Tuesday July 26
0900 start for the escorted section of the Rally. The exodus off the wall went well with the assistance of Shayne (Champagne Charlie) and Xavier (Windkist) releasing the stern ropes from the concrete wall. No wind so keeping the fleet together was easy. The 5 knot agreed speed was a bit hard on us as the starboard motor has a vibration at 1500 rpm. Other boats were worse off as they were just on idle and not enough revs to excite the alternators or run fridge compressors.
We had 2 escort boats with us including the large PA453 Police boat. The fleet settled into the lovely anchorage and a watch roster commenced at 1800. Our watch was 0400 to 0600 so we got an early night.
Wednesday July 27
Rain squalls through the night and our watch with up to 20 knots of wind. Otherwise all quiet.
Sheduled start was 0700 and there was still plenty of breeze so we knew we would have to put the brakes on Gemini Lady today. We gave the slower boats a 20 minute head start and put up a double reefed Main and the Genoa. Sagata was last out of the anchorage behind us and cleared the glaze off her engine bores from yesterday. We had a comfortable fast run through the fleet at 8-9knots then furled up the headsail to handkerchief size to slow down.
The morning sked was long with a few issues to fine tune the watch system and communications with ESSCOM patrol vessels.
After we slowed down at the head of the fleet Lea did a Michele Bridges Aerobics class. We also caught a nice sized Spanish Makeral. With no motoring since yesturday the batteries need topping up so we ran the Genset, made water and Lea vacummed the boat.
The breeze softened late morning but we shook out the reefs progressively and kept sailing. The whole fleet managed to stay in a reasonably compact group as requested by ESSCOM. The breeze freshened again in the afternoon as we approached the anchorage and Psycho Pus the Lightwave 38 made a late run through the fleet looking good.
We settled into anchorage 159 at Palau Jambongan. We were just all settled in when we received a directive from ESSCOM to move in the nearby estuary at Tanjung Samungat number 161, 6 Nm away. Plenty of daylight left just meant our card game with Esoterica and Kattani was delayed.
The card game was recorded by the filmcrew, who were currently on Kattani. We played “Chicago Rummy” with a few beers and GT's, having a fun time. Kattani was on watch commenceing 1800, so we kicked them off after we lost a final game of “Presidents and Assholes”.
Thursday July 28
Another boring motorsail to arrive at Turlte Island early afternoon. There is a highly regarded and large Turtle Hatchery here and we were invited to go ashore late afternoon for dinner,
After dark and a long wait we went out onto the beach to watch a Turtle lay her eggs. The turtles are measured and tags checked. The eggs were then collected and replaced in a hole in the sand dug within a compound to protect them.
Our turtle laid 106 eggs.
Inside the compound the eggs were reburied in a designated spot.
Returning to Gemini Lady we found half a tree caught between our bows, sitting on the bridle. A fair breeze was blowing and strong current made for a difficult extraction. Eventually we lassoed the log and towed it out and past the other boats before releasing it.
Friday July 29
Easy motorsail into Sandakan. Spent ages doing photo shoots against the background of the magnificent red cliffs of Palau Burhala.
Sandakan Yacht Club gave us a warm welcome a great dinner and Karaoke Night.