It is 7:30 am Thursday morning in Singapore, and we will be departing for Port Dickson, Malaysia in about one hour. It is a two and one-half days passage up the Straits of Malacca to Port Dickson. We plan to anchor at the small island of Pulau Pisang tonight, at Pulau Besar tomorrow night, before arriving at the Admiral Marina outside of Port Dickson on Saturday afternoon.
We’ve now been in Singapore for about 10 days, having arrived here on October 15th. It is hot and humid with almost daily thunderstorms. It is also incredibly clean, and green and efficient. Despite all the buildings and construction and highways, they have managed to keep an incredible amount of green space which really makes the city very attractive. We had Hannah with us for the first 6 days and we kept busy doing sightseeing and eating as often as we could in Chinatown, Little India, and even shopping malls since the food is so uniformly delicious here. It reflects the mix of people who live in Singapore – primarily Malay, Chinese and Indian. The Raffles Marina where we are staying on our boat is kind of far from the city, but there is a free shuttle bus that takes us the 15 minute ride to a huge shopping center (Boon Lay), and from there we have a very inexpensive, clean and fast train that takes us into town in less than 1/2 an hour. We visited the botanical gardens yesterday with good friends of ours from the boat Dedalus and really loved it – the most beautiful orchid gardens you can imagine. We have also re-connected with old friends from the catamaran Intiaq. These are friends that we met in the Galapagos and we sailed on and off with them for much of our 1st and 3rd years out. We somehow managed to arrive in Singapore on the same day – after not seeing them for 2 years. They sailed in from northern Borneo and we arrived from Indonesia. Small world? Lots to do and see in this place, but we plan to leave here on Thursday and start sailing up the coast of Malyasia to Pangkor Marina. That’s where we will leave Sabbatical III for the winter….. L.
Hannah prepares to be initiated into the Secret Society of Mariners who have Crossed the Equator on a Sailing Vessel
We are in Singapore. We left Belitong late in the afternoon of October 11 for a 44 hour sail to Sebangka Island. We rested for the night at anchor at Sebangka and then day sailed to Batam Island, rested for the night, and then sailed the remaining 9 hours to the Raffles Marina in Singapore, arriving yesterday (October 15) in the afternoon.
At about 7 am on October 13, Sabbatical III crossed the equator just south of Kentar Island. The last time we were in the northern hemisphere was late March 2007 when we were a day away from the Galapagos Islands on the passage from Panama. It is a tradtion among mariners that those aboard must be initiated the first time they cross the equator by boat. At 7 am on October 13, the “tadpole” Hannah was initiated by King Poseidon (see photo below) and Queen Neptune (not shown as she was taking the photo).
Hannah is initiated by King Poseidon (who carries a monodent instead of the usual trident)
Also, noteworthy on that day is the passage of a waterspout (tornado over the water) that passed within a mile of Sabbatical III.
We will post photos from Belitong and blog about Singapore in the coming days.
We have been in Belitong for nearly a week now – our last stop in Indonesia. We have never encountered a more welcoming place. They have made all the cruisers feel so welcome – with huge “Welcome Sail Indonesia” ” Sail Wakatobe Belitong” banners all the way down the beach and down the road for 20 miles or more – traditional dancing everyday on the beach – events and tours and meals for us every day. The people here are so friendly and everyone wants to take our picture. I think we must have posed for 40 different families already. The water is lovely and the beach is clean and we have been able to kayak everyday – early in the morning when it is calm. The weather is starting to change as we get nearer and nearer to the equator and later in the season – and we are starting to see thunderstorms almost daily.
Last night was the final event of this year’s “Sail Indonesia Rally”. We had a fun evening on shore with some speeches by local dignitaries (a bit boring), followed by lots of traditional dancing, and then very funny performances by various groups of sailors.
We are sad to leave, but it is time to get to Singapore with Hannah. We leave this afternoon and it will take us about 4 days to get there – with a few stops on the way.
We just got back from a two day/one night trip up the river near Kumai (Borneo) to see the orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park. This is the main, and only, tourist attraction in this part of Borneo, and it was one of the things we have most anticipated on our tour through Indonesia. We signed on with “Herry”, a local tour guide operator who has a very good reputation among other sailors who have been here in previous years, to take a tour up the river on a local klotok (a wooden boat – see pictures we have posted).
The boat has a big deck on top, open, except for a canopy overhead to protect you from the sun and rain, that was our private space while our “crew” including a guide, a pilot, a cook and a “boat boy” worked mainly on the lower deck to take care of everything we needed on the trip. The klotoks are very simple, but felt quite luxurious to us as we are so used to doing everything ourselves and suddenly we had people making us food, steering the boat, cleaning up after us, serving us tea, etc. The boat ride takes you up a narrow river, lined by thick vegetation up into the national park where the orangutans live. The ride is lovely with many types of monkeys in the trees overhead, tropical birds and even some crocodiles and large lizards. Our guide was named Seapon and he is a native Dayak (an indigenous ethnic group in Indonesia) who spent 11 years working at Camp Leakey (the main site for the orangutans).
We stopped at three places over the 2 days and hiked into the jungle to view the orangutans who come down to specific feeding sites. They were pretty amazing and we took lots of great photos. In between orangutan viewings we were entertained by our guide Seapon and were fed wonderful meals. We anchored in the river at night and the crew set up our beds for us – thick mats on the floor of the deck – and covered each bed with mosquito nets. The crew sat and fished from the boat while Mark and Hannah and I had dinner and just sat in the candlelight talking and listening to the wonderful jungle sounds. At dusk there were hundreds of monkeys in the trees lining the river – including the fantastic proboscis monkeys ( they have huge long noses) and then after dark the trees were just filled with fireflies. It was a terrific trip.