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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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.
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.
The marinaros continue to clean the marina basin of rubbish and the pool attendants sweep the small beach.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The biggest treat, however, is taking in the view of the sun setting across the quiet marina.
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.
And thank you Takumar for making beautiful lenses.
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