On Saturday, Charlene and I met up with my coworkers Brian and Harish, along with Harish’s wife, to finally bring the boat out in Singapore waters for the first time. I was really glad to have Brian along: he sailed here, solo, with no engine (!) from San Fransisco, so he certainly has a lot of experience.
It was a great day to bring the boat out: it rained a lot in the morning and stayed overcast throughout the afternoon, so it wasn’t too hot. When we got to the boat I set Brian and Harish to work removing the awnings, helping me take down the AC, and the like. I put on swimming trunks and a snorkel, lashed my knife to my wrist, and went for a swim underneath the boat to take a look at the propeller. Turns out to have been the right move, because as I suspected there were remnants of an old fishing net tangled around the prop. It took seven or eight deep breaths, dives, and slashings to remove the thing; it was actually pretty weak since after a few months of being underwater it was barnacle-encrusted. The hull is also in need of some scrubbing and scraping, but I didn’t have time Saturday. I did manage to scratch my hand up pretty well touching a few barnacles: they’re like little organic razor blades.
The only hiccup before we headed out was that the HARTS transponder I rented didn’t actually work. I brought it back to the Dockmaster’s office and their suggestion was just to keep it on board, and if anyone boarded us to show it to them. Not really worth my S$60 rental fee. I think I will go ahead and spring for an AIS soon, since it’s a legal alternative to HARTS and continues to get rave reviews from everyone I talk to as the single best investment they’ve made on their boats.
We cast off around 2 PM and headed out of the marina into the Buran Channel, which was immediately pretty busy; we dodged a couple workboats before turning the corner into the East Keppel Fairway and heading Southeast. There again we did some dodging and wake riding, this time of container ships, on our way out around the corner of Kusu Island and into the Southern Fairway. We followed the Southern Fairway West for a couple miles, rounding the Sister Islands and spotting the immigration boat, then continuing Northwest along the Jong Fairway before turning North into the Western Anchorage. There I idled the engine, and we raised some sails. Technically I think you’re not supposed to raise sails within the port limits, but we came across at least four other vessels sailing along so figured we could get away with it. I left the engine idling just in case, since we were basically sailing a slalom course through anchored cargo ships. Wind was light, around 4-6 knots from the Southwest. We sailed for around an hour, eventually jibing and heading back East along the beaches of Sentosa, rounding the corner and lowering the sails around Pulau Tekukor, and motoring back into the marina by 5 PM or so.
Everyone got a chance at the wheel, and nobody got seasick; you can’t ask for much more than that!
I was a little nervous about docking, since I wanted to pull in backwards and hadn’t done that before. There also isn’t much space: one berth up from me there’s a 50 ft motor cruiser jutting out, and 50 ft from its bow and perpendicular is Hye Seas II, a 116 ft megayacht which I am not interested in broadsiding. But there wasn’t much current and wind was light, so I was able to basically stop Oia between those two boats and rotate it in place, then slowly back it into its berth. It couldn’t have gone better.
There were no engine problems, and the alternator certainly charged the starter batteries quite well. It didn’t do so well with the house batteries: only a slight charge. I suspect either faulty or too-large diodes between the starter and house banks; or possibly I should just go ahead and replace the house batteries with the new ones.
After bringing the AC back aboard, raising an awning, and other chores, Charlene christened the new grill with some great seasoned mushrooms that went onto ciabatta with cheddar. Yummy sandwiches! And Sandhya, Harish’s wife, brought along some awesome biryani. A little later we were joined by my Canadian neighbors from a few berths down, Cress and Irene of Conversations. They brought a bottle of wine to add to our own, and we all sat and talked the night away for quite a while.
In all it was a superbly successful day, most especially in that I now feel a lot more comfortable taking Oia out for a spin around the port, and more confident that the engine probably won’t randomly kick the bucket after an hour or two of motoring around.
I didn’t have a lot of time during the day to take many photos, but Harish and Sandhya did, so I stole a couple of their photos. Here are Brian, Sandhya and Charlene as we motor past the Sister Islands:
Yours truly taking a break:
And Brian looking out while Sandhya tries her hand at the wheel:
Luckily I did remember to get out my video camera and pass that around. Here’s a video of Oia‘s first trip (under its own power, that is!) in Singapore waters: