Monday, November 10, 2008

Entering the Malaka Strait

I've cleared Singapore waters and am now in the Malaka Strait. This morning I continued along the south coast of Singapore between the mass of anchored ships littering the coast. Today's trip made crossing the Singapore Strait feel like a row in the park. At least in the Strait the movement of ships is orderly, like lanes of a motorway, but today the ships seemed to be coming from all directions; into and out of port, into and out of the shipping lane, working their way along the coast and even previous "safe" ships deciding my arrival coincided with the perfect time to raise their anchors. It felt as though I was in version of asteroids, but without the ability to destroy colliding vessels or switch on a protecting shield - in fact not really like asteroids at all, but you get my drift...

Soon after I set sail, the darkening sky ahead heralded an approaching thunderstorm. As I headed closer, the sky became so dark that the instruments triggered their automatic illumination, which they normally save for dusk. Nothing quite prepared me for the suddenness or strength of the downpour. Not only was visibility reduced to small circle around the boat, but with the wind blowing in my face, it was painful to look ahead. Normally in poor visibility I can use the radar, but with so many ships around it was impossible to pick-out the moving boats from those at anchor. Then the roar of fog-horns began, again from all directions, but all sounding very close - time to act. Fortunately I could just make out the outline of a ship at anchor ahead, so I slowly approached and hove-to in its lee, hoping that the tanker from Hamburg would provide a large enough radar target for moving ships to avoid. After 15 minutes of stinging rain the visibility improved allowing me break-free from the security of my mother-ship.

The remainder of the day was relatively uneventful, with the visibility continuing to improve until finally I was free from Singapore waters and the game of dare, now I only had to contend with the myriad of fishing buoys in the Malaka Strait. Fortunately it was a short hop to today's anchorage. Now I'm anchored waiting for the rain to stop, so I can resew a seam in the main sail and head up the mast to work out why the roller furling keeps jamming. If it's not one thing... and where's the crew when you need them...

Anchorage off the Ku Pisang islands: (10/11) N01deg 28.5' E103deg 15.7'

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