Base Camp Manager, Ian Blessley, Gives His Account of Moving to Camp Foyle

With the whole team together, the move to Batu Ampar proves difficult


Final supply stop and hard negotiations

Whilst we waited in Puruk Cahu for the boat to arrive, several further items were purchased and added to an ever more complicated list to account for. Parangs were purchased along with 59 tomatoes, 24 cabbages, some runner beans, pineapples, mangos and bananas.  Keeping some of these items fresh in the UK is hard enough with the luxury of a refrigerator, but out here it was a mammoth effort and one with plenty of lessons for the future.

The next stage of our trip was to load the stores from the Muara Sambah onto two large motor boats.  Rough prices had been sought during the recce trip and poor old Martin had huge difficulties bartering with the boat drivers to keep the costs as low as possible.

Whilst at times my job was stressful I never envied him his!  Eventually after some negotiation we were allowed to unload and transfer the stores to our new boats.  We split so that all the stores, Rusty and I were in one boat and all the personal kit plus the team in the other

A sinking feeling

As we had now purchased 900 litres of petrol and 60 litres of kerosene, we were getting pretty heavy and shortly into the trip the Captain of my boat, stripped to his underpants and with a hammer between his teeth dived overboard.  There were a few brief thuds from under the boat, some tense words (when he surfaced) with the crew, before he climbed out and carried on our way.

We found out later that we had a minor leak and had been slowly sinking.  The expedition team boat slowly pulled away and we would meet them at various stops for lunch or a leg stretch, Dale joined our boat for a quick game of dice, before we arrived for our overnight stop.

Due to the negotiations of the morning we were slightly behind, but thought we should be able to make up the time the next day with an early start.  Some of the team sleep in the boats whilst other occupied a small shack floating by the dock side.  Torrential rain over night meant that some of the boxes of food got a little wet despite all our efforts and were to cause problems on later days.

We were delayed again the following morning by a mechanical fault on the boat carrying the stores.  The 2 Captains spent about an hour bridging batteries with spanners and changing fuel pretty much by drinking it.  Whatever they did it worked and we were quickly on our way again.