Sunday, August 28, 2011

WEEK 19: Kudat to Pulau Tiga

Saturday 20 August – Kudat
We decided to go ashore for lunch and as we had put Bob on board Braveheart and Cilantro each collected one of us. We did some shopping in another market we found and then walked to the other end of town and found there was a whole different area of Kudat – we thought we had seen it all. There was a very interesting Chinese temple there with a huge statue of a very jolly monk and decorated with dragons with long talon fingers. The restaurant we found didn’t have beer but the food was really good then the proprietor volunteered to go get us some beer and came back shortly later with cold cans of Korean beer which was really nice of him. We took a circuitous route back with Braveheart buying a burglar alarm and more locks then back to the boats for an early start in the morning.

Sunday 21 August – Kudat – Kudat Bay
06°56.450N / 116°50.599E
Got up at 5am and as soon as it was light we all upanchored – at least we tried to but found we were stuck fast. We tried this way and that but to no avail. We couldn’t retrieve our anchor and chain. Braveheart and Cilantro reanchored and waited with us. Kudat is not exactly a tourist town and there are no scuba diving places around so we called Sgt George who told us the Marine police had none but the Fire Department had one – when we called him he could only dive for emergencies and he told us to call the World Wildlife Foundation. We called the only resort in Kudat and she put us on to Mr Irwan of the World Wildlife Foundation who said he would come have a look. He then rounded up his buddy and at 1.30 the boat tied us off so the anchor chain could go loose and they both dived in 14 metres. It seemed to take ages and when they surfaced they said it was caught on some machinery like a tractor. They had untangled the chain from the superstructure but the anchor had gone down a big hole and they couldn’t get it out and the visibility was about six inches. So they said they would come back and try again in the morning. Devastating news because though we had a spare anchor albeit a smaller one you cant get chain or anchors here. The skipper pulled all the chain in and a ferry went past and we bounced up and down and next thing we were dragging!!! The up and down motion had made the anchor come out of the hole! After the skipper had got the fishing net which had wrapped around it off we all went around to the other bay and anchored there. We called Mr Irwan and his mate who came round to where we were so we could pay him. Think we paid him too much but it was worth it. He had asked around the fishermen and apparently there is a sunken barge there and we had managed to drop our anchor down the hold of the barge. Couldnt have done that if we had tried!! Cilantro had got a rat on board when they took their dinghy in to get fuel. First they found a snake at the back of the boat and then the rat. They got rid of the snake with a boat hook and later in the evening we could hear sounds of “get it get it” with loud thumping noises and torch light going everywhere with advice coming from Braveheart of “grab it by the tail grab it by the tail” and shortly thereafter were advised that Basil the rat had jumped overboard!! Who wouldn’t!!!
Miles: 4 TTT: 2543

Monday 22 August – Kudat Bay – tip of Borneo
07°01.033N / 116°46.718E
We all upanchored at first light (again) and headed round to the tip. It was very windy and when we got to the tip we could see white water so we pulled in to the shore to wait for better weather. Two other boats came in to join us and it turned out they had had a shocking trip up with 3m seas and one had blown out his headsail. So we spent the day reading and enjoying an enforced down day.
Miles: 8 TTT: 2,551

Tuesday 23 August – Tip to Ambong – the trip from hell
06°18.486N / 116°18.075E
Once again we left just on light and went around the tip. The wind had appeared to have dropped but on rounding the tip – there it was on the nose. We managed to get our headsails out and make some way into the wind and the waves. We probably should have gone back but we kept hoping it would get better and after all the trouble we wanted to be on our way. We only averaged around 2 knots slamming through the waves and up and over 3 metre waves which would just stop the boat in its tracks. It was the most horrendous day and it was scary just looking at Braveheart and Cilantro go through it. We apparently looked just as bad. The skipper donned his life line and went forward and got the mainsail up with two reefs and that steadied us a bit and at times gave us a bit of assistance which let us do 3 knots! Braveheart pulled in to a little anchorage at around 5pm – doubt it would have been any good for monos so we had to keep going. We followed our track into the sheltered anchorage of Ambong at 10pm in the dark. For those who have never sailed in the dark it is a bit like driving without your headlights – you just hope there is nothing in front of you! It took us 16 hours to cover only 59 miles. The voyage from hell! We lost the toilet brush overboard washed off the deck. We had a shower to wash all the salt off, a wine, last night’s leftover dinner and fell into bed.
Miles: 59 TTT: 2,610

Wednesday 24 August – Ambong
A lovely still night – the wind had dropped off. Slept in till 6am! Staying put for the day. Braveheart sailed up and got in around 11. We had sundowners on Pacific Express and planned our next day while checking the weather files hoping they were right this time. Another lovely safe calm night.

Thursday 25 August – Ambong – Police Bay, Pulau Gaya
06°02.128N / 116°01.160E (20)
Thinking of you Dad – 36 years
We all left at first light and we sailed for the first couple of hours and then we motor sailed – sea state was slightly swelly – what a difference a day makes! We obviously went a day too early. We arrived at Police Bay at 1.15pm and anchored off the reef in 16m water and went back to 20m. There is a very fancy resort here which we have been told is hugely expensive. We put Bob in and rowed to the beach. Braveheart camein and we snorkled but the coral was dead – there were a few fish but it was very ordinary. But it was nice to be in the water again. Went back to the boat around 3pm. Braveheart discovered that one of their oars had been stolen! Some longtail macaques came down to the beach – we presume thats what they were. They have long black tails and are very dark and much bigger than an ordinary macaque. Was lovely to sit and watch them Had a peaceful night. Watched a lightning show over the hill hoping the storm wouldn’t come and it didn’t. An early night.
Miles: 31 TTT: 2,641

Friday 26 August – Police Bay – sandspit at Pulau Tiga
05°44.979N / 115°40.766E
Happy Birthday Mum
We all left at first light with mainsails up in good weather. Our engine mounts are very worrisome. We motor sailed and arrived at the sheltered sandspit near Pulau Tiga at 12 noon. Braveheart anchored off Tiga and explored the island but it was too swelly for us there. We had a quiet afternoon and a good nights sleep. Last time we were here we left the boat open but this time we locked up!
Miles: 29 TTT: 2,670

About 100 miles to Miri but we are going to detour into Brunei for the end of Ramahdan celebrations. Will let you know how that goes. There are no photos to speak of this week so will leave you with a series of photos Judy from Braveheart took of Cilantro and a ship.

Meanwhile love to all and take care.

Dell and Peter

Sunday, August 21, 2011

WEEK 18: Sandakan to Kudat

Sunday 14 August – Sandakan
Shopping, looking around, wet market then dinner at the Yacht Club.

Monday 15 August - Sandakan – Pulau Tikiis
06°04.238N / 117°57.344E (5m)
We all went to the Harbour Master to check in and check out. The others all went in a taxi to check out at Customs while Judy and the I did some shopping. It was then back to the boat and upanchored at 12 noon. We sailed quite a bit with good breeze and went past Pulau Liberran and anchored between an island and the mainland. We had to reanchor twice to get it to set. We could see a huge front with clouds full of lightning way over the land. Went to bed and at 11 the wind blew in from across the bay and a huge swell came in with big waves. The skipper did anchor watch and sure enough we were dragging again!! At 1am we pulled up and reanchored and the wind finally started to ease. Not a nice night at all.
Miles: 27 TTT: 2,415

Tuesday 16 August – Pulau Tikiis – Tanjong Kinulubatan
06°38.183N / 117°30.325E (4.3)
We all upanchored at 6am and we motor sailed and went past Pulau Lankayan around lunch time. We went in and had a look. It is a beautiful tropical island but given the weather of last night and this island having no shelter and to anchor and have a snorkel would have made us too late we kept going. We had some very good sailing – best for ages and went through the reef to arrive at the safe anchorage at 5.45
Miles: 56 TTT: 2,471

Wednesday 17 August – Tanjong Kinulubatan – Pulau Banggi
07°06.852N / 117°05.459E (12m)
We were supposed to leave at 7am but it was so peaceful and still and raining lightly we finally got away at 7.20. It turned out to be a long boring day – took shortcut through the reef and then beat into the weather for hours till we reached Pulau Banggi at 6pm. We came in from the other end of the village last time and didn’t like the look of it but from this end it actually looks very interesting. We had to anchor 3 times before we could get it to set. Some children came in their row boat from the bigger boat where they lived so we gave them some food – they couldn’t understand English or Malay.
Miles: 46 TTT: 2,517

Thursday 18 August – Pulau Banggi – Kudat
06°52.588N / 116°51.261 (14m)
Would have liked to have stayed a day to have a look around – maybe next time. We left at 9am and beat into the wind and sea all the way. Seemed to take a long time. Finally arrived in the harbour off the town of Kudat at 2.20pm and anchored in 14m. We went ashore around 5pm just after I had fortuitously downloaded all our photos off the camera. We had trouble finding somewhere to leave the dinghies but a lovely young fish farmer allowed us to tie off his jetty. We had to walk around the edge of the fish farm (lovely big fish) and then onto a raft which he then pulled a few feet across to stairs at the bottom of his house (room) built on stilts and then jetty to the shore. We looked around town and went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. We sat outside and a cigarette smoking lady took our order which went from 25RM for the 6 of us to 15RM each when we said we wanted individual dishes! It was quite a nice meal but very expensive and when we were leaving we saw the actual dining room which was air conditioned and had fancy tablecloths etc – very fancy and we had just been charged the fancy prices! We came back to our boats after dark – our little fish farmer seeing us safely past the guard dog to our dinghies. Peter locked our door and went to bed. We had decided to leave the hatch above our bed open for air and had locked the motor to Bob and chained Bob to the boat. The chain of course made a clanking noise. I read for another hour or so and went to bed at 10. At 12 we were awakened by VHF radio by Cilantro saying they had disturbed an intruder on their boat. Peter immediately said where is the spoltlight torch which he had put on the table 2 ft from our sleeping heads and then where’s the yellow bag and then we realised that we had been robbed and we said how did he get in – we both then looked up and the back hatch was wide open and we couldn’t believe it. I had presumed Peter had locked it and he thought I would close it!! The thief had even put the stick holding it open back in place but sideways. The waterproof yellow bag had my camera, my prescription sunglasses, my phone and Peter’s wallet and he had also taken my wallet. We found the inverter on the deck – it didn’t have the wires connected so he left it. This person had been 2 ft from our heads, got our stuff and back up through the hatch and we hadn’t heard a thing!! Peter spent an hour on the phone to ANZ cancelling our credit cards and was put through to America to get them to issue an emergency card. Unfortunately the girl seemed to be a little slow and Peter had to spell everything – even Peter – and the address in Miri was very long. We then called the police (and went through 3 people to get an English speaker) and around 2.30am we had a police boat with 6 policemen alongside, 4 of whom came below and all of whom could speak English. Peter meanwhile found my wallet on a towel in the cockpit minus cash but all cards intact. The police were lovely and took the inverter away to get fingerprints. After they left we found Peter’s wallet – minus cash (we lost around $400 in RM) and with all cards intact except Amex and the thief had left a 10RM note – on purpose. He had sat in the cockpit and sorted his booty. Meanwhile unbeknown to us at 1.30 Braveheart disturbed him on their boat and he off into his canoe rowing furiously against the tide and Judy took a couple of photos of him. Unfortunatley it was too dark. Its not a nice feeling but it was our stupidity and we were just grateful he didn’t take the computer which was under a cover on the nav station as were the binoculars and other equipment and we were not harmed.
Miles: 22 TTT: 2,539

Friday 19 August – Kudat
The boys presented themselves to the police station 5km out of town as instructed and spent the morning being interviewed. Sgt George drove them back at lunchtime so we all went ashore for lunch. It was then that Cilantro discovered that the thief had tried to take his outboard or fuel tank as he had bent the new connection they had just put on. Had lunch and did some shopping and all returned exhausted to our boats. We had tied off to the fish farmer’s stairs this time so we knew our dinghies were safe. Actually the town is very friendly and the majority of the people nice. Sgt Geroge had solved a small mystery for us about the people who don’t seem to understand English or Malay – they are in fact tribal people and there are 23 different languages. The family living on their boat at Banggi are of a particular tribe and live on their boats and have no need of money. They didn’t seem to know what a book was when I gave it to them and this would explain it. He also told Peter there are more crocodiles at Banggi than Kudat (James dived on his prop at Banggi!!!).

Anyway our carefree innocence of life aboard has evaporated. In all our time travelling this is the first time we have ever had to really lock up. Whenever we left our boats we would leave them open – not any more. Now we have bolts and padlocks on everything. We still feel safe in our boat but will be much more security conscious in the future. It was nice to see the police boat go past late in the afternoon.

More dramas since then but you will have to wait till next week to find out!!! But we are safe and well.
Still keeping on keeping on
Much love
Dell and Peter

Thursday, August 18, 2011

WEEK 17: Sandakan to Kinabatangan River to Sandakan

Saturday 6 August – Sandakan
Did the walking tour of Sandakan with Cilantro and went to Agnes Keith’s house which was rebuilt after the war. She was a USA author who lived in Sandakan with her husband and children for some years before the war and spent the war as POW’s. Sandakan was basically obliterated during the war. A replica of the Keith’s house was built in the same place. The big stone church and the Chinese temple survived. Agnes wrote The Land Beneath the Wind about their time in Borneo, then Three Came Home which was about their time as POWs and was made into a movie and then she wrote The White Man Returns. They came back for four or so years after the war. After we saw their lovely house we went next door to an equally stunning colonial building for an English tea – scones with jam and cream, cucumber sandwiches and pastries on royal doulton plates – oh so nice! You could also have a game of croquet if you so desired. We went to the market after that and got fresh fruit and veg then had a swim in the Yacht Club pool, a wonderful shower and dinner at the Yacht Club.

Sunday 7 August – Sandakan – Dewhurst Bay
05°33.809N / 118°33.874E (9m)
We upanchored at 6am and headed to Dewhurst Bay up the southern entrance of the river. Wavesweeper decided to try the northern entrance and seemed to be doing ok so we followed him. But when we got down to 0.3m and then 0.1m under the keel we decided to turn back. We then heard that Wavesweeper was aground on a mud bank. We continued to the southern bay and Wavesweeper extricated themselves and followed. As we were going along a small fish jumped right out of the water and almost landed on the deck. We came across the bar going down to 2.6m of water and into the river. We found good water after that but again in the river went to 2.5m before getting to Dewhurst Bay where we anchored in 8m water at 4.30pm. The cats and Rubicon Star went through the northern entrance and went down to 1.7m and we have a 1.8m keel so obviously we would not have made it through. Lots of Nipa palm around but a pleasant place to be.
Miles: 49 TTT: 2,294

Monday 8 August – Dewhurst Bay – Kinabatangan River
05°40.227N / 118°23.266 (5.7m)
Happy Birthday Margaret
We radioed the other boats at 7.10 but had the grumbles from a couple of boats that it was a bit early. We knew we had a long way to go and had to catch the tide for the shallows. At 8.30 we upanchored and headed out and everyone else was behind us. We followed the waypoints we had – we had three lots of notes but the notes from Sazli were good. We went down to 2.2m depth (.4m under the keel). All the others found deeper water on the left side of the river but we had to go up the right tributary. Nimbus and Wavesweeper decided to follow their path and Cilantro came back round to come with us. It was a bit African Queen like at first and depths fluctuated but it was all good and we took a wide berth on the corners. When we came to the four rivers crossroad we took a left and followed a reasonably wide river and after about five miles the nipah palms began to give way to jungle. The river was very windy and we had to go around the outside of the bends which meant we were constantly zig sagging from one side to the other avoiding logs, branches and other debris. We had good depths all the way and saw a family of macaque monkeys but towards the end it was getting a little tedious. We finally came to the T intersection where there were a few houses and turned left down past a village. Ketoro called us up to give us a waypoint for a small tributary where there was a fire fly tree so we anchored there. On the way we saw two large dark monkeys with long black tails (long tailed macaques). Anchored in front of Baganoff and the trees either side of the river had heaps of Proboscus monkeys – magic. They are the ones with the big bulbous noses and big bellies. The females have a sort of Pinocchio nose before he started telling lies! Just on dark Cilantro picked us up in their dinghy and we went up the tributary. We went a long way in and came out into what we thought was a lake. Couldnt find the tree so headed back in the dark by torchlight. The dinghy wasn’t making much headway and we thought we must have had something around the prop but found we had gone aground! Anyway 200m from the entrance to the tributary we found the fire fly tree! Sat on the deck and listened to the jungle noises
Miles: 25 TTT: 2,319

Tuesday 9 August – Kinabatangan River to Kampong Sikau
05°30.497N / 118°17.701 (6m)
We watched the monkeys for a while – how wonderful to be able to wake up on a river in the jungle and watch monkeys!! Cilantro collected us again and we went up the tributary in daylight. It was very pretty. We saw two large hornbills and two smaller hornbill birds. They make a kind of clacking noise. Also lots of large eagles. When we came back to the boats we went in close to the monkeys and got a close up of a large male Proboscus monkey eating with both hands. We know he was a male because he had a large bulbous nose and as the Lonely Planet says the male is in a continual state of excitement! We left at 9 and headed up the river and all we saw all day were a couple of monitor lizards It was jungle all the way but then we saw a hill and it was covered in palm oil trees all over the hill and down to the river! What a shame. We zig zagged our way up the river meeting a tug and a barge so we ducked across in front of the tug and went on the inside as the barge swang very wide on the end of its line. Saw heaps of white herons. In fact one seemed to fly on ahead of us and pose for a photo and then fly off just before we got there! We arrived at Kampong Sukau around 2pm and anchored between the 4 cats and Rubicon Star who were already there. We cannot go any further up the river than this because of the power lines across the river. It was very hot. A quiet night on board except for the mosque.
Miles: 19 TTT: 2,338

Wednesday 10 August – Kampong Sukau
We got up at 5.30am in the dark and along with Braveheart and Cilantro took our dinghies up past the powerlines and up a tributary to the right. Prosboscis monkeys were leaping all over the place. It was a little dark for good photos and the skipper was just getting used to his camera. We saw macaques and different birds - kingfishers and Oriental Darters. Two tour boats came in behind us so every time they went in to look at something we would have a look too. Think a couple of times they must have been looking at rare plants because we couldn’t see anything! A little later they told us orangutan and told us to hold on to their boat so we could see. Then we went into a little inlet with Braveheart and the tour boat also came in. Then two juvenile orangutans appeared in the tree in front of us. One was most agitated and wanted us to go away so shook the branches so all the water dropped on our heads. We watched for a while longer and asked the guide how we could see the elephants and he said to go to the village to see if we could get a boat to take us. We then made our way out of the inlet and went to a homestay cafe for breakfast with all the other boats. This Way Up and Kitorro departed soon after to go with the rally to Tawau where the rally concludes. We have now officially left the rally. We asked Jody at the homestay about getting a boat and he gave us a name to ask for in the village and said they charged a price for the boat – not individually. So we walked 15 minutes to the village and asked around and found a girl who could speak English who made a couple of phone calls and found us a boat for 150RM - $50! The boatman (Ronie) picked eight of us up at 4pm and we headed up the river under the powerlines and went for about half an hour then turned into a tributary. Along the way he stopped to show us a crocodile – we could see its head and its tail – about 2m long. We saw birds and monitor lizards and could see evidence of elephants having been there but no elephants. We eventually started heading out and we were very disappointed thinking we weren’t going to see the elephants – there are no guarantees. We stopped to look at Prosboscis monkeys when we saw the guide from this morning who seemed quite pleased we had taken is advice and he asked us if we had seen the elephants. When we said no he hold us where they were so we shot out of the tributary and went a bit further up the river and there they were – a herd of pygmy elephants. Ronie managed to get us right in the front and I had just said I wanted to see them in the water when two came out and the first one turned around and climbed backwards into the water like a child going downstairs. The second one turned too soon and flopped on his bottom to turn around and he went backwards in too and then we watched them frolicking, swimming ducking in the water. It was really awesome and our timing was impeccable. We watched for a while then left for the 3/4hr boatride back getting back just before dark. Its dangerous to travel at night as there are so many branches and logs in the water. What a fantastic day – Proboscis, Orangutan and elephant!!

Thursday 11 August – Kampong Sukau
Happy Birthday Dad
A quiet day to catch our breath. There is a barge ferry attached to a tug which goes up and down past us. When all the boats were there it went up and down on the right but now it comes up and either goes behind us and up on the left or cuts in front of us and behind Braveheart. Thank goodness he seems to know how to drive it. Everyone is very friendly and they all wave The mosque goes on for a couple of hours at night and there are lots of bangs like crackers and we think they must be celebrating ramahdam. They seem to put something like gunpowder in bamboo and light it and some bangs are certainly louder than others. A tug towing a barge came wide on the corner behind us but he seemed to have the barge well under control when he went past us – bit disconcerting. We have been surprised that there are not lots of mosquitos – just flies! Sat and watched macaques going across the creek on a wire. They kept slipping under it – it was very funny to watch. We got picked up from our boats at 8pm for a night tour by Ahmad. This bloke charged per person so at 35RM each it was expensive We saw some Kingfishers – they seem to go to sleep at night so they don’t fly off – a couple of owls, frogs. Lizard, oriental darter and a sleeping short tailed macaque and a couple of very small crocs and that was about it. It started sprinkling rain and we were back at our boats at 10.20. We didn’t think this was terribly good value for money. Another noisy night with the mosque.

Friday 12 August – Kampon Sukau – Kinabatangan River
05°40.221N / 118°23.248E
Happy Birthday Bernie
It rained all night and was still sprinkling but we went up a little tributary but not much was about. We found some mud birds’ nests on the cliff and saw a tiny kingfisher feeding its young. Lots of little birds flying around and also lots of bats hanging in the clefts of the rock. We were going to have breakfast again as Rubicon Star has got under the powerlines and will be going up the river. The guest houses only have enough food for their guests as a rule and we lucked out this morning. Said our farewells and we upanchored around 9.45 and followed Braveheart and Cilantro down the river zigzagging around the bends. We reached our original anchorage around 2. It is wonderful to be able to sit on your boat in the middle of the jungle and listen to the birds and animals. The palm oil trees are encroaching and in some cases are along the river, we wonder how much jungle is actually behind what we can see along the river. The river is brown and silty now but we have been told 20 years ago it was blue but all the logging and jungle clearing has silted it up. Judy from Braveheart invited us all over for a fish curry which was absolutely beautiful. There was much Proboscis activity and we watched them leaping from branch to branch. They seemed to like getting really high and leaping down and out to the next branches. One poor little guy mistimed and took a tumble to the ground! After dinner we took our dinghies up the creek to see the firefly tree but it was a full moon so we couldn’t see many fireflies. Judy and Chris’ dinghy had drifted towards the bank and there was a splash beside it which startled them and then there was a big splash and poor Chris almost jumped out of the dinghy! We of course nearly fell out of ours laughing but we didn’t go much further up the creek after that and adjourned to our respective boats and just sat and listened to the jungle noises.
Miles: 19 TTT: 2,357

Saturday 13 August – Kinabantangan River – Sandakan
05°50.465N / 118°07.623E
It started raining around midnight and didn’t stop till mid morning. We upanchored at 6.30 and with Braveheart (a cat) out the front we followed them down the river to the junction and turned left instead of right. We are taking the shallow shortcut out which will save us 1 ½ days and many miles. The river looped right around on itself till there was only a river bank between both arms of the river – amazing. We have been down to 1m under the keel which is worrying and we still have the very shallow (and long) bar to negotiate. It will be a nerve wracking morning for us as we have the deepest keel. The river was quite shallow in places and we did really well till about the last bend when Cilantro called that they had zero under their 1.5m keel and then they were in deep water. When our depth sounder shows 1.4m we are on the ground and we watched it drop 1.5, 1.4, 1.3, 1.2, 1.1!!!!! and the skipper put the revs on – we stopped for a bit and then she powered through the mud and then we were in deep water – whew!!! The bar was good – the minimum we got down to was 2.8m true depth (1.4 under the keel). We arrived in Sandakan at 2pm– so much rubbish in the water – dirty nappies – the lot! We went ashore around 5 and had a shower and then a very nice dinner with some people who spent four days up the river last year and didn’t see an elephant or an orangutan!!! How lucky are we. We chained Bob to the back of the boat and locked the motor on the back – back in “civilisation”!!!
Miles: 31 TTT: 2,388

Sorry this is so long but it has been quite a week. We are currently making our way back to Miri where we will leave the boat. The weather has been very stormy at night. Hope you are all well and appreciate that your bed is not in danger of blowing away during the night!!!
May all your storms be small ones!!!!
Dell and Peter

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

WEEK 16: Telek Ambong to Sandakan

Saturday 30 July Telek Ambong to Kudat
06°56.512N / 116°50.586E (13m)
We left at 6.15 in a slight swell with the main up in the hope of some wind. We had been thinking of going out to some islands but it was still a bit swelly so decided to try to catch them on the way back. We can see five other rally boats and Braveheart and Single Malt are somewhere up ahead. It was a beautiful day and rally boats started telling jokes over the radio. We went up and around the tip of Borneo through a channel with rocks on either side. A couple of boats pulled into shore to anchor but it didn’t look as if it would be calm so we kept going down around the next point. We passed two French boats along the way one of which was Bernard who was delighted to see us and gave his big cheery wave. We came into the bay and anchored on the inside of Nimbus in 13m off the north of the town of Kudat at 5.15. There were stilt villages along the waterfront. Another lovely still night.
Miles: 59 TTT: 2,124

Sunday 31 July – Kudat – Pulau Malawali
07°01.957N / 117D21.008E (22m)
We left at 8.30 and went down to the Kudat boatyard and anchored off to see the yard and haulout facilities. The boats in the yard were held up by cement blocks and it is just gravel but would be ok for a quick haulout to antifoul. I don’t think we would leave our boat on the hard here. We then headed for an island 20 miles away intending to anchor but when we got there around 1.30ish, there was a town and even though the water was clear it was full of debris and certainly not conducive to swimming so we decided to keep going. It was getting late by the time we reached Pulau Malawali and the anchorage we had chose had depths of 22 metres. There was a reef all around and it was really too late in the arvo to see under the water. Luckily it was low tide and we could see the reef sticking out of the water. We went around a reef spit and headed in. Cilantro went suddenly from 20 to 2m and backed off so as it was 5.50pm and the sun was almost down we anchored in 22m. We could see two cats way out on a reef and when they saw us anchor they came in to join us. When we pulled up, a boat with a man and two boys came over asking for food. On the shore there are three fragile looking stilt houses – stilts are very high. They don’t speak Malay so we presume they are Fillipino. There were a lot of people gathering stuff off the exposed reefs. A very calm anchorage.
Miles: 49 TTT: 2,133

Monday 1 August – Pulau Malawali – Tanjong Sumangat
06°38.201N / 117°30.230 (5m)
Through the night we could feel the anchor pulling and knew we were caught on a bommy. In 20m of water!! We had been very lucky when we came in yesterday that it was low tide as we could see the reef. This morning it was high tide and it just looked like lovely calm water with no sight of the dangers lurking beneath. We launched Bob and went for a snorkel. The coral was quite good but we were snorkelling on a drop off and it just gave us an uncomfortable eery feeling so we didn’t stay long. We took the bathoscope and checked out the finger of reef which Cilantro had found yesterday. As we pulled up anchor we were able to manoeuvre the boat and luckily were able to get the anchor chain off the bommy. We had our whole 60m out so it could have been disastrous. We pretty much followed the shipping channel to the next island but the anchorage looked exposed so we kept going and took a shortcut through the reef. We went into the channel between an island and the mainland doing wind against tide and only doing 2.9 knots at one stage. At last we reached shallow water and anchored in 4.7m and went back to 5.5 with 20m of chain out. Through the night we had pretty strong winds and rain.
Miles: 34 TTT: 2,167

Tuesday 2 August – Tg Sumangal – Pulau Libarran
06°06.220N 118°01.139E (12m)
We awoke to find we were just floating around in the bay. Obviously we should have put out more chain so we dragged and luckily we went into deep water – 12m and not into the shallows. We left at 7am and it was a long boring day of motoring with dead flat sea. At lunch time we passed a lovely island where Baganoff was anchored. We pressed on thinking we were going to a lovely island but when we go there at 6.10pm it was an island with a dirty village and dirty water which didn’t look very appealing. We were amazed to see a herd of cows on the beach! The anchorage shoaled up a lot quicker than the chart plotter indicated and we anchored in 12m in a 2 knot current. Not ideal but too late to go elsewhere.
Miles: 55 TTT: 2,222

Wednesday 3 August – Pulau Libarran – Sandakan
05°50.496N / 118°07.737E
We awoke around 3am as the wind and tide were picking up and by 4am it was blowing really hard and we were dragging anchor. We started the motor and held the boat into the wind until the storm abated and we realised our anchor was at last holding. In the light of day we found we had dragged 130m! Cilantro left and we upanchored at 7.45 and headed towards Sandakan. We could hear snatches of conversation from the rally boats there and it sounds as though there has been a theft from a boat. We motor sailed through some huge bamboo contraptions built in the water with a little hut on each and fishing nets beneath. All the nets were out of the water so they are not being currently used. Maritime Malaysia called us up on the radio to check where we had come from and we came around the big cliff into the Harbour of Sandakan. We anchored but it didn’t hold and pulled it up and we had a big bag around the anchor. We held the second time. We are out the back of the fleet – have to anchor a long way from other boats as we all go every which way. The water is full of debris/rubbish and we are anchored beside a poor looking stilt village and a huge mosque. There are lots of fishing boats and smaller boats going back and forth so have put 6 flashing blue lights on the boat. It seems that at 2am last night two men did a raid on all the boats. A couple of the crews were up and frightened them off but three boats lost computer, phone, money, camera, credit cards etc but the really scary thing about it was that these men actually went aboard down below while people were sleeping and in one case actually entered the bedroom. The police came and took finger prints and have a suspect – they just have to find him!! The police will be patrolling our boats for the next couple of nights. They have a huge problem here with illegals from both the Philippines and Indonesia. Cilantro picked us up at 5 and we went in for a rally meeting and stayed for a very nice dinner at the Sandakan Yacht Club. We can safely leave our dinghies there. A big storm came through and we came back in sprinkling rain. We locked the boat up when we went out and when we went to bed – only the second time we have ever done that.
Miles: 23 TTT: 2,245

Thursday 4 August – Sandakan
We went ashore at 11 and caught a bus the short distance to town and then a mini bus to the Sandakan War Memorial which is built on the site of the POW camp. It is a very sad thing that only six men out of over 2,500 survived the camp and the death marches and they survived only because they escaped. It was a place of sheer horror. Very well maintained courtesy of the Commonwealth Government. We then caught the bus back and had lunch, did a bit of shopping and then got ready for the rally dinner. We were the guests of the Regent (Mayor) at his beautiful home high on the hill overlooking the harbour. It was sponsored by Carlsberg so the glasses were never empty and the ladies started with champagne and then red and white wine. The Regent could sing and so he did a couple of songs and it was all really great dance music. We had a lovely buffet and heaps of dancing and a fantastic night. When we got back to the Yacht Club we got more free drinks and good conversation and it was really late by the time we all made it back to our boats – some in better conditions than others!!

Friday 5 August – Sandakan
Peter and James went in at 8am to get fuel. I finished booking our airfares and we had an easy day. We went ashore around 5.30pm, had a rally meeting to gather information about going up the Kinabatangan River. We were then taken out to dinner by Dr Edmond and Cathy (locals) at a local restaurant. I thought I ate a small piece of fish but Dougie reckoned it was frog/toad!! Anyway it was a lovely evening and Sandakan is looking like a really nice place.

Next stop up the Kinabatangan River!

Take care all
Dell and Peter