Monday morning 16th June we were up early because there were lots of last minute things to do. Turned the instruments on – no depth! Can’t go without a depth sounder; no speed either. Bill had to get the transducer interface box out from behind the panel again to investigate. It turned out to be a locking collar on the cable had come lose because Yap hadn’t tightened it properly – naughty Yap. Bill got it sorted and we continued with our jobs. Bill wanted to do an oil change as we anticipate lots of motoring on the next part of our adventure. That involves moving the stairs and lots of swearing at inanimate objects to curse them into submission! I beat a hasty retreat to the gym with Jackie for one last time. At 11am they came to collect us in the marina golf buggy to take us all of 300metres to immigration to check out. I don’t think they realise that we are able to walk but it helps them to justify the charge of £10 for doing the check out paperwork that consists of writing out the port clearance and stamping the passports.
At 2pm we said a final sad goodbye to Hokele’a, Soltice and Kite then left Puteri harbour, it was almost exactly 5 weeks to when we had arrived and 8 weeks all but 2 days since the lightening strike. It was like travelling with a new baby with all the new noises Camomile was making. The VHF was beeping every 4 hours because Bill hasn’t set up the NMEA connection with the GPS yet and the AIS kept peeping because there were so many ‘dangerous targets’ around. We felt quite nervous. We were also going really slowly and Bill decided the prop must be covered in barnacles; he couldn’t get any speed out of the engine.
This is a screen shot of the chartplotter. The black line is the course we took. The first ‘current track’ is Puteri harbour and the first red cross is the waypoint for our first anchorage. We had decided we wouldn’t go far on the first day and just anchored at the bottom of the Johor straits, which took us 4 hours. It was strange to be out of the marina after such a long time. We were also now without the air conditioning and it was hot hot hot.
The next morning we left early and by 9am we were sailing. We were over flown about a dozen times by the Singapore air force, I think they had come out to see us off. There had been regular flyovers when we were in Puteri but usually only 2 or 3 at a time. Today they had all 6 out. 5 were in formation and we think the sixth was probably training them, any way they looked pretty spectacular.
We sailed down to Raffles lighthouse, putting in a tack along the way as the track shows (we do sail properly sometimes!) so we didn’t hit the little island. We were so lucky with the shipping because just past Raffles lighthouse we crossed the Singapore shipping lanes, which are normally incredibly busy, sailing, practically unheard of. The next set of 4 red crosses is where we stopped for an hour among some islands so Bill could go over the side to scrape the barnacles off the prop. It really needed it and he said the hull was quite bad too but for now just scraping the prop made such a difference.
This next screen shot is a smaller scale and from side to side the distance is about 500 miles, don’t take any notice of the numbers along the top, they were Camomile’s current position at the time I took the photos. So the red cross that’s sitting on top of the word ‘Singapore’ was how far we got at the end of our second day out. We had made the decision not to stop for the night because there had been some sea robberies among the islands on the bottom left of the picture, which is northern Indonesia. So we kept going. We spent the next 60 hours, 3 nights and 2 days, going backwards. Not literally, of course, just travelling eastwards towards the sunrise. The first night there was a bit of lightning which lit up the sea in front of us but hopefully we’ve left that behind now. Bill used his time to finish some of the jobs like interfacing the NMEA to the VHF and SSB radios and working out how to turn the alarms off. The new system is very user friendly and we are both learning how things work and teaching each other. After the red cross in the middle, which was marking a tiny island, the wind was much more constant and we put up the cruising chute. Camomile was sailing really well and we had much better winds than we were expecting.
We were visited by a wonderful pod of dolphins half way across. As usual when you get the camera out they become shy but I managed to get a few photos of bits of fins and tails.
When we reached the first red cross on the right hand side at the tip of the point on Friday morning the wind died. We spent the day motoring to the island at the last red cross on the right hand side. It was Friday evening, the crossing had taken us 4 days and we arrived just in time for sundowners while we watched the most beautiful sunset over the island.
Our position is
Pulau Satang Besar.
It looked equally attractive in the day and as the water was so inviting Bill put his wet suit on and spent about an hour in the water under the boat scraping off the barnacles. Lucky he had his wet suit on because there were quite a lot of jellyfish in there. My much-desired swim was not to be.
So the auto pilot hydraulic ram turned up on Monday. Bill spent the morning finishing off some wiring for the crossover DC switch in the radar arch to get his horns working (I’m not going to begin to explain that). After lunch Ally turned up with the hydraulic ram, which she had extracted from the Singapore customs. When we opened the box we kind of understood why they had held it. The ram was skilfully attached to a backing plate to prevent it from moving in transit, it had come from the UK, but on an x-ray the profile probably looked like a gun. Secondly it had a little container of hydraulic fluid attached to it and the customs officials, bless them, had drained it. Why? Who knows but it meant we needed more before we could test it.
This is how the unit fits onto the mystery object.
It needed some fine-tuning!
The hydraulic ram hull mounting reinforcement, Bill’s official name for the mystery object, was fibre glassed in place by the end of the day Monday. Bill spent the next 2 days mounting the ram and wiring it up. The main mounting is under the port locker next to the bed with the ram going through a hole in the bulkhead ready for attaching to the rudder quadrant.
It couldn’t be tested without the hydraulic fluid and I spent 2 afternoons, on the bus, going to the next two towns carrying my little empty bottle trying to buy hydraulic fluid with an ISO of 10 – without speaking the language! Who says I have nothing to do all day? Unfortunately I failed. I managed to get cable ties, easy, and electrical terminal blocks, little harder, but not hydraulic fluid. I could have bought a 15 litre bucket of it but we only need 2 or 3 litres and they wouldn’t sell me a little bit. So I came home disappointed. We had a further disappointment when we heard the TV coming from the UK had been held up until Monday but at least that gave us a focus to work towards – leave on Monday.
Meanwhile Bill had sent another email to Aquila asking again about the VHF and the SSB. To give Aquila their due they always respond well to emails. Ally assured us the new VHF was on it’s way from Australia and would be here before the weekend, and they had bought a new Icom SSB from their supplier and installed it in their office to test ours, (apparently their supplier maintained it didn’t have a warranty because they don’t break) and they had our SSB head working! She also had hydraulic fluid. As our parts for the fridge had also arrived with the refrigeration company in Singapore we decided another trip to Singapore was in order.
Thursday morning we got on the bus and made our way across the border, stopping to get a stamp in our passport either side. We went to the fridge company first to pick that up and got all the parts in our backpacks. After lunch we made our way to Aquila’s office. They are based in an unusual building in that it’s a vertical industrial estate. Singapore is very short of space so they have built many light industrial units vertically, it’s a brilliant idea. Apparently there was a service area around the back with a multi story ramp that delivery vehicles can drive up and there’s a large service lift on the inside. Aquila has a showroom/storage area on the 7th floor with a large office at the back of their unit. Very practical. Any way we arrived and had a demonstration on the SSB and sure enough it was working – brilliant. We made our way home – stopping to get two more passport stamps – and refitted the SSB head to try it. Turned it on …. same problem, GGGRRRR. Another email.
Friday 13th was it going to be our lucky day? Aquila were due to come over in the afternoon and commission the new instruments. The first good news of the day was that Ally had our VHF radio from Australia. The second good thing was the little TV turned up from the UK early, hooray nothing to stop us going now except a couple of radios! Then we heard Aquila were delayed and wouldn’t be over until late afternoon. 2 steps forward 1 step back all the time.
Bill made an attachment to go on the back of the TV so it could sit were the old one had been.
Bill had arranged for Aquila to bring over the new SSB system they had bought to check our system, which meant my sewing machine cupboard had to emptied – again.
We waited all day for Aquila to arrive and just as we were giving up hope of them coming, they arrived at 4.30. There had been a big accident on the causeway bridge causing gridlock in the area. Sylvester and Allyson had come along with Raja the SSB technician, the new SSB set and our VHF. While Sylvester started working on his laptop downloading the latest firmware for the sonar unit and configuring the new system, Raja started swapping out different parts of the SSB. Their head didn’t work on our system either so the next thing to check was the transceiver. Success, suddenly the system was working. So the new SSB set was fitted to Camomile and Aquila took away the non-working set to argue with Icom that it was faulty. We now had on board everything we had ordered, Friday the 13th turned out to be a good day.
Saturday Bill spent all day fitting the VHF and it’s speakers. Again wires and connectors were bigger making life difficult for poor Bill.
The main VHF unit had to be fitted next to the SSB transceiver because it wouldn’t fit in its old place.
The speakers for the SSB and the VHF are now together and the wires are encased in some conduit because they wouldn’t go behind the ceiling panels.
Sunday was clean up day trying to put everything back where it belonged. I scrubbed the outside decks because as there’s a building site next door the boats are all covered in dust. No photographic evidence I’m afraid!
Bill spent time putting his tools away including oiling his big vice.
The bikes back in place and the workshop all back to normal.
And this is the chart table, looking like nothing happened, with Bill’s new computer and the new instruments. It’s worth noting that in the middle of the instrument on the bridge head is our faithful, stand alone Garmin that survived the strike and still works. It displays our trip figure and has a very useful snails trail, which we often use, so it was refitted among the new posh instruments. It looks very old fashioned but it works.
The final use for the carrier box is storage for all the old bits which I managed to make Bill part with on the basis they don’t work!
At the end of the day we met the crews of Soltice, Hokele’a, Totem, Utopia II and Kite for a farewell drink. Soltice, Hokele’a and Kite are heading across the Indian ocean this year so we won’t see them until we get to the US some time in the future.
It will be sad to say goodbye to Jackie after our gym sessions together. Utopia II and Totem went back to their boats but the rest of us had a final meal together. Tomorrow we head out of here.
Life continues in Puteri harbour, it’s 32C most days and over 80% humidity so we are lucky to have out little air conditioning unit. It’s over a month now since the lightening strike but we don’t seem to have got very far. Everything is on order and we just have to wait.
Bill has been doing some more fibre glassing over the weekend. This is where the mystery object sits; it’s under one of the lockers in our bedroom. Maybe a clue.
Monday afternoon we went to the dentist, it was amazingly cheap. I had a check up and small filling, Bill had a check up, x-ray and fairly big filling with an injection plus they gave Bill about 3 lots of drugs in case of infection, pain killers, etc and the whole lot came to £86, we couldn’t believe it. Bill said his filling was painless too. Geoff the surveyor came in the late afternoon to see how things were going, and probably to check that we had spent the insurance money properly!
Tuesday was delivery day. Firstly a delivery came from Singapore with the first of the new instruments. We were just sorting that out when a knock on the side came from the marina boys with our UK parcel that my brother-in-law Alan had sent over for us. It was like Christmas opening all the boxes. Bill certainly has some work to do now.
I stacked all the boxes in the forepeak along with the cupboards that have been taken out of our cabin.
The LED’s were fitted first in the saloon; they were an easy job. Then Bill spent the rest of the day fitting the new C95 chart plotter and AIS. The chart plotter looks smaller than our old one but in fact the screen is the same size.
Wednesday saw Bill starting with a couple of little things, the water gauge and configuring the new anchor windless hand control, both of which had stopped working. The rest of the day was spent working on the circuit breaker panel fitting new red LED’s and replacing the circuit breakers that had blown when the lightening struck. Bill is starting to realise that the wiring is going to take the most time to replace. Everything seems to be bigger, fatter wire, bigger connections, and bigger breakers’; trying to put things in the same place is proving difficult.
Thursday I went off in the marina mini bus to the supermarket for the weekly shop and came back to find Bill had fitted a shiny new alternator. It was finished off on Friday morning along with the replacement smart charger.
The rest of Friday, with the boat in chaos, was spent running wires for the new autohelm – which is what the mystery object is for. It’s the base for the new autopilot ram although he can’t go any further until the new unit arrives.
Bill had the fibreglass out again in the afternoon and I discovered one of my lock-top boxes had disappeared!
Saturday morning the housing unit for the new autopilot controls came out of it’s mould.
While it was drying we emptied the deck locker, I swear there seems to be more in there each time we do it, so that Bill could spend the day replacing the eberspächer diesel heater. Now I know you’re all going to say what do we need a heater for? Well one day we will return to colder climates when we’ll need it and as it was zapped by the lightening, to be covered by the insurance, it has to be fitted now. The gas alarm was zapped too and the wires for that have to go through the deck locker so Bill lost several pounds in his own personal sauna that day!
No peace for the wicked so Sunday we were busy again firstly reloading the deck locker then Bill spent the day working on wires behind the circuit breaker panel inside Camomile with the air conditioning on which meant various lockers being unloaded and reloaded again as the wires make their way through the boat. The good news this week was that we heard our son James had made it safely down from Mera peak in the Himalayas.