Back in the Cruising Saddle

Mixed Feelings

After a hectic couple of days shopping and laundry, catching up with old friends and making new ones in Sebana Cove, Temptress began her latest voyage on Tuesday 30 April. The crew were in a bit of a mixed state – leaving Singapore now seemed final. Joining a rally fleet where we hardly knew anyone, had yet to meet the organisers and weren’t exactly sure what was planned was a little more than unsettling, yet it was good to be living onboard once more. The rally includes around 35 boats but many didn’t come to Sebana and nearly half the fleet don’t join until Kuching, the first stop on the island of Borneo so we feel a bit in limbo.

A 30 odd nm motor trip would take us around to T Pangaii a quiet little bay located just north of the south east tip of peninsula Malaysia, just seven miles as the crow flies due east of Sebana! A few hours in and storm clouds began to gather over the mainland. Motorsailing with the main up we tacked, put in the second reef as a precaution and headed out to sea skirting around the rain. This ploy soon failed – it was pouring down. The land disappeared leaving us debating the wisdom of trying to close the land again to find our planned anchorage. Just as we’d agreed to carry on through the night the rain clouds parted and a grey watery sun encouraged us to head west to find Pangaii where we tucked up behind the little seaward island for a comfy night. We weren’t the only ones, another unidentified yacht joined us much later in the evening.

A Hairy Night

In the morning two more boats motored in toward the bay ‘Christophe’ & ‘Sea Monkey’ but didn’t stop. For a few hours before noon Temptress sailed north along the east coast of Johore, however the wind died and once more we had to motor. This time to clear the headland of Makchata. We spotted the catamaran ‘Ameldec’ who we’d met in Sebana heading for Tingii and another yacht at anchor off Sibu. That second night was spent in a familiar anchorage off Pulau Babi Besar, the location of the Changi Sailing Club Pulua Besar Regatta every June. The crew were woken by a rising wind in the rigging just before 1 am and quickly closed all the hatches.

For the next hour or so it was one of those hairy nights; forty knots plus of breeze from the north, thunder, lightning and very heavy rain. The skipper donned his oilies, the first mate put the kettle on and dug out life jackets in case we had to put to sea. The pier got rather close off our stern but the anchor held and the storm passed heading south to blatter Singapore. In the rough seas that followed the skipper opted to doze though an anchor watch in the cockpit rather than go to his bunk. The following morning dawned bright and clear, a normal tropical weather service had resumed. The afternoon of May 2nd saw us drop the hook off the beach in Teluk Tekek, Tioman, we’d motored all the way, it was hot and windless. The sea was once more blue and clear and we spent most of the afternoon in the water swimming around the boat and across to ‘Obsession II’ anchored nearby.

That evening the rally began properly for us with an informal meeting at the marina reception area then a meal together at a local Chinese seafood restaurant along the street. Conveniently there is a duty free beer shop next door selling cans for 3 MYR (about $0.90 Sing), we thought it a bargain after Singapore prices! Finally we got to meet Sazli the rally organiser from Tourism Malaysia and began to make friends amongst the other boat crew. This rally thing is going to be fun!

Welcoming Our First Visitor

Saturday afternoon’s ferry from Mersing brought Claire to join the crew. Once she had stowed her stuff the three of us set off to the marina reception area to meet up the rest of the rally folk. The village had organised an afternoon of games for us. Sazli said it was one of the highlights of the rally in previous years and though we were all a bit dubious, not really knowing each other let alone our hosts we climbed into the 4×4 trucks to be whisked off around the bay.

Tioman literally rises vertically out of the sea but the west coast has a narrow strip of flat land with a tiny airfield and all the village buildings. One area was big enough as a sports field and what fun we had – two teams of yachties versus three or four of villagers – the games after a ‘high tea’ of fried rice and noodles were a cross between British party games and school sports day events; egg and spoon relay, water-filled balloon throwing, find the candy in a plate of flour and finally a tug of war. The prize giving also included a lucky draw so almost everyone went home with something! And, though reluctant at first to join in, once we overcame any inhibitions we might have had we yachties really had fun and began to bond.

Early Sunday morning a group of us climbed aboard the 4x4s again for a short drive to the start of the jungle trek… this is one of Tioman’s highlights aside from the diving for which it is rightly famous. The climb up a steep path is mostly on concrete steps that follow the village’s water supply pipes and electricity cables. For almost two hours a couple of dozen of us walked up and up, the steps hard work on the knees. Eventually it evened out then having reached the top we started down toward Juara on the west coast. The path meets a narrow concrete road where the 4x4s met us to take us down to a waterfall where most of us swam in the cool fresh stream under a waterfall, then on to the village for lunch in a beach café before being driven up and over back to Tekek. This road is the sole one on the island, most of the transport between the beach resorts is by boat.

Pot Luck Supper

By now the rally folk were starting to get organised, as well as a whatsapp group we decided on VHF 77 for communication. Monday a few boats decided to head around to anchor off Juara and despite a heavy downpour, managed sundowners on Sharman and Il Sogno who were anchored alongside each other. The following night we all met on the floating party platform again for a potluck supper. The French and Swiss crews brought guitars and a good time was had by all.

Provisions on Tioman are poor at best so a couple of boats headed off either to pick up parts or to do some shopping for fresh food on the mainland. Temptress had had a battery failure of one of the domestic bank and Kevin decided the best way to solve this was to buy a complete new set. With help from Shelley & Kyle of ‘Blowin Bubbles’ who were in the boatyard in nearby Endau having the boat antifouled and decks painted, replacements were sourced and plans laid to pull into the tide restricted Endau River just before HW on Thursday. Triple checking the tide Temptress anchored off P. Tengah located an hour or so south of Endau on Wednesday afternoon. Overnight a whole fleet of local fishing trawlers anchored around us! We knew we had the tides right when they set off for the river entrance at the same time as us. It was a crazy waterborne rush hour with fishing boats arriving, and leaving, at full speed in the narrow channel as well as departing ferries heading for Tioman.

A Brief Visit to the Mainland

The Propect Dockyard had been very helpful when Kevin had called to arrange to come along side. And Miss Ng was there to welcome us in person with two of her yard boys delegated to take our lines. We tied up to their work boat. Soon Vincent, the battery seller Shelley and Kyle had found for us arrived and the yard boys helped Kevin carry the three heavy 160 amp hour batteries ashore before loading on the boat their replacements.

Meanwhile Claire and I headed off to find a supermarket. Miss Ng gave us rough directions and a yard worker pointed the way to the front gate so we were surprised when half way up the dirt track to the main road Miss Ng drew alongside in her 4×4 – hop in I’ll take you. She then kindly waited while we shopped for green veggies, fruit and meat before taking us to the ferry terminal where she helped Claire book a taxi for later that afternoon. Sadly Claire’s time with us was coming to an end and she was heading down the coast to Mersing to get the bus back to Singapore. By 21:30 that evening Claire was safely home and Temptress was at anchor of P Tengah with ‘Blowin’ Bubbles’ who had been launched that morning.

Back to Tioman

The next morning we motored the 25 odd miles east to Tioman again in company with ‘Blowin’ Bubbles’. Worryingly Kyle said he couldn’t see us on the AIS, another job for our growing list of tasks before Temptress departs for the next rally stop in the Anambas in a couple of weeks. The afternoon was hot and sticky so once anchored we had a swim to the shore and back. Our swimming muscles are really returning into shape, it being one of the few regular forms of exercise for yachties.

Little by little we become in tune with the climate. Saturday, rising early just after day break, the pair of us completed a variety of little tasks around the boat; laundry was put to soak, the jackstays fitted, new elastic replaced the stuff that’s been holding jars in the spice rack since 2001, floors swept and this blog written. By 10:30 it was just too hot to do anything more. A thunder storm passing off the mainland and heading out into the China Sea north of Tioman has killed the breeze. Time to read in the shade of the cockpit until the sun begins to sink again. We have well and truly settled into the cruising life.

PS: Sorry no photos for now as the tincan internet here is just too slow!

Ships Log: 244 nautical miles since departing Changi Sailing Club


  1. Sounds fantastic! But we all miss you here
    Tim and Team Cicak


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