RoRC Report from Bob & Judy Howison in Malaysia

RoRC Report from Bob & Judy Howison in Malaysia

Advice on sailing in Borneo...

By Bob and Judy Howison - 17/07/2018

S/V KINABALU has been lucky to have the hospitality and organisational skills of OCC PO for Brunei, Allan Riches. Allan has been in Brunei since 1993 and has a wealth of knowledge to share as we begin a week long series of adventures.

We joined Sail Malaysia Passage to the East to have the benefit of Malaysia Navy (ESSCOM) support around the north eastern tip of Borneo and it has been lots of fun. We have sailed, or motor-sailed from Pangkor through the Singapore Straits to the Johor Islands off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. There are a number of good anchorages with clear water and some good snorkelling, but it pays to stay friendly with the National Park authorities who are zealously safeguarding the reefs. The duty free port of Tioman Island is a delight, but the Marina is sadly run down and no longer operating commercially. Water is difficult to obtain and fuel is available in small quantities. Good restaurants along the beach, dive schools and snorkeling with great trekking to waterfalls and swimming holes.

The Rally headed west to Terengganu and Redang Island while we sailed on to the Indonesian archipelagos of Anambas and Natuna where pristine beaches and crystal clear waters awaited. We were not disappointed and wished we’d had more time. In Tarempa, the capital of Anambas, mooring buoys have been laid for visiting yachts because the anchorage is foul and it is to be hoped that dinghy access will be better in the future. In N and NW blows it was easy to move to alternative anchorages. Water, fuel and laundry services are easily obtainable. The locals are helpful, the markets are bountiful (fresh baby squid and a great variety of fish) and we even managed to find gas for our ailing fridge in one of the many Chinese shops. Motorcycle taxis were an acceptable mode of transport.

We had a wonderful sail to Teluk Selahan in the Natuna Archipelago with 14 knots of SE breeze and anchored in 4.5m of fine sand. In a 40 knot squall 2or 3 boats dragged, but otherwise apicturesque anchorage overlooked by Mt Ranai surrounded by granite boulders and a small restaurant ashore. Sandflies were a problem here for some people and the town was 10km away by motorbike or taxi service, but a small band of locals are trying hard to develop tourism and offer different experiences.

Borneo - a land of diverse cultures and religions, lowlands with navigable muddy rivers, crocodiles, mountains and rainforests. You can imagine our surprise when we were invited to join the rangers at Pulau Talang Besar, a turtle reserve, to help release newly hatched baby turtles to the sea at sunset, and then return next morning at sunrise to watch huge female green turtles come to dig their nests and build chambers to lay their eggs. This island is not open to tourists but the rangers are very welcoming to cruising yachts.

Much more on Borneo in our next report.

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