Category Archives: New Zealand To Thailand

Rejoining Saol Eile in Batam Indonesia

I arrived at Batam Indonesia just south of Singapore and a taxi was waiting for me at the airport to take me to the marina. Saol Eile was there and i met with Myra and Paraic, it was good to be back on the boat again and with friends. We set sail the next day and checked into Malaysia, after all the formalities were done we continued and joined the shipping lanes heading west around Singapore. Being the busiest shipping lanes in the world there is always oil tankers/cargo ships/huge vessels everywhere, in between all of this are pilot boats/fuel boats and provision boats that are going around amongst all the boats that have anchored. You do really have to have eyes in the back of your head and be alert at all times watching for anything that moves.

batam indonesia
An intimidating site !

Boats everywhere –

batam indonesia
Lots of ships

We were motoring along quite nicely when all of a sudden the engine revs dropped then came back up slightly. I looked out the back of the boat to see if there was anything obvious we had gone over, Paraic appeared and asked if i had altered the engine revs. We had a slight vibration and the revs had dropped, we definately had something caught around the prop. My first thought was to put the engine in neutral and then in reverse to see if we could shake anything off, Paraic wanted to get out of the shipping lane and find somewhere shallow enough to anchor in case the prop jammed whilst trying to loosen any debris. This of course was the right thing to do and shows the experience of a skipper. We only had a slight vibration so could continue without trouble for another mile or so before we found an inlet to pull into. Putting it into reverse and back into forward threw something off the prop and it felt much better, still a slight vibration but only minor so ok to continue to our destination.

We had done 3 days and two nights so far but couldn’t quite make our destination on the third day, we were about 15 miles short so about 3 hours but the sun was already setting. Our destination Pangkor has very shallow areas in front of the marina entrance and to try and approach at night time wouldn’t have been wise, in fact at low tide certain boats can’t get into the marina. We anchored a couple of miles off shore as the depth was very shallow still, still only 8-9 meters that far out. We awoke in the morning to see dozens of fishing boats on the horizon, we counted up to 65 at any one time, probably all fishing for squid during the night. After an hour or so we got under way just as all the fishing boats were heading in our direction, we managed to evade the fleet and set sail once again.

We saw a couple of storms brew up during the days but we managed to dodge them.

batam indonesia
Storm a comin !!

Water spout formed off in the distance, looked like it was about to suck the fishing boat up !! –

batam indonesia
Water spout at sea

We arrived at Pangkor where we were guided into the marina and given a berth number, for some reason they gave us a berth fit for a 30ft boat not a 53ft boat, the skipper wasn’t happy and protested until they found us another berth. We later found out that they had tried to put an exact same boat in the same berth only two days earlier. Safely moored up we sat and had a lunchtime beer, the weather was hot but fortunately there was a nice breeze blowing. Although my part of the trip was over i said i would hang around until the maintenance was completed on the boat, the boat was scheduled to be hauled out for a bottom scrub and other normal service items.

Normally boats have to be hauled out every year or two to have the anti fouling dealt with, this is a type of paint that prevents marine life growing on the bottom of the boat. Normally this means alot of scrapping, stripping,cleaning and painting which is a tiresome and time consuming job. Fortunately the owners of Saol Eile had applied something called copper coat which is a type of resin mixed with copper powder which should last for ten years. The boat still needs to be taken out of the water every couple of years but a good power wash and scrape sees most things come off the bottom, after that a light rub with some fine sand paper revives the surface with some new exposed copper which oxidises and makes a barrier which marine life don’t like to grow on. Apparantly very time consuming to originally apply but it appears to pay off in the long run.

Saol Eile on the hard in the yard –

When i originally joined Saol Eile in New Zealand in March 2013 i spent the first 6 months aboard with another crew member Brian. Brian was rejoining the boat to take it across the Indian ocean and potentially back to Europe. Brian arrived with his new lady friend and it was good to see him again, he arrived just in time to carry out some new maintenance which he enjoyed the most !! Brian had met his new partner whilst being stranded at a Carribean airport over Christmas time, the airport had flooded and flights were delayed. She had been helping deliver boats as her previous husband was a delivery skipper, in fact they had both just finished a delivery when they met. So Saol Eile now had two new crew members to help take her across the Indian ocean.

Myras shoulder was improving day by day, Saol Eile had a nice clean bottom, new crew members had joined so it was time for me to leave for a second time.

Fair winds Saol Eile.

I got a taxi from the marina to the coach station and boarded a coach bound for Kuala Lumpur International airport some 5 hours away.


End of the line…………….

Well after travelling from New Zealand all the way up through to Thailand via 8 countries, nearly 7000 miles at sea, nearly 11 months with the same boat i decided to jump ship. A tough decision to make but thought it was for the best. Need to do something new, maybe find a new boat to crew on, maybe find my own, do some more overland travel, time will tell. Its been a great trip and been lucky to have been on a safe, well maintained ocean passage maker. Hope the next boat is as well looked after and sea worthy as Saol Eile was. Thanks to Paraic, Myra and Brian for a great trip.

Highlights of the trip were the fabulous friendliness of the inhabitants of Vanuatu, the wonderful scenary and diversity of Indonesia and its different island groups, and the other great people i met along the way who were enjoying the cruising lifestyle.

Fair winds my friends.