Oct 26 - Singapore

We shared a taxi to Singapore with Gary and Tara (sv Pursuit IV) and arrived at our hotel in one hour. There were no clearance fees to enter Singapore via the Second Link bridge, and we didn't have to get out of our taxi. This is one of the world's great cities, and is a separate country from Indonesia and Malaysia. The amount of building construction defies the imagination; cranes and heavy equipment are everywhere. The economy depends greatly on exports and tourism, so it's pretty easy to find your way around. The MRT
(mass rapid transit), or subway system, is just amazing, as is the bus system. Traffic is heavy, in spite of governmental efforts to limit auto ownership by the application of heavy taxes, but if you ever want to see luxury cars en masse, this is the place to visit. Education is stressed, and there are multiple places of higher learning. Years ago there was a book entitled "Europe On $5 A Day." Today, another book would have to be titled "Singapore On $200 A Day!" This is an expensive city, from $16 beers to meals at $25 minimum. We haven't bought anything, but can tell you that shoppers have found nirvana here at very, very high prices. We've visited Little India, Chinatown, the Singapore National Museum, the Botanical Gardens along with the National Orchid Garden within, and the Asian Civilizations Museum. We've also done the obligatory visit to the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel, where Sue enjoyed her Singapore Sling (where they were invented.) We've done a lot of walking, enjoying the architecture, taking lots of pictures, and also took a narrative city sight-seeing bus tour ($18.-24hr. pass; highly recommended). Tomorrow we'll be returning to Puteri Harbour Marina via MRT and bus.

Oct 22 - Puteri Harbour Marina happenings

We've been here a week and a lot has been going on. The marina provides free shuttle services every Tuesday evening to the Gelang Patah night market. This is a huge market with unbelievable amounts of fresh vegetables, fruits, stuff to eat, and incidentals (I bought a new waterproof watch for $3USD - we'll have to see how long it lasts!). We came back loaded with fresh stuff. The cafe here serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, but no alcoholic beverages. There's a small library here called the Chart Room, with hundreds of books and many charts available for copy, trade or take away. It's comfortable and air conditioned; we spend a bit of time there...Every Thursday, a free shuttle goes to one of several nearby shopping malls (your choice at Jusco Bukit Indah); these are very large and rival most of those we're used to in the USA. I forgot to mention the marina does the clearing in paperwork for Customs, then transports everyone to Immigration for electronic fingerprinting and passport stamps. Meanwhile, several of our friends on nearby boats have either left for their home countries or have gone to Singapore for sight seeing. More friends arrived in the last couple of days; we hadn't seen Gary & Tara from Pursuit IV for a couple of years; Leu Cat (Dave and Mary Margaret) showed up, and Fred and Cha Cha of Manufaktum are here. We've met our neighbors on Tovo, a French couple we spoke with over the VHF but hadn't met until their arrival here. So, a bit of socializing takes place at cruisers happy hour in the late afternoon. We've dried out sails, cleaned the deck and SS, and even put up our boat awning, something we haven't taken out since we last used it in Guatemala! We have noticed many cruisers are arriving with a variety of boat related issues: generator problems, engine turbo problems, one boat with a failed transmission (he was towed for over 300 nm by another cruiser!); refrigerator problems....it just goes on and on. Unfortunately, in this part of the world at this time of year, motoring is the norm. Yesterday, we topped off with 260L of diesel (2.85RM/L); the boat boys used their high pressure transfer pump to transfer fuel into our filter....no drama, and no lugging around heavy jerry jugs. On the weather front, we're getting heavy thunderstorms with lightening on a daily basis now; they're as impressive as those in Florida. Tomorrow we leave for our Singapore jaunt; more about that later. Meanwhile, Sue has posted more picture albums of Indonesia (she's got a few more to go!)....enjoy!
Pic: Sunrise from our cockpit

Oct 15 - Puteri Harbour Marina, Malaysia

Position: N01deg25.07min/E103deg39.50min
We departed on the day our Indonesian CAIT (cruising permit) expired. There was a lot of confusion regarding the CAIT's issued to the Sail Indonesia Rally participants as apparently there was an error in the expiration dates and a new CAIT with extended dates was supposed to have been issued, but was sent to only a few of the boats in Belitung, not those of us in Batam, so not wanting to leave anything to chance and risk fines for being in Indonesia with an expired cruising permit, we (and five other yachts) decided to leave. We crossed the Singapore Straits without any problems at all. If any of you are squeamish about ships, stop reading right now...There were hundreds of ships on AIS and the laptop glowed blue (the color of the ship symbol with AIS on our nav program) around Singapore. We've never seen so many ships in one place before. We motor sailed the entire way from Nongsa Point Marina and, of course, the wind was on the nose, but we did manage to raise the main and get a bit of boost during the hour of so of actual Strait crossing. Our CM93 charts were pretty accurate, and we found favorable current most of our trip, which was a huge help. We came up the Johor Straits (west side of Singapore). We spotted the large Puteri Harbour sign outside the marina entrance at about 1530 hours, and were tied up in their secure lagoon by 1600. Of note, our charts did not show the Harbour entrance as the complex is newer than the charts, and there is a large red marker right outside the entrance that can be passed on either side; entrance is easy and the marina is large. Marina details: there doesn't seem to be much going on here. The complex is new; there's one restaurant that serves until 7PM, no alcohol served; there's laundry and shower facilities (which Danga Bay Marina doesn't have), as well as wifi, fuel and non-potable water. The other yachts here are storing their boats long term (at very favorable rates), and there's a lot of construction on a large hotel project in the marina complex. We're in Malaysia!

Oct 11 - Nongsa Point Marina, Batam Island

N01deg11.80min/ E104deg05.84min
We departed Mesansak Island at 0100 hours for the 55 mile run and had a long, slow motor to Batam Island. Wind was on the nose at 10-12 knots, and current was against us until about 1030 hours, so the first part of the trip wasn't fast.... Every morning towering cumulus clouds have formed and the thunder and lightning gets your attention quickly; October is a transitional month to the NE monsoon season (November to March) from the SW monsoon season (June to September). Calms are frequent, as is motoring. Shipping traffic has picked up, but the lanes are wide and there's plenty of room for everyone. We entered Nongsa Point Marina just before 3 pm, and the attendants took our dock lines. It didn't take long to get to the pool and enjoy a cold beer. Think being outside in the Florida summer; the heat and humidity take a bit to get used to. There are other boats here from Sail Indonesia, and folks come and go. Weekend trips to Singapore by water ferry are popular, and we're considering doing this. We'll be spending a few days in the marina here cleaning and resting up before departing to cross the Singapore Straits to Malaysia.
Pic: The crews of 6 boats went to the Mall (grocery store) for a last Indonesian provisioning. Beer won't be this cheap elsewhere...until duty free Lankawi probably. It'll be hard to find in Malaysia. Here our Swede friend Bernardo from sv Albertina is guarding our wares.

Oct 9 - Equator crossing

00deg00.00min/ 104deg49.589minE
This is our 4th equator crossing, but first in the eastern hemisphere. We had an appropriate ceremony for the occasion, and continued motoring to Kentar Island (position: 00deg03.268N/104deg45.501E) where we anchored in 30' sand. This is a nice bay, well protected, and, at least at this time, very calm. Another early start tomorrow morning (0600) is planned, but from here on it's a motor trip - no wind is predicted.
Pic: fishing huts are everywhere along this coast. And not lit at night.

Oct 8 - Lingga Island

Position: 00deg18.520minS/104deg58.887minE
We motored, sailed, and motor-sailed for the two night passage across the South China Sea from Serutu Island to Lingga Island. Between the unlit fishing nets we've gone over, fish boats running with incorrect night lights, dozens of commercial ships on AIS to dodge, tugs with single and double barges with no AIS and weak as hell lights, and just general fatigue, these have been challenging waters to traverse. Holding here is in 24' of mud, although wind and current are countering each other. Those eagle eyed readers of our blog will note that we're about 19 miles from the equator; we're heading northwest towards Singapore, and our crossing tomorrow into the northern hemisphere will mark Sue and my fourth equator crossing! We've been traveling along with sv Silver Girl, with our Australian buds Ann and Chris aboard; they'll celebrate their first equator crossing! We've planned a few more stops as day trips before getting to Nongsa Marina on Batam Island, our last stop in Indonesia, where we'll have a proper equator crossing celebration(s)...
Pic: We actually flew our 'sunshine' sail for a few hours!

Oct 5 - Serutu Island

01deg42.300minS/ 108deg43.192minE
We did a two night passage to Serutu, departing the Kumai River in the early morning. It was good to get out of the smokey haze and brown water. At night, we encountered dozens of boats fishing for squid, each lit up like a stadium for a night football game. We actually only had to divert for one 620 foot freighter; the squid boats tend to congregate in patches and are easily avoided. Winds were SE 15-20 until 0200 this morning, when we had to motor the last 25 miles due to light winds and strong current. We had just finished anchoring here when some local fishermen came over in their canoe selling fish and lobster. We passed on the fish, but bought two large lobster for $5.00USD. We'll be catching up on sleep today, and departing at sunrise for Kentar Island, another two night passage, about 260 mi away.

Oct. 1 - Orangutan country

Tanjung Puting National Park is the home of one of a few places on the planet where orangutans can be found in the wild. It's a natural ecosystem rain forest which has 600 types of trees, 200 varieties of orchids, almost 250 species of birds, 28 species of large mammals, and 9 species of primates. We took a 2 day, 1 night tour by klotok boat, a traditional Indonesian river boat where the tourist lives upstairs, and meals are prepared down below, where the guide, captain and cook live. At night, mosquito netting is spread over mattresses, and the boat is tied up alongside some palms or pandanus. We trekked a short distance to Camp Leaky where we saw 9 orangutans, including young ones with their mothers. A feeding of bananas is arranged for a particular time, and these wild and semi-wild orangs know the schedule. It's a delightful photo-op time, but serious research has been going on there for over 30 years. The highlight of our visit there was when Big Tom showed up. He's not there a lot during feedings (which is when the tourists are there); weighs about 110-120kg, is about 38 years old, and is the Main Man (ah..make that Orangutan...). You get the idea. When he walked towards us, we calmly walked the other way. The orangutan's strength is reputed to be 8 times greater than man's, and the guides constantly reminded us to keep a respectful distance. There were other feeding stations to visit also, but not as many orangs showed up when we were there. We also saw wild boar, squirrel, proboscis and macaque monkeys. On our boat ride, we saw several varieties of colorful kingfisher; the spectacular Stork Billed being our favorite with it's bright red beak, yellow head and bright blue body and wings. There were also wild orangutans, monkeys, crocodiles, butterflies, and we were surrounded by a cocophany of insect sounds. A wonderful web site is http://www.orangutanindonesia.com/tanjung-puting-national-park.htm, which gives a lot more detail than the above. Another good site is www.orangutan.org.