The duty free island of Labuan
Posted by yachtcamomile
Labuan is only 20 miles from BSB in Brunei and, as it was a Sunday and we wouldn’t be able to check in until the next day, we decided to have a lunch stop at Keraman island. It’s a small island just south of the main island and had an interesting sand spit protruding out into the sea that gave us a nice protected anchorage. The tide was out exposing the beach along the sand spit so we jumped into the dinghy and headed over to it. It had a steep incline to the beach landing and it was easier to jump in the water and wade in, luckily we had gone in swimming costumes. The beach was littered with the most amazing driftwood that had been washed up on the high tide.
The dinghy was misbehaving so Bill managed to drag it on to the beach so we could walk the length of the sand spit.
At the far end where the two sides of the beach met the sea the waves were crashing into each other and sending up great walls of spray but look behind the waves and note the black clouds forming in the background. We managed to launch the dinghy and headed back to Camomile and lift the anchor quickly. We motored as fast as we could but the squall caught us and we were lashed by the driving rain followed by 40kt gusts of wind as the storm picked Camomile up and propelled her through the choppy sea towards Victoria harbour on Labuan. The visibility was down to a mile or two but with the radar on we carefully inched our way to the marina in the north of the bay.
The AIS contacts on the chartplotter showed many ships anchored in front of us but we couldn’t see them.
Gradually as the storm cleared the ships started appearing out of the gloom. It appeared they were all support vessels of different kinds for the many oil rigs in the area
By the time we got to the marina the blue skies were back and you wouldn’t believe we’d had a storm.
The next day we had to go through the usual hoops to check in, it took 2 b*****y hours because we had the wrong stamps in our passports. Long story, won’t bore you with it but eventually they cleared us so we could go shopping.
As I’ve said before Labuan is an island; it’s a duty free island, what does that mean ….. cheap booze! Particularly if you go to the Chinese shops because unlike the Malaysians they love to barter. By the end of the day we had been back to the boat twice with 14 litres of spirits and 66 litres of wine. This is my supply of white wine for the next 5 months, the red trolley bag is full of red wine in boxes, they didn’t have a very big supply but managed to find some Banrock Station Shiraz and some French Merlot, we bought all they had. We spent the rest of the day finding places to put it all including lifting the floorboards, Camomile will have to have her waterline lifted again!
The next day, with mission accomplished, we left the marina for an overnight trip around the tip of Borneo to Kudat. The rally were there so we would finally catch up.