Kuching in Singapore
26 November 2005
Just has to show you the reception area at the Raffles Yacht Club. This was the deluxe version of a marina!
Singapore was surprisingly lengthy stopover considering we hadn't intended to go there in the first place. Our intention was to stop in Nongsa Point, have our dive compressor delivered to the boat and then carry on to Malaysia. However, (surprise!!) our dive compressor was still in Frankfurt and on our second night in Nongsa Point one of the boats in the marina was struck by lightning and totally consumed by the resulting fire. This made us nervous about the place. Well, not that nervous but we decided to go to Singapore for a 3 or 4 days as that would facilitate the delivery of the compressor. As it turned out we were in Singapore 12 days and received the compressor 30 minutes before we left having been prepared to leave without it!
Girding our loins we ventured forth to cross the Singapore Strait shipping channel. Whoa! That is scary! Huge container vessels, LPG tankers, cargo ships of all sizes and descriptions and all travelling at 20 knots and aimed right at the side of our little vessel! We squeaked through somehow and headed for the Singapore Armed Forces Yacht Club right beside the Changi Naval base where ex-Commodore General Tan Huck Gim, an ex colleague from the UN had arranged a berth for us. We'd just relaxed into the thought of a brew in the yacht club bar when we were approached at high speed by a Singapore navy RIB bearing camouflage kitted men with guns! Yikes! Turns out there is a "1 mile off" rule for the naval base and we'd clipped the corner. After examination of our papers and a lot of radio communication we were determined to be relatively harmless (although highly suspect) and released to enjoy our much deserved beer.
The SAF yacht club was accommodating and had a great pool and wi-fi internet access on the boat. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay there! After 8 days we moved to the other end of Singapore to the Raffles Yacht Club to be nearer the marine suppliers. The transit took all day and was full of surprises as Singapore has been very busy reclaiming land so the charts are no longer accurate - in fact one passage were tried to use had been completely walled in. We arrived at Raffles just in time to crash a cruiser's birthday party and so had a great introduction. Raffles is a deluxe yacht club with an impressive pool area and smiling, helpful staff. They delver the paper to your boat in the morning and provide pay-for-use wi-fi on the docks. Itg turned to be a gathering point for cruisers and we met up with the group from Bali (Mokoko, Fontana and Samsara) and met other cruisers we'll be seeing in Thailand.
In 12 days in Singapore we visited with Jim McGowan and his wife Swan, spent a wonderful day with General Tan Huck Lim who gave us the deluxe $.50 tour of Singapore including a taste-testing of 6 different beers at the Brewerks micro-brewery opposite Clark's Quay, experienced the Hindu celebration of Deepavali and the Muslim Eid celebration of the end of Ramadan and did a fair amount of shopping.
Singapore was also the place that we discovered the oil seal on our starboard stern drive was leaking. This led to a futile search for a haul-out facility of a beach so as the seal can only be replaced when the boat is dry. It also led to the discovery that a salt water leak had corroded a screw head an a gasket plate and, more urgently, corroded a hole in the high pressure oil pipe. Now this was so much fun for David as, having finally got the necessary part, the new oil pipe could only be fitted by removing the exhaust manifold and the alternator from the engine block which of course is done is a contorted position in the engine room (also known as the Yanmar sweat box torture device). Thank heavens for yoga and perserverance! It was all done in only a day leaving us with only the leaking oil seal...or so we thought. We started up the engine only to find that the leak was not from the gasket but from a crack in the exhaust elbow. Oops! No part available for at least 2 weeks and we were leaving the next day. Quick arrangements were made to have the part welded first thing in the morning and we were pleased when it all happened but not so pleased when the weld didn't hold! Ah well! Good solid engineering skills were applied to the task as was some "Wet Work" underwater epoxy. Seems to be working (but maybe we should order that part).
All this fixing of boats and pursuing of parts was starting to seem like work! Time to go. We headed for Port Dickson, Malaysia via Pulau Pisang and Pulau Besar in the Water Islands.