Marina Life During Lockdown

On March 18th, the Malaysian government instigated the Movement Control Order. This has many implications but for us, in Sutera Harbour Marina, life goes on.

This was a one-hour photography project I set myself to briefly document our lives in the marina during this time. I used a Sony A7iii camera and an old SMC Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens. All photographs were taken within one hour apart from the last three that were taken at sunset.

Before I start my story, a quick word on the lens. Takumar lenses have a bit of a cult following. They are known for their sharpness, considering their age and providing I nail the shot, their colour rendering and their lovely bokeh (blurry background) when shot wide open. All legacy lenses require an adapter to work on mirrorless cameras but they make the most of the full-frame sensor. There is no auto-focus or changing of the aperture by the camera. Everything is manual and the 50mm is almost as old as I am. The Takumar lenses are a joy to use.

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Jail bird

Sutera Harbour Marina and Country Club is based on the coast of Kota Kinabalu in the state of Sabah (Borneo), Malaysia. It is a large complex of three hotels, five swimming pools, a golf course and, of course, a marina. It employs 1,520 people.

When the control order came into effect, all non-essential businesses closed down and overnight Sutera Harbour Marina and Country Club shut its doors. Restaurants stopped serving, bars pulled down their shutters and the hotel rooms were emptied. The function and dining rooms have been left as they were. Tables are laid, and behind one set of doors, left open presumably to allow some air flow, an entire room is set up to accomodate a wedding, with covered chairs in sashes and a big banner celebrating the couple who probably never got married. For a few days the pools stayed open but they too were eventually shut off.

Pools have been closed off

We’ve been told the investment company that owns Sutera Harbour is ‘run by accountants and bankers’ and they were canny enough to put aside a slush fund to keep their full-time workers in employment. As such the gardens are kept manicured, the grass watered, and the pools cleaned.

A pool attendant takes a break in his brightly-painted hut

The marinaros continue to clean the marina basin of rubbish and the pool attendants sweep the small beach.

Cleaning the beach by the empty Breeze Bar

We are fortunate that security has been maintained. Whilst exercising around the marina by foot or by bike, sometimes we’re stopped and asked who we are. This can get a little tedious but I guess the security have a job to do and it’s good to know they take their job seriously.

The two faces of security

But most of the time the security has little to do. One young guard stationed at the entrance to the superyacht pontoon asked me if I was bored. I wasn’t because I was too busy photographing him but I got the impression he was.

Masks and gloves are standard issue

Two days ago the superyacht pontoon was quarantined. A guest aboard a day-tripper boat moored there tested as possibly asymptomatic for Covid-19. As a precaution all guests and crew were tested whilst the neighbouring superyachts were not allowed to leave the jetty. These are troublesome times for everyone but this must have been especially difficult for all crew within the vicinity.

Crew lean over the gunnels to chat to their neighbours

After further testing the crew and guests were given the all-clear and quarantine was lifted. We were impressed at the lengths the Sabah authorities went to to track down and test all people concerned.

For us smaller boat owners we have a comfortable little community on F and G pontoons. It’s a chance to get on with boat jobs, though under the circumstances I don’t think anyone has anything urgent to tend to since we can’t go anywhere.

Trolleys are normally hard to find but no one’s using them at the moment

We keep our distance, even when talking to each other on the pontoon. With beer in plentiful supply no one is going thirsty so occassionally we’ll meet up for the odd drink. Half of us have folding chairs and we’re careful to keep a healthy distance apart from each other.

Roy (s/v Seven Thunders) shares a joke with Magda and Graeme (s/v Artemis III)

The biggest treat, however, is taking in the view of the sun setting across the quiet marina.

Karen and Frank of s/v Caloma take photos of yet another incredible sunset

At the time of writing this photo-story it has just been announced that the control order has been extended. Everyone seems quite happy with this move. How do I know this? The marina runs a WhatsApp group headed by Alvin Teh of Malaysia Yacht Support Services – MYSS. It’s used to keep all boats in touch with the latest news and developments, as well as suggested supermarkets and restaurants for provisioning and deliveries. It also provides a bit of sanity in this extraordinary situation. We can only be thankful of our location and of the services from Alvin, Rick Blackie, the general manager of Sutera Harbour Marina and Country Club, and all his staff. Terima Kasih.

24 hour security

And thank you Takumar for making beautiful lenses.

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11 Comments on “Marina Life During Lockdown”

  1. I am sitting in Subic Bay Yacht club in same position as you. But the beer in my yacht fridge is cold and I can walk around the club and down to the mall for food and go for a sail in the bay and say hi to the very few bored security guys because the club premises is locked and barred and empty.
    Subic bay is very quiet. very few people. But then I live in a suburb in Perth Australia and you will see very few people in the streets most of the time because they live in their houses and seldom come outside .
    if we leave the yacht club we get our temperature scanned to check we are ok and half hour later on way back in get checked again. Interesting situation and i guess I can go home to Perth Australia one day and have 14 days confinement quarantine when I get back. Im not expecting a flight soon but i did put my name down with Singapore airlines for all the good it will do. In the meantime I just relax and try to stay away from people. take care you all

    1. Sounds very similar to us, Denis. Only difference is I don’t think I’d want to fly to the UK right now. I’m feeling a lot safer here at Sutera! Stay safe 😷👍

    1. There’s a few spots around the world that a special for sunsets and this one is up there. Stay well, Mark.

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