28 November 2007

Port Dickson

Moored at Port Dickson
Negeri Sembilan

We finally broke away from Sabana Cove and its wonderful swimming pool after having one last swim on Sunday afternoon. We make the 180 mile jump up the Straits Of Malacca to Port Dickson. We motored the 10 miles back down the Sungai River and anchored just before sunset at the mouth of the river. That way we would be able to leave at first light for the run up the Singapore Straits.

Team Sandpiper got an early start Monday morning at 4:30 am to catch the tide. We wound our way through the hundreds of ships anchored along Singapore's shoreline. As the sun rose at 7am Sandpiper was making 10 knots at times due to the following current. We dodged ships that were maneuvering in and out of Singapore's shipping terminals and we passed ships at anchor.

The amount of shipping around Singapore is truly impressive. There are ships of all types entering and leaving the shipping terminals. Then to look over at the Singapore Straits to see hundreds of ships just transiting the Singapore Straits, past Singapore, on their way to other parts of the world. It truly amazing.

We did not get away from the anchored ships until 3pm when we finally cleared Singapore and were back along Malaysia's shoreline, running north up the Strait of Malacca. We had planned on making 2 stops along this jump north as boats that had made this trip weeks earlier experienced rough passages due to weather and debris in the water. Ten miles from our anticipated anchorage Team Sandpiper held a team meeting and decided that we were making such good progress. We had winds off the beam. So we decided to keep going overnight and do the 180 miles all in one trip.

Luckily we left as early as in the morning as we did because a huge ugly black storm passed right behind us and nailed Singapore with heavy lightning and rain. We could hear about the storm on Singapore's FM radio stations as they were broadcasting warnings for flash flooding.

Sandpiper stayed just outside the shipping lanes all night long and we could see ship's navigation lights passing us. We had a few ships that for some reason did not want to use the shipping lanes to pass us in the other direction. This required large course changes for us to stay out of their way.

Due to Singapore's booming economy they are running out of land to build on. So they are importing gravel and sand from Malaysia to make their small island nation bigger. All during the night we passed tugs and barges of gravel inside us. They are really slow and do not use the shipping lanes in order to keep out of the way of the bigger, faster, ships racing through. They were not too big of a problem for the ol' Piper. Unlike in Indonesia, all the tugs and barges were lit and were on a short tow. So it was easy to figure out where their barges were.

The only really freaky part of the night was when a unlit fishing boat came up along side, flashed us with their spot light, and then sped off into the night. I think they were actually saying "Hello".

This was a transit that we were very thankful to have radar as there were hundreds of ships all around us all night long. But it was not too stressful because they were all going either north or south. So it was quite easy to determine each ship's intent.

The weather continued to hold and we just had to wait out the tides going against us every 6 hours, which slowed us down to 3 knots at times. We would make over 7 knots the other 6 hours when the tidal current was going with us.

Big thanks to our New Zealand friends on S/V Sunburn who gave us a new tide program that shows current direction that proved to be very accurate. And also thanks for the updated electronic charts that helped us pass Singapore. There is more new land in Singapore every year as they keep adding on to their country. Our old charts had us going over this 'new land'.

We arrived at the marina at Port Dickson called "The Admiral Marina & Leisure Club" at noon on Tuesday. We tied up right behind the S/V Shiraz, that belongs our friend's Steve and Renee. They left it here while they flew back to the U.S. to see family.

Also arriving right behind us was S/V Uterus (Norway) whom we had not seen since they got engaged in Singapore. They had to make this trip by stopping every night because lighting had destroyed all of their electronics. Their boat was struck by lightning back in Singapore while they were docked at a marina. They had been able to replace everything in Singapore, except their radar, auto pilot, and depth sounder. This means that they had to hand steer all the way here.

Since I am an International Man Of Leisure this might be home for a few days. We will be here for at least 4 days as we are awaiting Sandpiper's new USCG documentation to arrive before we can leave. We are going to need this when we arrive in Thailand in December.

Tom and Amy

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