Sunday, 21 August 2016

Kudat to Tawau with ESSCOM

After a lengthy detailed meeting with ESSCOM we were generally feeling a little more comfortable with the knowledge of how they planned to keep us safe in the vicinity of the Philippines. Along with a 'Safety Ship' the entire time, it was explained how there would also be patrol boats shadowing us constantly, aerial surveillance at various times and local support from land based authorities. As well as all this, we had decided as a fleet that we would do a neighbourhood watch system from sunset to dawn on a roster basis just as extra sets of eyes on deck. 28 boats proceeded from this point on to our final destination at Tawau and our departure time was set at 0900 out of Kudat. From this point on, all our movement was supervised by ESSCOM and we had to adhere to their wishes - all being in the course of keeping us safe. Before this stage we had the freedom to come and go and stay as long as we wanted in whichever location we desired, so this was really the first time the entire fleet would travel as one. Pros and cons go with this.

                          Our Safety Ship waiting for us in our 1st nights anchorage out of Kudat.

                                           A pair of police boats watching over our fleet.

For those who really enjoy travelling in company - this was really 'company'. Being asked to remain within a 5nm parameter meant you were never really far from the boat next to you. This made for some great photo opportunities of each other and also meant the chatter over the radio was increased. It was like travelling with a large extended family on holidays. Anchoring at night would also be tighter and we had decided to place the boats with children inside a circular perimeter set by the fleet. Often cruisers can be solitary personalities preferring to do their own thing and for those boats on the fleet, the next couple of weeks may be more taxing. I for one was revelling in the nearness of everyone !!

It made quite a spectacle as we all departed Kudat marina waving farewells to the handful of boats who had made the decision not to proceed with the rally. Once out on the open water, again a spectacle with all boats under sail - some with spinnakers, others just mains and headsails. With a large police boat leading the way and smaller patrol boat fringing the edges, we headed for our first anchorage into a channel between 2 islands. I think nerves were playing a part with most boats and there was little or no movement for the usual 'sundowners' that evening. This, combined with the 9.00pm curfew placed on dingy usage made for an early night all around the anchorage. Day 1 done and still trying to get used to the idea of it all.

                                       Some of the fleet behind us as we head out of Kudat.

        A screenshot of our AIS (Automatic Identification System) showing just how closely we were   
                                                               all travelling in convoy.

Joining the boat in Kudat was Naz and Mok - 2 Malaysian guys part of a production crew filming the entire 12 weeks of the Sail Malaysia rally from Langkawi to Tawau. Many of the rally boats had housed the boys for different periods of time, documenting the day to day life of cruisers, the rally stops and festivities along the way and our stories of how we came to be here. So now Kittani had 5 people aboard - the most she has carried for a long time. They were only to be with us for a short stay of 3 days going as far as Sandakan. We had become used to them over the past 2 months popping up when you least suspect with a camera capturing great moments on film but I found having to wear a 'wire' and do an interview was a little more intimidating. Let's hope they can airbrush the wrinkles for the end result!!!!

Our 2nd afternoons anchorage didn't go quite according to plan. We had sailed to the waypoints presented to ESSCOM and had all dropped our picks under the watchful eye of the safety boat, just about to settle for the day when Naz received a message from the commander to say that they weren't happy with the location after all and wanted us to move another 5nm into the estuary and anchor off the village. That's the last thing a cruiser wants to hear after getting the anchor set ...... so....... up anchors again and off we proceed as to their request. The good point was at least we knew they were doing their job.

Next stop was the Turtle Islands where we were to go ashore late afternoon and spend the evening watching the turtles lay their eggs, the Rangers collecting and re burying them in the sand and then releasing some hatchlings into the sea. We had previously experienced this but were happy to get the opportunity to do it again, this time under the watchful eye of the film crew. 


                  Our shopping basket of hatchlings heading down to the waters edge for release.

The days were only short hops with not much more than 4 or 5 hours to the next destination and from the Turtle Islands it was into Sandakan. Heading towards the entrance of the channel, we passed an island with sheer cliffs of red rock making an impressive backdrop for the yachts sails. At this point we had hoisted Naz up to the top of Kittani's mast with camera and GoPro in hand to get a birds eye view of the fleet arriving. Making our way towards the front of the fleet, we did a u-turn (advising all in advance by radio of our intentions) and motored back through the approaching fleet obtaining some awesome footage for the documentary. 


                            A different view of Kittani taken by Naz at the top of our mast.

Sandakan was our next official rally stop, our anchorage in the river right in front of the yacht club and now home for 3 days. The club was hosting us for dinner that night and a wonderful meal was laid on along with beer which will always make cruisers happy. After the meal followed an evening of entertainment where each represented country on the rally had to perform an act pertaining to their home. "Happy little vegemites" song was belted out by the Ozzies, yodelling by our Swiss crew member Andrea, a Xmas carol in Dutch, and Spanish dancing to name a few. After all that, we danced for hours to great music and (not so) great karaoke. An excellent evening in which we could forget for a while the security issues that had been foremost in our minds for days. 


                                    Along the cliffs heading into Sandakan Yacht Club .

Sandakan was also where Andrea was leaving us, heading for Lombok to meet a friend then eventually home to Switzerland. So with the backpack crammed full, early next morning we headed off in a taxi to the airport (along with our film crew) to see her on her way. The 4 weeks she was with us had flown by in a blink, she had been an excellent crew member, a great participant in the rally and will be missed by us and many other boats. Pete will miss his bacon and eggs breakfasts and I will miss the gentle sound of her singing along with her ukulele playing. 

                       Farewells to Andrea at the airport - a wonderful crew member of Kittani.

After seeing her off, we picked up a car at the airport and started a day of sightseeing with the first stop Agnes Newton Keith house once home to a famous American writer. Today the house is heritage listed providing insight into life during British North Borneo and serving a good Devonshire tea. 

From there we drove to the Australian war memorial built in honour of the 2400 Australian and British prisoners of war who were killed there by the Japanese in 1945. The rusting remains of an excavator, a generator and a boiler still lie in their original positions surrounded by a park that is beautifully landscaped and well maintained - a lovely quiet spot to remember history. Our last stop for the day was a Buddhist temple set high on the hill overlooking the coast, the rally fleet just in sight to our left off the yacht club. A series of Buddahs line the road to the grand arches of the entrance. For sheer extravagance of colour, ornateness, location and view this place had it all.


               Agnes Newton Keith tea house for scones, jam and cream - and not a bad view.
                         Buddhist temple - the yachts anchored in the distance (left hand side)
                                           Impressive entrance to the Buddhist temple

After a couple of free days of sight seeing, laundry, wet markets, provisioning and just chilling, it was time to head off for our next stop 17 miles along the coast to the mouth of the Kinabatangan river. Arriving in good time and crossing the bar, we slowly made our way single file and meandered from side to side as the river depths dictated. As we wound our way further up the river, the vegetation changed from Nipa palms (palm sugar source) to dense jungle and soon we had reached the village of Abai where some of the fleet had opted to stop for the night. Further upstream was Oxbow where another group were dropping the anchor and the furtherest point was Barefoot Lodge where we were anchoring for 3 nights. To ensure there was plenty of room for all in the relatively narrow river, many boats 'rafted up' - tied to each other with fenders in between. Our security escorts were split between the 3 groups so still present at each location. Dinner that evening was with Esoterica - our rafted neighbours and we barbecued buffalo fillet, sweet potato chips, caramelise onions, coleslaw and salad, all washed down with a lovely Oyster Bay wine. A wonderful meal in great company!!


                        Rafted up against Esoterica in the Kinabatangan River for a few nights.

                       Sundowners on 'Songbird' and envious of their room for entertaining.

                         Settling in for an afternoon of card with 'Esoterica' and 'Gemini Lady'

Next day just as the sun was rising, 8 dinghies headed out for an early morning ride down a nearby tributary in search of monkeys and other wildlife. The previous afternoons run had spotted proboscis monkeys, macaques, hornbills and a crocodile - the morning run not as successful but still enjoyable listening to the jungle wake up in the cool of the new day. Back to the boats for breakfast and a coffee and a lazy morning. 


                           Our convoy of dinghies on sunrise heading out to explore the jungle 

                              Some impressive tree root systems from our trip up the river. 

                                   Macaque monkeys were everywhere to be seen.

   The funny looking Proboscis monkey with their long noses

After lunch we were collected by a fast speed boat for a 2.5 hour run in search of the Pygmy elephants. Just when we were about to give up, we received a signal from another tour boat that a herd was just up around the next bend. We spent the next half hour in awe of these lovely animals in their wild environment, the boat getting as close as 3 meters. Reportedly a herd of 40, we had 10 of them on the waters edge (including a couple of their young) content to feed and drink right in front of us and what was almost in touching distance. They were larger than I expected and really just 'small elephant' size so true 'Pygmy' elephant? A few loud trumpets could be heard from further in the jungle most likely from the rest of the herd calling them back. It was a wonderful experience and one to remember. 

                                    Heading off in the speed boat in search of pygmy elephants.

                           and after nearly 3 hours of travelling ......... this is what we found !

                    One of the larger animals having a good feed from the cane like vegetation.

Back out of the Kinabatangan and on to next rally stop at Pulau Bohaydulong - one of the most anticipated destinations on the rally. Anchoring in a large lagoon, we were surrounded by islands with fringing reefs and high peaks making great vantage places for photos. A 30 minute steep climb took us up to 500m for a breathtaking view of our fleet anchored below - definitely one to remember. The next few days we enjoyed being back in crystal clear seas swimming and snorkelling after the muddy waters of the river. Those boats with water makers also making the most of filling almost empty water tanks. We were loaned a portable water maker from another boat that produced 150litres per hour so we were also able to top up our tanks. 

                   Looking down from the top of Boyah Dulong to the fleet anchored in the lagoon.

                                                 Group shot from the top of the lookout.
                   A picturesque photo opportunity with Kerryn (Esoterica) on an island circuit

We had prearranged a days outing to Pulau Sipidan - listed as one of the top 10 diving locations in the world. 3 fast speed boats collected us all at 0830 and with twin 150's on the back, we powered across the choppy waters for 1.5 hours finally reaching the our destination. A tropical atoll with pure white sand surrounded by reefs kept us entertained for the day with 3 dives scheduled (for Pete) and snorkelling for myself. I swam with reef sharks, docile turtles and the most amazing array of colourful fish. On one of our snorkels, we were swimming in and out of a school of large and giant Trevally estimated maybe 2000 or more and they didn't seem to fazed about us being there - they were so close you could almost touch them.

Pulau Sipidan

                                     The jetty at Pulau Sipidan - the prettiest of islands. 

           Our ever present security force 'hanging around us'. These guys were based on the island

Leaving our idyllic lagoon it was back to the mainland to Semporna which had been billed as a big event, this year being the first time the rally had visited this town. With not much room for anchoring, the large fishing fleet had been moved out of the harbour for 24 hrs to make room for us all. This however was still only a small area so it would require the dreaded 'med mooring' technique again, and a systematic order of rafting up would be necessary in order to accomodate all 23 monohulls. The catamarans were anchoring out in the channel and once set, they were able to assist in their dinghies with guiding the monos while they reversed into place (as many monos like Kittani go sideways in reverse)!! So according to boat draught (the area also being shallow), one by one we moored.

Pete was asked to coordinate the whole exercise and as Kittani is a heavy boat with a heavy anchor and chain, we were asked to go first. So with trepidation we cautiously entered the harbour, picked the mid point of the long concrete wall and slowly backed in with only 1 meter showing under our keel (dead low tide registered 0 under the keel for one of the largest draughted boats). It took us a good half hour to secure our spot, the anchor grating on ....... rocks? rubbish? who knows what on the bottom. Finally in place, Pete was off in the dingy with the 2-way, calling up each boat in its turn and supervising it's maneuvering into place until all 23 of us were med moored against the Fishermans wharf. It took 2.5 hours in the hottest part of the day to get the job done and boy! did that 1st beer taste good. It was all very entertaining for the locals watching on - a sight they most likely have never seen before.


                       The rally boats med moored up against the Fisherman's wharf in Semporna.


              Standing with the Chief of Police                   Dinghies assisting the reversing into place.

We had an hours break to have lunch and settle in before the festivities started. These were held on the opposite side of the wharf so we didn't have far to go. Heading ashore in our rally t-shirts, we were greeted by some of the local dignitaries, girls in traditional costume giving a token gift to each of us, and a drink of the local rice wine. Then we were escorted to a shaded area of seating where we were entertained by local and traditional dancing for a couple of hours. From there into mini buses and a short trip to climb a path that lead to a great view of the surrounding area. Group photos taken and then back into town where we could do some shopping for supplies. Showered and changed, back to the festivities where a barbecue was laid on for us along with the families of the authorities responsible for the event. 

The Chief of Police - Peter - was a wonderful host getting us all to try the local rice wine, and joining in himself playing a drinking game. All locally produced food, the spread was amazing and we ate and drank until the evening entertainment started. Beautiful Malaysian girls with their fluid hand movements, men dressed as warriors and dancing with spears, and then the heavy bamboo sticks that are smacked against each other to a tribal tempo while the Warriors step in and out and in between never missing a beat. Then an amazing acrobatic display by the Lion Dancers - hypnotising to watch and all adding to the party atmosphere of the evening. It was probably the most memorable evening of the rally, so much fun, so much rice wine and surprisingly not one hang over the next morning. Just as well as we had to clear out of the harbour in the reverse order to which we entered starting at 0600 and Kittani being last at 0630.

                                     Pete drinking his rice wine shot from the bamboo tubes.
                         Not my choice of drink but as they say ...... when in Rome .......

                                                            The Malaysian Lion Dancers 

The day's end saw us arriving into Tawau - the final destination of the rally. We had made it without incident from Kudat to here through the 'pirate' area and now Indonesian is in sight. Everyone is grateful to ESSCOM for their wonderful coverage over the last 3 weeks and allowing us to see the beauty of Sabah and what is has to offer. Again we were anchored in front of the yacht club and a good venue for celebrating the last 5 months (for those to started in Langkawi, 4.5 months for us). Time to reminis of the great moments and there were plenty of those. Then the not so great - those sleepless nights in wind squalls and boats dragging anchor. Time to swap contact details and work out which direction we were all going. As the fleet disbands, of course it also means the inevitable farewells. We have formed some special friendships with people that we know we will keep in touch with, and promises to meet up again one day. 

                                       Goodbyes to dear friends Lesley and Phil (Sagata) .......

                             and John and Kerryn (Esoterica) and will catch up in Melbourne.

With some of the anchorages in this part of the world where rubbish collection and recycling are almost non existent, what lies at the bottom of the water can be a real hazard for yachties. A couple of boats on this rally have had issues when trying to leave an anchorage, either caught around coral or other obstruction. One evening after arriving back to the boat from dinner ashore, 'Persephone' decided that they were a tad too close to us and they would quickly up anchor and move. This is what they found when they tried to lift, and it took nearly 1.5 hours with Brian and Pete in the dingy both working with gloves and knives to free the anchor chain. I don't see how they are ever going to clean up the waters in these areas - even if their attitudes to rubbish disposal changes.

From a distance it looked like an alien. A mix of metal and fishing nets.

So we have provisioned, re-fuelled, collected laundry and filled the water tanks so we are off in the morning with a dozen or so boats from the rally heading into Indonesia, Tarakan being the first stop. Farewell to Malaysia for now and southwards we go.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Labuan and north to Kudat

Labuan Marina - the good and the bad. Location was great as we were within easy walking distance to local food stalls, a Giant supermarket (albeit a small one), a large wet market for fresh meat, fruit and veggies, Customs and Immigration as well as all the duty free shops in town. The condition of the marina however left a lot to be desired. As per many developments and buildings in Malaysia, maintenance is not high on anyone's agenda so when things break, they stay that way. The marina had the potential to house all of the rally boats but sadly many of the pontoons which had suffered previous storm damage however many years prior were still broken or lacking power and water, so many of the rally boats had to anchor outside the wall. We were told that it is being worked on, but things only  happen slowly in this part of the world. Still, we enjoyed our few days there walking around discovering new places to eat, provisioning and re stocking alcohol - our last chance of cheaper prices. Here is where we collected our new crew member Andrea. She is to be with us for a month and flying out of Sandakan home to Switzerland after a year of travelling the globe.

                                           Kittani enjoying great sailing on the way to Labuan

                         One of the many rigs and service vessels that support the oil industry

So out of the marina and the chance to island hop for a week or so before our next destination of Kota Kinabalu. First stop was Pulau Tiga - the island used for the first 'Survivor' series years ago. Always good to be back in the water and some great snorkeling - abundant fish life and vibrant corals close to where we anchored on the southern side of the island. Next day we went ashore and after dodging the swarms of mosquitoes and a handful of monkeys, we found a track that was a short 15 minute walk to some 'mud pools'. These turned out to be not much more than muddy water holes and rather underwhelming so after a quick dip, it was sprint back downhill to the beach and a thorough wash off. The following day we motored around to the next island with a large sand spit attached so good to get out for a long beach walk and the chance of find some shells. We came across the remnants of a beach barbeque still smouldering from the previous evening. These are a favourite pastime of cruisers wherever we can find a beach and it means we are not heating up the boat having to cook in the galley. Sadly we were the only boat there that evening and beach barbies aren't anywhere near as much fun on your own, so we opted to barbecue on board instead.

                                            Ferocious looking and not keen to get any closer!

Next stop Pulau Sulug and barely room for one boat to anchor but luckily we had it to ourselves. The clearest of turquoise waters and whitest sand and yet we were in sight of Kota Kinabalu town - a mere 2 nautical miles away. Not due into the marina for a few more days gave us the chance to explore various anchorages on Pulau Gaya. The southern bay for the first night was a popular dive and snorkel spot with small local runabouts bringing day visitors over from the mainland in a steady stream - it was reminiscent of the chaos we encountered at Phi Phi island in Thailand. Thankfully they had all left by 3.30pm so, along with Gemini Lady and Esoterica we were able to enjoy the peace and quiet of our beautiful tranquil setting. We all enjoyed a snorkel late afternoon and again first thing in the morning before the onslaught started again for the day.

                                        Some of the great sealife at Palau Gaya, Polish Bay

Around to the northern side of Gaya and bay hopped spending 2 evenings in each place. Our first anchorage was in Polish Bay off the Bunga Raya resort. A 4.5 lodging with villas built on the side of the hill and camouflaged with the lush green vegetation. A long jetty stretched out from the beach with pots of vibrant pink Bougainvillia along its length - a picturesque landscape for the arriving house guests. We did wonder as we dropped the anchor how much they would appreciate 'yachties' invading their pristine bay but for those who went ashore, they were greeted by friendly staff and taken in 'buggies' for a tour of the resort, pointing out the Royal Suite complete with its infinity pool, private beach in front and only 8,000 MYR per night ($2,600 appx AUD) But breakfast was included in that!!!!! We had considered taking a room for the night to celebrate my birthday until we discovered the costs - oh well, there is always next year.

                  The impressive Bunga Raya Resort on Gaya Island with bungalows just visible.

                                           Getting better with these tree top canopy walks

Next bay was the Gaya Island resort and a totally different attitude to yachties. When one boat ventured into the area off the island marked with buoys for a snorkelling spot, they were approached and advised that it was private property and that they were not welcome. Can they really own the water and stop us ? As we could find nowhere shallower than 21 mtrs to drop the pick, we ventured across to the other side of the bay and tucked into a small cove with a sandy beach, a few local dwellings and palm trees and enjoyed 2 lovely nights there.

Time to go into the marina so heading across to the mainland, we followed Gemini Lady through the channel markers that took us right through the port area of Kota Kinabalu, out the other side and down into the entrance. Many of the rally boats had already arrived and space was now at a premium - even though we had made a booking a week prior. We had been warned by Tiki (having already arrived a few days earlier) that we may be asked to do a Med mooring - a style commonly used in the Mediterranean which entails dropping the anchor then throwing 2 lines to the shore (in the marina case - the pontoon) and tying off port and starboard side. This would mean getting on and off the boat via the back, and not at all suitable for the likes of Kittani who does not have a back platform on which to descend. Sure enough that is what they wanted us to do. But after explaining that we don't have suitable access on and off the boat at the back, thankfully they found us a berth right next door to Tiki. 

                          Sunset looking out from Kota Kinabalu Marina - a spectacular setting.

This was a beautiful marina and reported to be the best in Borneo. With resort attached, cafe and  restaurants, 4 swimming pools, gym, tennis courts, in house theatre and the cheapest laundry service (apparently subsidised) that we had seen in ages - we were happy and ready to indulge for 6 days. We made the most of being able to swim in fresh water and so nice not having that layer of salt on your body after a dip. We had access to the theatre one morning so set up and watched episodes 1 - 3 of season 6 Game of Thrones along with a few other cruises who admitted to being die hard GOT enthusiasts. Uber transport had 2 months earlier been introduced to KK, the only other town using it in Borneo being Kuching and this proved to be an excellent mode of transport and so much cheaper than local taxis. Modern comfortable cars and extremely friendly drivers, one of which told us since its inception 8 weeks prior has now cornered 75% of the market making for some very disgruntled taxi drivers. 

Hiring a car one day, we set off with Sandy and Brian from Persephone for a trip to the Mt Kinabalu National Park - in 2000 becoming Malaysia's first World Heritage site.  A picturesque drive winding up the hill through local villages and often with a spectacular view of the famous mountain itself. After a quick visit to the park headquarters located 1,520 metres above sea level, we pushed on further to Poring Hotsprings for a couple of hours wandering the bamboo gardens, butterfly house and tree top canopy walk. A bite of lunch and the next stop before starting our homeward journey was to see a Rafflesia, the worlds largest flower. Taking almost a year or sometimes longer to bloom, they then stay open for only 6 days and towards the end of their flowering can often emit a foul smelling odour that has been likened to that of rotting flesh. we got to view one (albeit in someones backyard and costing us $3 for the privilege).This specimen was reported to be 75 cm in diameter and although it was at day 5, there was no smell.

     My knuckles were touching the petal of this amazing flower. next years flower bud on the left,

                 Beautiful Mt. Kinabalu appearing through the layer of cloud that often surrounds it.


                      Pete and Andrea KK marina                         No luck with fishing - only seaweed

Our time had come to leave the comforts of KK marina and make our way north to the tip of Borneo and our next rally stop of Kudat. not being due there for 5 days, we could again head out to the islands and enjoy their charms. Pulau Mantanani was our first stop where we anchored 1 night on both south and north sides of the island. We had a bit of bad luck on the way up finding ourselves surrounded by an expansive slick of dirty brown crude oil, and not being able to avoid it, we just had to plough on through. it stuck to our lovely new paint job turning our while hulls a sickly brown colour and was a devil of a job to remove. For the next 2 days as soon as we anchored, the 3 of us armed with cloths, sponges and detergent spent hours washing, rubbing, rinsing, more washing, more rubbing and more rinsing until finally Kittani looked clean again.

Our last anchorage before Kudat was Pulau Kulambok and this became one of our favourite bays. it was joined to the mainland by a sandy spit barely exposed at high tide and had the clearest of turquoise water and white sand bottom. Only a few small dwellings ashore and each afternoon the locals would wade waist deep into the water and fish for hours on end, or walk the exposed reefs at low tide collecting .....dinner, we presumed. The second afternoon, we had a hundred or so small squid swimming around the boat and sadly for 2 of them they ended up on our barbecue - just cooked and tender. What was expected to be a one night stop stretched into two before heading up to the northern most point of Borneo and down the other side into Kudat.

On our arrival in Kudat we were advised there wasn't space in the small marina for our size boat (no bookings taken here and first come first served basis) so second option was the dreaded 'Med mooring' that we had managed to avoid in Kota Kinabalu marina. Thankfully we had a couple of things in our favour. The wind was benign - almost non-existent, we had an extra person onboard in Andrea and we were the only boat arriving that morning so we could take our time and give it our best shot. All those things worked - we got a good hold with the anchor the first time, then quickly got ashore in the dingy and tied off both port and starboard side to huge concrete blocks. Another notch under the belt but hopefully that is the first and last time we have to moor that style.

                    Kittani 'med moored' in Kudat harbour with many rally boats moored in line.

                    Dinner at Kudat marina - good cheap food and you could BYO drinks.

The rally schedule coincided with the opening of a new marine park for Sabah and the Kudat festival was a weekend of events including tug of war and dragon boat racing with local teams - both sports taken very seriously here in Borneo. We put together teams and got beaten in both events, but in all fairness the teams had come from all over Malaysia to compete (big prize money incentives). We were granted exclusive entry straight through to the final of the dragon boat race and we came a respectable 3rd place - not bad considering only a couple of people on our team had ever done it before.

                          Sail Malaysia Dragon Boat team heading off towards the start line ........

                Clearing the boats at the finish line - all still pumped with the adrenaline of the race.

                            A very commendable 3rd place with Pete and Andrea in centre front.

Kudat was were we meet with ESSCOM (Eastern Sabah Security Command) - the security force who are escorting us up around the top of Borneo and back into Indonesian waters due to the proximity of the Philipines and the piracy issues. This meeting will be the determining factor as to whether any boats decide to turn back. Sadly we have to say goodbye to our sailing companions aboard Tiki who have decided to turn back towards mainland Malaysia. Until we meet again ........................