Nice First Day

When we left yesterday, we had a small crowd there to see us off.  Crews of sv Callisto, Three Ships, and Apogee and two dock crew.  Michael of Callisto helped with the remaining washing, and with removing the window AC we had used for the last 20 months when in marinas. We left the AC for someone else to use.

After getting fuel and settling our bill we headed out to the river and stopped by sv Elizabeth Jane, at anchor,  to say goodbye.

Then we had a pleasant day of motoring on flat seas across the Singapore ship channel with only a few ships to dodge, then we made our way another 25 miles or so along the islands near Batam.  We made 50 miles for the day stopping at a pretty little island I had spotted in Google Earth called Palau Pandas.  We anchored there for a pleasant night at 0.7833,103.961.  We BBQd burgers and had fresh corn on the cob, and baked beans.  Yum!

At the crack of dawn we left and found ourselves sailing with some light winds.  Later we had a squall line cross us and our speeds shoot up to 9 knots for half an hour…in the right direction even!  We are taking every possible opportunity to sail to conserve fuel.

We expect to go two days or so to get to Belitung.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

We Have Left!

We got everything done, topped off our tanks, and are now motoring out the river leaving Malaysia and Singapore behind.  We had lots of good times, but we are ready for new adventures. 

More later (if our Indonesia SIM card works).

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Last Trip to Singapore

Today I’m leaving before the crack of dawn for my last eye doctor follow-up. The eye seems fine, so I’m pretty sure this will go smoothly. A boat that parked next to us in the marina has a UK couple who are leaving at about the same time as us also for Cocos Keeling. They have a young man helping crew for them who is also headed for Singapore today to meet up with some friends. I offered to let him come with me so he could learn the ropes on how to catch the buses and trains and the process of immigration clearances.

We accomplished a lot over the weekend in our final preps for the boat. Karen did one more batch of laundry and has been working on tidying the boat. I’ve spent hours researching our route with Google Earth, charts, and tide programs to make sure I have the navigation data needed. Interestingly, right now there is a late Tropical Cyclone called “Jack” about 400 miles west of Cocos Keeling. This should be pretty much the last one of the season in that area.

Tomorrow will be a crazy day of final preparations. I need to dive and clean Tahina’s hulls. But, the water has been very unclear and yucky the last few days. I hope it changes in the next 24 hours. We are in a tidal river, so the conditions vary quite a bit. We also need to wash Tahina’s top sides, arrange for clearing out of Malaysia, top up the water, arrange to get diesel, put away the big awning, and half a dozen other smaller projects.

Meanwhile, Karen will need to make a last run to get our fresh veggie provisions and restock other recent consumables.

If all goes well, we will leave as early as Wednesday. But, no pressure to leave if we’re not ready.

Posted in News, Preparations | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Puteri Area 360 Panoramas

It has been months since I last took some 360 panoramas, and I realized I have done none in Malaysia. Since we’ve spent so much time in the Puteri Harbour Marina, I thought it would be appropriate do some in this area. The first panorama below shows the marina from the top of the Traders Hotel pool area. You can see the marina, the ferry terminal on the river, Singapore across the river, and the hotel pool area. Traders Hotel just opened in the summer of 2013. Directions: Hit the play button, then use your mouse, or the arrow keys on your keyboard to move around. Use the FULLSCREEN button to see the panorama full-sized for maximum effect.

Early this morning, I walked to Kota Iskandar – the home of the administrative offices for the state of Johor, Malaysia and huge land area including a parade ground in the middle. They have a lovely garden with lots of fountains and flowers, which we’ve visited many times, so I captured a panorama from the middle “bottom” of the garden.

Finally, I walked to the closest side of the huge parade grounds in the center of the complex. You can see stadium seats on the left, the huge oval street around the middle, in the center they sometimes have a huge fountain that shoots 40 meters into the air (not turned on today), and far right end are plaques telling the history of Johor.

Each of the 360s above were created using a digital DSLR camera with 10 to 12 photos around in a circle including up and down as well. They were then stitched using panorama software (PTGuiPro) and uploaded to 360Cities.

Posted in 360 Panoramas, News, Sightseeing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

North New Zealand Tracks

More work on Tahina’s maps to share. During our 6+ months in New Zealand we traveled over land, with a car we had purchased, over both the southern and northern islands. After our New Zealand southern island travels in 2011, I created a map showing all our tracks and photos for the southern islands. I recently realized I had not created a map for our New Zealand north island travels. The map below shows the roads we traveled and the geo-tagged photos we shared (it’s better to view the map in Google Earth ). You can read the blog posts of our travels on the ferry to Wellington as we headed north back towards Whangarei starting with this post.

Posted in News, Sightseeing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

New Maps for New Caledonia

For the past few days, with a bit more free time on my hands, I’ve been working on processing data from our older passages that never got completed. In the past, I’ve created maps for many of the countries we’ve visited (including GPS tracks, geo-tagged photos, marks to interesting places, and more). One of our favorite island country visits in 2011 was New Caledonia (links to related posts at the bottom below). We had a wonderful time there and the awesome scenery resulted in some nice photography. I’ve produced a map showing the majority of our tracks (there’s some road trips and hikes I haven’t finished yet) showing the various islands and places we visited. You can view the resulting map best (and see way more detail by zooming in) using Google Earth by following this link . Or, see the map below (click on the full-screen option in the upper right of the map):

This was a truly wonderful place to visit, and you can get a much better idea of the places we visited and what it was like through this map. In Google Earth you can tilt your view and see the mountains. But, if you want to read the story and explore the photos more traditionally, then check out this chronological list of most of the blog posts of our 2+-month visit to New Caledonia in 2011:

  1. Nice Sail to New Caledonia
  2. Lithium Ion Batteries for Boating
  3. Another Sister for Tahina
  4. First Photo Album of New Caledonia
  5. Boating Life: In a Port for Repairs
  6. Living a Marina Life
  7. Furling Day and More Photos
  8. Batteries on Board
  9. More Sights of Noumea
  10. Ilot Mato
  11. Iles des Pins
  12. Hiking to Nga Peak
  13. Nga Peak 360 Panorama
  14. A Brief Trip to Heaven
  15. Island Paradise of Ile Ua
  16. Briefly Back to Noumea
  17. Back to Ilot Mato
  18. Photos from Ilot Mato
  19. Up the River of Prony Bay
  20. Plans and Photos
  21. Visiting Prony Bay
  22. Non-cruising Mode
  23. Hiking in New Caledonia
Posted in News, Sightseeing | Leave a comment

About One Week Left

The last week has seen a lot of progress in our preparations for the Indian Ocean crossing. I’ve updated the map shown on the right of our main page and blog, which links to an interactive version which you can see in this post. It shows our new route which is to leave through the Indonesian Sunda Straights to the south of us, and then cross to Cocos Keeling. We will stop also at Rodrigues before continuing to Mauritius and Reunion. We will be taking several months to do this because we need to wait until the South African winter (June-September) is over before we continue to South Africa later in the year.

Cocos (Keeling) Islands, our first stop, are part of Australia. It is a nice atoll with a well-protected lagoon. We hope to enjoy a few weeks there before our biggest passage (2000 nautical miles to Rodrigues).

Provisioning

Provisioning

During the past week, we completed two provisioning runs here in Johor Bahru area. I made a trip last week to Singapore to get an Indonesia SIM card and top-ups so we can have Internet as we pass through the islands there. I also got some new bungy cord to replace aging cord on our trampoline mats between Tahina’s bows. And, I got some new stainless polish so we can finish cleaning and protecting our stainless around the boat. Today we completed our second big trip to Singapore for more provision – in particular a stop at an Aussie butcher to get some good quality meet for our freezer. We hired a taxi to driving us straight from the butcher back to the marina (with stops at Second Link bridge customs/immigration for both countries of course).

Yesterday, our friends on s/v Callisto and s/v Kilkea arrived here at Puteri. We are happy to see them one last time before we depart. We hope to see them again later in the year in South Africa.

Replacing Trampoline Cord

Replacing Trampoline Cord

We’ve sent our LPG tank to be filled, had scuba tanks filled, replaced the tramp cord, and many other minor tasks as well. Karen is nearly done with the primary spray dodger. She says the other one will take a lot less time now that she has the design and techniques figured out. This weekend I plan to dive on Tahina’s bottoms and clean the hulls once again. We also plan to do some maintenance on our winches over the next few days.

Next Monday is my last eye checkup – and last trip (hopefully) to Singapore. Progress has been very good and the eye is seeing quite well. What a huge relief to have such a positive end to this long recovery!

After that, we just need to wait for the right weather, clear out, get our fuel, and depart! No particular rush at the end, but we expect to be gone before next Friday.

Posted in News, Preparations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Preparations Continue

Not a lot of exciting news to report for the last week or so. We have been working diligently on the boat preparation project list. Many of the jobs are cleaning, organizing, buying provisions, and storing stuff away. We have also been working on many of the tasks mentioned the last time. And, we have been going to the gym (at least the Captain has been going regularly) three times a week to get in shape physically for the passage.

Karen is still working on the spray dodgers, and has made a lot of progress. But, still not done yet. She also has worked a lot on the food provision planning and purchasing.

All three engines (two main engines plus the generator) have had basic maintenance completed (oil changes, filters changes, belts adjusted, and all other basic systems checked or cleaned up). That was probably the biggest single job and took several hours over two days to complete. Almost all the work is completed on the outside such as stainless polishing, installing a new anchor rode for the dinghy, cleaning up the anchor well on the dinghy, etc.

Over the next week we’re making two trips to Singapore to buy items hard to find in Malaysia. This includes our trip to get quality meats for our freezer and some other western food-items which we normally find easily in the US, as well as some boat parts on the other trip. I also hope to find a shop selling Indonesia SIM cards so we can get our phones connected to Internet as we’re traveling through that country. If I have to, I’ll take the ferry over to Indonesia from Puteri.

In the final week before we depart, we’ll clean Tahina’s underwater hulls of any marine growth we’ve accumulated since arrival. I put plastic bags over the props when we first arrived, so am hoping they will be relatively clean. We also will get diesel fuel, fill our propane tank, take on water, and other basic departure tasks (like clearing out of Malaysia, paying for the marina, etc.).

Posted in News, Preparations | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Preparations for the Next Big Ocean

We expect to be in Puteri for another few weeks. We are preparing Tahina, and ourselves, for our next really big trip – the Indian Ocean crossing. It’s a big ocean, with only a few stops along the way. And, this ocean has a tendency to produce unpleasant sailing conditions no matter what time of year you pick or what route you choose to take. It’s either too much wind, not enough wind, contrary swells, squalls, or long passages without a stop. Of course, if you go at the wrong time, you could also deal with cyclones. Naturally, we hope to optimize our route for the best conditions.

We have been working on our never-ending boat project list. And going through a pre-passage checklist (which of course has added items to the project list). I’ve completed a thorough rigging check up the mast (no major problems), purchased a number of spare parts/supplies, prepared everything for basic maintenance on all the engines, begun putting protectant/polish on all the deck stainless, etc. Karen has been working on provisioning and is working on making our replacement cockpit spray dodgers (which we will definitely need on this trip). There are many other tasks left before we are ready. Fortunately, none are very major, just numerous and tedious.

This past week I did a lot more reading on what to expect on this passage. This includes researching information on the countries we will be visiting (e.g. Mauritius and Reunion). Thankfully, a lot of information tailored to cruisers is available from Noonsite. It includes basic information, for almost all countries cruisers visit, such as customs/immigration/quarantine (CIQ), ports of entry, procedures, visas, available boat services, marinas, and more. We also try to collect recent accounts from cruisers who have completed similar routes for current news on changes to procedures and costs, preferred ports, weather issues encountered, preferred radio channels, etc.

We have also begun communicating with other boats going on a similar route so we can develop awareness of each others plans and share info. Some of these boats we will probably bond with as we run into them again at stops along the way.

Today we’re making a provisioning run to the local stores to stock up on regular goods. We plan to make a trip to Singapore to get Australian meats from a store we used last year. They will pre-package custom-sized orders and freeze them for us before we pick them up. I’m also hoping to go to an optometrist today and see about some new glasses. I’m excited by the prospect of good vision in both eyes for the first time in 21 months!

Posted in News, Preparations | 1 Comment

Puteri Harbour Marina Update

Puteri Harbour Marina

Puteri Harbour Marina

It’s already been a week since we arrived at Puteri Harbour Marina. This was the place where we stayed for our first 6 months in Malaysia when we were going to Singapore a lot for health related reasons. We also have been back here several times as we explored around the Malaysian peninsula. We really like this place despite a few inconveniences.

Model of Nusajaya Plan

Model of Nusajaya Plan

This marina is situated in the middle a huge planned development called Nusajaya. The picture to the left here shows a model of the planned development. It’s essential going to be a private developed “city” with huge condominiums, entertainment theme parks, hotels, shopping centers, and more. It is situated near the beautiful government center buildings for the state of Johor Bahru called Kota Iskandar. The marina has top-quality facilities in terms of dockage, electricals, water, etc. They have guards who stand at the gate 7 days a week so your boat is very secure here. The clubhouse is nice, and includes a chartroom/computer room, and better than adequate shower facilities (clean and plenty of hot water), a laundry, and they have free WIFI (sub-average service in reliability and speed though).

There is also a ferry terminal off the river between Malaysia and Singapore. The ferry terminal has been open for almost a year, but is only serving destinations in Indonesia due to some kind of political issue with Singapore not allowing the service there yet. The good news is that customs and immigration are here and so paperwork here is super easy for arrival/departure of your boat and crew. When they get the Singapore ferry going, this place will definitely get a bump up in popularity.

When we first arrived, the only dining was a cafe at the clubhouse. It had a limited menu, and did NOT service alcohol. There was a hotel under construction (which created a lot of noise). Things have changed dramatically here now. The hotel is open and operational, there are several restaurants open. The club cafe serves alcohol, as do several restaurants. More importantly, some of the restaurants serve non-halal foods – for example the new Brussels Beer Cafe. There is also an excellent Indian restaurant called Olive. There is also a minimart nearby, ATM, and vending machines.

Primary shopping still requires a trip by car. Either taxi, car rental, or the marina vans. The marina makes a few trips per week out at no charge for marina guests to various destinations. The nearest food store is about 5 km. There is a nice air-conditioned mall in Bukit Indah about 15 km away, with a nice movie theater and a good grocery store.

Along with all these new conveniences, the marina has unfortunately chosen to raise their prices. We are paying about 18% more than we did a year ago for a monthly rate for the boat. But, the rates are still quite reasonable – just 10-15% higher than many other locations in Malaysia, which are quite reasonable for us foreigners.

Posted in News, Sightseeing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment