered by the head-on winds. Better a paying customer at the door, than a no-show.

Passing Avanti Resort just north of our marina destination








Resort publicity photo of accommodation

That evening, heavy thunder drummed around us with blinding lightning flashes. Fortunately, there were no strikes in the actual marina. Lightning strike has occurred in the same marina as we were told by 2 men we met while cruising around Langkawi. Their monohull was one of 5 vessels caught in a side-flash. People on a separate finger saw a spear of lightning directly hit a large catamaran then “run” along the finger zapping the neighbours. All their electronics had either melted or been rendered useless. Why the concern? It’s a myth that lightning never strikes in the same place twice. Indeed we recently made acquaintances with a catamaran owner claiming his vessel has been struck 3 times. (We quietly agreed never to park near him.)

Entering Admiral Marina

Brahminy ensconced once again











Also visiting Admiral Marina was sv Charon. We had first met Richard Phillips, the skipper, when we came into Townsville with Brahminy, our first live-aboard vessel. He and his partner Marilyn had left Australia with the 2015 Sail 2 Indonesia Rally. Since then our paths have often been on reciprocal courses. As was the case, again, this time. A one night catch-up and off they went north covering our tracks to Penang.

Richard Phillips, the KFC colonel look-alike

As our log entry recorded, we coasted Cape Richado shortly after 7am a couple of days later with light winds heading us from the south-east. The previous day, had seen us trekking into that national park in quest of birds, but to no avail. The migratory route of the southbound raptors of April did not follow the same course north, in Oct-November. Actually, very few birds were seen.

The Cape at dawn

Cape Richado light








Whoops that wasn’t there last time

Cape storm damage











Bypassing Melaka (Malacca) and tippy-toeing through miles of sleeping giants, we were bound for Muar.

Sleeping giants

The chartplotter showing many tankers at anchor







Like Malacca, Muar shared elements of Portuguese occupation during the era when Holland was vying for control of the Malacca Straits. Also Colonial Britain left its architectural mark on several official buildings. Since, we had read that others (sv Matilda and Liberte) had visited and enjoyed the location, we made it our desired anchorage, instead of the less protected usual overnight stop at Pulua Besar , The Water Islands.

Port Dickson-Mallacca-Muar

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Posted by on November 2, 2017 in Uncategorized


“Taiping, the city that tin built”.


Street mural

Like Ipoh, Taiping was a city “that tin built”.

Indeed most of the pioneering work of developing Malaysia was carried on the shoulders of tin mining. With the arrival of Chinese immigrants in Malaysia, panning commenced around the 1820’s and steadily grew until some clan and local Malay gang conflicts over mining rights and access to drinking water irrupted. This chaos was the formal precipitating cause of the British “forward movement” in the Peninsular, which culminated in the establishment of colonial control over the main tin mining Malay states in 1874. Thereafter, progress pushed forward with a stretch of railway line connecting the tin fields to the waiting ships at Port Weld. Malaysia’s first railway. Then the first trunk roads in Peninsular Malaysia was routed through the main tin towns of Taiping, Ipoh and Kuala Lumper, all resources were bound for the British Isles.

Stop that train! More street art.

We had traveled by bus from Penang to Taiping. Ipoh was further south.

Taiping was the tin capital of the state Perak until it was superseded by Ipoh. Because we enjoyed visiting Penang and Ipoh searching out the historical buildings and following the development of the country, it was natural to add Taiping to the list. Although crumbling and faded in places, it was a lovely place to visit and discover grand old colonial architecture, again. Boasting a further series of firsts, Taiping claimed: the first hill station in Malaysia, Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut), the first museum, the first prison, and the first English language schools. Furthermore, Taiping’s beautiful Lake Gardens was the oldest public park in Malaysia.

Shophouses old and worn

Shophouses refreshed








Unfortunately its nom de plume, “The Wettest City in Malaysia” did not bode well, particularly as we were visiting in the wet season!

Nevertheless, between cloudbursts we managed to follow much of the heritage self-guiding walk.

Bus stop near an information board for the Heritage Trail

Near our hotel on Jalan Stesen, King Edward VII school opened by the Sultan of Perak in 1906.

Our first foray was to the Lake Gardens. Passing firstly an imposing Government building, we read that it was constructed in 1895-98 to provide space for various council and government ministries. It continued to house offices for the regional area.

Government Offices

Then came the Taiping Lending Library which had taken up residence in a bungalow that once was constructed for a branch of Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, back in 1882.

Former bank building

The Lake Gardens which have been in use since 1884 was a very large series of landscaped parks, ponds and bridges.

Lake Gardens

Branches reached over the road.

Rain Trees over 100 years old









Created from abandoned tin mines, they were said to have been modeled on London’s Kensington Park and other royal parks in Britain. As we took shade under the grand old Rain Trees which lined the avenue, we came upon Jubilee Jetty. Looking across to a distant bank, we saw the biggest monitor lizard since we left the Kommodo Islands!! It swaggered slowly down the incline to immerse itself in the cooling waters but within seconds there was a thrashing surge under the surface and the lizard dashed out of the lake and back up the bank. What Happened? Was it a territorial dispute with another lizard lolling there? Burney continued to observe and eventually spotted two large otters. Now you don’t see that every day.










Crossing a quaint bridge and distracted by an unidentified heron stalking the fish on an isolated reed bed, Hans pointed to a large bird flying over. Burney’s jaw dropped. It was a Rhinoceros Hornbill, a bird she’d not seen before and there she stood with no camera and no binoculars. When the second hornbill flew past the best she could do was use the camera on her mobile phone. Proof positive if one zoomed up.

Zoomed and heavily cropped

Look closely in the sky

Rhinoceros Hornbill
Photo by Kh Neh Oct 17 also in the Lake Gardens











As we wandered the streets looping back towards our hotel looking for a suitable eatery, we found the old and new clock towers. Adjacent to the rather retro looking new clock was a remarkable building with numerous wooden slats and high cathedral-like ironwork. The smell indicated that it was the wet market where fish (and probably meat) was sold.

Concret Clock tower

Wet market since 1884-85











The old clock tower was all that remained, surrounded and dwarfed by poorly maintained high-rise hotels. In bygone days, both the police and fire brigade were housed there in a larger building which resembled a fort when it was created.


Once the residence of a wealthy importer and rice wine brewer, the corner structure was built according to the “Straits Eclectic” architectural style of 1928. ( A bit of this Asian Feng Shui and a dash of that British colonial)

Peace Hotel

These days, like several heritage buildings in Taiping, it was in need of a clean and a fresh paint job. While it advertised as the Peace Hotel, the converted ground floor was a food court  which still sported some old charm with delightful wall tiles.

Dinner: chicken broth with flat rice noodles, tofu, dimsum and fishballs (and a fertilised egg)


Breakfast: Steamed pork buns

Assorted wontons









On another excursion, while riding the bus towards the Maxwell Hill Station ticket office, Burney saw the stately whitewashed mansion which once served as the British Officers Mess. Apparently, it was still used by the Malaysian Army. Where was Hans? Unwell with a very chesty flu, back at the hotel.

Officers Mess

Quickly thereafter barbwire-topped walls appeared. Taiping Gaol which was established in 1879 when Chinese gangs ran the tin mines and were engaged in open conflict. Convict labour was used to build much of Taiping and also ran various trades from within the prison such as a laundry and bakery. It was still an active prison. Opposite stood the Museum. Set up by Sir Hugh Low when he was Resident of the state of Perak, the building itself dated from 1883.


St. George’s Institution, a Catholic boy’s school established in 1915. The original building was extended in 1928. During the WWII, according to the school website “It was converted into the headquarters for the Kempetai (military police). The rumoured brutality and torture committed by the Japanese military police during the tenure of the school is a source of ghostly legends commonly circulated by the students even till today.”

St. George’s Institution

But for something a little more light-hearted, wandering home after dining that day we found this.

“Paint with Passion”
street art

The light was real and illuminated.

The tree tops clambered with the roosting racket of parakeets settling in for the night. Also the loud recordings of Edible-nest Swiftlets had finally ceased, to be replaced by the real calls of the birds arriving back at their false caves in house attics where “nest farming” was practiced.

Long tailed Parakeet

Next: Burney spends a morning on Maxwell Hill birding. See

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Posted by on October 23, 2017 in Uncategorized