Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saying final goodbye to Singapore

The first blog posting I wrote last night seems to have disappeared, so here is my second attempt.

Aaron reserved an hotel room inside the airport for his final night of vacation.  All 5 of us took the MRT (subway) out there, and Bill and I waited inside the airport while Aaron checked into the hotel.  We all enjoyed a Hong Kong style dinner and then all 5 of us (with attendant luggage)  trudged up to the hotel room, luckily not past the front desk clerks.  Some of us rested or slept off and on during the night.  Shortly after midnight Bill took Zachary to the Singapore Airlines counter.  Unlike in Houston, here in Singapore no family member is allowed to go with the unaccompanied minor to the gate; so Zachary had to say goodbye at the check-in counter for his 02:25 flight.  He would arrive in Houston after 23 hours flight time, stopping briefly only in Moscow.  Aaron and Elisabeth slept until the 04:40 check-in for their flight.  They had a more difficult flight schedule of Singapore to Hong Kong to Chicago to Houston, taking a total of 26 hours flight time.  I think the Moscow route is the best way to go -- unless you are flying free on earned points.  Oh, how I miss those days of Bill having almost a million plus reward miles on 2 airlines!  I miss those free flights!

Bill and I enjoyed a leisurely morning in the nice hotel room with king-sized bed and lovely large bathroom before taking the MRT back into the city to begin major provisioning for the upcoming Indian Ocean and Red Sea passages.  We won't begin the Indian Ocean crossing until January, but Singapore is the last place to find western products.  Cruiser lore says that good provisioning can be found in Langkawi and Phuket, but we have American cruising friends in Langkawi now who have scouted the local stores for us.  Based on their findings (or lack thereof) we know that cruiser lore is yet again wrong.  Most of the products we want are not available in Langkawi.  As for Phuket shopping, I cannot believe we will find things in the little town of Phuket that were not sold in the big city of Bangkok.  Western food items are specialty items in this part of the world.  Singapore has a number of stores that stock typical western foods.

After a bit of difficulty we located the Cold Storage supermarket near the Bugis MRT station.  There is another Cold Storage location in Vivo City at Harbourfront near our marina, but the Bugis location is a larger store with a better selection.  We had chanced upon the larger store when we took a wrong exit from the subway when Lynn was with us in June.  Otherwise, we would never have found this store.  (When exiting the turnstiles from the Bugis MRT, turn right to the end of the hallway and then turn right again.  Then take the first escalator up on the left.  At the top of the escalator, turn left again and you will find the larger Cold Storage supermarket.)

We filled our first shopping cart with non-perishable foods; checked out; and arranged for delivery the next afternoon.  Cold Storage delivers from any of their locations free of charge if one purchases a minimum of $150.  Our first shopping cart was over $700 so we were well over the minimum free delivery limit.  Next we filled a second cart with beef and actually identifiable cuts of pork.  In Malaysia, when we found non-halal shops, all we could find were cuts of pork block and pork knuckle.  Here we found actual center-cut pork chops.  Certainly were not passing those up!  Even found a couple packages of baby ribs!

Note to future cruisers: you will only find decent Australian beef in Singapore, and then only if you purchase carefully.  The Australian beef exported to Malaysia is truly horrible.  It is inedible except for the mince (ground beef).  The mince is extremely lean and is good.  We have learned that there are 4 grades of Australian beef.  The top grade is kept for Australians and is not exported.  The next best grade is grain-fed.  The third grade is pasture-fed.  The fourth grade is the inedible tough crap that is exported to Malaysia and Indonesia -- where they have no idea how to butcher it and sell block chunks of meat that are a total waste of money and time.  Cold Storage had whole ribeyes and whole tenderloins of both grain-fed and pasture-fed.  We opted for very well-trimmed whole ribeyes of grain-fed beef, which I cut into thick steaks and vacuum-sealed individually.  Soon our second cart was filled with $400 of beef and pork.  We would have bought more but that was all we could carry back on the subway and bus.  Two days later I bought another whole ribeye of grain-fed beef at the Cold Storage located in Vivo City near the marina.  I also purchased more pork chops at the Giant in Vivo City, but those were not the quality of the chops sold at Cold Storage.  BTW, Giant, Cold Storage and 7-Eleven are all owned by the same company.  So it makes sense that they share some of the same products.  But the higher quality foods are sold only in Cold Storage.

Next step of our provisioning (which should have been done first) was to empty all the food lockers and take a written inventory.  This is the only way to plan provisions for 6 to 8 months.  I had saved my provisioning notes from Panama, so we have a guide to follow to know the quantities needed of each item.  Taking inventory means cleaning out the lockers.  This is the time to throw out any cans that are rusting around the edges.  I found one can of fruit tucked in the back of one cabinet that was on the verge of exploding.  Lucky I didn't wait another day or might have had a huge mess inside that cabinet.   We have had only one food can leak once before, and that was a can of peaches.  This time it was a can of pears (but not yet leaking, thank goodness).  For some reason canned fruit does not seem to last as long as canned vegetables.  We rarely eat canned fruit but I try to have a few cans on hand for long passages when fresh is not available.  In the future I will make a special point of getting rid of any canned fruit when we complete long passages.

Before the kids left, everyone got to do their final favorite activity for the summer.

Aaron enjoying his last Tiger beer
BeBe finally got yellow cheese
Zachary lazing on his last day
And we got the traditional photo of BeBe standing beside the boom of her namesake, S/V BeBe.  We have similar photos of her beside the boom on her 6th birthday in Bonaire and her 8th birthday in Cairns, Australia.  Now we add this one of her a few days after her 9th birthday in Singapore.  Nice way to chart her growth progress through the years.  Hopefully she will have her 10th birthday photo beside the boom in Greece.
BeBe aboard S/V BeBe on 9th birthday in Singapore
 It has been a very busy  4 days since the kids left.  A major job was the provisioning, but there were several other chores.  We have had the fire suppression system for the engine room serviced by NOAH.  To our great relief we learned that it is not halon anymore; it is now CO2 and it good-to-go for at least another 5 years.  Who knows where it will next be serviced.  All the fire extinguishers throughout the boat have been either serviced or replaced.  A few new flares purchased to replace those expired.  NOAH also repaired our leaking dinghy and the patches look like they are holding well.   Heck, they even chemically cleaned it.  Looks better than it has in several years.  We now have a good supply of 2-part hypalon adhesive and a large section of hypalon material for any future dinghy repairs.  We plan to nurse this dinghy through a very long life.

The only thing we needed that apparently is not available in all of Singapore is a USCG approved horseshoe buoy that hangs on the life rail.  Ours is expired and the yellow vinyl cover is deteriorated by UV damage.  We see no point in buying one that will not meet USCG regs when we return to USVI or Puerto Rico.  I think the silly thing is a waste of time anyway.  If one of us falls overboard at sea, then he or she is toast.  Recovering someone at sea is not as simple as it might sound.  Why have a false sense of security just because there is a life buoy hanging on the rail.  We do also have a life sling, and that is more likely to help effect an at-sea recovery than a simple horseshoe.

Bill kitted up and dove on the hull again.  At least the water in this marina is clearer (and cleaner!) than that in Puteri Harbour in Malaysia and the visibility was much better.  He wanted to use underwater adhesive to securely attach the rubber cover for the B & G sonic speed sensor that he broke off when he tried to remove a barnacle a few weeks ago.  However, as luck would have it, when he removed the rubber cover he dropped it.  No way was the water clear enough for him to see a 3/4-inch circle of black rubber on a brown muddy bottom.  So we are attempting to source a replacement cover -- either in Phuket to be shipped to the marina in Langkawi or in Florida to be shipped to Houston and we can pick it up during our trip home in November.  Maxsea provides us with speed-over-ground data, but it is nice to also have the speed-through-the-water data so we can determine when we are sailing in current streams.  Until that black rubber cover is replaced we will not have the speed-through-the-water data.

We also had a seat cushion reupholstered this week.  I had gotten a bit too aggressive when cleaning a spot with a brush and had ruined a small section of a seat cushion in the main saloon.  Unfortunately, this ruined section was in a most visible area and it really bothered Bill to see it daily.  Amel provides a removable cover for the bed in the owner's stateroom, which is never used............well...........because it is a bed.   The only time one might want that cover in place is to take a photo of the room.  Otherwise, the cover is removed so you can make up the bed and sleep on it.  This bed cover is the same upholstery that is in the main saloon, so we had plenty of fabric to recover a seat cushion.  The newly recovered cushion was delivered Thursday evening.

Friday evening 2 very nice ladies delivered a few bottles of the new product RejeX.  Bill loves Corrosion X and uses it on everything electronic or anything that needs corrosion removed.  It is a wonderful product and indispensable on a boat.  The same company now makes RejeX and we plan to apply it as a substitute for wax on the hull during our next haul-out in Turkey.  Since Corrosion X is such a great product, we are hoping that they have gotten the chemicals right on this new RejeX product.  So nice of the ladies to go out of their way and deliver it personally to the marina.

Friday afternoon we asked the marina office to estimate our electricity through early Sunday morning and we paid the tab for the past 12 days.  Today we were cleared out with Customs for 07:00 departure tomorrow morning.  The plan is to depart Singapore at first light tomorrow morning and begin working our way up the Malacca Strait.  The advice we have received from several friends who have already made this trip this year is to NOT sail at night because of all the fishing stakes and fishing nets and unlit small fishing boats outside the designated shipping channel.  Pleasure yachts are not supposed to sail inside a designated shipping channel.  And there is all the fishing junk to avoid outside the shipping channel.  So it is strongly advised to navigate through this area during daylight.  We hope to find places to stop nightly as we head the 450 miles up to Langkawi, with longer slightly longer stays in Port Dickson and Penang.

Singapore has been one of the stars of SE Asia to us.  We like this city very much and will miss it.  We will be posting updates via radio email as we progress up the western coast of Malaysia.  Won't have internet access again for awhile, but email always works to contact us.  Just be patient waiting for a response.

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