Tambisan to Tawau

Tuesday August 13


The Mug Report

I had a list of petty ‘nit picks’ written for todays Report but I scrapped that one. It didn’t seem relevant after such a day featuring great Community Support, fabulous sailing and discovering a stunning anchorage.

However, please remember that we are a big fleet of disparate yachts moving in close proximity. Extra vigilance and more consideration than normal is required at all times. I don’t think a lookout engrossed in a book or otherwise distracted is acceptable seamanship in this situation. And please look behind you as well.

A couple of "’Repeat Offenders’ on these issues are beginning to emerge within the fleet. Lets give them another chance before naming and shaming them as a public nuisance.

Have a great day.

Our watch was from 2000-2200. It was a beautiful calm peaceful night with only the quiet idle and blue flashing lights of the ESSCOM patrol boat.

We waited until good daylight then led the fleet through the channel. It was light winds with motor on then off all day but it was a huge improvement on this passage back in 2016 when we battled with strong headwinds and idiots after a traumatic night at Evans Island.


We arrived at our anchorage by 1500. Geoff and Charmaine off Sharman had run our first Trivia Quiz over the radio to fill in the time and it was a great success.We had another anchorage 18Nm further on but as some were hand steering due to broken auto pilots we called a stop at Kampung Turku West. It was a nice little bay but initially we picked the wrong spot and ended up lying broadside to the swells. We studied the anchored fleet for a while then moved to a better spot. I then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to work out what was wrong with the watermaker. It was intermittently losing all pressure. Initially I thought it was one side of the Clark Pump playing up but eventually worked out it was a fault with the Vane Pump. Pulled it apart, which is another of those wonderfully awkward and hard jobs you can only find on a boat. Found that the  brushes were sticking in the holders. Cleaned it all up of old carbon residue and installed new brushes that I had in stock. Reassembled and 2 hours later and a bucketful of sweat all was well in my world again.

Lea went over to Henrietta to give Martin and Michael a bottle of red wine. Henrietta got caught by a larger swell, rolled and the wine bottle ended up smashed on the floor. Martin is not quite used to monohull behaviour yet. Lea left them to the big clean up.

Wednesday August 14

The Mug Report

Another wonderful day on the water. Also really enjoying our trivia hour. Thanks Sharman.

‘Mug of the Day’ to Martin off Henrietta. He forgot he was on one of those mono things that roll like pregnant whales in a cross swell. He put a lovely bottle of Merlot on the galley bench only to have it jump off and smash on the floor. Such a waste and sacrilege. He has obviously spent too much time on catamarans.

I was amused today when a fishing line fouled a boat behind and both boats self right righteously proclaimed they had held a steady course for the last half hour. I’m sure both were correct. The Mugs just forgot about that nasty little vector called ‘Leeway’. With a sail up, the course you steer is not the course you make. Leeway will take you across another boats stern or bow without you even trying. Catamarans generally make significant more leeway than monos.

Please remember that fishing lines can do serious damage to a saildrive.

Leeway is and easy oversight and generally not noticeable unless you are in a mixed fleet in close proximity. AS YOU ARE! Hence my continued preaching on vigilance and goodwill. Please look behind you and pull in your fishing line if necessary to avoid another boat and keep smiling.

I nearly caught a fish today but the bugger threw the hook. I guess I’m not a very good preacher. Still no fish!

Have another great day

Another early start went smoothly. The Fleet is working well now with much less hassle so far than in 2016.

Very light winds meant motoring most of the way into Lahad Datu. Once anchored there was a bit of confusion about which jetty we were to use for dinghy access but it was quickly sorted and we didn’t have to move. Our neighbour Mick off Site yelled across to us pointing to a 3 m croc in the water. It was hovering about 50 m behind Gemini Lady. Lots of rubbish in the water.

The afternoon breeze kicked up the chop making the trip to the police dock a bit hazardous. After meeting with Sazli and his entourage we walked into town. Very dirty place but the people were amazingly friendly and we enjoyed some great street food before meeting up with friends for dinner at a local restaurant.


Thursday August 15

Up at 0600 to get to the wet market and be back by 0800 for the sked. Fabulous fresh food. After the sked it was back to town with the laundry and back before the official reception at 1100. The town is filthy but the people very warm and welcoming.  We had Temptress of Down whinging all the time about the place, the anchorage, the crocodile and the timeframe being too tight. All in all being a right royal pain in the arse to Sazli, the management team and everyone else was getting sick of them. Pete off Kittani had a whole diatribe written but decided it wasn’t worth publishing it. He did have this to say though:


I presume if you are going to miss the event you will also miss the free beer and coconuts and the goodwill of the people who are trying their best to make a good impression on the visiting rally fleet.

Suggest you may want to rethink your approach to the rally.




Sazli tried to gag the fleets response to Temptress hoping it would all go away.

The Mug Report

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more! An extra coconut and beer times 4.

Have a great day”

“The Mug report Update

Put your anchor lights on at night Delaney. The powers above me are not impressed. Second Offence! No ‘black holes’ allowed as a matter of safety.

Three strikes and you’ll get more than a ‘Mug’, you’ll get a ‘CNP’. That’s a Certificate of Public Nuisance"’. Somewhere to the right of the basic ‘Mug’ on the ’Pickled Fish’ Scale.


The Gala Lunch was a fabulous affair. Great traditional music and dancing and the food was excellent. John made a lovely speech on behalf of the rally participants and Lorraine off Umbra Luna presented the chief of ESSCOM with a cheque for over 6000MYR which had been donated by the participants to extend their budget for food for the troops.


We were then driven by mini vans to ‘Heaven Hill’ We enjoyed a walk to the top for the view that was unfortunately blocked by cloud, then back to the restaurant for another reception from the Minister. He was in good form and loves his Karaoke singing us a few songs. The tables were laden with fresh fruits and a variety of cakes.


Lahad Datu was really putting it on for us.

A good meal with friends at a local restaurant to finish off a good day.

P8150354 (1)

Friday August 16

“The Mug Report

What a fabulous day was had. Ours started early at the bustling market area. Huge range of fresh produce. amazingly friendly people and a great vibe .Others have found a variety of services and a ‘can do’ attitude that puts our home countries to shame. Restaurants and Street food all good.

Then the welcome lunch which has to rate as one of the best functions we have experienced in Malaysia. Even the speeches were good. and what a great afternoon road trip. Our host should run for President.

Lahad Datu we thank you for having us. Your generosity and hospitality has humbled us all again. Terima Kasih!

And ‘Mug of the Day’ to TOD. You got it wrong again. ‘Temple of Doom’, I mean Temptress is another leading contender for a CPN Award. Turn your glasses over. You might see the cup half full for a change. Its a much better view.

Nice anchor light Delaney.

Have a great day.”

That got lots of feedback but it appears it upset TOD. in a PM to me:


I think your so called humour is becoming out of hand and uncalled for.


My Response

Noted Susie but I think you may be out of touch with general sentiment. With my so called sense of humour I am trying hard to diffuse any real angst developing within the fleet.


If that’s the Aussie way then I’m glad I’m a Pom! We had a real scare the day before yesterday when Sheila (their dinghy) was almost capsized as we departed the dinghy dock soon after reports of a croc. I would and still am happy to leave the rally fleet if that would help you keep things together better".


I wrote this reply to that one but never sent it. It made me feel better but served no useful purpose I thought. I include it here because unbeknownst to me at the time, Gary off Fiddler said essentially the same to them face to face on the jetty later that day.

“Perhaps you should be questioning your choice of dinghy or your decision to undertake the voyage from the dinghy dock in those conditions. Those are individual Captain’s decisions not the Rally’s nor the fault of Lahad Datu, its people or its wildlife. However, other rally participants would have been and were, I believe, happy to offer you assistance when ‘Sheila’ proved unsuitable. All you have to do is cease to post generalised negative comments related to your personal misadventures. These comments are disgraceful and disrespectful to our generous and kind hosts.


This was a turning point. I think they finally got the message.

A few boats were hosting VIP’s aboard for the 16 Nm trip to our main sponsor Joe’s new development site. Here he has big plans for a resort and a marina. A new dive site called ‘Blue Rings’ has been discovered nearby as well as a few nice snorkelling spots.

Sazli tried to get a tour or some cars organised to go to Tabin Wildlife Reserve for those who didn’t want to do the dive trip. Unfortunately it didn’t happen.

Our 4 guests arrived at 0800 and included Adlin, the wife of our sponsor, Head of Tourism and a guest from Japan who was over here promoting a Yacht Rally in Japan . It was great to catch up with Adlin who is a prime mover in developing tourism for Sabah and a friend from 2016.

We had a short sail under screecher before we had to turn and punch into a strong headwind. We hugged the shoreline and dodged through reefs to avoid as much as the swell as we could for our guests comfort. They did well and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.


Joe had lunch and refreshments waiting for us ashore from his new jetty.

That evening a pot luck dinner was held with Joe and the rest of the Wong family providing refreshments and entertainment. Plenty of beer, coconuts and rice wine on offer. Kevin off Temptress wanted his free beer and coconuts after all came over for a chat and to make peace. The main thing was from then on Temptress was a model citizen. Mission accomplished! A great night was had by all and a huge bonfire was lit.

I should say here that I personally have no problem with Kevin and Suzie. I found them both nice people and good company. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience and are always ready to help and share. Kevin’s knowledge of the macro monsoonal weather from having lived in Singapore for 10 years was excellent and he provided a macro weather report in the daily skeds. I have described all here to give a picture of people who shouldn’t do this Rally. From their own blogsite, www.gbr195t.com,  I gather it was a difficult decision for them to join. They don’t see themselves as Rally people and struggled with complying with ESSCOM’s directives and hence made it hard for Sazli, John and I to manage them.  In our initial briefing at KK, John and I hammered home this point that if people weren’t prepared comply then they shouldn’t come.

Well, at least until the Karaoke started, then it went down hill rapidly with Heather and Cloe off Psycho Puss taking over the microphone. No it wasn’t me this time!

Saturday August 17

The Rally Report

Another great day was had. Thank you to those who took guests aboard. I think everyone enjoyed the experience and not one case of sea sickness was reported just some wayward steering.

Huge thanks to Joe for hosting the lunch and bonfire party. You have a great position overlooking the beautiful bay and islands. We wish you all the best and every success with the development of your new resort.

And what a party! Another absolute highlight!

Well done chefs! The food spread was awesome. The music and dancing got everybody in the groove.

I also recognise a new understanding and vibe within the fleet. We are a family now and family looks after its own. We no longer need such a blunt tool of coercion so ‘Mug of the Day’ is finished, dead and buried. We still have some miles to do and maybe some challenges to face but I believe we are all on the same page now and we can pull it off together and have a fabulous time along the way.”

A bright sunny day for the divers as they prepared to head out to the ‘Blue Ring’. Martin had stayed for the extra week mainly to do this dive. Lea and I went ashore for some exercise and had a decent run/walk along the gravel road past the nearby fish farm. Then a long swim and we picked Sharman as our rest stop. Geoff and Charmaine kindly invited us to join their snorkelling trip so we swam quickly back home and threw together a bag of drinks and a share platter. Departure was a bit delayed while we disentangled Sharman’s anchor from a bommie. Nautilus joined us with a boatload of snorkelers too. The sea was glassy calm and highlighted nicely all the floating rubbish. Many small jelly fish of different varieties were spotted in the clear water. It took a while to find a suitable anchoring position. The reefs came up sharply from 30m to nothing. We ended up dropping in 2m with the stern hanging out over 30m. Very little wind, so we bobbed about on minimal chain.

The snorkelling was average but the best part of the day was more about, camaraderie and socialising. With the “Mug Report” now no longer useful so put to rest the fleet seemed to relax into a more friendly and inclusive mindset.

Back home we enjoyed an hour of quiet time before Sazli was on to us to host  visitors again. Joe’s family were wanting to look at how we live so John and I dutifully went ashore and ferried the 15 or so people out to Esoterica and Gemini Lady. Whilst the interruption to our quiet time was a bit of a pain, once we saw the smiles on our guests faces and how thrilled they were to be invited aboard we couldn’t help but be pleased we made the effort.

Sunday August 18

A motor sail to Bohay Dulong with the lure out but no fish in the ocean as usual. As we passed this  beautiful little island we were horrified to see sp many plastic water bottles in the water.


Once inside the ancient Caldara  we could see a large new building project on the SE corner of the main island and heaps of rubbish seemed to be floating out of that area. We arrived first and anchored in our 2016 positi0n with 80m of chain out in 22m of water.

Psycho Puss had won a cold bottle of white wine for winning the first trivia game and they wanted to share it with us. So we went over with some special olives from Mt Buffalo we had been saving and enjoyed fresh baked bread with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and great olives washed down with white wine. Another bottle of wine was needed as the party grew with Kittani, Pegasus and Site joining us . A great impromptu party evolved spontaneously. Lots of fun and laughs.

Monday August 19

Glassy calm morning, with no clouds, showed a stream of rubbish and plastic bottles floating in the bay. It’s just incredible that neither the locals nor the Tourist Boat operators do anything about it.

Lea and I were soon ashore to climb the hill. A bit of track work has been done since our last visit. Still a mind blowing outlook.


Sazli made an apperance to collect money for the Sipadan Dive Trip


A relaxing afternoon with a bit of snorkelling and then a dinghy raft up for sundowners.

We enjoyed 5 nights all up in this beautiful lagoon.


The highlight was the dive and snorkelling trip to Sipadan Island, a seamount 2 hours of fast boat travel to the south.


Another day we climbed the hill and bought down all the rubbish that had been left at the top by tourists. 2 huge garbage bags full. These we gave to the Tourist boats and asked them to take to Semporna on the mainland.


Esoterica, Umbra Luna and Gemini Lady dinghied across to the little island to the north through the pass. Here Kerryn donated some clothes and food to the small Sea Gypsy Village before we went off for a snorkel. We left our return a bit late and it was hard work threading our way back through the pass.


Another pot luck dinner on the jetty was a great success. Corrine off Javerne had won all our hearts at this stage with her fabulous cooking.

James Khoo joined us to stay overnight and sail with us to Semporna tomorrow.

Friday August 23

A lazy start to the morning gave people the chance for another snorkel. We had a good breeze but in a rare case of the lazies we just put the headsail out and motor sailed. The guest drop off at Semporna went smoothly then we continued on down to Tagassan Bay. So much rubbish in the water that 3 boats cooked impellors. Halo got in big trouble as they blew a hose as well as an impellor and had to be towed to the anchorage. Fiddler to the rescue again.

It was John’s birthday so we put on a nice Roast pork dinner for John and Kerryn off Esoterica and Dale and Lorraine off Umbra Luna.  A last bottle of champagne had gone a bit flat but we resurrected that with the soda stream. A wonderful night with good friends.


Saturday August 24

Our last day of travel. Halo was still incapacitated but the problem had been narrowed down to a blocked heat exchanger. I had a pump and hose set up for cleaning the heat exchanger so I took it over to them after picking up some hydrochloric acid from Fiddler.

a heavy squall was in our path so we didn’t put up any sail. It was pretty bouncy and that shook up the sediment on Ananda 2’s fuel tanks, blocking both filters and stopping both engines. Steve had some trouble clearing it so Sharman took them under tow as Fiddler was still towing Halo.

It was a slow day with wind and current against us but conditions settled towards the end and we enjoyed a bit of a sail to celebrate the end of the Rally.

All boats and crews accounted for.

We went straight to the Yacht Club for a swim.

John and I had organised with Joe to use his truck for a fuel run. That evening a big group walked into town to the recommended seafood restaurant. Gary off Fiddler organised a magnificent seafood banquet for us but all Lea wanted was chicken. Made for an expensive chicken dinner as the bill was split equally.

While we were away there had been some drama at the Yacht Club. Brian off Amaldec went off his tree in John’s face, swearing and carrying on very nastily. I guess the pressure of this tightly controlled leg of the rally finally proved too much for him. Not sure what his issue was but suspect it was related to the ‘Wrath of Kerryn’ at some point. It was a sad way to finish and cast a pall over the final celebrations. We had a ‘Pickled Fish’ in our midst after all.

Sunday August 25

The usual chores of refuelling and laundry. Lea was disappointed not to be allowed to use the gym but enjoyed her kilometres in the pool.

The final Rally dinner was held close by and it was a steamboat affair. Not too many speeches and they were kept short. Rod off Psycho Puss and Mick off Site had prepared an awards ceremony but Mick had had to fly back to Australia for a family emergency. Pete off Kittani stepped in as Rods wingman and the 2 of them bounced well of each other and gave us a very entertaining time taking the piss out of everyone.

Michel and Michel from Ganesh and Javerne, our 2 french boats delighted everyone by taking over the piano in the hotel foyer and doing a few duets. It was a great night.



Tawau Yacht Club


Ameldec were not present. A public apology had been mooted but was not forthcoming so they stayed away.

Monday August 26

An early start to get to the Indonesian Consulate by opening time. Lea needed more passport photos and we had been told these could be done next door. Unfortunately their machine had broken down so we had to rush back into town. We got back to the Consulate to find the crowd had arrived. Paperwork was being processed at a snails pace until some official, seeing the crowd of westerners gave the directive to speed up the process. They quickly collated everyone’s paperwork and told us to come back tomorrow for our visas. That only took 3 hours.

On to shopping.

Tuesday August 27

Dale and Lorraine off Umbra Luna kindly continued to share their hire car with us. At the market there was a terrific selection of fresh produce and fruit. A group of young boys on the market threshold were begging to carry our bags. We got into a conversation about why they were not at school.  A local overheard us and explained that they can’t attend school because they are illegal immigrants from the Philippines and do not hold a Malaysia Card. Without this they are not eligible to attend school. Catch 22 again and another poverty trap but it seems the Malaysians tolerate it and a sub economy must exist to support them. Lea ended up buying 14 cooked corn cobs for them. We were advised not to give them money.

Dale and I left Lorraine and Lea at the self service laundry and went back to the Indo Consulate to pick up our passports. All done at the time promised. Next job was our Malaysian Clear Out. This went surprisingly smoothly although a few extra photocopies of documents we had never been asked for before, delayed us a bit.

So we still had some time on our hands and decided to visit Tawau Hills Park which is home to the world’s tallest tropical tree. It was a lovely park and we walked the 30 minutes to take the photo under the 88m tall tree.


The jungle was alive with insect and bird noises. Many Macaque monkeys were playing around the river. There were many more walks to do but no time. The weather was looking a bit unsettled so we decided on a quiet night aboard.


Wednesday August 28

Lea woke at midnight at the sound of rain and jumped up to shut the hatches. The wind went from 5 to 25 knots in minutes so we were both up to watch and turn all the instruments on. Tawau is notorious for its poor holding. The sea state chopped up quickly as the wind increased. Temptress dragged down between us and Pegasus narrowly missing Psycho Puss. They eventually got under control but we found out later that their anchor chain had jumped off the bow roller and jammed as they were trying to get it up. Explained why they seemed to take forever to get themselves sorted.  However, our next problem was Ananda 2 who dragged down very close to Pegasus. Steve and Vicki were not aboard and Denis did a great job holding Pegasus away with his motor as Ananda 2’s anchor reset and held very near to him.. There were other boats dragging further down the fleet and 4 crews were still onshore after a final night on the town. Bedlam!

We believed we were dragging slightly so put the engines on and in gear at idle to take the pressure off. Fortunately we had plenty of room behind us. It was some time before it was safe for dinghies to be launched from the Yacht Club so those ashore had to wait it out.

Eventually the wind and sea calmed and crews could return to their boats. The final drama was that Nautilus’ dinghy had broken loose from the yacht club jetty and was missing. Geoff off Sharman launched his dinghy and went in search. He found and retrieved it but in the process holed his own dinghy on some rocks.

Soon all was settled again and we went back to bed.

Esoterica and ourselves get the feeling the rally fleet are a bit over us. We have ridden them pretty hard to keep them all together. While we have some feelings of being a bit unloved and unappreciated we know we did a good job. We figure its time to take on a low profile so quietly headed off to Nunakan, Indonesia.

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