For some reason, my wife doesn't believe I can demolish 60% of the house in preparation for our renovations and still leave one room we can live in for 6 months. The plumber has even offered to run a pipe through the window with a faucet; I can run an extension lead across the road to the neighbours shed; we'll have a builders Porta toilet on the road verge and I've even offered to run a clothes line between the scaffolding and the cement mixer — what more can one man do?
So we're going to need somewhere to live and with the new owners of Sutera Harbour Marina in Borneo upping the rents and dropping the benefits of our membership, its time to bring our 44' Antigua ketch Australis II back home to Cairns.
My intention was to run across the top of Borneo, scoot along northern Sulawesi and then drop down through Indonesia past Ambon and out into the Arafura Sea for a Thursday Island Australian customs check in and a leisurely sail down the Great Barrier Reef where we'll become live-a boards for a while.
The previous owners sailed in from the US along much the same route and I have all their way points as well as paper charts. I'm just about to organise my Indonesian CAIT and sort out my crew when I discovered Malaysian authorities have just declared a dusk to dawn curfew across the top of Borneo from Sandakan down the West coast to the Indonesian border. With increased Philippine piracy, gun running and resort raiding as well as the recent shooting of a Malaysian policeman and the kidnapping of another — it's not likely to reopen soon.
So I now have an extra 1000nm to travel going down the West coast of Borneo, past Kalimantan and island hop across the arc of the Indonesian Archipelago and try and make for Gove or as a fallback, Darwin.
I'm planning on departing Borneo the first week of November and while I realise December/January is the start of Queensland's cyclone season, after 12 years of sailing the region at that time of year - like most Far North Queenslander's, I have found it's either going to be light northerly westerly winds 85% of the time with the chance of a cyclone the rest. Those odds change considerably as you start getting into February but I'm hoping to be back painting and decorating by then.
Borneo down to Kalimantan and the top of Australia from Darwin to Cairns is pretty familiar territory but Indonesia heading east will be a new one for me. Any cruisers out there traversed this route? All advice and observations most welcome.
I still think we could have survived living in our bathroom for 6 months…