Anthem Adrift

20 July 2016 | Pulau Mantananai
18 July 2016 | En Route Teluk Kaduka
05 July 2016 | Pulau Tiga
04 July 2016 | En Route Pulau Tiga
28 June 2016 | En Route to Sabah
24 June 2016 | Serasa, Brunei
22 June 2016 | En Route Jerudong
15 June 2016 | En Route Miri
14 June 2016 | En Route Miri
08 June 2016 | Pulau Bawah
07 June 2016 | En Route Bawah
05 June 2016 | En Route Djemadja
30 May 2016 | Terampah
29 May 2016 | En Route Terampah
27 May 2016 | Approaching Anambas
25 May 2016 | En Route Kapas
23 May 2016 | Pulau Redang
22 May 2016 | Kuala Terengganu
16 May 2016 | En Route Pulau Kappas
15 May 2016 | En Route Pulau Tenggol

No...Mad!

20 July 2016 | Pulau Mantananai
Wednesday 20 July 2016

Although probably lower than either Antarctica or Yemen, Borneo is pretty high on the "why the hell would you go there?" list of sailing destinations. It has been, however, delightful. Major cities of Kuching, Miri and Kota Kinabalu are chockers with cool stuff. Even Brunei was interesting in its conflicted, faux modern sort of way. Water clarity away from the main island is good with great diving promised ahead, particularly in Sipidan, reputedly one of the best dive locations on the planet. We'll just see about that.

Sailing around the north end of Borneo to Tawau near the border with Indonesia will take about 4 weeks. From there it's something over 1000 NM to Waisai in Raja Ampat where we hope to leave the boat by the beginning of October in order to arrive in North America for the Annapolis Sailboat Show on the 5th. This assumes we can get into the marina there, which is first come, first served, and that it's a safe haven for the boat. Checking out reported new marinas along the way in Sulewesi and Morotai, which are thus far only rumored, for a possible return is option 2 and Bali, another thousand plus miles is the emergency backup. Has it been mentioned that over time the boat only averages 5.5 to 6 knots? So, when do we need to be in Waisai he queried?

We're often asked how long it took to come from Florida. No one seems to expect 3 years. OK, they know it's a long way and we go slowly, but tend to think their location is the destination. "You mean there's something else along the way?" or "You made it, why would you leave?" Wandering around the oceans with everything you own on a sailboat is unfathomable to most people we meet (a fathom is 6 feet or 1.8 meters, so doesn't really seem all that deep unless the water is really turbid - that's like muddy, only a much cooler word). They're right, of course, permanent cruising is really bizarre. You'd have to be nuts.

Jack

Maundering Melange

18 July 2016 | En Route Teluk Kaduka
Wednesday 6 July 2016

After yesterday's little polemic on recent US political leaders, today's numinations will evince a kinder, gentler approach to the subject. In fairness to the 4 named perpetrators, they.. ummmm.

Today we go around to a sandspit east of Tiga Island to see lots of reported water snakes. They're venom is deadly so we generally avoid getting bitten. Fortunately they have very tiny mouths. They're also so lethal that nothing eats them thus producing a quite phlegmatic creature.

- Later

Having snorkeled and walked around the entire area and not found a single snake nor much else but sand and seaweed, we contemplate continuing early to Sutera Harbour Resort Marina at Kota Kinabalu to enjoy the last bit of decadence available until arriving North America early October (no, not with the boat). There are also many little bits that require attention and a crown that must be replaced.

Thursday

Regrettably slept in until 0900 to discover ambition meter pegged on zero so here we stay until tomorrow. Additional snorkeling around seemingly misnamed Snake Island revealed 1 extremely shy black and white banded krate. Aha! The reason it's not called Snakes Island. No regrets as eleven other boats showed up. Merriment ensued.

Friday

Finally dragged torpid butts from anchorage around 0900 for 26 NM sail to KK in good offshore breeze that didn't last. Still and all, every hour of sailing along this shore is a gift. Probably arrive too early for sea breeze to kick in, but shore power enabled aircon awaits, so disappointment held at bay.

With nearly zero air over deck, cockpit temp reads 38.9C. Crikey that's warm.

- Later

Nevermind.

Monday

You're probably not wondering why this piece of crap wasn't concluded 10 days ago. Me either, except we had fun in KK. Big town, lots of stuff and great restaurants. Besides the usual excellent local cuisine there are both English and Irish pubs and real coffee shops. Actually got some boat work done. Washing machine (yes we have one, 18 years old) died and remains dead due either pump to evacuate water or circuit board that controls it. Neither have been available for 5 years. New machine replacement sold at West Marine is too big to fit in the space.

Now anchored off Pulau Gaya for diving en route to Kudat where we pick up security convoy through Philippine pirate waters to Tawau.

- Later

Dive surprisingly good, now off further north.

Everyone is pleased that this will not be dragged out any longer.

Jack

In Abstentia

05 July 2016 | Pulau Tiga
Tuesday 5 July 2016

Happy belated birthdays to Canada and the US, July 1 and 4 respectively. We love you. Truly grateful to be from there; now pleased to be not there.

And speaking of Donald & Hillary, the schemer and the crook, America's two special gifts to ourselves and mankind, one gains comfort from being on the far side of the earth. We can even wax nostalgic for the yeoman services of George and Barack who, among innumerable other glorious stunts, ballooned the national debt above 18 trillion dollars for no discernible constructive purpose. Thanks guys, et al.

Wow, that sounded a bit harsh. Somebody should spank me.

Jack

Draggin' the Wagon

04 July 2016 | En Route Pulau Tiga
Wednesday 29 June 2016

A piss-up generally results in getting pissed (no Cal, this does not mean wetting oneself), but we were goodish last night and didn't get so pissed we wet ourselves. Notice the difference between cause and effect. For tea on the shore, we put snags on the barbie and they were beaut mate. America gained independence from the British Commonwealth so we wouldn't have to say things like that, but never mind, the sausages we grilled for dinner on the beach were excellent.

Sunday

Location since Thursday was the federal territory of Pulau Labuan and a pleasant surprise it's been. Lots to do, good food and every other shop is duty free. Needless to say boat is well ballasted with mind altering distillates and fermentations, probably enough to get us to Raja Ampat and beyond. Oddly, tonic was scarce so threat of malaria weighs heavily on our minds. We soldier on. Olives are plentiful.

Monday

After fulfilling mandate of all you can eat brunch yesterday at nearby hotel and waddling back to marina, checked out for anchorage on north end of Labuan where, after a dip in the tepid, green water and contrary to prudence and good judgment, proceeded to squander large quantities of untaxed acquisitions. Having agreed to depart at 0900 this morning for the 31 NM sail to Pulau Tiga awoke at 0840 and finally got underway just before 1000. Champagne Charlies, Shayne & Lisa, who partook in previous night into early morning's revelry recovered more quickly and got over an hour jump. This is understandable as their livers are a bit newer. Nevertheless, having been hitherto rather more temperate, Jan & I are contemplating an abstinent Monday while the youngsters are pondering a dry July.

Jack

Easy come, Easy Go

28 June 2016 | En Route to Sabah
Saturday 25 June 2016

Wonderful dinner last night at Royal Brunei Yacht Club which, of course, doesn't serve alcohol, but due it being a private club one may bring his own. Regrettably we brought too much and, as it was available and we were having such fun, drank it. Getting up a head of steam this morning at 0600 for breakfast at the club was a bit of a chore, but omelet with coffee was good and, astonishingly, included real bacon.

Sunday

Since we've been eating and drinking extravagantly in Brunei our sylph-like figures are in some jeopardy. Nascent padding over normally ripped abs (you believe me don't you?) is causing serious angst. Last night was another extravaganza at the upriver RBYC and tonight's planned farewell dinner at the Mangrove Paradise Resort bodes ill for additional regression. (Huh?)

Monday

It did. The word pudgy has re-entered our vocabulary, but absence of breakfast at RBYC Serasa may help. Departure from resort was in drizzle and arrival downstream dodging crazy fishermen working the channel in blinding rain. If it ever stops the day will be spent schlepping maybe 300 liters of diesel back from petrol station in 20 liter jugs. Not only does so much motoring use fuel that must be replaced, but oil and filter changes seem to be necessary every other week.

- Later

Well that was slightly more fun than getting keelhauled, but at least the tanks are nearly full. Top up in KK should get us to Raja Ampat. Dinner tonight at RBYC then out of here manana. For reasons of courtesy, joy will be restrained. Brunei is a country of contrasts, very modern and yet not. Oil has made it unnecessary to cut down old growth rain forest as was done in most of Borneo, but Brunei River is awash in trash and logs. British inspired common law is overlaid with Sharia. Prices in Bandar Seri Begawan are close to Singapore without the cleanliness or beauty. Glad we came, happy to go.

Tuesday

Brekkie and a last swim in excellent lap pool and we're off to Pulau Keraman for a beach barbie and piss-up with several of our degenerate yachty mates before arrival in Labuan. Hello Sabah.

Jack

Strictly Liberal

24 June 2016 | Serasa, Brunei
Friday 24 June 2016

Learned at the excruciating hour of 0600 that morning cultural tour from Jerudong Harbor was canceled. Finding ourselves thusly astir decided to sail early to Royal Brunei Yacht Club at Serasa. They have a pool that, by law and like everything at the club, is unusable on Friday between 1200 and 1400. One supposes this to be a wholly useless mandate to discourage pleasure on a holy day. It is, no doubt, an effort to balance competing interests (one of which might be to to sneak a Twinkie during the day) and hypercritical to assume token piety or hypocrisy. Does anybody remember "blue laws" in Dixie?

Full name of this country is Brunei Darussalam. That second word means "Abode of Peace" and it is indeed a stable and harmonious place. This is probably made easier due wealth brought by oil 'out the wazoo' (see previous entries for explanation). Although geologists, as opposed to bean counters, ecobunnies and politicians, understand that for all practical purposes the amount of petroleum is unlimited, there's been no effort to diversify so when prices are down, voila, there ain't no spare change for the Sultan to sprinkle about. Will grumpiness ensue?

Speaking of Venezuela, AB inflatables were made there until climate got too volatile so factory moved next door to Colombia. Front tube on ours became flaccid (in this case, Cal, it's bad, but not unmanly) from rubbing on Hydrovane cover requiring a patch. Meantime to reduce chafing, as weather has been placid, we strap her down just above water level. New plan for more interesting seas languishes in analysis.

Jack

Smells and Swell Wells

22 June 2016 | En Route Jerudong
Thursday 23 June 2016

Busy week of exploring and margarita night recovery. Miri is a great town. Hired a driver who knew where to find anything. Had a mounting plate made for new engine control which, if sufficient enthusiasm can be scraped up, will be installed to replace buggered, but yet useable 18 year old lever. After having looked for months found roasted coffee beans that are so good we returned to buy 4 kilo. Replaced dwindling supply of diesel oil with 20 liter barrel and couldn't live without really cool USB rechargeable, personal fans. Excellent food there too.

Humongous nearby Niah Caves, sight of most ancient homo sapiens remains in Asia (40K), was amazing. Hope breathing bat crap all day doesn't cause brain damage. Besides guano the place is also a major source of swiftlet nests. These outrageously expensive soup ingredients are harvested from the roof by insane individuals who climb up end to end, nailed-together boards that hang straight down as much as 100 meters. Hope these guys make a pant-load of money, but it's more likely to be somebody further up the distribution chain. Bird spit soaked twigs must be mighty damn tasty.

After a beautiful sail to Kuala Belait, center of oil production in Brunei, the boat club a mile or so up the river was a nice surprise. Run by a Dutch expat whose husband works for Shell Brunei it was friendly with great food, but, however, no adult beverage (despite being very modern and tolerant, Brunei is seriously Muslim and the Sultan has instituted sharia law). Someone, who shall remain unnamed (not us), was chastised for eating an ice cream bar before sunset in public during Ramadan. Water in anchorage ran about 3 kts. on outgoing tide and looked to be primarily mud.

Speaking of petroleum, a substantial amount of revenue works its way to the citizens even though Shell gets half and the Sultan has more money than Allah. Sarawak and Sabah have scads more oil than Brunei, but the money goes to central government in KL with a bit coming back in dribs and drabs. That's like someone taking your bottle of fine scotch, then giving back a taste after they've run it through their kidneys. Only about a quarter of the population are Malay. Not surprisingly the 2 states are pushing for independence. Everywhere are signs: "Sarawak for Sarawakians". Think I'd call myself something else, but guess it's better than Sarawakees or Sarawakers.

Jack

Dash & Dodge

15 June 2016 | En Route Miri
Wednesday 15 June 2016

Due waiting until yesterday afternoon for laundry return, have now to hastily beat feet (many of you may know that doing anything with feet except climb up and down companionway steps or chase boredom by collecting toe jam and playing "this little piggy" is entirely superfluous to sailing fast. The expression is idiomatic. This is in no way a reference to idiots or a painful, fraternity ritual performed with paddles, but merely a flight of whimsy conducted as a less stinky and more socially acceptable way to defeat ennui that, being parenthetical may safely be ignored... Oops, should have warned you sooner) in order to arrive by dark tomorrow.

Alas, forecast of little wind along Borneo coast has so far proved accurate. Fortunately, Brunei is awash in the stuff that, in lieu of sails, makes a boat move. They have so much they nearly give it away.. OK, not to foreigners, but it's still pretty cheap. Now if only we can get there with onboard tankage. Not counting dodging through a maze of offshore drill rigs in the dark it's about 230 NM. At least wells don't try to run you down as do poorly lit fishing boats.

Thursday

Continuing to run past logs half the size of the boat, discovered that radar picks them up, so took lessons while still able to see. Nevertheless, pleased to have large debris end before edge of oil field just at dark and platforms are well lit. Too bad gas burned off can't be captured. Sea remained glassy all night and air over deck exactly matched movement through it. Frequency of slight swell continues to induce a constant, tedious roll.

Daylight, which comes at an unconscionably early 0530, will now allow observation of hazards until arrival this afternoon at destination, but for the moment, being between oil fields, far from the coast and away from disgorging river mouths, there is nothing to see except a several mile circle of rippled glass under a cumulus sky. Absence of fishing boats insinuates absence even of fish although a snake just slithered out of the way. Huh? He must have gotten lost.

Jack

A Twofer

14 June 2016 | En Route Miri
Thursday 9 June 2016

Arrival inspection of moorings in Bawah lagoon found chain for 1 (of 10) attached to 2-ton block with chafed 13mm (1/2") line. A cautionary illustration of why it's often better, when possible, to use your own ground tackle instead of someone else's. Plus it allows others to sanctimoniously point out when it fails that you have only yourself to blame before surreptitiously checking their own anchors.

Coral was good shallow, but sometimes spotty with much dead deeper. Lots of fish. Reefs appear to have been bombed at one time. Good although not great diving except today north side, outside, saw a school of 30 huge bumphead parrotfish. Similar to, but not as large as mature Napoleon wrasse, they were way big and way lots. Cool.

Resort will max out at 70 customers and 130 staff. Cost is around 1000 SGD per day. Guests are expected to fly on a weed-whacker 160 miles into Djemadja from Singapore, then water taxi to the island, another 35. Target market besides Singapore will be Europe. Built by Javanese, the construction is rustic, yet intricately beautiful. Ownership passes to investors in October, opens in March. Will check their website periodically. Hope they make it, but if this thing's still in business in 5 years it'll be a miracle.

Friday

An aside before leaving the country. Trying to encourage Indonesian tourism, Jakarta has consolidated arrival documents into one on-line report requiring no cruising permit (CAIT) and no reporting in at every semi-major harbor. Still in transition, but if recalcitrant local officials get on board may ease our travel through the Celebes Sea and across Sulawesi to Raja Ampat starting late August.

After a leisurely morning, departed at 0830. It's about 48 hours to Kuching, Sarawak, averaging 5.5 kts. and we may do much better, getting us in at dawn Sunday. Light wind, but on the beam so throwing out all the rags saves fuel yet moves us right along motor-sailing. Sea is less than half a meter thus, except for afternoon heat and growling dinosaurs, very comfortable.

Monday

Long tour day, but fun, having nothing whatever to do with AC on buses. Big town at 800k so lots to do such as clear into Malaysia with bureaucrats. They were all very nice. Next, spent valuable eating time at the Sarawak Museum which was nevertheless very interesting and, significantly, not too large. After belated breakfast/lunch went out in the jungle to entertain some orangutans ("people of the forest" - apparently of Irish or Scandinavian descent). They didn't seem especially impressed and wandered off after awhile. Except for shaggy hair, impossibly long arms and a tendency to hang about in trees they're very human. Young ones are like children and adults resemble sullen teenagers.

One can tell Kuching is a modern city as it's infested with Pizza Hut, McDonalds, KFC and hardly any headhunters outside of boardrooms. Borneo natives once used the heads to bring luck, but now more often rely on oil wells. Also saw a "100% Discount" store. Regrettably didn't have time to find out what free things we could get. Given lack of activity locals may have been waiting for a "110% Discount" place to open so they could be paid for carting stuff away. Perhaps, however, there's more of a religious basis for lack of interest.

It's Ramadan so few people outside of Chinese, sailors and the odd Anglican were milling about. At sunset, however, we visited one of several temporary Ramadan cafes (large tented area with every kind of street food), which was abuzz with really hungry Muslims. They fast for a month during daytime so pack it away every evening. Great food and way cheap.

Tuesday

It's 280 NM to next stop, Miri, and rather than hop along the coast (like most of the others who prefer to watch the fishing boats and their nets while trying to avoid them) we're making another double overnight sail. Although temperatures have been pretty darn comfortable last few days (even without bus AC), 6 nights on a dock with power won't suck. Good chance to recharge batteries (all of them), get gas (not just from food) and chill (except for doing battle with officialdom) before next stop, Brunei, with its balls-to-the-wall scheduling (no Cal, that's actually not naughty).

This should have been 2 messages, but never got around to sending first one. Sorry.

Jack

Execution Delusion

08 June 2016 | Pulau Bawah
Wednesday 8 June 2016

Bawah is indeed beautiful. Probably why there's a resort going up. Completion by October.. theoretically. In process of this effort a barge full of containers and lumber is being towed in at 1100. In lieu of playing bumpers in the rather small lagoon with shocking possibility that some of the decorative rust will be scratched off 30 meter steel scow all 11 boats will clear out temporarily. OK, some are leaving permanently, but essentially you have not been lied to. Expect to dive before and after. Project manager Paul offered to give us a tour of the resort as some compensation for the disruption. Today in summary: immersion, diversion, excursion, immersion. Plus interspersion of provision consumption and libation ingestion. Additional notions for exertion this location in motion.

- Later

All went like clockwork.. well, except for the tow being on time. No worries, after drifting north at 2 knots, then fighting upwind and current to come back in the pass just behind the barge we were again on moorings shortly after noon. Tour scheduled for 1400. Wallowing in lassitude until then.

- Even Later

Last brain cell went out for a quart of milk and hasn't returned.

Jack
Vessel Name: Anthem
Vessel Make/Model: 1997 Hylas 46 - MMSI xxxxxx750
Hailing Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
Crew: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
About:
Jack: Formerly productive member of the community as a Northwest Airlines Captain who retired to become a drain on, and embarrassment to, polite society. [...]
Extra:
While I will be delighted if anyone else enjoys these excursions into semi-intelligible foolishness, the primary purpose is personal amusement. This is not travelogue, cruising guide or philosophical exploration of anything in particular, merely random musing of a slightly twisted mind. Despite [...]
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/anthem
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S/V Anthem

Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
See profile for information on why this mess is being foisted upon an innocent world and, despite what is probably your better judgement, how to make contact.
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