We are back in Singapore, berthed in the Marina at Keppel Bay where we were last in November 2009. You have heard it before: this is a first world country with most necessary and desirable facilities; efficient and friendly services but all at London/Geneva prices. It is a change for us and as a short term visitor it is difficult to find anything to criticise.
We enjoyed our stay at Admiral Marina, Port Dickson spending some time with Bill and Janet on Airstream, one of the boats planning to cross to South Africa with us. We also enjoyed our few days in the Puri Hotel, Malacca. Malacca is a fair-sized city with much ugly development but the few streets clustered round the river mouth settled by the Chinese and colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and British have been well preserved and remain an attractive tourist venue. There are enough interesting things to occupy two days but, as with the rest of the world, the eager tourist is offered much that is really not very interesting or well presented. The star of the show was the hotel; right in the heart of things, full of character and serving an excellent breakfast.
The town square, Malacca
Street scene – River scene
Relaxing hotel courtyard
In the last few weeks we have made another of those, often short-term, friendships that are so much part of the fun of cruising. In Penang we met Tim and Bec on Infinity V another Contest very similar to JJ Moon. We have been sailing in company. Tough Aussie cops with hearts of gold they have divided their working lives between Special Operations, confronting some of the very worst of Victoria’s bad guys and Police Search and Rescue, everything from hazardous diving, fetching protesters down from tall trees and rescuing climbers from treacherous mountains. They have many an astonishing tale to tell. In his spare time Tim helped organize and run a team-building “boot camp” for the England cricket team just before the last successful Ashes tour to Australia. It worked! It is easy to warm to such open minded and generous spirited Australians and their company has enriched our cruising. Being also cycling aficionados they have been keeping us on the right track with the finer points of the Tour de France.
Tim and Bec – serious bikers
We sailed together from Port Dickson to Singapore. All in all we were fortunate with the weather and hazard avoidance all the way from Langkawi. The distance is only a little over 400 nautical miles and these are not the most hazardous waters in the world but there are plenty of possible problems nevertheless. Offshore there is a great deal of commercial shipping including tugs with large barges on long tow lines; inshore the waters are shallow and infested with fishing boats, fishing buoys and nets strung across the paths of unsuspecting yachtsmen. During this season the weather is unpredictable with the real possibility of encountering a “sumatra,” the local name for a squall lasting an hour or more with lashing rain and winds of 40 to 50 knots. We were spared the consequences of all these pitfalls but we did a fair amount of dodging and weaving in our encounters with the fishing industry. Our first night out of Admiral Marina was spent off Besar, one of the Water Islands south-west of Malacca; the second night was at at an attractive anchorage north of Pisang Island. The approach to Singapore, weaving through numerous moving and anchored shipping, is a fascinating experience but one needs to keep a pretty sharp look out. We dropped the hook with a small sigh of relief at the Western Immigration Anchorage, just west of The Sisters, were quickly processed by Customs and Immigration and motored into Keppel where lines were handled efficiently, the harbour authorities dealt with on our behalf and a welcome pack of information handed over together with electronic gate keys. All very comfortable.
Infinity V threading her way through anchored shipping
Cleared in and leaving The Sisters
We are now quite busy. Things have arisen, as they do, and work that can only be done at a place like Singapore has been building up. As ever we are reminded that the business of cruising is all about keeping ourselves fit, keeping the boat up to scratch and keeping the admin. back home up to date. By contrast the sailing bit is usually quite simple.
The Marina at Keppel Bay and adjacent development