Monday, 7 October 2013

Eventful passage from Brunei to Miri

Four and a half month since we first arrived to Brunei we have finally left the country. We were in and out of the country 4-5 times, both with and without Sophia, and all up we spent over half that time being out of the country, Phil more so than me. We have had a great time though and we really will miss the yacht club with it's nice facilities (pool, showers, dinghies, electricity, wifi and not least the washing machine), but mostly we'll miss the super nice people we have met. 

We left Brunei Friday morning (we're not superstitious about leaving on Fridays) and arrived in Miri (in the Malaysian state of Sarawak) almost 24 hours later. It was an eventful passage, which isn't necessary a good thing, we like easy plain sailing!
We're still in the SW monsoon season, although here on the Borneo coast, luckily, it's not very pronounced. We didn't leave with the best of forecasts, but it was either leave, or wait another week for better winds, and we (OK, me) was keen to get going and be on the move again. And 10-15 knots headwinds isn't that bad, although much more than that, really isn't fun.

We started out motoring into 5-10 knots on the nose, but at midday it changed a little bit, so we could actually sail close hauled. The wind did pick up to 10-15 knots and sometimes getting closer to 20 knots with small squall coming through, but it was still OK. Before dark we put on reef in the main, it doesn't slow us down much, but is much safer at night. Unfortunately a little later the wind had turned on the nose again and we were back to motor sailing.

And we caught a fish, yipee, our first fish since Philippines. It was Barry's (expat with a boat in Brunei) magic lure that did the trick, and we even had a hit a little earlier. A big Spanish mackrel, so much meat we gave some away here in Miri.
There are A LOT of oil rigs between Brunei and Miri, to the degree that even with no moon or stars, it was still very bright! Constant and vigil watch was required because suddenly one of the many lights was actually from a ship moving and was often hard to notice until it was close. Most have AIS, but there are still some without. Plus some of the old oil rigs seems to have been just left with no lights on them. Very different from night sailing in the Pacific where there's a whole lot of nothing and it's suffice to check the horizon every 10-15 minutes.
poor photo at night, but this has no zoom, just to show how close we are and the amoung of light
We knew it was very likely we'd be hit by at least one squall, but there isn't much you can do to avoid them, especially if you're avoiding oil rigs at the same time. Luckily the worst one didn't hit us until we were only half an hour away from Miri, just after day break at 6.30am. Torrential rain and 30 knots of wind hit us, so we had to stay out circling around as it was too dangerous to go into the marina inside the river mouth, but the good thing about squalls is they dont' last long.

You might have noticed all the specific wind speeds in this post. We finally have our Nexus wind wane back again, a bran new one even, and it's working. So, for the first time since Solomon Islands, almost a year ago, we actually know the wind speeds. The saying ignorance is bliss is actually onto something, for me anyway, because I didn't like to see 30+ knots on the speedo when the big squall hit, and would have been a bit happier not knowing it.

I have added the bunch of photos from Brunei on facebook, this is hopefully a direct link to the album

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