Crab Key or Crab Island

Remember Crab Key in Dr No, Ian Fleming’s sixth James Bond novel? Dr No was the first to be made in to a film.


Eight of us (four couples) were staying in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of nights, and as we’d seen most of KL more than once, I thought that we should branch out.
Before leaving Sydney, I studied a map of KL and the surrounding area, and found an island called Crab Island, (Pulau Ketam) which was known for its fish dishes as well as its crab dishes, which is how Dr No’s Crab Key came to mind, as well as ‘U No Who’,  under the mango tree  – Ursula Andress, who didn’t sing the song on the beach, because it was Diana Copeland.

On the day of our trip we used the local train from KL Sentral (note spelling) to Port Klang , which was about a forty minute ride, and then we walked the short distance to the ferry area. We didn’t have any idea what sort of ferry boat there was to the island or how long it would take.


We stood on the pier and looked out over the water and wondered if the tall yellowish vessel was our ferry.

imgp3199rA small crowd appeared and we followed them along the pier until we were able to see our ferry.


This was our ferry.


For someone who hates water, and small boats, I think Maureen hid her fear quit well.


 Salt encrusted windows didn’t help with the photographs of old ships at anchor.


Approaching the island, after 30 to 40 minutes ferry ride. The island is a low lying muddy island with mangrove swamps where the local people have built their homes and shops on stilts over these mud flats. About 8,000 people, mainly of Chinese origin, live on the island.


Every black spot was a crab – all too small to eat.


Even this one . . .


Guinness, what a welcome sign for an ex POM.


Maureen seemed very happy to be off the ferry boat.


Main street above the mud flats.


We decided to eat here – generous portions, and not at all expensive. Seven out of the eight of us had fish, prawns or crab, I had chicken because fish is not my favourite food and I don’t like shell fish. The beer was cold and welcome.


Home James . . .


The smell of the sea water, the mudflats and diesel fumes brought back memories of the ‘old days’ when I was at sea. Sometime we would anchor off Port Swettenham, which is now part of Port Klang. In the mid 60’s Klang to us was the radio exchange for harbour control.


I couldn’t find a picture of a BI ship, but I did find the above, which is fitting considering her home port was Liverpool in the UK, Maureen’s home town.

She is a Blue Funnel ship (Alfred Holts of Liverpool) taken in 1963. She is moored to a buoy off Port Swettenham, and working cargo using her own cargo gear. The excitement and sense of adventure for a nineteen year old (as I was then) sailing around the Far East in the early 60’s has stayed with me and the simple smell of the mangroves brought it all back. The above vessel looks like a ship, not a floating warehouse.

Below is the middle verse of Sea Fever by John Masefield, who was also an old Conway.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

%d bloggers like this: