Thursday, May 31, 2012

WEEK 20 – Tiga to Miri Marina

Saturday 19 May – Tiga – Labuan
05⁰16.470N / 115⁰14.320
Left Tiga at 6am. Seas very calm but swelly with no wind. Gadfly had an hour’s start on us but we passed him before we got to Labuan. A gentle motor sail. There were heaps of ships outside the harbour and as we went in a huge tug came bearing down on us – we had to put on a spurt of speed to get out of his way. He grabbed a ship at the dock and had him out of there and on his way so quick. There were only two other yachts there and they looked like permanents on buoys. We anchored and tried to hail down a water taxi. Gadfly went into the marina but was sent out again. They have been working on it for ages but it is still not finished or they still have a problem with it. Jai picked us up for 1RM (3RM = $1) each and we did some shopping and had dinner but then we couldn’t get back. None of the other taxi drivers wanted to know us unless we paid 10RM each. We noticed Joe Bro who has taken us in the past so he took us back. We sat on board watching all the traffic going by – the car ferries, two huge barges pushed by tugs went past in the dark. So much happening.
Miles: 43 TTT: 1976

Sunday 20 – Mon 21 May – Labuan
Just did supply shopping – this is the duty free island and had lunch at the Indian restaurant – Choice – fantastic food. We then went back later to collect a takeaway for dinner. Jai knocks off at 6 so we always got back before that. We did two trips a day with Jai and when we had packages we always tipped him more. He really looked after us. Getting on and off Jai’s boat was always fraught with danger. He would bring his boat in till it was almost touching ours – we would throw all the gear on our boat and then climb off his up on to ours – felt like an old woman (the skipper took great delight in pointing out that I am an old woman!!!). Cilantro came in Tuesday. We actually had a dolphin around the boat despite the rubbish which tends to wash out from under the water village at high tide.

Tues 22 May – Labuan – Jeffri’s Brunei
04⁰56.975N / 114⁰48.791E
Left around 8 and headed down to Jeffri’s wall – a long day of motor sailing. There were a few local boats around – very friendly and we could see a police launch over by the shore. It left just on dark and didn’t bother us. We could hear the mosque service later so we figured that some royal personage must have been in residence. A lovely calm night as always.

Wed 23 May - Jefri’s – Kuala Belait Brunei
04⁰34.856N / 114⁰11.343E
When we left there were buoys with fish nets attached everywhere and boats buzzing around checking them all so it was a bit of a zigzag to get out. We did well for a while then had current against us and as we got closer to the two stone walls we go between to get into the river we had wind against tide so it was a bit rough going in. We had to move right over near the river bank to pass a large boat coming out. We must have done alright because he gave us the thumbs up. We had a large survey boat coming up behind us and he called us up on the radio to tell us he would pass us on our port side. We went up the river and anchored opposite the Immigration building in 2.9m of mud. We sat and watched all the big oil rig service boats come in and were amazed at how many there were and how well they handled their boats in the fast flowing current.
Miles: 46 TTT: 2057

Thurs 24 May – Kualah Belait – Miri marina
04⁰23.093N / 113⁰58.354E
We waited till 6.10am to leave hoping that all the big boats would leave early. We followed two big ones out and the big survey boat followed us out and waved as he left. We motor sailed and arrived at the marina at 1.10pm on a pretty high tide which was just as well as it is quite shallow coming in. We were heading for a berth further in when the skipper changed his mind and went for a closer one (and better one). We left our turn a bit late and had to do some to-ing and fro-ing and Phil the Yank took our lines. So here we are tied up at Miri marina after doing 2,092 nautical miles on our trip to the Philippines and 13,151 nautical miles since we left home.
Miles: 35 TTT: 2092

Fri – 25 May – Miri Marina
We will be tied up here in Miri for the next six weeks or so to get our paperwork organised and the boat and ourselves ready for the long trip home – something like 4,000 nautical miles and we average 5 nautical miles an hour!! Cilantro came in just after lunch. We are going to eat out as much as we can as it is only a couple of dollars each and we wont be able to afford it when we get back home! One of the definite advantages of being here is the cheap food. There are some boats here long term as they say they cannot afford to return home and can live here very well. In case you think we are sitting in luxury all there is here is a small tin shed with four toilets with showers and cold water but it is all we need as it is very hot. There is a great big bin for the rubbish and we have been told there are two cobras (4 ft and 5 ft) living under it to catch the rats so guess who isn’t taking the garbage out!! Every Friday night is a social night and everyone meets on the board walk at dusk when the sun goes down for drinks and nibblies and conversation.

My hard drive died but I have the computer up and running again now so hopefully I will be able to put some photos up over the next few weeks. Meanwhile we will be working hard to get everything in order. The plan is to leave her on 14th July, haul out in Kudat on 26th July to antifoul and leave Malaysia around 26th August and travel across the top of Sulawesi, Indonesia to come into Gove early November.

Dont forget Amy’s Killer Queen show in aid of the Cancer Fund on at the Tivoli Theatre on 28th July. We cant make it but it would be good if you could!

Take care
Much love
Dell and Peter

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Week 19 -Balabac Town - Pulau Tiga

Sat 12 May - Balabac - Clarendon Bay
07°48.964N / 117°01.236E
We left at 7am and motor sailed down the coast of Balabac Island to Clarendon Bay. There were heaps of logs, branches, sticks and leaves etc and we did a fine old zigzag trying to avoid them. Couldnt avoid them all and gave one a glancing blow. We arrived at Clarendon Bay at 10.45 and Cilantro came in about an hour later. There were quite a few large turtles around. We had to avoid reef on the way in and then true to form it started pouring rain. During a break in the rain an old man came out paddling his little green canoe against the wind and he wanted to trade some bananas. It started to rain so we got him on board. He was cold and wanted something warm. We found an old long sleeve shirt, some shorts, a hat, sugar, rice and whatever else we could give him. He was 70 years old. He then went to Cilantro to get some eye drops and medicines. We had visits from two others and gave some rope for the cows and whatever else we could find. They always came with something to trade- we like the casava...The old man warned us there were large crocodiles around though they leave humans alone and only take goats and dogs! James decided not to dive on his prop! The canoes they have here are very simple with no outriggers, very low to the water and don't look terribly stable.
Miles: 15 TTT: 1758

Sun 13 May - Clarendon Bay
Happy Mother's Day
Well no internet and no phone coverage. We were hoping to get to the lighthouse on the top of the hill today. Took the dinghies down towards the mangroves where there was supposed to be a coral jetty but the only path we could see was in through the mangroves and given the crocodile situation we decided against that. Also if the tide went out we would have to pull the dinghies through mud through the mangroves. We tried to get in near the palm trees where the old man said to go but it was too shallow and the bush looked a bit thick anyway. So decided to give it a miss. Its very windy.

Mon 14 May - Clarendon Bay
It blew a gale through the night and we were hoping to leave for Borneo at 6am but there were huge seas out there and we could see the big ships going past almost disappearing in the waves. One supertanker that went past was going from Saudi Arabia to America with a load of crude oil and he had a 22 metre draft! The wind blew all day. A man with a couple of kids came out again and wanted some rope for his cow and traded some kang kong - a green leaf water plant. It took ages to wash it and look for bugs! He got some pretty good rope though. Once again it is blowing a gale and raining-I really hate the wind. In the middle of the night we heard a bang and dived out of bed and threw the spreader lights on and looked through the windows- we didn't go out. Couldnt see anything but the next day we found the bunch of bananas had fallen down and landed on the deck!!!

Tues 15 May - Clarendon Bay
The weather has finally cleared but the seas still look a bit rough so we will spend another day here. Our dear old man brought us out some large shells and wanted to sell them for money so he could buy some coffee and sugar. We gave him a little bit of coffee and 100 pesos and just took the small shell. He was insisting we take them all but we explained we couldn't bring them back to Australia.

Wed 16 May - Clarendon Bay - Malaysia
07°16.096N / 116°59.228E
At last we finally are on the way. A little bit swelly but not too bad. We motor sailed to Balambangan Island and anchored at 3pm. We thought we were clever before we left Malaysia and purchased money cards to top up our phone and internet but the sim cards have expired! We have been having a daily HF radio sked to keep in contact with other boats. We changed the courtesy flag from the Philippines to Malaysian which is pretty ragged - don't think it will last the distance.
Miles: 37 TTT: 1795

Thurs 17 May - Balambangan I to Ambong
06°18.448N / 116°18.060E
We left at 6am and headed down and past the tip of Borneo. We were going to stop at Agal Bay but we got there at lunch time and Cilantro called up and said they were going to try for Ambong as they want to get to KK asap as they have run out of cooking gas. We had an extremely long day motor sailing and running the revs at 2,500 and got to the entrance to Ambong just as the sun went down - a 12 ½ hr day! It was still light when we anchored but Cilantro came in a bit later in the dark. We are under the lee of the impressive Kota Kinabulu mountain. 4000+ m high
Miles: 76 TTT: 1871

Fri 18 May - Ambong - Pulau Tiga
5°44.951N / 115°40.768E
Started at 6am and had some good wind for a while but as we neared KK it dropped off. There is a fish up here like a pike which races along upright on its tail, flops down and then races on its tail again and it goes for quite a distance. Looks like it is walking on water - really makes us laugh. We made it to the sandspit near Tiga by 3.30 but it was a bit choppy so went around to the other side of Tiga near the resort but the yacht in there was really rolling. Choppy beats rolly any day so we went back around to the sandspit and anchored at 5.30. So we made the day a bit longer for ourselves than we needed.
Miles: 62 TTT: 1933
A lot of the Filippino people we met were extremely poor but they just seem so happy and are independent and not looking for handouts as our last experience with them showed. They are just a really gorgeous people. Their families and their religion are very important to them and it was a real pleasure to meet them and we are very grateful for their hospitality.
We will be in Miri marina in about a week and then we can look at getting my computer fixed.

Take care all
Much love
Dell and Peter

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Week 18 - Ariciffe Island to Balabac Town

Sat 5 May - Araciffe Island - BrookesPoint
08°46.252N / 117°49.436E
We left at 7am and motored under a hot clear sky to Brookes Point. We actually got there before we realised but had to go around the point to anchor near the shore. There is a long jetty with a break wall in front of it protecting the ship which was berthed there. It was being loaded with copra. It is very mountainous with lowland along the shore and very pretty. The moon is full and looks wonderful shining cross the water.
Miles: 30 TTT: 1661

Sun 6 May - Brookes Point
Cilantro collected us at 10 to go ashore. The villagers were so friendly. We walked along a footpath between the houses (nipa) to the road and walked to town. We had been excited about seeing this place because we had a brochure on it and it looked really interesting and is the home of the largest pearl in the world This though meant that the pearl was found at Brookes Point but resides in America! There wasn't a lot to see - the market had good fruit and veg and was really cheap. We went to the only bistro in town and had a good lunch. We have just discovered that not only does San Miguel do beer but also does an apple cider - very nice. The boys did a beer run and Cilantro came over for sundowners. Another lovely evening. The break wall has a red and green light at each end so if you came in on a dark night you would run into the break wall! But then we remembered that the Americans do their red and greens to the opposite of us and then it made sense. Seeing large birds (geese?) flying in a V heading north.

Mon 7 May -Brookes Point - Tuba River
08°30.505N / 117°25.516E
Left at 7am and had a long boring trip to the Tuba River. There is a large nickel mine here and tugs with barges were loading the ships. We anchored up the river past a large water village on the right and a smaller settlement on the left. We could see some plants sticking out of the river on both sides and at low tide it was just mud on both sides- about 100m on starboard and 75m to port. The village was large, built out over the water with hundreds of higgeldy piggeldy roofs of all different types. People were very friendly and waved. We didn't go ashore but just on dusk we saw a 2m crocodile (skipper says 3m, crew says 1m so we settled on 2m!) swim across the river in front of the boat. A quiet evening.
Miles: 36 TTT: 1697

Tues 8 My -Tuba River - Cabugan Islands
08°23.29N / 117°15.821E
We saw monkeys in the trees early in the morning but it was a very bushy tree so they were hard to see. Left at 8.30 and the children in the small village waved us off. It was another long boring morning of motoring and we got in behind three islands at 12.00. We came in between two islands and werent expecting reef so got a bit of a shock when we saw it almost across the entire channel. We could see it in the sunshine. About half an hour after we anchored it started to rain so we got in just in time. The night was very still. Something big came up under the depth sounder beside the keel. We didn't see what it was. We see fishermen out to sea in their little canoes without any shelter and no hats and the sun is so fierce.
Miles: 14 TTT: 1711

Wed 9 May - Cabugan Islands- Candaraman Island
Pa turned 90!!! Happy Birthday Dave
08°04.588N / 117°05.838E
We left at and followed our track out through the reef. It was windy and choppy as we went down a channel between lots of islands dodging reefs and shallow bits and logs. It was a really interesting day and the islands were beautiful. Of course the current was against us and the wind was on the nose but it was lovely. We saw a turtle in the channel and as we turned to motor sail across the bay three manta rays "shoulder to shoulder" came flapping towards the boat and dived just as they got to us - one of those magic moments. A big boat was coming towards us so we went a bit to port - he was just wanting to get a closer look and gave us the thumbs up as he went past. We could see a storm building and rain as we came out of the narrow channel and headed down towards our island destination. Could also see a couple of waterspouts. The storm seemed to just miss us and was heading north. We skirted round reef and came into the most beautiful island and anchored off the reef in the loveliest water with white sand beaches - paradise! Unfortunately we were on lee shore. Once again when we anchored something was under the depth sounder beside the keel as the depth sounder went to zero. We suspect if may have been a turtle. We could see the beautiful purple of the storm off to the west. We had a swim and watched the storm and then realised it had swirled around and was heading towards us. We battened down and started the engine ready to motor into it if we started to drag. Its not the wind that pulls your anchor out - its the waves. Cilantro had decided to go to Balabac and were pulling their anchor up and drifting towards the reef. There was a moment when we thought they were going to lose their boat but then they got going and headed out. The last we saw of them they were heeling over in the wind. Meanwhile we were busy watching the depth sounder and chartplotter to see if we were dragging. We think we moved a few metres but the anchor grabbed again and we sat it out. A big Bangka had come roaring in behind the reef just before the storm hit and the two big boats which had been rafted up together to a pontoon separated and anchored. There was no lightning or thunder just heaps of wind and rain. We had a lovely red sky after the storm passed and some locals went past in a small boat yelling and waving and holding up a large bottle of beer. They were having a great time. We saw a turtle hoiking along with his head out of the water - we didnt know turtles could move that quickly. Anyway we had a lovely evening after a really interesting day.
Miles: 26 TTT: 137

Thurs 10 My - Candaraman Island- Balabac Town
07°59.535N / 117°03.962E
It was an overcast morning - almost sunny one side and stormy again to the west. We had been hoping to spend a few days at this beautiful island but we checked the grib weather files and it wasn't looking good. The storm front to the west was huge and purple so we eventually decided if in doubt get out. One of the big local boats left in a hurry so we pulled up and we could see the storm had turned and was heading our way. We managed to stay just in front of it and the sky turned green. We had wind behind us and current with us and were motoring along at 6.8 knots. Balabac Harbour was only 6 miles away so we followed our old track in and anchored next to Cilantro feeling like drowned rats. The rain has set in.
Miles: 6 TTT: 1743

Fri 11 May - Balabac Town
Cilantro collected us and we went to town. The people are so friendly here. They had good fruit and veges. We walked up to the point but it had a fence around it so went back to the boats. We had asked around if we could get any San Miguel beer but it was all negative. In the afternoon we took in a crate of empties and suddenly people had beer so the boys were happy.
Sorry this is late. We are currently motor sailing down the coast of Borneo at last but will report on that in the next blog.

Our love and thoughts and prayers are with Maureen and Winnie.
All our love
Dell and Peter

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Week 17 - Puerto Princesa to Ariciffe Island

Sat 28 April - Puerto Princesa

Happy Birthday Sandra
Ran the generator all day to get the batteries charged back up. Stowing stuff ready for the journey south. Went to the Mangrove restaurant again. Had dinomite which were long chillies stuffed with fish rolled in flour and fried - yum. A good night.

Sun 29 April - Puerto Princesa -Malanao Island
09°26.210N / 118°36.292E

Left at 8.30 - much grinding from the prop so the skipper dived on it but it seemed ok. Depth sounder is now working. Cilantro turned back with water intake problems. A big ship passed us coming out the channel. He tooted twice and we had to check the book to check what it meant! -He was going to port but he passed us first. We went past the point off Puerto Princesa and saw something big in the water. Thought it was a mass of dolphins but it was one big creature. We think it must have been a whale shark. It dived quickly and deep. We turned back to see if we could find it but no luck but a bit of excitement. Came around behind Malanao Island and anchored at 2.30 There were quite a few sticks and fish traps on the way in. Weather is lovely.
Miles: 26 TTT:1587

Mon 30 April - MalanoIsland -RasaIsland
09° 13.704N / 118°25.561E

Left around 7 - beautiful day no wind calm sea - motored all the way. Went past Sombrero Island- very pretty with a village on it and reef all around it. Then to Arena Island which seemed to have a resort and two people on jet skis going round it. We went closer for a look but too much reef so we kept going and anchored off Rasa Island around 1pm. A yacht called Piper was there. We enjoyed the afternoon and took a quick dip off the back of the boat. Saw a boat go up a tributary in the mangroves in the island - found out later it is a wildlife sanctuary and would have been worth a look but the skipper wasnt feeling well (flu). Lovely night- watched the last episode of Packed to the Rafters.
Miles: 23 TTT: 1610

Tues 1 May - Rasa Island

Boat day - skipper still crook. Cilantro came in around 12. Windy and overcast. Rained in the evening and a small bat flew into the cockpit and brushed the skipper's shoulder then settled near the light (off) and hung there till the rain stopped and then took off to the island. Calm night.

Wed 2 May - Rasa Island - NarraPort
09°14.375N / 118°24.346E

We motored across the bay and anchored in 3.4m just south of the pier where they were unloading a small ship. Cilantro collected us in their dinghy and we pulled up on blackish sand on a dirty beach - a lot of rubbish around and very poor huts. It was 10 in the morning but a batch of fishermen offered us beer as we went past! We walked past the trike drivers who helpfully pointed us in the direction of Narra Town - about 3km. It was very hot - the sun is fierce, in fact some of our new windows are starting to pixellate, but it was a very pretty and enjoyable walk and there were some very nice houses along the way. We bought some fruit at the market then walked back to a restaurant we had seen. When we went in we found the customs and immigration officers were also lunching - whoops! We had a wonderful meal- the calamari was perfectly cooked. It was a little windy, rainy and thundery over the mountains in the afternoon. It was a little swelly but not too bad.
Miles: 2 TTT: 1612

Thurs 3 May - Narra Port - Araciffe Island
09°05.475N / 118°09.348E

We left around 7 and motored in hot sunny calm conditions and arrived at Araciffe Island at 12.15. There was a lot of coral around and we anchored in 18m. Cilantro went over to the next island and anchored in 14m. This is a different Araciffe Island to the last unfriendly one. This one is a little sad as it has an abandoned resort on it. We took Bob around to the jetty at the front where there were three people- one with a spear gun and we asked permission to land. They had been spearing octopus and had been on the island for 3 years as caretaker/security. There were five dogs - not vicious - only to make a noise. We landed Bob near the sandspit. The beach mostly has weed growing all along in the water with coral further out. We walked on the beach seeing cement cottages with doors open and no track to them - unused and a large boat up on the island just disintergrating. There were a few other disintergrating boats. We walked past the double storey hotel style building and past the dining area which looked as if it would have been nice. Looked in a couple of the cottages along the beach - some still had furniture and others had their ceilings falling in. We motored around the outside of the reef and then the clouds came in and we had wind and intermittent rain.
Miles: 21 TTT: 1631

Fri 4 May - Araciffe Island

A beautiful day but oh so hot. Cilantro called up to say they had some visitors they couldnt get rid of so were coming over in their dinghy. We all went for a swim at the only bit of beach that didnt have weed. It was beautiful and so nice to be able to have a decent swim. Cilantro just got back to their boat when it started pouring rain- their visitors were waiting for them! We could hear the rain coming across the water and then we could see it so stood on the deck and washed the salt off in the pouring rain. Late in the afternoon when the rain had cleared we went ashore to look at the exposed reef area. It is spring tides- the highest high and lowest low so the reef is exposed. We saw an anenome under about 6 inches of water with a tiny nemo in it, starfish and the seaweed which the locals eat (and we have had in restaurants). Cilantro meanwhile decided to visit their visitors ashore and were shown a hut with only two real walls and a very leaky roof. And that was where they lived. No wonder they wanted to stay on Cilantro!! We thought how much nicer it would have been if they had been able to live in the abandoned resort!!!
Still heading south-motoring - no wind-but that also means calm seas so we are happy!

Missing everyone, especially Rosie, Jessie and Charlie.
Take care
Much love
Dell and Peter

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