I realised that I didn't tell you about our sail back to Rebak from Penang, which was actually quite notable due to the fact that normally one can rely on a 5-10 knot breeze in the right direction with very benign sea states.
We left Penang at 7am, made our way through the shipping channel and into the Strait under motor with no incident.
Set our course to Rebak, hoisted our main and jib in about 9 knots of broad reach with a gentle following sea. After about 3 hours, the wind disappeared into nothing, dammit, sails flogging, furl in the jib, tighten the main to the center and start the donk. Unfortunately this scenario was to be the trend.
The whole voyage is only 65 nautical miles but we wanted to arrive back home in daylight, or twilight at the latest, so we had to try to maintain 5 knots - it was during this time that we noticed the aforespoken-about cutlass bearing making terrible noises, so 5 knots was pushing it a bit. Before I go any further, I should explain that the cutlass bearing was actually non existent when she was lifted - a fishing net (the scourge of these waters) had wound around it, gone into the shaft and completely stripped it out.
Anyhoo, onwards we chugged, until, about an hour before sunset, we had arrived at an area known as the Fijords, about 8 miles from home. This area consists of towering limestone islets, some vegetated, some not, all uninhabited and although a favourite anchorage, not an easy place to navigate in the dark, so we thought we'd done rather well. Onwards we plod, then about 20 minutes from home (for those of you who have been here, we were just about in line with the cruise ship terminal) I noticed a huge black roll cloud coming towards us out of absolutely nowhere......we very swiftly doused the main and just in time too.
The wind went from a balmy 4 knots of broad reach to 45 knots from all directions in an instant as the cloud rolled into us. This lasted for almost an hour, during which time we were absolutely hammered. That last twenty minutes aforementioned took us an hour and a half, and we got into our pen in pitch black darkness just before 10pm.
It's funny isn't it, how people see thing different ways? Some people will be thinking - gasp, how awful, glad I wasn't there - then you get idiots like me, who spent the whole time going whoo-hoo this is great. The thing is, the boat was safe and strong enough to withstand the conditions, we'd taken every precaution to ensure we were safe, we know what we're doing (most of the time!) so why not enjoy the wild ride - thoroughly exhilarating, I call it.
Yes, ok, I may be slighly crazy. End of post :-)