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Old 01-07-2007, 07:53   #1
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Happy Birthday America Sail

A little story about my sail last night. Here in Singapore the 4th is not a holiday but the American Association, in cooperation with the Singapore and US navies puts on a BBQ and fireworks show on the last Saturday before the the 4th at the Sembawang Navy Yard,

So the Sembawang base is 8nm or so from Changi. The BBQ is free to Americans and is a bit fun especially the fireworks at 8PM. "We own a boat!" so rather than jump in the car and drive 15 minutes to see the fireworks we are going to sail up and watch from the boat.

The channel runs roughly east and west and of course the tide is running full out at 5PM so we decide 3 hours oughta be enough. It's been blowing 15 knots all day right down the channel so we think this is gonna be cool! At 5PM God turns off the wind and we turn on the motor. Net out the tide and we are making about 3.5 knots but we have a breeze behind us so we pretend to sail.

You all have probably seen me post pictures of these giant container ships. Well, we found out where they go. A huge freaking container wharf big enough to hold like 12 of these bad boys. We are "speeding" along and see a container ship just having dropped lines. The tugs have pointed her into the channel and the tugs have dropped their lines. We are crossing and he is basically dead in the water. He starts blowing and my partner says, "It's OK we have right of way, right?" I started laughing, grabbed the tiller and did a 100 degree turn so there was no doubt to him that I was getting the hell out of his way.

I explained to my partner that he had zero stearage because he was stopped, he was cross channel in a 2.5 knot running tide and he had only one choice; Floor it and get some steerage before he was washed down on the docks. My partner then said, "Well the tugs would have taken care of him." As they say in the Guinness adds, "Brilliant!"

Well, we get up to the Navy pier at 7:50, debate whether we are in the right spot when promptly at 8PM the sky lit up. It was really cool to watch the show from the boat. 15 minutes later we began the 3 hour steam back home. The kids, who have been having a blast and anticipating the fireworks say, "That's it? Now we head back?" Oh, well. Now we are dead into any hint of a breeze and settle in for the long ride back. Periodically the wind comes off point and we pretend to be close hauled but we are really motoring.

The straightest line back takes us down the left side of the channel near the docks but that's no big deal. We come to the docks and watch the cranes loading 40 foot containers. The kids think that is cool and the place is lit up like daytime. We pass with 150 meters of the dock.

Then we look out and see a green light and two mast lights. Goodness a that's a big boy. But that's OK he's mid channel and will pass well to our starboard. 5 minutes later. Hmmm..Doesn't look like he's moving. We close to about 300 meters well to his starboard and intend to pass between him and the docks.

Then he gives us a good blast and I figure it out - Duh! He's docking duma$$. He's dead in the water and is getting a shove to the starboard. We make a 90 degree turn to the starboard and cross his bow about 200 meters out. I can tell you that if he were running 10 knots, that would be a very bad place to be. Interestingly we now notice two pilot boats who are sitting near the docks with flashing yellow lights and they are doing squat! Didn't move towards us at all. We were also monitoring CH16 - No hail, not that I expected one.

Probably the only mistake I made at this point was in crossing his bow, he definitely could not see me cuz we were too close. That probably made him nervous, but it wasn't like we could even chip his paint - LOL. I am also pretty sure that a 90 degree turn indicated to him that I would stay teh hell out of the way.

As we crossed his bow the tug came into view. I couldn't see the tug from my original postion which was part of my confusion. The tug was a big fella. We gave them room and then turned up channel. The tug was pretty far aft so I assume they used a combination of bow thruster and tug to get this bad boy to the dock. It was interesting to see up close.

Then came the next "surprise." I reset the Otto pilot and had just sat down when the bow fell off to starboard by 40 degrees almost instantly. It took a few seconds to realize it but that was the blast off the tugs props. It blew our 26 foot boat like a leaf blower as we crossed about 100 meters off the stern. Those bad boys can displace some water. Amazing.

The rest of the ride back was uneventful and of course the kids have now been on the boat about 6 hours for 15 minutes of fireworks. We docked at 11:30 having left the club at 5:30.

Maybe next year we'll take the car - LOL.
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