Tuesday, 27 December 2016

More in the saga

You won't believe this - any more than we did.
We arrived at the boatyard this morning (27/12) just after 8. There was a discussion about the weather which was forecast to rain at midday. We refused to take the responsibility as we had the least knowledge of local weather. Anyway it was decided to paint and we always had the option of stopping at the aft chainplate should that be necessary.
The painter started painting, then soon after started complaining that the paint was going off excessively quickly. We couldn't understand that as there had never been an issue previously. Then we went into the shed and found that he had poured International Danboline (the bilge paint) into the painting tray instead of International Toplac (the topside paint) - which he had been using already and apart from the name, has a distinctively different label.
So, it was completely incomprehensible. It now means that we have lost yet another day as the affected area (not too big thank God - not the Muslim one!!!) can be quickly dealt with before painting again.
We felt numb - it's like dealing with kindergarten children, but these are adults - at least that's what they look like.
We then had a meeting with the yard owner who leaves the day to day running to his son and he was shocked to hear our tale of woe. Something is going to happen (it needs a large BOMB!!!) and as long as it results in our getting back in the water within another week at the most, we'll be happy to escape.
At least the engine is coming along well and we hope to test run it tomorrow. We have organized a fresh water feed so that we can flush the salt water cooling system and run the engine out of the water. We have insisted on this as we have very little confidence and we don't want to get back in the water, only to find that "Oh dear, there's a problem"!!!
There'll be more in this saga you may be sure!
Lotsaluv from us..........
Jim and Jean  

Monday, 26 December 2016

The saga continues

When we first accepted the quote for hauling out at Limbongan Batu Maung, Penang earlier this year, we felt it was acceptable because the time frame was 20 days. And we had a very competent visit to the boat in Langkawi with acceptable costs subsequently tendered..
Now the reality is that we have been hauled out for 41 days so far and neither the painting, nor the engineering is finished. It is likely that it will be day 49 or 50 before we are launched and we are very much less than impressed.
The main problem was that our boat was ignored for at least 10 days after we arrived and even after that the work was desultory and largely unsupervised. It is still unsupervised.
Now we are doing the supervising and kicking the appropriate ass as required.
However, the frustration has been huge and has impinged on our domestic life as well. We originally rented an apartment for 30 days thinking that would allow enough time but when it became apparent that that wasn't going to work and we asked for an extension of time, the landlord refused. He claimed to have another tenant but we frankly didn't believe him. We cannot imagine the mindset, because there is a serious glut of apartments on Penang - whether to let or to sell.
Anyway, we are now living in another 22nd. floor apartment which is owned by the boatyard owner. We are sharing it with a Moslem woman who also works for the boatyard. It's reasonably comfortable
Then there is our rental car - fortunately we have it at a very reasonable cost (NZD14 per day), but again we rented it for 30days and now here we are!
But all these costs are impinging on us and there is going to be a robust discussion when we finally leave. Watch this space!!!
We had an enjoyable Christmas Day. We visited the boatyard to check on our old girl sitting forlornly on the hard and then (slowly) rove north up the inland road of Penang to Batu Ferringhi, which is on the north coast of Pulau Penang. A very pleasant leafy drive over some rugged country, but no great distance (a bit like the Scenic Drive in Titirangi) and soon we were descending onto the coast road to Batu Ferringhi, which is probably the most sought after area on Penang for expats - and prices to match!!
We found the Magic 1 Restaurant where we had been before and where we had made our Christmas reservation. We were a little early for our repast, so we repaired across the road to the Hard Rock Café and had a delicious entrée of spinach and artichoke puree with Parmesan Cheese and a Latte and an Americano. A great way to spend an hour or so.
Then back to the Magic 1 and a wonderful 4 course meal with roast beef for Jim and Turkey for Jean. All in all with a bottle of Chilean red (excellent) and 2 beers and 2 soda waters MYR389 for both of us. This is equivalent to NZD125 - not bad for Christmas Dinner for 2 and a lovely ambience and friendly staff. We rolled out of the place!
Then we had the encore - an hour and a half drive to get a very short distance back to our apartment midway down the eastern side of the island. The traffic is insane. Of course it was a public holiday (in spite of it being a Christian celebration and the bulk of Malaysia being Muslim), but they never let anything so crass as to get in the way of a day off!   
Tomorrow (27/12) will see the resumption of work hopefully - watch this space.
Cheers and lotsaluv from us....................
Jim and Jean

Friday, 23 December 2016

Fwd: Penang - good and BAD!!!!!

Well, here we are again only 2 weeks after the last blog. Things have not been going well, but slowly starting to improve.
We had been assured that if we needed to extend our Penang apartment stay beyond the initial 4 week booking, we could do so. When we actually tried to extend because of delays in the boatyard, the Chinese landlord refused. This was extremely concerning because we quickly realized that, although rents are by NZ standards very cheap, they are almost invariably for a term of 12 months or more. However, the owner of the boatyard has come to our rescue and we are now ensconsed in a 26 story tower on the 22nd floor with a delightful Malaysian girl and her boyfriend. However, we must hide any obvious visible signs of the demon drink and we cannot cook any pork products - so no bacon and eggs. She doesn't own the apartment - just rents it herself from the same Chinese owned boatyard where she works. We find all these precious restrictions very hard to accept and are especially irritating as we wouldn't even be here if the yard had been efficient and actually done their job in a timely manner. But this is Malaysia and it is obvious from conversations and just observations, that the place is falling apart under excessive racially based taxation, and creeping Islamisation coupled with rampant corruption and theft - a la 1MDB. A year ago one NZD was buying 2.7 Malaysian Ringgits - now it's 3.15. That's a change of 17% and it's even more pronounced when you compare the Ringgit with the USD.    
Malays consider themselves above any other race - incl. the 10 generations or so southern Chinese (Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, etc.) and Indians whose forebears came from Tamil Naidu in SE India many generations ago as well. The Chinese and Indians we talk to are by and large very discontented and in many cases would love to get out but cannot due to affordability, family ties etc. Malaysia is NOT a happy country and sooner or later will erupt in some kind of protest. But it is very difficult at present because the military and the police are firmly in Malay (Bumiputera) control. If you are not Bumiputera, you cannot join either of these organisations. 
Anyway, to get back to our haulout - it is now week no. 6 and we had been assured that everything would be finished by the end of week 3. It is a long way from finished and this sad state of affairs is due to the fact that workers have been pulled off our job for others - in spite of the fact that we had a prior booking. But in this country, if you are competing with a large motor launch whose owner might be an influential Malaysian, you have no show. Add to that extreme incompetence in the painting arena and you could imagine that we are pulling our hair out - it's akin to nailing jelly to the wall.
However, after a series of very fraught meetings we may be gaining some progress. We need to be there every morning to make sure among other things that they are mixing the paint correctly. These so-called painters appear to have no concept of percentages of mixing additives. They are in fact painting cowboys. We've even had to dictate the correct type of painting rollers and various techniques of applying the paint! We may have to do it all ourselves before we are much older. However, the yard has a policy of not allowing owners to work on their own boats, although that requirement would be easily overturned. It's just that at almost 70 we do not relish the knee pain of clambering up on scaffolds and kneeling for long periods.
The engine is almost back on its mounts except that the mounts themselves now have to be replaced. This will happen tomorrow (21st.) after which we should be able to see the engine hooked up again and ready to go. As soon as that happens we will be able to clean the boat and move back on board. It did not happen on the 21st. because they suddenly decided that the engine mounts were not long enough. We thought that they were long enough but possibly at Satun they put the alignment shims in without addressing the issue of the bolt lengths. This has meant that we had to make in the yard's workshop 3 new bolts which has taken a day and a half.
Then there has been the issue of our dripless ceramic stern gland. It seems that in the past, either at Krabi or PSS the seal was fitted back the wrong way around. So there has been excessive wear and we have to replace it. But the shaft is 1.75" in diameter and the seals are available here only in metric measurements. However, we have come to an acceptable compromise and we are confident that the seal will perform with much better integrity than over the past 18 months or so. 
It is great that we are at last getting to the bottom of all these issues in a professional manner, but it's frustrating that it's taken so long due to the fact that the engineers were taken off our job early on.
Today we thought that we could get the final coat of Toplac on the port side but there was a threat of rain on the forecast, which in fact duly happened, albeit 3 hours later. But it would have ruined the paint and then we would have had to sand it all offagain and start all over. We're hoping for tomorrow............................!!! 
Life generally has some frustrations. The Malaysians are very authoritarian when they are in any position of power and that is most evident when dealing with security guards. On this apartment complex there are uniformed guards all over the place.
1) There are at least 5 security guards for this 26 story apartment complex. We are on the 22nd floor. This may be the only way in which they can deal with their own life frustrations, but these useless guys just sit on their fat asses and make life difficult. We have a parking spot in an adjacent parking building but sometimes need to park in a temporary spot to unload things. You have to register if you do that - Jim just tells them we will be gone in 5 - 10 minutes but they get their knickers in a twist and shout in a most obnoxious fashion.
2) Then there was the "reading library". Jim went in there and found a couple of books that looked interesting. In the absence of any instructions to the contrary, he thought that it was like most marinas and you could take books and bring them back, including any that you may have brought from elsewhere. A true lending library. But the security Nazi just started shouting "cannot take" without any other reasonable discussion. So, after a fruitless minute or so Jim just threw the books at him and walked off.   
3) There are the abominable driving "manners". We've had some close calls - notably with a lunatic on a motorcycle who somehow squeezed past us through an impossible gap on our left at 80 kph plus and then lifted one of his legs in our direction in an obscene gesture of defiance and absolute stupidity. Unbelievable. Motorcycles pass left or right on the motorway at high speeds. All it would take is for a vehicle to move left or right and there would be (and is) carnage.  Absolutely arrogant tailgating where you cannot see the front grill of the vehicle behind is another example of why Malaysia kills 6500 of its citizens each year on its roads. But it's not just Malaysia - it's Thailand and Vietnam as well. And mainland Chinese - and the more of these lunatics that we import into NZ, the worse NZ's road toll will be - already on the rise again.
4) Then, the Piece de Resistance - we had seen an ad. for a Christmas dinner at the Penang Club (which was started in 1868) under the auspices of the Penang Expats Society. So, we registered and went along. Jim had even bought a new long pair of trousers as we had read that the club required this minimum level of attire. He had a new pair of Hush Puppy sandals for the occasion as well. You need to bear in mind that yachties do not have the ability to have vast wardrobes at their disposal.
Anyway, these throwbacks of a British colonial mentality wouldn't let us in because the feet were showing bare skin!!! So, we went further west to Batu Ferringhi where we found a delightful restaurant and to which we will almost certainly return for Christmas Dinner. Unbelieveable again that these Neanderthal colonialist attitudes persist in these enlightened times. 
Another astonishing thing - we were at the checkout at the Aeon Supermarket the other day with 4 bottles of wine and some ham. When the operator saw these sinful items, she rang for a non Muslim supervisor (an Infidel like us!!) to actually handle these untouchable items. We feel they are so precious in their attitudes, especially given that Penang is overwhelmingly Chinese and therefore not Muslim! 
Then there is Penang in 2016 compared with 2010 when we first came here. The place is littered with high rises, which are not sold or let. In spite of that it is very difficult to take an apartment for a month. Most want at least 12 months. So, most are empty - surprise surprise. Pollution is also very evident (as it is also in Langkawi) and in these days of the NE monsoon it is Chinese industrial pollution which is causing a distressing lack of visibility. Even looking at Butterworth sometimes on a bad day which is only 2 miles at most across the water, you cannot even see the high rise buildings there.
We really cannot wait to get to Medellin at 5000 feet. But, if the boat doesn't sell we don't quite know what we are going to do. The apartment in Medellin has been completed as far as renovations are concerned - all that is required now is to complete the decoration and furnishing and we'll be in business. We wish we were in a position to move in ourselves.
We feel very frustrated that our lives are on hold until a sale can be negotiated but we just have to accept it. If Tiare doesn't sell we might just have to bite the bullet and ship her to the Mediterranean and maybe sail to Colombia - Cartagena or Santa Marta. But that's a gamble and as always we are not getting any younger. Next month 70 for Jim and the same for Jean in February. Neither of us fancies the voyage across the Indian Ocean to S. Africa and then up the S. Atlantic. 
Still, at the moment our focus is to complete this haulout and then get the old girl back to Langkawi. Then soon after we leave for NZ for 2-3 months and we are looking forward to that to see family and celebrate our joint 70th's. with them.
More on that in due course.
In the meantime all the best to everyone for the festive holiday season - stay safe and we'll look forward to catching up. 
Lotsaluv from us..............
Jim and Jean

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Fwd: Seasons Greetings

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: James Donald <tiare.taporo3@gmail.com>
Date: 23 December 2016 at 11:52
Subject: Seasons Greetings
To: Abbie Kitchen <Abbie.Kitchen@asb.co.nz>

Hi to all our friends and family wherever you may be.
We send our Christmas Greetings as it's that time of the year again. How time flies. We hope that this finds everyone well.
We will be spending the festive season on Penang hopefully finalizing the last boat maintenance issues.
We hope to be back in the water around New Year and then back to Langkawi. At the moment frustrations with painting delays caused by earlier poor technique and now unsettled rainy weather. The engine has been out and now back in place but an issue with the dripless seal on our propeller shaft which hopefully will be resolved soon.
In the meantime we are living in a pleasant apartment on the 22nd floor of the Bayswater Apartments. It's only a 20 minute trip from here to the Limbongan Batu Maung Boatyard so quite handy.
We will be having Christmas lunch at a very pleasant restaurant we discovered the other day at Batu Ferringhi which is on the north coast of Penang, west of Georgetown.
There will be a detailed blog very soon on www.tiaretaporo3.blogspot.com 
Christmas Greetings once again to all................
Lotsaluv from us,
Jim and Jean
Bayswater Apartments

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Penang - good and BAD!!!!!

Well, here we are again only 2 weeks after the last blog. Things are not going well.
1) We had been assured that if we needed to extend our stay beyond 4 weeks that we could do so. When we actually tried to extend, the Chinese landlord refused. This was extremely concerning because we quickly realized that, although rents here are by NZ standards very cheap, they are almost invariably for a term of 12 months or more. However, the owner of the boatyard came to our rescue and we are now ensconsed in a 26 story tower on the 22nd floor with a delightful Malaysian girl and her boyfriend. However, we must hide any visible signs of the demon drink and we cannot cook any pork products - so no bacon and eggs!! She doesn't even own the apartment - just rents herself from the Chinese owned boatyard. We find it very hard to accept and are living in a constant state of extreme irritation - not only because of that, but a myriad of things in this increasingly Islamist society.
Only today we were in a supermarket and had bought 4 bottles of wine and two packets of ham. Quelle horreure!!!!!!! At the checkout the girl handling the till called for a supervisor beause she could not actually touch these evil items. OK to ring them through and take the money though.
A few years ago we had considered living in Malaysia full time under the "Malaysia my 2nd home" scheme, but thank goodness we have opted for Colombia instead. The Ma     

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Langkawi, politics and now Penang

Well, it's now well over 2 months since our last blog - that's got to be a record.
We are presently hauled out at the Limbongan Batu Maung Boatyard on the SE corner of Penang just south of the new Penang bridge. So much water has gone under the bridge (no pun intended) since our last blog that it's difficult to string it all together, but here goes.
Langkawi remains much as it ever did with life in the marina proceeding day by day.
We were swimming, cleaning the boat, re-waterproofing our boom tent, discussing the forthcoming haulout with LBM Penang, and generally living life as one does on Langkawi. Graham and Lorraine of "Lorrigray" arrived back from Australia and it was good to see them again. Had the bottom cleaned again prior to our imminent departure to Penang.
The US presidential campaign had become more gripping and Jim, from being ambivalent about both candidates, has now become a reluctant Trump supporter. Jean had always felt that Trump would be the better choice, although with the usual reservations!  Mainly to get rid of the crookedness of the Clintons and their Foundation whose beneficiaries appear to be mainly the Clintons! By comparison, Trump, still with foot in mouth seems to be coming across as the person who will get rid of a lot of Washington sacred cows and turf them out where they belong. Can't be all bad. And TPP is dead in the water - a lucky escape for NZ.
Then came the election and we watched the election results state by state on Charlie's Restaurant's TV at the RLYC. A nail biter and then the absolutely unbelieveable result which meant that Donald Trump was the President-elect. Nobody could believe it obviously, but it was the better result. We can now hopefully look forward to a resurgent America. Did you know that when Obama came to power 8 years ago the national debt stood at 10 trillion US dollars? Now when he's leaving office the debt has doubled and stands at 20 trillion US dollars. That is the most shocking indictment of his presidency. Hopefully Trump can turn things around but it will be a monumental task involving much sacrifice.
A further example of the absolute ineptness of Malaysian governance cropped up just a few weeks before we were due to leave Langkawi. In their wisdom they decided to limit duty free alcohol purchases to 5 bottles (wine or spirits) per person per month. And you had to present your passport when making these sinful purchases. There were to be 2 Customs officers in every shop to make sure of compliance!! In case one of them needed to answer a call of nature!! And it was all linked to the Customs computer system to make sure that no wicked expats could cheat the ludicrous system. However, since being in Penang we have heard that there has been a massive backdown and duty free sales are now back as they were. Still some doubt about this - again typical of Malaysian non communication - mainly because they don't know how to handle the situation we suspect. Typical of the Malay bureaucracy who wouldn't understand or recognize a good (or bad) business decision if it bit them on the nose. We've said it before, but without the Chinese and Indians this country would collapse. We can evidently look forward to 12NZD Scotch whisky again!! Maybe.
We had arrived back in Malaysia from the US in early August and so our 3 month visas were due to expire early November. So, it was necessary to do a visa run to Thailand and instead of just Satun, we decided to go to Hat Yai which is a city only a hour and a half from Satun by mini bus as we'd never been there before. Thai mini buses are not for the faint hearted as they hurtle along with gay abandon. We were staying at the AC Sports Centre Hotel just on the outskirts of the city. It had started life as an indoor tennis centre where national tournaments are held and then only a few months ago the hotel was built and a huge (almost Olympic size) pool was added. There is also a very upmarket gym which we used a few times. The hotel was heavily discounted to attract patronage but we were the only guests for the first days. Unfortunately they haven't a handle on how to care for large pools in the tropics and it soon started going green. This was disappointing because although we'd swum in it just after we arrived, we couldn't continue because it was starting to look more like the goldfish ponds in the Auckland Domain! However, towards the end of our stay there was a contingent of tennis players coming in from all over Thailand for a weekend tournament and so there was a huge effort and they managed to get it into a more or less acceptable condition for swimming again.
There was an absolutely gorgeous woman who served us in the dining room in spite of the lack of an English menu. This was a problem until they produced a menu written in English - written Thai is just so much gobbledegook. Anyway, Jim was sure she was no older than early 20's (tight shorts and all!) but Jean had it sussed. She had noticed some barely noticeable wrinkles on her neck (Jim was looking elsewhere!!) and decided she was in her early 40's. And so it proved. She had some reasonable English and told us her age and the fact that she had 2 daughters who were engaged in tertiary studies. Her husband had been killed in a motor accident some years before and she was literally working 24/7 to fund her daughters' education. She was lovely with such a pleasant demeanour but tragic at the same time. Life is far from easy for some. When we left we tipped her fairly generously and wished that there was far more that we could have done.
Hat Yai is a totally uninteresting city and the only attractions were shopping malls! Some reasonable restaurants but generally we'd give it a miss next time except to stay again at the AC Sports Centre and see our lovely waitress/dining room manager again. One day we went to Songklha which is a town on the east coast only about 30 kms from Hat Yai. Nothing remarkable and not the sort of place one would want to come in to by yacht. 
Of course the Thai King has just recently died and so there were shrines all over the place - on streets as well as in shopping malls. There was an edict that national mourning would last for 12 months and that all Thais had to wear black clothing. All clothing stores were stocking mostly these black boring clothes and the normal Thai bright colours were practically non existent. Many Thais couldn't afford these black clothes and so there was an industry grown up where there was mass dying of clothes and fabrics. Typical of Thailand where the royal family has around USD30 billion of assets and the elite upper class dominate economically absolutely, but the poor people who constitute the majority have to die their clothes to comply with this edict from on high.  
Then back by ferry to Langkawi and legal in Malaysia once more. We've organized the timing so that when we travel to NZ at the end of January, the next 3 month's visa will just about be up again.
Then it was just about time to get ready to leave for Penang for the boat haulout. Our plan was to go to an anchorage right at the southern point of Langkawi and then leave at first light for Penang. We wanted to get to the anchorage between Pulaus Jerejak and Penang and that's almost 70 miles. We made it to the southern Langkawi  anchorage which was quiet and peaceful. A good night's sleep and then the next morning checking fluid levels in the engine, then starting the old girl up. Imagine our consternation to find a fast fuel drip from the secondary fuel filter. We realized that we could not carry on to Penang like that so we returned to the RLYC. We rang Azrin (the Harbourmaster) to organize our berth and he also gave us the number of Kumar who is the resident mechanic of Langkawi since poor old Zainol passed away. We duly berthed and Kumar came on board and then took our Ford filter away. Next morning he was back all smiles with a Perkins filter housing because he said the Ford was hard to get. It worked a treat and then as soon as we had slack water in the marina we set sail again - not far this time; just far enough so that we could get an early start in the morning at first light.
This we duly did with no further dramas. The sail across was without incident but as usual we motorsailed so that we could arrive in daylight. The wind was on the port beam and a good strength for a time but then it became much lighter and we were once again reliant on the iron sail. As we approached the northern coast of Penang, the sky darkened considerably behind us and we also struck a northbound tidal current which must have been at least 3 knots at times because our speed at times was down to 3.5 knots over the ground. We were looking over our shoulders at the approaching inky blackness with lightning visible and hoping that we would make the Jerejak anchorage before nightfall. In the event, that wasn't possible and we rounded the southern tip of Jerejak in the dark. Now we had the tide with us and we bounded up between Penang and Jerejak at a fair clip. Once again thank goodness for GPS because there are some considerable sand banks in the channel. Anyway, we at last came to anchor more or less off the Queensbay Mall and we very thankfully consumed a couple of whiskeys and one of Sailor's cottage pies from Langkawi. Slept like the proverbial logs. 
The next day we were in contact with Jason at LBM and left the Jerejak anchorage in time to arrive off the slipway before high water. This was only about 2 miles and entailed passing south under the centre span of the new Penang bridge (9 kms long!). Then it was a matter of waiting for slack water but this doesn't occur until well after high water and by then the worry was that it might be getting too shallow for us. So, after a further conversation with the yard, we raised anchor and crept gingerly in. We had to get the boat between two parallel concrete piers that form the lifting basin where the travelift operates from. Problem was with our long keel we present quite a face to any sideways current and so, despite the best efforts of the main man, we hit the down current side of the basin with quite a thump. Fortunately they had thick collision mats in place, no doubt from previous hard won experience, so no harm done.
We soon had the straps in place and then we had to walk the plank to get off. The boat was lifted out and unusually taken straight to its hardstand without pressure washing. It was almost knock-off time by then so they were going to wash it the next morning  in place. The Northland Regional Council would have a fit!! No sumps for collecting toxic runoff from antifouling here!  By then our rental car had been delivered and we had been in contact with Eunice who had organized our apartment. Incidentally both the apartment and the car have cost us MYR1,300 each for 30 days which at the current rate of exchange equates to NZD98 per week. The car is a 2 yr old Perodua Axia and the 3 BR apartment is on the 5th. floor of a complex that has a great swimming pool. The only downside is that there was almost nothing in the kitchen so we had to bring much of the boat's galley with us. Cleanliness was another issue, and Jean being Jean - well, enough said, but we have addressed that now.
Anyway, we met Eunice at a designated point and followed her in pouring rain, darkness by then and very heavy traffic to the apartment. Then we also met the owner, Sem who showed us the workings and handed over keys etc. By then we were absolutely knackered and we couldn't wait for them to leave so that we could get something to eat (another Sailors pie!) and fall into bed.  
We have fallen into a routine of going to the boatyard by around 8.30 and meeting Jason to discuss latest progress. Nothing happens early in Malaysia. Shops for instance in shopping malls don't all open until some time between 10 and 11 am. We have now lifted the old engine off its beds (after 52 years!) and it is sitting on bearers above the engine compartment so that we can give it a good once over. We have found a very slow oil leak (after all it is an old British engine!) from the front where the crankshaft passes through the timing gear cover. At the time of writing we are trying to locate a replacement and just hoping that we don't have to source it from a specialist supplier of Fordson engine parts in England. We also intend to paint the engine and Ford Blue would have been the preference, but it is unavailable here and another blue is only available in 5 litres. That would be enough to paint at least 10 engines. So it will be black, but we don't think that will be detrimental.
The hull has been sanded above and below the waterline and yesterday we both applied underwater primer to bare areas on the hull. We have a painter lined up for all the donkey work - hope he is good. Today we sanded the forrard ends of the caprails and now have one coat of Sikkens applied. 2 more to go. We have to do these minor jobs ourselves because if we waited for the yard to do it we'd be here till Christmas 2017!
We have been driving around a fair bit to source various things  and also to see a bit more of Penang. The traffic is horrendous except that the route between our apartment at Villa Emas and the boatyard is a piece of cake - only takes 10-15 minutes. The boatyard is situated very near the SE corner of the island and we are living about halfway up the east coast opposite Jerejak Island and very close to the Queensbay Mall and an Aeon Supermarket. So, we have everything pretty much on tap, except for gluten free bread! We are enternally grateful to the internet based GPS in Jean's smart phone. We have a device that enables us to connect with the internet anywhere on the island and so we slavishly follow the verbal instructions. Sometimes they leave a bit to be desired, but generally we find our destinations. Driving here with lack of road signs and one way systems would be a nerve wracking nightmare without it. We are sold, and have decided to buy a stand alone satellite based system (just like the boat's really) which will also serve us well when we get to Colombia. There of course there is the added distraction of driving on the wrong side of the road!
We must comment on how much Penang has changed since we visited in 2010 - driving up from Melacca. The high rises (mostly apartments sparsely sold) and traffic! We noticed today an almost new block nearing completion with another still to come out of the ground right slap bang in the way of their sea view! There is a glut of unsold apartments all over the island and on the mainland as well. And there seems to be only lip service paid to any sensible planning. It's all so corrupt.
Back on the political front - we have in the last couple of days or so received the surprising news (first on the phone to Jenny Hastie - it was her birthday), and second from an immediate and quick perusal of the NZ Herald's website, that John Key, NZ's Prime Minister, will resign on December 12th. Totally unexpected and he simply says he's resigning for "family reasons". But we, ever the conspiracy theorists, don't think so. We believe he is specifically aware of serious headwinds for NZ, and no doubt other countries coming up, and he wants out on his terms before the proverbial hits the fan and the electorate turfs him out. We have disagreed with just about everything he has done and with the absolutely laissez-faire attitude to immigration with all its ramifications, so we are delighted to see him go.
We are trying to get a handle now on when we might be able to launch. A lot will depend on the engine part availability and then there are only some tides (roughly 10 days apart) that allow us to launch as well. We had intended to get back to Langkawi in time for Christmas lunch at the Fat Frog with yachtie friends but that now looks to be in doubt. We should know for sure by about the 9th. One thing for sure is that when we do get back to Langkawi there then will not be much time before we leave for NZ on Feb. 1st. And still lots to do with the boat. Hopefully she might even sell sometime soon!
Hope this finds everyone in the pink...................
Lotsaluv from us,
Jim and Jean
Villa Emas
Bayan Lepas
Pulau Penang