Finally this day has arrived. Waking up was easy, knowing full well that today is the day I will be on land, my homeland.
I came on deck and immediately felt the familiarity of these waters. The waters crowded with cargo ships, occasional glimpse of Singapore’s Maritime Authority and Navy ships, and not forgetting Pedra Blanca (Horsburgh Lighthouse) just a few miles away on our port (left) side.
Being the resident Singaporean on Team Mission Performance, I hoisted the Singapore flag as we entered Singapore waters. Soon enough, I spotted even more familiar sights; planes in & out of Changi Airport, Changi Naval Base, Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, high-rise buildings along East Coast Park. It got even more exciting when the skyline of Singapore’s hub came into view; the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands and Marina Bay Financial Centre.
This of course meant one thing, Singapore reception… 3G data coverage.. internet!
KC is home. 33 Days, 4,500 Nautical Miles, 4 Countries, 6 Seas, 1 Ocean rim later*
*Australia, Papau New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia
*Coral Sea, Solomon Sea, Bismarck Sea, Celebes Sea, Sulu Sea, South China Sea
Less than 300 miles to go! So says the techie instrument on board. That makes it 34 hours to Singapore if we keep our average speed at 9 knots per hour, putting us at a late afternoon arrival into the marina.
After 30 odd days out at sea, the knowledge that I am sailing home is truly exhilarating!
With less than 300 miles to go, Singapore no longer seemed like the mythical place it appeared to be a week ago. I conjured my final stash of sweets last night, surprising everyone on how I had managed to ‘preserve’ them since Brisbane a month ago.
Since we are a few days away from port and racing has ceased, the most “productive” crew of mission performance have been doing deep clean *inserts groan* on the tunnels (bunks), saloon (dining area) and galley (kitchen) once again. It is not funny how ridiculously quick that much ‘crap’ gets accumulated after a week at sea.
I swear the boat generates its own shit just to make us clean harder, an effective way to keep the crew busy all day long.
Came on watch at 6am today. Was navigating the last 4 miles to the waypoint before steering slightly SouthWest directly to Singapore.
At the moment, we have about 686 miles to go. We were motoring at 8.5 knots, hoisted the mainsail, Yankee and staysail which gave us about 10 odd knots which is good. Until they decided to cut the engine!!! What the heck!! Now we are going at 6.5-7 knots which translates to 98-69=29 hours!!
I don’t understand why we can’t just motorsail at best speed to Singapore! Really do want to get home sooner than later.
On a separate note, it was my first time coming across Oil Rigs (OR) in the night. The ORs, flooded with lights, lit the sky from where it stood, looking like gigantic Christmas trees in the sea. Too bad I couldn’t take any photos.
Low light + moving boat = Very extremely ridiculously blur photos
The Sulu Sea is dead, dead calm that is. We have been motoring ever since Race 8A ended and that has been uneventful aside for the spike in fishing boats in the area and debri (logs, rubbish) in the water. We found ‘entertainment’ in guessing if the next “fishing boat” would turn out to be pirates.
Just when we thought things were going to stay boring we heard Team Garmin calling us over the VHF radio around dusk warning us of an apparent stream of broken logs (of all sizes) a couple of miles ahead. Which we found ourselves right smack in the middle as daylight left us, facing some difficulty avoiding collisions.
At least we didn’t end up with a hole in the hull! A sinking ship would have been an unpleasant experience.
Day 28 (8 Feb) – The Nicest Sunrise in this Leg
We only have a couple of miles left before we pass (south of) Palawan, Philippines and (north of) Sabah, Malaysia. What I thought was a simple sail turned out to be a little more than meets the eye, during the last few miles we found ourselves navigating through a dense reef area. That meant we had to be more attentive to the charts and GPS, shuttling back and forth from the navigation station to the helm for minor tweaks to our direction.
Wind dropped at 4pm and our headsails followed suit since we had the luxury of motor sailing now that the race is over.
ETA into Sutera Harbour by lunchtime on the 9th Sunday. Trying to get a phone reception every time I see land.
Day 29 (9 Feb) – Pit stop in Kota Kinabalu
Got a full night’s rest from 10pm to 1030am. Woke up looking at what I suspect to be Gunung Kinabalu. Spent the rest of the early afternoon motoring into Sutera Harbour. Did a stock take of the tools on board with Anthony and Gaurav. Ended up servicing the winches as well.
We hung around the harbour with Team Garmin until 6pm. Managed to get fuel late into the night, also managed to get wifi while waiting on the boat!! Absolutely lovely!
I made green curry for dinner (again) and Derek made one of the best tasting tin fruit crumble! Kinda regretted giving most of my portion away to the Garmin guys.
Less than a day’s worth of racing left, it was the most un“happy hour” in this race. (Happy Hour is when both watches or shifts are on deck)
Skip broke the news to us, the fleet had managed to pull away from us overnight, securing our 12th place.
Apparently our “promised” wind forecast did not deliver whereas the boats further south had a constant breeze. Well, better luck next time.
It was one of those moments where you find yourself conflicted between decisions, each accompanied with their own set of risks. You can never please everyone but you have to go for what you think is best and live with it and it is always a gamble with mother nature.
The team were gunning to deliver a major upset by coming 20 hours behind and finishing in middle of the fleet. Hey! It really seemed plausible for a decent period of time and that would have been ‘spicy’!
We were 30 miles (2-3 hours) away when Team Garmin crossed the “imaginary’ finish line to clinch 11th place, automatically putting us dead last. To clarify, based on the “proper” unofficial elapse time, we would have comes in 5th.
At 1amit was our turn to cross the “line” and I was (maybe) fortunate enough to be on watch to dropped the Spinnaker, hoist both the Yankee and Staysail to begin our quick motor sail to rendezvous with Team Garmin.
We are now enroute for a few (very VARIABLE number) days of motor sailing to Sutera Harbour @ Kota Kinabalu for a refuel before a possible Race 8B to Horshburgh lighthouse @ Pedra Blanca. In all seriousness the possibility of Race 8B happening is unrealistic as the fleet is already a week behind its schedule, the last thing you want is attempting to race in the ITCZ!! (Light Winds).
Confession: I am currently “typing” (on my phone) and helming right now, not the best of combinations. Whoops, almost hit a log on the port side a second ago, geez.. what are my lookouts doing?! :p
Dawn is starting to break from behind me.
This is terrible! Why did the rain clouds have to come now of all times! We were sailing at good speed, closing the gap between the 10th and 11th boat when we “ran” into some rain clouds in the night. The wind went completely zilch right after that, messing up our chances of catching the rest of the fleet and we were so close. FRUSTRATING!
We got to be thankful for the silver lining here, I must say that we have an insane current in our favor. We were only moving at 2 to 4 knots but somehow managed to covered 34 nautical miles in 4 hours, after doing the math that’s 4 to 7 knots of current in our favor.
There was nothing we could do about the wind now that we were in it and we just had to live with it. Decided to learn the art of bread making from Anthony just now for breakfast duty. The whole bread making process took much longer and was more tedious than I’d expected, I have popped it into the oven and heading to bed now. Let’s just hope it turns out well.
KC signing off. incoming rustic bread with poppy seeds!
We have been stuck in this wind-hole since the morning. Hopefully our “luck” changes and the 12-18 knots predicted for the evening materialises, else we are “screwed” big time.
The past couple of days have been a cat and mouse chase between Team Garmin and Invest Africa. It was quite a surprise when we learnt of Team Garmin overtaking Invest Africa, putting Team Garmin 118nm ahead of us, half a day’s sail.
Two more days of racing left, much can happen if we get favourable winds to accompany our favourable current.