Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Wed 4 Nov 2009 14:18
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.
Nongsa Point marina. A very comfortable place to relax.
However..... the 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 hour later.
Off on tow again. This time we have to cross the very busy strait between Indonesia and Singapore.
Geoff steers a careful course.
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.
Singapore is 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 up.
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, Tapestry.