The Capt. Tee Story

Report #39


The objective sounded simple – send a Thai crew to Singapore to act as riding crew while Cariad was towed from Singapore to Thailand.

We naively thought … buy 3 airline tickets and send the boys to Singapore to join Cariad, provide food, water and bedding, connect tug and head north for the 450-mile tow to Satun to haulout at our familiar PSS Shipyard.

Yep! it didn’t get any simpler than that, we thought.

Then the lunacy kicked in…

Singapore has always been a country which uses an atomic bomb to kill a mosquito. They didn’t disappoint.

The Marine Port Authority (MPA) Singapore decreed …

  • Despite testing negative, Thai crew must first quarantine in Phuket for 7 days, then proceed to Singapore with arrival cards,
  • via or through the official “SG Arrival Card” mobile application that could be downloaded from either the App Store iOS or Google Play Android.
  • When quarantine is completed undertake a PCR test in Phuket at a government-approved or ISO 15189-accredited testing
  • With negative results, crew must proceed to Medical Clinic or Hospital to be checked to obtain “Fit-to-Travel”
  • On morning of departure from Thailand, Antigen Test and obtain results


  • Prior to boarding aircraft, forward all documents including daily temperature log and photos to Loyang Marine by email: or WhatsApp to: +6597639632. Relative documents must be sent before 10.00 am Phuket Time so that the agent Mr. C.K. Sum could forward them to ICA & MPA for “Permission to Land in Singapore”.
  • After clearing at Singapore airport, the crews were to be transported by special (Covid-19 assigned) mini-bus from Airport to the Immigration Seaman’s
  • From the seaman’s wharf, instead of continuing to Raffles Marina by van (and here is where it gets really stupid), crew must travel by chartered launch (Covid-19 approved) for their passage by sea to Raffles Marina to board Cariad.
  • Cariad to be towed an Indonesian tug KMT Coral from Raffles Marina to Western Quarantine Anchorage for Port Clearance and Immigration Clearance for towage to Satun,


Cariad was a virtual derelict in sinking condition. During the 5-day tow, Capt. Tee and his crew had their hands full keeping the vessel afloat manning three large diesel pumps on deck and 4 x 12-volt submersible bilge pumps below decks. During the first day out the mizzen mast came crashing down on the deck, narrowing missing Tee he and one crew member.

Thailand entered the fray…

Upon arrival at Tanjong Po anchorage, offshore Satun, the Thai government refused permission for Cariad to enter Thailand.

Our liaison person, Dr. Boonsiri, intervened with the Governor of Satun Province, whereupon a compromise was reached.


Cariad could enter Thailand if the whole boat was imported as “cargo”. Cargo does not have crew, they explained, therefore the healthy Thai National crew cannot enter the Kingdom of Thailand


and must return to Singapore as crew on the Indonesian tug, then return to their homes by air.


The Indonesian tug captain refused to sign-on the Thai crew, sighting – “no spare bunks”.

A large cash bribe was offered and accepted on the basis that it was “hardship money” for the squeeze and taking care of the Thai crew.

The vessel departed with only scraps of Muslim Halal food to feed 9 crew. Capt. Tee who is well known in the region, is normally employed as a super yacht captain. He and his crew slept on filthy steel decks in deplorable conditions.

When KMT Coral checked into Singapore, however the crew were not permitted to land without evidence of PCR tests taken within the last 48 hours. (Oh! Boy) This meant KMT Coral must immediately check out of Singapore for Batam, Indonesia, to have PCR tests taken.

This required a separate charter contract adding more cost. MPA refused permission for KMT Coral to sail to Batam, a distance of 35 miles across the benign Singapore Straits, sighting that the tug did not have sufficient safety equipment for the extra crew. Borrowed safety equipment from another company tug fixed that problem.

At Batam, it became too messy to check into Indonesia, so at midnight the Covid approved doctor was ferried offshore to carry out the PCR tests while KMT Coral drifted.

Under International Law, providing the vessel does not anchor or is made fast to the shore, the tug was legally under The Right to Free Passage umbrella.

PCR tests normally take 48 hours to process. Money under the table fixed that. The tug headed back to Singapore for another Inwards Clearance.

(Meanwhile Capt. Tee lost his job as superyacht captain. In Phuket, they fired him because they had a charter which could not wait for him).

Getting the Thai crew signed off and physically out of Singapore was again a trial with C.K Sum tearing his hair out with MPA rulings.

The Thai crew were asked to take, a “Fit-to-Travel” test before departure at Changi Airport. The Indonesian PCR tests would remain valid for up to 72 hours, whereby the crew must depart.

Airline tickets and a special mini-bus transport to convey the crew to the Airport was arranged. C.K. Sum’s office finally arranged with MPA and ICA to sign off the crew to depart Singapore. Phew!

Just when we thought we were sailing into clear waters, the Thai government got involved.

To enter Thailand even Thai Nationals must apply for a “Thai Pass” through the Thai Embassy website for approval plus book three quarantine hotel rooms before being able to apply for the Thai Pass plus show proof of air-tickets and bookings in Phuket for more PCR tests upon arrival.

Back in Phuket a bizarre rule.

In quarantine during the day, the three Thai crew were free to go home and/or roam Phuket but must sleep in the hotel from 7pm to 7am. After 6 days the crew went home vowing never to leave their homeland again.

The normal expected timeframe and cost to accomplish this assignment was S$2,000 over 7 days.

S$14,000 dollars and 34 days later, Capt. Tee and two crew arrived home.