After numerous breakages, we finally managed to fix the fuel system and get the engine running again. There was one broken fuel line, which took $80 and 3 days to have made. Then when the engine still wouldn’t start or even bleed correctly, I took the Racor filter housing apart and found a ton of black goo in the check-valve. Once cleaned, and bled, and bled some more, the engine started. Hearing the sound was like sitting at the symphony, it was so beautiful. I also found out that I am contractually obligated to ship the boat and I missed the cancellation date by 12 days or so. The company has already paid for the deck space, so I guess Slick will be on her way to Turkey soon. At the time, I wanted to stay in South East Asia longer, but I have since relegated myself to shipping her.

Check out from Singapore was an all morning affair, and then off we went. One quick stop in the anchorage to clear immigration, who took my papers with a fishing net, and then into the straights once more. The engine purred nicely into two knots of counter current and it took us forever to make it out of Singaporean waters. We stayed just outside the shipping lanes for the most part. There are so many ships here, it is unbelievable. After awhile we were clear of Singapore and heading up the Malay coast. The sunset was as orange as ever, and the current still not letting up. We had about 1-1.5 miles between the shipping lanes and the 80 foot contour where all the fish traps start. The first night the wind was not so much, and we motored through, but then the lighting storms came. Massive amounts of rain, thunder and wind on the nose, of course. We were in the Straights of Malacca after all, home to the dreaded storm “Sumatra” (see above). These are thunder-squalls that move off the island of Sumatra and over the straights. They jump you pretty fast and some of them can be pretty big. I think we went through about 11 of them. I don’t like storms so terrible they name them. In addition there are also thunderstorms that form and then collapse off the Malay Peninsula. Never have I seen so much lighting, but to Mathew, it just reminded him of his last cruise off Costa Rica. The squalls would leave the sea churned up a bit and wind still on the nose. This made motoring difficult.

Having made it through the first night, I realized why the counter current was so high, there is an enormous time/distance difference here for the tides. Two tide stations may only be ten miles apart, but the difference in high tide time for them is something like 2 hours. I have never seen that before, usually it would be almost the same time. Now if it worked out in our favor we would have a few extra hours of fair tide everyday, but with the moon cycle the way it was, we had an extra two against us. If that wasn’t bad enough, the wind was steady on the nose at around 10-15 with no room to stitch up the channel, so we were left motoring slightly off the wind. Come nightfall I realized the current would be about 2.5 knots against us for 6 hours and rather than endure the night-squalls and ships in the narrowest parts of the straights, we anchored in the lee of Cape Rachado. We posted anchor watches and got underway early with the intention of heading to Penang or Lumut in one hop.

We left and made 2-3 knots of way toward our destination. This was the slowest day, I think ever. We would see a land feature and it would take us hours to pass it, literally hours. Beating our heads against the straights was getting us nowhere, and then a pretty big Sumatra showed up, and then another, and finally one more. The seas were tore up, it was ten o-clock at night, there was now very little wind.

We decided to pull into Port Klang, the closest port to KL. As we were coming in, getting thrown about in the anchorage of massive ships, Perky died, again. Shit! Last time at least we would see where we were going, but this time it was pitch black. We tried to decided if we should sail up the river or go anchor near shore. We found a little shelter from the waves behind a small point and anchored under sail, in 5 knots of wind and 2 knots of current. Luckily for us the anchor grabbed right away. The next morning we found the same problem with the fuel system. After some labor we got her started. I was especially thankful to have Matthew and Linda as extra hands through both of these casualties.

We came into Port Klang and stayed at the Royal Salengor Yacht Club, which was a dump, as was the rest of the town. When asked for the best restaurant, the taxi driver said KFC (an answer we hear a lot), so we took an outdoor Chinese place. The next day we got some supplies and Mathew and I flushed the fuel system. The tank had so much crap in it. Sludge everywhere. Maybe that cheap fuel in Brunei was not such a good deal, but we filtered that. KK, Philippines, Palau? We couldn’t figure out where the bad fuel had come from and maybe it is just a buildup over several years. In any case, we have not had any problems since. And here in Langkawi, Zach and I emptied it completely and got lots of sludge out, so hopefully this is the end. One note, to anyone coming here, I suggest you have either a fuel polishing system, or a changeable parallel filter system.

In any case, we left port Klang and had an easy overnight to Lumut, just dodge some fishing traffic. This was a nice little town, even if we had to travel far to get cleared in and out. We stayed at the Royal Lumut Yacht Club, which was pretty dilapidated. Mathew and Linda left from here on a bus to KL and then flights home. It was great having them. The next day Zach and I did an overnighter to Pinang. We waited till slack tide to leave, since fair tide would have thrown us up on a mud bank, and off we went. Naturally as soon as we got clear of land, a Sumatra came rolling in. It fell apart at the last minute though and just gave us overcast with some distant lighting after some brief heavy winds. The problem that night though was all the fishermen and fish traps. We wove our way through and came out unscathed in the morning. Pinang was a beautiful island, but the water was still dirty. The marina that we stayed in was only accessible for a couple of hours a day, and so we had to plow some mud to get in.

Pinang was a let down for me. It is supposed to have really great food. And it probably does, but we couldn’t find anything it was famous for. The food was better than average for sure, but since we were staying quite far out of town, it was tough to be there when the hawker stalls were open. No matter, we ate well anyway. The other thing I didn’t understand about Pinang is that it is a World Heritage Site. I have been to several of these all over the world and they are usually something special. But I failed to find anything special about Pinang. Anyway, we spent too much time downtown searching for the food and amazing architecture. It was nice, but I don’t think it’s World Heritage worthy. The other thing that made Pinang annoying was that there was a stage right above Slick in the Marina and they had terrible music at night and bingo and magic tricks in the morning. It made relaxing on the boat difficult. I did buy a new computer there though, as electronics were cheap, cheaper than the US even. After a few days, when high tide came, we left, plowing mud on our way out. We made 20 miles to a rolley anchorage in the lee of an island and stayed the night. I slept outside awaiting the massive thunderstorms that were growing over land, but they never came. The next day, we motor-sailed into Langkawi.

Langkawi is different than everywhere else we have been in Malaysia. It is an archipelago and has high-ish hills. It is also a duty free zone, so alcohol is reasonable here, instead of the $10/beer it is everywhere else. The town it self is just tourist shops but the scenery is really nice, and the water is clear-ish. We are staying at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club and it has a nice atmosphere. We have been doing work on the boat, and I was hoping to have some major work done here. Unfortunately the cost and availability of things is prohibitive, still. And this is supposed to be the boat-work area of Malaysia. We went into the International Paints store to get the bottom paint I use – 4 times the cost of the US. Ugh. We shopped around for other stuff and it was either not available, or way too expensive. I hope it is better in Phuket, but I heard it won’t be, maybe Turkey. Slick really needs her bottom done due to all the blistering. We will hang out here for a week or so anyway though. Taking a break from transiting, maybe this weekend we will see more of the Island. I have a feeling it will be a great weekend never the less.

Malaysia is a confusing place. On one hand it seems poor, but on the other they air-condition the outside. The food is delicious, but seems entirely unsanitary, making you wonder about eating it. The people are not particularly friendly, unless they are, and then they really are. I have not really enjoyed my time here, but it might be due to the crowds and pollution and bad sailing. I used to think that per-capita energy density was in some way analogous to quality of life. But Malaysia has really made me question this. They would have a huge per-capita energy density if they did not have so many people to normalize against. I don’t feel the quality of life is that high and the power that is produced seems wasted all over. At least here in Langkawi the air is clean, even though there are still open sewers.

We are off to Thailand next, I have heard great things about it. I don’t want to get my expectations too high as they are always let down then. In less than a month, Slick will ship off to Turkey and Zach will fly home and I will be on my own, back-packing about. What a change that will be.

A bit of a rant – I still don’t understand why MIT-NSE censored the video I made for the national student ANS conference. Seriously, how do you guys think the fish you were eating died? And don’t tell me you have never eaten sashimi. I should have claimed some artistic credential like my work can only be shown in full or not at all.

One last thing – On the way to Langkawi, I received several sat-texts telling me the Boston Marathon had been bombed. I was shocked, as I am sure all of my friends in Boston were. I really cannot understand what sort of asshole would attack a marathon and why? Why a marathon? I am angry and confused about this. While my thoughts and prayers are for the affected families, I know that Boston is a tough city and it is definitely not a place full of cowards. Living there, one can feel Boston is a city immune to fear, more importantly, Boston is a city immutable by fear.