Monday September 10

We spent the next 10 days at the Sutera Harbour Marina Resort. For the first 4 days we worked our butts off giving the boat a much needed polish. I enjoyed 3 badminton games with Toby off Simpatica but couldn't get the better of him. We shared the adoption of “Sammy” a very friendly black cat with Ian and Marilyn off Songbird 50. The laundry managed to shrink our woollen underblanket to a 1 x 1m square even though we requested “Dry Cleaning” so we explored the many shopping malls in town to find a new one. Uber provided us with great service and cheap travel around town.

Lea enjoyed the very well equiped gym while I played Badminton. Spent an afternoon sailing out on Songbird 50. Managed to get it going a bit better with altered mainsail trim which Ian and Marilyn appreciated.

Had a great Pizza night on the marina dock using Ian and Marilyn's Pizza stone on their BBQ.

We had been looking at every town for a small front loading washing machine to replace our little Dometic. At 3 kg it just isn't big enough to cope with sheets and towels so rather than repair it again we hoped to replace it with a larger machine. We identified the 6 kg Midea Front loader as the only option as it would just fit through our doorways. We preferred the 6kg LG but that didn't seem to be available in Malaysia or Thailand. However, installing any new machine was going to be a major job, either revamping and taking over a starboard side pantry or rebuilding the entire back wall of the port side bathroom to accomodate a larger machine. In the end I bit the bullet and pulled apart the existing washing machine again and replaced both relays on the circuit board. I also pulled out the dampers which were stuffed. Tried to source new dampers in town but with no success. So I modified the old ones with “O” Rings and grease to provide some resitance, put it all back together and it works beautifully again and much more quietly than ever before. Its not a definitive solution but a lot better than nothing. I'm sure that all sounded nice and straight forward but getting that bloody washing machine apart is an absolute bastard of a job and getting the dampers out even worse. Just as well the bloody thing worked afterwards.

We took Gemini Lady out for sail with Ian, Marilyn and John aboard. In a couple of hours we went through our sail wardrobe finishing with a spinnaker run back to the marina. Fuelled up for the next leg before returning to our berth.

Monday September 11

Very early pick up at 0500 by minibus to drive us to Beaufort Station. John and Karen off Esoterica and John and Ces off a boat I can never remember the name of. Coffee and a snack before hopping on the very old and crowded train to Rayoh. The train had 2 seating carriages and 2 for cargo. All were filled with local people. It was a cheerful if slow and jerky journey following the river unstream. Swap trains further up the line to continue on up river.

Arriving at our destination we walk off the platform down to Riverbug Headquarters and stow our bags. At the briefing one of our German friends gets quite faint and I organize him some more watermelon to lift his blood sugar. The briefing is thorough and includes recovery techniques in the event of capsize or MOB. Our route is about 10 kms of river with 7 sets of large rapids.

The first 2 km is warm and scenic. We get out for a swim and float quickly with the current to the first gentle rapid and bodyraft down it. Our group has 2 rafts with 6 tourists and 2 experiencd crew in each as well a 2 guides in kayaks shadowing us.

Back in the rafts we hit the bigger rapids and enjoyed a wild ride. I was in the front and got thrown out twice. I suspect our helmsman was seeing how high he could toss me in the air by choosing a route over the biggest pressure waves. It was great fun and we all loved it.

Lea swapped places with John just before the biggest rapid. The raft hit a wall of water and the nose went straight up causing bodies and paddles to flail everywhere. I got tossed out again.

There were photographers on the bank at every rapid and we paid 150MYR ($50.00) for a CD with over 100 photos. We shared the cost between the 6 of us and ended up with some fantastic action shots.

Lunch was a big buffet with nearly cold beer available. Quiet snoozy trip on the train.

Farewell dinner with our friends at the fancy Spice Island, Indian Restaurant. 12 for dinner. The food was great but the service abysmal.

Tuesday September 20

Lines thrown at 0700 with farewells from our friends on Songbird50, Esoterica and Simpatica. Strated with a good sail but the wind died and we motorsailed the next 6 hours. A squall line was headed our way and gave us a blast with 18 knots on the beam. This made us a bit jumpy as we haven't had “strong” conditions for ages. However, we did cover the final miles into Labuan Marina nice and quickly.

Wednnesday September 21

Our first job was to get our Visa's extended. Cleared in at Jabutan Laut with no problems, then off to Immigration. Here, they noted our visas about to expire and after clearing us in to Labuan directed us to the main Immigration office the other side of town to get an extention. Here we took a ticket and waited 30 minutes for service. Obviously a visa extention was a bit out of the ordinary for them as there was much conferring and discussion. We were askied if we had a local friend inLabuan who could vouch for us. We said no. This caused more conferring and phone calls. Eventually the officer we were dealing with suggested we go accross to the photocopying shop close by. Not much explaination was given but at the photocopy shop the lovely lady gave us a photocopy of her Malaysian ID card. She had agreed to vouch for us. Back at Immigration with all paperwork requirements now complete we were told to come back after 1500 to pick up our passports complete with new visa extension.

Spent a bit of time researching booze prices before electing to go back to One Stop again to restock as they offered free delivery of both us and our purchases back to the marina.

All stowed away onboard then a tramp back to Immigration to collect our Passports. Then it was back to the Ferry Terminal Immigration Office followed by Jabutan Laut and Customs to clear out of Labuan. On the way back we dropped in some chocolates to the photocopy lady as a thank you. The day was done and so were we.

Thursday September 22

Mornng run, washing and WiFi. Marilyn and Ian off Songbird 50 visited us on their way to Brunei for a visa run. We enjoyed lunch with them in town before their ferry departed.

We had booked a car for the afternoon and enjoyed a drive around the island, visiting the places we had missed on our first visit.

These were on the northern side of the island. Surrender Point was the actual spot where the Japanese Commander signed the surrender documents to the Australian Army Command in 1945.

The Peace Park was created by the Japanese as a memorial to all those that lost their lives in WW2.

The gardens of the Peace Park are beautifully maintained.

A quick visit to the wet market for some fresh vegetables then back to the boat. The sky began to blacken and lightning lit up the Brunei coast in the distance. We shut up tight, turned everything off and retired to the nearby Kraken Bar. Arrived just before the first down pour and enjoyed our beer and fish and chips as the storm raged.

Friday September 23

Up early but still a bit blowy. Settled a little and we made our way out through the hundreds of oil rig tender boats anchored in the harbour. It was a bit choppy still which made it hard to connect the headboard of the Main but once that was sorted we were hard on the wind with motor assist. We reached Jerudong by lunchtime and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon.

Saturday September 24

Up at 0430 in the pitch black to get the best out of both breeze and tide. The anchor winch tripped out and all instruments and lights went off. Not what you need in a tight anchorage in the pitch black with unlit steel poles, rocks and land close by and a nice breeze blowing. Took me a while to sus that it was the house battery switch that had failed. Twisted it a few times and all came good. Did it again before the anchor was completely up but I knew what the problem was now so sorted quickly this time. Battery switch needs replacing.

Eventually under way just as the glow of predawn light showed the outline of the steel poles which seem to be randomly placed in the harbour. Not to mention the unlit steel Vent Pipes offshore. The radar was closely monitored.

Good sailing for the first 3 hours then motor assist required as we need to keep the average speed up today to cover the 80Nm to Miri before dark. Tide gave us some good assistance and we arrived at 1600. The barcrossing was very shallow but no problem and we were greeted by Heather and Rod off Psycho Puss. Drinks aboard then dinner up at the Seahorse Restaurant. Forgot about the sandflies here and we both got lots of bites.

Sunday September 25

After saying goodbye to Psycho Puss we moved into their berth and spent the next few days cleaning and getting the boat ready to leave. The list of jobs included:

Pickling the Watermaker

Flush all engines with fresh water and Saltx.

Tie plastic bags around the legs and props (this reduced the effectiveness of the anode protection so I added an additional anode to the system outside the bags). It was only afterwards that I heard rumours of a croc in the marina.

Double up the lines.

Close all sea cocks.

Raise the boom for drainage.(As it was only for 6 weeks we elected to leave the sails on)

Grease anchor winch and outboard.

Remove outboard.

Cover and tie down dinghy.

And Lea cleaned everything in sight.

We had fun when we went to Immigration to clear into Miri. We were informed that the visa extension we got in Labuan was not valid in Sarawak. He showed us the fine print and sure enough our extension was valid in Labuan and West Malaysia only. Very frustrating as the officials in Labuan knew we were coming to Miri. The officer sent us to the main Immigration office to get another visa extension. Not happy Jan! Its 1500 on the second last day of our original visa and bloody hot! Long walk to the other Immigration office where after much conferring and discussion we were told that they couldnt give us an extension until we had cleared into Sarawak. To do that we had to go back to the first office. Blood pressure rising! Another hot walk back to the first office where the officer knew we were very displeased that he hadn't cleared us in the first time. He wouldnt make eye contact. Probably just as well, as my ragefull glare would have burned his retinas. We think he had already been told off by main office as with just a few grunts he quickly cleared us in. I suggested he provide us transport back to main office but all that got was another grunt as he walked away.

Once more back at the main Immigration office we get the paperwork done. However, the cashier was now closed for the day so we couldn't proceed as we needed to have a receipt for 50MYR from the cashier before the visa extension could be processed. At this stage the officer looking after us took pity on us and offered to help. He promised that if we left our paperwork, passports and 100 MYR with him he would get it all done in the morning ready for us to pick up at 1030.

True to his word, all was ready for us the next morning including an official receipt for 100MYR. I relayed this story to Sazli and posted it on both the Sail Malaysia and Sail Indonesia FB pages to make others aware of this little glitch in the system. Hopefully Sazli can get the Tourism Ministry to put some pressure on government to make the visa extensions valid for all Malaysia.

By Wednesday we were pretty well organised so Lea went online and organised us a 4 day trip to Mulu National Park to fill in the time before our departure on the 6th October