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Preparing to Cross the South China Sea

May 20, 2016

Hello from Terengganu on the eastern Malay Peninsula (lat 05 deg 20N, long 103 deg 08E) where we are checking out of Malaysia in preparation for sailing across the South China Sea to the Indonesian archipelagos of Anambas and Natuna. We will then continue on to Borneo where we re-enter Malaysia.

We left Puteri Harbor on April 24 after a gala dinner and traveled down the river that separates Malaysia from Singapore.  The island of Singapore is heavily guarded and patrol boats are quick to inform you when you pass over the imaginary line that separates the two countries. After successfully passing through the narrow and busy Singapore-Malacca Straits we headed 10 miles up the river on the east side of Singapore to beautiful Sabana Cove (still in Malaysia).

Sabana Cove is a modern resort with swimming pools, restaurant, and an excellent marina which we enjoyed for six days. The rally sponsored tours to the Fishermen’s Museum that depicted fishing techniques from the 18th century to today and the Desaru Fruit Farm that grows over 180 different tropical fruits. The city of Felda Sening provided a welcome luncheon with kindergarten school girls performing traditional dances and a live band with singers.  A big hit was allowing the locals to dress us up in traditional wedding attire. We played games and made fast friendships.

Our travel up the east side of the Malay Peninsula has included diving in clear warm waters, beautiful anchorages, delightful people, and best of all, great food. The tourist industry and the large Chinese population have resulted in wonderful alternatives to the Muslim Halal cuisine which lacks pork and alcohol. We ate prawns the size of small lobsters, stuffed crabs, pork ribs, and cold beer.

A memorable stop was at Pulau Tioman which is a duty free resort island 20 miles off the coast. Yes, booze was really cheap.  The locals provided us with lunch and challenged the yachties to a series of games that were silly and fun ending with a tug-o-war contest that was brutal. Someone organized a 7 km hike across the island through the rain forest which proved to be almost too much for some, but we all found new life swimming in a waterfall pool. We arrange with a dive shop to take us to the small islet of Labas where we scuba dove through canyons and caves.

The rally stopped at Chukai where we anchored up the river next to the mangroves and took a land tour of the old tin mining town at Sungai Lembing. Next, we visited the resort island of Pulau Kapas where we rendezvoused in the afternoon for a game of cricket on the beach followed by a bar-b-que. The next morning, we did an impromptu hike across the island that included 100% humidity, getting lost, and a rope climb up a 45 degree slope. These hikes are killers!

Terengganu is the state capital and a busy port supporting the offshore oil industry. The yacht Labarque arranged a dinghy caravan up the river to the State Museum where we saw samples of Muslim architecture and ship building.  That evening it was another dinghy ride to a State sponsored dinner that passed by the impressive Krystal Mosque that is beautifully lit at night.

All of the boats are busy filling up with fuel, last minute boat projects, and clearing out of Malaysia.  Most of us plan to sneak over to Pulau Redang for some more diving before heading out across the South China Sea.

Sabana Cove

Pulau Tioman


Kapas & Terengganu



From → Travel

One Comment
  1. Barbara & Curtiss permalink

    Spectacular! Thanks for sharing. Our time in the Bahamas looks boring compared to this.

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