Thursday, November 1, 2012

Doing the Singapore Strait

Nongsa Point marina to Puteri Harbour marina or..goodbye Indonesia and hello Malaysia
Goodbye beautiful Indonesia, till next time

Quite a significant blog this one and, when it's finished, we, and you dear readers, will finally be up to date with our journey.  We left the lovely anchorage at Mesanak Island at first light and looked back wistfully at what had become our typical Indonesian Island anchorage; densely forested island fringed with coconut palms and slivers of white sand complete with a solitary fisherman paddling his dugout away from the shore.  We both looked backed and tried to hold that image and lock it away into our private gallery of significant Indonesian moments. Within a few miles the scene was to change dramatically as we floated strangely between the boundaries of 3rd world simplicity and 1st world industrialisation. As soon as we entered Selat Riau, the stretch of water that separates Batam Is and Bintan Is and opens out onto the famous Singapore Strait, we had a little Tardis moment aboard The Doctor. Through the wonders of time travel, suddenly we had arrived in the 21C and simple dugouts were replaced by screaming outboards, beautiful wooden fishing vessels replaced by ugly steel tankers and the forested horizon and clear blue sky replaced by smog and oil tanks by the hundreds. Welcome to industrialisation, 21C style. Our AIS screen which shows other vessels in a 5 mile radius as triangles suddenly turned black and began to look a lot like the crazed drawing from a deranged triangle obsessed psychopath who had been let loose with paper and black crayon. OK, no need to panic, some of them might be anchored!!
So what are the triangles telling do they make you feel?

Our run into Nongsa Point marina was straightforward and it’s always nice to have marina boys in uniform at hand to take lines and finish off the tedious business of setting springs and attaching extension leads. This is a resort marina and therefore comes complete with pool, restaurant, wireless and waiters who are happy to bring iced coffees to poolside as one checks emails and contemplates the menu for dinner options. Ahhhhh, bring on a little 1st world decadence, we bloody deserve it! We only had a few days of this luxury as the 28th of October was looming ever nearer and that meant end of visa for Indo and time to clear out. We untied our lines on Sunday morning the 28th of October and made our way towards Puteri Harbour marina, a modest journey of 50 odd miles, and so out of Indonesian waters and into Malaysian. But first we had to cross the dreaded Singapore Strait.
Tied up at Nongsa

The guidebook says that a large motor vessel crosses the Singapore Strait every 12 minutes which means that you have approximately 12 minutes of time and space between one ship and the next. 12 minutes may seem plenty of time to cross a 2 mile stretch of water but these ships are doing 12 kts of speed at least so you need your wits about you. We sailed down towards Singapore for the first leg and then it was a right hand turn to cross the strait. We had Babar and Silver Girl with us and suddenly we hear Dan from Babar on the radio. “what do you guys think, when do you want to go for it????  I was on the helm and could see a good break in the traffic between a big blue tanker and 2 other ships coming up from behind. I radioed back I was going behind the blue ship and in front of the other two coming up. I swung the helm around and kept The Doc at right angles to the blue ship which was coming up fast. As soon as the stern was clear I pushed the throttle down and with main still up we bolted through the opening. It must have been a funny sight to those on the bridge of the ship as 3 little yachts all scurried their way across the strait like 3 blind mice running madly from the farmer’s wife.
You can get some idea of the traffic we had to dodge
Run mice run (Babar and Silver Girl coming after us and behind the blue tanker)
We got across OK but then had to negotiate an inner harbour with more ships coming and going.  After that it was just the causeway bridge to deal with and we were into the channel that leads up to Puteri Harbour marina. The bridge has 25 m clearance and we are 21 m from waterline to top of mast so no sweat really............yeah, no sweat!!!!!! Whenever we go under bridges we both go into a kind of  mute stupour and stare up, transfixed, as the mast sails innocently, perhaps even hopefully clear of concrete. You swear that it’s all going to end up in a tangle of stays, sparks and tears but it never does....not yet anyway. 
Goodbye Indonesia Hello........oops just hold that thought it this time Hello Malaysia....(could have been embarrassing clearing in!!!)
So finally we.d cleared the Singapore Strait, we.d manoeuvred around a busy inner harbour, dodged a grave yard of anchored and unemployed tankers, just scraped under a bridge and now we were gently motoring into the welcoming arms of a floating jetty complete with marina boys in uniform waiting to take our lines. Puturi is no resort marina but it does have good facilities and friendly helpful staff. It also has green mould. We walked past a quite new Hunter 32 and noticed it was covered in green gunk and immediately thought it had been to the bottom and been salvaged. Not so! If you sit around long enough in this equatorial clime the green mould will get you eventually. It's even on the spreaders. I am writing this blog while Diana has taken the offer of a free ride to one of the mega malls that blight this country. I am also waiting for a diesel mechanic. I have waited too many hours in my life for diesel mechanics to come but at least here they do come, and on time. I think we may have the fresh water pump solution underway and will give details in the next blog. Our man, James Sin comes highly recommended and here’s hoping!!! Till next time, Rob

The mute stupour got you yet??
and here we are, finally up to date

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rob and Diana, congrats on completing Sail Indo, or rather should that be motor Indo? Have loved reading the blog and looking forward to more updates. We are at Thursday Island at the moment catching our breaths after the Gulf of Carpentaria. Travel safe and fair winds, Andy and Tony Irish Melody