Sunday, July 31, 2011

WEEK 15: Labuan Island to Telek Ambong, Sabah Borneo

Saturday 23 July Labuan – Pulau Tiga
05°43.503N / 115°40.090E (5m)
We left around 8am. Labuan looked really interesting and we cant wait to go back to explore it. Passed a few logs in the water, avoided a couple of ships and headed further up the coast in a reasonable swell. When we pulled the anchor up there was a black plastic bag on it but luckily not on the pointy bit! The wind came up through the day and by the time we reached Pulau Tiga there were white caps everywhere. They call Tiga Survivor Island as that’s where the first Survivor series was made in 2001. We had to anchor around the other side of the island from the resort and it seemed ok. Single Malt were anchored further out and looked a bit exposed. Braveheart came in and anchored where we were. Anyway as Single Malt had suggested to us the swell came around the island and it wasn’t terribly comfortable. We had been hoping to get ashore but the waves were breaking on the beach so we will hope another time to be able to anchor on the resort side of the island.
Miles: 41 TTT: 2,005

Sunday 24 July – Pulau Tiga
05°44.925N / 115°40.770E
We upanchored and went out where Single Malt had been as did Braveheart. It was very calm out there just off the beach of a small island with a white sandspit. There is also another rocky island there which is known as Snake Island as all the sea snakes are supposed to go there to mate. These three islands only popped up out of the ocean in 1897. Chris from Braveheart came over and collected us in his dinghy and we went to Snake Island where there was a sign saying poisonous snakes. Needless to say the crew did not leave the jetty though the skipper walked down the path aways. We did not see any snakes. We then went ashore on the other island and watched the surf breaking off the spit. The waves were coming from three directions and colliding near the shore so it was very interesting. Judy and Chris came over for sundowners and the skipper cooked us all a meal. A pleasant evening.
Miles: 1 TTT: 2,006

Monday 25 July – Pulau Tiga – Kota Kinabalu
05°58.073N / 116°03.158E (13m)
We left at 8.20 and motor sailed in a 1 ½ - 2m swell to Kota Kinabalu and anchored off the marina/resort at 12 noon. We had read such a lot about this marina and had been really looking forward to it. An American boat anchored quite close to us but a little later he went into the marina. When we took Bob in we noticed he was rafted up to another boat and the marina was full. We parked Bob beside Cilantro and they gave us the guided tour. Of course being a pretty fancy resort everything was expensive. Sandra and James had collected our plaque for coming 2nd in the Miri race (although it said 3rd). It was definitely second though as only two of us in our class finished!!! We left to go back out at 5pm and as we were nearing the entrance to the marina a resort tour boat was coming in at speed and straight towards us. He did not slow down and almost seemed to be targeting us! We didn’t know which way to go to get out of his way as every way we went he seemed to go there – of course this was all happening in a matter of seconds. We could see the front of the boat almost seeming to tower in front of us and I screamed and turned my back and honestly thought we were going to be killed. He swerved and slowed a t the last minute. It was a terrifying experience and from that moment the marina didn’t have the same appeal for us. We made it back to the boat very shaken. We had quite a good night with not too much swell.
Miles: 29 TTT: 2,035

Tuesday 26 July – Kota Kinabalu
We went ashore at 9.45 and parked beside Cilantro. We all caught the resort bus into KK which is quite a big city being the capital of Sabah. Six star resorts one side and very poor village the other. The city itself had some large air conditioned shopping malls. We walked to the waterfront and checked out all the markets and a couple of super markets. We then found the Chinese section of town and had a lovely meal and a beer. There seems to be more Muslims in KK than other places we have been in Borneo (not sure if this is so). Malaysia prides itself on its one Malaysia policy which ensures that all citizens are equal but this is probably not really so as we believe the government subsidises the Muslims and also the Muslim schools. Some Chinese told us they have to support their own schools. Anyway just an aside. We went back to the market and bought lovely veggies and heaps of mangoes, pawpaws, and pineapples. Were heading for one of the big shopping complexes but when we got there a siren was going off and it was being evacuated. Caught the 3.30 bus back and went straight back to the boat.

Wednesday 27 July – Kota Kinabulu
Had a dreadful night – we rolled side to side all night and if the rally dinner wasn’t on tonight we would have left. Gave our papers and passports to an agent to check us into Sabah and in and out of KK and went to town. We noticed a few yachts anchored over the side of the town though one did seem to have hit bottom and had assistance to get off. There didn’t seem to be a lot to see in KK. Went back to our Chinese restaurant for lunch and went back to get more mangoes. Noticed how very windy it was getting so got the 1.30 bus back. Most of the others decided to get back early too. Rang Braveheart and they were on board moving as they had dragged anchor very close to another boat but they said we were ok. Went to the marina office to see if we could come in for the night but were told no room. We enquired about an obviously empty double spot but they said that was for their boat. That double spot remained empty all night. Anyway we went back to our boat. Got Cilantro to collect our paperwork and passports as no way were we coming back in at 4pm. It was still pretty rough when we went in at 6pm. Braveheart decided at the last minute to stay with their boat. If we had seen the storm coming we may have done the same. We were having pre-dinner drinks on Cilantro. The storm didn’t last long and the rain stopped and we went to the dinner held in one of the resorts. The buffet meal was excellent and the cultural entertainment was the best we have seen. Then we went back to the boat. The seas had died down a bit but it was still swelly. I ended up with a black and bleeding thumbnail as Bob surged forward and I got my thumb jammed in the self steering gear at the back. I got an ouch Jessie!!!

Thursday 28 July – Kota Kinabalu to Telek Ambong
Happy Birthday Linda
06°18.489N / 116°18.076E (8m)
After another shocking night we upanchored at 8.15 and headed around the large island of Pulau Gaya thinking to go into Police Bay on the other side. The seas were rough with 1 ½ - 2 ½ m swell but as we got around it was a following sea and everyone knows you don’t look behind in a following sea (that way you don’t know how big the waves are!) and as Police Bay was 20m deep we decided to keep going. A couple of times we thought maybe we shouldn’t have but we made it to Telek Ambong and almost surfed into the bay at 2pm – exhilarating! Went in quite a ways and anchored off a very pretty stilt village beside the American boat. A little later Chez Nous and Baganoff also came in. When we came in we could see soccer goal posts which were well under water and when the boat brought the school kids home they had to paddle to their homes. As the tide dropped the soccer field on hard sand dried out and a game of soccer was played and there were people everywhere (seemed to be all male). They had a mosque which called all to prayer but the soccer game continued. It looked such an interesting village so Baganoff went in. The game finished and everyone just walked away, though some small children kicked the ball around with Baganoff for a while but it didn’t look very friendly, though I suppose it was dinner time. A wonderful calm night.
Miles: 30 TTT: 2,065

Friday 29 July – Telek Ambong
The other three boats left and a fisherman came out trying to sell us a beautiful shell. He was a Filipino and had his small son in the boat. Had no English at all but he wanted us to go to his village. We watched where he went and he went to some houses to the right of the village. We didn’t think it would be a good idea to go in with no other boats around. All the fishermen were friendly and waved. Cilantro, Linger Longer, Ketoro and This Way Up all came in. We had a lovely day in blessed calm reading and just enjoying the beauty of the place and watching another game of soccer through the binoculars.

Sorry they are really bad photos but will give you an idea

Well the journey continues but breaking news is we have booked to fly into Adelaide on 21st September and will spend Christmas at home. Really looking forward to catching up with everyone.

Take care
Calm Seas and no Swell
Dell and Peter

Monday, July 25, 2011

WEEK 14: Miri Marina to Labuan Island

Saturday 16 July – Miri Marina
Went to the fancy Everly Hotel to do Harbour Master, Customs and Immigration then went to town to try to find a new bolt. Eventually found one in a dirty little car spare parts shop – it cost $1 and the fellow commented that he doesn’t sell many of them! We had lunch at a restaurant and noted that the Hash House Harriers were in town for their International run. Got back in time for the BIYC race briefing. We have never done this before (we are not exactly built for racing!) and it all sounded terribly confusing. Stopped for a beer on the way back and were going to stay for dinner but the cost of a beer had gone up considerably so we ate on board.

Sunday 17 July – Miri Marina – Race Day!!
Happy Birthday Stuart
There was a real buzz around the marina. We all had our BIYC shirts on looking very smart and the Minister was there and the press. Racers had people up their masts doing last minute things. A couple of the racing teams had team shirts. We all had our photos taken and then it was time to head out. There were actually only about 5 or 6 serious racers and the rest was us cruisers. one cruiser even took off his tender, anchor and chain to make him lighter!!! The exit of heaps of boats from the marina was surprisingly orderly and we all headed out to the start line. We were given co-ordinates over the radio for our coarse but weren’t actually given the first one. Apparently it was in our notes but..... There wasn’t much wind and we had to turn our motor off 4 minutes before the race started. We were hanging out the back trying to stay out of the way and a bit confused which way we were supposed to go. One boat went the wrong way and had to turn around. Anyway we were quite a way behind the startline when the race started (and there were boats behind us!) so it took us about half an hour to get to the start line! (no wind!!!!). We headed for the first big buoy and it seemed we were still hovering around the start line so we started to tack. We had the rudder turned hard to go to port (left) and the boat went to starboard (right)! The current had us. It was so funny!!! Anyway it took about an hour and a bit to get to the first buoy (about half a mile away!) BUT we finally got round it. Several boats gave up at this point and withdrew as they couldn’t quite get around the buoy. The current seemed to take us across the next leg at around 2 knots (we previously did 0 - .9 kn). Single Malt (a cat) was quite a way in front of us and we were the last boat. After we went round they bought the buoy in! We went right out and then tacked back in and did the last leg with a bit of wind and got up to 4.4 knots at one point. We caught up with Single Malt and it was neck and neck but they had the inside running and went round the buoy first which meant we were the last boat to finish. But with handicaps who knows – we are 18 tonne with a fixed prop and Cilantro (who came 4th) is around 6 tonne with a feathered prop. Anyway it took us about 3 1/2 hours (we were allowed 4) to go about 4 miles but we were so proud of ourselves for hanging in and finishing! One of the racing boats went too close to the buoy and caught its line around his keel and he had to dive to get it off! Anyway our reward for all this effort was a free night in the luxury Everly Hotel and a buffet dinner with entertainment and speeches (and free beer). It was a lovely night but they didn’t have the handicaps in and couldn’t say who won. I did think the skipper could have worn better footwear but they were his “good” thongs!
Stop Press – Cilantro (who is now in KK) advised us that after the handicaps were taken into consideration we came SECOND in the race!!!! And yes it appears there were more than two of us left in this race!!!

Monday 18 July – Miri Marina
Went back to the boat around 7.30am preparing to leave. The race is from Miri to Kota Kinnabulu (165 miles). Participants in all the races (including two at KK) get paid about $100 and are guaranteed a place in the marina – which is already pretty full and is part of a 6 star resort. Anyway we were just planning on starting and doing a DNF (did not finish) as we do not want to sail overnight and we want to go to duty free Labuan to get some wine. So we were one of the last boats out of the marina heading towards the start line in perfect timing when our chart plotter started switching itself on and off (like it did in Darwin when it had to be replaced). So we reluctantly had to withdraw and return to the marina. The skipper worked on the chart plotter installing our old one and the crew went to town to get some wine. There’s a man who sells cigarettes in the market and you ask him for wine and he takes you into a little shop about 2m wide out the back and unlocks a door and there is bottled wine and spirits. Then you bargain on the price. Was walking past the seafood restaurant and saw a whole heap of frogs in a big glass fish tank – thought they were fake but on closer inspection found they were all alive and waiting to be cooked!!!! By the time I got back the skipper had fixed our chartplotter – googled the FAQs and pressed one button which reset the whole thing and it was working again. Lost all our tracks and anchorages but its working!! Had drinks with Braveheart – Judy had just arrived back from a week in Darwin.

Tuesday 19 July – Miri Marina to off Brunei coast
Happy Birthday Phil
04°44.626N / 114°33.062#
We finally left the marina (alone!) at 7.45am and motor sailed in very dirty water (hardly any wind) past lots of oil rigs and tugs pulling barges. The water was only muddy on the surface as we left a clean wake behind us. The skipper caught a fish so it was fish for dinner. There was a bit of a swell but at 6pm we pulled into the coast which was actually Brunei. After a while we turned stern on to the swell and we had a comfortable night.
Miles: 56 TTT: 1,910

Wednesday 20 July – Brunei Coast to Labuan
We left at 7.45am and motor sailed again up the coast of Brunei. There were lots of bunds all along the beaches and we couldn’t work out what they were for. We passed a rock wall which goes 1 ½ miles out to sea which rumour has it the Sultan’s brother had built so his kids could windsurf or do water sports. Passed many huge mansions on the hills. Obviously heaps of oil and gas money. As we were coming into Victoria Harbour at Labuan Island our depth sounder stopped working (everything seems to be wearing!) so phoned Single Malt who were anchored and then the depth sounder started working again. The skipper thinks it may have some growth on it but the water is not fit to dive in. It is reasonably clear but full of junk. The anchorage is fouled with plastic bags but we managed to anchor first go between the marine police and water village (on stilts) on one side and the ferry terminal and town on the other. Its a bustling port with heaps of ships and engineering works etc. Quiet night on board.
Miles: 54 TTT: 1,964

Thursday 21 July – Labuan
Called the water taxi which costs 1RM (33c) each and it came immediately and picked us up and dropped us near the ferry terminal. Explored the town – shopping area is nice and compact and checked out all the duty free shops. Took our purchases back to the boat and back to town again. Had a lovely$2 lunch each and noticed Braveheart had come in. We visited the museum and then the marina which is only two years old but being renovated as it was disintegrating. Hopefully they will get it right this time. Met Single Malt and Braveheart for a $2 dinner (plus beer!). and all caught the water taxi back to our boats.

Friday 22 July – Labuan
Took all morning getting our application for boat yacht insurance. Ours actually lapsed on the 18th and we decided not to go with Trident again. We also decided not to go with Edward William who were the cheapest as we didn’t like the stories we had heard about them so went with Pantaenius which was the most expensive but also we feel the most trustworthy. Called the water taxi and we don’t know what happened but it took 2 hours to come!! We did more browsing/shopping and met Braveheart for dinner – Indian – very nice. It has been rainy and overcast all day. Labuan is very friendly and has a nice feel about it. Labuan is where the Japanese surrendered to the 9th Australian Division on 9 September 1945. It is also the place where 3,908 allied WW II soldiers including those who perished during the Death March from Sandakan are interred. So we will look forward to coming back to explore it in more depth.

Take care all. Missing my little Rosie

Dell and Peter

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

WEEK 13: Kuching - Miri Marina, Sarawak, Borneo

Saturday 9 July - Kuching
We got to the Rain Forest Music Festival in time for the first workshop and the crew went to the accordion and squeeze box one. I know that sounds a bit daggy but it was fantastic. Imagine seven totally different kinds of squeezeboxes jamming together! Anyway it was great. The others went to the bagpipes one and didn’t enjoy it as much. We caught the fretted instruments one and the voice combined. We had bought chairs to sit on and bagsed a spot on the hill. A group called Shin from Georgia were on first and to us they were the absolute highlight of the festival. Pacific Curls (NZ) were really good, Latvia ok, Paddy Keenan (Ireland) disappointing, Warsaw Village band – just plain angry!! Dominican Republic and USA bought up the end. We stayed for the start of USA and then went home. Its a very long day when you get there early for the workshops as well. The buses were extremely well organised – no waiting at all and the whole thing was well organised – food stalls, beer, wine etc. It was packed but the crowd were orderly. If they got drunk they just went to sleep!

Sunday 10 July – Kuching
Festivalled out, we gave the last day a miss and went to the Sarawak Museum which was excellent and did some shopping then took a local boat across the river and went to see the fort. There was a bag of skulls hanging in a room in the fort – not sure whose but it used to be a jail. We gave our Rainforest tickets to a bloke there so we hope he went and enjoyed it. Would like to have gone but were feeling tired and the one hour to get there and back again a bit wearing. Had a nice meal with Cilantro and an early night.

Monday 11 July – Kuching to Miri
Retrieved our laundry, had another yummy $2 breakfast (for 2), met Cilantro and took a taxi to the airport. Arrived back in Miri and Simon met us with his car and we were back at the marina around 2ish. A few cruisers walked to the restaurant. Had a good meal with good company.

Tuesday 12 July – Miri Marina
The skipper went to town to get our internet sorted – have gone over to DiGi which seems to work better than Hotlink. Just a boat day and ate on board.

Wednesday 13 July – Miri Marina
Happy fourth birthday Jessie – miss you
Walked to town – an interesting street had shops with foot and hand pedal sewing machines, cottons, buttons and everything you could think of to sew (except dress patterns – seems they don’t use them). We walked for ages exploring the place and went to the market where we bought lots of fruit and veges – they had small pineapples two for 33 cents!!! Bought some interesting bananas – they are a blackish green colour when green and turn red when ripe and have thick skins so keep well. Really nice.

Thursday 14 July
The skipper checked the engine and found the alternator arm bracket had cracked in two and the bolt was stripped. He took the bracket to Tim off Rubicon Star and he was able to weld it together as good as new. Put another bolt in but not that happy with it. We emailed Jim from Booker Marine in Scarborough and he gave a few options about the problem with the oil gauge. The skipper went to town and got genuine Yanmar oil filters and different oil but it made no difference which means that it is the oil pressure sender unit which will have to wait till we come home to get another one (in a few months). The marina is totally full and excitement is growing for the Borneo International Yachting Challenge (BIYC) which starts on Sunday. One of the boats had organised a cocktail party on C arm of the Marina so lots of people made some very interesting concoctions and we all took something to eat. At one stage we all had to move as the dock was about four inches from the water with way too many people standing in the one place!!! Was a really good night.

Friday 15 July – Miri Marina
Went to register for the BIYC and get our racing shirts. The marina is very colourful with flags everywhere and some people have dressed their boats. There are about five serious racers and the rest are us cruisers! The racers have been working on their boats for ages. We went to town with Cilantro to go to the market again. Sasli turned up in the afternoon to tell us about the next leg of the rally and some people had prepared pot luck meals. We just bought some nibblies as we were all a bit tired after the cocktail party last night so didn’t stay long – its a tough life!! Race day is Sunday!!!!
Borneo is certainly an interesting (and busy) place. Take care

Dell and Peter

Thursday, July 14, 2011

WEEK 12: Bintalu to Miri Marina, Sarawak, Borneo

Saturday 2 July – Bintalu to ??
04°11.194N / 113°51.409E
We all upanchored at 6.15 and motor sailed all day. Cilantro caught the first fish (mackerel) sometime in the morning and then the challenge was on! Braveheart caught one, the skipper caught one and stopped fishing but then Braveheart got their second one so the line went back in and the skipper got his second one. Braveheart got a third but it was a bit small and they let it go. We all kept going till 6pm when the frontrunners pulled into the coast and we anchored at 6.15pm. The coast is very pretty here with big sandcliffs. The hills though have all been stepped and we have since found out that it is ready for planting oil palms!
Miles 69 TTT: 1,840

Sunday 3 July - ??? to Miri Marina
04°23.076N / 113°58.347E
Braveheart got an early start and caught a small fish as they went past our boat. We upanchored at 7 and did a slow motor sail to Miri. We have to go into the marina on a high tide. We were calling up on our handheld VHF but getting no reply but we could hear everyone else talking. As we entered the marina we realised our handheld battery was flat so the crew called up on the main VHF. By this time we were in the marina not knowing where to go so someone was rather stressed. But we got in ok with lots of hands to take lines. At 6pm we five boats met on the dock beside Cilantro. Cilantro had their barbeque, Braveheart had their hob smoker, we supplied the fish (delicious marinade) and Cilantro Wavesweeper, Single Malt and Braveheart all brought along delicious salads and we had a great feed and celebration of our arrival. The security guard came down to check what was happening so we gave him some fish too. A really good night.
Miles: 14 TTT: 1,854

Monday 4 July – Miri Marina
It was raining so we waited till 10 then walked to the marina office to check in, raided the bakery and then walked the few kilometres to town. A really interesting placed with lots of interesting little shops. An old Chinese man pulled us up for a chat – people are very friendly. We headed back to the boat and had lots of wind and rain so ate on board.

Tuesday 5 July – Miri Marina to Sibu
We were collected by Simon (a very helpful local “taxi” driver) in his beat up little red car and he delivered us to the bus station where we caught the 8.45 bus to Sibu which is on the Ranjang River. We saw quite a few longhouses though most of them were modern and a few old wooden ones with tin roofs – mostly a bit rusty. There were heaps of oil palms – so much of the jungle/forest has been cleared for oil palms – not good. We had a few stops along the way and arrived in Sibu around 3.30. We caught a local bus to town. The bus station was across the road from the boat terminal so we checked on boats for tomorrow and saw a budget hotel across the way which looked ok, so booked into the River View Hotel. It was 35RM ($12). Hot shower and air con but no top sheet and we didn’t like the look of the blanket so we bought our own little blanket for $2.30. We went for a walk and found the huge market across the road. They had live chooks and ducks all individually wrapped up in newspaper with their heads and tails sticking out for sale. Also live witchety grubs. We found the night market which was very interesting with lots of food. They even had cooked pigs faces!!! We then ate at a little local food place and headed for bed.

“The residents of Sibu are predominantly Foochow Chinese, originating from Southern China led by the Reverend Wong Nai Siong. Rev Wong was a Methodist missionary who sought to find a safe haven for his followers, who were subject to religious persecution in China. Rev Wong petitioned Charles Brooke, the second White Rajah of Sarawak, who gladly offered land in the Lower Rejang area in order to develop Sarawak’s agriculture.”

Wednesday 6 July – Sibu – Kipat – Sibu
We awoke rather early as the aircon was stuck on 16° so it was really really cold. Bought some fruit from the market and decided to catch the 6.15 boat to Kapit – 165km up the river. We were asked if we wanted first or second class so said second but when we got on the boat they said we were in the wrong place – we were in third class so they sent us up to second!! Not too many people on board. All the windows had black stuff stuck on them to keep the sun out so we couldn’t see out. Someone had peeled a couple of holes so we alternated between these windows. When the ticket collector came round we asked if we could sit up top and he said yes. These boats are kind of like a long train carriage in size and its a bit like sitting in a plane. There is a walkway around about 2ft wide (no railing) and that is how you get on and off. The conductor opened the door (bit like a plane) and we stepped out onto the platform - the boat is hooting along – and held onto a head high hand rail and walked along and clambered on to the roof of the boat with all the vegetables and luggage and one other man (a smoker). What we hadn’t bargained on was the cold – it was early morning and hooting along at great speed it was freezing! Good view though! When we came to a couple of villages he blew the horn – which we were sitting underneath. Deafening! At a town called Song they took all the veges and luggage off and we went another hour on the roof till we got to Kapit. Here we pulled in next to another boat and we all walked down the side of our boat and across the next boat to the steps. Kapit again was a most interesting town. We explored the town, went to the museum which they opened specially for us which told all about the different tribes who make up Sarawak. The fort however, was closed and we didn’t manage to get in there. We had read in the paper a couple of days ago about how Pangolins (anteaters) are endangered and protected and how a couple had been released back into the wild. The market had lots of fruit and vegetables all done up very artistically and then there was the wet market. Lots of big river catfish and other things. The usual chickens and then there were two pangolins cut in half!!! Poor little things. Kapit has no roads and can only be reached by boat and everyone comes from up and down river to town for the market. We caught the 1pm boat back to Sibu. It was a different boat and we could see out the windows so remained inside!!! The boat had to avoid a lot of fishermen in their canoes with nets across the river and a bit further down all the tugs towing barges filled with logs – so many logging places. Its a wonder there are any trees left. We got back and checked out the Swan statue, the symbol of Sibu and went up the Chinese pagoda for which they gave us the key to get in. Met Bernie and Doug (Single Malt) who arrived today and had the room next to ours and went out to dinner. – Bought another $2.30 blanket!!!

Thursday 7 July – Sibu to Kuching
Bought the tickets for the boat and went to the market. Walked through the meat section – big mistake!! There were intestines, gizzards, hearts hanging from their bits – really dry wretch stuff!!!! Bought some pastries and fruit for the journey but when we got on the boat people were in our seats and there were at least six seats each side – very squashed. Peter checked the upstairs which had two seats each side so I asked the driver how much they were and he said 45RM same as downstairs so I asked if we could sit up there and he looked at our tickets and said no downstairs. So I ran back up to the ticket lady and asked for upstairs. At first she said no but after a brief conversation she changed our tickets to upstairs. So we sat in comfortable seats with a good view. Though we spent most of our time at the back of the boat on wooden benches (with all the smokers) and had a great view. After seeing all the rubbish, logs etc in the water we were pleased we didn’t take our boats up the river (3 boats did go). There are hundreds of saw mills down each side of the river. It took a couple of hours till we reached the ocean and then we went into the Sarawak river to Kuching. We took a taxi to our hotel and walked around the city. It was nice to see it at night with all the lights.

Friday 8 July – Kuching
We met Cilantro and organised our bus tickets to the Rainforest Music Festival. We left at 1 but didn’t get there till 2.30 but managed to see the end of one of the workshops. They have workshops in which about six musicians all with similar instruments play a little of their own music and then they jam together – most of them have never met each other so it makes the workshops really interesting. The nights entertainment started at 7pm. Its not really what you would imagine rainforest music to be. It started with the sapè which is a local string instrument with the most beautiful sound. Then there was a Malaysian group from Sabah who did their traditional stuff and some upbeat stufft. The three ladies from Canada did their Indian music (the only thing lacking was the war cry). Australia and Italy were just bands really. The Mexican sang and played a pretty mean harp (electric). Then there were the Blue Canyon Boys (USA) bluegrass music and we left as the last act was coming on – another hour back in the bus and got to bed after 1am.

For those interested here is a little history of Sarawak taken directly from a guide book:
“At the beginning of the 19th century, Sarawak was a typical Malay principality under the control of the Sultan of Brunei. Apart from occasional piracy on the coast and headhunting in the interior, Sarawak was peaceful. All of this changed when the Sultan of Brunei appointed a hugely unpopular Governor. The Malays and Bidayuhs of the Sarawak River revolted in 1836 and declared independence. An ugly guerrilla war ensued, which continued until 1939 when James Brooke, a young wealthy Englishman arrived on the scene in his well armed yacht, The Royalist.

Brooke set himself up as a freelance adventurer and the Sultan’s uncle immediately asked him to help put down the rebellion. Brooke readily agreed. The spears and muskets of the rebels were no match for a modern warship, and the conflict soon ended. As a reward, the grateful Sultan made Brooke the Rajah of Sarawak in 1841. Brooke was not content to rule over a small riverside town and set out to pacify his new kingdom, with the help of the British Navy.” There were three Brooke Rajahs and the history is rather interesting so google it.

Anyway its an interesting place. Sorry for the delay in this blog.

Take care all
Dell and Peter

Friday, July 1, 2011

Week 11 - Santubong River to Bintalu

Week 10 photos now on
Sunday 26 June –Santubong River
Had a boat day. The skipper went up the mast again to move the halyard to the other side of the block. He is particularly pleased with his Mastmate purchase which is webbing steps to climb the mast – fits in the mainsail track. It is so much easier than winching him up in the bosun’s chair. He repaired the headsail then we hoisted it and it is now nicely furled where it is supposed to be. Half the fleet left today. Internet still not working

Monday 27 June – Santubong River
Took the diesel jerries to shore. Braveheart has organised for them to be filled. As we went ashore at 8.45am to meet Cilantro it started to rain and bucketed down for about half an hour so we missed the 9am bus. The bus heading out picked us up at 9.45 and we went on a little trip to finish the run and then he headed back towards town. This was quite a pleasant journey and only took an hour - $1.30 each. Took Peter ages to get the internet sorted – eventually bought a new simcard. We walked down to check out the City Inn which is an extremely basic, tired room but clean so booked for 7 – 11th for the Rainforest Festival - $20 a night. Had lunch with Cilantro then caught a taxi to a good supermarket which was having an Australian Festival so lots of good food – even got some chico babies (lollies). Caught a taxi back to the boats. Checked the internet worked and checked on flights.

Tuesday 28 June – Santubong River to Palau Lakei
01°44.665N / 110°29.537E
Happy Anniversary to us
Single Malt left early. Booked flight from Kuching to Miri for the 11th. Price had gone up 50RM ($16) since last night! Pub Bob on the deck and prepared to leave on a rising tide. Naga (a trimaran) was beached nearby as he had some repair work to do from the crossing. Braveheart took four hours to get their anchor up as it was caught on the fish farm anchor. They eventually got it up. Cilantro and Wave Sweeper got up ok and the skipper had to cut the fishing net off our anchor chain but no worries. We left at 11am and followed our track out of the river – went down to 2.3m under the keel. It was overcast and rainy but cleared later in the day. We put the headsail out and motor sailed to Pulau Lakei and anchored in 5.2m at 3.30pm with four others. The skipper cooked crumbed lamb chops and we opened a bottle of red to celebrate our anniversary – 36 years!
Miles: 22 TTT: 1569

Wednesday 29 June – Pulau Lakei toTg Sirik
02°35.913N / 111°15.185E
Happy Birthday Yvette
We all left as soon as it was light enough to see around 6am and put the sails up and had a good sail till 12 noon and then motor sailed. A pleasant day – not too hot for a change. The sea was how it was supposed to be when we did the crossing The skipper even put the staysail up as well so we had three sails going! We arrived at the coast having crossed a gulf and just pulled in close to the shore and anchored at 6.30pm. Nimbus and Wave Sweeper decided to go in the river to anchor but we would have lost a lot of miles to do that. It rained a bit but then the breeze dropped off and the sea settled and we had a comfortable night.
Miles: 69 TTT: 1638

Thursday 30 June – Tg Sirik to near Mukah
02°55.790N / 112°03.375E
It was pouring rain so postponed our start till 6.30 and upanchored in the rain. We motorsailed up around the cape and turned up towards Miri. It turned into a lovely day with not a lot of wind but Braveheart put their spinnaker up and the challenge was on! All the spinnakers came out including Single Malt who was up ahead. They flew for a while but then it was motor against the current. We thought we saw an unmarked rock and then realised our rock was floating – it turned out to be a great big tree truck with old fishing net wrapped around it. Nimbus caught us up during the afternoon and we anchored after everyone else at 6.15pm again just off the coast. A wind came up and it poured rain and we all turned our deck lights on so Wave Sweeper could see us and he came in at 8pm. It was a comfortable night though.
Miles: 66 TTT: 1704

Friday 1 July – Mukah to Bintalu
03°20.579N / 113°07.687E
Happy Birthday Jeremy
We left at 6.15am feeling quite chilly and had a wonderful sail with the three sails up. Best sail we have had in ages. The skipper enjoyed it and the crew went below and made coleslaw and cut out and made a shirt which took away the boredom. We did the washing along the way. Its a pretty busy area with lots of fishing boats towing nets, tugs pulling huge barges piled high with logs, the odd small buoy or plastic bottles tied to lines (pots perhaps) and we can see the oil platforms off to our port side. We are thinking of our nephew Jeremy as not only is it his birthday today, but he used to work on these oil platforms somewhere up here. The wind died around 12.30 and we motored. The skipper is worried about the oil pressure gauge. It goes off the scale when we start the motor but after about 10-15 minutes reverts to where it is supposed to be. Any clues anyone??? We thought we saw a whale 50m off to the starboard but when we looked discovered it was two of those big logs that the barges carry tied together – that could really hurt if you hit it. Had to go past the Port of Bintalu – there are lots of oil/gas pipes there and is a huge no anchoring zone. Anchored off the coast at 6.10pm.
Miles: 67 TTT: 1771

I have been watching the first series of Packed to the Rafters and have got quite hooked!! Looking for the second series – anyone taped it?? Anyway we should be in Miri by Sunday in time to go into the marina on a high tide.
Take care, much love
Dell and Peter
May the wind be always at your back