Klang! We ran aground. 

Once we had left Port Dickson, Langkawi – our Malaysian “island home” – was most definitely in our sights.  We had been on the move for almost four months – travelling through Indonesia’s West Kalimantan and islands off the coast of Borneo and we were looking forward to catching our breath a little in familiar surroundings. 

Our “island home” Langkawi

We headed to Port Klang (Malaysia’s largest port) for our first overnight stop and decide to anchor in a new spot for us. Rather than our usual place opposite the Port we anchored in the quieter Western inlet in order to save time the next morning. 

Our peaceful anchorage in the Western Inlet at Port Klang

We had a delightfully peaceful night with no “klang-ing ” noises from the port. Early the next morning we started to make our way out towards the other end of the inlet. As we slowly moved along through the sludgy brown waters, bordered by mangroves at each side, we noticed that the depths on our chart plotter didn’t match the readings we were getting on our depth sounder. 

Yikes it was getting very shallow!

We also noticed a mudbank ahead – right in the middle of our track – that wasn’t marked on the chart at all!

Uncharted mudbank ahead!

Nervously, we felt our way along very slowly.  It was alarming to see our depth sounder showing 0 metres under the keel several times – only to move up slightly to give us enough depth to carry on. 
Then the worst happened – we touched the bottom! More with a squelch than a thud, thankfully, but we were well and truly stopped. The good Capt’n quickly revved the engine in reverse and used the current to wiggle our way off. By then the inlet had widened into quite a large fiord with depths varying across a large expanse of water, so having seen a couple of fishing boats go past we decided local knowledge was the key. 

A fishing boat at Port Klang – local knowledge was the key!

As we inched across to join the route taken by the fishing boats our hearts were in our mouths as we had no way of knowing where the mud shoals were. 

Our buddy boat S/V Yantara

Yantara was by then travelling alongside us and I will never forget the moment they ran aground. 
You know those cartoons where the mouse runs into a hole and the cat chasing it runs straight into the wall? And the cat’s rear and tail keep travelling and shoot up in the air while his nose crumples? Well Yantara running into the mud was just like that moment! I’ve never seen anything like it – I actually saw Yantara’s rear end lift and quiver just like that poor puddycat’s. Despite the seriousness of the situation I couldn’t help laughing! Fortunately Yantara is as strong as a cartoon cat and just reversed off completely unharmed. 
The power station and the last cranes of Port Klang

We made our way out to the ocean without further drama but as we were motoring past the power station and last cranes of Port Klang into the open sea, we found ourselves moving straight towards the largest expanse of drift nets that we have ever encountered. There were white fishing buoys ahead stretching as far as the eye could see. 

Those white balls are darned hard to see but they spread as far as the eye could see

We changed course immediately and had to go quite some way off course to avoid getting entangled. 
Thankfully the nets were well marked but it reminded us yet again that you cannot afford to drop your guard when you are sailing in these parts. 

That’s as close as we dare get to the nets

Fishing boats putting out more of those white balls!

The rest of the trip to our next anchorage in Sangai Bernam was totally uneventful and we ended the day with a beautiful sunset. 

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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 “Klang! We ran aground. ”

  1. When we came south a couple of weeks ago, we considered that same route. Didn”t fancy the depths, though. The Sail Malaysia pdf mentioned an unchartered mudbank. We had a great sail through there with wind and current working with us.
    Made for a nice change.


  2. I only went sailing with George and his brother once and we ran aground in the North Sea off Holland, in between two sandbanks. I was below deck at the time. It was a strange experience, suddenly everything seemed very still, quiet and eerie. It was years ago, but I still remember it well! Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Sally that must have been pretty scary first time out! Hope you got off OK! It is a strange experience and the “the still, quiet and eerie” can soon start to be crashing and banging against whatever you’re stuck on when the tide/wind changes! Now that must be truly scary!


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