Wow what a passage. This little trimaran makes us both work hard. She's not easy but then again she is incredibly rewarding and offers a level of sailing few get to experience.
We had an amazing first night out of Singapore. The wind slowly filled in after about five hours of motoring in which we covered 25nm. This got us halfway around the southern edge of Singapore. From there the wind filled in from the east. It was night and we unfurled the big reacher, which gave us around 4-9kts of boat speed. The speed changed as did our angles to it as we wove our way in and out of the ships at anchor and ships heading into the different ports. There was only one time when I had to change course and shine a bright light at an over taking ship that was cutting us off and very close to running us over. He probably couldn't tell our exact course and presumed we were running a bit deeper than we were. It's wasn't an issue though and we just run off for a few minutes putting a hundred feet between us as opposed to none!
A lot of people worry about passing thru Singapore but we enjoyed it. You need to keep an incredibly sharp eye out and we both is sat on watch one on either side of the boat to make sure we were on top of things. Drifting through the ships with the lights shinning bright being pulled along silently while listening to there massive engines rumble was surreal and made us cherish the way we sail with the wind. There's something so alien about big ships they just aren't anything like the ships of yesteryear that slowly glided along with the winds drift, now they are steel bohemths from another world totally disconnected from the watery environment they travel in.
Around 0100 hrs we passed the south western corner of Malaysia and headed further to the north west. In the distance the clouds were alive with lightening. We try not to think too much about it but in this part of the world your confronted with it daily and it's hard to get it to escape your mind, especially when your on such a small vulnerable boat like Spirit there's no escaping the fear.
In the early morning around 0230 Claudia went on watch and was making good time. The wind was light and from the east. We were traveling well until around 0400 when the wind totally died out. As the wind died Claudia decided to started the engine and furl the jib. I awoke and came on deck to see a black line of cloud approaching from the west. The air was cold and dense. As it came in it came in fast reaching 25krs in under two minutes. Luckily the staysail was at the ready. There was three reefs in the mainsail from earlier in the evening. Spirit took off in the squall sitting perfectly with the sail combination in the heavy winds. We sat on 12-14kts sailing upwind and it felt great although cold and wet from the intense rain that the squall bought with it. There wasn't any ground to cloud lightening it all seemed to be cloud to cloud, which was a relief.
After the wind and rain passed we continued on slowly and I got back to bed for another hour of rest. It didn't last long though as I was awoken a short time later with the claps of thunder and lightening around us. Again there was a dark line ahead to the north but this time it brought with it an incredibly display of lightening. There was black clouds nearly touching the oceans surface and every few minutes they let out these glowing forks of lightning that would reach down and touch the water and they'd repeat it two or three times to the same spot as though they had so much energy to give it was awe inspiring but incredibly frightening with it being so close to us. We tried to tack away for a short time but things went wrong fast. The seas had build on our beam and as we tacked we started to take them head on making Spirit pitch and bury her bow into them. The wind was around 22kts and with the tack we tried to put away the jib and pull out the staysail. I couldn't get the jib away fast enough and it flogged badly loosing a batten at the same time the prodder buried into a wave and bent down tearing the alloy at the pivot point onboard Spirit. The jib sheet wrapped around itself as we lost the tail with the flogging. So we had a jib that we couldn't get out on a stb tack and a prodder that was trying to self destruct itself on the bow. It was a nightmare no sleep and everything falling apart at the same time. Then a minute later there was a huge thump as though something had come thru the boat. As we looked astern we could see the floating monster was a huge lump of tree that Spirits port float bow had tried to cut in half. I went forward to try and secure the prodder at which time I noticed that the Nav lights had also been ripped off and that there was a chunk out of the float bow. It was hard to see clearly but it looked ok and nothing that had compromised the hull.
We got the prodder secured and boat settled again and watched as the forks of lightening dispersed to the south east. Later the day cleared and sun came out. You would never had know as the seas dropped off again that hour previous things had been so violent and so different. There wasn't a breath of air and so we chose to motor sail for a few hours to try and get some miles put away. I was able to grab some rest again and fell quickly to sleep. Around 1100 the weather improved allowing us to sail with full main and jib. It was directly on the nose from the northwest but hey it was wind the seas were flat and we are able to short tack our way up the northern side of the shipping lanes without the hum of the outboard engine. It's so fun to sail Spirit that even when there's the slightest breeze we are happy to work hard to get her moving. It's also far faster and far more peaceful to sail than motor even with the littlest of pressure we can make better speed than the outboard.
We short tacked for a few hours then just before the sun started to set the wind backed to the north then north east and we got a super angle that allowed us to crack off the sheets a little and to make rhumb line directly to Admiralty Marina. The wind went up and down during the night and early morning but it never dropped below 5kts true and the angle was always from 35-60 apparent giving us good apparent wind across the deck and good speed through the water. At around 0200 we closed on the marina and by 0300 we were all fast to what we thought was the fuel dock. We later found out it wasn't and in the morning they happily helped us move from there into a more permanent and secure berth. It's so nice to stop and be still again after such a hectic delivery and to get Spirit cleaned up and sorted after the little bashing she took a day prior. We'll now hang out here for a bit watching the weather fixing up the things we broke and then we'll head off for the next adventure to the next place up the coast.
Nongsa to Sebana
We pulled into Nongsa not knowing what to expect. We had heard reports that it's a little open so I requested a dock that was easy to get into. Once we got into the marina we found that they'd given us the first pen on the end of the arm to slip into. Luckily the wind was virtually nonexistent as it was a tight fit with a foot on either side of Spirit.
There was a few days spent cleaning the boat up after the passage from Lombok, doing laundry and just unwinding after a week at sea. It's a nice spot but there's nothing apart from the hotel and marina in the near vicinity and to get to Batam the biggest and nearest town it's a heady taxi fee and long ride. Both of which we weren't up to.
The simplicity of being at sea is always more present once you arrive near land. The costs that you start to occurs for every little thing and the way even the most simply task becomes complex makes you want to untie the lines and head back out into the blue yonder.
One of the main reasons for our stop was to get out extendedvisas for Thailand. If we didn't we'd only be allow to enter for 30 days, with the tourist visa we were to get we can get 60 days and extend for another 30 days so a total of 90 days can be had. When you sail somewhere the last thing you want to do is have a limited stay of 30 days it's just no where near enough time to look around and depart again all in good weather.
On the third day in Nongsa we got up at 5am and headed to the ferry about ten minutes ride away from the marina. We got the ferry to Singapore and spent a night there with an old family friend. The visa application and process is very easy as long as you are prepared yourself with all the paperwork and are there on time.
The applications were made at 11am on the Tuesday and at 2pm the following day we went in and picked up our passports with the visas. The ferry back was at 6:30pm so we went and did some quick shopping beforehand getting some items we couldn't source in Indonesia and I bought some new three strand line to replace Spirits old mooring lines, which were made up from old halyards that had no give in them.
The main down point of being at Nongsa was the openness of the marina to the north. With the daily thunder storms that were around we would get quite a bit of slop coming into the marina. It was horrible for Spirit and she would buck around at the dock like a horse trying to break free. It's an awe full experience and something that just comes with cruising on a fast and light boat. You can have everything and this is one of her down points.
We changed the lines when we got back to the boat and it made a world of difference. Just giving Spirit the elasticity of the 12mm three strand over the unforgivingness of braided line was like chalk and cheese. She was easy at the berth now but still moved around a lot it just took the jarring and pulling out of it.
The next day we spoke to the marina office and organised too depart. Our friends on Rotor had headed over to Sebana Cove Resort and had emailed about how great it was. It was less than half the price of Nongsa and it had better facilities and offered a lot more. It was however a few miles up a creek but we were keen to explore and it's always fun seeing new places.
So that morning are cleared out of Nongsa whom were great at organising the prompt departure and headed for Sebana Cove. we trucked it across the Singapore straits dodging a few ships along the way. It wasn't too bad though and it was nothing compared to what people had spoken about. With good visibility it's actually a pretty strait forward affair.
The trip up the creek was awesome flat calm waters, mangroves on each side and birds singing it was a world away from Nongsa Point!! We decided to carry out the remaining jobs we had to do and to rest a bit before heading further north to Langkawai and Thailand. The last few months had flown by and we felt a real need to stop and slow down.
After the four miles of wandering creek we came upon the marina tucked away into a corner of the mangroves. It's a beautiful place and only over the last few years has it come back to life. The local yachts here have told us that about ten years ago it was fairly run down and there was no work or maintaining being done to the resort. Now it's under new ownership or management and it's wonderful. The staff are incredibly helpful. They organised our clearance into Malaysia and helped us when we approached the dock allowing us to put Spirit wherever we felt comfortable. As we don't use shoe power we stopped at the end of the finger dock and made ourselves fast. The serenity was so sublime and instantly we both felt at ease and at peace.