14 February 2011 | Langkawi Malaysia
12 April 2010 | Guess
12 February 2010
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.
05 June 2009 | Gove
26 April 2009 | Magnetic Island
14 December 2008 | Townsville
31 October 2008 | Townsville
23 September 2008 | Port Clinton
19 August 2008 | Pancake Creek
24 May 2008 | Sydney
27 April 2008 | Hobart
02 April 2008 | Hobart
16 March 2008 | Cygnet

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.

Take care,

Dave and Jean
Vessel Name: Whistle Down the Wind
Vessel Make/Model: Adams 40
Hailing Port: Melbourne