Sunday, 27 July 2014

Fwd: Back in the water at last and more health woes

----- Original Message -----
To: "2XS - Peter & Marguerite" <>
Subject: Back in the water at last and more health woes
Date: 28 Jul 2014 02:22:25 -0000
From: zmq5985

Well, a lot has happened (water under the bridge as they say) since our last blog.
We re-launched early July after the most seamless refit ever. We hadn't done much of the work ourselves except for stripping and sanding the caprails but we were very pleased with the result. The old girl looks a million dollars again and only adds weight to Jean's oft repeated claim that if she had that much money lavished on her she'd look pretty good too!! However, considering the amount of work done (painting, engineering, stainless steel repairs, electrical and refrigeration), the cost is unbelievably reasonable. Generally labour rates 10-12% of those one would pay in NZ. In spite of that earlier comment, Jean actually does always look good, even without wild shopping sprees!
We still have to finish the work by raising the cockpit sole as carpenters weren't available prior to launching but we can do that back in the water. Popeye has produced some flash new teak name boards to carry the ship's name in gold leaf edged in navy blue and they look great. Capt. Des's suggestion, perhaps partly driven by his 50 year old nostalgic association with the "Tiare Taporo" name, but they will look great on TT3 and will always remind us of our happy time with Popeye and the team at Krabi. Still not finished and attached but nearly, and there will be some festive moments we are sure when they are finally affixed. It is great to be living back aboard with everything pristine - the old girl feels alive once more.
Jim has obtained a copy of Des's book "World Wanderer; 100,000 miles under sail" by Capt. Des Kearns and Des has very kindly written a personal message for us at the front of the book. The original Tiare is mentioned in this book and it is an account of his adventures as a young sailor in the late 60's on various well known sailing vessels, including an account of his rounding of Cape Horn west to east on the small Australian double ended sloop "Carronade". They were rolled west of the Horn and it is a nail biting read - as if Jim needed an excuse to bite his nails!!
Happily Jim's sciatica seems to have cleared up thanks to the anti inflammatories and the exercises he is supposed to be doing (!) but Jean's hip problems haven't been going away. Instead getting marginally worse. We cannot sail with her in that condition so we decided to go to Phuket once more to seek another opinion. We stayed overnight at a very pleasant hostelry with a seemingly endless lap pool which wound its way through the gardens. It was near the Bangkok Hospital and we duly presented ourselves at the appointed time - 1100 on 10/07.
Jean was supposed to have had an X-ray and an MRI but due to feelings of claustrophobia she could only manage the X-rays. However, it was enough for the orthopaedic specialist there to diagnose severe cartilage loss in both hips and recommend hip replacement surgery. As a result we have decided to investigate India as they have the reputation of being the world leader in joint reconstructive surgery. In addition they speak English, which is a major negative factor against Thailand, however competent their surgeons undoubtedly are. One needs absolute confidence in one's surgeon and it does nothing for confidence if communication is even a little bit difficult.
Once back in Krabi we had another appointment at Krabi International Hospital for another try at the MRI, but in spite of it being the newer "open" type, claustrophobia once again prevented the process. So, this time it was arranged that we would come back the next day, this time armed with 2 x 5mg of Valium and that did the trick. The specialist there confirmed the Phuket diagnosis so we now have 3 opinions all broadly saying the same thing. He wanted us to go to Bangkok to consult his "mentor" surgeon at the Bumrungrad Hospital there but our feelings about India haven't changed and we have been pursuing that option.
The next problem to arise was that our Thai visas were soon to expire and so it was necessary to apply for 3 month extensions on medical grounds. Jim needed this as well as he is the "caregiver"!!! We collected medical certificates from KIH and duly took them to Immigration where an overly bureaucratic female Police Lieutenant Colonel said that the wording on the certificates wasn't definite enough! So, back to KIH and battling the language issue we finally had them changed. Then back to Immigration where, after 3 hours or so they finally agreed to grant the extensions. We think their major problem was that Jean was walking around with no apparent problems and yet asking for a 3 month medical visa extension. Anyway, it was getting after 1600 and we knew that they closed at 1630. So, something was going to happen - soon. And lo and behold a few minutes later amid much hilarity with Jean demonstrating the problems with her hips, they duly signed and we parted with the fee of 3,800 more Baht - NZD140.
Since then we have been intensively researching all the options in India and finally we received an email from Liz from "Blue Tango" (who we had met at Danga Bay in Johor last year) telling us about her experience in India with Dr Vijay Bose. We are very much indebted to Liz. So from that glowing report we have been in contact with Dr. Vijay Bose who is possibly the leading Orthopaedic surgeon in India. He practises at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai - otherwise known as the Joint Reconstructive Surgery Centre. The latest technology for complete hip replacement is called Deltamotion which uses ceramic prostheses. It apparently allows much more freedom of movement than previous metal based techniques and is virtually indestructible. We still have to establish whether this is preferable to joint resurfacing which is another option and whether to have both hips done - the left is the worst. Surgery is tentatively scheduled for August 26th. which isn't far away. We should have all these details sorted by the end of this week and then we have to apply for Indian medical visas. Such a bureaucratic runaround, it's unbelievable but one has to go with the flow. We need new photos, a letter of invitation from the Apollo Hospital and confirmed return flight bookings before making the visa applications.
The other thing we should mention is the cost - roughly one fifth of the cost of the same surgery in NZ. Not that cost is a main driver for decisions but it's certainly a consideration when taken into account with the Indian surgical expertise. And to get the operation in NZ on the public health system, you would have to be virtually a cripple in a wheel chair and in extreme pain. What sort of a "free" health system is it which insists that patients are reduced to this condition before they are eligible for treatment? Apart from human considerations, the ultimate cost to the health system is much greater because such patients often have severely compromised physical condition.
In the meantime life at Krabi Boat Lagoon proceeds apace. Popeye is getting busier which is good to see and there is a new restaurant with much better food. The management of this place still leaves a lot to be desired but as far as possible we keep out of the politics which are often hard to understand for us, but that's Thailand. We are becoming old hands at finding our way around. We've discovered a Dutch bakery (run by a Dutchman!) and another supermarket where they sell NZ lamb - but far too fatty. We bought 2 lamb racks but won't be buying them again. The local pork is excellent and heaps of fruit and veges - among them Rambutans, Longans and now Mangosteens. The first 2 are similar to Lychees and the Mangosteens are a type of Passionfruit. Lots of Chinese carrots, onions and garlic. Local beans about a yard long and all sorts of oriental veges. Apparently there is now a new bridge across the Mekong River just opened on the Thai/Lao border the cost of which was shared by the Chinese and Thai Governments so the passage of goods and people into SE Asia from China will be even easier. Chinese influence is spreading all the time - and not just here. NZ too.
More riveting news to come in due course......
Lotsaluv from us,
Jim and Jean
P.S. Have a look at our website ( when you've the time - there are more photos there!!
----- End of Original Message -----

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Saturday, 19 July 2014

Popeye Marine Krabi Boat Lagoon -
A painting the mast
Ked and her husband Capt. Des Kearns - the owners of Popeye Marine at Ked's birthday party
"Tiare Taporo III" - nearly ready to relaunch

Some of the scenery on the way to Krabi from Langkawi
More animals at the fish farm
Tupkaek Beach near Krabi - restaurant on the beach
Trying to keep the boat cool

Koh Phi Phi Don before arriving at Krabi
Animals at fish farm Krabi
On the way from Langkawi

Straits Quay Marina, Pulau Penang. We had our anchor chain re-galvanised there and it was a great stay - quite close to Georgetown.
The Eastern and Oriental Hotel, Georgetown , Penang. Very Somertson Maughnish!!
Development happening wherever you look in Malyasia. But particularly noticeable on Penang since our last visit.

Our friends Georg and Manuela from the German boat "Sternchen" at Pangkor. They are now in Europe for a few months. We first met them in Darwin and they were very helpful to us at Kupang in Indonesia lending us a generator to get our batteries charged.
Loading barges offshore Port Klang- the main port for Malaysia and the new bridge linking Pulau Penang with the mainland - 9 kms long and built by the Chinese. Maybe there's a lesson there for Auckland. It's already half owned by the Chinese anyway!!! 

The Malaysian coast - a Malaysian fishing trawler we came close a few times!! Port Dixon Marina - the first marina after Johor and our friends Peter and Toni from "Tigger" at Lumut (Pangkor).

Some scenes since we arrived back in Malaysia earlier this year. The old girls boarding school up in the Cameron Highlands until the Japanese arrived in 1942. It is now a boutique hotel. And a maritime village on the island of Pangkor Malaysia about halfway up to Langkawi

Whangarei Heads Northland NZ from where we left NZ (via Opua) back in 2011 and Jim's brother Alec in Auckland early 2014

Carter James Lanaway and Granny Jean and Mum Tracie

Jim's Auckland grandchildren. The Christchurch contingent - Lucia and Elsie - are already on here.

Hamish and his new ute. We stayed with Hamish and Sara in Whangarei for lengthy periods off and on. Many thanks H & S