Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Santubong - Kuching Cruising Information

We know that many boats plan to cruise in Sarawak this year - we hope this information assists.

Santubong River Entrance

The river entrance here has shallowed somewhat over recent years. There are two (2) bars to cross on the way in - the first is well out to sea, where we saw 4.7 metres on a 3.0 metre tide. The inner bar is crossed after you've turned to port, heading east into the river. Here we saw 3.9 metres on a 3.3 metre tide - thats 0.6 metres on a zero tide, using the installed leads as the entrance guide. Locals tend to wander south of those leads, and they say there is more water there, but I have never tested it.

The top image shows the display from our electronic charting system (Tsunamis Navigator Pro) on the way in, with our ships track in red. Note that we stay deliberately to the east of the lead line on the long southward leg, purely because thats the way the tugs and barges do it - I can take a hint. Then we turn to the east and come on to the river leads proper,though severe charting error shows us well south of the lead line. Don't worry, use the white triangular leads at the river mouth, then start to move north again once you've crossed the shallow section.

As you make that turn to the east you must stay clear (north) of the yellow floating buoy... this marks the northern end of a reef off the mainland to the south. It used to be a big green pole with flashing light, but a barge took it out recently. I've shown the buoy, at its GPS derived (approx) location, in the chartlet above. If you're on the leads you'll pass within 150 metres of it.

The anchorage is not far in. Datuk Lingi's staff have asked that visiting yachts anchor on the north side of the river (about 1/3 of the way out from the bank), starting at Lingi's dock and then working eastwards. They strongly suggest you don't anchor off the village, as you'll intefere with the drift netting that happens there most evenings. Barge and boat traffic on the river occurs on the southern side, so keep to the north of the centre line. This Google Earth image of the river shows the docks, plus anchoring positions, bus stop, shops etc. Click on the image to enlarge, and save it if you like.

Crocodile Update

The big croc (see the story here) seems to have disappeared from the poorly fenced pond where they dumped it, in the car park behind Palm Garden restaurant. Its probably back in the river (damn). The little croc (2.5m), which also escaped from the restaurant's ponds, continued to hang around the boat ramp. Great ... so the restaurant owner then decided to start feeding it right there, hanging dead chickens on rope to attract it, as a "drawcard" for tourists. Go figure. Last Thursday many people launched and retrieved boats at that ramp, up to their waist in water, while the croc watched from maybe 10 metres away. Unreal. That night we saw it on the mudflat below the restaurant, with patrons hanging out the windows to photograph it.

Fortunately, the local Malay community have now taken matters into their own hands. On Friday morning a hooked line was set, baited with dead chicken. The creature was captured, trussed and taken to the local crocodile farm. So the current situation is that the smaller escapee has been detained and relocated, but the bigger one is probably hanging around. No swimming !

Proboscis Monkeys

There is a colony of proboscis monkeys living in the Kuching Wetlands National Park, not far from the Santubong anchorage. We took the dinghy across the estuary and into the
Jebong River (Sungai Jebong), and saw them up close on the southern bank as we approached Kampong Salak. A basic map of the national park, with the river and kampong marked, can be downloaded here.

Irrawaddy Dolphins

The lower reaches of the Santubong and Rajang rivers carry populations of Irrawaddy Dolphin. These rare and beautiful creatures are very shy, but will swim close to your boat when at anchor. We often see them in the mornings. More information is available at the "Dolphins Of Sarawak" website here.

Travel & Provisioning In Kuching

Use our Services guide (download from the web). The best supermarkets are Ting & Ting in Tabuan road (right down town) and Choice Daily, some way out of town but worth the drive. A Kuching city map, marked up with useful locations, can be downloaded here, along with the Santubong - Kuching bus timetable here. While there are many buses travelling that route, the timetable is for the air conditioned resort bus. They're cool and clean. We rent cars or motor cycles from Tek Hua Motors, also in Tabuan Road, just up the hill from Ting & Ting. Speak to Winnie there - contact details are in the services guide. Once you're mobile you might like to call into Kampong Buntal, close to Santubong, a Malay village with several chinese seafood restaurants, a fish market and basic supplies available.

Rainforest World Music Festival Transport

Getting to the festival site can be a pain (though we used a motor bike last year and it was great). Datuk Lingi's staff are trying to organise some mini vans for the visiting yachts - but they need to know how many people will be coming. If a group of boats is interested, a representative should call Dolah or Pendi on 014-881-9455 or 013-804-5210. We're told that Datuk Lingi is happy for the visiting boats to use his dock for dinghy access again this year - but please treat it with respect.

Have fun in Santubong/Kuching, and make sure you book your music festival tickets early. We departed Santubong on Saturday morning, and are now anchored on Sungai Tulai with our friends at longhouse Rumah Lidam. The prawns are plentiful this season, and we've been given half a kilo each day since arriving. We hope to see you up here after the music festival.

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