Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Storms, Grog, Thieves & Beauty Queens.

Lat. 04deg 23.11 minutes north. Lon. 113deg. 58.33 minutes east.

Crystal Blues is back in Miri, Sarawak, after a 12 day voyage that proved - well "interesting" is a good word.

We set out from Miri on Thursday July 19 and travelled overnight to Labuan Island. On board were our friends Barry Barber and Lesley Colley, ex SV Sea Dancer, who had flown from Adelaide to visit Sarawak and Sabah (see the story below for more info on their visit). The overnight sail was less than comfortable due to the large number of localized thunder storms, but by morning all was clear and we motored into Victoria Harbour, Labuan, in fine spirits. We stocked up on wine, beer and spirits and managed to depart by lunchtime the next day, headed for Brunei, all of 15 miles away.

That evening found us sipping duty free Gin around the pool at the Royal Brunei Yacht Club, and later dining with other cruisers in the club restaurant. We staggered off to bed way too late, locked everything and slept well. In the morning our outboard motor was gone (yes, the one that we'd just had serviced and were so happy with)! They tried to take the dinghy, but were prevented by the wire strop and padlocks - with the outboard they just smashed the transom screw toggles and left the padlock dangling on the strop - a lesson learned.

This of course led to a wasted day of police reports and teeth gnashing. Later that day we also found that the marina at our next port of call, Kota Kinabalu, was full. No vacancies for weeks ahead. As we need to repair our Onan genset (again), and we really don't want to sit at anchor running the main engine twice a day, we opted to head back to Miri. There we could organize the genset parts and obtain a new outboard motor, in a low cost marina. After two more days in Brunei and several more very energetic storms, Barry and Lesley flew on to Kota Kinabalu and we checked out.

The trip back was worse … waves from several directions and wind from everywhere. You know how it is - steep faced little waves that try to slam the boat to a standstill and then don't apologise. 20 hours later we arrived in Miri, determined to re-group and chill-out. That's when good things started to happen.

Local friend and businessman Bruce Chai invited us out to dinner that night, and we offered to provide a "sail boat ride" for 16 Chinese / Malay beauty queens. Next we found that an identical replacement outboard motor would cost half (yep half) what we paid six years ago in Australia. An 18hp 2 stroke Tohatsu for A$1200.00. Go figure. Also, the Aussie stock market recovered from its recent hissie fit. Great.

Then Neil spent a day repairing the battery charging system on the race boat next door (a DK46 owned by Aussie Ray Roberts), and the crew took us out for a fantastic sea food feast last night … things were looking up.

At 8.00am this morning 16 gorgeous ladies invaded the marina, with an entourage of hangers-on, two video crews and several still photographers. We made sure our hair was tidy, cleaned our teeth and put on the cleanest sailing clothes we could find (not easy). By 8.45 they were all on board and we set out to sea, into a dying slop that soon had the camera crews wet and the girls on the foredeck excited. After 15 minutes of this the first casualty came aft, pale and sick. Two more soon followed and we turned around. The balance of the cruise and the photo sessions took place on the flat water of the marina and canals of the adjacent residential estate. One girl managed to throw up whilst cruising the canal system - it surprised us, but the photographers showed no mercy and filmed everything.

Tonight we're invited to a celebration dinner with the beauty queens, and need to find clean clothes again. Neil might even shave. Things are looking up.

There are more photos in the Picassa album - click the link below :

http://picasaweb.google.com/svcrystalblues/BeautyQueensInMiri

To see the video on YouTube, produced by Curtin University, click this link : Beauty Queens In Miri

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