We left Brunei without much fanfare. Straight forward out the channel and then made our way around some oil rigs. They are huge, like cities on the water. There was no wind as usual so we motored and motored. Luckily fuel was practically free in Brunei. The only one fish we caught, a small barracuda, we threw back, I guess that beats the 6 inch tuna I boated in PI. Anyway, the transit was a long and boring one so we had to find ways to entertain ourselves.

First was Matthew’s cooking. I don’t think we have ever eaten so well on Slick. Every night was something really incredible and that made it easier. Next to keep the level of fun up we took a swim call everyday. We don’t normally do this on Slick since it is just Zach and I but with Matthew and Linda along we could all do this safely. We eventually swam with Heidi the Spinnaker up and used her to tow us out away from the boat. There were also lots of dolphins here, so we eventually found our selves jumping in with them, there was really something to see the first time we tried this although the dolphins swim away very quickly. Having four watch standers was also a real bonus as everyone could get a good night sleep. We finally gave Duffy a proper Burial at Sea (there is also another new video).

Everything was easy and uneventful until we reached the shipping straights coming into Singapore. That was when the video game level like behavior our local universe started happening. The first level was pretty straight forward, just dodging ships anchored offshore at night. No big deal, I slept though most of that one. Level Two was approaching the actual straights with some very large unlit ships angling about. But then Level Three is where it got interesting. We had to cross the straights that are about 6 miles wide and have hundred of ships an hour transiting at 15-20 knots. Thanks to AIS this wasn’t so bad, but we had to time it well and really be alert spotting the ships at night and calling on the radio. We made it to Level Four, a lighting round. And by lightning I mean huge thunderstorms rolling off the Malay Peninsula. Well, we managed to take that one with out too much difficulty as the radar helped us find the hole between cells at night and also avoid the ships. Level Five was not so hard, more anchored ships at sunrise, but a lot more.

Level Six hit us by surprise though and hard and it hurt. We were in a small shipping channel between Malay and Singapore easily transiting when the engine reved up and died. What, restart, nope not happening. We pulled out the jib and sailed a bit while troubleshooting. Whatever the problem was not going to be an easy fix. Oh, and did I mention there was only 4-5 knots of wind on the nose? So we got the main up too and then started sailing against 1 knot of current for our destination. Under motor we could easily have made it by say noon, but now we would be lucky to make it by dusk. We started sailing and were making an OK 2-3 knots or so of VMG. Thanks to all those windless Wednesday night races in Boston Harbor, we know how to at least make Slick move a little in really light air. The moving wasn’t the problem as much as the ships though. They were everywhere and the anchored ones lined up with the wind but we had to tack through them, which means you have to hit the holes between them perfectly or you end up 1000 feet back from where you want. On top of this, occasionally one will decide to up anchor and run you down. All off the ships created tremendous wind shadow and tons of bad air. It was stressful. To top it all off, the radio seemed to not be working as it is tied in with the saturated AIS. Ohhhh, how can this get any better?

We made it nearly all the way when we had to cross the last lane. The route to the Singapore cargo terminal. And of course, we got there right when 2 massive ships were leaving and three more coming. We managed to get though and make it all the way to the marina entrance under sail. Something that, for all I know, is illegal in Singapore. Upon arrival we put the dinghy in the water and strapped up Mutley, the new outboard and made a little tug to take us in. Thank God for the extra horse power. When we came in though the dock hands said we had to clear immigration out at some island. What???? I explained the situation with the motor and unlocked a bonus level. The immigration allowed me to get in the dock hands skiff and then we had to go find them. This took some time as they

where hiding in there boat behind some ships. Once cleared we got Slick into a slip and cleaned up. We were totally exhausted from the days events. The entire situation with the engine dying is one of those nightmares that you only talk about in what-if seminars. No wind, busiest harbor in the world, cannot anchor, electronics are only partially working and then the motor fails. Oh, and for what little wind there is, everything is a lee-shore. But we made it, safely.

That night we met my old friend Susy, who is working here, for dinner. That seems to be one of the things you do in Singapore, go out and eat. There are tons of really good food joints and the city is a huge modern financial center. The smog though is pretty overwhelming but I guess it actually comes from burning in Thailand and Malaysia. The city also seems sort of fake sometimes. But I have gotten over that. In any case it was nice to see my friend again and have some new people to hang out with. Being in the city is weird though although it has had a few pleasant, but somewhat unexpected, surprises.
As for the engine, it seems there is air in the fuel system. We have been troubleshooting it relentlessly and have found several things wrong. First was a pressurized fuel line that was leaking. Then some loose fittings and finally some really bad gunk buildup in the filter inlet. We changed all of the filters during the sail in and tried bleeding the system but still no start. When I was cleaning the Racor filter housing I managed to break a small plastic screw so now I have to try to find one. As for the future, I am trying to cancel the shipping of the boat so that I can refit in Thailand and then sail to the Maldives. But when I tried to cancel, it turns out I might be too late, so I won’t find out if I can ship till later in the week. Ugh, the video game never ends.