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  january 2012


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01/01/12  HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.    May you all have a healthy and prosperous year. 

I have no idea what the weather is like in the UK at this moment - but here, it's hot!  I am usually up and sitting in the cockpit by 6am with a cup of coffee and a book but by 7.30am it's just too hot to sit there anymore without rigging sheets as curtains to keep the heat of the sun out.

04/01/12   Most of the talk this year has been about where to go next.  Some of the mixed nationalities (English, Australian, Swiss, French, Japanese, American, German) have left in the last couple of days but Roger and I are still undecided.  Continuing eastward is fraught with problems, not least the lack of charts east of the Philippines and the need for cooking gas!  To head eastward to Palau then turning south to the Pacific presents major problems.  A return to Malaysia (Borneo, Brunei, Miri) is not out of the question and may well be the only option left after we have reviewed all the problems.  Last night, Roger, Dave and I went out to the next village on a bar hop - which isn't very difficult to do as there are only three bars - but we had an enjoyable night out.  Tonight, Roger, Astrid and myself went into town and had dinner in the Pergola restaurant ......and very good it was too!

07/01/12  Present left this morning to attempt to sail further north but said they would turn around if the weather conditions were too bad.  Two other boats also left.  Roger and I have decided that it is just too complicated to continue any further north or east whilst the north-east monsoon winds blow and we will return to Borneo in the next week or so.  It's a shame because I would love to see more of the Philippines but it just isn't practical to pound into waves and wind for days on end, whereas a journey south westward back to Borneo should be downwind sailing.

09/01/12  I went into town with Roger and Astrid, got myself a long overdue haircut for 50 pesos (about 0.80p), not quite as cheap as in India but hey, I'm not complaining!  Later, in the evening, we went to the yacht club for a beer and fish'n'chips, bidding farewell to Dave who is leaving tomorrow to return to Thailand.

10/01/12  Dave onboard Mirage III left this morning (sometime between 0430 and 0600).  Roger, Leah and I took Mutley to the vet for a haircut, leaving him there while we went into town to do battle with officialdom.  As we will be leaving in a few days time, we thought we had better check in!  Most yotties arrive in the Philippines and delay checking in for as long as possible because of well known corruption amongst the officials involved.  An initial visa of 21 days should be free before payment is required for a further 38 day extension but cruisers hereabout have been charged varying sums of money on first checking in - and we were no exception.  The 'bitch from hell' in the Immigration Office immediately launched into her 'fee routine' and when we refused to pay we were subjected to the run-a-round routine.  "You must go to Customs and Quarantine first," she said.  So off we go in a trike (a covered motorcycle and sidecar and the main form of transport in the Philippines) across town to the Customs Office, where after a few questions about where we've been for the last four weeks, we were given our paperwork (and charged 115 pesos).  Then it was back to Immigration to find them shut for lunch and that woman reminding us of the need to visit Quarantine.  We ignored that advice as we knew it could be very expensive, and went for some lunch ourselves.  On returning to the Immigration Office, no mention of Quarantine was made and our passports were duly stamped, making us 'legal'..........but she still demanded 500 pesos 'admin' fee which I of course queried.  I got a load of bullshit about Puerto Princesa not being a clearing in port (it is) and that yachts were privileged to have this facility here.  Anyway, I considered that sum (about 7) to be reasonable considering that we had already been here more than our allotted first period of 21 days, and therefore paid her.  I then asked for an official receipt that I could forward on to the British Consul.   She wasn't best pleased about that and stormed off, telling one of the junior officers to attend to my request.  Of course I have no intention of complaining to anyone.......it was just a little dig to get back at the unfriendly 'bitch from hell.'

11/01/12  Today we all ended up in jail.   That's not as bad as it sounds, Immigration were not getting their own back .....we visited jail is more accurate!  We all piled into a trike (six on a motorbike and sidecar?) and drove out to Iwahig Jail and Penal Farm - an open prison facility some kilometres from Abanico.  Astrid and Roger took along some pork chops and sausages and for a few pesos they were cooked by the prisoners on a BBQ while we waited in a small grass roofed hut by the riverside.  You can swim in the river but it's cold mountain water and only Astrid and Leah took the plunge!  Prisoners stopped by and tried to sell all sorts of hand carved wooden knick-knacks and were interested to hear about our living on boats.  One guy had been 'inside' for 28 years on a double life sentence (later commuted to 40 years) for murder and drug related offences.  After having a look around and our lunch prepared by a murderer.......we took off back towards Abanico, stopping at Irawan Eco-Park so that Leah could have a go on the zip wire slide, ride a horse and be rolled down a hill strapped inside a large ball - something she thoroughly enjoyed if her laughs and screams all the way down the hill were anything to go by!  We spent the evening in the yacht club having a few beers and a chin wag with Tony and Tracey of Lady Silvia.

13/01/12  Happy Birthday Babs!  Trapped onboard all day yesterday because of 26 knot winds which eventually eased in the evening and allowed me to take my lightweight rub-a-dub to shore and have something to eat and a natter with Tony, Tracey (Lady Silvia) and Ross of Bewitched.  Late morning, I visited the Immigration and Customs Departments again to get sailing clearance back to Borneo with an intended sailing day of Sunday.   During the evening, eight of us - John and Sheila (PFM), Tony and Tracey (Lady Silvia), Joss (Bewitched), Roger and Astrid (Storm Dodger) and myself went into town and had a meal in the Pergola bar before going on to the Departure Lounge where we stayed until well after 4am, returning to the boats at 5am - as none of us had keys to the yacht club gate, we had to knock John (the owner) up to gain access.  I guess that's the Sunday sailing out of the window!!

15/01/2  Sunday and our intended departure date .......it'll be a day or two more yet because of the lack of winds or from the wrong direction!  I'm not unduly worried about that because I like it here, the Philippines are great - very cheap to live here, friendly people, a good yottie contingent and in my opinion the best looking women of all countries visited!  Worrying news this morning of the cruise liner Costa Concordia running aground and listing over off the coast of Tuscany, allegedly 4 miles off course at the time.  Lives have been lost and the skipper arrested.

16/01/12  The other day, Tracey asked me why my boat was named Rhumb Do - a question I am frequently asked, so I've added that info to The Boat page in an attempt to explain the reasoning behind the name.  We now intend to leave on either Wednesday (forecast SE winds), or Thursday (E winds)

17/01/12  Hauled up 30 metres of anchor chain for cleaning, the first 15 metres were barnacle encrusted (the bit that hangs through the water), the second 15 metres had a weed growth that was even more difficult to remove.  After cleaning, I dropped it again just in case we get a blow!

18/01/12  Time to clean the dinghy in preparation for stowing.  I hauled it up on deck and as expected, the bottom was covered with barnacles!  Somewhat more alarming was the discovery of a snake on the foredeck....sunning itself on the anchor chain!  It started to come toward me, it's forked tongue flicking menacingly before I eventually frightened it down the chain and shook it off into the water.  Later, Tony and Tracey, who being Australian, are used to slithery, slimy things told me it was probably a Krait and deadly poisonous.  We had a beer or two in the yacht club during the evening and said our goodbyes to the other yotties, then were unable to pay our bill because the girls had gone to bed.

19/01/12  Into the yacht club again first thing this morning, had some ham and eggs for breakfast and finally paid our bill.  By 10am, we were underway and making our way out of the anchorage and back to sea.  I can't help but think I've made a wrong decision in checking out of the Philippines so early as it is such a great place to be, a Christian place with steak and pork available freely, cheap transport, beer and food, friendly people,  - but too late now.  The only seemingly expensive things here are telephone calls and fuel (still cheaper than UK) and I have calculated that I will be able to reach Brunei on the fuel in the tank, even if I had to motor the whole way, so six of my deck jerry cans are empty.  We sailed some and motor sailed when the wind died, anchoring at 1700 behind Malanao Island.  Roger and Astrid came over for a few sundowners.

20/01/12  Weighed anchor at 0800 and as yesterday, motor sailed down to Inamukan Island, where we anchored at 1600, the skies turning black at sunset as the fruit bats left the island and headed over to Palawan.  I went over to Storm Dodger for dinner and a drink or two.

21/01/12  Up early and watched the bats returning in their thousands as the sun rose.  Weighed anchor at 0700 and headed out of Island Bay to continue southward to San Antonio Bay where we anchored in a downpour and strong winds off the small fishing village of Bataraza.  When the rain stopped, Roger and Astrid came over for a sundowner again, telling me that Leah had been unwell all day - perhaps tomorrow we will do just a short hop?

22/01/12  As we were only going to do a short trip today, we went ashore in the morning and had a look around the small village.  We seemed to be the centre of attention with villagers looking on at the 'strange white men' and practising their limited English.  By mid-day when we returned to the boats, the wind had picked up and was blowing 20 knots plus, so the sail around the headland was a bit frantic, dodging all the shallows, shoals, reefs, rocks and sandbars - I will be glad to get into open deep water again.  We rounded Iglesia Point and tucked ourselves in between the point and the Okayan River entrance for the night.

23/01/12  Weighed at 0615 to make our way to Balabac Island.  With a 1 metre sea running behind us, it was a rolly passage but we were pushed along by strong tidal streams, arriving off the anchorage earlier than anticipated.  Entrance to Clarendon Bay was difficult because the reefs lining each side were invisible, unlike our first entry into the bay last November, but we safely anchored inside at 1545.  Sadly this will be our last Philippine anchorage for the foreseeable future.  Maybe one day I'll come back here? 

24/01/12  As soon as it was light enough to see, I hauled up the 30 metres of anchor chain and headed out through the narrow reef entrance.  The boat rolled badly when first out in the open sea but settled down when the wind filled the genoa and we were on our course of 202o towards Borneo.  We made good progress but eventually ran into heavy rain, thunder and lightning although it didn't slow us down at all.  The rain then continued for the rest of the day even though the wind changed from north-easterly to south-easterly and I was soaked to the skin, cold and wishing the miles away.  Thank goodness it's the 'dry' season!  We dropped anchor in the bay of Tiga Bangau on the northern tip of Borneo at 1715......so here we are, back in Malaysia.

25/01/12  Dammit, the heads pump seized up this morning - so I have no loo for the time being and it will be a case of 'bucket and chuck it' until such time as I can repair the pump.  Not a job I'm looking forward to!!  On our way again by 0800, motoring out of the bay and hoisting the genoa.  With a following wind and a following sea, we initially made 7 knots but that soon died down to a more sedate 5.5 knots.  Closing on the bay at Usukan, the wind picked up again and the seas built up to 2 metres which caused me some problems around the Slime Rock area.  The genoa backed and went 'the wrong way' around the forestay, then I couldn't reef it because the reefing line jammed around the foredeck cleat.  I had to scramble forwards on the bucking deck and free off the line before returning to the cockpit and rescuing the genoa.  I entered the bay at 4pm under a third of the sail and anchored close to Storm Dodger.  We are the only two boats here.  After a few sundowners with Roger and Astrid on my boat, I was kindly invited over to theirs for a couple more and some dinner. 

26/01/12  A day of rest.  We remained at anchor throughout the day.......and it rained most of the day again!

27/01/12  Sailed at 0800 heading for Kota Kinabalu.  With a following sea and fickle winds, it was another rolly passage, and one which threatened rain again throughout the day.  The rain finally started as we rounded Pulau Gaya on the last leg into Wawasan Town anchorage where I dropped the hook at 1600.  Now we are back in the known areas of thievery and it's time to get my 'welcome mats' out for unwelcome night time visitors (I must include a photo of my mats one day).

Kota Kinabalu waterfront.

31/01/12  It's been a couple of days of wandering around and shopping, with the exception of a whole day stripping the heads pump, cleaning it all out, and renewing the joker valve which had split.  With the aid of Roger's manufactured gas bottle pipe, I also managed to fill one of my gas bottles which negates the need for hurry to Miri now.  The weather has been mostly kind with just the odd shower or two since we arrived here.

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