Saturday, August 4, 2018


Dragon Boat racing in the Kudat Festival

We joined the Sail Malaysia rally to cruise Eastern Borneo, which has experienced security issues in past years, including a high-profile kidnapping by Abu-Sayaff terrorists. The main draw of the rally for us was the safety-in-numbers strategy, as well as ESSCOM escorts throughout the risky areas.

It is quite a change to be in the company of so many cruising boats. Other than our buddy boat Field Trip and a boat here and there, we just haven't seen that many cruising boats for a couple years. There are many activities built in to the rally--receptions, dinners, and tours. So we have been very busy lately.
One of the ESSCOM police boats
One benefit of being able to participate in rally events is exposure to tours, cultural performances, and food that we wouldn't ordinarily seek out or have access to. We were able to be part of the Dragonboat races at the Kudat Festival (although perhaps only as comedic relief for the local crowd). Many of the dinners provided to the fleet are accompanied by dancers performing in traditional attire. We had the opportunity to taste sago grubs at a local restaurant in Kota Kinabalu (of our family, I was the only one who tried them this time; once in a lifetime was good for Matt and never was a good number for the kids).

Dancers in traditional attire at the Momogun Spice Restaurant

I was a bit cranky and tired when we started traveling as a convoy, weighing anchor at first light and motor-sailing (mostly motoring) all day. We and 22 other boats are traveling together in a relatively tight pack, with at least three ESSCOM escort boats flanking us. It was mostly uneventful, but being so close keeps you on your toes and adjustments are sometimes necessary. Part of travel through these areas also requires a night security watch that rotates through the fleet. This morning, I had just gotten back to sleep after waking up at 3:30 a.m. when one of the escort boats called at 5 a.m. to do a radio check. I was planning to wake up in half an hour anyway, but that extra sleep sure would have been nice.

Mt. Kinabalu
Conrad turned 12 during the voyage to Sandakan and had a great birthday that included birthday cake, presents, a visit from some fellow cruisers, and a movie. He was a happy boy, despite being underway the whole day.

Now that we're in Sandakan, my attitude has improved. We're really looking forward to seeing the Kinabatangan River and diving in Sipadan, arguably one of the top dive destinations in the world.

Mud pools in Pulau Tiga
Sunset near Kota Kinabalu.

Rufflesia Keithii, the World's Largest Flower
Sumangkap Gong Village
Sucking up a honey pot at the Kudat Honeybee Centre
The northernmost tip of Borneo

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