26 October 2007

Sungai Santi, Malaysia

Anchored in the Sungai Santi (Santi River)
State of Johor

A lot can happen in a day when it starts at midnight and you use the full 24 hours.

Team Sandpiper sprung into action at 12:01am, so that is when our day began. We pulled up anchor and said goodbye to Palau Kentar under an almost full moon with glassy waters. There was not a breath of wind. We motor sailed our way through a large group of islands for 50 miles and never caught the tidal current that we were hoping for till 2 hours after is was supposed to show up.

Our plan was to stop for the night at a small bay as our last stop in Indonesia. This was so we could leave at sunrise the next morning to cross the Singapore Strait in daylight. We picked this anchorage just by looking at our C-Map electronic charts and the bay looked like a nice stop as it was very protected and would be easy to leave in the dark just before sunrise. But as luck would have it, as soon as we dropped the hook we noticed that we were anchored right in front of a large navy base with a customs office. Since we had already cleared with customs out of Indonesia back at Belitung , we were not 'supposed' to stop anywhere else in Indonesia. We were hoping to avoid any more officials before we left. But just our luck, this is where we picked to anchor.

As soon as we got the hook dropped (3pm) a boat full of Indonesian immigration officials pulled up to us. They came out because they wanted to know why we had stopped there since we had already cleared out of Indonesia back in Belitung. I explained that we were not leaving the boat and only wanted to anchor there till 5am so we could safely cross the Singapore Strait in daylight. He said "Sorry. But you will have to leave right now." I thanked him for sending us off to cross the straits in the dark, pulled up the anchor, and took off at full throttle to get across the straits 15 miles away.

It turned out that things worked out OK as we had a following current and were now making 7 knots. Now we just had to get across the straits. Crossing the Singapore Strait is a lot like playing Frogger (a video game), with the same results if you move the wrong way. There were ships everywhere moving all directions. We passed a cruise ship. Then we had a container ship and two tankers , all side by side, bearing down on us. So we came down their side and slipped right behind them.

After that we just had a few more ships to dodge and then we were across, on the Malaysia side of the strait just at the sun was setting. There are hundreds of ships at anchor. Sandpiper wound her way through all these anchored ships with no problems and dropped anchor in 15 feet of water in the mouth of the Santi River.

We were not to sure exactly where the channel is since it is not well marked. Our C-Map electronic charts were dead on accurate and we would not have wanted to make this trip in the dark without them.

We are planning on staying here at anchor till sunrise tomorrow, then move 3 miles upriver to Sabana Cove Marina, our new home for the next 3 weeks. Singapore is right across the channel from us. We are planning on taking inland trips from here for some exploring. Also a must-do is to get over to Singapore for a Singapore Sling! We will have WiFi in the marina so keep checking our site for the next three weeks as we are hoping to get all our photos and videos updated. Also we will be on Skype. So look for us!

Tom and Amy

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