Posted by: catamarantwooceans | September 1, 2012

Maintenance in Exotic Places

25.8.12 – Saturday – Today a new chapter in the story of "Two Oceans" will begin; it will be dedicated to MAINTENANCE. The plan is to take the boat out and do a few things like a new jib, wooden floors for the interior, painting or Gel coating the cockpit, replacing the mattresses, painting anti-fouling and a lot of other small items. I will have to come back here to supervise the work and this is planned for mid – October. We actually started it yesterday, having Quai, of Chill System Service come to the boat to check our fridge. He seemed to know his way around the system and decided to take it to their shop; he’ll come back this afternoon.

The main issue I’m dealing with is where to take the boat out. My first choice was the boatyard in Au Chalong, which is the cheapest and is located near town and all its services. The problem with them is that they are a disorganized operation. They keep evading giving me a definite answer about if and when they can take my boat out. Ao Po marina have a better haul-out facility and speak clearly but cost more than double. They are also located in a remote area and will be less than ideal if I have to find a place to live ashore.

I spoke to the Au Chalong yard yesterday and Num, the guy who says he is in charge of hauling out told me to come and speak to him on Sunday. I can’t understand why we cannot conclude our business on the phone but this is Thailand so I’ll do things their way.

Quai came at three p.m with an assistant and started working, cleaning the pipes, installing and rewiring the cooling machine.

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At 1600 Gili left for her long trip home. Quai worked until 1900 and by that time we had a serviceable fridge; hooray!

26.8.12 – Sunday – After paying my bill at the marina office I went over to talk with Ian Godfrey and his wife Jam on the ketch "Jaden". When we came into the marina on Friday, he heard us calling on the radio and came over to offer his assistance. It turned out he is following my blog and knows all about us! Friday evening was raining cats and dogs and Saturday was too busy to visit so this was my last chance.

After that nice meeting I motored out of the marina to go to Au Chalong and my "crucial" meeting with Num. That was a nice sail! Flat sea in the lee of Phuket and good wind; I had my fun. Passing the main harbor I saw the sad sight of a semi-submerged fishing boat. a big slick of diesel fuel spread behind the vessel and other fishing boats were around trying, I suppose, to refloat her.

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I found a place to anchor and was immediately tested by gusts of up to 27 knots. Having two anchors down proved its worth; we didn’t move an inch.

Once the wind abated I took the dinghy to the yard. After a few pleasantries Num said they did not have space for me in the near future and connected it, not for the first time, to the fact that I was going to have Golf do the work on my boat. This was really infuriating. "Why did you bring me all the way from Au Po if you know you have no place for me?"  Understanding that part of the problem was the relation between Num and Golf, I outlined the work I planned to do, saying that I did not conclude any deal with Golf yet and that there may be some work for other contractors. "I will look again at the schedule and give you an answer tomorrow" said Num.

I told him that tomorrow I’ll make my decision. If they cannot take me out until the end of the month I will go elsewhere. I’m not so sure whether the difference in price of about 1200 $ U.S between ao Po and Chalong makes the latter the better deal.

Checking the fridge in the evening I am disgusted to find that it is not cooling again. Call Quai tomorrow.

27.8.12 – Monday – First thing in the morning – a visit to the market to buy fruit and veg. On my way there I could see the grey clouds coming down the hill in the town’s direction and it didn’t take long for the rain to start falling. I put on the plastic raincoat the locals use and didn’t get too wet. When 1100 came and Num did not call, I decided to go to him. Low water being at 1330, I figured I had enough time to speak to him and also exchange a few words with Golf.

Things on shore took longer tan I expected. I was told Num will come in ten minutes and those were spent on a conversation with the Hackings and Golf. When I finally found Num at the office and after his usual song and dance, checking the office’s computer for the "schedule" and giving me a "maybe on the 31st, or the 1st or 2nd" he came back to his condition that I could not keep my boat at the yard if I intended to employ Golf.

I had enough of the guy and the yard. "Nobody but me will decide who will work on my boat" I told him; "I will not haul out here". I phoned Ao Po marina and spoke to Derrick, the manager. They will be able to haul me out on September 5th, which is a bit late for my plans. So, plan B was activated. I will keep the boat in the water and lift her up to do the work when I come back in October.

Going back to the dinghy I found that the water went away and was now about 50 meters from the beach. It is impossible to drag the dinghy to deeper water because the bottom here is soft black mud; you try walking on it and sink almost to your knees. I was stranded ashore, with no rain gear or hat, in the flip-flops I can only walk very short distances in. I passed part of the time sitting on an old tire under a catamaran as the rain came down heavily and the wind blew between the hulls spraying me with fine droplets. I never thought I’d feel cold in Thailand!

After a while I hitched a ride into town, the driver stopping for me by a vegetarian restaurant, where I killed half an hour having lunch. My efforts to get a taxi back were comical and wet and were successfully concluded by me tempting a guy with a pick-up truck to take me to the yard for 100 baht. I still had to wait half an hour before the water rose sufficiently for me to start going: I first had to bail out an enormous amount of rainwater and then, treading mud, I pushed the dinghy out, jumped in and rowed, sticking the oars in the mud and pulling them to move ever so slowly until enough depth was reached.

Back at the boat, I took off the wet clothes, toweled myself dry and had a good sweet English tea. What an afternoon!

28.8.12 – Tuesday – Another wet and windy morning. By 10 am the weather moderated somewhat but the threat of rain was ever present. Golf came over to give quotes for some of the jobs I wanted him to do. 9 meters of teak and ash floors – 90000 baht, that’s 3000$ U.S. 8 meters of fiberglass and gel coat – 64000 baht. Not cheap! I must get other people and more quotes.

After returning Golf and his entourage ashore I turned to motor back to Two Oceans; a glance over the shoulder revealed a black cloud bank on my heels. I had barely time to reach the boat and lift the dinghy up before it poured down again. Hopefully tomorrow will get better.

29.8.12 – Wednesday – After a gloomy start the morning brightened; I had a nice sail to Ao Po having to motor the last third of the way because the wind became less than 4 knots. When I entered the marina at 1200 the tide was going out and the current was fierce. The marina guys do not speak English and are so slow! I tried going into the berth a few times and each time the guys did not tie my mooring lines properly, endangering my boat. I shouted to them to leave all the lines and that I will come back  in two hours at slack water.

After an hour and a half they called me in and this time we made it but not without me shouting "encouragements" to make them do the right thing. Quai came over; he now thinks that some couplings are to blame for the fridge frigidity; he’ll come back tomorrow with new parts.

Derrick, the marina manager informs me that they will haul me out on September 4th; that’s good news!

30.8.12 – Thursday – I started the working day early; at 0600 I was already taking the jib off the boat. Folding the 35 square meters sail required some improvisations, like using a full 25 kg jerry-can as weight to hold the sail in position. It will now go to Rolly Tasker loft to be measured before a new one is made.

While waiting for Quai, I reset leaking fittings in two hatches. The man comes but does not succeed in fixing the fridge! He takes it, with all its components, to his shop. I had meetings with fiberglass, woodwork and boat cleaning experts. Now waiting for quotes. 

Ian and Jam come over for a chat.

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A busy day.

31.8.12 – Friday – I took a taxi to drive me to several places I needed to go; the two most important being customs in Phuket to extend the yacht’s permit beyond the initial six months and the second – visit Rolly Tasker loft and order a new jib. R.T loft is a huge and interesting place. They have a chandlery and rigging department in addition to the sail making operation. On the wall there is a sign saying : "We will meet any quote" or something to that effect. I showed Mike Tasker (no relation to Rolly, I understand) the quote I had from Quantum in South Africa, which according to my calculation was less expensive. Mike looked at his computer and started writing numbers showing that they were actually more expensive. Back at the boat I checked the rates one more time and saw I was right. E mailed Mike; let’s see how that develops.

In the afternoon Quay, my trusty refrigeration man came and re-installed the fridge. At the time of writing it is cooling but still has to be tested overnight.


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