3. Singapore/Malaysia 2019
We left Kuching on Borneo the 13:th of March and sailed west on the South China Sea. The North-East Monsoon was blowing and we made good speed.
And, just like so many times before, the sundown was fantastic.
To begin with, there was not many other boats to be seen, but as we approached Singapore the traffic increased. Hundreds of ships anchored and very dense trafic around the island. We had to cross the shipping lane to reach our destination and that required some caution. I think our new AIS transceiver was of some help. I saw several ships alter their course in good time to make it possible for us to pass in front or behind them. I definitely got the feeling that they saw us earlier and took more notice to us than what I am used to from "old times" without AIS.
Our AIS is a Swedish made "True Heading Seapilot CTRX Graphene Wi-Fi", a class B tranciever with built in WiFi output of NMEA data. It connects wireless with my laptop so I can see all ships with AIS using my chart plotter program OpenCPN. To make the installation easy I ordered it with a small combined GPS/VHF antenna that I mounted inside the boat, as high as possible in a corner of the deckhouse. Not ideal but good enough for a few miles of coverage and good enough to make the authorities in countries who require AIS happy. I could mount a larger VHF antenna outside on my stern antenna mast to get much better coverage but that would be a lot of job of course.
We wanted to see Singapore but were told that their marinas were very expensive. So, instead we stopped at Sebana Cove Marina which is situated in Malaysia just on the other side of the strait between Malaysia and Singapore, a few miles up a river. Very calm and protected. From there we could take a ferry over to Singapore.
It was now time to start planning for our usual trip back to Aland over the summer. Where should we leave the boat ? We wanted to have the boat in a good position to cross the Indian Ocean next winter and sail up through the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. West coast of Malaysia or Thailand would be fine but after having contacted a large number of marinas and boatyards we found that their prices were out of reach for us, specially in Thailand.
Sebana Cove however, had a very good price for 6 months stay, similar to what we payed in the Philippines. After a few days contemplation we made a small change in our plans and decided to leave the Bird in Sebana Cove. We booked tickets that would take us back to Aland a little earlier than we had originally planned and also decided to return to the Bird a little earlier than we originally planned. That way we would not loose any time for sailing and could easily be in Thailand in time for the Indian Ocean sailing season in the beginnng of January 2020.
We now had plenty of time to explore the marina. How about a small open boat with 3 outboards of 300 horse powers each. Why would you need that, and how much would that cost ? Another boat was standing on the bottom. It sank and only the mast was visible. For some reason the marina staff decided to cut the mast and this it what it looks like right now.
Now it was time to visit Singapore. One of the most crowded places in the world but also one of the most developed and technically advanced cities. More than 5 million people on an island smaller than our own island at home, Aland, which has only 30.000 inhabitants. There is much to say about Singapore and many opinions. Some people think that Singapore is a heaven and should be the model for all future cities while others see a non democratic community where everyone is controlled by surveillance cameras. We just had to go there and judge by ourselves.
A taxi from our marina took us to the ferryport and 30 minutes later we were in Shangi harbour on the island of Singapore. Then a new taxi into the city.
First stop was "Gardens by the Bay", a newly opened (2013) artistic garden with huge artificial "trees" connected by a skywalk. There were also two big glass domes with lots of plants and much to see.
From the skywalk you had a nice view of the "ArtScience Museum" in the shape of a white lotus flower and next to it the spectacular "Marina Bay Sands", the worlds most expensive Casino opened 2013 and owned by American Las Vegas Sands Corporation.
A new taxi and we had lunch at the PS.Cafe opposite to the famous Fullerton Hotel. There we met Erika from Aland working in Singapore for a Norweigan insurance company. Tove's mother and Erika's grand mother went to school together a long time ago. Erika then took us to Raffels Hotel, named after the founder of Singapore Sir Thomas Stanford Raffles, to taste the original version of the "Singapore Sling".
That was Singapore. It was interesting but I don't feel I need to go there again. Clean and very Hi-tech but everything is artificial and imported for money. This must be a very unsafe situation. I believe that countries that can produce their own consumables, like Scandinavia, with strong ties to a major economic power like the EU is a safer place to live.
Back to the marina in Sebana Cove we stopped to have a beer in the lounge. A squirrel jumped around our table and looked for food. I guess it's a Black-striped squirrel (Sv:Svartstrimmig spetsekorre Lat:Callosciurus nigrovittatus) which is supposed to be common in this part of the world.
Then I heard a funny sound from the roof of the building. A Hornbill had landed and was calling out loudly with a crowlike screech. I googled a little and found that this one is probably an Oriental Pied Hornbill (Sv:Orientnäshornsfågel Lat:Anthracoceros albirostris), relatively common in Malaysia.
A few days later I saw this little fellow on our boat. At first I thought it was a hummingbird, so small and a long curved beak, but it's probably a Purple Sunbird (Sv:Purpursolfågel Lat:Cinnyris asiaticus) which is similar to the hummingbird but a little larger.
We were now in the end of March 2019 and we had decided to leave the boat here for the summer. Weather was still too cold in Scandinavia to go home so we booked tickets a month later and with four weeks to go, we had time to do a little more travelling. Why not visit Cambodia and see the Angkor Wat temple. This could be done in a week, flying out of Singapore and we were so close now that the airplane ticket would not ruin our economy. So we did and you can read about it in the next Log Book.
We left Bird of Passage in Sebana Cove Marina by the end of April and returned to our home in Aland. We had then been away for almost 6 months and sailed about 2000 NM from the Filippines to Malaysia.
End of Singapore/Malaysia 2019