Friday, 30 December 2016

16 December Work, more work and even more work – our final month in Malaysia

It's been a month since we finished the re-rig. A month that has flown past in whirl of more updates and improvements to our lovely Jackster. Our time constraint was waiting for replacement house batteries (eight at 105Ah each) to be delivered from the US via KL. Ever since we met our good friend
new brown, old black

fitting in battery box
Steve Southgate of Dignity in Grenada seven years ago, David has hankered for Trojan batteries. (Among the boating community Trojan batteries are considered to be the premier deep cycle option.) Steve convinced us of the same so when our need for new batteries and the availability of Trojans coincided there was no debate – we buy. We had to wait for a cargo ship to offload in Singapore, transport to KL and then a van from KL to Telaga Marina. They were definitely worth the effort and the wait.
In the meantime I set to work with gusto creating a new cover for the dinghy. The old cover had been made in Venezuela in '09 for our old dinghy which was 30cms longer. I had shortened and adapted but now the rips were becoming greater and the fabric less wholesome. Using my new Sailrite sewing machine it was a dream to sew. I adapted the new design to be fixed with strips of Velcro along the outside and the inside of the tubes for a snug fit. To finish off the package I also made little green sun covers for the outboard motor and petrol tank. Dinghy is now a small green goddess. 

When we were changing the rigging we took down all the sails. Before they were raised again we gave them a thorough check for broken threads, unravelled stitches and signs of wear. UV is the constant enemy of your sails. While the cloth and threads are UV resistant they are not UV proof. On the head sail, which is now the oldest of our three sails, I had to restitch the complete length of Sunbrella UV protection strip because the threads had 'dissolved' in places. The main had small points of wear in the sail cloth where it catches going into the mast which needed patching. The mizzen is less than a year old and needed no repairs.
The biggest challenge to sewing sails is where to bring together sewing machine and sails. With no suitable room or space ashore we did the repairs on the foredeck. The sewing machine was in front of the windscreen with the power source in the cockpit. I was sitting on the deck, one knee tucked under me and the other knee operating the foot pedal because putting the machine on a table was not an option. We had to be close to the heavy sail. David moved, fed and guided the sail for me. A team effort, but well worth the effort.
Hopefully we've extended their lives and headed off the need for emergency repairs while on passage. A true case of a stitch in time. The next two places on our RTW trip with offer good value on new sails would be Sri Lanka where North Sails operate the biggest sail loft in the world and then South Africa.
Next job was cleaning the water tank. Our tank holds 1000L and sits above the keel with access through the floor in the galley. From time to time I treat it with chloride to kill unseen nasties and we only ever use shore water if we can be certain of its quality and still it has to pass through two filters between tap and tank. Malaysian water is clean and you can smell the chloride so you know it's been treated at source. Chloride evaporates in about two days leaving odourless water.
An aside to our water tank story is in conversation with our insurance company regarding cover to sail from Thailand to South Africa, they have made it a requirement that we have a bilge pump capable of moving 25 gallons / 113 litres per minute. Our fitted bilge pump falls short of this capacity. At first we were affronted by the insurers demands but gradually we saw the real sense in having an independent water pump as part of our emergency gear. In Kuah we found a small, portable, petrol drive Japanese pump which weighs less than 5kgs and approximately 25cms square. Add 10m of 25mm hose to the intake and 5m to the outflow and you have a pump to lift water from the deepest part of the hull over the side, a water pump for a fire and portability to carry to another boat should they need assistance. You can also leave it running on its own freeing a pair of human hands to help elsewhere.
We discovered a fourth use which is to empty your water tank. Our tank was mostly clean. The white fibreglass lining makes it easy to see where we needed to give attention. There were black spots of what we assume were fungus at the top of the tank and on the roof which spend more time in air than under water. Being small I could get my head and a shoulder through the opening and scrub the walls clean. We then applied a strong solution of bleach and filled the tank, left it to sit overnight before emptying, rinsing and refilling.
stocks with protective sleeves
It was a full on month of work. David serviced the wind generator, serviced the main engine, went through the storage cupboards deciding what was a keep and what was a give-away (and finding some lost items), checked our dive kit and assessed what needed a repair or replace. I did the same with our food cupboards:out with the old, decide what new stocks would be required for the next twelve months. Langkawi has good supermarkets, keen prices and we have access to cars with easy loading from dock to boat. Polly now has 50kgs of cat litter stored in the forward wardrobe and we have 150 cans of tonic water in the bottom of our wardrobe, canned food fills the spaces under the floor in the salon and there are rumours of a bottle or two of gin under the bed! I couldn't possibly comment on that one.
There was time for rest and play in between all this hard labour. When the temperature and humidity were at their highest in the mid afternoon we would retire to the forward cabin with doors and windows closed, books and air conditioning. For an hour we would rest and cool until four o'clock when the sun was beginning to go down and then work until the sunset at 7pm.

bridge over the falls

I had (another) birthday in early December which I designated a No Work Day. Instead of work we cycled, only 15 minutes and only a bit uphill, to the starting point for a walk up to Telaga Tujung, Seven Wells, Waterfall. Only 500 steps uphill later we arrived at the highest waterfall and great views over the anchorage. There is a cantilever bridge over the fall which had a glass floor, changing rooms and picnic areas. We sat for a long time with our feet in one of the bathing pools. I didn't know you could swim and hadn't brought a costume. Sitting and enjoying the moment was a delight. On the way down we side tracked to the second and lower fall which had far more visitors. We had lunch out. A restful afternoon in the AC and then a special dinner on board: smoked salmon, grilled steaks and a bottle of Australian sparkling wine. Sometimes the simple things are the biggest treat.


lower falls

Next day was work as usual as I cleaned the forward head and scrubbed the shower curtain.

We've now spent two months in Telaga marina with an address for deliveries, two months of repairs and improvements for Jackster, two necessary months of making preparations to be ready to sail in parts of the world where there aren't chandlers or repair facilities in every port. Or mid ocean.  

Friday, 9 December 2016

15 November That's better @ Langkawi


Jackster arrived in a rain squall at Telaga Harbour Marina, Langkawi at the same time as our new rigging was been unloaded from a plane at the airport; the afternoon of 17 October.
New rigging arrives at marina
The rigging had been sent by air freight from a town on the French / Swiss border.  We knew which flights it was booked on so were able to hire a car and go to the airport (5 miles away) next afternoon and do the clearance ourselves.  No import duty to pay because we are a yacht in transit and Langkawi is duty free.  A local agent with a truck was collecting a package at the same time we were there and with some nifty negotiation he delivered the two heavy boxes to the marina for us.

Our first week was spent on unpacking and preparation.  It was raining too.  David had spent weeks thinking and planning the most efficient and safe way for us to swap old for new.  The rigging on Jackster appeared to us to be in still in very good condition, but of unknown age.  We've owned her for eight years so the minimum was eight years, some of the fittings were original Amel, some had been changed to Sta-Lok.  Next year we plan to cross the Indian Ocean and the following year to cross the Atlantic.  For us, and for our underwriters, it was the time, and the best place to do the work.

two new pairs of shroud
Acmo, the company that supplied the original rigging to Amel in France still makes and supplies rigging for new Amels.  All we had to do was place an order for one set of rig for an Amel Super Maramu and it would be made to the correct lengths, with the correct fittings and made with the best 316 European stainless steel. When we opened the box we were delighted to find every turnbuckle and every swage was stamped ACMO and the date of manufacture.  No more guessing the age of our rig.  La creme de la creme commes les dits en France.  With David and I doing the fitting we were guaranteeing returning our standing rigging to the same high standard that Chantiers Amel specify.  We have a greater vested interest in attention to detail than A.N.Other commercial rigging company; in mid ocean it is our safety which is on the line.

main boom supported on deck
Old becomes...
...new

changing lower shrouds first
David's carefully thought out plan was to begin with taking as much stress off the masts as we were able; sails down and stowed and both booms lowered to rest on the coach roof.  Then we began with the lower shrouds and working our way up to the higher cap shrouds which reach from deck to top of the mast.  David would lower the top of outgoing shroud to me on a long rope and I would feed it to lie along the deck, undo the rope and attach it to the top of the new shroud to be lifted.  Once David had his end secured I could fit the clevis and cotter pins at deck level and by tightening the turnbuckles the mast was supported.  We went pair-by-pair, port side, starboard side so we were never more than one wire off at any time.
The most challenging shroud to change was the forestay.  The forestay is the thickest (12mm) and longest shroud (18.3m) on the boat. It stops the main mast falling backwards and passes through an 18m aluminium tube, the head sail foil, which the biggest sail on the boat is attached to.  The foot of the forestay also has an electric supply which had been disconnected and a heavy furling motor which couldn't be disconnected. With two halyards secured from the top of the mast to the bow to pull the mast forward and with help from friends (it was all far too heavy and big for me to handle) David released it at the top of the mast and he lowered it as we walked it out along the dock.

Jacqui taking measurements
each piece date stamped
Changing the wire was straightforward.  It came out without hitch.  The new one was greased and inserted through the foil.  Lifting and fitting was not so simple.  The combined weight of shroud and foil caused it to sag as we tried to align the fitting with the deck mounting, but we did it.  David was lowered to part way down the mast and bracing his legs against the mast stretched out to push the head stay forward and reduce sag.  I undid the turnbuckle as far as it was possible.  The big guys pulled down and I was able to get the clevis pin through and secure it with a split pin (cotter pin).  We'd done it.
Old shrouds coiled on deck
Fitting the new rigging took two weeks of hard physical work.  Tuning it took another two weeks of adjustments and checking.  David hoisted me  to the top of the mast with a long tape measure and we measured from centre top of mast to toe rail, and spreader tips to toe rail to check the mast was dead upright - spirit levels don't work when you're afloat. Checking that each mast was straight and true, each pair of spreaders adjusted equally and checking all the fittings were exactly as they should be.  And then we rechecked everything.

From Amel we have the specifications for correct tension for each shroud and with the aid of a newly purchased tension gauge we able to give to do this.

We are delighted Jackster's rigging has been restored to original Amel standard and specification.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

15 October Penang

Straits Quay
We had booked into Straits Quay Marina for four nights.  It's become one of our favourite places to stop. Penang is a great place.  The marina is run efficiently and there is a restaurant here which serves a sublime English fish pie.
Our 'reason' to be here is to get two month Thai visas from the embassy. If you have a visa in advance it is valid for a 60 day stay. If you take a visa on arrival it is 30 days.
Our new rig is scheduled to arrive in Langkawi in two days so it is time to beat feet and do the one last day passage up to Kuah. (Because we had to wait for an 11am high water to leave Straits Quay and then had headwinds we didn't reach Kuah until 10pm. Fortunately the entrance is well lit and we've been here before so no dramas.)



4 October Danga Bay Country Garden Resort marina

sea traffic on steroids around Singapore

Danga Bay Country Garden
Here we are back in Johor Bahru at the small Danga Bay Country Garden Resort marina.
Our journey from Tioman, around Singapore and up the river to Johor Bahru was motor, motor, motor.  Singapore waters continue to be busy although, either because of familiarity or less shipping, seemed quieter though not so quiet you could take you eyes off the shipping lanes. On the west side of Singapore island we turn north up the river to approach JB and have to navigate past a loading port, constant dredger traffic and oil rigs in the middle of the channel.  This was a new build which four tugs were moving out of the building bay and into the Straits.  Once past it was a stright shoot up the river to DBCG marina.
View looking south towards Puteri


pool more decorative than used

artificial beach at DBCG
not the usual marina facilities
It's one jetty with berths for 16 boats and a tricky entry for a keel boat as the beach begins a short distance behind the up river pontoons and the down river ones have too little depth for us. Once alongside and there was plenty of depth.  The marina seems to be a sales point for a massive development of 20 towers of apartments.  As marina residents we could use the infinity swimming pool and the club house.  How many marina club houses boast a free (non alcohol) drinks bar, super fast wifi and a baby grand piano? The wifi was so good we were able to live stream the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix (whilst sipping complimentary juice and coffee). It's all rather more swish than we are used to.
However, our stay was to be a short one; long enough for us to take a day trip into Singapore across the Causeway and re-enter Malaysia with new 90 day visas and to use the internet to order a set of new rigging to meet us in Langkawi.
7 October      Port Dickson, Admiral marina
Awful.  The best word to describe our journey from Johor Bahru around to Port Dickson is awful due to an almost constant headwind and adverse currents.  The first night we anchored south of Pulau Pisang to shelter from the WNW swell and the second night was south of Pulau Besar, south of Melaka, again finding refuge from the WNW swell.
Pulling into Admiral marina was like entering Nirvana - calm, and our friends on Kittani were here too.  We went out for satay and noodle dinner with Pete & Cathy and their friends, Brian and Sandi from Persephone.  Day 2 was a rest day and then we left. Once more into the breach. On the first day the wind and waves were away for the day and we made good time to Port Klang.  The next day wind and waves were back reducing our speed meaning we didn't arrive at Sungai Bernam anchorage until after 9pm.  Normally we would do this distance easily within daylight.
Our next overnight stop at Pulau Teleag, or Monkey island, became so rolly we had to leave.  Upping anchor at midnight we arrived at the Junk anchorage in Penang mid afternoon.  This was a new stop for us and we liked it. Quiet. Not rolling.  What's not to like?

Thursday, 13 October 2016

27 September Diving Tioman

Image result for nudibranch images
nudibranch

Dive vessel Frogman pulled out of the harbour on Saturday morning with three guests, the owners, two dive guides and six crew and headed to a small island off the southern tip of Tioman.  The third guest was a local man, Alan, a friend of John and Eva's coming along for a dive and to do fishing.  The boat captain led the first dive over coral reef where we found nudibranchs and colourful flatworms. A nice dive, not spectacular.  Afterwards we were sitting on the upper deck and David joked that Alan had a electronic tag on his ankle.  A quick look and I said 'could it be his dive computer?'. No it was an electronic tag and by diving he had cut the connection with the police station, received a 'why are you off the island' phone call and a speed boat was on its way to collect him and return to town.  We didn't have time to get to know him before he was whisked away but the crew assured us he was a nice guy and hadn't done anything really wrong.


Dive two was on the other side of the island, more of the same but better diversity of coral an better visibility.  Dive three was a night dive under the jetty Frogman was tied to for the night.  An easy dive in that we jumped of the boat on to the site, an average 5 to 6m deep and great creatures spotted; a leopard shark swam through and there were many exotic morays.  For us this was the best dive of the weekend

Tioman marina
We arrived in Tioman five days ago and took a berth in the marina next to a live aboard dive boat; the first one in Tioman and preparing for it's inaugeral trip.  From the moment we arrived we struck up a friendship with the owners and crew, saying hello, visiting each others boats and passing the days chatting about diving.  This led to an invitation from the Singaporean owner John and his wife Eva to join them for a two day shakedown cruise around the island.  As we have been on many live aboard dive holidays they wanted us to give them feedback and if required to make suggestions for improvements.
Our only hesitation about two days and a night away would mean we had to leave Polly cat on her own.  We choose to keep her inside with two big bowls of kibbles, two big bowls of water, a topped up litter tray and the air conditioning running.  Safety before liberty as the local tom cat had been prowling on deck at night.  The day before we went off I was baking cakes and cookies to take along and Polly insisted on helping, or is that hindering?
was 'cat' in the ingredients list?



Jackster next to Frogman

On the same day I was baking we went to the Duty Free shop to buy wine and had taken our trolley to cart it back to the marina, but the shop owner offered us the use of his delivery vehicle (it was the delivery man's day off), a motorbike with sidecar so it was a case of DIY duty free delivery.
DIY delivery
Danny, dive leader
Image result for leopard shark image
leopard shark
Image result for moray eel picturesNext morning we awoke to a storm passing over; the dive boat was being side slammed into the jetty and it was raining heavily.  The proposed walk to a nearby waterfall was cancelled.  Instead John and the dive guide scoped out new sites and in the afternoon we all dived a wall by the lighthouse.


Angah, dive guide
S Tioman landscape
Halfway through the dive David and I were at the back of the group bumbling along as usual and I heard him shout me (yes, you can grunt into a regulator and be heard). I turned to see a large black tip shark cruising with us.  To see a shark in these waters is a rare occurrence. Over fishing and shark finning have cut numbers drastically.  This one was big and he wasn't which scared at all. He came close three times taking a good look at the visitors to his 'hood before swimming off to look for a proper meal.
Frogman returned to the marina late in the evening. Polly had survived her home alone experience without mishap.  For dinner we popped along to our regular restaurant (in fact we only ever eat at the same place, Lina's BBQ).  David and I shared four dishes of tasty nosh; chicken, squid, fries and vegetables.  Three hours later David is suffering from chronic food poisoning which lasts until the next evening.  In the end it took almost a week for him to fully recover yet I felt fine.  How can that be?

Friday, 16 September 2016

1 September Change direction

I ended our last blog post with us leaving Koh Samui and bound for Kuala Terenngganu with stops at the Malaysian islands on the way.  However on the second day of our coastal hop down the Thailand coast I received and email from my sister telling me our Dad was in hospital and very ill, I should come home without delay.
Most fortunately we still had internet connection and as we were sailing and motoring along I was able to book a flight back to England.  Despite the urgency we still stopped and anchored at night.  There are numerous hazards of fishing pots, fishing nets and fishing fleets which make night passages a form of Russian roulette, run over a line and your propeller might be fouled.
Our final night stop was off the smaller of the Perhantian islands, but in order to reach KT in time for my flight we had to leave an hour before mariners dawn. (Mariners dawn is thirty minutes before dawn and is when you see the first lightening of sky in the east.)  In our dark getaway David sat on the bow with a light searching out the fishing buoys.  We had to change direction a couple of times before it was light enough to see without the torch.
Luck was with us today. We made good time to KT and we arrived a t slack water which is necessary for safe docking in the river marina.  Immigration department were on hand to clear me in to Malaysia so I could fly out 4 hours later and I was able to be with my Dad by lunchtime next day.  He was in hospital for two weeks and has now made a good recovery.
sooo good
bliss

I came back from UK yesterday to a very warm welcome from David and Polly.  While I was away we Skyped regularly so I kept up with the ongoing boats jobs and Polly's adventures as she makes the most of access to terra firma.  She's being making the most of my absence too; daily grooming sessions by her hairdresser David and sleeping in my spot in the bed.  I left with an empty bag and returned with a bag filled with boat bits, new clothes and shoes for me and some foodie treats which we don't see on our travels.
It was lovely to see my family and to see my Dad better and it's lovely to be home on Jackster once more.

1 August Bophut part 2

We are safely back in Bophut bay in Koh Samui for the last week of our stay in Thailand. We'd timed our return to be a Friday so we could go to the night market at Fisherman's Wharf; food stalls and mobile cocktail bars are a harmonious mix.  From the first we collect sweet corn cobs, chicken satays, prawns and mango salad and take a table at the second and order our drinks; pina colada for David, mango mojito for me.  Our theme for Thailand is food - lots of scrummy food.
On Sunday evening we were at The Frog and Gecko, a British type bar beachside which is convenient to land the dinghy and step off the sand and up the stairs to a table.  Tonight they were showing the Austrian Grand Prix on the big screen.
On Wednesday we were back at the Frog and Gecko for Pub Quiz night.   There are expat teams who come every week and the tourist teams, who like us, are there for one night only.  With just David and me in Team Jackster we are the smallest team.  Going in to the half time break we are in the top three with two large (one team with 10 people) expat groups ahead of us and we are the only team to score 100% in a round.  At the end of the competiton the ten person team have scored highest, but the smallest team scores the highest amongst the tourists. Yes, Team Jackster.  Our prize was a drink on the house.
The following Sunday we were back for another Grand Prix race, this time from Germany and Lewis Hamilton won again.  Is David his lucky mascot?
It's now Monday 1 August and we're cleared out and ready to begin the journey back to Malaysia, destination Kuala Terengganu with stops in Perhentian and Redang islands.

24 July Koh Phangan bike tour

Now David has recovered from his cold we hired a motorbike for the day to explore the rest of the island. Phangan is not large but the topography is hilly meaning the roads are winding and up and down. There are some steep up and downs which require all of David's expertise and care for safe negotiation.
Did you mean to park here?

north beach

north beach art work
On the road into the main town on the south coast  we passed the turning to the bay on the south east corner which is infamous for it's full moon parties.  These attract the young hipsters backpackers, but as oldsters this wasn't on our wish list.
Main town is more functional than attractive with an old naval boat in dry dock as a feature.
A quick stop for a designer coffee and we were back on the road across the centre of the island to the north shore.  It's only 6 miles so we were quickly there.  There was even less to see here on this overcast day; a walk on the beach with stop for a quick swing and then took the coastal road back to the main town.  Parts of this 'road' are a dust track and an accident waiting to happen. Indeed one poor girl had come off her bike and scraped her knee.  Fortunately she was going slowly and wasn't badly hurt and her friends were helping her.
Later in the afternoon we encountered a far less fortunate motorbiker.  We were half way up a steep hill when we were faced by a bike coming too fast down the hill and careering out of control towards us.  Only David's quick reaction saved us.  He quickly read the situation, steered us clear towards the centre of the road and we passed with less than a metre between the two bikes.  Two hundred metres further on at the foot of the hill the young guy came off the bike.  His friend and two passing cars were on the scene immediately to offer assistance.  In any other country we would have gone back, if only for David to berate him for endangering our lives, but given that help was already on hand and we didn't feel we had anything to add, we carried on.  
On reflection, this near miss is probably the closest we have ever been to disaster on our eight year trip.  Nothing on the sea has been as bad as this could have been which leads to the conclusion that sailing is not a risk sport. It's when we come in contact with land that it becomes dangerous.

17 July Koh Phangan

We've been anchored in Thong Nai Noi bay on the north east coast for a week.  It's a wide bay with good holding and on shore many hotels and a 'walking street' lined with lots of restaurants, clothes shops and­­ ATMs to access our money to spend in the shops and bars.
Mr Dollar at Jip's bar

Long beach bay

Polly goes for a boat ride
My cough and cold have cleared but David is now suffering and seems to be more affected than I was.  Despite this, or because of it, we've been having a relaxing holiday; wonderful Thai massages, delicious meals and for me, kayaking around the bay.
 The owner of our favourite restaurant, Jip, has a collection of pets which live in the restaurant; a mynah bird and a baby rabbit called Mr Dollar.  Mr Dollar is a star performer in a different outfit each day.  Here he's hopping from table to table enjoying a lettuce leaf and the occasional sip of beer.

Monday, 18 July 2016

10 July Koh Samui week 2

It had been our intention to move north to Koh Phangan after our first week in Samui but on the day we were due to leave we checked the weather and the forecast was for strong winds beginning two days later and lasting through the weekend.  As we are not in a particular hurry we opted to remain in the well protected Bo Phut day for another week.  My eyes were now back to health but I'd developed a nasty cough and cold and didn't feel too sparkling and needed to rest.  Our days were quiet on board and out for dinner in the evening.
Friday's in Bo Phut is market night; a host of stalls selling everything from tourist collectibles to food stalls and cocktail bars springs up in a large car park from 5 o'clock until late with a party atmosphere.  This market rotates around the island in a different venue on each night of the week.  We passed the T shirts in favour of chicken kebabs, satay and spring rolls with a cheeky cocktail on the side.  All good fun.
a cheeky Pina Colada
beautiful beach of Samui
And tonight, Sunday 10 July, was the prime reason to be in town with access to a big screen - the British Grand Prix with local lad Hamilton in pole position and Wimbledon men's final with another Brit playing.  I think we should call this a 'night of indulgence', something we rarely get the chance to enjoy, dinner in front of the TV and watching two major home wins in one day.
Tomorrow we'll head off for the quieter Koh Phangan....