Our Current Location Is Here :

Monday, 10 September 2007

Racing Through Borneo & The Green Marina

Lat. 04deg 24.11min North, Lon. 113deg 58.33min East

Crystal Blues has won the 130 nautical mile passage race from Labuan to Miri for the second year in a row. Ley and Neil sailed the boat for 24 hours straight to win on corrected time by well over an hour. We managed to pass some of the IRC race boats on the way, which made us pretty happy. For 12 hours we match raced with an 80 foot superyacht, a massive sloop run by professional crew, and we were never more than 1/2 a mile apart - this was the most exiting racing we'd ever done.

The first 18 hours were hard on the wind all the way, before the breeze went light and variable and we started chasing storm fronts to give us the wind we needed. By morning it died almost completely and we were down to an agonising 2 knots of boat speed for several hours, then managed to sail a slight sea breeze to the finish line off Miri mid-morning.

Unfortunately we were not able to sail the whole race series, as once we arrived in Miri we were on an aircraft quick smart and flew back to Australia for the engagement party of Shaun (Ley's oldest son) and Sarah. We missed the final two round-the-buoys races, but made it to the engagement party in Melbourne, where we'll be for the next week.

The Green Marina ...

Over the past months we've spent a lot of time in Miri, and have been able to implement a recycling program at the marina. The local Miri council provided the bins, which sit at the top of the dock ramp. They are emptied twice a week by staff from the Sunflower Centre, a non-profit day care centre for special needs children and teenagers. The kids sort the material and prepare it for sale, and al the funds go to the Sunflower Centre, which is part of the Miri Red Crescent (Red Cross) organisation. The program was launched this week, to coincide with the annual yachting challenge. So Miri Marina is now a Green Marina.

We'll return to Miri on Monday the 17th, and still hope to do some more land travels in Borneo before heading up the Rajang River to see our Iban friends on Sungai Tulai in October.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

4th Borneo International Yachting Challenge

Lat. 05deg 16.22 North, Lon. 115deg 14.92 East.

Labuan Harbour is host to almost 30 sailing boats, and we're here to celebrate with the other crews. Only 3 IRC "real racing" boats, the rest are cruisers like ourselves. We'll race around the harbour tomorrow, and the following day we set of to Miri on a 120 nautical mile passage race, overnight.

The race organisers do a great job of looking after us, with free hotel rooms here in Labuan and in Miri, a cash payment for entering the event and a whole series of dinners and parties. Its too good to miss. The weather doesn't look great - not a lot of wind - but we're sure it will be fun.

The cruisers have been preparing for the race, practicing spinnaker sets and even cleaning hulls. Our friends Janet and Joe on Tegan 1 shipped a new mainsail in for the event, and the crew of Morning Cloud had fun cleaning the hull.

In Miri we have another "round the cans" race before the final party. The Chief Minister of Sarawak is coming, along with a tribe of other VIP's. The Malaysian Maritime Department is providing security. There are lots of our cruising friends here, so the social life is sure to be intense.