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The Adventure ....



where are we ?

July 2010
somewhere in the South China Sea

Hello all

If you’re reading this it means we have arrived on the coast of Borneo, but I started to put the page together on the boring days while becalmed in the middle of nowhere. Anyhow more on that later.

First, a couple of pics of boat improvements – a shot of the new acrylic roof that replaces the old sunbrella fabric bimini, and extends from the hard dodger we made last year. Next a twin tub washing machine we bought in Thailand – it’s all plastic, draws 90 watts of power, and is small and light enough to store in the forepeak and bring into the cockpit when we want to use it – best thing since sliced beer!

We now have better weather proofing in the cockpit- good shade,
and stays drier in the monsoonal downpours
Our newest crew member
the Easter bunny and 2 helping princess’ celebrate at Danga Bay
sundowners at Danga Marina

Anyhow, back to the sailing –we were a little sad to leave the gang at Danga Bay, it has become one of our favourite spots to re-supply and fix all the broken stuff ! But after rounding Singapore and starting to head up the East coast of Malaysia, we were pleasantly surprised by how quickly the water cleared up-and we could swim again. Things got better and better as we went north and we were soon chasing turtles out of the way so we could anchor off tropical islands.

After a brief stop at Tioman Island, we continued in a series of day sails, stopping for the night at wherever the wind took us. One small island we sailed past had strange structures on the beach and in the surf - it looked rather like a set for the ‘Survivor’ TV series, so we stopped for a closer look.

Sure enough it was the tribal council set and competition scaffolding (“see who can balance on a bamboo pole the longest” type stuff!). Funny thing about all of this was that they had heavy security at both ends of the beach to keep sightseers out - oblivious to this we just anchored off the beach and came in by dinghy. We had about 10 minutes of wandering around before the guards arrived and voted us off the island! Seems all this was the current ‘Survivor’ series for Denmark/Sweden and they were very paranoid about us taking pictures! We stopped for the night about 10 miles further on, and could clearly see the TV lights blazing until the early hours of the morning.

Hello, what’s this then? Better have a look….
Destiny does a commando raid onto the beach….
First security guard arrives….
But not before Brian makes a new friend - seems we both got voted
off the island (guess the other guy didn’t have a dinghy)

Another interesting experience, but much more thought provoking and recent history, was on Bidong Island. This was where many Vietnamese boat people arrived during the late 1980’s after fleeing their home country. Malaysian and other governments set up a refugee processing camp on this previously uninhabited island. The ruins of the camp are still here, with many memorials and plaques, and in the clear water, we could see many of their boats that were deliberately sunk in the bay. It was humbling to see how grateful these people must have been to have arrived at a safe place, even though it wasn’t much better than a prison camp. Many of these boat people were eventually accepted into Australia.

Memorial plaques, monument in the shape of a boat and the remains of a church.
The jungle is quickly reclaiming this settlement, and we thought it a pity that no-one’s preserving this piece of recent history

The islands around Terengganu are renowned for good dive sites, and we weren’t disappointed - the water is crystal clear, a delightful temperature for taking a refreshing dip, and corals and fish life meant we spent many happy hours snorkeling around the reefs. It’s also a popular tourist destination too, so plenty of restaurants and resorts to sample the local food.

One of our favourite restaurants – Qimi resort on Kapas Island, and the view from the tables
2 ways to cool off – if you’re small enough and bendy enough a bucket and hose will do, or jump into clear blue ocean

We pulled into the impressive Heritage Marina at Terengganu for a dose of city life, including re-fuelling and buying up supermarkets. The people in this part of Malaysia are extremely friendly - it’s a capital city, but seems the people here are not so busy that they don’t mind taking the time to stop you in the street to say ‘Hello’ and ‘Welcome’ We really enjoyed our time here.

Colourful kite at a traditional craft workshop
Mosques are literally everywhere in Malaysia, and the call to prayer
just before dawn is now a ‘normal’ daily sound for us. This is the impressive ‘Crystal Mosque’ in Terengganu
Complimentary fruit basket when checking in to Heritage Marina
(Australian marinas take note! Also fees about half the price!)
Beautiful sunsets continue!

So, overall, we had a fantastic time on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, swimming everyday, harassing turtles ‘Steve Irwin’ style and generally having a good time.

But – gotta’ keep moving, and we set sail for Sarawak on Borneo Island with a little trepidation. It’s a 6 day passage through areas that are infamous for pirate attacks and the South China sea also has a reputation for being stormy, so not a trip to be taken lightly !

As mentioned, this update was started while doing the passage, and so far we’ve had just about everything but snow! The first day was a good sailing day, we flew the spinnaker and covered many miles in light conditions. Days 2 and 3 were almost calm and we burnt up a lot of diesel under motor, and just as we were thinking we might avoid any storms – bang! Torrential rainstorms with dramatic lightning shows and strong winds from all directions have hit us 3 nights in a row, creating challenging sailing conditions and little sleep!

We had rain so hard that all our hatches leaked badly – previously, we hadn’t had any leaks, but these downpours were almost like being underwater and the seals were just not coping. There’s nothing worse than coming off watch and finding the bunk you were looking forward to crawling into is now a bit on the soggy side! Oh well, another boat repair job on the list of things to do ! Somebody once said that cruising in a yacht is just boat maintenance in exotic locations – and there is a lot of truth in that.

During these torrential downpours it was impossible to see anything at all, not even the front of the boat – we slow down by reducing sail as much as we can, and peer hopefully into the darkness, looking for any light that might give us a clue that trouble is ahead. We know that we have plenty of searoom (no land for miles) but these are busy shipping areas between Singapore and Hong Kong - the danger of running into, or being hit by another ship, is always there.

Eventually though , the rain eases, and we breath again, change into dry clothes and start mopping up - the joys of sailing!

Another rainstorm ahead!
Land ahoy - our first look at Borneo - Santubong Mountain

Still, as you will have gathered, we got here safely, after a difficult passage. Once we got the anchor down in the Santabong river, we slept for 14 hours straight. Now only have to contend with crocodiles in the river, and locals that still practiced head hunting until not so long ago!

The next update on Borneo should be a cracker!

This month’s correspondent burning up the laptop keyboard while becalmed in the doldrums

Don't forget you can send us an email and until then, cheers to all

B & G