For the first
time since we left Spain in November 2006 we have been set back by significant
gear failure - the sort of thing that cannot just be taken in our stride.
The marina and resort at Nongsa Point was a great contrast to the rest of
Indonesia, which was not surprising when we learned that it was owned by a
company with very large property interests in Singapore and that part of Batam
catered largely for Singaporeans wanting to "get away from it all" across the
water. Perhaps it was not "real Indonesia" but we have to admit it was a
very soothing experience to be in a properly run marina with the usual
facilities, a very nice swimming pool and a restaurant.
marina. A very comfortable place to relax.
engineer came when he said he would, submitted a quotation that was acceptable,
promised to start work at 10.00 am five days later - and did not turn
up. An hour later the marina office rang him on our behalf: the parts
would take about three weeks to arrive from Sweden. We immediately set
about considering how we could get JJ Moon to Singapore. We had another
stroke of good fortune. Friends we had made in New Zealand and in whose
company we had been on several occasions since, turned up in their catamaran and
offered to give us a further tow when they headed that way in a few days.
This was a very gallant offer because Stream Spirits is lighter than JJ Moon and
has a relatively small engine in each hull; Geoff and Trudy had never tried
towing before and the traffic in the strait is truly awesome. We discussed
the route beforehand, most importantly the point at which to cross the
main Traffic Separation Scheme. It is a legal requirement to do so
within 10 degrees of the perpendicular and small vessels have no rights of
way. Large ships pass at the rate of one every 12 to 15 minutes in each
direction and sometimes three ships abreast can be observed coming down the
track at different speeds in various stages of overtaking and being
overtaken. The crew of Stream Spirits remained very cool under fire, timed
their turn to pass close astern of a giant bulk carrier and we scuttled across
the main east-bound and west-bound lanes. The inshore traffic on the
Singapore side still demanded some ducking and diving but, helped by a
favourable tidal stream, we were dropped off at the
Western Immigration Anchorage about three hours after departure.
Stream Spirits went on to Malaysia. The Immigration launch was
alongside before we had completed hauling in the tow line, passports and
port clearance from Nongsa Point were handed over and within a further five
minutes we were cleared to proceed. We had chosen to berth in Keppel Bay
marina because it is owned by the same company as Nongsa Point and has a
big RIB capable of towing us the last three miles. We called by phone,
they arrived within the hour and we were safely tucked up three quarters of an
Off on tow
again. This time we have to cross the very busy strait between
Indonesia and Singapore.
Geoff steers a
Last step was
a tow by the marina RIB into Keppel Bay. Thank heavens for friends as this
one hour tow was very costly. The marina itself is probably the closest to
the heart of Singapore. It is not the cheapest by any means and we
are the only live-aboards.
very impressive; vital, affluent, efficient and clean. Or so it seems to a
visitor at the periphery. As ever, the people are helpul and friendly -
except, may be, the taxi drivers. The "underground" works very
smoothly but the taxi service is perhaps a small blot on the city's
escutcheon. When one gets a bit low due to the failure of parts to arrive
from Sweden there is always "retail therapy". This is of very high quality
and after three months in Indonesia there are small but delicious
pleasures in encountering M & S and Waitrose. Altogether
Singapore is not the worst place in the world in which to be held
On Tuesday the
towers and the towed met up for a Singapore sling in the Long Bar at
Raffles. Afterwards we repaired to the Billiard Room for the buffet lunch
- wonderful food and impeccable service in a unique setting. A very
comfortable venue at which to draw to a close the Indonesian part of our
adventure but we hope to see more of these friends before too long.
Now we are
sitting, trying to handle frustration as best we can, waiting for engineers and
waiting for parts. It looks as though we shall have to make some
adjustments to our plans but more of that at a later posting.
A reunion at
Raffles (from left to right), JJ Moon, Streams Spirits, Troubadour,