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Friday, 28 May 2010

Sarawak Update

Crystal Blues anchored in the Santubong River
After a three day passage from Singapore, we dropped anchor in the Santubong River, where we're surrounded by peace and serenity.  Mt Santubong towered overhead, attracting a crown of clouds, whilst from it's slopes a chorus of jungle birds called.  Malay fishermen were quietly hauling in their nets and the ever shy Irrawaddy Dolphins were quietly surfacing around us.  It was a great welcome back for our 4th visit to Borneo.

Dollar and Pende, caretakers of Datu Linggi's house and dock here, were on hand to greet us.  They confirmed that cruisers are still welcome to tie their dinghy to the dock and that fresh, potable water is available.  A new development this year is the "No Berthing" sign - sadly some boats have abused the privilege of Datu Linggi's kindness, and have not only tied to the dock, but when asked to move on, they refused to do so.  This is not leaving a clean wake for others!

Ian and Mona, the owners of the Kuching registered SV Kumang, confirmed that there is still a sunken fishing boat immediately off the large Jabatan Laut dock.  Anchoring there, or too close to the fish farms, has caused problems for cruisers in the past.  Employing a diver to untangle your anchor is expensive in these crocodile infested waters.  And yes - we saw our first croc in the anchorage this visit! 

Reviewing the Rajang River charts with the Cartographers
Ian has kindly supplied a detailed Google Map of where to check in.  We also visited the Cartography Office of the Jabatan Laut, Sarawak Marine Department (Lot 683, Section 66, Jalan Utama, Tanak Puteh, Kuching) and purchased three recently updated charts for the Rajang River.  Charts required are SAR 1440, 1441 and 15.

We visited the new marina on the Kuching River and were advised that they have onshore facilities and there is water and power to some of the slips.  It is located some distance from Kuching adjacent to the new Convention Centre, before the bridge and barrage, but has none of the beauty of the Santubong anchorage.  It really is in the middle of an industrial waste land, though when the convention centre is finished it should all be different.

Three Days To Gawai!

Crystal Blues is now anchored on Sungai Tulai, in front of Rumah Lidam long house.  We have been blessed with wonderful friendships with these Iban families over the last 4 years, and have been warmly welcomed back into their homes and lives.  Last night we were invited into the long house for a jam session with the band.  Neil was given a few rhythm lessons by Jambar then the fun began.  We also shared a few glasses of tuak, yumai Iban home made rice wine.

We carefully walked down the boardwalk to the dinghy dock only to find our dinghy beached in knee high sloppy mud.  Neil waded in, pushed and pulled and finally the dinghy was freed - then we had to deal with mud caked legs, clothes and bags.  A refreshing midnight swim in the river cleaned us up.  Dealing with 5 metre tides makes for interesting times up river.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Back To Work

Neil at work
We stunned quite a few friends with this decision, whilst others thought we had sailed off the edge of the world. We just see it as part of the adventure.

Late last year Neil was offered a position with Space Matrix Design Consultants in Singapore, to establish a new multi-media business similar to our previous enterprise in Australia.  The new operation would be part of the turn key solutions that Space Martix wanted to offer to their clients.  Space Matrix is one of the fastest growing architectural and interior design firms in Asia.  It is Singapore based, with offices in India, Bangkok and Sydney.  Our good friend (and best man) Steven Shaw is the Regional Design Director, hence the arm twisting offer.

A few weeks into work Neil added another hat to his Multi-Media role, by taking on the management of Space Matrix's IT teams. As most of Space Marix's offices and his AV and IT staff are based in India, there will be a lot of travelling involved.

So we have based ourselves and Crystal Blues at OneDegree 15 Marina in Singapore and are enjoying the change of life.  Neil's wardrobe has been expanded with new work clothes, whilst Ley has taken on the care and maintenance of Crystal Blues (and Neil).

Neil started work in early March, after our shake down cruise to the Andaman islands.  We still manage to cast off the dock lines every other weekend, drop the anchor and chill out with friends.  One weekend our godson, Ethan Shaw and his younger brother stayed onboard, so the boat and the systems are still getting a good work out.

Najat ( dancing) at Gawai


9 Days To Gawai Festival

Our younger Iban friends have been bombarding us with text and Facebook messages, plus emails with questions and countdowns for Gawai. Neil telephoned our friend Jampie in the longhouse on Sungai Tulai, Sarawak, this week and told him that we would be there this year to share in the celebrations.  For the dayak peoples of Borneo, the Gawai festival is like Christmas, New Year & Thanks Giving all rolled into one.

We don't know who is the most excited, as we have really missed all our friends at the longhouse Rumah Lidam, on the Tulai River.  It will be only a short visit, due to work commitments, but we'll party hard, hopefully celebrating with lots of music and dancing.

Monday, 3 May 2010

The Joys of Getting Old

Shaun and Sarah snorkeling at Roc Nok, Thailand
Our son Shaun and his wife Sarah joined us for a 10 day cruise from Phuket to Langkawi in February.  We explored the delights of Phuket and then set off via Phi Phi Don, Rok Nok and the Butang Islands, enjoying some good sailing and great snorkeling along the way. Shaun even managed to catch at least 4 fish a day on our new Thai lure.

Before we left Phuket, Shaun said to me "Mum we have some bad news and some good news".  I asked for the bad news first - "Mum, you are getting old!"  This wasn't news to me, so after a few seconds the good news was announced  -  we are going to be grandparents in early September!  Lots of hugs and tears of happiness followed. When they flew from Langkawi back to Melbourne Sarah's "baby bump" had already started to show.  And we're still smiling!