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Sailing to Borneo was never on my to do list.  It's not that I didn't want to go there.  I just never considered it as a sailing destination.  Life is full of pleasant surprises, and Borneo turned out to be one of them.  The other name for Borneo is Kalimantan.  Both of them sound like exotic destinations, and it's cool to be able to say that you sailed your yacht to Borneo or Kalimantan.  What's even better is to travel up the Kumai river and have a look at the endangered Orangutans in the wild.

Borneo is off the beaten path and sailing there on your own yacht is a big deal.  It's not around the corner and up the street.  It's your reward for a long hot passage across the Java Sea.

In order to see the endangered Orangutans, you must sail  up the Kumai river which takes the better part of a day if all goes well.  Sometimes things don't go well, and you run aground.  That's exactly what happened to the sailboat that traveled with us up the Kumai river.  We only draw about four and a half feet, but the keel boat draws more than six.  The water at the entrance of the river is full of sandbars and shallow mud, and the channel is not well marked.  We relied on cruising directions from other cruisers to navigate the river's entrance.  Unfortunately, something got lost in translation, and the sailboat ran aground.  They tried every trick in the book to get free, but they could not do it on their own.  Finally a shallow draft fishing boat came to their rescue.  With two crew members sitting out on the end of the boom to heel the sail boat over, the underpowered fishing boat was able to tow them off the sandbar.

The hardest part of getting up the Kumai River is its entrance, and that's because we didn't know the location of the channel.  There aren't any buoys to mark the channel entrance.  Later in the day we saw big passenger ships navigating the river, and they obviously had local knowledge that kept them from running aground.  Once we were several miles past the entrance, we easily navigated the wide river, and we arrived at the town of Kumai before dark.

Shortly after dropping our anchor, a boat pulled alongside to ask if we wanted a jungle tour to see the wild Orangutans.  They could do a long day  trip or an overnighter depending on how much money we wanted to spend.  We didn't want to leave Exit Only overnight without us on board, and so we opted for the long day trip that would run from sunrise to just after sunset.  For our crew of four people, the total cost was $100.  That included meals which were basic, but safe to eat.

Borneo has a problem with deforestation from loggers, and to make matters worse, forest fires turn the sky grey from all the smoke.  Exit Only sits quietly at anchor in Kumai with the town obscured in smoky haze.  It's hard to imagine how much smoke there is in the air.  You have to see it to believe it.  The first sign of our arrival on the Borneo coast was the sun blotted out by all the smoke.  It appeared as a tiny pale ball in the smoky sky.

The tour boat arrived on schedule after sunrise, and the crew of Exit Only hopped on board ready for an excellent adventure.  Sarah managed to muster a smile in spite of the early hour.  When the tour boat picked us up, they deposited one of their employees on board Exit Only to tend the boat in our absence.  We left him a snack and plenty of water, and our tour hosts told us that he would give the boat a wash while we were away.

We traveled a couple of miles down the Kumai river and then turned east into one of its tributaries.  We would be traveling on this side river for half a day to reach our destination - Camp Leaky and the wild orangutans.  The river starts out muddy, but by the time we reach its headwaters, the river is crystal clear except for tannin staining the water so that it looks like clear  tea.

The river is actually a highway in the Jungles of Borneo.  Water highways need signs just like roads on land, and as you head upstream there are lots of signs to guide you safely to your destination.  There's plenty of river traffic, some fast and some slow.  Young people in speed boats like to go fast even in the jungles of Borneo.

David sits on his perch surveying the landscape as we journey up river.  The yellow rectangular box on the back of the boat is the head (bathroom) for when mother nature calls.  All manner of wildlife lives in the trees along the river with monkeys and birds in abundance.

These folks are paddling upriver to their home along the riverbank.  Their traditional canoe has plenty of freeboard to haul their cargo to and from market.

This fisherman inspects the water along the riverbank.  He has a small inboard engine and outboard rudder to extend his range on the river.

Home is where your heart is, and these young people have converted their boats into floating homes.

As you sail up river, it appears that jungle surrounds you on all sides, but appearances are deceiving.  You come to places where it's obvious that deforestation reigns supreme.  Deforestation is a big problem for the Orangutans because it destroys their habitat, and without habitat, they cannot survive in the wild.

We are traveling upstream on the "Spirit of the Forest."  That's a good name for a boat that depends on the rainforest for survival.  When the rainforest disappears, the orangutans will disappear, and the boat will disappear as well.  Of course, they could give deforestation tours for the few tourists that would come.

The "Spirit of the Forest" is a long shallow draft riverboat.  It wouldn't be any good offshore, but for motoring up the narrow rivers it's ideal.


Donna, David, and Sarah from Exit Only relax on the observation deck of our riverboat.


Further upstream, a police station stands on elevated posts.  It isn't much, but it's all they have to protect this endangered part of the rainforest.


This police post wouldn't be here without funding from the Orangutan Foundation International.  Logging and gold mining interests would drive the Orangutan into extinction if they had their way.



The further you head upstream, the narrower and shallower the river becomes.  It's now obvious why these riverboats are so narrow and why they have such shallow drafts.



The water no longer has a muddy brown appearance.  It is crystal clear and has the color of tea from tannin leached into the water.

The water is so still in this pristine river that the surrounding jungle reflects in its mirror-like surface.


We finally arrive at Camp Leaky funded by the Orangutan Foundation International.  This is where you get up close and personal with the orangutans.  But you don't want to get too close, because these are wild animals.  They could pull your arms out of  your arm sockets if they wanted to.  You can learn more about Camp Leakey by visiting their website at 


This cage is a great idea.  If we could put all the illegal loggers, illegal gold miners, the destroyers and the developers in this cage, the orangutans would be safe.

On this feeding platform, a large male orangutan eats bananas with a mother and baby orangutan close by.



This mom and baby are unafraid, but don't let that fool you.  These are wild animals, and they can hurt you.

Mother and child are strolling around the feeding platform.



Baby orangutans nurse from their mothers even while hanging in the trees.

Did you ever wonder what an orangutan nest looks like?  Look at the dark nest in the trees.  Now you have seen one.


Orangutans look like they are mostly arms and legs.



This fellow likes bananas and has no trouble eating them with one hand while hanging from trees and vines.



This orangutan is a dominant male named Win.  He is displaying to the other males in the area letting them know that he rules this section of the jungle. The guides said he was agitated by the fact that there were other males in the canopy with the female orangutans.  They told us to give Win an extremely wide berth, because at the moment he was not a happy male orangutan.  In spite of that warning, a Japanese photographer got very close to Win, and we wondered what was going to happen.  The large orangutan did not attack the unwise photographer, but he really pushed his luck.  The word "stupid photographer" keeps popping up in my mind.


Mother and baby are hanging out together in the jungle.  I was jealous of the orangutans with their large arms and legs.  They move effortlessly through the jungle canopy while I trudge along the ground.  Animals are made for wild places, and zoos are their prisons.  We punish them for crimes that we commit.  We destroy their habitat, and then we try to save them by locking them up in zoos. 



David tests the head (restroom) to see if it works as advertised.


Our captain navigates the "Spirit of the Forest" downstream into the smoky twilight.



We leave Kumai the next morning heading downstream on the Kumai river and out into the Java sea. 


It's another smoky Borneo sunrise on the Java sea.

Back on the windless Java sea, the water is so calm that you can take pictures of large jellyfish as you motor north on the way to Singapore.


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Captain Dave and his family spent eleven years sailing around the world on their Privilege 39 catamaran, Exit Only. During the trip, the crew of Exit Only shot 200 hours of video with professional cameras to show people what it's like to sail on a small boat around the world.

The Red Sea Chronicles is a one hour and twenty-two minute feature film showing their adventures as Exit Only sails through Pirate Alley in the Gulf of Aden and up the Red Sea.  The professional footage documents their experiences in Oman, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, and the Suez Canal.  It chronicles the rigors of traveling in a remote section of the world rarely visited by cruisers.  Exit Only dodges Yemeni pirates, fights a gale and sand storms in the Bab al Mandeb at the southern entrance to the Red Sea.  The crew explores deserted islands on the western shores of the Red Sea, and learns to check the cruising guides for land mines before venturing ashore.

The Red Sea Chronicles also has outstanding Special Features including an Instructional Video on Storm Management that tells sailors how to deal with storms at sea.

And don't forget the two Music Videos: "The Red Sea Blues", and "Captain - Save Our Souls".

The Red Sea Chronicles is a first class adventure that stokes the sailing dreams of both experienced and wannabe sailors alike.  Order your copy of the Red Sea Chronicles and experience the adventures of Exit Only as they sail around the world and up the Red Sea.

Meet The Crew

Dave Abbott - Captain

Captain Dave always dreamed of sailing around the world on his own sailboat, and his eleven year circumnavigation with his family made his dream come true.

Donna Abbott - First Mate

Donna earned her stripes the REALLY old fashioned enduring the rigors of passage making for the thrill of exploring exotic ports across the globe.


Sarah Abbott - Deck Swab

Sarah is the newest member of the family and crew. Despite her limited sailing experience, she jumped right in to life on the high seas. Her fresh and enthusiastic perspective on cruising help make the Red Sea Chronicles so special.


David Abbott - Cameraman/Director/Editor/Narrator/Composer

David shot over 170 hours of footage on the voyage from Australia to Florida. He then spent a year and a half on dry land editing and producing the Red Sea Chronicles DVD. In addition to the narrating the film, David also scored, performed, and recorded the entire soundtrack for the project.


Wendy Abbott - Voice of Ninja Crab

Wendy is the daughter of Capt Dave and Donna. She sailed on Exit Only from Florida to New Zealand. Wendy guest stars as the voice of a Ninja Hermit Crab in the Red Sea



10. The Red Sea Chronicles is an affordable CHRISTMAS gift for the sailor in my life.  Where else can I get a totally awesome gift for only twenty bucks?  
 9. I work hard for a living, and I deserve to reward myself with the Red Sea Chronicles.  
 8. My Dream Machine could use a shot in the arm, and the Red Sea Chronicles will give it the boost that it needs.  
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 6. I want to see what it's like to cruise on a catamaran before I spend a bazillion dollars purchasing one.  
 5. I want to see how a catamaran handles in heavy weather.  
 4. I want to see the Storm Management video so I understand what I need to do when I get in a storm at sea.  
 3. If I buy The Red Sea Chronicles, then Maxing Out Media will start production on two new DVD's - Australia to the Red Sea, and Med Sea to the Caribbean.  
 2. I like the Maxing Out web site, and I would like to support the website by purchasing their DVD.  
 1. After watching the Red Sea Chronicles, I can finally see myself sailing on the ocean of my dreams.


"Story, quality, music, people, boat... Just excellent."

e got the DVD yesterday and watched it last night (we had no problem with the different format at all), what a great adventure and well put together DVD it was entertaining as well as informative and funny at times, a great combination. Well done you guys are natural movie stars, Laura and I watched the DVD twice and I am sure we will watch it many more times in the future."

I hope you guys are going to make more DVDís of your previous sailing trips for us to enjoy."

"Amazing...Just watched your dvd The Red Sea Chronicles for the third time today...I called my boss at home and turned in my notice...I'm going sailing!"

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"...a great video that transported me from a damp, cold day in Wales to cruising aboard Maxing Out in the Red Sea - pure nectar."

"The only "problem" is that this has left me wanting more of the same stuff, just from some of the other places Maxing Out has visited!"

"Thumbs up. I also wish the entire circumnavigation was documented, but this small portion in the Red Sea is excellent. Well done."

I just watched the Red Sea Chronicles and second what all the others have said. I'd love to see a whole series of Maxing Out DVDs...Good job!"

Red Sea Chronicles DVD Previews

The Red Sea Chronicles is now available!

  We are attacked by flying fish as we cross the Indian Ocean on our way to Salalah, Oman. When we make landfall, the local suq (market) helps us regain our land legs.


  The riskier side of world cruising. In this episode we prepare to sail through "Pirate Alley" in the Gulf of Aden

  We arrive in Aden with a damaged alternator and are delighted to find a superb local machine shop. As we prepare to leave, fellow cruisers are attacked by pirates.

  We must sail through the notorious Bab el Mandeb (Gate of Sorrows) to enter the Red Sea. 50 knot winds and relentless sandstorms are ready and waiting on the other side





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Storm Management Offshore
Parachute Sea Anchor Chainplates
When To Deploy Chutes and Drogues

The Almost Never Fail Catamaran Anchoring System
How Big Should Your Anchor Be?
Far Horizons
Tsunami Damage - The Starboard Bow Takes A Licking
Everywhere, Everything
Go West Young Man - Seasteading
Beam Me Up Scotty

Ten Reasons Why Night Sailing Rocks
When Are You Coming Home?

Sailing to Borneo to See Wild Orangutans
Double Headsail Downwind Sailing
Grand Schemes And Other Important Things
Rigging Emergency Prevented - Listening To Your Boat

Dreams Do Come True
I Have A Dream

I Am Wandering, But Not Lost
Missing Out
The Facts of Life

Red Sea Rigors and Rumors
Never Surrender Your Dreams
Red Sea Sunsets

Exit Only Survives the Global Tsunami
The Sea Is So Big and My Ship Is So Small

34 Things I Learned in 33,000 Miles
Space Travel

Ten Disasters I Was Afraid Of That Never Happened
Kissing Cobras

Pirates of The Malacca Straits
The Tree That Wanted To Eat My Boat

Offshore Dream Machine for Circumnavigation
The Facts of Life Rafts

Surviving the Savage Seas
Abbott Drogue - Adjustable Medium Pull Drogue
You Must Know The Sea

Listen to the Sound of Your Dreams
Clouds Are a Sailor's Friend

Exit Only
Life Is Good
Getting Connected

First You Think It, And Then You Do It
My Addiction
Cook's Look at Lizard Island

I've Got Trade Wind Dreams
Storms Come and Go
Go Ahead.  Live Your Dreams.
The Next Step

Take Care of Your Autopilot So It Takes Care of You
Danger Zones On Board Exit Only

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