I took over at two and we were still romping along at eight knots. Bear tried to slow us down by putting not one but two reefs in the main. Even with a much reduced sail no change in speed as most of our forward propulsion was due to a too kindly current. Out went a handkerchief sized genoa, down came the main and we eventually slowed to five knots. Bear went to bed and I turned us more and began to bobble at two knots in an off-course direction (or I would have got us in at around three-thirty in the morning). It felt as though we were definitely just finishing a wash cycle. My next four hours was spent pitching and bouncing in rinse cycle, thankfully I’m listening to Shogun with an excellent orator and time passed quickly. Stomping was very difficult as I kept pitching over. At six Bear got up to help me sort out steerage, became my extra eyes as I had to manoeuvre between two chums and as there was no point me going to bed I tell the skipper to go back below. The clock has gone back an hour. At six thirty-eight local time a bare glimmer of sunrise.
The skipper got up, well rested at seven thirty (my eight thirty). By now I could just make out Sabang Lighthouse, Bear immediately got to the task of preparing for our flag ceremony. Our Malaysian flag went up on the 31st of October 2016 such a long time ago, so many jobs and chores Beez has seen between then and now. The Indonesian flag in the early morning light and at the mast with the ‘Q’ flag in place.
A local girl came out of the port, her crew waved enthusiastically and then headed off. Sabang Lighthouse as we neared.
As we turn into the big harbour we see tow elderly ladies on our left. The first is Silver Sea 2, built in 1979 her flag is Thai, this cargo chum has been here quite some time, wonder what her fate will be. Behind her an equally elderly Indonesian girl named 538, we couldn’t make out her name but it was something Hong, I could find no information on her, but like her friend has been parked here for some time.
We see a few visiting yachts on mooring buoys and see an empty one on the far side of the bay near the cruise ship dock. Engine off at eight fifteen (local time), no answer from Port Control so I go to bed. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of fruit bats squealing as they roost in the trees in front of us, clanking from the dock as locals wait for a ferry and a Call to Prayer from speakers better suited to a reasonably sized rock concert.......I settle into a deep sleep.
At ten thirty I enjoy watching a cruise ship enter.
A flurry of activity from the local Coast Guard vessel.
I settle to watch this big girl turn.
Bow and stern thrusters roaring she turns, I thought the noise would wake Pepe, a quick look but she is still soundo.
A final push and it takes the crew many attempts to land a monkey fist for the dock crew to catch. Within minutes the Seven Seas Mariner was aside. So it looks as if we have been queue-jumped as the authorities race on board and soon I see her yellow ‘Q’ flag come down. Pepe gets up and gets through to Port Control on the radio and they tell us to wait, Harbourmaster will call us. We play 12 to nine on Mexican Train. Pepe tries again and we get permission to go and collect Quarantine representatives.
Later I would look up her vital statistics. Seven Seas Mariner was built in France, registered in Nassau and has been in service in 2001. She was the first all suite, all balcony cruise ship in the world. Her capacity is seven hundred passengers with four hundred and forty-five crew. She has eight decks, is 216 metres in length, 28.3 metres across the hips and has a draught of 6.4 metres. Her GWT is 48, 075 tons and her DWT is a slender 4,700 tons. In 2021 she will embark on a world cruise called at sixty-one ports in thirty countries over one hundred and seventeen nights.
At five past three we set off for the far side of the harbour leaving Beez with her new friend. The trees to the left of her beak are home to the bats. Meanwhile, the passengers of the cruise ship are treated to an on-shore market with modern songs accompanied by a screechy violin. Such good songs being given a hole new life – not. We pull up at the floating plastic dinghy dock to see three Quarantine Officers waiting for us. One is nervous as he climbs in but is chatty enough. We get back to Beez and the next half an hour is all about Bear filling forms as nervous boy comes down to poke around cupboards and the fridges, he watched as he asked me to flush the toilet. I could tell he wanted ‘something’ and eventually he asked for two beers “for my boss, not me”, yeah right, pull the other one. He would have had cigarettes but I said no.
All back in Baby Beez, the three ‘Q’ men rushed off bidding us “visit for certificate” once we had finished with Customs and Irritation and the harbourmaster. Four various officers officers of each climb into Baby Beez and off we go once again bound for Beez Neez. More sitting in the cockpit. All ashore after half an hour.
On shore looking down at the dinghy dock, having climbed a rickety frame which will be fun at low and high water wethinks. Clutching the map we were given it was off to find the Health Office for more paperwork.......
ALL IN ALL MUCH SPUDDLING BACK AND FORTH IN BABY BEEZ
KEPT US BUSY FOR AN HOUR OR SO