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    november 2018


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02/11/18 Fri.  We are running a little late and still doing jobs and shopping - but we hope to check out tomorrow and sail on Sunday.  Today, Ana made a cover for the inverted dinghy (while it's on deck), to keep the sun off it.  We did the market shopping this morning, stocked on veg and chicken.

03/11/18 Sat.  The plan was to check out this morning and sail tomorrow but strong NE winds put paid to that.  We will wait a day or two!

05/11/18 Mon.  Checked out this morning, filled the water tank and slipped the mooring.  Winds are NE, so we will be against the elements.  Not quite what happened!!  When I tried to start the engine, there was nothing - finally tracked the fault down to a failed relay on the ignition circuit, so into town again to buy an new one (and a spare).  Changed that and engine started but only ran for a few seconds - obviously air in the fuel lines despite running the engine for a long while after changing the filter last week.  Once I had bled the air out, the engine started and ran as normal, so then we slipped and motored towards Tiga Island (It was now almost 2pm).  We were able to hoist the mainsail and get some help from that until the wind increased and backed onto the nose.  The wheelpilot clutch refused to stay engaged and kept jumping out, so I had to fix that while underway, then the temperature gauge went off, so rewired that while Ana steered.  The last two hours toward Tiga were hard going, it was dark, the wind was 30 kts, thunder and lightning all around us, heavy rain and rough seas.  On arrival at Tiga, the other three boats, Alistair, George and a catamaran who left before us were already at anchor.

06/11/18 Tues.  Alistair weighed anchor first at 0600 and headed back to Labuan with autopilot problems.  The cat. went next and we weighed anchor at 0630, shortly followed by George.  Both those boats turned into Kota Kinabalu, but we carried on to Telek Usukan where we knew we could rest in shelter for a day.

07/11/18 Weds.  A day of rest.  Just after 0900, we saw both George and the catamaran passing the bay entrance, so they are now ahead of us.

08/11/18 Thurs.  Weighed anchor at 0500 and again had to motor into headwinds towards the Tip of Borneo with frequent rain showers and uncomfortable short seas.  We had now burned far more fuel than we anticipated, so I made the decision to go around the tip and head for Kudat where we could get more diesel.  We entered the small bay just as it got dark (and in heavy rain) and anchored in the middle, near Penuwasa shipyard.  With a sea of white horses outside and some running into the anchorage, it wasn't a very comfortable night.

09/11/18  Fri. Launched the dinghy and went into Penuwasa to arrange diesel, and see John Marwood (Touche) who we had been speaking on the phone with.  So the first job of the new dinghy was to carry 120 litres of fuel in jerry cans back to the boat!  During the afternoon, we pulled the anchor up and moved opposite the 'marina', dropping the hook again and putting two stern lines to shore with George's help.  Had lunch with George and Smiley on their boat Australis.  A more comfortable night than last night!

11/11/18  Sun.  Remembrance Day and a hundred years since the armistice was signed.  Today, we would have been at the War Graves Cemetery in Labuan but here we are in Kudat awaiting a weather window.  The intention is to sail direct, non-stop to Puerto Princesa in Palawan. There is no good weather coming but maybe tomorrow is our best chance, so we intend leaving in the morning at first light.

12/11/18 Mon.  Just after writing yesterdays log, I did the engine checks and discovered a frayed alternator belt, so had to work into the night to replace both that belt and the raw water pump belt.  George very kindly got up at 5am and slipped our stern lines allowing us to pull up the anchor and motor out into a fairly calm bay.  We chose to go between Banggi and Balambangan Islands, catching a squall at the top end.  I think we may also have hit some underwater object as there was a thump and a change in engine revs.  I put a reef in the mainsail at 5pm and all went well until midnight......

13/11/18 Tues.  .........big heavy seas and strong 30kt headwinds were making our progress very slow.  A loud banging from the bows had me donning lifejacket and harness to go forwards to investigate.  The anchor had been forced off the bow roller and was hanging down the stbd side of the bow - it was a bit of a struggle to hoist it back into place as the bows dug deep into every second wave.  Once secured, I returned to the relative safety of the cockpit, cold, wet and fed-up!  At daybreak, nothing had changed, the seas were still big and we slammed into the waves and the NE wind.  By 6.30am, we had covered just 17 miles since midnight and discussed turning around and heading back to Kudat.  We made a joint decision to alter course 50o to port and sail the forty or so miles to Brookes Point, arriving at 1545 where we anchored for the night.

14/11/18 Weds.  Getting ready to sail again, noticed the fuel filter bowl was cloudy and bunged with crap!  I bought 4 new filters in Labuan (CAV 296) before leaving, so although annoying, it wouldn't be too much trouble to replace the filter except......they didn't fit!  Fortunately, I still had some in my spares box!  Changed the filter and bled the air out of the system, then motored out into the heavy seas and wind again but with both mainsail and genoa set.  By 10am, the wind had veered again and I was forced to furl the genoa.  At 1330hrs the mainsail had to come down as the winds hit 30+ kts again with heavy rain.  We again altered course to head for Rasa Island and anchored there at 1845.  We were contacted by the Philippine coastguard on approach to the island, and as I could see the ship calling us (and identified it on AIS) I answered their questions about crew, last port etc.

15/11/18 Thurs.  For once, a peaceful night at anchor.  Weighed anchor at 0800 and with the wind unchanged, motored on our northeasterly course towards Milanao Island.  It took four and a half hours to motor there and we anchored on the SW side in 5 mtrs of water.  At first it was great, but just after 4pm it started to rain - hard!  We filled the tank and all our spare containers, had showers and some dinner, then the sea swell started.

16/11/18 Fri.  What an awful night, the swell got worse and worse, the boat was rolling enough to dip the toe rails under on each side and neither of us got much sleep.  At daybreak, there was a break in the rain and we asked a passing bangka fisherman if he could tell us what weather was expected today.  He told us the typhoon had not made landfall yet and we should be ok to go.  Typhoon???  Decided to go, it was only 30 miles, surely we could make that?  Weighed anchor at 0630 and motored out into a 2 metre swell, setting course for PP.  With variable winds, we motored through the morning and entered Puerto Princesa at 1200, anchoring in the usual position off Abanico Yacht Club with 45 mtrs of chain out.  Several boats here that I recognise, Puppy, Shelley, Storm Dodger, Hydra, 2fast4you.  Didn't do much else, had an early night and slept well for a change.

17/11/18 Sat.  Launched the dinghy and went over to 2fast4you to see how Herman got on with his trip (he left Kudat an hour after us) and of course did a little better as he is bigger and a catamaran.  He asked if we had seen the typhoon track (we haven't) and told us it was due here in 2 days time.  I thought the fisherman yesterday was talking about a depression, not a damn typhoon!  We went into town, got a sim card for the internet and some pork, chicken, vegetables and bread.  Looking at the grib files, it seems the typhoon has not yet developed but may well hit PP directly around Thursday.  I pray not!  We went over to Puppy and sat with Nicholai, his wife Sherlyn and baby Masha for a while, we last met them in Kudat 2 years ago.

20/11/18 Tues.  Been ashore a few times now, checked in with Immigration and Customs.  I have to say that I am disappointed by PP - it used to be a great place, but now it's choked with traffic (and associated fumes), the prices of everything have gone through the roof leading to higher prices for transport.  The trike drivers now want a lot to take you to town, driven not unexpectedly by the greed of oil companies.  Diesel is twice the price of same in Malaysia - almost on par with the UK!  The expected typhoon looks as if it will be downgraded to a 'storm' and is due here tomorrow.

23/11/18 Fri.  The expected storm/depression (Samuel) passed to the north of us without incident here in PP, but now we have another (Thomas) off to the east of the island and it looks bigger and nastier.  Will have to monitor that for a few days now.  Yesterday, I did my back in, I don't know how, was just walking the 5 feet from mast to cockpit......but it's agony!  I have difficulty moving, standing, sitting, sleeping - just like I had in Labuan a few years back, so I am guessing it is the same problem - sciatica.  Ana is massaging it with Tiger Balm and oil every hour or so and that is helping a lot.

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