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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November 2, 2012 – Moving on From Indonesia, Through the Busy Shipping Lanes of Singapore to Malaysia


I think the title is as long as this post. We cast the dock lines at around 6:00 AM and stuck our nose out into the busy channel, learning from others' experience that we should stay on the Indonesian side of the Singapore Strait as long as possible. It seems everyone else who has already done this reported back to us what a hellish experience they'd had dodging fast moving cargo ships, tugs and containers and getting hit with squalls that blotted out visibility. We were braced for the worst-case scenario.

Other than getting hit with a large wake or two that would roll Destiny like a toy boat in a bathtub, we had no such frights. We stayed to the Indonesian side of the channel long enough to avoid the dreadful stuff. The route took us around the bottom of Singapore to the river that separates it from Malaysia. Singapore sits at the bottom of Malaysia like a backwards italicized exclamation point. For a tiny country, until recently it has claimed the title of the busiest shipping port in the entire world. I think Shanghai has now beaten it. Nonetheless, sailing through these huge SHIPS feels like walking the streets of NYC, but the tall buildings are moving!  When we reached the mouth of the river, most of them were moored so we only dodged a few barges, tugs and ships before we managed to get across. No storms, no hair-pulling moments. I did try to take some photos but couldn't capture the experience as well as looking at our AIS, so I did the next best thing: I took some photos of the AIS screen to illustrate the intensity of the traffic. It truly is mind-boggling!
The red ones are potential targets, the ones with black dots are moored, and the ones with no dot are on the move
Destiny is depicted as the large red one with the white dot, although we are more the size of the dot!

Once we passed the shipping lanes the river was relatively devoid of traffic other than the many, many patrol boats on the Singapore side. Their border on the Malaysian side is much more fortified than the Texas/Mexico border. Interesting.

The rest of the ride was uneventful until we approached Danga Bay Marina. It is really a nightmare to get into. It sits at a part of the river that collects so much debris and silt from the shifting waters that half of the berths are unusable. Navigating into the actual marina is like walking a tightrope trying to follow the narrow passage that has been dredged. The marina itself has been managed very poorly. They have no workable VHF radio so trying to raise them about assigning us a berth was very difficult. They do not take reservations which overwhelmed them when several yachts arrived at one time (us included). Finally through the efforts of friends already in the marina, Ute on Taimada and Ian from Sea Eagle II, who managed to make contact with the Dock Master, we were told we had no berth and would have to find a place to anchor. Joy! God bless Ian who appealed to them to get us in, they double parked us on a 20 meter berth behind a smaller monohull, leaving us sticking out at least 10 feet beyond the pier. These guys had put tiny little boats in massive slips taking up all the berthing space. Why they didn't stack these smaller boats is beyond anyone's comprehension. We had no power access and the dock was missing cleats, but somehow we managed to get in there and were simply relieved not to have been forced to anchor in the shallow mud. Fortunately we made it in time for the 4:00 welcome reception for the Sail Malaysia Rally.

1 comment:

Gillie Davies said...

Wow Barb, this trip is not exactly plain sailing is it? thanks so much for your blog and keeping us all informed. So from what you say you are not just lounging around drinking G&T's in the cockpit? Blimey what do you do all day! lol! you will need a holiday soon.

love and hugs from everyone here.
G xx