Friday, June 1, 2012

Kudat, Malaysia to Port Carmen, Philippines

Silver Tern at anchor in Port Carmen, PI

We had a successful shake-down cruise to Kudat Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. We left in late April after securing our port clearances and returned mid May. We had the wind behind us both directions as the weather changed from NE to SW monsoon winds. Unfortunately, they were very light winds and we ended up motor sailing or just motoring most of the way, almost running out of fuel on the way there.

We had a crew of four, so the night watches were easy. We had two overnights each direction. On one of my night watches(Pat) I had light from the half moon, shooting stars, and saw no boats. On another, I had a dark, squally night with lots of small boats around, fishing with nets that had strobes on them. The boats themselves were unlit until we were close, then they turned on a flashlight. We were lucky in that we passed the Manilla to Mindanao shipping lanes during the day and were able to see and avoid the freighter traffic. Another new thing for us out here are FADs, fish attracting devices which are floating posts or buoys that have materials under water that give small fish cover which in turn attracts larger fish. Amazingly enough, they are anchored to the bottom in waters that are many thousands of feet deep. FADs are extremely common and are a serious hazard to yacht navigation throughout S.E. Asia. Nice to have an aluminum boat.

Under spinnaker, making 6 knots in 5 knots of breeze
Freighter traffic in the Sulu Sea - this is a good distance from one of these ships
Our crew, Terry and Mira

We anchored the boat with stern ties to a seawall in a protected, safe bay at the Kudat Golf Marina Resort. There were about six yachts there with room for at least ten, more if they raft together. The resort is friendly to boaters, has good food, wireless internet, and is just a short walk to town. It wasn't too difficult to find on our way in as the hotel has a tiled orange roof. We left the boat there for a few days to tour Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. I spent my birthday viewing orangutans at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. We arrived right at feeding time. The next day we visited another feeding station, for proboscis monkeys. Malaysia is a developed country with clean modern cities and well run ecotourism. The population is mostly Muslim; friendly, honest people. Like the rest of the world, the population is growing and environmental problems are multiplying. In Malaysian Borneo, the native forests are being replaced by palm oil plantations at an alarming rate. The habitat for all sorts of rare animals, from orangutangs to rhinos is rapidly disappearing. It is still a great place to visit and cruise.
As we left Kudat, we got a breeze from the west and put up the sails. Ten minutes later we were in the edge of a squall and the knotmeter read 17.3 knots. We eased the traveler and settled down at a very sedate 12 knots. Doesn't take much wind to make this boat go, with any wind at all we sail at 7-10 knots. That afternoon, we visited a limestone cave on a small island north of Borneo. Not a tourist cave, just a cave that some of the locals guided us to. It was spectacular. The next day we set off northeast across the Sulu Sea. An uneventful passage (best kind).

Silver Tern secure at Kudat Golf Marina Resort Anchorage

Orangutan mother and baby

Pat and friend

Young male proboscis monkey

KK Mosque

Downtown Kota Kinabalu

We returned to Port Carmen and waited for the next high tide in order to trailer the catamaran up on the beach and into Tim's boatyard. While at anchor, we met the new owner of another Mumby cat named Tank Girl. Erik took some great photos of our boat. The other two Mumby cats had already returned from their trip and we were placed next to them in the yard. Tank Girl, a Mumby built by Jay Hopcus from Palau, is also hauled out now in order to have some work done to her interior. So, right now, there are 5 Mumby catamarans in Tim's yard, another one on the way from Australia, three being built across the bay and two more out in the bay.

Dinner aboard at anchor
 The following fish-eye photos were taken by our friend Erik.
 Cockpit looking into saloon


We are now heading back home to Canada for 6 months. The boat will remain at the boatyard and Tim will continue to supervise the rest of her her fit-out. There is still a lot of finish work to do on the interior panels, as well as hard wood floors to be installed and bogging and painting the exterior, etc. We really appreciate the quality work that gets done under difficult conditions there and look forward to returning at the end of the year to celebrate.