We departed on Tuesday morning 16th November from Shelter Cove with Ah Kau to help us slip the mooring lines. We passed our mooring buoy for the last time and we were on our way .The wind was fair and we sailed towards the Leema islands in perfect weather. We began to feel the strength of the NE monsoon by the early hours of Wednesday morning and had to reef the sails with the increasing wind strength .By the afternoon we were sailing on a furled foresail alone and making over 6 knots .The sea had built and the waves caused a lot of rolling which made moving around difficult and galley work tricky .At one point we were making 7 knots under bare poles but at least we were going in the right direction and Poppy (our auto helm ) did sterling work .These conditions prevailed until Saturday afternoon ,rather longer than expected or forecast but the wind speed gradually reduced and the sea calmed eventually .By Sunday morning sailing had become very sloppy with not enough wind to fill the sails but still a heavy swell so we started the motor and with this the trouble began . The batteries were not being charged, luckily we still had the generator so not too serious for the moment .We had a great day sailing with the cruising chute on Monday, calm sea and no traffic but by the evening the wind had died and we had to motor again in a beautiful calm moonlit evening until at 04.30 on Tuesday morning the peace was shattered by the screech of the temperature alarm on the engine and we discovered that the fan belt pulley bolts had sheared off! John set to work searching for replacement bolts while I honed my light air sailing skills .The first set of bolts sheared again immediately after starting the engine so another set of bolts was fitted and seemed to work, but as the wind had picked up slightly we sailed again with the cruising chute and made good progress without the motor. By nightfall we dropped the chute but luckily managed to continue sailing, we were not keen to try the motor unless absolutely necessary. The next mishap was one of the main sail battens parting company with the sail via the leech so we had to remove it and nearly lost the starboard lazy jack in the process but it caught on the back stay so we could retrieve it with the boat hook.
The next time we used the motor very cautiously all went well for several hours but curiously when we turned it off this must have coincided with the bolts shearing again so we spent that afternoon shortening more bolts with a hacksaw to fix the problem for the third time. The generator was our main source of power as the demands of the fridge, Poppy the autohelm and the instruments far exceeded the wind generator so we could only hope it lasted the course which it did otherwise this tale might have had a different ending ! The new bolts seemed to work and we loosened the fan belt to reduce the stress on them but the decision on whether to use the motor or save it for Singapore was a difficult one .The traffic inevitably increased on the final stretch south off the east coast of Malaysia on Thursday so needing the security of a functioning motor became more imperative. Of course we had the inevitable squall before dawn on Friday morning but at least it blew us in the right direction.
We reached Horsburgh light about 8.00am Friday 26th our 11th day at sea and we needed to get across the southern part of Johor and Singapore before the tide changed at midday. Of course this was impossible but we carried on anyway rather than anchor and wait for the following day just hoping the engine would last as we were using it at low revs. The route to the immigration and quarantine area took us through large numbers of anchored vessels and after the tide turned on cue at mid day our speed dropped rather alarmingly and tidal rips appeared but there was no going back now. We reached the immigration area and called the authorities who appeared in a launch and we handed our precious documents over to them in a fishing net! They retreated to examine them and as each moment passed the tide became stronger making entry to the marina ever more perilous. After a rather long half hour our papers were returned in the fishing net and we could go to the One degree 15 marina on the south of Sentosa island .By this time the tide was really strong around 5 knots pushing us eastward down the Burin channel so entering the narrow entrance to the Marina was going to be difficult. John masterminded a brilliant and exciting ferry glide in, it seemed we were heading directly for the retaining wall but of course we were being swept very fast downstream so we just clipped the up stream corner of the marina entrance and suddenly we were in calm waters inside, with great relief. By 5.30pm we were tied up with shore power attached feeling quite exhausted as the adrenaline of the last few days faded away. We had seriously wondered whether we would make it at times and might not have done so if the generator had given up leaving us without power and therefore without Poppy who definitely got the helming prize for the journey.
A gin and tonic that evening never tasted so good!
Sunday 28th November
We are enjoying the comfortable facilities of ‘One degree 15’ marina, restaurants, gym, Wi Fi and the excellent company of Chris Bance and his family who welcomed us to Singapore .If we did not manage a send off party because of our delayed departure this was compensated for by the arrival welcome! We enjoyed an excellent luncheon at the Singapore cricket club while watching the Ashes match in style and comfort. Tomorrow the work starts again on the boat as we need to get the engine repaired and the batten back into the main sail and all the usual other jobs that always need to be done on boats.