13/03/2011, Kudat - Penawasa
After one of these messages that you never want to get but you do appreciate being passed on I am on a quick trip to Borneo as it is apparent that someone has broken into our boat and taken some things. The Police already have the culprit but of course no-one only us knows what could be missing and Charmar is currently also therefore unsecured. I was up at Scherger whilst all this was happening. Scherger is a remote immigration detention centre near Weipa with limited communications.
So only one thing to do, head for Borneo at short notice. No flights available from Singapore to Koto Kinabalu so I take the alternate track Cairns>Darwin>Singapore>Kuala Lumpur>Koto Kinabalu. Double tracking a bit but not too bad apart from the waiting time - three hours in Darwin, bearable, and from midnight until 06.50 at KL Airport. Not exactly a good place for a sleep but survivable!
Arrive at KK at about 0930 after a good sleep on that flight and decide to hire a car which is quite reasonable for the three days rather than take the normal charter car to Kudat. Need to attend to some jobs in KK like getting a sim for the phone, and a new battery for the dual sim phone which appeared to be dead but was resuscitated with a battery. Then to Celcom where I found that I could change my broadband plan to a new prepaid plan which is much cheaper and better for our type of use and also get a phone sim that lasts two years without topping up that I can put in our boat sentinel that would have let us know we were broken into if the sim hadn't expired! Went to the wrong restaurant, looks identical to one of our favourite spots, but the food is not so good, but for $3 with coffee can't whinge too much (although it is the same price for the good food) and headed off for the 2.5 hour drive to Kudat.
As I meander down the various highways and byways north I notice that it is wet, it is raining, not like a shower but if Cairns and Qld has been getting deluged this is worse, much worse! The farm areas are flooded, water is cascading down the mountains and rushing along the table drains, at times the road is covered.
Logs are hurtling down the rivers and occasionally have floated onto the roads along with many coconuts and other debris.
Was stopped in queue of traffic by deep water on the road so pulled up with all the rest. Left the parkers on so as not to get run into. About an hour later when it was time to go and raining torrentially the battery was flat so here I was stopped in the middle of the road in pouring rain in a tiny car with traffic going around both sides of me, hopped out to put the bonnet up and got soaked. A car came slowly and and closely by and said in in my best Bahasa Malglish - battery any leads? And the two obliging guys stopped, looked at the weather, stripped off their shirts and jumped out to give me a push start. Next time I get held up keep the engine running!
Stopped at the usual Tanda (toilet) stop about halfway, a bit behind schedule but still expecting to arrive Kudat at about 1600. Fortunately bought a small packet of dried bnnana, some peanuts and bottle of water.
Headed of but not much more than 10 k down the road, in TORRENTIAL rain the traffic was stopped and building up. Ok so just stop and wait till it clears before carrying on. About an hour later when the rain eased I walked down the road, a long way to see what the hold up was but could not get to the end of queued cars before the rain came in again. It just got worse now there were literally hundreds of cars, buses, trucks, taxis all piling up in the queue. Well have a sleep. Awakened about 8:00pm as the traffic started moving so jumped into action and joined in as the hundreds of cars on the road and verges pushed and crawled their way forward down both sides of the road only separating to let the traffic sometimes come through from the other way.
Eventually we get to the cause a mud slide over the road being cleared by a loader and backhoe in between which we slithered and crawled our way over the mud to get back to bitumen. On we go in the torrential rain with the odd tree over the road, water cascading across and more hold ups whilst the water comes up and goes down.
The last major one we drove through miles of water over the road. I waited till a little car the size of mine, very small and low, and followed it trying to pick where the road was. It worked and eventually we ended up back just driving on bitumen.
As I get closer to Kudat we cross some hills so the road wasn't covered but there were some washouts and the rain was torrential.
Over ten hours for a normally 2.5 hour leisurely drive.
Finally arrive a bit after midnight, it is too wet to go to the boat and I cannot get the car into the boatyard at night so sleep in the car in the rain. Up in the morning and into Kudat for Egg Roti and copi Sweet milk coffee. $2.5o including two Koppi's. No wonder I love it here!
Go to Charmar, they have been in through a tiny back hatch and out the galley hatch and pulled a lot of stuff out of shelves and cupboards. Pulled out and cut the wires on the VHF but it is still there, and stolen the entertainment system. The TV is in the galley, obviously on the way out and other stuff such as binoculars and bits and pieces pulled out. It seems they may have been in and out more than once, maybe "selling to order". They were nabbed by the Police because they were trying to change an Aus $20 note at the kiosk and eating chicken every day and seemed to living a high life. The boat next door was also broken into, it was someone employed to work on a boat parked in front of us.
After a stocktake and tidy up there is not all that much missing - the CD/DVD radio, some money, maybe a computer and who knows what else??
Going to the Police tomorrow, they won't give the neighbour back his stuff until I have a look also!
So a bit tired and worn down the day is spent rejoining wires, refitting things removed, and putting things (where they belong and where they dont belong to get them off the floor!) Lunch with the neigbours and it is still wet and muddy here!
Tomorrow have an appointment with the boatyard office, and will be off to the Police to report and go through what they have and will take the neighbour so he can get his stuff back also.
An interesting few days!
Late October and first half of November we sojourned to Japan. A little time in Tokyo, an Onsen in Niko and then two weeks with Yamagishi in Mie prefecture and we left from Osaka to return to Oz (by air).
Its about time to go back to Borneo but a few things to sort out here first.
It's off to Vietnam, via KK, then to Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur, KL, then to Saigon or Ho Chi Min as it is now called and then to Da Nang. A big day but a good trip. Once up in this part of the world nothing is far away but it would be lot shorter to go KK to Saigon - only a couple of hours across the water and not too long a sail!
Vietnam is stunning and Oh!! What a cruising ground!!!! It is the missing link for the South China where now the East Coast of Malaysia is available, with the East Malaysia Rally, the West Coast of Borneo, the Phillipines, but how fantastic would it be to go from North West Borneo to Hu Long Bay, a paradise above all, down around Vietnam to Cambodia then east Thailand and back to East Malaysia!! The China Sea Circle - two years of the most beautiful and fascinating cruising!!!!! Different cultures, waterways, diving and snorkelling, rivers and islands - the most different and beautiful areas imaginable!
How good to be back in Kudat, home away from home, just around the north west tip of Borneo. A small fishing village in Borneo with a shipyard, great tucker, friendly people - I love it! :-))
A trip up from Aus with Jetstar, we stopped over inside Singapore Airport at one of the internal hotels to catch our connecting flight to KK the next morning also with Jetstar. Very convenient! Two hours to KK and we have the day and night there, renew our Celcom internet account, visit the markets, and check out a few things in town including a quick trip to Sutera Marina. Dianne is suffering from Aussie Flu and not well at all. The next morning after doing a couple of chores we wanted to attend to in KK it is into a Toyota for the four hour drive to Kudat.
A great ten days in Kudat, catching up on maintenance, going into town to eat, and solving the riddle me do, riddle me don't diesel saga - a long and interesting story but too much for the blog.
Each day we do at least one bicycle ride into town for lunch or dinner, its not far, but the tucker is great. Have found the best ABC's or Ice Kuchang's (which they never call them up here) in Kudat and have a few favourite and well frequented eateries where we are well known. Catch up again with Peter the fountain of all knowledge and local taxi driver, and have the same workers Rusdi and Johnny which is really great and we get quite a bit done.
Just when we are back in the boatyard groove however it is time to go to Vietnam.
It is interesting how we still get contact from people we met going through Indonesia now two years ago. Soleman the student in Alor, Cepy we met in Bima and others along the way. Txt's, facebook, email make it all possible.
Still working back home and commuting to Borneo at present. We will spend June in Vietnam and October in Japan with intermittent sailing in between. This month sees a few days in Korea and time in Sydney lecturing interspersed with visits home.
My oh my where do the days go to......it is Wednesday already and pack up day. Well now Sunday was ok with more cleanup and a couple of chores attacked. Why would they bring out a new model foot anchor switch and put a flange on it so you cannot fit into the same hole as the old ones!? I am sure they do it to make life difficult. Sunday night at the Golf Club for boaties dinner and met acquaintances from the rally Doug and Margaret on Tonic who are slipping here on Wednesday before a quick trip to Kiwi land.
Monday and assistant one started and more progress was made. He was the right size to get into the bilge and so he washed it all out again and all the aft cabin again and dried it. He then cleaned up all the accumulated dust in the cockpit and once it looked spick and span things started to feel better. Assistant two started on Tuesday by pumping out the remaining thirty five litres (of 200 to start with) from the tank and then totally cleaned out the tanks removing the peeling inner paint so I can ultimately have a go at sealing the tank from the inside as well. Rosdi did a great job of this while Johnno di general cleaning and then attacked the decks, windows etc. We fitted the anchor switch with a lot of manual cutting and filing but it is in and works and then decided to unload the anchor and chain to send away for galvanising in KK so we dropped it off into a box.
Must admit to spending a bit of time in the afternoon sitting on the foredeck under the shadecloth talking to Eric who owns the fishing boat next door. Picked up a lot of interesting and useful local information and all about the fishing boats and their "relationship" with the Phillipines only a couple of hours away.
Peddle into town most nights to enjoy dinner.
Wednesday the boys were into it and the final cleaning up of the now internally spotless tanks was completed, some polishing and cleaning and in the afternoon to while away the time some quick varnishing to seal some areas needing attention but they will need more coats on return but this will hold them in good condition in the meantime. Started to secure things before imminent departure.
Wednesday night Doug and Margaret called in and we walked into town for dinner.
As to bilge pumps and things. No I don't leave the pumps on although I do know of a boat that sank on the land when the cockpit scuppers became blocked and the water seeped in under the stormboards until the boat filled up with devastating effects. However because all our machinery and "wet things" are behind sealed bulkheads aft we don't have bilge pumps in the cabin areas so they were not there to do the job. I guess if they were at that stage the diesel would have still seeped over everything that it did before hitting the bilge and being pumped out anyway! So not sure they would have much use other than to create a big pool of diesel beside the boat rather than captured within the bilge.
Kudat is a delightful fishing town/village where westerners are still a novelty. An industrious and busy place with many comings and goings and very friendly people. Each time I come here I get more out of it.
Off tomorrow to KK and then to Singapore, Darwin and Cairns.
Saturday, up and back into the bilge with washing materials. Joy of joy and how thankful we can be for small mercies the water is on so I can get a few bucket loads for bilge cleaning.
After watching the wall of the aft cabin last night for over an hour to see where the diesel was coming from not a drop appeared. Today there are puddles again! Clean them up and pull off some more panels on the search. Feeling and looking as there is no sign of a source but towards the back and the furthest corner from where the diesel was gathering the wall feels slippery,,,,,,,diesel. On the trail now it follows back to an aft corner weld just at the level of the bottom of the tank. Pull out some more foam and interestingly find Les has marked this very spot with an arrow! And there it is a pin hole in the corner weld with a little flow of diesel coming from it right at the bottom most corner of the tank. Out with nead it, just a little to block the flow and then clean up the surface and apply a larger section which later I cover with metal epoxy. The leak has been stemmed but there is more cleaning up todo. Diesel is found seeping out of the insulation glass at the back of the genset cabinet so off with more panels and pull it all out and trash it the bottom is saturated as the diesel soaked up it. The cabin is pretty well stripped.
Mix up batches of hot water, bilge cleaner and citrus and again flush the bilge out hoping to vacuum the floating diesel off the top of the water - we'll see tomorrow.
At this stage I can see or feel no more leaks!
Onto something productive fit the new sternlight. Apart from some frozen screws requiring the impact wrench to loosen them at least this all goes well and the new one works fine. This is a second light but useful when using the dinghy at night also.
Then to the anchor switch. Make a start but enthusiasm is waning and it is getting dark. Get on the skype for a while to home and the family and then peddle into town on the folding bike to our favourite Indian restaurant for a $1.80 feed including coffee which was great after a low food day! No rain today which was good. It was hot tonight it is cooling down as there has been strong winds here today although where we are in the yard is quite sheltered.
A little progress at last and a full belly so feeling better. Tomorrow, Sunday night, is yachties social night over at the Golf Club across the road so looks like I will get fed tomorrow night as well. Monday morning I have a boy coming to work at 0730 so I'll have to be up early as well.
Water is on but not enough pressure to run the shower but at least could run the low taps to fill a small bucket for a decent wash off tonight. I probably needed it although I couldn't smell anything except diesel!
Sunday tomorrow but not a day of rest over here!
Friday, where did that go to? A quick scout around the yard, go and pay the bills and buy a heap of rags. Arrange for a pump and a drum and three boys who pump the diesel out of the boat and do a bit of a clean up, Well that was a start and then the investigation.
Diesel being diesel it seems to be coming from everywhere but it has soaked into insulation wool, foam and cork tiles so it oozes out. Great day for cleaning the water is off but it is raining but not enough to fill buckets. So there is no water for cleaning and too damp to do outside jobs, With a bit of rain water and degreaser do the first attack on the bilge, aft cabin berth which fortunately we did not have a mattress in and cleared before we left. Removing panels and cleaning up little pools of diesel. Oh what joy. But I cannot find the leak.
The day is spent cleaning washing bilges and other. Can't even have a shower to clean the diesel off me as the water is off! Have rinse down before hitting the sack early.
To the airport in the morning check in and go back to town as the flight is running about 4 hours late. Back to the Airport in the afternoon, to Darwin and get connection to Singapore. Arrive at Singapore several hours later than planned and stop at the airport for the night which was good. In the morning check in for Koto Kinabula, Jetstart Asia, also a bit late. At KK go to Celcom to get the internet Sim card, as I can't find the old one. Then to the bus bay to find a car to Kudat.
Russ got the job and together with about 5 other pax we head off in his Toyota. He has been doing the track for about ten years and a nice guy. We are away a bit after three but a Police Road block causes a traffic jam that slows us down. We stop to pick up someones gear and Russ bought me some fried bananas, later we stop and have fresh young coconut milk.
It gets dark at about 6:00pm and we arrive at the boatyard a bit after 7. Charmar is safe and sound but as I get onboard I notice a strong painty/fuelly smell. It gets stronger, later I find about 150 litres of diesel has run through the after cabin into a "dry" bilge. There goes this week's plans. Can't do much about it tonight so hit the sack.
Have a wooden fishing boat getting built to port and a gap to starboard then a yacht that was here when we left. The yard is very busy.
Well its overdue but a trip back to Kudat will take place in January to check Charmar over and start a bit of maintenance. Looking forward to it!
The Sail Indonesia Rally and the Sail East Malaysia Rally are vastly different experiences. Sail Indonesia of last year is detailed much earlier in our blogs, the track taken by the yachts this year is different. Sail Malaysia details appear more recently in our blogs. In this review I will comment on the comparisons and contrasts of these two events. Last year over 100 yachts took part in the Indonesian Rally,this year 120+ and next year even more are registered. We did about half the rally and then continued on "sailing in company", in good company too, to Singapore where we 'parked up' at Sebana Cove in Malaysia about an hour by ferry from Changi Airport in Singapore, and a great place to stopover. Many of the boats of course continued on in the Sail WEST Malaysia Rally which continues from Danga Bay through the Malacca Straits to Penang and Langkawi, a haven for passing yachts with Marinas, Workyards, beautiful islands and beaches etc. The Sail WEST Malaysia Rally has been running for a number of years. The Sail EAST Malaysia Rally started last year with ten boats, 46 registered this year and next year over 60 are expected.
With Sail Indonesia (SI) from the time we left Darwin until we arrived at Nongsa Point, the last place in Indonesia before leaving for Singapore, we never saw or stopped over at any marinas. Our stopovers were all on anchor, in open waters, bays, fiords, behind reefs, at islands, in isolation, in populated areas, but 98% of the anchorages were great. We never went to the major cities, initially clearing into Kupang, although we did go to some highly settled areas, we stopped in very remote areas, we visited remote and isolated villages and traditional lifestyle areas. In Indonesia we never had issues with any of the authorities or any of the people. The Indonesians were tremendously warm, welcoming, generous, helpful, interested and giving. Those who had the least, offered the most! an interesting reflection on humanity generally. We were welcomed everywhere, overwhelmingly in many instances. Indonesia for us was about culture, nature, the environment, wonderful people and interesting, challenging and vastly different environments. Traditional boats by the tens of thousands constantly amazed us, as these people live by and from the sea. The only downside in Indonesia was the pollution of the oceans and the lands, particularly the Oceans. It is a tragedy in the making that even if it stopped today would never be able to be cleaned up, but it gets worse, exponentially worse, every day as western companies DUMP what they can no longer sell in our communities into these areas without conscience, care or thought. Plastics, bags, wrappers, crates, foil, rubber, bottles and more bags than could ever be counted are dumped into this area daily and find their way into the oceans. But it was the simplicity of life, the family caring and bonding, the generosity that left the most lasting impressions. And then of course there are Komodo Dragons, volcanoes, rainforests and dry area, monkeys, pristine waters, beautiful bays and wonderful islands that create a montage of experiences.
East Malaysia Rally (EM), now only in its second year, introduced us to the South China Sea that has just so much to offer. An overview is set out in the blogs below. Up the East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia, across the South China Sea and then up the west coast of Borneo, including Brunei. This rally offers a totally different experience as you move from marina to marina punctuated by beach and island stops. Progressively north up peninsula Malaysia the waters get clearer the Islands better, Tioman, Kapas, Redang and Perhentians with crystal clear waters, reef, fish snorkelling, diving and swimming and it seems to just get better and better as you go. There are marinas with world class facilities, Tioman, Terengganu, that become the base for further exploring, stocking up, great food outlets and interesting shopping experiences and a kaleidoscope of food variety at wonderfully cheap prices in such a relaxed and comfortable environment. The ocean is flat, very flat, the beaches and water beautiful. It is cleaner from plastic, foil and other pollutants than Indonesia but this is still the biggest challenge for these areas in the future. But again we are welcomed everywhere, they don't take your fruit, they GIVE you a local tropical fruit platter, they welcome and assist you and do not throw up barriers to entry. Yes you still have to deal with the bureaucracy, but, heh, remember we showed them what bureacracy is and we are still the masters at unnecessary officialdom and rules and regulations! Crossing the South China Sea we sail through Indonesian Islands again on our way to Borneo. Kuching is the entry to Borneo and this country, part of Malaysia but with areas that are Indonesian, and of course Brunei show signs of considerable and in places great wealth and we experience everything from the traditional Iban villages with similarity to the nature of the people in Indonesia as we traverse massive and extensive river systems with whole enormous trees and their foliage going up with the tides, down with the tide, back up with the tide.......and the next stop may be a modern marina and town with the economy "fuelled" by massive and extensive offshore oil and gas rigs that light up the ocean at night for twenty miles and more until the grand finale in Koto Kinabalu where possibly one of the nicest boutique marinas in the world is with theatre, ten pin bowling, too many pools to pick from and crystal clear water with tropical fish and coral IN the marina and beautiful islands only the shortest of hops away. Malaysia was a diversity of peoples from many backgrounds, rapidly developing areas, massive expenditure and development on marine infrastructure (but not many boats visiting............yet) and one of the most underexploited boating environments around. Thus their emphasis on promoting through rallies and other means including events such as the Monsoon Cup and Miri Brunei Race where THEY pay you to enter and offer other inducements to go and enjoy yourself in this welcoming and friendly environment.
The South China Sea gets my vote.
Both the Indonesian Rally and the East Malaysia Rally are very different but equally great experiences for any cruising yacht that will take you to new destinations and assist you to find and explore places you would otherwise miss with many great advantages from joining the rally as well as opportunities to meet some great people along the way.
Where to next? We have much, much more to see up there, and we want to go back to the top end of East Coast Peninsula Malaysia (back across the South China Sea), we want to explore the tip and the north eastern side of Borneo, we want to..................................the next job is antifouling to get us right for another couple of years of exploration in this vibrant and interesting area.
What is the "East Malaysia Rally"?
For a number of years now sailors from around the world have joined Australian and New Zealanders sailing up the east coast of Australia to join the Sail Indonesia Rally, many have then gone on to join the Sail WEST Malaysia Rally to progress from Singapore up the Malacca Straits to Langkawi and continue their world trips.
What is not known or explored by many is the joys of the South China Sea, East Malaysia and Borneo and the wonderful islands of the very benevolent South China Sea. Australians particularly do have some knowledge of the beauty of the Pacific Islands with images of white, sandy, coconut lined beaches, beautiful fringing reefs and the many splendid coloured fish. Commonly we don't have an appreciation of the similarities in the South China Sea but with a gentle sea and many protected waterways. We also tend to forget that Malaysia consists of not only "Peninsula Malaysia but also the Western side of Borneo, Sarawak and Sabah separated by the South China Sea and many islands in between.
Last year, 2008, a new rally was started being the "East Malaysia Rally" supported by the Malaysian Government to introduce this wonderful area to yachties from around the world. Twelve boats joined this rally in that inaugural year, 46 registered this year and already there are over 60 expressions of interest for next year.
So just what is the "East Malaysia Rally"? Similar to the Sail Indonesia and Sail Malaysia Rally it is a partially organised event with plenty of time for participants to also do "their own thing" with the added value of numerous organised trips, tours and functions that add so much to the pleasure of the area and are a chance to share information, anecdotes and tales tall and thin with other like minded yachties. The Rally covers over a thousand nautical miles and runs from mid May to early August traversing from the Malacca Straits, Penang, down past Singapore, up the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia then crosses the South China Sea to Borneo arriving at Kuchin to sail up the West Coast of Borneo almost from southern tip to northern tip of this large island.
To provide a summarised travel itinerary the key destinations and their advantages follow in very brief descriptions, so much more could be said:-
â€¢ Penang - gathering boats from the Langkawi and the Malacca Straits. Penang is a scenic island off the west coast of Malaysia rightfully famous for its diverse and cheap foods and steeped in the rich history of Malaysia - a tourist destination in its own right
â€¢ Danga Bay -
â€¢ Puteri Marina - a new Marina in Malaysia to the west of Singapore which put on a great function and offered free berthing not only for the Rally but until Christmas to help promote this new area.
â€¢ Sebana Cove - this is where we joined the Rally, it is a short ferry ride across from Changi Airport, Singapore into Malaysia with a somewhat dilapidated golfing resort, but a great policy to "park" your boat if you wish to return home as it is super protected up a mangrove lined river, is fairly fresh water (inhibiting marine growth) and "out of town" so not many "lookenpeepers" around, and good rates. Monkeys and giant monitor lizards can be found here and marina tenants have use of the "resort" facilities including towels at the pool etc.
â€¢ Tioman Island - back to the Singapore Straits and the journey starts up the East Coast of Malaysia in very hospitable waters with easy anchorages and some island stopover to Tioman Island, one of a group not far offshore and part of a large national marine park with magnificently clean water (coral growing in the deep blue and clear marina water) with good beaches, reef snorkelling and diving and many islands and bays to visit and explore. This is a great marina with new amenities and one could be tempted to stay on and on.
â€¢ Quandong -
â€¢ Kapas Island - is the next official stop and is reached by island hopping up the Coast in easy day sails. Kapas is a tourist destination with beautiful sandy beaches and low key resorts and once again clear, clear water. A great spot also for a bit of squid fishing and they will take you out on a squid boat and show you how it is really done. We sail in convoy the short distance to the next destination with Malaysian tourism and sailing officials on board for the experience.
â€¢ Terrengenu - the northernmost official port for us on the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia. An historic town in many respects and home of the annual Monsoon Cup a match racing event sailed on the fleet of Foundation 30's acquired from Perth some years ago every December. Visit traditional boat building yard in full operation and enjoy China town and the fantastic facilities of the Marina with spa, pool, sauna, gym and towels provided for your every shower! Time out here to visit islands like Redang and Perhentians a short distance north which provide wonderful anchorages, pristine beaches, coral reefs and reef fishes, turtle breeding areas, and you can swim and snorkel with turtles, fish and sharks in the clearest of waters. Certainly an area we will go back to.
â€¢ Kuchin - is the destination almost 500 nautical miles across the South China Sea to Borneo. One can expect flat seas and calm weather, sail around oil rigs, and through Indonesian Islands to arrive at the trading port of Kuchin or "Cat City" in southern west Borneo. A visit to the Orangutan Sanctuary is a must and the size and strength of the alpha male cannot help but leave an impression. Attend the annual Rainforest Music Festival if that way inclined or just enjoy the area. We anchored in the Santabong River, at Santabong, which must be the world's best barnacle breeding ground as we went in spotlessly clean and after only a week left with a blanket of juvenile barnacles attached to everything below the waterline!
â€¢ Miri - also has a great Marina but no facilities - yet - they are coming next year. But on the way there are island stopovers and the opportunity to travel deep into the massive Borneo River systems leading up to Sibu where ships travel through the rivers and a myriad of rivers intertwine and join and there is the opportunity to visit water villages, and long houses and meet the Iban, the native inhabitants of Borneo. The rivers are navigable and fascinating with fast running and complex tidal streams. They are not only populated by logs large and small but also massive trees intact come floating down on ebbing tides and return on the flood to make life interesting. Miri once reached is a modern town and the marina, canal development put on two splendid dinners for the Rally group. Miri is also the base for International Paints in this part of the world and many parts and repairs can be sourced from here. Two twelve metre yachts sit on the hard whilst their sails spill out of a container on the Marina obviously an idea for something not happening yet!
â€¢ Brunei - and we leave Malaysia for this oil rich Sultanate where we anchor at first at the Royal Brunei Yacht Club and later at the annex to the Club much closer to the City and the Palace. Oil money talks in this country which is affluent and the benefits of their arrangements with Shell Oil are obvious. Sailing up the coast we weave in and out of oil rigs and platforms of which there is no shortage. A trip to the highlands and up the rapids in longboats punctuates this visit as well as the opportunity to see the local Probiscus monkey, and other wildlife including Sea Otters, other monkeys, crocodiles etc
â€¢ Labuan - just twenty miles up the track we return to Malaysia at the duty free island of Labuan (stock up on beer and other essential nautical supplies). A very busy port as one might expect and a new marina and amenities building already well under way opening in October this year certainly a boon for next year's Rally. Not an official stopover but a great place to stop nonetheless.
â€¢ Koto Kinabulu and Sutera Marina - the last official stop of the Rally. This is THE 5 star marina with crystal clear water harbouring corals and tropical fish IN the marina, dozens of pools to select from for a swim, amenities providing all needs for showering and fresh towels, ten pin bowling, theatre, "chartroom" or readingroom with current papers, journals, wifi internet, restaurants with 40% discount for Marina users and so the list goes on. A prosperous town with all facilities. A group of nearby islands provide for snorkelling, diving, sound anchorages and the perfect place for family or visitors to come to and enjoy. A memorable Rally final dinner is put on here by the Tourism Board with local and traditional experiential entertainment that is a real night to remember.
â€¢ From there - well some boats just stay, some go on to the Boonekin Rally around the tip of Borneo and down to Indonesia, some are on their way back to Oz and others just stopping a while and going back to Peninsula Malaysia,
Interestingly the Sail Indonesia Rally is a great cultural experience where doesn't see or even think about a marina from the time you leave Darwin (if in fact you were in a Marina inside the locks at Darwin) until Nongsa Point where you leave Indonesia for Singapore or points further afield. The East Malaysia Rally however takes one from new to good and better and superb marina's, culminating in the five star marina at Sutera, punctuated by beautiful islands, protected anchorages, pristine beaches where one can anchor a short swim from the beach and count the grains of sand on the bottom by looking over the side of the boat.
A diversity of wildlife from tropical fish, coral reefs, swimming with turtles, orang-utans, monkeys of various types, dolphins and a variety of bird life in areas unexpectedly beautiful and in a sea that is for the most part benign, flat although it can also respond with quite spectacular thunderstorms , a vessel only hundreds of metres from us was hit by lightning near Tioman Island. The Rally is quite different from Sail Indonesia, Sail (West) Malaysia and the Pacific Rallies.
Water from crystal clear blue, to muddy rushing rivers, to that of the cities of Kuchin and the inlands of Borneo within a short time frame there is contrast upon contrast of blue and brown, of clear and murky, of old and new, of poverty and affluence, of happiness and striving, of material possessions of spirituality, of religion of all types, of animism or spiritualism this area offers new experience after new experience.
Clearly the numbers will increase dramatically as the word gets out. For any yachts, or power boats, to spend much more time in this still largely undiscovered and certainly unexploited wonderful cruising ground.
Do it if you can!
In the boatyard at Kudat, it is hot, hot and dry. There are so many jobs to do but we are sort of on schedule. Packing things up, lines, sheets and ropes to wash and stow, we have folded and stowed the Genoa off the furler and lines, packing, cleaning, polishing, stitching, repairing, covering, cleaning out engine filters and strainers, vacuuming bilges, polishing stainless and barbecue plates, stowing, it is hot, it is busy. Pulled out the CD/Radio as it stopped last night only to find that as I removed the 45th wire it was a simple hidden fuse in a power array that still lit the radio up but didn't allow it to work, sort of an anti theft device, great, put it all back together again but left the birdsnest as I had already purchased a cable track to dress up the wiring in this area so now it is out and ready to install.
Peter, the equivalent of Simon in Miri, is a taxidriver and wealth of knowledge about where to find things and what to do. He is educating his children as "you need English to make money". He is buying a fishing boat as "there isn't any money in taxis any more". We have helped him! He has helped us!
Yesterday we went to town again with Peter, arranged some fuel, had the usual lunch at our favourite Indian restaurant (11 ringits about $4) and had another wander around town. Set off around the waterfront and stopped at a small shop for coffee and a green coconut to drink, we were give a complimentary plate of fried bananas, we really need to walk home now. So we set off around the sea wall. There has been a great deal of waterfront development, a massive sea wall right around from town to the boatyard. Noted the good places to anchor which were quite protected although the front of town is very exposed. We wandered back to the boatyard a few k walk along the seawall with a bit of a clamber in front of the fish factory as the top of the wall was blocked off.
Kudat is a nice fishing village, a lot of activity, a mass of fishing boats, and quite industrious people. Boats are getting built or rebuilt, often with literally chainsaw carpentry! although they are very skilful with it. I am not sure what fine joinery would look like.
Had a discussion with the boatyard owner about our terms and arranged some caretaking and cleaning.
It is hot as we ready for a joint taxi to go to KK this afternoon.
We left the magnificient Sutera Marina on Wednesday 5th after taking a great lunch in the Clubhouse, eventually letting our lines go at about 4.30pm as we slipped past the adjacent superyacht and the beautiful clear water of the marina out to pass around the southern edge of one of the skirting islands. We motored out into the headwind and as we approached the island set the Genoa, turned north and headed for the tip of Borneo. It was a great night for a sail with good moonlight despite the hazy, smoky sky conditions, and as we headed north we enjoyed following seas and fresh breezes allowing us to sail under the Genoa alone and still clock up 7 knots plus. This is wonderfully easy and comfortable sailing with just one sail, no worries about gybing or banging mains and still a good click of speed. We had 100 nautical miles to do and did not want to arrive until after dawn so all was good.
As we approached the Tip of Borneo the wind was freshening to 22 knots plus and a couple of squalls passed us to seaward in the freshening conditions. I thought we might pass between a small rocky island on which the lighthouse sits and the mainland but the breaking water did not look attractive (and after seeing this area some days ago from the lookout at the tip) we backed off and went around the outside of the island narrowingly missing passing squalls as we did! And then around the tip and head back down the other side towards Kudat. We cruised very comfortably down the eastern coast of the tip enjoying the scenery and passing fishing boats and dories to arrive at Kudat at about 0930. We anchored and headed in to find out about lifting Charming for antifouling and storage to be told "we are full at the moment, maybe five days or a couple of weeks!" What!@!@! We gently explained we were booked to fly out on Tuesday and later in the afternoon they shifted a boat and advised we could come up tomorrow!! Phew!! Late in the afternoon we noticed a large barge full of cars and a tug manouvering it coming towards the Kudat Duckpond, which isn't all that large. The tug brought a bunch of people in and the barge was anchored. As the evening wore on the fishing boats went out with one nearly, very nearly reversing into our bow as he manouvered to leave..........We went to bed with many lights on outside!
Now Friday we awoke to hear the tug heading our way and he asked us to move so he could bring the barge load of cars in, of couse we obliged and by the time we had our anchor half up he was well on the way in. It was very early in the morning but we thought it would be good to get into the fingers for the travellift early before the wind came up so we started our preparations - fenders, ropes etc. Just as started to line up to make an approach the owner of the yard arrived tooted to us to stop and then come in which we did and it was great to glide in, secure our lines, and be safely inside the narrow fingers without marks or damage or stress!
Soon after the travellift driver arrived and we commenced to lift out! The operator was excellent. I did a quick dive to check the positioning of the slings and all was well. We lifted up and they took us to our bay which had been pushed clear of debris (all pushed to the back of it!) and set us down on concrete blocks with timber on top. Well done! Then we had the water blaster and a couple of boys to operate it who did a good job. We washed down the topsides and commenced our pack up preparations, cleaning and storing and a myriad other jobs that had to be done. We went into town this afternoon to get a few things and had a late lunch and back to the clean up. We seem to be making a bigger mess as we stow things inside and sort out some minor issues, clean pack and unpack put up shadecloth and covers, take down sails, wrap booms, knock off a few barnacles, make new power leads and connect to power etc etc etc.
However we are happy with the yard and where we are and now have just two days to finish five days work!! before we go.........
Today we were up early and went to Kudat, where there is a shipyard and travel lift we hope to use. It is about 200k drive from Kota Kinabalu, this time we end up with a fairly new but small car. It zooms along the road well and it takes about 3 hours to do the drive through the top end of Borneo. Interesting all the way and nice scenery. We find the shipyard easily and communicate with the owner with difficulty but it all looks good.
It is blowing 40 pelicans up here though with very strong winds. On the way back we see a sign to "The tip of Borneo" so head off down the track to arrive at the tip, a beautiful area and we see one of our friends on Panthalassa heading towards the Cape with 40 Knots+ wind and very rough conditions. We can hardly stand up in the wind! They look to be struggling........
We arrive back at KK at 1740 just in time to prepare for the Cocktail Reception and grand final dinner.
The grand dinner acknowledging the end of the Rally was put on by the Sabah Tourism Board and it was magnificient. Starting with cocktails on the boardwalk we then followed a band of warriors round to the massive tennis stadium that had been carpeted and decorated for the event. The tennis area has massive circus tent like covers high overhead. The setting was beautiful and the night was punctuated by some great speeches, and then singing, music and dancing from local traditional tribal area which was just spectacular and so well done. We all feel that there is just so much more of Borneo we would like to see and do. The dancers were superb and the music great with fantastic dress and presentations with a cultural context. An absolutely wonderful finale of the highest standard.
This finished at about 11:30pm and we had a quick swim to cool off after the dancing and then went on board our next door neighbour a 106 foot superyacht where we drank port, rum and told tales until the night was seen out.
01/08/2009, Koto Kinabalu
We had a good sail, what a CHANGE to actually sail!!, up from our anchorage to Sutera Marina, arriving mid afternoon we were allocated a stern in berth between two superyachts that make us look like a toy floating in the marina!
Now THIS is a world class marina!! Something for everybody maybe a dozen or so pools including an Olympic Lap Pool, spas, a movie theatre, (golf of course) ten pin bowling, many restaurants......
The water is pristine with tropical fish swimming in it and live corals growing and thriving.
Of course if you want a swim they give you a towel, if you want a shower they give you a different towel and all bathroom needs, there is a "Chart Room" for sitting, reading and using the computer, WI-FII naturally, 50 discount at the restaurants, free shuttle to town..........
We went to the markets to look at dinner and the Filipino market had all sorts of seafood fresh caught and cooked. You could buy a prawn from MR5 through to 30 for the biggest prawns you would ever have seen, to lobster, sting ray, cuttlefish, squid whole cooked fish of all sorts, sizes and shapes etc etc etc..........
Now this IS a marina of THE highest standard!!!!! Absolutely THE best I have EVER visited...........
31/07/2009, North West Borneo
We left Labuan early after our shopping day yesterday and headed out and around in overcast conditions with some rain squalls around. But we set sail hoping to do about 40 miles to the next anchorage.
We had originally hoped to go to Tiiga Island for some swimming and snorkelling but it was a very overcast day and not conducive to that, also with an ocean swell that we thought might make Tiiga uncomfortable, so we tucked well down behind an adjacent headland where a number of boats were scattered around in a huge shallow bay and settled for the night, which was quiet and pleasant and off for an early (well not really early but about 0730 to head for Sutera Marina at Koto Kinabalu. KK proved to be a large and modern city with interesting contrasts betweend the old and the new. Some of the most modern resorts and buildings but still some water villages and humble abodes.
KK is a busy place.
There are more current photos under the "Gallery" - East Malaysia Rally 2009 - 3
Up at 0730 for a look around, it is overcast and rainy with squalls and storms in the distance. Nevertheless we leave at 0830 heading for Tiiga or the nearby headland for a stopover on our way to Kota Kinabalu the final destination for the rally.
Some vessels have left before us, we notice the marina is cleared so four or five vessels must be in front and a couple leave not long after us. It was our day to do the Radio Sched but I was a minute late and another vessel had kindly stepped in and taken it on.
Flat water, rain, some heavy rain, and no wind. We are using both motors today, I am not sure why but we are as we make good time towards our interim destination at time doing near 8 knots and at other pushed back by current to the 6's. Whilst motoring is tedious at least the water is flat although we do have a westerly swell coming in. The forecast was for some strong winds further north but there is nothing here.
Plenty of timber and floating debris in the water, which is now quite clear and has lost the silt of the waters further south. Unfortunately with a grey grey day it is not all that attractive and whilst we were hoping to swim and snorkel/dive at Palau Tiiga the weather is not looking that inviting for it at present.
Delayed our departure today to explore some of Labuan a duty free island and busy community just of the coast but on the track north. An interesting contrast with every sort of booze here cheap compared to no alcohol in Brunei. Stay posted as we will update the last few days with more detail as soon as we can!