Stolen Kiss

Stolen Kiss

February 22, 2007

Cruising West Borneo Coast. February 2007

These notes are intended to supplement information from Deusa, Bachchat and Nepenthe.

A February crossing, when the NE winds lightened and swell died down to 1m gave us a good sailing passage with clear skies. Winds actually tended to be Northerly, except for around Tg Datu, where it was NE. Rain has been mainly at night or early morning with maximum gust of 15 knots true. Once north of Kuala Bruit, winds were N to NW in the day and SE in the early morning. Good sailing breezes! Generally clear skies and no electrical storms!

These notes are intended to supplement information from Deusa, Bachchat and Nepenthe.

A February crossing, when the NE winds lightened and swell died down to 1m gave us a good sailing passage with clear skies. Winds actually tended to be Northerly, except for around Tg Datu, where it was NE. Rain has been mainly at night or early morning with maximum gust of 15 knots true. Once north of Kuala Bruit, winds were N to NW in the day and SE in the early morning. Good sailing breezes! Generally clear skies and no electrical storms!

Our waypoints are WGS84. Some of the charts are not.

On approach to Tg Datu, digital charts indicate that P. Muri (Indonesia) at chartered position 01 54.12 N 108 39.06 E is actually 0.7 nm to the SW. P Muri Kecil nearby is a small rock, visible above the surface. Our estimation is that is chartered correctly. Both need to be checked on approach.

Kuala Poloh RiverWe entered here to circumnavigate Palau Bruit. This is also an entry point for Sibu. Large ships enter here and there is a marked channel with two sets of red/green markers.

Used the following two waypoints, which lined up the channel.

1. 02 30.5 N 111 07.22 E
2. 02 28.97 N 111.11.11E
We followed Deusa’s (RRF Publications) mud map, which was excellent.
Entered on a flood tide, about 2 hours before HW and had a minimum depth of 7m. N/NE swell was a little more than 1m and NE wind around 15 knots true. We experienced no cross currents.

Entrance of the river is accurately chartered, but river itself is a little out in places, although the depths that were shown, we found to be accurate. Look for the red and white striped poles on the river banks. Ships use these poles to navigate around the bends. The Muara Lassa river junction has leads to guide you across.

Just before this river junction there is a small village. We were invited ashore. Other yachts have been ashore here as well and have had a wonderful time. Unfortunately we did not stay as we were on a mission to get to KK to meet family.

Muara Lassa River Would not attempt this in a large swell or strong NE winds as it is around 4-5m in depth for a long way! Chart shows a small island at the entrance, Palau Patok as a mud bank with no vegetation. It is actually well vegetated and there is the possibility of a sheltered anchorage between Palau Bruit and Patok if needing to wait for the tide either way. There were two green markers shown on the chart. These were there, and appeared to be in the chartered position.

Approx position of Starboard markers:

1. 02 52.9 N 111 24.3E
2. 02 49 N 111 24.4 E

We followed the mud bank which extends W/NW from Palau Patok to the starboard hand makers as we could see the bank!

Whilst the oil rigs have very bright lights, there are some rigs that have many single towers around them with poorly visible lights. Might be a little hard to see on a dark wet night!

Bintulu Port
Harbour Police came out to welcome us and took us to said corner to tie up. They were happy to take a line to the wharf for us. Watch out for the very thick rope just floating on the surface. We did not see it and dropped the anchor next to it! It is an old mooring line from a tug. Whilst this was an ok anchorage in settled weather, we spoke to some yachts that had been tied up there in a 35 knot squall and said that the surge in the corner was a little daunting! We have spoken to more than one yacht that had ended up on the rocks behind them!

There is a little town called Medan, which has great supermarkets. Bintulu town, just down the road had a great fresh market.

We got a lift into town and were told of the bus back, but no-one in town knew of a bus that went past the port! I guess we did not ask the right question!


NB Deusa’s notes (RRF Publications) are outdated here as coastline has been altered with the new marina and land fill.
We entered the marina on a 0.8m tide, which gave us a minimum depth just inside the entrance of 2.6m.
It appears that Finn is the person to contact, except he was not there and is no longer the ‘Marina Manager’.
Power and water – no charges for this, however each boat has a 35RM charge per week, in addition to marina fees, if you are staying on board. Good security and a cheap place to stay.

Walk out to the road and turn right. Marina office is in the second row of shops. The Park City Everley Hotel just passed the marina office (the lower of the white multi story buildings you can see from the marina) has a beautiful foyer with free WIFI! They are happy for you to sit in there and use it for no charge! Good music in the evenings.

Near these shops is a bus stop for busses in and out of town. Taxi into town is not cheap at 12RM!

In town, there is a good supermarket under the Imperial Hotel building. Look for the ‘Sugar Bun’. The entrance is in the basement near there. Over the road from the Sugar Bun is a wine shop which sells cartons of beer for 47RM. On the way to the Imperial is a restaurant called ‘Mings’. It is excellent!

Tourist information is near the short distance bus station.

Hired a car and visited some of the National Parks. Nice walking. Boardwalk at Niah Caves has been renewed (should be finished by April). It is now half the distance and not slippery!

Clearance in/out is a little confusing. Jabutan Laut (on the way into town) will no longer give you harbour clearance. They tell you that you now need to go for a half hour taxi ride to the port. (Taxi is 70 RM there and same back!) Alternatively, you can catch the 1A bus from outside the Tourist Information Office.) However, the Customs people in town were very understanding and gave us our Port Clearance as well. Immigration even came out to the marina to clear us out! It appears that the yachts do not have to follow the same regulations as the ships. Phew!

Kuala Belait, Brunei (KB)Entrance is lit and strait forward between the breakwaters. Port Hand marker approx 04 36.2 N 114 10.3E. It was not lit and the top had been bent over. We did notice some nice new marks ready to be deployed at Jabutan Laut! No problem with depth entering the river. We anchored in the river overnight almost opposite the boat club and did not go ashore. The river shallows quickly. No problems. This is a very busy port which services the rigs.

Juradong, Brunei

Although the entrance is not lit, it is marked by sets of poles (just imagine the red and green!) It would be a safe haven in a heavy swell as the entrance is deep and straight forward and so well protected! We came in on a 3.8m tide and had a minimum depth of 6.8m. Lots of fishermen come in as well and very kindly did not have their nets across the channel! Nets they were using were small and deep. This is an all round protected anchorage.

Muara, Brunei

Entrance as per Nepenthe (second green marker) worked for us. Red marks are huge and easier to see.) Channel is clearly visible and lit. No problem with depth. Made our way to the Royal Brunei Yacht Club (Serasa, Muara) and anchored as close as we could to get out of the tide. Anchored 05 03.71 N 115 06.43E in mud. Excellent holding.

All in one check in at the Ferry Terminal; a short dinghy ride from the anchorage. Australian Passport holders are not the flavour of the month here, but no problems. We were more concerned with yet another whole page taken up in our passports! Australian Customs took offence to the Sultan flying direct from Brunei to his cattle station in the NT!! So, on entry we are the only ones who have to pay for a visa on arrival. Australian passport holders get two weeks and pay 5 – 20 Brunei dollars, depending on how much of the two weeks you wish to stay. If you only want fuel and a quick look around, $5 gets you 72 hours. British passport holders get 4 weeks, no charges. Not sure about others. Labuan not far away for a visa run!

Apparently if you are Australian Passport holders and check in at KB, there is no charge!

Singapore Dollar and Brunei Dollar are interchangeable here.

Customs did get a little antsy with us as one is supposed to check in/out at the nearest port on arrival/departure in Brunei waters. ie KB or Muara. We pleaded ignorance!

Enjoy the excellent facilities at RBYC. Of course the bargain is the diesel at under 0.30 AUD!!!!!!!

We decided to hire a car as we had a lot of fuel to get and did not want to go further up river with the yacht to the fuel barge. However, there are buses that run into BSB from outside the YC. Muara town is a short bus ride. Banks, bakery and a good supermarket here. John, at the YC will assist yachties.

If you have any questions email Allan Riches who runs Brunei Bay Radio for us sailmailers. He is very helpful and also involved in the tourist industry so has lots of suggestions of the best places to go!


Although a busy port, we anchored in said position opposite the ferry terminal. No problems, no hassles. There are a few moorings there for local boats. Water Taxi ashore is fast and easy and still only 1 RM pp. Cleared into Malaysia/Sabah here as it is easier then KK. Jabutan Laut is the second building to the east of the ferry terminal. Marine Department, first floor. Immigration and customs in the ferry terminal building. They are so incredibly welcoming and helpful. We were advised by the Marine Department that it was not necessary to clear into KK. Good advice as the Harbour Master is a 50Rm taxi ride in KK!

Another yacht was anchored outside the Waterfront Hotel, where the old marina used to be. They took their dinghy and tied up inside the ‘marina’. Apparently you could take your yacht in there, but it is shallow. Further from town and 5Rm for water taxi.

Palau Tiga

What a gem! The bay on the south side has excellent protection from E through to NE, E and W wind and swell. Sand and clear water!!!!!!! Anchored inside the NW reef which curves around the point, and to the west of the two piers, at 05 43.214 N 115 38.840 E, in 6m, sand just short of high tide. There is a house reef between the piers, close to the beach. It was clear around our anchorage – no bommies. HOWEVER there is a significant wooden stake that is exposed at low tide to the NW of where we anchored, closer to the reef and shore.

Such a beautiful place to hang out. Eco friendly resort ashore. Fabulous jungle walk around the island; huge old trees with amazing buttress roots. Mud pool on the eastern side is great!! People pay a lot of money for a mud spa! House reef has beautiful corals, some of which we had not seen in the Indian Ocean and many fish. The NW reef also had some different corals, but not so many fish.

Kota Kinabalu

Although entrance to Sutera Harbour is straightforward, if approach is in heavy seas/winds, (the bay is well protected) perhaps a more northerly/north westerly approach in preference to a westerly approach would assist the sighting of the entrance against the rocks.

Sutera Harbour ph +60 (0)88 252 266

Excellent facilities. Big decision on which pool to hang out in!

Many anchorages around nearby islands, although most are deep.

We will be moving to Kudat at the end of March to Haul Out. This is a local yard with a Travel Lift. We have spoken to many yachts that have hauled out here for work and long term storage. All news is good!

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