Friday, May 20, 2011

In darkest Borneo

Actually, it's not at all dark so far, but we haven't reached the jungle yet.

We've been in Kuching in Sarawak for a week now. We're in another tiny marina in a very muddy river, with huge tidal range and incredible fast-flowing water. Huge trees float past (and occasionally through) the marina. We're around 20 minutes from the city, which we can reach by bus, or by motorbike. Scott hired one for a week and we all take turns accompanying him. We've done an amazing amount of provisioning on the back of that bike so far and both Seth and Finn love going off with their dad to look for the usual spare parts. Red Boomer have hired bikes too so we make quite a convoy.

Kuching is a really cool town - Chinese shops, good coffee (yee haa!) and more local Sarawak crafts for sale than you could poke a stick at. Seth is particularly taken with the blow darts and is trying to persuade his dad to buy one. The people are incredibly friendly - possibly because the place isn't over-run with tourists so we are still a bit of a novelty. Locals fall over themselves to be helpful.

The crossing from Tioman was a doddle - flat seas, light winds and the added bonus of an extra crew member. Our friend Ole joined us for the 55 hour crossing and was a brilliant crew member. Overnight, Scott and I usually take alternate 3 hour shifts so after a few days we're pretty tired, but this time we were 3 hours on, 6 off - luxury! We caught a big wahu (yummy), a marlin (which we let go) and a coral cod. Plenty of fish in the freezer now, which is a very good thing. Scott and Ole played guitar and were very active on the fishing front, so all good.

We've hardly done any school this week, what with all the stocking up and playing tourist. When we get to Kota Kinabalu, further North in Sabah, we should be able to pick up the school work for the rest of the year.

The hammock photo was taken on Mother's Day when we were still in the Tioman Islands. Scott made the hammock from spare tramoline netting to hang under the boat or under a tree - bliss.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mothers' Day!

Well, it clearly doesn't pay to write smug blog entries about how relaxed and leisurely and exotic our current lifestyle is. Since I last wrote, we've had the latest spate of boat break-downs and uncooperative weather maps so we are still not in Borneo and have spent the last few days (let's be honest, Scott has) trying to fix things. In order to make electricity we have to use the alternator, which puts power into the batteries when the engine is running. Without it we would return to the dark ages of going to bed at sunset and reading by torch light. So this week it has failed twice and my very clever Scott has managed to take it apart and resurrect it, with many hours of effort and a lot of sweating and Seth working hard as his offsider.

This coincided with us pulling into a small marina here on Tioman, which would usually mean on-shore power and air conditioning (yee haa!), but not this time. There was no space in the inn so we tied up alongside our good friends on Red Boomer. The other plus of marinas is the access to water, so we always wash everything in sight. This time, however, my washing machine was unavailable so I spent hours on the foredeck stomping clothes and towels in a large bucket with my feet. Oh the glamour.

Fortunately, these lovely islands are a pleasure to idle in, now that we've left the marina and returned to Monkey Bay for more snorkelling and afternoons sipping gin and tonic under a tree.

I went on the radio in Australia the other day on Life Matters (ABC Radio National) to talk about our trip – it was fun, I used to go on that program occasionally for work and it was quite different to talk about our personal lives.

The gecko was released to roam the boat and catch his own flies and bugs – we haven't seen him since. Hopefully he's living happily somewhere in the cockpit. Finn puts water out for him every morning.

In a few days, all being well, we should make the 360 nautical mile crossing to Kuching in Borneo. The city is apparently well worth a look, but the anchorages are on crocodile filled rivers, so swimming will be out. We'll work our way up the coast to Kota Kinabalu and Brunei before heading over the top. We plan to be in Malaysia until the end of June. Will fill you in after the crossing to Sarawak.

It's Mothers' Day in Australia tomorrow, so happy Mothers' Day to the mothers in our family and friends - may you all be spoilt rotten.