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Saturday
Nov032012

Bilitung to Singapore.

In a direct line it is only about 340NM, but there are islands on the way.  The first island is a bit over 200NM.  About halfway across in the middle of the night (problems always seem to happen at 2am) whilst I was on my watch all systems went down, including all the electrics, auto-pilot, navigation lights etc, etc.

Turned out that one of the lithium-ion batteries had failed and that in turn made the entire battery bank inoperative.  I do have a back-up system to run everything other than the electric motors and I thought that I could run the electric motors direct from the generator as I have done that before…but, it appears that cannot be done on a sustained basis as there are periodic spikes. 

Around the time that the battery failed the wind had dropped off and we were running on one motor, so we continued on one motor using the genset.  After about 12 hours the port motor failed but we then had some wind and was able to sail for the next 6 hours, then we had to run the starboard motor.  After about 12 hours that also failed. 

The wind also dropped right away so but we were close to an island called Lingga so we slowly made our way there and dropped anchor for the night.  Next day we set sail early whilst there was still a breeze although the direction had swung around and it was right on the nose.  To make matters worse there was also an adverse current.

We were having to tack back and forth and over about 6 hours were only about 8 miles closer to our destination.  Then on AIS we saw a signal from one of the yachts we had met in Bilitung.  He also saw us on AIS which gives you the speed and direction of the target.  He was doing 6.5 knots heading the right way.  In contrast we were doing 1.4 knots heading the wrong way.  He called us up and I asked him to keep an eye out for a substantial Indonesian fishing boat so I could do a deal with them to get a tow, because with the wind on the nose and the adverse current it would take us a month to get to Singapore.

Luckily he offered us a tow to the next anchorage about 30 miles away.  To say we were grateful is an understatement.

Shortly after Mark the owner of Relapse took us under tow we reached the equator where we stopped for a short while whilst Mark and Katherine in Relapse had some fun with their children.  Marianna and myself had a beer each.  (only time we have had a drink on the boat whilst at sea)




When we arrived at the anchorage I went over to his boat with a cold beer and tried to make him and offer he couldn’t refuse to tow us the rest of the way to Singapore.  He laughed and said he wasn’t going to leave us anyway but the offer was nice, and because it was worth it for me we did a deal so our problem was solved.

It took another four days to get to Singapore as they could not get a berth until the 25th.  Fortunately Raffles Marina also made available a berth for us, so, all was well.  It was a delightful four days being towed around the islands and having the company of these folk and another family who were travelling with them. 

There were some nice islands on the way and some interesting little villages.



It was interesting going across the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Pity to end the 6,000NM voyage with having to be towed the last 100 miles.  But, better than trying to battle against the currents and the head winds for a month!

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Reader Comments (2)

Glad to see you are having a good time. Wish I could get enough sun to get a tan like you have here in Seattle. Haha! At least I can get my Warren-fix while you are away from work here at Natural High Adventures! :)

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJosh W.

Thanks Josh...we had six weeks of continuous sun...not a cloud in the sky. I am in Las Vegas at the moment...but haven't had time to get out into the sun here...so it is fading!

November 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterWarren Matthews

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