Today "Gerardus Mercator" started up a new project in SIngapore Port.
At dawn, one hour before heaving anchor, we experienced a heavy squall, wreaking havoc on West Jurong Anchorage.
One ship dragged anchor, crashed into another ship, and a small tanker, anchored, almost hit an oilrig. Ships were dragging anchor all over the place...
It was yet another reminder on "safe anchoring" in these crowded Singapore parking lots.
Eastern Anchorages, crowded to the max.
Since Singapore started to reclaim Jurong Island (10 years ago) and extend Tuas View seawards, plenty of anchorages has been lost to landwinning. More ships have to squeeze into less anchorage area.
Ten years ago, a ship could easily find an anchor position with 3 cables free space all around. Today, one must be happy with 2 cables all around ... if you can find a free spot at all.
Ships spill over in Malayan territory, often lying inside the westbound traffic lane.
A view to Jong Fairway, with Western Petroleum Anchorages.
In Singapore, heavy rain squalls pop up anytime, with winds up to 10 Beaufort, within minutes.
These squalls are "micro-systems", very local weather phenomena: inpredictable, but strong enough to drag an anchored ship out of position ... fast.
A ship like "Gerardus Mercator" is particulary prone to dragging anchor, with a large accomodation forward.
While anchored, we always keep forward ballasttanks full, head down, to keep sail area forward minimal, and we keep at least one propulsion engine on very short notice.
Even so; three months ago, "Gerardus Mercator" also had a close call, dragging anchor during a squall.
So, your ship sails to Singapore; you outran the typhoons of South China Sea, or you've beaten the monsoon in the Indian Ocean, and you sneaked past the Malacca Strait pirates...
But you are not out of trouble yet: you still have to lay at anchor in Singapore.
Marc Van de Velde, july 2009