RoRC Report January - Pacific I

The latest news and whereabouts [January] of our Club’s Roving Rear Commodores in the Pacific Ocean

By David Blackburn - 30/01/2018

Franco Ferrero and Kath McNulty in Caramor - Nov 2015 – 2018

The slight New Year’s Day hangover is worth the great evening we had last night with our Chilean sailing friends from the Valdivia Yacht Club. Some of the guys are in their late 70s and older and tell some lovely stories about sailing to Laguna San Rafael in the late 1940s.

We are back on Caramor in Valdivia after three and a half months land travel up through Chile (it’s a long country) to Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. We journeyed by bus, on foot and on horseback. We spent a month volunteering near Lake Titicaca caring for horses, learnt about other cultures, met amazing people and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. We visited ecological niches as diverse as the Atacama (the driest place on Earth), the altiplano (5,200m, the highest place I have ever been), the Uyuni salt lake (the largest in the world), and the Manu Jungle (the Amazon - need I say more?).

Our next leg is the Pacific crossing to New Zealand, island hopping along the way. Caramor is in good shape but there are still plenty of jobs to do. We’ve serviced the liferaft, bought new distress flares, renewed the battery bank and monitor, reinforced the tiller and upgraded our GPS (the old one was a few degrees out!). Jobs left to do include a few minor sail repairs and making shade tarps to keep us cool and out of the tropical sun. More problematic were the fridge and the ipod packing up - no ice for the G&T and Franco’s singing just isn’t on a par with Freddy Mercury’s.

We hope to depart Valdivia early February, sail to Robinson Crusoe Island (Juan Fernandez Group) 33°38.29’S 78°59.28’W, then back to mainland Chile for a last stop in Coquimbo where we will water and stock up on fresh fruit and vegies for the six week crossing to the Marquesas Islands.

Bob and Judy Howison in Kinabalu - Feb 2017 – 2020

What a whirlwind these last three months have been! We had a deadline of 16 November 2017 to be in Port Klang in time for the start of the Raja Muda Regatta, a peripatetic race northward on the west coast of Malaysia. Bill and Lydia Strickland (Rear Commodores SE USA) were to join us as crew on 17th Nov! The rigging on the 7 year old Kinabalu had shown signs of wear, with a number of broken strands at two terminations, all on the starboard side. A bit surprising because these were downward facing staged connections, and they were okay when we checked them in Port Moresby. A record trip up the coast from Singapore and the mast was craned out at Pangkor Marina on 23/10 with Kinabalu still in the water, and main rigging was taken off and we carried 42kgs of rigging on the bus to Singapore for new rigging to be cut to size and swaged to the new terminations. Back by plane to Ipoh and polished mast back in the water by 30/10! Phew, what a feat!! Seven years of clutter was taken off Kinabalu into storage, new mainsail, couriered from Croatia, hoisted, and bottom scrubbed ready for the sail back down the coast to Port Klang.

Kinabalu won first prize in the Cruising Division of the Raja Muda Regatta and celebrated at the prize giving dinner at Royal Langkawi Yacht Club on 25th November. It had been a fantastic 10 days of wonderful sailing with three seventy mile overnight coastal races, negotiating fishing boats, nets and sandbanks, “round the buoys” racing in Penang and through the islands in Langkawi, and of course parties at every stop! Bill and Lydia took some respite in Bangkok while we dodged some “weather” from the remnants of a Pacific cyclone which had jumped across Peninsular Malaysia, and sailed Kinabalu to Phuket for the King’s Cup Regatta on 2nd December. We had two new recruits for this very competitive Regatta, both originally from Holland!

We were ready on Kata Beach every morning at 0700 hours to take the long tails out to the anchored boats (trusted boat boy on board Kinabalu overnight). It is hard to describe racing along the Phuket coastline and amongst the beautiful islands with white sandy beaches, but we’ll leave it to your imagination; Not that there was much time for sightseeing! It was hard fought racing and all the crew on Kinabalu were very proud to come second in the Cruising Division of this famous Regatta.

Four days back to Pangkor in Malaysia and Kinabalu was in her berth and we were on flights to a family gathering in Scotland! We missed the OCC Scottish dinner unfortunately, but we’ll make it one of these days. We enjoyed Christmas with friends in Singapore and came back to Pangkor to take Kinabalu out of the water while we join family in Australia for two months. It will be great to spend time with the grandchildren. Plans for cruising from April onwards are to sail the Malaysian coast of Borneo and climb Mt Kinabalu. After that, it’s anyone’s guess! We will be too late this year to join the inland sea rally in May in Japan and sail across to the OCC British Columbia Rally in Vancouver, but there are of course many options.

See also the report by Sue and Andy Warman in Spruce from less traveled destinations in the Pacific.

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