Friday, 23 March 2007

Thailand (or maintenance in exotic locations)

The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself - John Rousmaniere
A funny thing happened on the way to Ao Chalong...this was to be another eventful 'maintenance' trip. For some reason, Tientos does not like to be idle for long and throws tantrums, so for a few days it was a plethora of hiccups. Little did we know that 2007 would see most of Tientos' major systems overhauled.
Calm before the maintenance 'storms'

Anchoring at Koh Koi Noi for celebratory champagne to toast our refit, we discovered the shower wasn't pumping out, the head wasn't operating and the wind generator wasn't generating. The shower required a new sump hose; the head was a fuse; and the generator was a broken wire. All fixed! Yeah??? Keith also decided this was a good time to fit the boom vang he had purchased in Langkawi. 
Boom vang installed
The following morning heading for Koh Phetra, I noticed neutral on the gear box was playing up (along with Keith's back). A calm overnighter in 8.6m (luckily) saw the morning anchor weighing difficult. Our Borg-Warner Velvet Drive gear box was not operating in either neutral or reverse! So, weighing anchor had to be undertaken without the motor and without taking too long. We decided to find our next two anchorages in open shallow (for us) water. This meant we could not visit Koh Rok which would require all gears to manoeuvre in the narrow channel and deep water. So off to Koh Lanta (8.9m) for our second night and Ko Mai Thon (8.6m) for the third.
An omen or just a blood moon?
After clearing into Ao Chalong early on 9th March, the first order of the day was to find a 'gear box' specialist. Chamnan Machinery were the guys recommended by locals; they came aboard and determined the pressure plate was history! Well it was now decision time; we had crew arriving on the 12th for a two week visit. So it was decided we could live without a gear box until we returned. It was not the first time we had been without 'engine' power and we were comfortable with our limited options.
Ao Chalong anchorage
The yacht club for gear box information
The next couple of days meant shopping, food, catching up with friends and getting stung by a jelly fish! This is when we also discovered the HF Radio was not working.  Mmmmm, is that number three of things running in threes??
Stephen arrives looking the part
The next two weeks passed in a blur as we cruised Phang Nga Bay clockwise. We selected our anchorages carefully knowing we had neither neutral nor reverse and, on occasion, managed to score a Phinisi mooring, courtesy of the owner. Lots of 'drifting' to anchor. The 'Andaman Sea Pilot' is a fantastic reference for this area. 
Nothing but stunning views
Even at sunset
The Bay in a nutshell: Koh Rang Yai is a small uninhabited island with a spectacular beach and made for a relaxing start to the journey.
Stephen hits the water

Private Paradise
At Koh Phanak, a densely forested island riddled with caves and 'hongs', the intended menu went out the door as long tails arrived selling prawns and lobsters.
Meals on long tails?
Lobster dinner please
Koh Hong is a favourite tourist destination for both Thai and foreigners. As with most of the anchorages, it is wonderfully tranquil once the hordes have departed back to tourist land. 
Come on in...
A large tour boat arrived, disgorging kayakers in all directions. Enjoying a quiet wine after they had departed, lo and behold, two kayaks come around the corner - the tour boat had left a couple behind! They declined our invitation (or rather the male did) to come aboard until the boat returned and we weren't exactly sure that was going to happen. But return they did about an hour later; the number of kayaks didn't match up: so to hell with the passengers; let's count the kayaks. 
Remember count the kayaks; forget the tourists
Tientos from the Hong
Stephen wanted to visit 'James Bond Island'. We passed on this 'exciting' read 'way too busy' tourist adventure, so anchored at Koh Yang and dropped him off in the dinghy. He would return via long tail. 
The ethereal 'Clipper' appears from behind an island
After another visit back to Koh Hong, we headed for Ao Nang. This is a resort, read backpacker, town in the Krabi Province. Famous for its beaches, limestone islands and rock climbing. It was also a fabulous place for food.
Food choices on the beach

And on the water
There is a noticeable appreciation of phallic symbols in Thailand...

Doing the dinghy run around, we notice a dismasted yacht in the next bay; this was 'Devotion' that we had seen at Koh Hong. Their chain plates had all given way under sail. So we relocated to Ao Nam Mao to give them a hand to clear the mess.It is always so tragic to see this happen to a yacht.
Devotion dismasted

To the rescue

Next it was off to Koh Dam Kwan (also known as the 'chicken islands); so many 'koh's', it was difficult to keep track.
Chicken Islands for a reason

And a great anchorage

At Phi Phi Don, given my lack of patience, Keith towed me behind the dinghy so I could snorkel the 'fish highway' in a hurry. This gave ideas to the numerous Russian and Chinese tourists who all wanted to hire the dinghy to do the same superficial practice!  Naturally, we declined. Keith also had to rescue a broken down long tail to return him to his friends for a working bee on the motor.
Tourist central
A working bee while the tourists roast
We returned to Ko Mai Thon and anchored off the resort, deciding to go ashore in the dinghy to see if we could perhaps attend for a meal. No sooner were we close than the Manager waded out, up to his knees, encouraging us. The resorts were still suffering after the 2004 tsunami and were desperate for clientele. Apart from one in-house couple, we enjoyed wonderful food and first class service.  
Deserted resort and anchorage

After a wonderful fortnight around the bay, it was back to Phuket to say goodbye to Stephen and get the gearbox and pressure plate overhauled. This was ready a week later, installed by two mechanics (one chronically seasick) all for the heady sum of $AUD800. We were over the moon! 
Durian ice-cream in Phuket is a MUST!

We caught up with old friends in this area and would like to have stayed but it was time for a planned trip back to Indonesia before returning North again for Merdeka in Penang.  
We will be back!

May all your bars be wooden and well-stocked!


Monday, 5 March 2007

Reflections on PSS Shipyard

All of life is a foreign country - Jack Kerouac
In between focusing on your own projects and maintenance, a boat yard takes on a life of its own. Meeting new friends, catching up with old friends and exploring your new surroundings.
Always a gathering with yachties and staff
In our weekend sojourns to Satun, we had the continual services of a young tuk-tuk driver. He did not speak a word of English, but as soon as he saw our phone number on his mobile, he arrived at either the yard or On's. 
Banking as usual

Street outside the yard
He also arrived to take me to the hospital at Satun when I wrenched my shoulder. From the time we arrived until being attended by the Orthopaedic surgeon, the service could not be faulted. After paying a hefty AUD$19, it was an enforced week stay at the Singkiat (how sad) while Keith continued on with the projects. The only downside of the stay was no Kindle available, but boy was I fed! A continuing stream of visitors fluffing my pillows and feeding me. Thai hospitality is amazing! Even more so on our Wedding Anniversary when flowers arrived!
With On and her wonderful staff
Wedding Anniversary flowers from On

Keith gave the son of the yard boss a pair of his old 'firie' boots; he never took them off.
The 'firie' boots
The yard was a continual stream of boats in and out and no space was left for long.
Squashing in the Police boat
Rik, a Canadian, on Dikenji, suffered a 'little' mishap as the cradle supporting the yacht collapsed. This became a rumour of epic proportions among the yachting fraternity who were not even in the yard. No, the yacht wasn't dropped, no, the yacht wasn't crushed! However, as we all looked on at the attempt to use a crane, Lea had a brainstorm!  Put the yacht and cradle back in the water and she will right herself...a pat for the lady cruisers here girls.
Just as bad from the other side
That crane is not going to work


We arrived into the yard in time for Chinese New Year. The yard owners, being of Chinese-Thai descent hosted a fantastic party for guests and staff alike. Everything, and I mean everything, was provided. Entertainment, food, whiskey, and of course, karaoke! 
The party set up
Yachties are always early
Keith on karaoke again!
Food and drink for everyone

Even the launching from the yard comes with much pomp and ceremony; an infusion of both cultures. Flowers on the bow to ward off bad spirits along with lots of firecrackers. This was to be a custom we would continue.
Fresh orchids
All good things must come to an end, so with our major projects finished, it was time to head for Phuket for another crew adventure. Our new crew, Stephen, wanted a tour of Phang Nga Bay.
The next crew adventure
Leaving the river and finally dropping the pick once more is such a relief. Out of the dust of the yard, Keith painted the last of the deck. We toasted to our refit and the next escapade.
Painting the last of the deck

May all your bars be wooden and well-stocked!

Thursday, 1 March 2007

The refit Thailand

This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change. - Taylor Swift
We had a bucket list for what we wanted to do in this refit; most were completed, some were left and other bits were added on. But first, we had to stow nearly everything and prepare to spend time in chaos.
preparing for chaos

The major projects completed were:
  • hard cover over the cockpit
  • replace cockpit sides which were rotten
  • new bowsprit and pulpit
  • rebuild alleyway cupboards
  • new targa to hold the solar panels
  • new stainless steel battery box  
  • hull faired and repainted
As the chain and anchor were removed to send off for galvanising, we asked the yard for a 'small' labourer to clean out the anchor locker. Well this was completed with a very skinny 6'2 lad! 
For three 3 years we had lived with a canvas cover over the cockpit and decided it was time for a hard cover. We didn't want a hard dodger as we spend so much time in the tropics, and the cover would also house the future additional solar panels. We have awnings attached that drop and lock in bad weather, otherwise leaving us with all round vision and breeze.
starting the layout on the ground
nearly finished - note the PPE

the crane lifts in place

the hard cover provides an added view point

The cockpit coamings were rotten, so they had to be replaced, also giving us a higher backrest in the cockpit.
rotten timber removed at the back: note the old awning
on the sides

and the sliding hatch garage

new timber
the finished cockpit
Tientos had originally boasted a bowsprit but this had been removed by a previous owner, so it was time to return to her former glory. The carpenters did a wonderful job under Keith's direction, also the welders with the cranse iron. The bobstay and sidestays were also completed.
without the bowsprit
taking shape in ironwood

the bowsprit finished
lifting into place

nearly done
finished with the new pulpit
When we purchased Tientos, there was a domestic cooker situated in the alleyway to the aft cabin. We had demolished this earlier but had not replaced the lockers. Now was an opportunity to add to the stowage with sliding doors.
we lived with this cavernous hole for too long
getting there

Lea painting and salivating at the thought of extra stowage
space saving lockers

At this time we decided on a targa to house the solar panels, taking them off the davits. An additional section was made to contain the panels allowing them to 'swivel' during the day.
before the targa
Keith happy with the targa

the old and the new
lifting on the solar panels

the targa finished

We were going to change our house batteries to Trojan AGM's, but needed to keep them secure. Installing a stainless steel battery box meant the floor bearers and the floor itself needed to be raised. A new shower sump box was also added.
the new battery box and floor goes in
an extra job to get the crew cabin painted

Our painters were two or three women at a time who did a painstaking (pardon the pun) job after the hull was faired.
one of our petite painters
spiffy again
Keith completed all the wiring and Tientos was a new girl! We had thought about revamping our head but decided to leave that project for another time. We arrived in the yard on 19 January and launched on 5 March. It was a long long couple of months.  We booked into the Singkiat Hotel each weekend, doing our market shopping and these weekenders proved a bonus for morale. 

May all your bars be wooden and well-stocked!