01/09/11 When Storm Dodger
arrived yesterday, little Leah wasn't very well and had already visited
a doctor in Kota Kinabalu for some medicines. At midnight, she was
no better and by 2am, Roger and Astrid had to get a taxi and take her up
to the hospital. She was kept in overnight for tests and
observation, Astrid staying with her while Rog returned to the boat.
Today, Rog went to the hospital while Astrid stayed on the boat.
Although the marina has now officially closed, management are allowing
us to stay for a little while and the pile driver is waiting for a new
shipment of piles to arrive, which could take five or six days and means
that it is peaceful here now.
02/09/11 The hospital, as a result of
Leah's blood tests, now think she has contracted Dengue Fever (I know
what that is like!) and are keeping her in until her high temperature
subsides. Roger and Astrid are doing shifts at the hospital, but
we do all have an hour in the mornings to have coffee together and
another hour late afternoon to have something to eat.
04/09/11 Leah is still in hospital.
The doctor's wanted to discharge her yesterday but Roger and Astrid were
having none of it. She is clearly still not well, hasn't eaten or
drunk anything for days and is still on an intravenous drip. The
yacht Alice arrived this afternoon with a few engine problems,
nice to see them again and have a chat, I last spoke to them in Port
Said, although their were in Hurghada at the same time as me as well.
I guess that for the moment "I'm living next door to Alice!"
06/09/11 With Leah now out of hospital
(yesterday) and Roger's autohelm repaired, we are now free to leave
Labuan. The current plan is to make a short trip to the Klias
Wetlands - a 20 mile upriver trip before going to Muara for a couple of
days and then heading north to Kota Kinabalu and beyond. However, we will stay here for a
couple more days and stock up with a few cases of beer. I've now
caught Roger and Astrid's cold and feel rough!
07/09/11 Finished the scrubbing of all
my upholstery this morning and refitted the covers to the seats, stowed
away my couple of cases of Tiger Beer and a few bottles of Bacardi and
Vodka. I didn't fall for the temptation of the cheap single malt
whiskies! Alice sailed just before mid-day having fixed
their overheating troubles. During the evening, we all went ashore
and walked to the Jolly Roger - a bar we had discovered which did very
acceptable western style fish 'n' chips!
08/09/11 Once more I was awoken with
rain coming through the open hatch just after 2am to the accompaniment
of thunder and vivid lightning flashes. After breakfast, I cleaned
the log impeller and the engine raw water intake strainer before going
to the shopping mall and buying last minute bread, eggs etc., paying my
marina fees (very cheap), topping up the fresh water tank, doing the
last of my washing and having a shower. It was in the shower that
I noticed droppings.......rat droppings!! Great, just what I
need when about to sail, a bloody rat onboard. Funnily enough, I
thought I had heard something rustling the night before and had shone
the torch into the area from which the sound came, but had seen nothing.
Along with Storm Dodger, we slipped at 1515 hrs and made out to
the NNE, heading for the Klias Wetlands by following waypoints provided
by the Skipper of the ferry Wawasan Perdana. The charts
show depths of just 0.3 metres on the approaches to Sungai Klias (River
my newly functioning depth sounder showed the depth under the keel to be
0.8 metres at the lowest point - so it was a little nerve wracking until
we were across the bar and into the river mouth proper. The depths
then showed 10 metres as we passed the village of Menumbok and anchored
close inshore for the night. On anchoring, I set my rat trap in
the heads, just behind the toilet bowl and baited it with cheese.
I also baited two of Roger's cages with apple, putting one on the shower
floor and the other in the after cabin. I then got myself a beer
and sat in the cockpit to relax. Before I could even get half way
through the can of beer, I heard the sound of a trap springing and
bingo...........one rat with a broken neck!! It was obviously
hungry and fancied the bit of cheese, well, it's not hungry now!!
Disposed of the body and sat back to enjoy my beer even more.
09/09/11 After a very peaceful (but hot)
night at anchor, we weighed at 0830 and because of the ideal calm,
windless conditions, both Roger and I decided to calibrate our autohelms
by swinging the compass, checking deviation and making compass
alignments. An hour later, we started our trip up river towards
Kota Klias. I should explain that we have no charts for this and
the C-Map charts on the chartplotter only show minimum detail for a
part of the river, so it was going to be a case of Mk 1 Eyeball for
the entire 25 miles upstream. The river meanders through a
torturous series of bends with palm lined banks for the first two thirds
of the distance, then the landscape changes to trees and mangroves.
We found the deepest water on the outside of each bend but as the tide
was ebbing, this was also the strongest current against us (and the
longest distance!). About three quarters of the way to Kota Klias
we came across another yacht - the Savanah - anchored mid-stream
and we exchanged pleasantries with the skipper as we squeezed by.
It was the only boat we saw for the entire voyage up the river.
At 1630 we reached the limit of our journey, low power lines across the
river prevent any yacht travelling further and Rog dropped anchor on a
bend just past the visitor centre. I turned around and
rafted up alongside Storm Dodger for the night and we all had dinner and
a couple of drinks as we listened to the sound of the jungle around us.
There was no moon, just total darkness and drizzle!
10/09/11 Woken by the sound of monkeys
fighting, I made my first coffee and sat in the cockpit from 5am and
watched the dawn break and the trees come alive with a variety of birds.
At six o'clock, the first troop of Proboscis monkeys arrived in the
trees closest to the boats and sat munching leaves. By 9 o'clock
there were dozens of them on both sides of the river. Both banks
of the river are only a boat length away from us and we sometimes brush
into the lowest of the trees as the boats swing around the anchor, so we
have a really good view of the monkey antics. A couple of hours
later, we fixed Rog's 'big' engine onto his dinghy and all went further
upstream beyond the power cables, to explore the narrowing river there.
Crocodiles up to 5 metres long have been seen in this river, so we were
keeping a close look out for them! During the afternoon we
decided to go by road into Beaufort, a small town inland from Klias.
Once only accessible by railway, there is now a fast road into the
little town .....but no taxi's or buses! So we thumbed a car down
and cadged a lift into town with the driver of this clapped out heap,
paying him ten ringgits for the ride. There isn't much in
Beaufort, just a few of the usual shops and a small supermarket, so we
didn't stay long before returning to Klias and the boats. The
people of Beaufort however, are extremely friendly and wanted to chat to
us as they clearly do not see many Europeans in this part of the world.
11/09/11 This evening we had a BBQ
onboard Storm Dodger - just before the downpour of rain which
totally blotted out our view of the International Space Station passing
directly overhead. Trees close to us looked as if strung with
Christmas lights as the fireflies tried to attract mates. Small
bats swooped silently between the boats, just quick flashes of wings in
the glow of the cockpit lights. This really is a great spot to
spend a few days.
12/09/11 This morning, I again sat in
the cockpit and watched the dawn break. It was so still and quiet,
mist rising from the water as small wading birds looked for breakfast at
the waters edge and a troop of maybe 30 or 40 small grey monkeys picked
leaves close by the boat stern. But all good things come to an end
and following three tranquil and peaceful nights of resting, we started
to make our way downriver just before 2pm, using the ebb tide to quicken
our passage. I think all of us were a little sad to leave this
spot and we all think it was well worth the trip up the winding river to
see the wildlife. We had decided to break the 25 mile journey
downstream into two parts and just a couple of hours later, after
passing John and Shiela onboard PFN going the other way, Rog anchored
in an open straight part of the river and I again rafted up alongside
for the night.
13/09/11 Despite the openness of the
river at this point, and the banks lined with Nipa Palms, we still saw
monkeys in the early morning. Getting underway again around 2pm,
we continued our passage downstream to our original anchorage off
Menumbok where we again anchored and rafted for the night.
(some photo's of the river)
14/09/11 On our way again by 0845,
making our way out to sea. We were over the shallowest part of the
bar by 1015 and into deep water again, setting course for Brunei and the
port of Muara. Our arrival there was on an ebb tide which made
entry somewhat slow - keeping my genoa out for extra drive up the
channel and into the harbour. We anchored off the Royal Brunei
Yacht Club at 1630 and went ashore for a meal in the club, where I ran
into Barry (New World) from Miri.
15/09/11 This morning I weighed anchor
and moved closer to Storm Dodger so the dinghy rides would not be
so long. We later went ashore and thumbed a lift into Muara where
we met Pat and Tony (Full Flight) who are on their way back
south, before all catching a bus back to the yacht club for dinner.
A heavy downpour then trapped us in the club for some hours but
fortunately we did have a few drinks in our rucksacks with which to pass
18/09/11 Spent the last few days
relaxing and enjoying the pool and the good food in the Yacht Club.
Full Flight left this morning on their way to Miri before heading
back to the Langkawi area.
20/09/11 A disturbing event occurred
this morning. Yesterday, Roger and I organised our fuel delivery
to the yacht club and because of darkness, we left the jerry cans at the
root of the jetty and covered them with tarpaulin for the night.
At around 8am this morning, another yottie helped himself to 80 litres of Roger's
fuel and became aggressive when challenged by Roger. To some extent,
we can understand theft by the locals in some of the poorer countries,
but to steal from a fellow yachtsman is simply despicable. We were
later told that the same guy attended an earlier buffet dinner
in the club, where he and his crewmate not only enjoyed the dinner but
then stuffed their bags with food to take back to the boat, and left
without paying anything! Again when challenged, he became abusive
and claimed the food was terrible and that he and his crew had been ill
all night. His reputation is also known at the local dive school. This sort of behaviour from another liveaboard has left a sour taste in our mouths. Should any
other boats in this area encounter the catamaran Sharkbite, be on
your guard......you have been warned.
24/09/11 We've visited Bandar Seri
Begawan twice during the last few days. The pariah mentioned above
has returned to the anchorage and I've discovered a major problem with
my gearbox! Engagement of forward gear has become intermittent,
refusing to engage more often than not. I changed the gearbox
transmission fluid this morning
in the vain hope that would cure it, but no such luck. I suspect a
major internal failure, probably the selector springs or forward clutch
plates. Whatever the fault, it is a big set-back for me and one
which will entail the difficult removal of the gearbox - I'm not even
sure if it can be done without first removing the engine. The
associated problem of course is getting the boat to somewhere safe to do
26/09/11 Roger and I took Storm
Dodger to Labuan on a visa run, while Astrid, Jordan and Leah stayed
on my boat and at the yacht club. Our crossing there was very
rolly in quite a big swell. After three hours in Labuan, we
started off back at 4pm, only to turn around again a half hour later in
30+ knots of wind, torrential rain and a heavy sea, re-anchoring off the
ferry port until things calmed down a little. We arrived back in
Muara anchorage around 10pm.
27/09/11 After much discussion and head
scratching, the plan is to order a new gearbox from the UK and have it
shipped to Brunei, then change it whilst at anchor (if it can be done!).
The alternatives were to go to Labuan (no marina there now) or returning
to Mira against the prevailing currents and winds under sail alone.
Removal of the gearbox for repair would not make economical sense - I
can do it, but after ordering spare parts from England (and probably not
getting everything needed) the time and cost factors involved in a total
strip down and rebuild are simply not worth the effort. On a
boat...if it's not one thing, it's another!! At least we haven't
had the tornado suffered by yotties in Lefkas, Greece.
Internet remains a problem, it's very slow!
29/09/11 Helped Roger to remove his
windlass and take it ashore for overhaul - the motor had been playing up
and was on the verge of burn out. Because of communication
problems - slow internet connection and no mobile phone (mine is Malay
and too expensive in Brunei), getting the information needed for correct
gearbox ordering is proving somewhat difficult. It's a stressful
time too because of being anchored in what is known as "lightning
alley," - so called because of the amount of lightning strikes
hereabouts. Once I start to dismantle the transmission, I will
have no way of rescuing the boat in the event of a storm sweeping
through the anchorage. Lack of direct sunlight has also had a
marked effect on the state of the batteries and the fridge is constantly
shutting itself down through lack of power.
30/09/11 Happy Birthday Angie!
With Roger's help, I think I've managed to identify the damper plate
required for my engine and also locate a gearbox in the UK. It's
now just a matter of confirming everything and getting the parts shipped
out - another huge blow to the cruising funds!
Did you enjoy your visit
onboard? Please sign my
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