Bye bye Kudat, and thanks for all the fish
I did like the market there, good fish, so cheap, and very tasty, sadly some stalls sold ray fish and sharks, which are protected here.
Anyway a few days ago I found my lost SIM card, this was the one with my UK number, and is used by various businesses I use the send me 2FA auth responses, you know, when they send you a code by txt/sms when logging in, so because I lost my main phone, I’m having to change SIMs on the backup phone a lot, this came to a halt with the phone refusing to accept any SIM, and the consequent loss of all communications, and internet access for me. I did plan to see if I could get my newer, soggy, iPhone repaired when I hit a main town, but I need weather forecasts, if nothing else before I get there, so off to town to look for a cheap phone to stand in. I settled on an Android RedMi Note 5, this cost about £90, and is pretty cool, it’s also a dual SIM device so I can have a Malay and Philippine SIM card in it. So far it’s been great. The old iPhone started seeing SIM cards again after a full reset, so things are good. Did I mention I also bought an iPad for the navigation, that’s great for pictures too. The RedMi has a high spec camera but the pictures don’t seem as good under low light, or if there’s movement. We shall see. A word of warning, should you chose to make your phone into an authenticator, using something like google or microsoft authenticator apps, should your phone pack in, or drown, then it’s no easy matter to get a new authenticator to take over, and in the case of some of my accounts, I am locked out now, until I have been through the verification process. Quite a pain, I thought the authenticator apps might make things simpler.
One thing I have to respect the Android developers for, is a fantastic bit of marketing, it’s the beautifier option, especially useful on selfies. I mean, who isn’t going to turn it on when doing a selfie, which is what 99.99% of all pictures I see being taken here are. I love the fact that it’s just going to be a few lines of software as well. I gave it a try and it seemed to work, see below:
Not bad eh!
So I headed on downtown to checkout, and found there is no need for immigration between Labuan and Sabah, something I had been told was needed, between the states, Labuan is a state, but used to be part of Sabah. I caused a bit of concern with the staff by turning up and requesting a stamp, it seemed, so I made a quick retreat. I wonder if they feel the same way in Labuan, we will see in a few days time.
Tuesday morning 8AM was set for launch, but the NE monsoon perked up, and started blowing very hard and consistent from Sunday night, On Tuesday morning the sea state was quite rough and the wind was still blowing strong, the yard didn’t want to launch me so I thought best to wait a couple of days and launch Thursday 8AM.
The travel lift arrived bang on time at 8AM, and I was in the water 20 minutes later, doing the old reversing the wrong way trick. still I missed all the hard concrete piles and got out just fine. I would have had a lot more trouble without the bow thruster.
Before launch, I waited for the boat to be lifted off its supports so I could paint those areas that had been inaccessible, they had removed the ladder and to get me back on board for the launch, a fork lift truck arrived and I stood on the forks and was raised some 15ft up to the boat, that was fun.
Below you can see the strops being passed underneath the hull, they are joined together by pushing steel rods through the hoops at the end. Human ingenuity never ceases to delight me.
As I left the little basin and headed out into the South China Sea, I was confronted with big waves, the remnants of the previous few days high winds, I had about 15 knots of wind blowing onto me, but 10 ft high waves coming at me too. I was only able to make about 2 – 4 knots in these conditions, and I had 15 miles ahead, before I could turn and head south, putting all of this behind me.
It took a good three hours, and at the top of the Kudat peninsula I was rounding, the sea was quite rough and breaking in quite a scary way on the two reefs I had planned to motor in-between, I could hear the voice of uncle Arthur from Dads Army saying “Do you think that’s wise sir?” Anyway, I pushed on, and once round the top, I unfurled the Yankee headsail, turned of the engine and had a great 6-7 knot rush down the coast to my first nights anchorage at Agul Bay.
The problem here is that the NW coast is exposed to weather, wind and waves, coming in from the NW, and although the monsoon is primarily bringing winds from the NE at this time of year, the big swell and waves generally come from the NW, so you either hide behind an island, of which there are few, or you have to find a crag/inlet in the coast you can get behind. most of the spots on this stretch of coast still are affected by the NW swell, so Agul bay as lovely as it was, was still quite rolly.
Once I had dropped anchor and got settled, I heard some excited voices approaching, it turned out a local fisherman and his son had canoed out to see me and say hello, we had a little chat, they were ever so nice. Then he rowed back ashore.
I was up at 6:00 the next morning and after a quick coffee, the anchor was up and we were away. It’s a good 8 hours to the next stop at Sambalong.
On route to Sambalong I was able to get the mainsail and headsail up, we were reaching along nicely in the morning breeze, which was now more westerly, WNW making it a reach, in sailing terms, this is quite a fast point of sail, and we were bombing along for a while. I decided to setup the wind steering and get more familiar with it. I made a little vid to show how it works.
By about 11 AM the wind had dropped right off as expected, and I had to motor sail the rest of the way, at one point I could see a trawler was crossing my path, he was travelling across my bow from starboard to port, showing me his red light (meaning he had right of way, also trawlers trump sailing boats regardless). It looked as if he would be way past me by the time I got close, but as I closed on him, he had slowed down, and we were now on a collision course, we were still a mile apart, so I increased my speed a lot to pass his bow, but it seems he sped up too, because the gains I made were lost and we were back on a collision course. This has happened before, so this time I just carried on until I was quite close to him, and could see that he did intend to carry on regardless and run me over, then I killed my speed, let him pass in front, turned to starboard and followed his wake along until I was sure I was past his trawl then resumed my journey. Just after the encounter, he turned to port, which confirmed my suspicions that he was heading for me. My track is the wiggly line below
I mention this because I would love to know what was going on. I have two theories, based on the fact all the fishermen I have met have been friendly decent folks, I don’t think he’s trying to kill me! Theory 1 is that they have been at sea for a good while and seen nothing but sea and sky, and get so bored that when they see a fancy American yacht, something pretty rare out here, they make a bee line, to break the boredom and out of genuine curiosity. Theory 2 is that they have had a bad time fishing, no catches and the most obvious reason is they have an evil demon onboard. I have heard this is quite a common belief, now the best way to get rid of the demon, apparently, is to steer very close to another ship and turn away at the last moment, just as the demon jumps from your ship to the other. If this is the case, I must have a shed load of demons somewhere on board. Maybe I didn’t fall off the boat but was pushed in Kudat!
So after this encounter it was just a few more hours to Sambalong where I anchored just behind a bit of headland that was sticking out protecting me from the strong NW swell that was out there, however as I type this it appears the swell has moved around to the west and the rolling is on the rise, the boat is getting quite noisy now, if I wasn’t so tired, I might not sleep in all this rock and roll. I may go to KK tomorrow and check into Sutera harbour, just so I can get a good night’s sleep. Below the sunsetAt this point I lose my internet connection, so I’m finishing this off from Sutera harbour.
Saturday morning, 7am, and I’m up, I had a quite broken nights sleep, the boat kept swinging to be beam onto the sea, that means the waves hit the side of the boat causing it to roll a lot, and kick me out of my bunk.
The north side of the bay looked lovely in the morning sunrise light Now below you can see my course to leave the bay, The Khaki is the land, and the green is underwater mud/sand which is less than 0.5 mtrs deep. I left the anchorage on the bottom right and set the autohelm to slowly take me out, using my eye to work out the course, as you can see it wasnt a good idea, I was going very slow, about 1 knot, so I could secure the anchor to the boat, while doing this I looked over the side to see the bottom of the sea was quite close, it looked to be about 2-3 foot, but it’s usually deeper, is that parallax, or some other effect, either way we were going to go aground for sure, and before I had time to react the boat made a small gravelly sound and stopped. Bugger, not again, a quick sprint to the wheel, a blast in reverse and we motored back without any effort, yet the wheel wouldn’t turn, it seemed jammed, I’m thinking has the grounding damaged it, could the rudder be in mud still somehow, what to do. Then I remembered, the computer was steering, so quickly turning the autopilot off, and we were away. You really wouldn’t know there was a shallow there without the navionics chart, which is nearly always wrong on these matters anyway. My Cmap chart has the water as being 8 mtrs deep there. Attention to detail is required, or even just attention would help!
So onto the 6 hour trip back to Sutera harbour so I can get a good night’s sleep, and buy some lettuce and sugar free bread. Very hot, no wind and a still rolly sea. A totally uneventful trip, but good 4g data all the way allowed me to catch up on emails and make some decent scrabble moves. Arrival at Sutera harbour was a doddle, I didn’t hit anything or fall off the boat/pontoon. Perhaps I’m getting better slowly.
Finally, I try to keep the blog just about boating, but I had to put this picture on, if you haven’t seen the video of these two rockets landing you must, I was so excited, it was the most awesome thing I have seen in a very long time, this was human endeavor and science working together brilliantly. Well done everyone at spaceX, not that I expect you are reading my blog, and if you are, get back to work, you still screwed up on the third rocket return.