Sunday, 22 June 2008

Borneo Cruising Update

The south-west monsoon "cruising season" has been unusually wet so far - not that we mind, the rain fills our tanks, the clouds keep the temperature down and its good for the crops as well. Rain up-stream means the Rajang River is carrying a bigger silt load than normal for June - we can see the difference here on the Tulai, where the incoming tide brings silty water from the big river.

Traffic On The River

A few days ago we were delighted to see another yacht on the Tulai River - SV LaBarque had come to visit. Patrick & Elizabeth were only able to stay one night, but the locals put on quite a show for them ..... that's Elizabeth with her new Padi hat at right. If you're planning to come up here in the next couple of weeks, be aware that a special celebration for the end of Gawai will probably occur on June 29 or June 30. Call us on 017-425-6960 for pilotage from Bintangor, or email us at the address above. Check out the happy little group at left (click to enlarge). Anyone would think they'd been drinking tuak ...

Borneo International Yachting Challenge, 2008

Today I spoke with Bruce Chai, a member of the BIYC organising committee in Miri. Bruce confirmed that final planning is underway, but that the event dates have changed again (!). They are now finalised as :

23/8/08 Assemble in Labuan, Opening Dinner
24/8/08 Labuan Harbour Race
25/8/08 Passage race to Miri

Just a day earlier than before. Details for Miri races and functions I don't have, but the event now finishes on August 28th. The race website is up and running again after a recent technical blackout. Check it out here.

New Sarawak / Rajang River Charts

Patrick on LaBarque showed me new charts of the Rajang, just published by the Sarawak Hydrographic Office. I had a quick look at them and they do seem more up to date than the old British charts we're using. From the comprehensive offering you'll probably get by with the following :

SAR1440 Rajang Entrance to Bintangor, SAR1441 Bintangor to Sibu, SAR15 Sibu to Kuala Paloh

That last chart is an overview of the ship route, that is also covered as a series of close-scale charts that are probably not necessary for a sailboat. However it doesn't cover the Lassa River entrance to the north of the delta - best coverage on that is the Malasysian chart MAL7257. The Sarawak charts are available at MR35.00 each from :

Sarawak Hydrographic Office
Lot 683, Section 66, Jalan Utama, Tanah Puteh, 93619 Kuching.
Tel: +60 82 484159 Extension 167.

Kuching Check-In Procedures

Dennis & Pat on SV Harrier were in Kuching, and commented that the Kuching check-in procedures take half a day, even with a car, and they're absolutely right. Without a car it would take all day. It helps to have the paperwork ready - download all the forms from this website (right hand column) and you can print as many as you need.

First stop is the port captain, Jabatan Laut. Its a decent drive out to the new "Senari" deepwater container port at Sejingkat. Drive towards Bako National Park - its over 20km from town, on the right. You'll see the container cranes on the right hand side of the highway. On the ground floor of the main administration building is a little office (hard to find, right-hand back corner) where you can check in. Here you need crew lists and Sarawak MSS.1 arrival forms. You could check out at the same time (they'll let you if your departure is within 24 hours) and for that you'll need the MSS.2 departure forms.

Next is the Immigration office at Pending. You must go to the Pending wharf area, and in through the security gate at the traffic circle. Ask for directions to the Immigration office. There you'll need the usual crew lists, passports etc. Depending on who is working that day you may be asked to complete other Sarawak specific forms, but the service is always friendly. You can download a map, showing the location in Pending.

Lastly you must go to customs, as you depart the Pending port complex. The customs man is located in the main security gate building, between the truck entry and exit lanes. Here the reaction varies, depending on the staff rostered. Many aren't sure what to do. I give them a copy of the MSS.1 check in form, crew list and my clearance form from the last port. Walk away, you're done.

To make this process easier, Ian Robertson (SV Kumang / Kuching) has prepared a thorough guide on the topic, complete with photo's and maps, like those at right. You can download it here. Thanks Ian !

Sea East Asia / Maritime Mobile Net

If you were a fan of Richard's safety net each morning, the good news is that he's back .... same time and same frequency, according to the latest Noonsite story. Propagation on the 20 metre band has apparently improved to the point where Richard is stirring up the airwaves again. Catch him on 14.323Mhz at UTC 0025 for position reports, and UTC 0055 for weather.

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