We’ve spent nice, yet hasty Christmas day. After the arrival to the Kuching marina, a government ran and thus cheap place on the outskirts of the industrial zone, we unfolded our bikes and went to town for a Christmas dinner (there’s a gorgeous Indian place called Foodsmith not far) and a cold beer. Soon after dinner we fell asleep.

Dark clouds are gathering above

Dark clouds are gathering above

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Kudat to Kuching: A Rainy End to a Spellbound Voyage III

Last night we spent on anchor in Labuan, we skyped with our parents and wished them Merry Christmas just in case we didn’t arrived to Johor Bahru in time to talk to them on Christmas Eve – Christmas in Czech Republic happen on the 24th. Originally our plan was to sail to Brunei first, but we decided to skip Brunei this time, in order to improve our chances to meet with our very good friends, who were flying to Langkawi for New Year. The odds that we would actually make it were not high, but we thought we would give it a try…


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Kudat to Kuching: A Rainy End to a Spellbound Voyage II

Leaving on a Friday is said to be inauspicious, but we were only sailing some 30 miles to a small island Pulau Tiga, where we planned to anchor for the night before crossing to Labuan, which lies some 40 miles SW of Tiga. That day we finally had strong enough wind to shut down the engine and sail, though of course the wind was once again against us… The weather reports predicted squalls and heavy rain, and sure enough, short after we made it to Tiga and dropped the anchor, the first squall hit us. Our hopes of sleeping in the cockpit were quickly abandoned as we hid ourselves inside the cabin from where we watched the terrifying lightings that were hitting the sea all around us. While amidst one of my melancholic broodings I tried reading a book, Petr busied himself reassembling our tiller pilot to see if the repaired circuit brings it back to life. Unfortunately the miracle didn’t happen and we had to face the gruesome fact that we would have to hand steer while motoring all the way to Singapore where we could buy a new tiller pilot. Yet we were not desperate, because at that point we were still hoping to see some of those monsoon winds?!


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Kudat to Kuching: A Rainy End to a Spellbound Voyage I

This was supposed to be a relatively easy one. Not counting the passage from Taiwan to Philippines earlier this year, the voyage from Kudat to Johor Bahru was to be our first voyage ever when we would be actually sailing in the right season with the prevailing winds and currents and not against them. Marcello, an Italian sailor we met in Kudat, told us that last year the same time of year he sailed the whole way from Kudat to Phuket, had the engine running maybe for 2 hours during the whole trip. Not bad at all! Yet for us it just somehow didn’t happen… Instead of NE monsoon winds, we had either calms or were fighting headwinds, countercurrents, squalls and heavy rain. Ideally by now we should have been in Johor Bahru on peninsula Malaysia, yet here we are exactly 17 days after we left Kudat, sitting in rainy Kuching, capital of Sarawak, on the northwestern part of the island of Borneo. Not only is Kuching “the wettest populated area (on average) in Malaysia with an average of 247 rainy days per year”, the rainy season is in full swing now and most of the days it hardly stops raining. And when I say raining, I’m not talking about some minor drizzling but regular downpours. Simply put, the journey so far can only be described as downright miserable…


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In case we didn’t made it (in time)…

Tomorrow we set sail from Labuan to Johor Bahru. That will take us couple of days and it might as well happen that we won’t be able to wish all of you Merry Christmas.

Now that our engine is firmly attached to our boat again (more on that later) and the interior is painted, thanks to Jana’s efforts, we have been granted the permission by the gods to leave the enchanted port of Kudat. We are now anchored in the Victoria harbor at Labuan, rain is pounding on the cabin, bread is baking (you should smell it!) and we are excited to heave the anchor and spend few days at sea.

This Christmas doesn’t feel at all like it should. It’s not the first time we spent Christmas away from home, but even in Taiwan we’ve noticed Christmas happening. Here in Malaysia not so much. You get to hear to an occasional cheesy Christmas song, but that’s not enough to do the trick.

If we are to spend the Christmas Eve (The Christmas happens on the evening of 24th for us), let’s hope we’ll be able to catch ourselves a nice mahi-mahi… and Jana tells me that she is going to make the best potato salad ever!

Merry Christmas ya’ll!

Occupational Disease

Rather than a job-relating illness or injury, in Czech this term refers to a strange behavior of people from different branches, who become so overwhelmed by their occupation, that they cannot cut themselves off from it even in their personal or everyday life. Let’s say a dentist always checking other peoples’ teeth while chatting with them or a teacher constantly trying to lecture everybody. You get the idea, I guess.

Though this occupational disease is highly contagious, not every person becomes affected and some do more than others. I suppose it also has to do with that particular person’s personality and his or her current state of mind. I myself am rather a perfectionist and don’t mind fiddling with details. No wonder then, that after three weeks of painting, I have been exhibiting some symptoms of “painting disease”.

Another place to practice my painting skills

Another spot to practice my painting skills…

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We are back in the working mode, getting up at dawn (round 6 am) and going to bed soon after 9 pm, exhausted but happy. We sleep so soundly these days, that often we don’t even hear the raindrops pounding on our deck. We sand, we glue, we paint and Janna slowly but surely undergoes a cosmetic metamorphosis. It’s amazing what a huge difference a paintbrush and a tin of paint can make.


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Finally Some Time for Decorating

First of all, apologies for a belated update on the status of our engine bed modifications. We managed to hunt down all the materials, already got the steal angles from Chinese machinist Mr. Chin on Wednesday, but are still waiting for the engine mounts, without which we cannot start. Impatiently we follow our shipment using the UPS tracking information and can’t but marvel at their wondrous “travels”. First they toured the various cities and states of America and then they suddenly appeared in Koln, Germany. Friday evening we almost started celebrating, when we found out that the mounts already arrived at Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia. The original estimated time of delivery was Wednesday (23 October), by the end of day. Now it seemed we could have our mounts on weekend! Yet for some mysterious reason, on Saturday morning our shipment found itself arriving to Shenzhen in Mainland China…


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Hunting for Materials

It’s been several days now since we lifted our engine out of the boat and put it on the pontoon next to us. Yet we are still in the process of material hunting. Currently we are shopping for new engine mounts, some SS to modify the current engine bed and after we found out that a new damping plate (between the gearbox and flywheel) plus shipping would cost us some 800 USD, we also added 4 small rubber cones to our list – after all it’s only these small rubber thingies that are broken.

We haven’t had much luck in Kudat so far. Luckily we live in the internet era. We easily found several engine mount dealers, some of them in Asia (mostly based in Singapore) and some in Europe, where we bought engine parts for our Volvo before. However, it seems that we will actually order our new engine mounts from a US internet chandlery They are relatively cheap and the mounts will be sent by UPS, so could be here within a week or so.

As for the rubber cones for the damping plate, we decided to send them to Taiwan. In Kaohsiung there is an excellent shop where we always bought hoses, gaskets and other rubber materials. They also do custom work and since we have a sample – luckily one of the cones is more or less intact – we hope they would be able to find us the same material and make us new cones.

Now we are searching for some steel to modify our engine bed. In the afternoon we go to a Mr. Chin’s workshop – a local Chinese machinist, who promised to try to find us  some steel angle and also some 316 SS for our new shaft. The advantage with Mr. Chin is that we can speak Chinese to him. Most of the Malays speak some basic English but it’s not enough to discuss technical stuff with them. Hopefully Mr. Chin’s hunt will be successful, otherwise we would have to go to Kota Kinabalu and try our luck there. Which actually is not such a big deal either, since we could also do some provisioning while down there.

Meanwhile the weather is still quite crazy. The constant downpours keep us inside the boat most of the time and so although we are currently trapped in Kudat once again, we console ourselves knowing that even if we could leave, the weather would still keep us right where we are. There are 2 new lows next to the Philippines, one of them was just upgraded to tropical depression and the other one has now 30-50% potential of becoming a significant cyclone. It sure is another rather busy typhoon season in SE Asia…

Current Graphical Analysis of the Weather in the Region

Current Graphical Analysis of the Weather in the Region


Unscheduled Return

I’d much rather write about the adventures of a new voyage, first impressions from a new port or about new people we’ve just met… Unfortunately I have to admit that we are still in Kudat and it seems that we will have to stay here at least for another two to three weeks. The reason is simple. Have a look at the following picture and guess for yourself…


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