Jumping ship

Wednesday 18 April  2013 – Auckland, New Zealand.

I originally started this post on April 18, it is now May 5. I managed to get four words written that day in April before running out of whatever it was I ran out of. Even now, when I have had some time to reflect, I am not entirely sure what it was; motivation, inspiration, energy, mojo – is it possible to run out of mojo ? I know it is possible to have mojo and then to not have it, but does it run out ?

To cut a long story short – I was not enjoying myself on the boat, it was nothing to do with the boat or life on board, I was just not having fun. I was never sea-sick or felt cramped or uncomfortable or anything and in the main my boat mates were great.  I was also really looking forward to going to Layang Layang to do some diving and possibly seeing the hammerhead sharks as well. But it was not too be.

If I step back a week or so, I had noticed I was not taking many pictures during my last week in Sri Lanka and really did not do much sightseeing at all. I should have taken this as a sign that I was ready to call the trip ‘over with’ and gone straight to New Zealand; my half final destination.  

My first plan had me visiting Jordan for a couple of days, followed by a day or so in Dubai and then Sri Lanka for two or three weeks, all up I was thinking of a three to four week transit to New  Zealand. Somehow this plan got skewed and extended and my trip turned into a nine week journey and I didn’t go to Jordan or Dubai, damn that mis-placed enthusiasm ! If I had stuck to what I had first considered then I certainly would have saved some money and maybe some sanity.

My last blog post had me on the yacht Infinity which was anchored off Pulau Aur a small island between the Malaysian mainland and the larger island of Pulau Tioman. We spent a couple of days there before motoring over to Tioman where we passed through immigration and were officially in Malaysia.

I had a couple of dives off of Tioman, the first dive had really bad visibility and almost no life but the second dive at this reef was quite good and finally after thirty nine dives I saw some rays – only small blue spotted rays, but I was dying to see any kind so I was very happy.


When we left Tioman we were going to be at sea for around three weeks before next land fall and it was here I decided I was just not having fun anymore and it was time to get off the boat, change my flights and head to New Zealand a month earlier than planned…


There were a couple of other people leaving from Tioman on 16 April so it made sense to jump ship and ferry over to the Malaysian mainland and catch a bus up to Kuala Lumpur. That is tea by the way,  not beer – it is 7:00 AM !


I stayed the night in KL and had to do a wee bit of shopping the following day to get some clothes for the flight and my first day back in Auckland and then it was all over. I was back on a plane and heading off to see my boys, the rest of my family and my friends. Yay 🙂 – I should have just gone straight there from London.

So, here I am in Auckland a month earlier than planned, and a fair bit poorer after having to shuffle around flights to Sydney and back to London. The good news is I get back to London sooner than expected and can start the process of job hunting, something that is weighing heavily on mind as I write this.  The even better bit is I get to see El in May rather than June: )

I am pretty much ready to start writing again, so it is now on to updating the past two weeks in Auckland. The best news, for me anyway, is I have started to use my camera again.

Maybe the mojo is coming back again after all.

Snorkelling at Pulau Aur.

Tuesday 08 April 2013 – Pulau Aur.

I managed to get a couple of hours sleep in the cabin before it got too hot, so I went to find a spot on the deck and discovered everyone in the cabin again as it had poured with rain sometime early in the morning. I pulled up a piece of floor and surprised myself by getting another hour or so on the hard wooden floor. Most people just sleep on a blanket on the floor so I will try that tonight.

I think I will enjoy life travelling on the boat, as everyone has a turn on watch people came and went all morning, once your daily chore was completed there was no routine to anything, though you needed to be quick for breakfast or lunch.

There was little wind in the morning so we continued to motor north east, we were free of the main shipping lanes by mid-morning and had the sea fairly much to ourselves for the rest of the day. It was still quite overcast, which was not such a bad thing though it did of course keep the humidity levels right up there.

After lunch it was my turn on watch again, there was not a heck of a lot to see as we headed towards Pulau Aur (Aur Island) our stop for at least tonight. We dropped anchor at 2:30. Almost as soon as the anchor had found purchase on the sea bed people were jumping overboard into the warm South China Sea, relieved to wash some of the accrued sweat away and relieve some of the stickiness. A few people jumped off the crows nest, I only managed to go from a third of the way up but will work up to it over the next few days, maybe…

We had lunch after the swim and then after a wee break a large group of us donned masks and flippers and swam over the island for a look, it was a long swim.


We had a small explore on island, climbing up one of the many rock falls to above the tops of the trees.


The reef goes right up to the sandy beach so we could not get the dingy in there until full tide, but there was plenty of drift wood on the beach so we will come back later for a beach fire. It is a great spot and right now we are totally alone. Though you can see that there have been fishermen here quite regularly and there is the usual collection of rubbish all over the beach and into the tree line.


It was a slow swim back to the boat, stopping to dive down on the reef and I took a few pictures with my snorkelling camera. There was a reasonable amount of small fish to see and the reef was lovely with some stunning coral. I very much enjoyed being back in the sea again – and being able to see clearly.




After the chores were all completed in the afternoon we prepared some food to take to the beach for an open fire BBQ. It was very nice sitting on the sand, listening to the sea wash on the shore and eat some freshly speared and cooked grouper. A nice end to the first full day at sea.


Out to sea.

Monday 07 April 2013 – On the sea.

After a brief attempt at sleep in the cabin I moved back into the library room and slept on the wooden floor and surprised myself by getting a couple of hours sleep before getting up around 7:30.

Much later in the day I discovered there was a duty roster stuck to a wall by the door, I was expecting there to be one, but no-one had pointed it out to me, so I had missed a couple of chores. One of the daily jobs is to be up early to make bread, so I had fresh homemade bread with vegemite for breakfast.

I was going to go into town with one of the dive instructors, Zach, to pick up some new tanks and a couple of other bits and pieces. I also wanted to get myself a mask, a dive log book and if possible a rash top for snorkelling.

We caught the train into China town mid morning and got the shop just before 12:00. The tanks were not going to be delivered until 1:00 so Elvin, the shop owner took Zach and I to the local food hall for some lunch and I had more noodles, this time with tofu chicken, it was pretty good.


I managed to get all the stuff I wanted from the dive shop and Elven took us and the tanks back to Infinity which was cool. We got back at 2:30 and I was keen to get a swim in the pool as it was quite warm and very humid under a low and thick sky. I was advised we would be leaving in twenty minutes so took a quick walk up to the convenience store to grab some supplies for the next leg of the journey as I was not sure how long till we arrived at Tioman Island, the next location with shops.

There had been a lot of thunder and lightning all afternoon and just as we were about to up anchor the skies finally opened and the rain came down in buckets. Which meant we were not go depart for a while, at least until it had slowed to a mere storm. I put my boardies on, took my shirt off and went and stood outside in the heavy rain – it was lovely and cool out there in the rain so I grabbed my little waterproof camera and hung out on deck for a while.



We finally departed Singapore at 5:00, it was an interesting exercise getting a 36metre boat off of its mooring. Not something I had been involved in before. It was a frenetic few minutes of shouted commands, rope pulling and running around in the small tender boat disconnecting the ropes from the buoys holding us in place.

And finally we left the marina in Sentosa into the open sea.


Once out of the harbour we spent half an hour rolling ropes up and tidying the deck before raising the tender for storage on deck.




We motored out to the edge of the shipping lane ‘super highway’, two streams of east and west bound vessels, there is a vast number of ships here, mostly huge! We had to wait to be cleared by Singapore immigration and customs and then further for clearance to cross the ‘super highways’ to the lane we were going to be motoring in. The sun was setting under very cloudy skies and the lightening was still flashing over the city.




And then finally as the light slowly disappeared we were under way – for me to a whole new adventure of living on a boat for a month, and hopefully some awesome diving.


I had my first dinner on the boat, a spicy vegetable dish with rice. The kitchen is pretty well appointed but it gets furiously hot when the oven is on. When I was cleaning duty the other day we were working in the kitchen while coffee was being made and it was roasting in there.

There is a watch roster for all the crew and my turn started at a reasonable 10pm. I tried for a nap prior to my shift as it was not too hot in the cabin, however we seemed to have mobile data for most of the time before my shift so I was on the internet for a while rather than sleeping.

The shifts are three hours long and split into three one hour sessions. Watching, steering and supporting – in that order. It is surprisingly hard to spot things in the night, especially on the Singapore / Malaysia coast – there are so many vessels it is hard to work out what is a vessel and what is something on the shore. It was my job to keep an eye on everything that was moving and we were passed by some massive ships as we cruised east at 5.5 knots. The three shifts mean there is three people plus a master on duty at any one time, with a new person on each hour, so plenty of people to chat to while on duty.

The steering part was challenging to start with, it is a large boat so takes quite a few seconds to react to any steering changes – and by the time it does I would have over corrected and be heading a few degrees in the wrong direction. It took a while to get used to :

My final session of supporting started with filling in the log book, a task that is done every hour as the steering shift changes and then it was hanging around till 1:00 am till my shift was over, no one wanted coffee so there was not much to do.

I collapsed into bed at 1:15 and fell to sleep fairly quickly. It is so good to be out of the marina and on the way to new adventures. I had a good day.


Saturday/Sunday 05/06 April 2013 – Singapore.

My next adventure begins today!

I have just over one month on the yacht Infinity, sailing out of Singapore to a number of dive sites around southern Malaysia.

My flight out of Colombo was at 10:50 pm and with little else to do in the evening  I left Trudy’s place quite early. Which was quite fortunate as the traffic was really bad and it took almost two hours to make the 30km journey to the airport, The first 13km alone taking up most of took one and half hours.

Colombo airport was an odd place, we walked through scanners and were patted down on entry but the bags were not scanned or checked. Check-in was a bit confusing but a breeze to complete as I was there fairly early. A latte was $7NZD so I flagged that as a really bad idea and then sulked for a while in the lounge. I had given my Sri Lanka SIM card to Colleen so she could loan it to visitors, even after a month of constant internet use and a few text and phone calls I had only barely used half of the $10NZD I put on it. Mobile is such great value in Sri Lanka.

The flight was a little late and fairly full, I am flying Tiger Airways for the first time, it is Singapore’s budget airline and apart from not getting anything on board the flight was excellent, comfy seats and as I paid for an exit row I had a ton of leg room as well. I think I even dozed for an hour – miracle upon miracles. Colleen had given me a few sleeping pills but I stupidly did not have any water so couldn’t use them. Doh… I am sure they will get used on the yacht though.

We did arrive on time in Singapore at the charming hour of 5:30 am, Singapore is two and a half hours ahead of Colombo which is really going to screw with my head timing wise as I have just got used to daylight savings changes in the UK when I arrange Skype calls with El. The best thing about Singapore airport at 5:30 am is there is no one about, I breezed through immigration, grabbed a bottle of gin from duty free, and was on my way out the door when I realised I did not have my pack! So back to the baggage carousel to collect it!  I found an ATM and got myself a much needed coffee and a bottle of water. I was most of the way out of the airport when I realised I had left my pack in the coffee shop! This has not been a good start to the day at all – and I was lucky it was still there.

I took a cab to the One15 Marina on Sentosa Island to meet my home for the next five weeks – the 36 metre yacht Infinity! It was dark and raining when I arrived and of course everyone was asleep. I climbed on board and found myself a spot to sit and wait for everyone to wake up, with the first person struggling out just before 8:00.



Most people normally sleep the night on the deck but it rained very heavily in the night so there were a number of people on mats on the floor in the main cabin. I met so many people in a brief period of time I had very little idea of who was who by the end of it. Most seem to be in the mid-twenties though there are a couple of people closer to my age, there are eleven nationalities in the twenty people as well, everyone speaks reasonable English. Everyone seems friendly and all are here for diving and adventure, so it should all be good fun.

Infinity is in Singapore until Monday, which was longer than I anticipated so there was not a lot of running around on my behalf. I went to the nearby mall to pick up a few bits and pieces and had my first laksa in ages in the foodcourt and it was damn good too. While I was in the mall the heavens opened outside and it just poured for most of the rest of the day.

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After lunch I went to the swimming pool in the marina and had a nice swim in the rain on my own. The tables and chairs were actually in a small pool, which I have never seen before, but then I do not think I have been anywhere this fancy either…

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We all went for dinner to one of the big food halls in the middle of downtown Singapore, I had a really nice Bombay noodles, but was fading after no sleep in thirty six hours so went back to the boat with the half the group after eating.

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My first night on the boat was OK, my room was not going to be available until tomorrow so I slept in the ‘library’ on a couple of mats on the floor. It was an OK sleep. The boat is quite quiet considering the amount of people and the fact that all doors are open to allow as much air as possible to move some of the stifling humidity. It was a warn night, but not too bad due to the rain.

Sunday was a busy day with virtually the whole day spent on chores on the boat, it was scrubbed inside and out and from top to bottom and we pretty much did not finish until 5:00. After that it was back to the pool for a relax and then to the beer shop for a couple of cans. I moved into my bunk in a room I am sharing with a young Swedish guy and that was about it really.

I took a photo of Infinity, next to a massive super yacht.


And my room a small box with two bunks, mine has the pack on it. There is some storage and each bunk has a small fan.


In the early evening the boat captain, Clemens, went into town with a small group to go grocery shopping for the next leg of the voyage. They arrived back at Infinity at 3:45 AM – having taken over five hours in the market. There was a lot of stuff and we all had to help get it to the boat.


I started the night in my bunk but it was so hot, even with the fan on, that I went and lay on the desk, I think I had just dropped off when the food arrived. It took an hour to sort out so I didn’t get back to bed till 5:00 and ended up sleeping on the floor in the library again. Tonight I will be more organised and find a squab to take on deck as they had been moved during the clean up and 5:00 am is not a good time to go looking for things.

It is Monday afternoon now and we are heading out to sea now so will update when I can when I next have some internet – no idea when that will be !