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Harassed by Fishermen at anchor in Malaysia

By Paul Donn, S/Y N.D. — last modified Apr 14, 2017 04:41 PM
The SE Asia Guide suggested an anchorage at Tg. Tohar (1° 51 N; 102° 45.5 E). I went there and this is my story:

Published: 2016-03-27 23:00:00
Countries: Malaysia

Not A Nice Night - Tuesday 22 March 2016

First, I find that most of the anchorages along the Malaysian west coast are exposed and there seems, so far, to be no protected bays. In addition, not only the huge amount of commercial shipping transiting the Malacca Straits, but also the fishermen’s unpredicted behaviours are of concern and stressful to see.

Last night was not good.

First fishermen came at 21:00 as I was just going to bed. I noted them passing in front of me, so I thought all was fine and went to bed. Soon after there was a lot of screaming and they were close to me. They pretended that I had anchored over their nets. I found that strange as there were no nets, nor any flags close by, when I anchored. However, as it transpired, their net was “over and on top” of  my chain, it was obvious that they had just laid the net over my anchor chain and tried to get money from me. Lots of arguing took place, before they finally went away. They did not speak English.

A few hours later I was awoken by yet more screaming and another set of fishermen started the same game, showing me that their net was “over” my chain and that I had damaged their net. Same arguments and shouting before they went away and I could cut away the net they had fixed on my chain.

At 03:30, again, I was woken up to a lot of screaming and shouting, as a third set of fishermen started a similar story. Eventually they left - screaming heaven down on me.

At 06:30 the same story with yet another set of fishermen.

At 07:45 another set of fishermen came, this time a father and son, who both seemed more gentle than my previous visitors and the son spoke some English. They asked me to lift my anchor – and I asked why? I was told – again – that I was over their net. I said there were no nets when I anchored and they were not the only ones that had made this claim during the last 10 hours. I explained – as I now knew the melody – that if their net was “below” my chain, they would be right, but if their net was “over” my chain, they would be wrong, as they would thus have put out the net in front of my boat during the night.

The son understood the argument. So I started to lift the chain and soon we found their net was, indeed, “over” my chain. So I explained this to the son, but he still asked me to pay for a new net. I answered politely that there would be no funds coming his way and if I were to get his net into my propeller, he would be facing the Coast Guard and a big bill. I suggested they lifted their net or it would be damaged, which they refused. So they had in the end to cut their own net away, so we could get free, and even their own propeller was tangled in their net by then, thus it backfired for them. The son spoke some English and after some explaining and arguing I think he understood that as his net was “over” my chain it was his fault. One thing was they they made some dents in my boat and later I found out why. They had managed to undo the knots of my new fishing gear and the MOB device, but did not manage to steal them. I only noted this later on, after I had left.

To me it seems that it is normal for fishermen to cause these problems and try to extract money from sailors. Some probably may have paid them, but I did not.

I was happy to get away in the end. They should be ashamed.

Paul Donn, S/Y N.D.

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