Clipper boats reach Singapore

The boats reach Singapore
The boats reach Singapore Photo: Chris Paxton

Late on Wednesday evening, I volunteered to take over the helm of my boat Switzerland as we headed towards the Port of Singapore. It was night time but all around could be seen lights in the distance - white, orange and red. They marked the positions of the hundreds of ships waiting in the Singapore Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. Luckily, most of the boats were anchored so we could easily pick our way past them. But occasionally, we would see lights that were moving - a boat steering across our path that we had to take extra care to avoid.

Downstairs in the navigation station, our team of navigators were trying to make sense of the little symbols on their screens which marked the positions of the boats. They gave us advance warning of the moving ones and suggested the correct course to follow.

We finally arrived in our marina at Singapore just after dawn on Thursday morning, Day 33 of our long trek from Brisbane in Australia. In that time, we had been through six different seas and part of the Pacific Ocean. Frustratingly, we had stopped racing on Day 25 - the light winds meant the race organisors had to suspend Race 8 and allow the boats to turn on their engines instead of relying on wind power. We were supposed to resume the race for the final few days but the weather conditions meant that wasn't possible. So we had a long slog down through the South China Sea with only a few other Clipper boats for company. Our only break was a brief stop at the picturesque resort of Kota Kinabalu on Borneo where the twelve Clipper boats refueled.

The Clipper boats arrive at Kota Kinabalu
The Clipper boats arrive at Kota Kinabalu Credit: Clipper Ventures

At least the motoring part of the race meant there was time to do some cleaning and maintenance on Switzerland before we arrived in port. Many of the jobs that normally would have been done in the marina had been ticked off before we got there - a great relief for the crew who badly needed some rest and recuperation. Our skipper also took the time to plan some fun and games, including an afternoon of Blind Date where single crew members on several of the Clipper boats competed to win a date.

As for me, I had to draw up a lengthy shopping list of things to buy in Singapore. Salt water has a habit of corroding anything metal very quickly - my crew mates insisted that I replace a white cap which had become covered in rust stains after a metal clip corroded. My water bottle, which I bought in Brisbane in January, was already in a sorry state. And two pairs of my glasses needed emergency fixing with tape after the little screws in them rusted and broke.It's been a tough race and a very close one - we came sixth in the end despite finishing less than three hours behind the winner - but it was certainly an experience. And some of the scenery and wildlife was stunning. Seeing dolphins leaping out of the water never gets boring.

Leaping dolphins a feature of the race
Leaping dolphins a feature of the race Credit: Clipper Ventures