"Arctracer" Letters

Arrival in Malaysia, Nov 2005

We have arrived in Malaysia, and can see Singapore about a mile away on the other side of the Johor Strait. The passage from Kumai was slow because of the winds. We had mostly light westerly winds, interspersed with big rain squalls. We sailed slowly, and motored quite a bit too. We crossed the equator for the eighth time on October 31 at 17:30 and enjoyed a little toast, remembering to offer a bit to Neptune. When we finally reached the Riau Islands south of Singapore we sailed only during the days and anchored at night, to avoid problems with other boats, fishing nets, and fish trap structures in the water. It was a slow passage, but we were in no hurry. We completed our study of Indonesian fish, and based on our trolling results we can definitely assert that there are no fish in Indonesia.

We crossed the Singapore Strait yesterday, scooting between blackouts caused by big rain squalls. This area (at this season anyhow) is rainy. We have had rain every day lately, sometimes including thunder and lightning. The numbers of enormous ships passing the city are amazing. As we approached the channel we heard a warning on the radio about three very big ships with 20 meter draft passing by. They need water 65 feet deep to float, so they cannot enter New York harbor. Normal container ships, barges, tugs, tankers, and ferries were the ones being warned to watch out for the big guys. When a black rain squall came through we simply pulled over beside an island and dropped anchor. We don't play dodgem with monsters when we can't see them. We didn't have any close calls, but it was still nerve-wracking.

We are anchored in the Johor Strait between Singapore and Malaysia, up the west side almost to the causeway at a place named Danga Bay (1 degree 28 minutes North, 103 degrees 43 minutes East). On the waterfront are many restaurants and a dock with excursion boats. A major city street passes right by, with plenty of busses and taxis. Today Jerry took a bus to the city of Johor Bahru and checked in with the Malaysian officials. He went with Mike, an Australian cruiser going to check out. Mike had been there to check in earlier, but still had much trouble finding the right office. There are many officials in that area, almost all dealing with people going to and from Singapore. The officials were all nice, and none of them asked for any money (a pleasant change from Indonesia), but they seemed rather unsure about the right way to process yachts. Jerry thought it was hilarious. We discovered that the Malaysian courtesy flag made by someone on another boat in Trinidad does not look like the Malaysian flags flying here, so we need to buy another one.

From here we can sightsee to Singapore by bus and can also do land touring of Malaysia. There don't seem to be many yacht-oriented businesses, so we probably won't do much boat work. The economy here is clearly in much better shape than Indonesia. The people wear nice clothes and the streets are filled with nice cars. Prices are higher than in Indonesia, and the Australians were grumbling about the price of beer, but more products are available. It will be an interesting place to visit. We are not sure what we want to accomplish here, or how long we will stay, but you'll know at least as soon as anybody else.