18th to 21st March
Having departed Singapore, we set courses through the Malacca Straits once more and dealt with all that it entails. The lanes are still busy and one has to have one’s wits about you as we negotiate them. We needed 14 kts to make Port Malai, on the island of Langkawi, which was an unfortunate speed, as most of the other vessels were making either slightly less speed, or a fraction more. This resulted in bunches of vessels, either overtaking us slowly, or we were overtaking others, again slowly. Occasionally, as we had some speed in-hand on our diesel-generator configuration, a short ‘burst’ of speed was needed, this to avoid being at known course alteration points at the same time as many other vessels.
Eventually, after some 14 hours, we ‘broke out’, reaching the northernmost end of the traffic lanes and started to head north, while most of the other vessels took westerly courses. All we had to contend with then were the multitude of fishing fleets and this continued all the way to Langkawi. This destination was unknown to us, we had not called there before. It is an island, or an archipelago of around 100 islands, situated on the west coast of Malaysia, close to the Thai border. Our destination, Porto Malai was on the largest. We were pleasantly surprised to find a well-constructed, modern cruise pier, very similar to those one would find in the Caribbean; this one had been built for its more regular clientele, Star cruises, which is one of the larger Asian cruise lines.
Topics: Asia-Pacific, Captain's Log, Grand Voyages, ms Amsterdam
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