Home of the yacht "RHUMB DO"
  june 2011


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 01/06/11  The harbourmaster is being a bit crotchety with clearance papers, he maintains that he cannot issue any more papers other than the ones we already have for Terengganu, so there may be a problem in sailing direct to Kuching in Borneo (even though it is still Malaysia).  I did manage to get hold of a Celcom sim card which has allowed access to the internet albeit a slow connection!  We went onboard Neptune II this evening for a farewell drink with Gary and Vanessa who will be leaving and heading north tomorrow.

02/06/11  Said our goodbyes to Gary and Vanessa as they sailed out of the bay.  Helped Roger strip down his outboard engine which was refusing to start, the problem eventually being traced to a faulty spark plug.  Dinner ashore with several other boat crews.

04/06/11  Astrid and Roger came over before the sun got too hot, and hoisted me up the mast to replace a broken spreader light and to renew the flag halliards.  The rest of the day I spent trying to solve an electrical problem which has prevented me from hooking up to shore power - each time I try, the power trips out.....sometimes immediately, sometimes after several hours.....it's been driving me crazy!!   I also suspect that the battery charger is no longer working when connected to shore power, so I have two problems to solve, and at the end of the day I was no closer to a solution.  One good piece of news for me........I never did get the sail I ordered from Jeckells while in Turkey and they also refused to reimburse my money but I pursued a refund under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and I am pleased that the bank found in my favour and have agreed to refund my money in full.

06/05/11  After a day of showers yesterday, today is cloudy and blustery and much cooler.

07/06/11  Back to the heat!  Storm Dodger came into the marina to fill up with water and tie up for twenty-four hours,  Unable to stand my long hair any more (and unable to find any barber shops), I got Astrid to cut my hair to it's more normal length....what a relief.  Visited customs and immigration and got our papers altered for Borneo, plus our exit visas, contrary to what the grumpy harbourmaster had said a week ago.  We intend to sail tomorrow and head south again to a couple of islands before turning due east for the three day crossing to Borneo.

08/06/11  Managed to find someone in the marina who had connectors for filling gas bottles and so I spent some time gravity feeding my bottles to get just 3kg of extra gas, but it will help postpone the inevitable change of bottles and the associated changing of the boats pipework.  Then....calamity!   Engine checks showed that my fresh water header tank was empty.  Filling it and running the engine revealed a major leak on the fresh water pump.....damn it, that was a big setback as we have already checked out with immigration.  I stripped the alternator out, dismantled the pipework and removed the pump but could see no way of taking the pump apart.  It would be a machine shop job.  Fortunately, I had brought a spare pump from the UK when I sailed from Gillingham and was able to put that in it's place.  By now, of course, it was too late to go anywhere, so departure rescheduled for tomorrow morning.

09/06/11  The marina office has a sign on the door.....'Open 0800 - 1700'......by 0945 it was still closed and when we saw the security officer on the gate, he said that he was fed up with always being asked about the lazy harbourmaster and that we should write in to the authorities and complain.  We explained that we couldn't wait any longer and had to sail, to which he replied with a shrug of his shoulders.  So at 1015, we slipped and made out to sea, heading for Pulau Pemanggil where we anchored on the NE tip at 1545.

10/06/11  Not a particularly good night's sleep because of the anchor chain noises as it scraped over the surrounding rocks and transmitted the sound to the boat.  Weighed anchor at 1030 and made our way to Pulau Aur, arriving at 1615.  The anchorage is very deep and after several abortive attempts to anchor, I gave up and went around the corner to another bay - but that was too shallow and rocky to anchor safely.  I returned to the original anchorage and had another attempt, dropping over 40 metres of chain, only to drag again.  Jean-Francoise (sp) from Intiaq and Pete from Orono 1 came over and helped me to move to one of the dive school buoys in the hope that I could stay there for a few days.  As it was Friday, I was told that I would have to move tomorrow because of the weekend diving.

11/06/11  No-one came over and complained of my presence despite a hectic day of diving activities.....and I kept quiet!

14/06/11  Again, no-one came over on Sunday and all the divers left on the ferry during the afternoon, so I remained comfortable on the buoy.  We've spent our time relaxing, eating basic food ashore, and most of the others have been snorkelling.  Leah has been over to my boat most mornings for maths schooling which gives Astrid and Roger a break from teaching.  The plan is to sail tomorrow morning.....but the winds are picking up and I don't think any of us are looking forward to the long crossing to Borneo.

15/06/11  Orono 1 and Intiaq left first thing this morning - we were a little more lazy and didn't set sail until 0915, motoring out of the anchorage and setting a course of 095 deg under a reefed mainsail and full genoa.  We made good progress until around 1pm when the wind died a little and both Storm Dodger and Rhumb Do slowed down to under 4 knots.  At 5pm, we added the iron sail (engine) to the configuration, then put a second reef in the main in anticipation of strong winds during the night.  Just before midnight, we picked up squalls on the radar at a distance of 10 miles and heading our way!

16/06/11  The squalls didn't amount to very much, the strongest winds being around 25 knots and we continued to make between 4 and 5 knots throughout the night, picking up to 6+ knots as the day wore on.

17/06/11  Beginning to feel very tired now and taking 5 minutes cat-naps whenever I could.  At 1pm, I saw what appeared to be a dhow rigged boat some miles ahead on my starboard bow but when it got closer it turned out to be a fairly large chunk of land about 15 metres across, complete with swaying palm fronds.  I was frantically looking at the chart plotter and thinking "there shouldn't be any land here."  As I drew closer still, it became apparent the whole thing was floating and had obviously broken free from the coastline of Borneo and was drifting westward.  It's a good job I didn't come across that during the night!  By midnight, we were just offshore at the western edge of Borneo, just where the border between Sarawak and Indonesia is, and looking for a safe place to anchor.

18/06/11  After over an hour of cruising around, I was getting very tired and called Roger on the vhf, saying we should move on to Plan B as it was obvious there was no place to anchor safely here.  We then motor sailed another 12 miles or so up the coast to the island of  Pulau Telang Telang Besar, where we anchored at 3am and went to bed!  The island is a turtle reserve and during the morning, numerous green backed turtles had been drifting by, so in the afternoon we all went ashore to the small beach to see what goes on.  There was a guy there who spoke English and was the keeper of the records for the island, he explained that the turtles come ashore at night, lay their eggs in the soft sand and go back out to sea.  In the mornings, he digs the eggs up and records each one before moving them inside the protected fenced area until they hatch - then they are released back into the sea.  The numbers are amazing.......in the month of June last year, 51,488 eggs were recorded!!   We weighed anchor at 7pm for a night passage to the mouth of the river leading to Kuching, taking it very slowly as we needed to commence the passage up river on the flood tide.

19/06/11  It became clear that we would arrive at the river much too soon despite slowing down throughout the night, so we decided to anchor again off Pulau Lalei and have a couple of hours sleep.  We dropped anchor at 0700 and waited there until just after noon, then weighed anchor again and made our way around the headland and into the river mouth.  The passage up river was much easier than the pilot book makes out!  These authors make everything sound very difficult..........if they wrote a chapter about the River Medway (my home cruising area), none of us would ever go up the river!!   The river was littered with ships which had been abandoned to rust, a graveyard of once proud ocean going vessels, but traffic in and out was very light and we arrived off the 'marina' at Kuching at 1700hrs, and were tied up alongside 15 minutes later.  Orono 1 and Intiaq were of course already in the marina.

20/06/11  Borneo is the collective name  of three countries, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia - a bit like England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland being known as Great Britain.  Although we had left mainland Malaysia and now entered Malaysia again, we still had to check in with Immigration, Customs and the Harbourmaster - the Borneo Malay authorities like to be a little different from the mainland Malays for some reason.  Anyway, Roger and I crossed the river in his dinghy to visit the appropriate offices, keeping a close watch for the reported man eating crocodiles that live in this river!   The harbourmaster was easy and Immigration was just 50 metres away across the road but the two were separated by a high fence............and it was miles to walk round!  After the official bits were done, we walked again into Pending Heights in the search for bread and other essentials before walking all the way back and crossing the river again.   Tiredness was now catching up and I was in bed very early - despite today being my birthday!  Guess I'll just have to have a celebratory drink another time.

21/06/11  Didn't wake up until nearly 10am......and I'm always up by six!  Never mind, nothing lost.  Went into Kuching with Roger, Astrid and Jordan to have a look around and find where we can get pumps repaired, buy batteries (Roger's are cooked) and generally get the feel of the place.  A couple of yachts suffered damage in the crossing from the mainland - torn mainsail on Full Flight and a catamaran with a major break in the beam between the two trampolines

22/06/11  The entire marina complement boarded two mini-buses and went off to Sarawak Cultural Village for the day.  This is a village showing the way that different 'tribes' live in traditional style, with longhouses, dance, music and so forth.  I think everyone enjoyed the experience.  We later went to Santubong anchorage and met up with the other rally participants who had anchored there.

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