Crossing the Equator to Singapore

Ketawai island.

After leaving fabulous Belitung, we did a two day sail to Ketawai, a small island off the mainland. Robby the local organiser did a fantastic job of organising parties, food and music on the island, as well as tours onshore.

Robby, the organiser, with his twin daughters.

During a visit to a local school, I realised I had run out of money. No problem – our tourist police escort ran me to the nearest ATM with their blue lights flashing. I felt like a politician in South Africa!

Two friendly policemen who took me to an ATM.

More friendly students at the hotel and tourism school.

An interesting item on our itinerary, was a boat ride to a secluded and unspoilt mangrove forest. A long walk on walkways to protect the mangroves followed, culminating with lunch at an eco-friendly cafe.

Mangrove walk.

Lunch at the mangrove cafe.

Back at Ketawai, a farewell party with live music provided by a very talented young band and their vocalist.

The very good band on Ketawai island.

The sail north from Ketawai was best done during the day, as the sea was littered by fishing structures made of bamboo, complete with huts on top. Literally hundreds of them, unlit at night!

Fishing structures out at sea.

Number two of hundreds – why we don’t sail at night in this region.

Two day sails brought us to Lingga island with it’s smaller surrounding islands – absolutely beautiful and unspoilt by tourism. On Tuesday the 17th October 2017, we crossed the equator just south of Kentar island. This was followed that evening with a party on Esprit with the other three boats at the anchorage.

Crossing the equator as shown on our chart plotter.

A toast to King Neptune.

And another G&T for us!

Our second last stop in Indonesia was at Sembulang island where Thant Zhin from Burmese Breeze helped me repair four leaks which had suddenly sprung on our dinghy.

Thant Zhin fixing our dinghy.

Our last Indonesian anchorage was at Bintan Lagoy where the Sail Indonesia Rally organisers and the Bintan Tourist Ministry pulled out all the stops. Trips to various sights, like a beautiful Buddhist temple with 500 soldiers, a music festival and the final night gala dinner with a band and a beach party.

The representatives from Sabang island in attendance to market their island to us for Sail Sabang week, after Sail Malaysia.

Buddhist temple – completed two months ago.

Our guide and an army of 500.

Annie and an angry fellow.

These senior ladies know their moves at the Bintan festival.

Kids play area – just like in Sydney.

Join the Indonesian Army, Navy or Airforce!

Beach structure resmbling a snail or hermit crab?.

Seriously good rock group for the beach party.

The yachties doing their moves.

Midnight – setting off the mini hot air balloons.

Annie waiting for her balloon to lift off.

Up, up and away!

After the farewell and checking out of Indonesia at Bintan, we had to cross the Strait of Singapore – quite intimidating when you have to cross two shipping lanes, with more vessels than you can count on your AIS.

Most of the large vessels are travelling at around 20 knots, with the numerous ferries going at 30 knots. A rain squall hit us just before the first lane so we waited for it to clear and was lucky to get a reasonable gap in the east flowing lane. The west flowing lane required gunning it at maximum revs to pass just ahead of a 200 metre long tanker doing 18 knots.

Esprit approaching the Strait of Singapore.

Esprit approaching the Strait of Singapore.

Shipping highway.

Massive crane.

We checked into Malaysia at Puteri Harbour Marina where the organisers made the customs procedures part of their service, requiring only our electronic fingerprints. Absolutely painless and a 3 month visa at no charge! They laid on a gala welcome dinner for us at the 5-star hotel on the waterfront. A total of 68 vessels have signed up for the 5 week sail to Langkawi. We depart from here to Malacca on the first leg.

Puteri marina reception.

Sail Malaysia 2017 entrants.

Annie in her pedal VW Kombi.

We will catch up again in Langkawi, before we sail into Thailand. Cheers for now!




  1. Joe Schady

    Mary and I loved the saga of your continuing trip across the seven seas. Now that you are in the Northern Hemisphere where will you be for Christmas. Wishing you fair winds and warm seas. Take care.

  2. Dirk Muller

    Hi Joe

    We are enjoying Malaysia and after having new Lithium Iron Phosphate house batteries fitted here in Pangkor next week, we will be sailing to Langkawi in the north of Thailand to have the boat slipped, cleaned, anti fouled and the engine serviced the following week.

    Michelle is joining us on the 12th of December, and we will cruise Thailand over Christmas. Karen will join us in Cochin, India in February next year, to sail with us up the Red Sea to the Med. Both girls will be taking a second gap year to spend some time and sail with us.

    Love to Mary – we hope you will be able to join us somewhere along the way.



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