14 February 2011 | Langkawi Malaysia
19 November 2009 | Now Malaysia
11 October 2009 | Off the coast of Borneo Indonesia.
03 September 2009 | Labuan Bajo, Flores Indonesia.
22 July 2009 | Saumlaki Indonesia.
26 April 2009 | Magnetic Island
14 December 2008 | Townsville
31 October 2008 | Townsville
23 September 2008 | Port Clinton
19 August 2008 | Pancake Creek
02 March 2008 | Port Davey
Storms, shipwrecks and Pirates.
14 February 2011 | Langkawi Malaysia
Dave, weather hot
In the last blog entry I mentioned the work performed by Dang a local Thai carpenter who did a wonderful job on WdtW. We were saddened to hear that he died a few weeks after finishing our boat, he was 46!!!. We got to know him and his family quite well and our thoughts are with them in what will be a difficult time going forward.
We have been more or less in holiday mode since completing the makeover allowing us to visit parts of Phuket we haven't previously seen. One such place was to the notorious town of Patong famous for its girly bars, lady boys, massage parlors and sex pats. We went with a group of friends mostly Aussies on the occasion of the AFL Grand Final replay, televised in many of the bars. As the game started at 10 am it meant a long day was ahead of us and many hours later we inevitably found our way to the girly bars. I am assured that some of them were actually girls but wouldn't bet on it. As the night drew on it was more and more difficult to tell what gender you were talking to. At 3am it was impossible. Must admit I was relieved to leave.
Patong is on the west coast of Phuket and many yachts anchor along this coast from December onwards, it's a more lively scene compared with the east. We had been warned not to go there too early in the season as it is not uncommon for an unpredicted storm to come in. It happened this season and a number of boats were washed up on shore, some completely wrecked. I heard of a catamaran just in the process of being sold that was dashed on the rocks and broken into pieces. Rumour has it that it was uninsured (value $400,000).
Another casualty of the weird weather affecting most of the planet, was a boat with which we travelled through Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia. A 46 foot yacht on her way home to the UK to complete a circumnavigation. She was in the northern Indian ocean near to Sri Lanka when hit by an unseasonal storm, sustained damage and was starting to flood. The skipper and crew were rescued by a commercial ship who answered their MAYDAY call. The yacht was abandoned, left to drift presumably until she sank.
January and February is the traditional time for yachts to leave Thailand / Malaysia and head west. This year, as in previous years, some 200 or so sailing boats have set off heading for the Med via the Red Sea. It was with some sadness that we said good bye to a number of people we have cruised with over the past 2 yrs. The route to the Red Sea is probably one of the most dangerous a yacht can take, not due to the weather as storms are rare but because of the well publicised Somali pirate attacks that can occur within a 1000 mile range of the horn of Africa. Even though there is a large multi national naval presence it cannot be relied upon for assistance as the problem area is vast. The authorities look upon yachts as being a pain in the neck and try to discourage them from taking this route. Pirate attacks on commercial shipping have increased considerably over the past 2-3 yrs but attacks on yachts have remained stable ( even the pirates think we are not worth the hassle). Of the 200 yachts that took this route last year only 2 were captured i.e. a 99% chance of getting through. This is why yachts are willing to take the risk. The ones that do decide to chance it often travel in small convoys for support. As we are going to be in SE Asia for the next 2-3 yrs, a decision on wether to take this route does not have to be made yet. Forever the optimists (probably misguided in this case) we hope that it will be safer in future as there should be more naval presence in the area.
Away from death, disaster and pirates.
Christmas once again snook up on us. We had a great time with Matt, Pete and his girlfriend Sam coming to stay on the boat for a few weeks. Our boat is not large but is well set up for 2 people, we can sleep 5 albeit a squeeze. Thankfully everything was fine and we had a relaxed, sociable Christmas day on board with food, drink, music, fun and the occasional dive over the side to cool off. We were sad to say goodbye to Matt who went home prior to New Year as there was a festival he wanted to attend. While he was with us he took the time to get a hole in his tooth fixed at one of the very good dentists on Phuket, 5 visits later, including root canal treatment, a crown and a wisdom tooth extraction he was all patched up.
The remaining four spent NY at Rai Leh on the Thai mainland. We had a wonderfully atmospheric new yrs eve with 100s of lanterns released into the night sky, carrying the dreams and wishes of the senders.
The rest of Pete and Sam's time was spent ticking items off their to do list; elephant trekking; motorbike riding; hot springs etc etc. We all had a great time.
Jean and I are again back to "normal" and planning our next 12 months. One of our achievements so far this year has been to qualify as SCUBA divers. We bought some dive gear from a very rich Frenchman who once had a dive boat. His engineer, a Scotsman, is a qualified dive instructor and he offered to teach us. Over a three week period we were in the classroom (usually a quiet part of some bar) studying dive theory and putting it into practice on Sundays, finishing with a dive to 18 mtrs. We both passed easily, Jean was especially proud as some years ago she burst an ear drum in a swimming pool and has had problems equalising the pressure on her ears and was concerned about her ability to take up diving. She was fantastic and performed all the underwater exercises without problem. We are now qualified and looking forward to our first dive without an instructor.
At present we are in Malaysia heading south. We intend to leave the boat in a marina and embark on some land travel, including a trip back to Australia in May, June or July
Seems that I can't add photos to the gallery anymore. I have asked the administrator why. Might have to add to facebook instead.
Best wishes Dave and Jean
What we have been doing for the past 4 months
26 August 2010 | Phuket
Dave, Wet season
Whistle down the wind upgrades. Or the project that grew like Topsy (what ever Topsy is).
Contrary to popular belief the cruising lifestyle is not all beer and skittles - well not a lot of skittles anyway.
It all started long ago in fact before we bought the boat, we admired the sleek low lines of her hull and the interior was quite spacious and homely. What we didn't like was the spray dodger, the bimini and covers ( they cover the cockpit area and the covers keep out the weather). In our opinion they spoilt the look. We jokingly called it the pope mobile ( see photos and you will know what I mean.). We bought the boat with the full intention of making changes when we arrived in Thailand (then 2-3 yrs away). As we moved up the coast of Australia we were able to assess the pros and cons of the cockpit set up and hours upon hours were spent discussing a new design, looking at other boats without coming to a conclusion. All the way through Indonesia we were no nearer finalising a design. In Malaysia, where boat work can be cheaper that Oz, the local workmen would build something for us only if we designed it first - catch 22 -. Then the miracle occurred. Whilst in Penang ( Malaysia ) I was approached by a fellow rally participant (Tim) who had been looking at our boat with the same critical eye as we had. The difference being, he is an architect with a desire and the capability to make boats look their best. He approached me one day in the marina saying " I hope you don't mind me saying but there are things that could be done to make WdtW look better and I can help if you wish"!!!
I jumped at the chance, joking that it would save my marriage. Over a week or so Tim produced a wonderful set of working design drawings, showing how the boat could be improved and streamlined with a structure made from stainless steel and canvas. We have since found out that Tim was one of Australia's premier architects, winning awards for some major projects he has designed. If you are reading this Tim a heartfelt thanks, we are so happy with the end result. Now I am jumping ahead as there was a lot of pain to get from his drawing to our reality, as it was not just a case of pulling one down and erecting something else in its place. Some serious steel and wood work had to be done before we could start to build to Tims specification.
In Thailand we asked yachties who had been around the area for some time to recommend workshops who could do the work we had planned. Quotes were obtained and immediately we saw that our budget would be blown. So rather than compromise Tim's design, we reluctantly decided to do as much of the prep work as possible, then bring in the craftsmen.
On April 16th armed with angle grinder, hammers, chisels, saws etc I began to attack the cockpit, first to go was the lifting hatchway which eventually came off after days of cutting and hammering with sparks flying in all directions leaving a gaping hole that needed filling. The next to be attacked was the dodger which was welded and fibreglassed in place, again it took days to remove. We are sure we heard a sigh of relief from the boat when it was removed as it weighed a ton. Don't know how we did it actually. All of this was done whilst at anchor. At the stage where we needed the experts to take over we moved into the working area of the marina, completely surrounded by super yachts, making us look like someones dinghy!
We again approached the recommended woodworker to make us a sliding hatch to fill the gaping hole I had made. It was very difficult to pin him down as he had plenty of jobs in progress. Wanting to get started as soon as possible we approached another company who were working on one of the super yachts nearby. The quote was reasonable and work could start the following week. Perfect! I had spoken to the boss whose name was Tossapom "but you can call me Tossa", I should have known then I would be in for a torrid time. True to Tossa's word, a carpenter, Dang ( a lovely 40ish year old Rastafarian with long dreads) came on the Monday to measure up for building the sliding hatch, most of which would be done in the workshop. What we expected to take 2-3 weeks to complete took about 10 weeks. Dang's carpentry was excellent albeit slow. What took the time, was fitting the hatch to the boat. This was performed by Tossa and different young lads and was constantly having to be reworked. Meanwhile, we were plodding away in other areas, de-rusting, sanding, filling, priming, undercoating until we had prepared the whole topsides only to find the final topcoat paint we wanted was not available in Phuket for a month or so. We felt we were battling all the way. IT WAS NEVER OUR INTENTION TO PAINT THE WHOLE BOAT.
Once the canvas and stainless steel work was underway it didn't take long for it to be completed. The standard of workmanship especially the stainless steel welding was far better than any I have seen in Australia, so much so, we asked for other work to be done outside the scope of the original request. We also had more woodwork done (not with Tossa ) once again adding to the cost of the project. In all, we spent double what we initially budgeted, but feel we have done the right thing for our peace of mind and the finished look of the boat.
We have learned that it really does take a lot longer to do jobs on a boat than a car or a house. Some people say, work out how long you think it will take and double it. Jean says multiply by 10 and is probably nearer the mark. I am not sure whether this is universally accurate or as a result of the balls ups made during the learning curve.
Along the way we've been excited, frustrated, exasperated, infuriated, threatened with violence (Jeans threat to me if we ever have to do this again) but in the end, happy and proud of what we have achieved in the transformation of WdtW. We got through it by perseverance and copious amounts of alcohol at the end the day.
We are now back in pure maintenance mode and working at a leisurely pace, still waiting for the next lot of paint to arrive but what the hell.
Yesterday and today were spent just watching videos, the first real relaxation time we have had in 3-4 months apart from a visa run to Malaysia and a fortnightly trip to the supermarkets to stock up (not really leisure but a break from boat work).
We are now proud owners of a traditional, somewhat sexy looking sloop!! Looking forward to breaking the ties of the marina.
Dave and Jean
12 April 2010 | Guess
Hot and sunny
I am grateful for the number of emails I have received encouraging me to write more and that the blog is enjoyed. This certainly gives me the incentive to carry on, so here goes.
Since leaving the Indonesian and Malaysian rallies, these blogs are getting harder to write, we have slowed down our pace, not travelling great distances and living a relatively normal life beside the locals in exotic locations. I try to include as much as I can, detail about our lifestyle and any unusual things that happen along the way. I try not to write a travelogue as they can be quite boring.
Xmas in Langkawi with our two sons was magic. It was always part of the dream to have them visit us where ever we are. Pete spent 10 days with us before flying back to Oz so that left the three of us to head for Thailand. After stocking up with food, fuel, water and clearing out of customs and immigration we set off north to Phuket via the Buntang group of islands. These islands are in Thailand and are reportedly good for snorkelling; we really have been spoiled by Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the clear waters of Indonesia and found this area to be poor in comparison. We only stayed one night. Matt had never done an over night sail before so instead of island hopping to Phuket we decided to head off and run the gauntlet of the hidden fishing nets and myriad of fishing boats that trawl the area constantly, day and night. Thankfully we had good wind overnight and no dramas.
We arrived in Phuket on New Years Eve and rushed to get to the customs and immigration office before 3pm not realising there had been a change in time zone, giving us an extra hour. It was still too late to prevent the officials from demanding extra payment for processing our documents as they wanted to leave early that day. I then did what is probably not the best thing to do; I became angry with the customs official said I wasn't going to pay and walked out with my unstamped papers. The intention was to return the day after and hopefully have a different official. No such luck. I had to pay the extra money.
Most of the time Matt was with us was spent in Phang Nga Bay, famous for the spectacular karst (limestone) topography with the numerous caves and hongs. Even in high season there were few cruising boats around and we often found ourselves alone in an anchorage. This must sound so peaceful. The downside was the hundreds of fast tourist boats that transported holiday makers from the resorts to the beauty spots around the bay. These boats ranged from the high speed ultra modern to the low tech traditional long tail. These long tail boats (see photos) have a large engine attached to a prop shaft and are as noisy as all hell. At one anchorage near Krabi on the Thai mainland it was easy to imagine what it would have been like to live near a Second World War airfield with 100s of Spitfires leaving all at once in the morning and hopefully returning in the afternoon.
One of the more famous islands in Phang Nga Bay is James Bond Island. For those of my vintage you probably saw the James Bond film "The Man with the Golden Gun" and like me being fascinated by the rock formations and fantastic scenery. We visited the island early in the morning before the boat loads of tourists arrived and had a great time exploring all the nooks and crannies. Despite an extensive search we never did find Mr Scaramanga's hide out. A cruising friend of ours has all the James Bond movies and lent us this film. It confirmed that the island is as spectacular as the film shows it to be and that Roger Moore was the worst James Bond ever.
Rather than write about the various places we visited I will leave that for the pictures and the notes.
In no time at all we had to say goodbye to Matt, he left with my solar panels under his arm, ready to fit to his motor home. For a good few weeks after, we were both re-experiencing the empty nest syndrome, wondering when we would see him and Pete again.
After Matt left we headed back to Malaysia as our visas were running out. Whilst there we hauled the boat out of the water to remove the coral ecosystem that had quickly developed on the bottom of the boat. We then had to sand the hull and repaint with antifouling. This always takes longer that expected. The paint should last longer this time as we added a chemical that is illegal in Australia, it is claimed to stop weed and barnacle growth for over 3 yrs lets hope so. Being in the boat yard is hard work but also very sociable as we knew many of the people working on their boats. At 5.30pm Greg from "Wind Chimes" would have a "call to prayer meeting" and like all good followers of the faith, we would down tools and gather for a beer or four.
Different places have different animal problems, In Oz it could be the rabbit, in this marina it is the monkey, and if boats are left unlocked the monkeys will climb the ladder and go aboard to eat whatever they can find. We were having dinner in the marina restaurant when a French lady came up to us saying "Ze monkees zay are on your boat". I rushed back but they had been chased away by her husband. Others were not so lucky, with food scattered over the boat and monkey calling cards left.
The boat was relaunched without drama and we hung around the marina resort for another 2-3 days for a well earned rest before starting the cycle again. Stock up, check out, and head off to Thailand. We are currently in Yacht Haven north of Phuket town and we expect to be here for some time doing major upgrades to the boat. This place is out of the way (read not close to resorts) but has many of the things we need. As our location is unlikely to change over the next 6-8 weeks I might write the next blog in the trials and tribulations of having work done in Thailand.
Dave and Jean