July 21, 2006-Sailing to Johore
We went sailing one morning down Singapore way, off to Jahore Strait 20 miles to the west, then 5 miles up to Raffles’ Marina, which will be Wings’ new home while we work in Bangkok for a few years.
It was a nice morning for a sail with 10 knots of wind out of the South blowing right into the mouth of the marina at Sentosa, the wind and ocean outside beckoning as they always do at Sentosa, and we were happy to be heading out. Kim and Anna came with us and that was good too, not only because we enjoy their company but it was nice to have the help since Judy and I were both getting over a bad bit of bronchitis and we realized as we cast off the dock lines that neither of us had much energy on tap that day.
But energy or not, we managed, with Kim and Anna’s help, to get the main up and filled before we left the marina so at least we sailed out with Wings heeled over and our flag flying and looking good before we bore off to the west to see what the day offered.
We saw that it was number-one weather so we set the genoa, sheeted in both sails, and then put Shirley Horn on the stereo. Life is good when you can go to weather with the number one up and good music playing and we soon settled in to a reasonably long port tack fetch, dodging ships as you do in Singapore, and trimming for the shifts, for the breeze was anything but steady.
Crew member Anna enjoying a great sail
Once or twice on that first leg out of Sentosa that morning the wind swung around to the SW with more pressure than we’d been feeling, and that is when Wings came alive. We hardened up and Judy sent Anna forward to skirt the genoa. I concentrated on the tell tails. With the boat climbing to windward like a monkey up a tree the crew scrambled for the windward rail, put their legs over, and hiked the boat simply for the joy of it.
By 13:00 we’d rounded Palau Satumu and bore off towards West Raffles Passage and the collection of man-made islands which now surround Sultan Shoals and which so irritate the local sailors who these days have to detour way around the massive sandbanks instead of cutting right across like they did for years. This was our first time here so we never saw it the way it was back then and we weren’t bothered by man’s invention of the new archipelago; we just sailed past enjoying the day on the water.
It seemed like, on this easy sailing day and with the wind angle we had since Palau Satumu, we could be using with the spinnaker, so we trundled around the foredeck and rigged “Old North” the 3.4oz kite long relegated to cruising due to its age and condition, and soon it was up and pulling. Kim and I went forward so I could explain to him how to jibe the pole, should conditions call it, and Judy went below to make sandwiches. A local Police boat came over to take a look but they just gave us a friendly wave.
As we sailed down west I started wondering exactly where amongst all the ships and sandbars ahead we were supposed to get through to Johore Strait. A look at the chart revealed that as nice as our course was for kite flying, it wasn’t the right direction.
“Yeah,” Kim said, “I was told that you had to stay outside all of this stuff.” Now he tells me.
Down came the kite, up went the jib, and we changed heading 40 degrees. Then we noticed that an afternoon Singapore squall was brewing to port. Again we struck the jib. You could think this would be getting tedious but we enjoyed the physical work on the foredeck of the boat after a month in the office. We were enjoying ourselves.
The squall passed with little more than 18 knots of wind, and then steadied at 15 and we kept the jib off, turning north up Johore Strait, sailing downwind with the main and making six knots, more over the bottom due to a strong flood tide.
A big ketch, the name “Chinook” written on the transom, reached by our stern with a bone in her teeth, the crew waving as they crossed and Anna passed a few words in Tagalog with a person she recognized. I thought of putting the kite back up but the idea was quickly vetoed by saner minds aft, and this was all right as it gave us time to look over Johore Straight. At this point Johore Strait is a reasonably wide body of water with Singapore Island on the right and Malaysia on the left; one side industrial, the other very natural. The view was nice and the wind seemed steady and the water flat; Johore Strait looked to be a good place for sailing.
In this enjoyable way we passed the day sailing and by 1600 arrived at Raffles Marina where we tossed our lines to the waiting marina staff.
Now tied to the dock again, I stood on the aft deck and surveyed the scene at Raffles and I thought about the day’s sail. It had been a good day, and I could see that in Singapore, particularly here at Raffles Marina, on the edge of the Johore Strait, we would have in the future many more fine days sailing and this is good.
Fred & Judy, Madrid