Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
29 June 2015 | Suva Fiji
18 December 2013 | Auckland
05 December 2013 | Auckland
27 October 2013 | Vavau Tonga
12 September 2013 | Samoa
24 July 2013 | Moorea, Tahiti
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02 June 2013 | Pacific Ocean
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24 May 2013 | Eastern Pacific Ocean
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13 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
06 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
28 March 2013 | Belize
27 March 2013 | Belize
03 March 2013 | Panamarina, Panama


08 October 2007
8th October 2007 Written while anchored in the Kumai River on Kalimantan Is (Borneo) 02deg 44S 111deg44E

Selemat Pagi

The sun is shining, rain clouds of the past two days have cleared and the air is lighter. Having cleared customs and made the decision to leave Kumai today we have changed our minds. The dying autopilot needs some attention to try and coax it in to life, reports of no wind between here and Singapore mean a lot of hand steering otherwise. Our wind vane steering works well but needs wind. The river seems to be very busy this morning, the ding dong, ding dong at 5.30 am announced the arrival of the big interisland ferry, several large wooden traditional prow are loading goods, their high pointed bows and curved decks sinking lower and lower into the muddy water. Fuel ships and modern little freighters bustle around swapping berths some leaving to catch the 2-3 knot flood of the out going tide. Speed boat taxis zoom across the river dodging debris flooding down the river. Long narrow traditional dugouts putt putt past no motor bikes aboard today, in days past we have seen them go upriver with one or two motorbikes and their riders aboard. Today to add to the water traffic several yachts have also left, we hope to join the out going tide tomorrow morning. We have been grateful for the speedy water taxi as we are anchored across the river from the town, rowing against the swift tides of the river is impossible. These 3 metre boats with their 40 hp outboards also come around delivering water and diesel.

Kumai town lines the river bank , houses and shops built out over the water along one main road. Each alley way leading to the river between the buildings emits its own individual fragrance. The other side of the road has more shops, houses. Crossing the road and stepping up on to the high wet season proof footpath we found the lane leading down into the market. A small warren of narrow lanes filled with stalls, on several, lumps of beef and tripe vied for attention amongst red chilies, garlic and shallots. Everything for a meal at one stall. "Missus you want chicken?" Good grief no, do the flies cost extra, .out loud " Tedak Terimah kasih , not today thank you" We left with bags full of lovely vegetables, no meat! Some stall holders were sound asleep, Ramadan seems to be taxing on the body for locals and visitors alike. The previous night several mosques broadcast loudly all night 5.30pm until 4.30am, the loudest and longest we have endured since Ramadan started. I do not know how any one worked during the following day. The two things that caught our eye as we approached Kumai were the strange tall warehouse type buildings and the large no, huge 70metre wooden prow, half built on the river bank. Alan and Tom visited the boat yard 2 days ago, photos show men dwarfed by the sheer size of the vessel. At this stage the hull is nearly done, it will be truly impressive when the deck and cabins are built. The tall new looking warehouse buildings, no windows but what looked like round holes in rows down the sides. All were painted grey or green. We supposed they were storage facilities, the holes air vents, maybe something to do with the palm sugar industry that is helping the rain forests to disappear on Kalimantan. Isy our delightful guide, also conservationist and protestor told us they were for birds to nest in. The unsuspecting swifts fly in to the buildings and build nests which are then exported to China for birds nest soup. The locals are not happy, another assault on the natural environment, as well as the threat of bird flu. These buildings are built amongst the shops and houses of Kumai. Walking down the street their frontage is very flash, tiled, painted and fenced, you would think an asset to the town but the locals don't think so. We haven't been able to find out how they get the birds to start nesting in the buildings, but at sunset many birds were flying around the building near us.

Pangkalan Bun the large town a 20 min bemo ride away is built along another wide chocolate coloured river. The Arut river flows out into Kumai bay and is also navigable by small ships with local knowledge, we yachts stick to the Kumai river, better charts. The day after our visit to the orangutan, (so much to write about I will write a separate orangutan piece next.), we wandered along the wooden walkway above the banks of the Arut, taking in the sights of Pankalan Bun. Isy and Connie our guide and cook to Camp Leaky orangutan had invited us to spend the day with them. Pangkalan Bun is a town of contrasts, the old town, wooden buildings built out on stilts lines both sides of the river. The smooth grey timbers of the walkway built 2metres above the river to accommodate the wet season took us past rickety houses and well painted houses, doorways wide open giving a glimpse of life inside. People asleep on floors next to smart lounge suites, children watching TV, motor bikes in bedrooms, tempting cooking smells wafting out of small kitchens. Every few meters steep ramps go down to the water where on the small floating jetties water taxis stop, men bathe sluicing themselves with the chocolate water, little boys have diving competitions and toilets are used. Stepping off the smooth grey planks onto concrete paths we walked past houses decorated with drying washing and pretty pot plants into the modern streets. Our cameras are always busy but to our surprise a young man rushed out of his house, pouncing on Alan he asked to take a photo of him, perhaps not many tourists had ever walked by. It was nice to be giving instead of taking for a change.

One of the things Isy had in mind was a taxi ride to get a different view of the town. We quite liked the idea of a modern speed boat but no, traditional was the way to go according to the irrepressible Isy. The bright yellow boat was long and narrow, 6 metres by 1 metre at its widest. The driver and his 2 stroke motor at the back, 6 passengers balancing out the rest of the boat. In the middle our fingers touched the river as we nervously hang on. The boat wobbled, "sit still" warned Connie. As soon as the boat got up to speed we felt steadier and safer until another boat sped past creating a bouncy wake. I soon realized I needed to keep my mouth shut as the chocolate coloured, muddy tasting water splashed us as we sped past over river toilets. Connie said she had to spend 3 hours in one of these boats to visit her Dayak village in the hills, she knew how to sit still! Every local who spotted us took a double take, then a smile and a wave. Tom and Alan asked the driver to stop by some boat building they clambered out for a close look. Raina and I stayed put, I didn't trust my sense of balance not to tip the boat and end up falling onto the muddy river bank. Back past timber yards, logs and heaps of smoldering sawdust, further down kids jumping off logs that had perhaps escaped the saw. The water taxi pulled into a jetty and we got out, very carefully one by one.

Into the modern part of town for lunch, supermarket and bank. A visit to meet Connie's grandfather an 83 year old Dayak Christian. Connie and Isy have just been married for ten days, unusually a Muslim and Christian, they had gone to Bali so they could get married. But that's another story.

Kumai was busy when we returned, a morning trip had turned into an all day excursion. The afternoon market was in full swing virtually blocking the road, we stopped to buy huge prawns for dinner. Kumai was turning out to be a much more interesting stop than we first thought, not just a jump off place for a river trip to Camp Leaky and our relatives.
Vessel Name: Tuatara
Vessel Make/Model: Alan Wright 51
Hailing Port: Opua NZ
Crew: Alan and Jean Ward

Sailing in the Pacific

Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ