MIRI TO SINGAPORE
One day this huge Cicada circled the boat and landed. It spent the day on our solar panels, but was gone the next morning.
The South China Sea required constant lookouts as there were freighters and fishing boats everywhere.
By cutting a bit across Indonesian waters we were able to make landfall on one of the Tioman islands, Pulau Aur, at the end of the fourth day. It was a beautiful spot with majestic cliffs and had some of the nicest snorkeling we've seen in Malaysia
After two days at Aur, we headed up to Tioman Island where we anchored behind a small island that is used by many tour operators as a dive and snorkel site. We got there on Saturday and were amazed at the number of boats and vacationers using this rather small site.
When we went ashore we saw trees covered with what looked like large black fruits.
Closer inspection showed the "fruits" to be fruit bats who were spending their days hanging out in the trees around town.
A closer look reveals one of the real downsides of communal living, the sharing of parasites.
While the snorkeling was fun and there were lots of fishes and corals it became apparent that this reef was not in great shape. There were virtually no adult (large) fish present. Every night after the tourists left, locals were out fishing on the reef, even though it is a marine reserve.
One of the results of killing off all of the large fish is that for species that change sex, such as the wrasses and parrotfish, we find extremely small males as the way the sex changing works is that the largest female in the population changes sex and becomes a male if there are too few males present. On this reef we saw males much smaller than would ever be found on a healthy reef with less fishing pressure.
Female slingjaw wrasse
And of course, there were anemonefishes
After a few days shopping and snorkeling at Tioman, we headed south to rendezvous with our friend Barry who built a sistership to us, called Twocan. We met on an island (Sibu) on our way to Singapore and visited for a couple of days. Barry and crew are headed across to Miri, Borneo, then eastward to the Pacific Islands and finally they plan to go to Fiji.
Twocan sailing into the harbor on Sibu Island
We cleaned the bottom while anchored in Sibu and got ready for the second big challenge of this leg (the first was the South China Sea), Singapore harbor. Singapore is by far the world's busiest harbor with ships from everywhere converging on this small city state on the southern end of the Malay Peninsula.
As we approached the harbor the amount of traffic became almost unbelievable. There were literally hundreds of ships in view all the time, many anchored, some underway, some anchoring and some getting underway. There were tugs with tows, pilot boats, supertankers and junk freighters, all moving in a controlled but unpredictable fashion.
Then the squalls came, and for the next four hours we had low visibility, driving rain and an intermittent chart plotter. The three of us were extremely busy and the day went from exciting and wonderful to just plain hang on and stay alive. We used radar, AIS, chartplotter, computer charts and three sets of eyes. It was a good day to be done with. At the very end of the day we anchored on the west side of Singapore and as we dropped the anchor Vikki saw a strange pink thing that turned out to be a small pod of river dolphins. None of us had ever seen these in the wild so it was a great end to a harrowing day.
The next day we motored up to Puteri Harbor where we said a sad farewell to our great crew Vikki and picked up our friends David and Noreen who will sail up to Phuket with us.
Our bus ride back to the harbor was typical of public transport in Singapore, efficient but crowded.
Crew change at the BIG Hotel with Vikki off to the airport
and David and Noreen getting ready to come to the boat.
|Black line leads to Silver Tern in Puteri Harbour Marina, Johor|
David took this photo from the top deck of Hotel Jen above the marina. They have a swimming pool, spa and bar that cruisers can use while here. Our galley is full of food and we are refueled, ready to take off tomorrow for ports north as we head up the Straits of Malacca. Our next check in port will be Langkawi Island.