Goodbye Indonesia – hello Malaysia !

Just under two weeks after leaving Indonesia we finally caught up with the tail end of the Sail Malaysia rally fleet, just in time for the last rally event at Pangkor Island Marina.


Saying farewell to Hannah at our last stop in Indonesia

We left Indonesia from Tanjang Penang on Tuesday 17 November after an amazing four months travelling on our trusty yacht Bali Hai from one end of the Indonesian archipelago to the other. 


Welcoming children at our first Indonesian rally stop in Debut Island

It felt like we had barely scratched the surface of the place and both of us definitely want to return to explore more areas and to get to know better some of the places where we had stopped . 

Stunning Banda – we want to go back!

It seemed to us that every place we went to was more extraordinary than the last – in some ways each stop was like going to a different country. I suppose it is like looking at different facets of a chandelier – each individual part reflects the light in a slightly different way, but together they make a wonderful shimmering, delightful whole. 

The amazing Dayak people of Ketapang, Borneo

I feel so privileged to have had a peek at the lives and culture of so many different peoples. It has been the most eye opening experience.

Angelic voices of Maurole girls

We were the last Sail2Wonderful Indonesia Rally yacht to leave Tanjang Penang and it felt strange to be the ones “closing the gate”.

Farewell Indonesia!

We had an uneventful trip to Batam Island where we anchored for the night. We were woken at 5.30 am to the sounds of someone coming alongside. 

Getting prepared for the busy shipping lanes

Thoughts of pirates, robbers or other scoundrels passed through our minds but no, it was just a couple of guys from the Indonesia navy coming “to check we were OK”. Interestingly the boat was unmarked and the men were dressed in fatigues and carried guns but no ID so who knows if they were for real or not!

Our anchorage off Batam Island


Our last Indonesian sunset for a while


Bali Hai’s Indonesian flag comes down

We set off at the crack of dawn to cross the Singapore Strait. We had often seen the hundreds of cargo vessels that ply their trade up and down the strait from the air when coming in to land at Changi Airport. 

Early morning with Singapore in the distance

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be threading my way through them on Bali Hai to get to the coast of Malaysia.

Shipping in the Singapore Strait

In the event it was an easy crossing and the only heart stopping moment was when we saw an oil rig, thought it was a stationery, as you would and then realised it was moving! It had engines and was bustling along at a very acceptable speed! So we stopped trying to go in front of it and diverted off our course to go round it. It was, after all, MUCH bigger than us.

The moving oil rig!

After a few hours of uneventful motoring through the busy Mslscca Straits we passed under the long road bridge that links Singapore with mainland Malaysia. I went over that bridge in a car in 1984 and again, could not have dreamt that one day I would be sailing under it on my way from Indonesia to Malaysia!


More obstacles to avoid

The bridge from Singapore to Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Going under the bridge – duck!

We arrived at Puteri Harbour Marina mid afternoon and for a moment felt uneasy as we couldn’t raise the Marina staff by radio or Satellite phone. 

Up with the Malaysian and Quarantine flags

We motored gently in and moored very easily at the end of a finger wharf.

Puteri Harbour Marina

After the basic but lovely anchorages in Indonesia, Puteri harbour Marina was somewhat overwhelming. Bright, shiny and new with upmarket shops and restaurants, it was a world away from dugout canoes, cheeky kids and stilt homes.

The ferry terminal at Puteri Harbour

The customs and Immigration process was a doddle. We were taken by golf buggy to a smart new ferry passenger terminal, and told to sit down in the waiting area. A few minutes later our driver appeared with our passports stamped and our ship’s papers signed by the Harbour Master. Too easy! It cost just a few dollars for this assistance and absolutely nothing in entry fees. 

Inside the customs hall

We spent a lovely couple of days catching up with laundry, getting Malaysian SIM cards, restocking our fresh food and even bought some wine. Also enjoyed a couple of European style meals – including great fish and chips at the Marina cafe.

Puteri Harbour from the water

We met a couple of boats from the Indonesian rally including Island Bound, Smart Choice and briefly, Mike from Tashi Delek who was just about to leave with wife Carol to stay first in Singapore with family and then on to the UK.


The Malacca Strait

Travelling onwards in the Malacca Strait to catch up with the Sail Malaysia fleet, we left early in the morning, stopping for the night at a little island called Pulau Pisang where we were joined by Persephone with Brian and Sandy on board who had also been on the Sail2Indonesia rally and who had spent a week in Singapore. 

First rain for a while
A swift shelters from the rain

We sailed together to our next anchorage, Pulau Besar, which is reputed to be haunted and also to possess magical qualities. It looked very pretty and had some interesting history so we promised ourselves to explore the island when we next visit this area.

Persephone anchored at magical Pulau Besar

The trip to there was great as we actually had some wind and were able to sail without the motor on for three or four hours! Wonderful!

We had to dodge scores of fishing boats with drift nets but at least they were reasonably well marked with flags and white floats. We also encountered many large container and other cargo ships so we were kept on our toes most of the day.

One of the many container ships we had to dodge

We had a huge storm late in the afternoon which was very welcome as it cooled things down giving us a great night’s sleep. The skies were still brooding and stormy as the sun went down.

Stormy skies…

Port Dickson was our next stop – a magnificent Marina with amongst other things, a beautiful pool. More yachts from the Indonesia rally were there and we had a lovely evening at a Chinese seafood restaurant with the crews of four other boats. 

We intended leaving the following day but the lure of a cooling pool and the chance to rest up for a day was too tempting so we decided to stay one extra night before heading for Pangkor Island Marina.

Travelling to Pangkor Island Marina we felt as though we were almost part of the rally again as we travelled in convoy with four other boats.

Our first night was spent at Port Klang, Malaysia’s largest port. It was enormous! The container terminal was only one part of the port and it went on for as far as the eye could see, with every container bay full and working hard and fast. Many of the ships were Chinese.


Port Klang
The water round the port was spectacularly dirty – polystyrene food containers, the ubiquitous water bottles, containers of every kind and random objects that had just been tipped over the side of all the working boats. I reckon that’s where the “clean up” awareness programs need to start – with the crews of fishing boats, container ships and other commercial vessels!


This tug was called Gorgeous and isnt she just?


Cruise ships at Port Klang
After another day motorsailing, then anchoring in the evening, we had a great sail the following day to Pangkor noticing on the way several little islands that we would like to get to know when we are back that way.


Another anchorage, another sunset
The stillness of the early morning
The entry into Pangkor Island Marina is a bit tricky as there are some extremely shallow places but we made it in to this welcoming, extremely well run  place.


Arriving at Pangkor Marina
At last we had caught up with the Sail Malaysia fleet – albeit the tail end stragglers!

We had just missed the rally dinner the night before which apparently had been a spectacular affair but a BBQ was scheduled for that evening – a happy happenstance as it was my birthday that day!


Jonathan baked me a cake!
Coincidentally it was also Kelly’s birthday (from Quintessa) and her husband Andy had hired the band who had played so well at the  dinner the night before. 


Happy Birthday to us!
Despite a huge downpour we had a great time and enjoyed a beautiful chocolate cake made by professional baker Kim from Flour Girl.


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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

3 thoughts on “Goodbye Indonesia – hello Malaysia !”

  1. Wow – looks great but a bit scary in those big ports, Dot! Glad you were able to celebrate your birthday in style too. We both have very fond memories of trips to Malaysia so hope you enjoy it all. Love from us both, Sarah and Martin xx


    1. Thanks Sarah! Now busy getting the boat ready to leave for six weeks but yesterday we had the final event of the rally – a trip around Langkawi with lunch and dinner included! Such a pretty Island! Hope all is going well with you and Martin and all the family! I’m sure it’s frantic with Christmas coming up! Much love xxxx


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