enroute to Singapore
27 April 2008 | South China Sea
27 April 2008
Position: 2.20.9N 106.10.6E
The sun has just set near a big rock jutting out of the ocean not unlike Ayers Rock. We've already had dinner - spaghetti bolognese which I made using a combination of fresh onion, garlic, herbs and a couple of tins. Cold lychees and frozen yoghurt to follow.
We've really had a magnificent day sailing most of the day. This afternoon we've been averaging 6 knots. There's very little current against us now. We hope to be at the entrance to Singapore this time tomorrow (7pm). We hope this steady breeze keeps up. It's been SE but now S-SW which means we are heeling to starboard. Sleeping maybe interesting as our bed is on the port side!
We've seen a couple of ships in the distance. I guess tomorrow will be interesting when all the shipping lanes converge towards the Malacca straits outside Singapore. The captain will need to be rested to negotiate around them tomoorow.
There have been a number of fishing boats quite close to us today. They look like Indonesian trawlers and are often brightly painted eg turquoise and orange. At night we see squid boats with their very bright lights shining from a long distance. The squid are attracted to the lights then hauled up in nets. They are probably soon cut up into calamari rings served to you at your local restaurant!
We're a bit tired but doing ok. We look forward to arriving without too many dramas. We received a nice email from Bill's sister in law Yen Ney who says her brother and cousin are keen to show us around. She also warned us not to eat too much Mi Goreng (fried noodles) because they have MSG. We did eat tinned chicken curry last night from Malaysia and had funny tummies and funny dreams as a consequence. They are not as strict about what goes into the tins as in Australia!
26th April 2008
en route to Singapore
Position: 2.55.97 N 108.15.68 E
9.30am : It is so good to be sailing again. Last night we motored the whole night as there was no wind and NO STORMS. We each got some decent sleep and feel less nervous about our lack of fuel. It is still quite a distance to Singapore. Bill said if the wind didn't blow we could be stuck out here for weeks!! So now there is a nice breeze blowing us along (6-8 knots SE). Unfortunately we still have 1.5 knots of current against us so instead of doing 6 knots we are doing 4.6 knots. It's not so bad when we are sailing but motoring using fuel with a current against us is worrying. We received grib files from saildocs giving us wind speed and direction which did predict SE winds for today and tomorrow. So far its correct. What we don't know about is the tropical storms that blow up in the evenings. They usually don't last more than an hour or so but we were unlucky the other night having to contend with one (or a series of storms) for 6 hours.
I used to be absolutely terrified of storms but now I am a lot calmer and know that Valiam can handle it. I have the best skipper in the world of course - always calm and sensible. Everyone we meet as well as old friends ask us about how we handle storms. I can now say 'ok' - you get through them as best you can having confidence in the boat and her abilities. We always have a few emergency plans in place if there is lightning about. We switch off the chartplotter and disconnect the sat phone from it's cable. (it has a portable aerial as well and I always have it fully charged) We now have c maps (electronic charts) on the lap top which also has our position.
We passed another Indonesian fishing boat earlier. It is strange to know we are close to Indonesia. Bill pulled the Malaysian flag down earlier in case a local vessel was sensitive about being patriotic and called the authorities on us! We are passing through Kep Bunguran (Bunguran islands) which are still in dispute over who owns them - Indonesia, Malaysia or Vietnam. We thought of getting fuel at Natuna Besar but to get permission to visit would be tricky. Our pilot book says " Rumours of piratical activity based on the islands, however it may effect commercial shipping, does not seem to be supported by reports from any yachts."
I guess this concern about pirates many people have about us sailing through these waters as well as storms can be alleviated by us by being reassuring and only dealing with actual facts and not rumours. Before we left Australia my father wrote to me saying 'my mother (who has passed away) would be having kittens about us going into wild seas and pirate infested waters'. Being the rebellious daughter I of course didn't listen and followed our 30 year old dream of sailing around the world. Mum was a worrier and my cousin tells me my aunt (her sister) worries about me. I think worry is fear of the unknown. Now that I've been in a couple of storms I am not worried about them. All we can do is reassure our loved ones that we are safe and careful . Well the seas can be wild (but so rarely) and Valiam and her crew have proven she can handle it. From what we've read and gleaned from reliable sources pirates are mainly targeting big ships not small fry like us. If we do encounter a suspicious looking vessel we plan to keep out of its way. Valiam is quite fast as well as difficult to board. We have heard of fishing boats signaling yachts for water, cigarettes, food, fuel etc. If we are in foreign waters we will not stop and play the 'dumb foreigner' act pretending we don't understand what they want. I plan to hide below and let Bill handle it. It would be best for the captain to indicate that he has at least 3 male crew members on board sleeping! (marine commanders perhaps) I could also dress up as a man with wig glasses, Bills shirts, different hat etc (which I have) as long as the other vessel wasn't too close. I could do this several times with several 'male costumes'. We have read many recent logs of several yachts who have traveled through these waters as well as the Red Sea in the last year and none have had to report any incidents of piracy. Fishing boats who want cigarettes etc are not pirates. But we wont be encouraging any contact in the open sea. Near land cruising through a country is a different matter - we are always friendly and wave and we usually get big grins and waves back (unless their hands are busy paddling or hauling in fishing nets)
The captain is sleeping and I plan to cook a big breakfast soon - eggs, ham (from a tin), tomatoes (2 last fresh ones). I have also got some cold yoghurt I made to have with tinned peaches. There's cold apple or tomato juice in the fridge and I will make some more fresh espresso coffee. As you can see we are eating very well despite being away from shops for a week. I think we have more than when the shop is across the road and we are too lazy to go shopping even the night before to make sure we have milk for brekky!
We had the line out yesterday but still no fish......