Posted by: catamarantwooceans | July 8, 2012

Until my crew arrive

3.7/12 – Tuesday – Until my crew arrive I’ll play being a single-hander. Going out of Ao Po marina, I raised the main, opened the jib and sailed south towards Au Chalong. The wind was coming from the west and was ever changing velocity and direction influenced by terrain.

At some point Poseidon noticed that I was having too much fun so he started the rain. Seeing that I didn’t really care he increased the wind just to the point that I still keep full sail, 25 knots apparent on relatively flat sea. Just like the mad scientist in an ancient movie he was turning the knobs higher and higher. The wave height knob and then the rain and finally the wind speed. I had in mind going into the bay sailing, which required passing the entrance and then tacking in. Right at the point I planned to tack the wind gusted to over 30 knots apparent and I immediately reefed the main.

Reaching the anchoring area in the bay I lowered the sails and started looking for a suitable position, first motoring by two Wharram cats to which I have a special affinity; my first boat was a 28 foot Tane design by James Wharram that I built myself and launched 30 years ago. That old boat is still afloat in Israel keeping the same name. A friend took the picture in Ashkelon marina.

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                             My Old boat photo by Oded Hammer

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                         A newer and bigger example of a Wharram cat

Posey (as Itamar, a friend of mine calls him) was still at his old tricks. It took me three (!) tries to have the anchor hold at a depth of only 4 meters on what is suppose to be good holding bottom. He let me go ashore for some shopping and a haircut but when I came back to "Two Oceans"  he unleashed a deluge accompanied by 33 knots wind.

O.K! We know you’re the boss. Can I please have a quiet night?

4.7.12 – Wednesday – It was as if when I made the plea above, a voice rumbled from high above:"No, you can’t!". All night it rained heavily, making a hell of a noise as it hit the boat. Somehow I slept soundly through all this. Waking up I found the dinghy full of water with the fuel tank, whose breather screw I did not close, floating inverted. I bailed out about 20 buckets and tried the outboard. I was lucky, it started and worked just fine. Normally in weather like this you simply stay on board, but I had an important task to accomplish, namely – refunding the 20000 baht bond I had to deposit with immigrations. I put on my yellow oilskins and motored to the pier under the incessant rain. Just as I reached it the outboard spluttered and died. No time now, I’ll deal with it when I come back.

Immigrations gives you a cheque which you can only cash at a special branch of Krung Thai bank in Phuket town. Now that I got my money I can leave the country and my yacht and pay no bond, which emphasizes the absurdity of it all.

Coming back to the pier, again with my oilskins on, I entered the dinghy to go back to "Two Oceans". The outboard would not start. Rowing to the boat was not very difficult with the wind blowing in the right direction. On the way I formulated a plan that will deal with the outboard problem. I was quite sure it was water in the fuel. Once on board I emptied the fuel tank into a 5 liter water bottle and immediately saw the water at its bottom.

I cleaned the fuel tank and syphoned clean fuel back into the tank, the engine started and I ran it for a few minutes to make sure everything was O.K. I was very pleased with myself. By that time the wind blew even stronger, gusting to over 30 knots. I noticed that we were slowly dragging. Again! It seems my trusty Delta anchor does not hold well in soft mud. I had to re-anchor using two anchors in tandem. I waited until the wind abated to "only" 25 knots and did it, achieving the hoped for result. I  found out later that maximum wind speed reached 36 knots.

At 1430 the skies cleared and the wind became lighter. Why not go ashore to shop for food? Going into the dinghy I had a nasty surprise. It seems that during the re-anchoring maneuver the boat’s stern hit the towed dinghy, bending the gas handle. I tried starting and running the engine but it was useless. I needed a mechanic.

I called Billy, who works near the Chalong boatyard and started rowing in that direction. Getting close I saw that it was low water and I would have to drag the dinghy a long way to shore. When I put a testing foot onto the muddy bottom I thought it would suck me in. It simply did not hold my weight! I continued rowing towards the Yacht Club, where I imagined one could get ashore with the dinghy – no way!

I ended up ashore near the Cruising Yacht Club ( that’s the other one…) after rowing a full hour! I had one of the Thai employees call Billy, whose English was far from perfect and arrange a meeting for tomorrow. Back on "Two Oceans" I felt I did enough physical exercise for the day, took a shower and went into "relax mode". 

5.7.12 – Thursday – At 0900 the tide was right to go ashore. I tried starting the outboard and surprise! It started and carried me all the way to the Yacht Club where I met Billy, who took the outboard and me to his shop. It was clear that the handle should be replaced as well as the throttle cables, which were in a horrible condition.  Billy’s in not your ordinary western world mechanic workplace; tools and spare-parts are strewn in a pile on the floor and Billy is rummaging for parts in it.

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Billy agreed to let me have a 3 h.p outboard he had until the job is finished but when he tested it it would not start. With his assistant he started working on that motor, while I sat by waiting patiently. After an hour Billy had to admit defeat and I went back to rowing. I do hope he finishes by tomorrow!

6.7.12 – Friday – It started as another day of scattered showers.I called Billy and pleaded that the motor will be fixed by 3 pm, last good time to come ashore tide-wise. At 1430 he called to say that it was ready. "Will you come to the Yacht Club?" "No, I’ll come to the boatyard. I’ll come to your place".

Luckily there was a hiatus in the rain and half an hour later I reached Billy’s shop. Nobody home! I called and the misunderstanding became apparent. Billy waited in the Yacht Club… Communication is a big problem here. Billy came eventually, by which time the rain came back and was so heavy I couldn’t leave. Trying to take Bobby’s picture was also a problem, the man kept moving, perhaps he has an aversion to having his picture taken. This is the best I could do – Bobby’s pony-tail…

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I found refuge from the rain at a place that turned out to be a boat-builder facility. One of the owners, Chris, spoke good English. He has a partner who is an artist -  painter and sculptor. Art books (Chagalle for one) were strategically placed on a table inside. Maybe they will be able to paint Anti-Fouling for me?

When the rain abated somewhat, I took the dinghy to the pier, test flying the repaired motor. It started and worked just fine but after a few minutes at high RPM I heard some strange noise, as if something is being chaffed inside but later it disappeared. I had an empty gas bottle with me and took it to a place opposite the big Tesco supermarket that is to the south of the pier. They wouldn’t do it on the spot, I’ll have to come for it tomorrow.

7.7.12 – Saturday – "Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day" Remember that Peter Paul and Mary song? This was the right one for the conditions. By early afternoon it was a bit lighter so I went ashore for my gas bottle. Here’s that chaffing screech again! I motored to Billy’s – the man is not there and does not answer his phone. Back to the boat rather pissed off. I open the outboard’s cover trying to discover the problem, see some wire that is perhaps the culprit. I still want Billy to look at it.

A few minutes later Billy rings me back and since the tide is right and the skies brightened a bit, I jumped into the dinghy and went to the boatyard. Doctor Billy checked the patient and found that the part connecting the starting cord to the wheel  has broken. Billy goes back to his shop and comes back with a part out of an old Yamaha motor and with me holding an umbrella over his head, because the rain in coming down hard again, he tweaks and adjusts until the thing works.

So, if you need an outboard mechanic in Chalong bay – Billy can be your man. His cell number is 0817370176 and his shop is right at the entrance to Chalong boat yard north of the Yacht Club.

Back at the boat I find that I left the kitchen hatch open. Luckily no electronics damaged but the salon rug (soon to be replaced by wood) is inundated and one of the guests mattress, which I put to air opposite that hatch is also very wet.

I asked Gili to check the forecast for me (she can do it without getting wet) and the picture is bleak. It seems that conditions will only get better around Wednesday. I called Shimon, who plans to join me tomorrow suggesting that he postpones. Better if he coordinates with Gideon and come with him on the 17th.

8.7.12 – Sunday – Two hours of sun shining behind a veil of Altostrati and then it’s rain again. I can’t believe the luck we had when Gili was on the boat! In the evening I was able to go ashore so this will be published. Cheers!

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