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Diving Sipadan

August 20, 2016

After leaving the Kinabatang River we worked our way down the northeastern shore of Borneo with several overnight stops. While at Evans Island the rally fleet was rudely awaken at 4 AM by a squall that rained buckets and had winds of 40 knots.  A number of boats dragged and two ended up hitting other boats injuring one man.  Fortunately, we have cruisers with medical experience and the patient was quickly sutured up.

Our destination was Tun Sakaran Marine Park, a beautiful atoll edged by rugged high mountains that reminded us of the South Pacific.  The view from the ridge overlooking the anchorage was spectacular.  We spent six days relaxing, snorkeling, and diving.  We had previously arrange with a dive shop for two days of diving at Kapalai, Mabul, and Sipadan.

Sipadan became famous in the 1980’s when Jacques Cousteau planned a two-day visit and stayed six weeks.  He estimated that it would take a month of diving elsewhere to see the number of species that can be found in a single day at Sipadan.  We were not disappointed. Only 120 divers a day are allowed at Sipadan and they are booked for months in advance.  We were lucky that our rally was given special permission to dive there.

Our next stop was the town of Saporna that had never been visited by a yacht rally before and the locals were excited to show us a good time.  The fishermen vacated the sea wall where they normally sell their fish and the rally boats Med tied to the wall.  We were given a warm welcome by dignitaries and entertained by dancers.  We then boarded buses and were taken to an archeological dig on the outskirts of town. It was a long hike up the mountain to where 10,000 year old artifacts had been recovered.  Great views!

That night we were provided entertainment and dinner at the waterfront.  Many of the locals were there enjoying the festivities as much as the cruisers.  An unlimited supply of rice wine was available and soon shy people were up on stage signing with the band. Everyone had a great time.

The next morning at 6 AM boats started peeling off the sea wall and traveling the 55 nm to our final rally stop at Tawau.  Many cruisers were nursing hangovers but everyone survived.

The rally fleet is currently anchored off the Tawau Yacht Club and we are preparing to go our separate ways.  We have decided to continue south into Indonesia traveling down the west coast of Sulawesi and over to Kalimantan on southern Borneo.  We are looking forward to visiting Kumai that we missed last year due to forest fires.  We hope to spend several days up river on a local boat and witness orangutans in the wild. Others are headed home to Australia and New Zealand while some are headed north and over to Alaska.  Some have made arrangements with ESSCOM to be escorted back across the top of Borneo.

We have enjoyed the rally cruisers and have become close friends with many and we will miss them.  But on the other hand we are excited to be on our own again, stopping where we want and moving at our own pace.  After all, that’s really what cruising is about.

Tun Sakaran Marine Park

 

Diving Sipadan

Diving Kapalai

 

Sipadan & Mabul

 

Festivities in Saporna

 

Farewell dinner on the pier at the Tawau Yacht Club

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From → Travel

One Comment
  1. Wow, the diving looks great there! I love reading your updates. That squall sounded like an event. Safe travels on your next leg. Looking forward to seeing you guys over the holidays!

    Kris

    On Sat, Aug 20, 2016 at 2:54 AM, Brian and Sandies Around the World Cruise wrote:

    > aroundtheworldbsh posted: “After leaving the Kinabatang River we worked > our way down the northeastern shore of Borneo with several overnight stops. > While at Evans Island the rally fleet was rudely awaken at 4 AM by a squall > that rained buckets and had winds of 40 knots. A number o” >

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