Sunday, November 25, 2012



Sailors have so many superstitions but until now we have chosen to ignore most of them. (We did go to some trouble for King Neptune crossing the equator.) We left Puteri Harbour Marina, Johor Bahru, on a Friday to start our journey north through the Malacca Strait, and we didn’t think anything of it. We’ve left port on a Friday countless times. It wasn’t until the following day that our luck turned against us. Perhaps it is cumulative.

We had spent a pleasant night at an island called Pulau Pisang, and we left early in the morning for an easy 46NM sail. First off things started to go wrong. As Rob was raising the anchor it leapt off its supporting frame and gouged a big divot into the hull. Rob has a great system that supposedly prevents this happening, but not today.

No sooner had we recovered from that little setback and boom, there was a large explosion! The bracket holding the solid stainless boom vang that runs from the base of the mast to the boom gave way, sending the large heavy rod crashing through the window of the dodger. Being safety glass it smashed with a huge bang, sending glass all over the deck, down the companionway and throughout the cockpit. Poor Motley was asleep under the dodger and faster than light she was right at the back of the boat. I looked back to see a little head peering over the lift raft, with eyes like saucers. It was lucky that she didn’t go one or two steps further and off the back of the boat. The bracket appeared to have been under stress for some time and it finally gave way due to some rather dodgy engineering.

That was only the start. The supposedly easy 46 miles turned into a torturous beat against a head wind and an adverse current which kicked up the seas into nasty steep 2 metre high waves. The boat pitched from bow to stern and from side to side making life on board very uncomfortable. For Motley it was definitely a “cupboard day”. We can define our days on whether it is a “cupboard day” or not. Motley will squeeze into her favourite hidey hole in the cupboard in the galley if the weather is inclement or something else is going on that she is not happy with. If she heads to the cupboard we know we are in for a bad day. This day Motty was in the cupboard all day. Room for one more?

Anyway we pounded through the waves and oncoming wind for hours. We considered stopping somewhere but the wind’s direction didn’t’ allow for any protected anchorage anywhere. Suddenly there is another crash! This time perhaps not so serious but I took it as a very bad omen. Our brass ship’s bell suddenly loosened itself and crashed down on the nav table, with a clang. It has been happily hanging there for years, but chose this day to let loose. Now I was really worried. What bad luck will come with the heart of the ship falling down like that? One piece of good luck was that normally we have our lap top sitting on the nav table, but this time it was safely tucked away. The bell did claim a casualty though. Our dear little wooden dolphin had its tail snapped off.

Somewhere in the middle of this disastrous few days daughter Meagan rang. While I was telling her our tales of woe she was Googling  luck on boats. Here are a few things that she came up with.

It’s bad luck if:

You meet a red haired man or someone with crossed eyes before your journey

You have bananas or women on your boat (a naked woman is good luck!)

You cut your hair or nails at sea

Anyone whistles

You lose a bucket overboard


Bring good luck by:

Wearing gold hoop earrings

Always stepping onto the boat with your right foot

Pouring wine on the deck (That has happened more times that I would like to admit)

The rest of the journey to Port Dickson was dogged by things sent to try us. The main sheet winch sheared off its three bolts making it unusable, and on our last day when we had just about HAD ENOUGH, we left the island of Pulau Besar with a heavy rain cloud on the southern horizon. “We will be ahead of that” we thought. Ha! No such luck. The rain cloud with accompanying thunder and lightning sat on top of us like a big grey dome for six hours. The visibility was so low that we felt we had to turn on our navigation lights and the radar simply to be seen and to see if we were going to run into any of the numerous ships plying the Malacca Strait.

We finally made it to the lovely Admiralty Marina at Port Dickson feeling a bit battered. Leave of a Friday again? Not this little black duck!



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