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
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.
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
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
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.
Did you enjoy your visit
onboard? Please sign my
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