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The Adventure ....



where are we ?

December 2010
North Borneo
from the Kudat to Tawau - and back

Hello everyone !

We're still in and around Borneo, and have been enjoying it immensely. This part of Malaysia is a wonderful cruising ground, ofering a variety of anchorages - from extinct volcano islands to coral atolls, vast inland rivers winding into tropical jungles, and occasional towns with all the conveniences of big cities (supermarket, beer, fuel, etc) but with the benefiit of a more relaxed and friendly population that comes with smaller towns. There are a few boats around the area, but nothing like the flotilla of cruisers doing the West coast of Malaysia/Andaman Sea run, so the result is we can choose to find our very own private anchorage, or seek out a few other boats when we want to be sociable! The sailing has been good too, for about the last month, we've sailed almost everywhere! Another nice contrast to the becalmed, 'motor boating' that we'd become used to, typically most days have produced consistent winds of around 10 -12 knots - Paradise ! (turns out this is due to cyclones to the north of us - Vietnam just got hammered). Read on for all the gory details !

Gill and traditional dance troupe in Sandakan
- she felt out of place without a hat !
colourful fresh market in Sandakan, excellent choice and quality
of fruit and veg comes down from the highlands and mountains.

The Sail Malaysia East Rally extension finished off with a great dinner and dance show in Sandakan, then a final farewell dinner in Tawau. We had an excellent time on the rally and highly recommend it to other yachts coming this way. We spent some time in both these towns, and enjoyed the friendly people and very welcoming yacht clubs.

Tawau Yacht club, great hospitality with good food, cold beer (at cheapest price we've seen!) staff and club members made us very welcome.
TYC deserves the good reputation it has. Now one of our favourite haunts !

A day sail from Sandakan is the Kinnabatangan River, and the opportunity to enjoy a different type of boating adventure. The river is around 560 km long and we travelled around 120 km up it without too much trouble, and in awe of the spectacular scenery and wildlife as the majestic river meanders around through rainforest jungle. We couldn't help thinking it was like going up the Amazon River (wrong continent!) and also remided us of the movie 'African Queen' (another wrong continent - but you get the idea!). We spent around 3 weeks up the river, enjoying the tranquility, and daily encounters with wildlife. We spent some time with English boat 'Fat Annie', jointly hiring a small motor boat and guide to explore some of the smaller tributaries and creeks. Richard and Amy (Fat Annie) took some fantastic photos, which inspired Brian to write an article for the Australian 'Cruising Helmsman' magazine. We expect this to be published early in 2011, so we'll post a copy of the article here soon. In the meantime here's just a few of the wonderful pics, but we think you'll be really impressed by the fantastic video put together by Rich. Click the forward arrow to start streaming and enjoy!

Destiny motoring up river , keeping a good look out for logs, and crocodiles pretending to be logs!
Proboscis monkeys were common, and entertaining with their unusual way of leaping from great heights into the next tree.
The crews from Destiny and Fat Annie, go exploring, and are lucky to catch a rare sighting of distant relatives
Colourful kingfisher and yellow banded snake - just some of huge variety of wildlife living on the river banks.

Dawn mist over the river, start of another perfect day.... ...but first chore is to clear the debris that's collected on the anchor chain overnight!
Anchored off a riverside lodge, gives the opton to come ashore for dinner ... or stay on board to enjoy the peace.
Often we'd be enthralled by fireflies at night

There are said to be 2 herds of pygmy elephants that roam around the Kinabatangen River and surrounding jungles, but despite spending 3 weeks looking, they wouldn't co-operate and we failed to find any - never mind, we'll just have to go back again! The desire for a swim in clean, croc free water and the need for more provisions (beer) helped us make the decision to leave the river and return to the sea. Nearby are the world renowned dive sites such as Sipidan and Mabul, and of course we have the luxury of being able to explore and find our own "special places".

Some of the sand islands look like a big tide would wipe them out, but sea gypsies (an indigenous tribe) make a fishing vllage on this one. Makes a good overnight anchorage for us !
Brian had to climb the mast to re-attach some wiring, and took the camera with him - depth is around 8m and our shadow on the sand bottom shows how clear the water is.
Some of the islands are more substantial, being extinct volcanoes - this one is Gaya Island (near Semporna) where we spent a couple of days
some of the things we have to avoid - a bamboo fish trap structure in over 10m depth of water,
and a barge loaded with logs from the rainforest (tug is 1/4 mile in front)
An old drilling platform is now put to good use
as a divers' hostel, near Mabul
Seas were mostly very calm, in this pic our trail is visible for miles. Thunderstorms are common tho', and lightning zapped our
chartplotter for the 2nd time!
Semporna - many buildings extend out into the water
- the Venice of Asia ?
And many villages are built on sandbanks with no direct access
to dry land
A gaggle of squid fishing boats decided to let us lead the way through the reefs into a safe anchorage, we presumed they'd figured we had accurate electronic charts (we did!)
A Filipino fishing family comes to sell us fresh crab, and were grateful for the old clothes we gave them.
In Tawau - an enterprising tailor sets up shop in the market, and breakfast - coffee and wonton noodle soup - good value at less than A$2
Not so pretty ! Bits of deer on sale at the market,
shortage of table space is no problem!
Full moon lights up a tranquil anchorage at Banggi Island near Kudat

As planned, we returned to Kudat in good time for haulout at the shipyard. An interesting experience, sometimes a little unsettling as the yard was full and we were originally told "no space", but perseverance, by asking every day, eventually got us a spot and we were lifted out at the end of November. The yard is unlike any we've been in before, but friendly and helpful once you get used to the very basic facilities.

Reason for haulout is twofold - firstly, it's time for Destiny to get a hull clean and repaint - particularly as we got a little too close to a couple of reefs and need to do a bit of cosmetic repairs to the keel. Secondly, it's the safest place in this area for leaving D3 while we take the silver bird back to OZ to visit friends and family. It will be our first trip back to Brisbane and Sydney for 3 years, so well overdue. Lookout Australia!

The busy harbour at Kudat - close to the Philippines
A gang of grey yachties take over the Kudat Golf Club
every Sunday night for dinner and tall tales.
Shipyard at Kudat - Destiny's home for next 2 months, and ... the view from the cockpit as she gets a well earned rest and dry out.
In keeping with tradition, we finish with a sunset shot ..... or two!

We'll return to Kudat at beginning of Feb 2011, finish the anti-foul paint job then plan to explore the Philippines, which we hear is beautiful.

In the meantime, we wish peace and happiness to everyone, have a safe and joyous festive season and New Year.

See you in 2011.

B & G