Friday, 28 August 2015

Satun to Krabi - eventually

Hi to all - again!,
Well, to continue.......Jia and Julie very kindly asked us out to dinner one night along with some business associates from Bangkok and we had an excellent and varied menu - all chosen by J & J who of course had local knowledge of the dishes. That night we had also decided to treat ourselves to a night off the boat as living on board on the hard is not the most ideal situation. We've had enough of that over the last few years. That was fine until we were told that the local council were repairing water mains and therefore there would be no water in our room! So, we had to move to another part of the building. Nothing it seems ever goes smoothly, but the local people and general ambience make up for it and the night out with Jia and Julie and their other guests was very pleasant. There was also a very good and cheap seafood restaurant within walking distance and we often patronised that for lunch.
The work at PSS was very efficient and done in a timely manner - we felt very happy with what was done. Our only real issue was cleanliness in the yard, although we had to accept that it is mainly a commercial yard. Jean had a bucket of water with Dettol in it at the base of the ladder and yours truly had to be sure and thoroughly wash his feet whenever coming up the ladder. If you took simple precautions like that there was little problem. Apart from the main issue of the propellor shaft, we had new flexible slats in fibreglass made for the dinghy as the original ones made of plywood had rotted even though the boat was only 2 years old! And some scupper covers for the cockpit scuppers to prevent the odd firehose effect of waves breaking against the side of the boat and soaking anyone sitting down in the cockpit! Then we eventually launched from PSS Satun, but not before a last minute hitch. They move the boats sideways on a railway system until you are lined up on the main slipway for launching at right angles to the sideways shift. There is a network of wires which are attached to a winch and which are led around pulleys to exert a pull in the required direction. All a bit disconcerting until you get used to it. Anyway, there's an amount of jerking and uneven movement and when the two aft hull supports were being removed prior to launching and after the sideways shift, the port side support became prematurely dislodged as it hadn't been placed tightly enough. The boat was then held on the cradle, but only by the forrard cradle arms. As it fell it struck the keel fairly low down and made a gash in the timber. We are paranoid about bare timber underwater as Teredo worm is endemic and we always keep her well painted. So, it was necessary to fix the damage. This involved sanding, applying a good coat of Primocon underwater primer and 3 coats of antifouling. This could not be done in 5 minutes and so the launch was delayed 24 hours. All very irritating, particularly as we were in a good weather window for sailing north.
Anyway, the following morning they slid us down the slipway and we were afloat once more. But not before Jean had an altercation with the yard crew who had no idea of basic cleanliness on yachts. They had their shoes off but never had any on in the first place! Might be all right for fishing boats but they had filthy dirty hands and feet and made a mess of our cockpit and mooring lines. The language problem meant that we didn't know what they wanted to do, otherwise we would have done it instead. We anchored in the river overnight and then in order to give the hull time in the water to move back into water trim and settle down, they came out to us the next morning to align the engine. That involved lifting first the front and then the back of the engine with a chain block and sliding shims under the engine mounts. The engine was lifted substantially - more at the front so the alignment had been well out. That had been the cause of all our problems since Krabi last year when engine misalignment caused premature and excessive wear on the cutlass bearings.
The next day (18/8) we left Satun with mixed feelings - pleased to be underway again but sorry to be leaving Jia and the general friendliness at PSS. We negotiated our way down river with much more ease than coming up a few days before - amazing what a bit of prior experience does! This time we only came within 3 feet of the bottom! We had to head south until we were clear of the shoals and then turned NW towards the northern tip of Koh Tarutao. This is a big island north of Langkawi and west of Satun - just north of the Thai/Malaysia border. It is a Thai national park and was a penal colony in the old days. The anchorage was great. We crept into the anchorage as it looked shallow on the chart but there was plenty of water. Lovely and peaceful after the hustle and bustle of Satun. We would like to have stayed but were on a mission (as usual) to get north to Krabi before the weather changed so it was off the next morning for Koh Muk. As it was the SW monsoon season, we had to anchor on the east side of Muk which was OK but open and shallow. But the boat was going well and the new shaft and its alignment was in marked contrast from what we'd had before with noise and vibration. The forecasts by now were not looking good and as we left Muk we had a rough ride for a while as the wind had shifted NW - right on the nose and blowing hard. However, not too far to the east side of Koh Lanta where we dropped anchor in shallow but sheltered water. Then we had to wait while a series of systems which were being influenced by typhoon activity on the south China coast, passed through. It was difficult to get ashore and nowhere to leave the dinghy safely so Jim dropped Jean off on a pontoon at the end of a gnarly old concrete wharf and then waited in the dinghy until she came back with some food! The lack of a fridge was also making things difficult as we couldn't keep greens any length of time. But the freezer was good and there was plenty of ice for the Scotch! However, there was a small town there where one could buy basic food. By the time we left on the 26th. we'd read every book on the boat and were going stir crazy. The morning was very overcast and earlier there had been some thunderstorms but we were GOING! No wind to speak of so Murphy seemed determined to deny us any sailing - either 25 knots on the nose or nothing.
We were going to be early for the tide at the entrance to the Krabi River so we diverted to Koh Phi Phi Don where we had been before. It is a tourist island through and through and was frenetic with 30' speedboats hooning past at 20-30 knots, not to mention longtails and ferries. We thought that as it was now the off season for tourism, it might be a bit quieter but no such luck. The water was more disturbed by wakes than even a windy anchorage so we could not launch the dinghy and only stayed 2 hours and thankfully left. Easy trip for the 12 miles to the start of the shallow water off Krabi and then a matter of following the waypoints, but as we had been up and down here a number of times before, we had no worries. Not until Jim took a bend a little wide and put us aground! However, the tide was flooding strongly and we never really stopped - just slowed right down until some correcting helm took us back into the channel again. The crew was not impressed. Just as well hanging's been abolished! Then into the familiar marina of Krabi Boat lagoon. Time to relax and catch up with all our old friends and acquaintances.
It is now 2 days later and we are settling into the Krabi life. Jean was taken into town yesterday by Garn and they went to the local Makro supermarket - which is a huge cash and carry. Absolutely everything is there from fruit and veg., fish, meat, alcohol and all items you would find in a normal supermarket. Some discussions to come with Popeye re our engineering issues from last year and hopefully we can get a few things sorted here. The fridge being the main one. Otherwise we'll be off to Phuket - watch this space!
Cheers and love from us,
Jim and Jean

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Saturday, 15 August 2015

Fwd: Tiare Taporo III's stay on the hard at Satun

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: James Donald <>
Date: Sat, Aug 15, 2015 at 4:59 PM
Subject: Tiare Taporo III's stay on the hard at Satun

Hi Jia,
We just wanted to say how much we appreciated your help and expertise during our stay with you in August 2015.
As you know our main problem was with our propeller shaft and excessive wear in the cutlass bearings. You and your engineer actually came to Rebak, Langkawi to get us mobile as there was no-one there willing or able to do the work. That was certainly beyond the call of duty. We hope you didn't mind sleeping on our narrow settee bunks!
Then we came to PSS Satun under our own steam and you have manufactured a new propeller shaft which should solve all our problems. And there were a couple of other minor issues which you solved most efficiently.
You and your delightful wife, Julie have been friendliness personified and we count ourselves fortunate to have met you both.
We will certainly be coming here again as and when necessary. We thought we would add a couple of photos that you could add to your rogues gallery in the residents' lounge. The one of us is when we were picked up by the French Police in New Caledonia and given a lift back to the boat!
With very best regards and all best wishes for the future.
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
PSS Shipyard

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Here are a brief history and specifications of our 12 Gauntlet yacht "Tiare Taporo III". These were prepared as part of the marketing plan to pass her on to new caretakers.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Finally back in Thailand, although not the way we would have wished........

Hi to all,
Hope this finds you all well. Our stay on the hard at Rebak Marina continued to be more and more frustrating. We had been promised by an Aussie mechanic that he would refit our shaft and propellor when he came back from Europe but he just casually said in passing (when we finally saw him) that he was too busy and that was that. He dropped us right in it and that, combined with the generally unhelpful attitude in the marina and the lackadaisical attitude in general, meant that we were driven to desperate measures. In part this was caused by being told that the coming end of Ramadan meant that the travel lift was going to be out of action again for 8 days. SHIT!!!!! This marina (and Malaysia in general) is the pits. And, although we had shade cloth around the boat, she was beginning to suffer from sitting out of the water in the baking heat.
The Wall St. Journal no less has published an expose accusing the Malaysian PM of corruption on a grand scale. No less than 700 million USD is alleged to have been transferred to his personal accounts by way of a "donation" from a Middle East source. The source is not disclosed and nor is it clear just who the donation was intended for. If it was the PM's own party, that party was not advised of the "donation". Murkier and murkier. The PM is also the Finance Minister and Chairman of 1MDB which is a Malaysian government owned sovereign wealth now 42 billion Ringgits in debt - that's 11 billion USD. Interestingly he has not directly denied the allegations. Instead he has said he "has done nothing wrong" and that legal action would be taken against the WSJ. The Deputy PM has been critical of the PM and has now been sacked along with 4 other cabinet ministers as well as the Attorney-General who was heading the investigation set up as a result of the WSJ's allegations. In addition a leading newspaper has been shut down and a number of journalists arrested under the Sedition Act. It certainly smacks of cover up on a grand scale.
However, we digress. We urgently contacted Des Kearns at Krabi again to see whether he could be instrumental in getting someone from Prithak Shipyard and Services (PSS) at Satun in Thailand to come over and do the job for us. He rang Jia whose family owns PSS, and the upshot was that Jia and his engineer/mechanic came over on the Satun/Langkawi ferry the afternoon before we had to launch. We picked them up from the ferry terminal in Kuah and drove them out to the Rebak ferry. There was some potential difficulty in getting them onto the ferry with us but we insisted that they were friends who had come to stay and so the nonsense ended. What we were doing probably contravened all the rules in the book with Thais working in Malaysia and getting people from outside the marina to do the work. However, we didn't care and certainly gave no advance notice of their arrival. They just arrived and got on with the job. By the time the Malays realised anything might have been amiss they were long gone. Great to score a point in our long running saga of extreme frustration. Jia is a very personable and likeable guy who gained a degree at university in Beijing and he speaks excellent English. He is married to a woman from Mauritius who he met while in Beijing and her native language is French. Jia and his mechanic stayed on board with us that night, having in the meantime worked until dark to complete most of the job.
The next morning we completed the job, although Jia said that the condition of the shaft wasn't good as it had worn considerably since we were at Krabi. However, we were driven totally by the overwhelming necessity to get back in the water, although made the decision to go to Satun for permanent repairs as it is much closer than Krabi and we had reservations about going too far with the shaft the way it was. The engine was aligned again once we were in the water and then Jia and his engineer left to go back to Satun. Considering the time spent travelling and the work done, their charges were very, very reasonable. They only asked for 3000 Baht, but we added another 1000 to cover the travelling. Thus a total of 4000 Baht (NZD174) which was absolutely wonderful of them. By comparison the Malays charge like wounded bulls - so thank goodness we were finally in a position to leave.
Another example of the general unhelpfulness we encountered at Rebak concerned a French boat moored next to us. The aforementioned Aussie mechanic removed their windlass which was giving problems and said they needed a new electric motor for it. He then left without telling them where or how to go about doing that. Absolutely typical of the attitude. So we contacted Jia at PSS Satun on their behalf and he kindly organised a replacement from the Lofrans agent in Phuket. It was sent down to Satun and then they went over on the ferry to Satun, collected it and came back and fitted it themselves. The fact that Jia's wife speaks French was also a great help all around. Once again typical of the comparison in attitude between Satun and Langkawi. Jim enjoyed practising his French whenever we talked to Olivier and Francoise. They very kindly gave us a bottle of French wine for our help. We certainly didn't expect anything like that.
We wanted to go to Telaga Marina which is only 5 miles north of Rebak as it has the great advantage of being on the Langkawi mainland. And they have the only fuel dock on Langkawi at present. However, it is notoriously difficult to actually book a berth. They are quite full but it seems that you need to be on the spot when something comes up! So, we finally left Rebak very thankfully and motored uneventfully to Telaga over a windless sea. We had an idea that a boat was leaving that day and so we tied up at the fuel dock. After we had taken on the Diesel (not quite 200 litres) we went up to the office and lo and behold were allocated a berth. So, there we were for just a few days before leaving for Thailand. However, another problem. The boat on the other side of our finger apparently had a cockroach infestation and also rats!! Totally irresponsible of the owner and also the marina to allow a situation like that to perpetuate. But again typical of Malaysia and Langkawi in particular. So, we insisted on moving, but not before Jean had been on board and left cockroach bait in their cockpit! We heard later that the boat had been sinking with water over the cabin floorboards. They put us on a catamaran berth which fortunately was free so all was well. We then spent the time provisioning the boat (including some bottles of duty free Scotch) ahead of our planned trip to Satun. It is also possible to clear Customs, Immigration and the Harbourmaster at Telaga so that was convenient. These offices were contained in a palatial building right adjacent to the marina and each had one or two people doing largely nothing in large palatial offices. But all very pleasant! Then the weather turned to custard so we decided to delay our departure - having already cleared out of the country! We would have told them but didn't want to cause further unnecessary bureaucratic paperwork, so we didn't. In the event it was only 4 or 5 days after clearing before we left. Not like when we left Thailand when it took us 20 odd days between clearing out of Phuket and leaving Krabi earlier this year!! We'll be getting a bit of a reputation if we're not careful.
We left Telaga on Sunday Aug. 2nd. and motorsailed the 16 miles to the Hole in the Wall on the north coast of Langkawi. A very spectacular anchorage largely invisible from seaward until you are exactly outside the entrance which is only 4 boat widths wide at best. Threaded our way in between sheer limestone cliffs and up the river which has reasonable depth to where there was a group of yachts moored. Some unattended and in poor condition. We intended to leave the next day for Satun (another 16 miles slightly east of north), but there was thunder and lightning all night and heavy rain continuing into the morning. In order to catch the tide at Satun we would have needed to be underway by 9 Malaysia time (which is 1 hour ahead of Thailand) and so made the decision to delay 24 hours. During the day we were subjected to constant irresponsible and downright dangerous "buzzing" by high speed tourist powerboats which passed very closely at speeds well in excess of 20 knots. No 5 knot rule here!
However, on Tuesday morning at least the rain had stopped and the wind was less, although still on the nose. So, we decided to go. Jia had given us very detailed approach instructions via many waypoints which we had plotted on our chartplotter. We had to go around the northern end of a large sandbank as we left Langlawi and then set our course for the approaches to the river where PSS is located. As we approached the Thai coast it got shallower and shallower until we decided it would be prudent to anchor (in only 8' of water - we draw over 6!) and wait for the tide to come up further. We were a bit early in any event. Over the next hour the tide gained another 2' and so we gingerly carried on. There were some very shallow spots which in a couple of cases had us going astern in a hurry but we scraped over without hitting anything and avoiding groups of sticks in the water. Some were exactly in our way which was awkward as the lower reaches were very wide with nothing to fix our position by but the chartplotter and Jia's waypoints. At least the tide was coming in which was reassuring if we had gone aground. Jean was down below calling bearings to the next waypoint while Jim was on the helm anxiously watching the depth sounder! It got deeper as we went upstream and the river narrower which actually made navigation easier. Mangroves on either bank. This area did have crocodiles but they're long gone. However, it did have the feeling of the great grey green greasy Limpopo River of Rudyard Kipling fame. After about half a mile we rounded the last bend and there was the Prithak Shipyard with lots of fishing trawlers either tied up or already up in the yard. These large wooden vessels are upwards of 80 tons and have a greatly exaggerated sheer. Fascinating to see them out of the water. There will be some photos coming soon - promise!! Soon we were waved into the slipway itself and moored there in the middle with 4 lines to await the cradle which soon trundled down the slip and underneath us. At least Jean didn't repeat her swimming experience in the slipway at Norsand in Whangarei when she fell in throwing a mooring line!! If she had at least the water would have been somewhat warmer. Then a diver went down to position us correctly on the trolley and we were effortlessly hauled out. Some anxiety because they appeared to be going to leave us in a bow down attitude just like the trawlers, but we had to live on the boat! So at last we managed to get them to jack up the front of the trolley so that things seemed normal - or at least as normal as things ever are! Some people might say that the yard was messy but it is a commercial yard and everything is functional and there for a purpose. And the friendliness and helpfulness more than makes up for a bit of boatyard detritus! We hired the yard's car 2 days ago and drove into Satun which impressed us as a prosperous, clean and organised town. We made our number with Thai Immigration and then went to Big C to satisfy our supermarket needs. We also had two delicious Thai meals at On's restaurant before driving down to the ferry terminal to clear Customs and Harbourmaster. So refreshing to be here with reasonably ordered cleanliness in a very pleasant town. And the food.......all such a welcome change from Langkawi.
It is now Friday the 7th. and work is underway making our new shaft together with the usual list of small jobs that need doing. Nothing is too much trouble and all the necessary facilities (engineering machine shop, etc.) are here on-site.
This is the wet season (SW Monsoon) in this part of the world and, although you get some fine days, there is often rain. Sometimes it comes in fierce squalls known as Sumatras. Usually they are short lived but can last for 30 minutes or longer. This morning we recorded 26 knots of wind here in the boatyard. And the rain was torrential. Thank goodness we recaulked our deck seams while in Australia! So, we're not looking forward much to our upcoming passage to Krabi with this capricious weather.
Finally, before finishing this long blog, we must sadly advise two things.
We made the decision a few months ago to place our beloved 12 ton Gauntlet ("Tiare Taporo III") on the market as we are both 68 going rapidly towards 69 and, although our health is still reasonable, Jean had her hips and eyes "done" just recently and both of us have sore knees from time to time. And Jim has Diabetes type 2, albeit in a very mild form. So, we think it's time to give up yacht cruising as we are getting less and less agile. You certainly notice it when climbing ladders in boatyards! You can see the listing on Look for the "monos" page and scroll down until you come to "12 ton Gauntlet". There you can read and see all about us. If and when she does sell, we will then have to find somewhere to live but it's unlikely to be NZ as we still want to have different experiences before we shuffle off this mortal coil and anyway there are cheaper and equally as pleasant places to live as NZ.
We were very saddened to learn this week that Angela, who was sister to Tracie who is partner to Jean's son Perry, passed away from cancer at the age of 45. It was terrible news and is always particularly so when it is someone so young. Perry, Tracie, Carter and Nash had flown back to NZ from Miami and Tracie was able to be with Angela when she passed away. RIP Angela. Our thoughts are with her family.
Well, that is it from us for now from the PSS Boatyard. It is pouring with rain but the forecast for the next few days is a bit more encouraging.
More news in due course............
Lotsaluv from us,
Jim and Jean

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