08/14/2009, Sutera Harbour Marina
Friday, 14th August 2007
I always have good intentions of trying to update the blog more regularly but somehow it does not seem to happen.
Saturday, 1st August we found out that the fuel injection pump was going to be ready for pick up later on during the day so we decided to catch a 9am bus down to the ferry terminal at Muara to do our Customs, Immigration and Marine Department check out of Brunei to save time. In all about an hour's journey for $B1.00 each. Once done we then waited a little while to catch a bus back to the city, BSB, and then caught another bus out to pick up the fuel injection pump, then back to the yacht club, back onto Pied A Mer, finally back on board at 3pm, only to find that while we were away the boat had dragged about 500m when there was a bit of a blow. The yacht club staff actually boarded it to make sure nothing drastic happened and then finally the anchor took hold. The next 3 ½ hrs were spent with Dave fitting the fuel injection pump back on - not an easy job at all in a small confined place and once fitted the injectors had to be bled several times before the engine would finally start. We finally up anchored at 6.50pm (found 5 plastic bags stuck on the anchor so no wonder we dragged) and headed down the river in the dark, then out to sea to do the 103 miles to Sutera Harbour, Kota Kinabalu. We sailed and motor sailed most of the way in order to arrive at Sutera to meet up with Leith and his friend Bjorn and to go to the final rally dinner. We had some good sailing but a few more problems with the motor - found the alternator wasn't charging the batteries and also it would not idle. However we made good time and arrived at Sutera Harbour Marina at 12.20pm on Sunday, 2nd August having done 103 miles in 17 ½ hrs.
Sutera Harbour Marina is a fabulous set up and along with the marina, three first class hotels, a 27 hole golf course, numerous swimming pools, including a 50 metre one, a gymn, badminton & squash courts, bowling alley, movie theatre, tennis courts and numerous bars and restaurants plus a free shuttle bus into town and back hourly and we in the marina have the use of all these facilities. Luxury living really at a fraction of the price!
Leith & Bjorn arrived to join us not long after we arrived as they had flown up from Kuching the night before.
Sunday night was the big rally finale and what a night it was too. The evening started with cocktails on the promenade and all us ladies were presented with a 6 metre piece of material which would make a sari. We then adjourned to the covered tennis courts for the dinner and entertainment and what a fabulous night it was and all for free and put on by the Sabah Tourism Board. You can see what a night it was when you look at the photos.
The alternator was taken away to be looked at on the Monday and apparently only needed a service but did not arrive back until last Wednesday.
On the Monday morning, Hardeep (Sail Malaysia organiser) gave us all a lesson on how to put on a sari with the 6m piece of material we were all given - there is quite an art to it and I also got her to show us how to put on a sewn together sarong from the lovely pieces of batik we were given in Terengganu.
Last Tuesday (4th) Leith, Bjorn and us hired motor scooters for 24 hrs and we set off to what is the new Immigration building to do our bit as we had not checked in since leaving Brunei. Well what a performance, we were sent from pillar to post and all to no avail so gave up and then we all took off to the Mt. Kinabalu National Park - an 88km trip from Kota Kinabalu. With Dave and I on one bike it was a bit hard on the rear end for that distance and hill climbing all the way so could not go very fast. However it was worth the trip and it was decidedly cooler which was nice. Kinabalu Park is a World Heritage site and we went as high as 1866m above sea level which is as high as one can go before stating the walk to its peak which is 4095m. Dave is quite keen to do the climb which one usually does over two days but you have to have guides etc. and is quite an expensive exercise and only small groups can go at a time and you have to do it through a tour company. Finally got back to town just after 7pm ad went to the big night market for some supplies and had dinner there - Philipino barbecue which is mainly fish and is well known here and was very good.
Dave and I set off into town on the scooter first thing Wednesday morning to do the customs, immigration thing as we were illegal immigrants up until that point. Once again we were duck shoved around but finally after 2 hrs got it done with a bit of a wrap over the knuckles from Immigration! We then took the scooters back and that afternoon got the alternator back and on but still having a few problems - the light and the alarm won't stop going while the motor is running. However we decided not to worry about it for a couple of days and headed out to a couple of islands out from Kota Kinabalu for Thursday and Friday for Leith to do some diving and us to do some snorkeling and Dave and I gave the hull of the boat a good clean. We spent Thursday night in Police Bay, Gaya Island along with Solan and we had a barbecue dinner together. Solan had cleared out and are heading up to the Philippines, across to New Guinea, the Solomon's, Louisiades and then on down to Townsville and hoping to be there by November. A big trip in such a short time span and they left us on Friday morning.
We came back into the marina late Friday afternoon and on Saturday morning the boys left and flew from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan and haven't heard from them since as they were going up a river for 3 days to do some jungle trekking as well as hoping to dive at Sipadon. Leith flies back to Melbourne this weekend and Bjorn is staying on for another 3-4 weeks so he may spend a bit more time with us on the boat.
There is a big market in Gaya Street (which is closed to the traffic) on a Sunday so we went there but it is mainly trinkets, souvenirs etc. with a little bit of fruit and vegetables = wouldn't bother going again, although I bought 2 light shift dresses (they are cooler to wear than shorts etc.) for $NZ14.
This week has been pretty quiet as we have spent most of it waiting for the mechanic to come and look at the alternator. Was to come on Monday and finally arrived Wednesday afternoon and the alternator came off again, was to come back this morning but as yet we are still waiting.
The tooth that I had fixed in Terengganu lasted about 4 weeks so on Tuesday I went to a dentist here to get a crown done. Was there for 2 hours and have a temporary crown for a couple of weeks. Eat your heart out all those who have had crowns done in NZ or Australia - total cost 600RM ($NZ260). After having that done took myself off to a hairdresser to get my hair cut as I had not had it done since the end of March in Langkawi. It was a really short hair cut though. Was a bit hit and miss as to what I would get but it is fine and I am quite happy with it.
Dave was working on the wiring of the anchor switches on Monday and decided to let himself down into the boat from the front hatch (shower) and slipped, catching his ribs on the edge of the hatch so is now in agony with either cracked or broken ribs. Fortunately we have a good supply of voltaren.
Tuesday night the remaining yachties who are still in the marina went to the Kota Kinabalu sailing club for dinner to celebrate Ginny from Pura Vida's 60th birthday. Was a good night but by the time we came to come home the heavens had opened and we had some pretty solid rain for a couple of hours.
Dave and I went into town late yesterday afternoon to have a bit of a look around and do a few things and had dinner in town at a Chinese restaurant before getting the resort bus back. I think that just about brings us up to date. It is now only 6 weeks on Monday until we fly into Auckland and I am really looking forward to our trip home as you can all imagine.
Kota Kinabalu or KK as it is commonly called is the capital of Sabah and was granted city status in 2000 and has a modern infrastructure and quite a vibrant city It was originally named Jesselton after Sir Charles Jessel, the Vice Chairman of the British North Borneo Chartered Company and was a British settlement. To liberate North Borneo from Japanese occupation during WW1, Allied Forces bombed and completely destroyed Jesselton, leaving only three colonial buildings standing. The high cost of re-building forced the Chartered Company to relinquish their land right over North Borneo to the British Government. North Borneo became a British Crown Colony in July 1946 and Jesselton was selected the new capital of North Borneo to replace Sandakan which was also destroyed during WW11.
Jesselton was renamed Kota Kinabalu on 30 Sept 1968 for the majestic Mt. Kinabalu which is the highest mountain in SE Asia. Most of KK has been built on reclaimed land.
There is certainly a lot to see and do in Borneo and it surprises us that there is not more promotion of it as a holiday destination in NZ. I will endeavour to load photographs tomorrow
The activities for the Sail Malaysia fleet in Brunei were organised by Alan Riches who lives here and we met in Darwin last year as he runs Brunei Bay Radio (for sailmail) and a tour company etc. At mid day Customs, Harbour Master and Immigration came to the yacht club so that we could all check in and we had the usual mound of paper work to fill in. Later in the afternoon we were taken by van to get diesel which Alan had arranged for us to get at the local price of .31c (NZ.34c) a litre with a maximum of 300 litres. We took the opportunity to get 300 litres and borrowed 10 containers to add to our five that we have plus also got 20 litres of petrol ( another story later on).
That night we had a great barbecue meal at the Yacht Club and we caught up with some friends from the previous two rallies and they came back to our boat for coffee afterwards.
Sunday morning we were to move ten miles further upstream to the second Yacht Club (same club) but as we had no motor we had to be towed and so Baker Street did the honours. Most of the other yachts had local young people onboard and had an enjoyable experience with them. We were half way along on the trip upstream, and we had lost concentration for a few minutes when we heard Baker Street yelling at us and they had hit the bottom and run aground and as there was a 5 knot current running with us we were on a collision course with them. It was all action stations and we managed to miss them by a foot by fending off and Dave veering off. We pulled out the genoa and were able to sail a little further up the river for a short time until Baker Street managed to get themselves off the bottom. Fortunately the tide was coming in. The second yacht club is much closer to the main part of the city.
After anchoring off the yacht club, lunch was Sunday Roast and what a fabulous meal it was too with beautiful roast lamb, beef and chicken along with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings.
After our lovely dinner Alan took a group of 25 of us on a four hour tour of the city. He was a fantastic tour guide and it was probably the best tour we have had since we were in Cairns. We visited the State Mosque, a museum which houses the Sultan's Regalia, the Water Village, drove passed the Sultan's Palace where we stopped to have a look through the gates. When one of the family are leaving the Sultan's Palace all the traffic is stopped until they have gone so we were there when one of the princes rode out on a motor bike. The two traffic controllers also stopped all the traffic for us to cross the road both ways to view what we could see of the palace.
Now for some information about Brunei. The present Sultan is 63 and is the head of the religion for the country and holds the three key cabinet positions - Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Finance Minister. Brunei is a strict Muslim country with 67% of the country being Muslim and there is no alcohol for sale although one can take one's own alcohol to the yacht club. There are no taxes in Brunei and they only pay $1 for the Doctor, $1 for prescriptions and $1 for operations.
Brunei is one of the smallest countries in the world but back in the time of the spice age they were the biggest empires in SE Asia but was taken by the Spanish and then the British. When the British took over Brunei the then Sultan put James Brook in charge of Sarawak which was a big mistake as they took it over and is now a Malaysian state and the Malaysian Government pay his family 1500RM a year rent and it has never been changed, although apparently the descendants are trying to get an increase now!
Originally the Shell Oil Company took most of the proceeds from the oil in Brunei until the Sultan demanded that Brunei received 51% of the proceeds from the oil and it was in Shell's interests to agree so the country has become very rich. There are no taxes, lots of scholarships given out for people to gain overseas education and in general the population are well cared for and helped out if in need.
The ground is very soft in Borneo and in Brunei before a road or building is built huge piles are driven down 20 or more metres down into the ground.
As we drove around we noticed that there were some very up market homes in amongst very poor looking homes and Allan explained that families etc. live in a kampong and one always stays in the same kampong as one has been bought up in so no matter if you attain great wealth or not you still live or build in that kampong.
Sixty percent of the 400,000 population are employed by the Government and after 10 years the Government gives them enough money to take the family on an overseas holiday. They pay a levy to the mosque, depending on income and family and if a person gets into financial difficulty the hierarchy will bail them out. The money is also used for scholarships etc.
30,000 people live in the Water Village and these are long rows of houses built on stilts over the water. They have their own mosque, schools, medical centres, town water, electricity etc. We had afternoon tea in one of the homes in the water village and at the front of the house was a huge lounge area for receiving guests etc. with very ornate plaster ceilings and good furniture. Quite amazing when you see what the house was like on the outside. However the rest of the house was not as plush! They have a hole in the floor where all the scraps etc. go down into the river, including the sewerage. They say the river is not polluted as the catfish eat all the sewerage and scraps but nobody catches the catfish to eat. Water taxis run backwards and forwards across the river transporting people to and fro with most having cars on the mainland. There are even multimillionaires livings in the Water Village.
As you can imagine, with no motor our batteries were getting pretty low so Dave hauled out our $99 Bunning's generator to charge the batteries, still went with the petrol that has been in there for about three years. By Sunday night it had just about run out so Dave filled it up and then after a short while it died. We ended up fiddling around with the carburetor for a couple of hours and still could not get it to stay going without full choke. Craig, on Solan had offered us his little generator so we took up the offer and went and borrowed it. It was ¾ full of petrol so we topped it up but after an hour or so it died as well! We then decided it must be the fuel so we opened the container and took a whiff and our petrol container had been filled with diesel! We had watched it being filled and it came out of a pump next to the diesel one and had a green handle but obviously was another grade of diesel. We had asked for petrol but the attendant obviously misunderstood.
Monday morning at 7.30am we were on a tour to Ulu Temburong National Park so Alan took our jerry can to be filled with petrol and took our fuel injection pump to a fuel injection place to get fixed.
From the yacht club we went by bus to the city centre of Bander Seri Begawan (BSB for short and the capital of Brunei) and then transferred to a long, narrow covered in ferry with 2x 200hp motors on the back, for a very fast 50 minute journey up the river to a small town where we had morning tea and then got on another bus for a short journey before transferring into 5 seater long boats with 30hp Yamaha motors on the back and went for an exhilarating ride over shallow water and rapids to the Ulu Temburong National Park Rain forest. Our driver was very skilful and most of the time the prop of the motor was only just touching the water. When the water was deeper he would go flat out and the back of the longboat would fill up with water and when we went over the rapids the water would all move forwards and we would glide over the shallow rapids. One of the longboats broke their propeller on the journey up but I would say it is a regular occurrence.
Once we reached the rainforest we had a steep walk plus 385 steps to get to the towers that we then climbed up to do a canopy walk over the top of the rainforest which was another 315 steps up, although that part was easy but a little scary as the tower was 45 metres high! We were only allowed five people at a time climbing the tower with only one on each section and then only two people at a time to walk across but it was an amazing view.
Had a short long boat ride to a little beach on the side of the river where we were given lunch which was very nice and consisted of rice, sweet & sour fish, curried chicken, bamboo shoots and a dish made from jackfruit nuts and topped off with fresh watermelon. And this was a picnic lunch done by a local lady but where she came from would not have a clue as there did not seem to be any houses around and we were right in the middle of the jungle.
From there several went on a raft down the river but quite a few of us rafted down the river and rapids on a lilo which Dave & I shared which was quite fun and arrived sopping wet to meet the bus from where we had originally caught the longboats. After the short trip on the bus we returned back to BSB by the fast longboat ferry which was another exhilarating 45 minute ride arriving just after 4.30pm.
From there Alan took us to see the man about our fuel pump injector and as suspected a part in the stop leaver was broken and unfortunately had to be ordered from Singapore which would take three days. Come yesterday the part was in customs but had not been released and today being Friday is a holiday but customs do work tomorrow so hopefully the guy will get it in the morning and we can be away by the afternoon, but we still have to clear customs and immigration which will take a little while but will do an overnight sail up to Kota Kinabalu where to we are to meet Leith and his friend Bjorn on Sunday and it is the final dinner for the Rally on Sunday night.
On Monday night's they have a movie and dinner here at the yacht club and most of us opted to have the meal ashore and see the movie although we arrived a little late as we were fuelling up the generator etc. to get it back into operation.
All the rally boats left here on Tuesday and Dave & I spent Wednesday in town, going to the markets and supermarket and looking around generally. By the time we got back I was pooped so ended up.
Yesterday was a boat maintenance day. I have been in the yacht club today making use of the free wireless internet while Dave biked into town to get some more petrol.
After leaving the Miri Marina and having a good early start we motor sailed for a couple of hours, then the breeze got up and we turned off the motor and had a nice sail for a couple of hours and then the wind died. Went to turn on the motor and it wouldn't start, just would not quite start. For about 3 hours we wallowed around with no wind while Dave tried to get it started but all to no avail. Lloyd on Déjà Vu eventually came along in his 10m catamaran and offered to tow us, which I gladly accepted, although if Dave had had his way he would have said no, we are okay - he had already turned down a couple of other boat's help. Lloyd towed us for 3 hours, getting along at 4 knots and I took the helm while Dave still tried to get the motor to go but still no joy. He must have bled the injectors 20 times and when the wind finally appeared again and we let go the tow line he gave up and decided the stop button in the fuel injector pump was the cause as the fuel was getting to the pump but not to the injectors. We had some lovely sailing for a few hours and even had the spinnaker up for a couple of hours to give us a bit more speed and a few more miles under our belt, dropping it just before dark. Lloyd ended up being a few miles behind us but kept in touch in case we needed another tow.
We were doing an overnight passage to Brunei and at about 10pm we were down to doing 2.7 knots when all of a sudden we lost steerage. Thinking the wind had died to absolutely nothing I called up Lloyd and said that we would need another tow when he caught us up. We could see the lights of a fishing boat about a mile away and it was when Dave turned the wheel to head away from the supposed net that we lost steerage. The fishing boat was gradually coming closer and closer to us and we could not get away from them as they were pulling up the net. Yes they had got the biggest fish of their lives, a 46 foot sailing boat. We tried to tell them to stop pulling it up as we could not move but they spoke no English and kept coming at us and of course we soon realised that we were caught in their fishing net. They banged into us and then we had to fend them off and they did not seem to understand that we had no motor. One of them dived overboard to see if he could unwrap us from the net but it was pitch dark and was impossible to see. In the end he said Knife, knife so we gave them one and they had to cut the net in two places to release us. We were surprised they did not ask for compensation but most nets have droppers and so are below the water line and we can sail over them but this one was on top of the water and at night there is no way you would see it and was about a mile long. All very stressful to say the least and there is no way one wants to be sailing single handed in these waters and especially at night. We also had to contend with avoiding the dozens of oil rigs and platforms which are in these waters, although most are well lit but the abandoned ones are not lit.
Lloyd eventually caught us up and gave us another tow for an hour or so when the wind picked up and we could sail again. We dropped anchor at 4am just outside the Brunei River so Dave could dive down when it was light to remove the remaining net. Fortunately it was only caught around the rudder but if we had of been motoring it could have done some serious damage to the propeller and the propeller shaft. Déjà Vu had carried on in up the river so we got a tow up the river to anchor outside the Royal Brunei Yacht Club at Serasa from Baker Street.