Sep. 2002
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Check out Weeks ending: [7 Sep 02] [14 Sep 02] [21 Sep 02] [28 Sep 02

Week Ending 7 Sep 2002 (Bob)

Life Afloat Again - It feels good to be back in the water, and on Tuesday we made the big move: we loaded the few possessions still in the apartment into boxes and carried them to B22 and lowered LP's waterline a little bit more. By the end of the day we were safely ensconced on Long Passages, with only a few things to put away.

Getting Ship-shape - When we moved back on board, it felt like we had a kit boat with 'some assembly required'.  We started the process of re-assembling and the 'to do' list included items like:

  • Reinstall Instruments.
  • Install new eyebrow (decorative wood strips over portholes).
  • Reinstall computer and printer in new home.
  • Install DVD player.
  • Water-proof cockpit seats.
  • Reinstall power sockets near TV.
  • Touch-up varnish in cabin.
  • Reinstall dorade hardware after re-chroming.
  • Replace webbing straps on bimini.
  • etc.
  • etc

The list goes on, several pages worth in our handy notebook.  At this rate, we will spend the next year re-assembling our beautiful yacht and won't get any sailing in!

Marina Life in Boat Lagoon - Life in the marina at Phuket Boat Lagoon is sort of laid-back at the moment.  This is the monsoon (aka 'rainy season') and many people use this as their time to go home to the USA, UK, Europe, or Down Under.  Despite this, there is a continuous parade of boats going in and out of the water, and the whine of grinding machines goes on all day.  Our week goes sort of like this:

  • Monday - Breakfast at 'The Bakery', a spot with wonderful food, then start a few projects, run to chandlery for missing parts, dodge showers while working on deck, and wrap up day with 4 projects started, none finished, and a 'sun-downer' in hand.
  • Tuesday - Up early since Dane (the varnisher from Pro-Yachting) comes at 0800 sharp to sand the cabin sole and lay down a coat of varnish - we are banished from the boat for the day.
  • Wednesday - A healthy breakfast on board is followed by picking up the pieces from Monday's projects, some actually get finished in time for us to go to the Wednesday night Bar-B-Q where we chat into the night with 15 other cruisers, comparing horror-stories, trading books, and DVDs.
  • Thursday - Dane comes again so we mill around the deck working on unimportant projects while he sands and varnishes below.  We swing from the handholds below trying to retrieve tools from the front of the boat without touching the wet varnish on the floor.
  • Friday - More projects, and then we rent a 'jeep' to run errands. Since we only have it for 1 day, it becomes a race to get groceries, pick up re-chromed pieces, drop off film, pick up repaired shoes ($6), get precious parts from the hardware store downtown, and hit the Post Office before it closes.  On evenings with the car we stray from the marina and this week pick The Green Man and an evening of English Curry.
  • Saturday - Back to the grind as this is a normal work-day in Thailand and we fall into the routine.  The weekly to-do list is getting kind of short, and we are feeling kind of satisfied at our progress - until we see next week's list.
  • Sunday - The boat yard goes quiet as most workers take the day off, and we slow down as well, and by 4 PM we are ready to call it quits (rather than the normal 5:30).  As night falls, we dig out a DVD from one of our friends, and pop it into the machine - what is this:  Men In Black II, and it opens in the USA next week - we must be in Southeast Asia, pirate capital if the world.
 Week Ending 14 Sep 2002 (Bob)

Welcome Cruising World Readers - It appears that we were mentioned in a recent Cruising World issue, so if you are a reader, WELCOME TO OUR SITE!Long Passages new printer installation.jpg (20117 bytes)

Dent in the 'To-Do' list - The week was busy with a few things crossed off our 'to-do' list (and others added).

  • Our printer is snug in its own little compartment, flipping out when we want to use it. 
  • All items brought on board have found a home
  • Furling lines and blocks are back on the deck. 
  • We borrowed a tension gauge from Scott and tuned our rigging.

We ran into a few surprises along the way:

  • Asymmetrical boat - The eyebrow (decorative wooden strip above portholes) went back on, amid much gnashing of teeth as we tried to put it back where it was before.  In the process, we found that one side of our coachroof is 1/2" longer than the other - a minor hiccup.
  • Holey joinery - We tried to seal the new cockpit seats, only to find that the joinery does not quite come together properly, so some of the leakage will be more difficult to control than we expected.
  • Incompatible chemicals - The sealant we used on our toe-rail and cockpit coaming is not adhering to the teak properly - we used Life Calk sealant with 3M primer and we are told by Life calk that they are incompatible.  We are not sure of the long term ramifications of this yet.

Re-shaping the bimini Long Passages new bimini frame.jpg (22758 bytes)We stole an idea from another cruising boat, Pegasus, and decided to attach our bimini to the stern pulpit rather than the deck. A few hours of cutting and welding later, the frame was in place. We used fittings obtained from Bosun Supplies (www.bosunsupplies.com) that can be installed over pulpits where you cannot slide it over an end.  The new structure frees up quite a bit of deck space and allows a full swing of a winch handle around the secondary winches.

Week Ending 21 Sep 2002 (Bob)

A Long Ride to Penang - Our visas expired this week (again), so we decided to return to one of our favorite spots in Malaysia, Penang!  The trip down went something like this:

Taxi from marina to bus station 10 Km - 20 minutes  75 Baht  ($2.00)
Bus from Phuket to Hat Yai 400 Km - 6 hours 270 Baht ($7.00)
Mini-bus from Hat Yai to Penang 250 Km - 4 hours 250 Baht ($6.00)

DespiteMalaysia Penang street scene.jpg (24110 bytes) a l-o-n-g day sitting on our bums, we had an enjoyable 3 days in Penang, eating inexpensive roti and delicious Tandoori Chicken at the local Indian restaurants, pawing through antique shops, and wandering the quaint Chinese back streets.  We noted again how interesting it was for this predominately Chinese city to co-exist in Malaysia, a Muslim country.  The central government of Malaysia is walking somewhat of a tightrope, where it condemns terrorism after the 9/11 attacks on New York, yet at least one of their states is being run by fundamentalist Muslims with a mission to impose Sharia law throughout the country and unite with states in Indonesia and the Philippines.  Our main missions were:

  • A Visa - A quick visit to the Thai Consulate where we got a 3-month visa (submit papers and $9.00 one day, pick it up the next). 
  • A battery for our Toshiba laptop. A call to the local dealer located one to be picked up the next day - another mission accomplished.
  • CDs and DVDs.  Penang is a great source for recent movies, music, and PC software at Asian prices (see next section) and we bought a few.  Our trip-mates, Michael and Ligia loaded up on lots of recent hits and art flicks!
  • Antiques - Malaysia Penang antique pillow box.jpg (24431 bytes)Not that we have any space to spare, but Judi looked for something representative of the area and found a Chinese pillow box, a leather-covered box to use as a pillow and for storing valuables (under your head) while you sleep.  Negotiation between Judi and the Chinese merchant was interesting, as each acted only mildly interested in the transaction at hand, but focused clearly on the bottom $$ line.  
    At another shop, Pen Antiques, we had a delightful hour while the proprietor showed us his new acquisition - a turn-of-the-century Edison Phonograph that played cylinders and was in great shape.  After we surfed the web and found him a source of needles for it (in England) he treated us to a cold drink and stories about religious persecution in Malaysia (although Chinese, he was a practicing Christian and ex-minister). 

Piracy in Southeast Asia - No, not the type where bandits climb aboard at night, but rather making copies of 'intellectual property' on little pieces of plastic.  The developed countries have very strict laws regarding copywriting and protection of movies, music CDs, and computer software, and thus DVDs cost $20-30, CDs $12-18, and computer software anywhere from $5 to $100s, all on pieces of plastic that cost $0.20.  Many SE Asia countries have lax laws, or minimal enforcement, so all of these products cost $1-3 depending on how hard you bargain.  One can argue with the morality of pirating these products as easily as one can argue against the excess profits made by Microsoft or the music publishers that have just put Napster out of business.  Suffice to say, piracy is alive and well in Asia, with only a few high-profile busts to convince the developed countries that they are cracking down on it.

Comparing Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand - We certainly are not experts on all of the countries of SE Asia, but our opinions of the ones we have visited so far are:

Subject Singapore Malaysia Thailand
Cost of living High Medium-low Low
Government Democracy, but controlled by a single party Democracy, single party in power for 30 years, but some states have different leaders. Democracy
Ancestry Chinese Malay, Chinese Thai, Chinese
Religion Free choice, mixture of Christian, Taoist, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist Predominately Muslim; permits other to practice but not convert Muslims Free choice, primarily Buddhist
Ability to get by with only English Easy Easy Possible, but more difficult
Primary methods of travel MRT (local railway), buses, taxis Local: Buses, taxi, auto
Inter-city: Buses, train, auto
Local: Buses, tuk-tuk, auto
Inter-city: Train, buses, auto
Ease of driving for foreigner Difficult, cars are very expensive Easy Easy
Friendliness of people Friendly but reserved and busy Polite with mixture of friendly and solemn people Very friendly and outgoing
Corruption Virtually none. Generally corruption-free, but lots of stories of corruption in 'the provinces' The people we have met are quite honest, but corruption is commonly reported in the newspapers, mostly at high levels.
Overall Interest to us Medium-High Medium Very High

Week Ending 28 Sep 2002 (Bob)

Anniversary Dinner -  ThisThailand Patong Anniversary at Baan Rim Pa.jpg (23606 bytes) week started with our 2nd Anniversary (seems like only yesterday!), so we decided to celebrate at Baan Rim Pa, a highly recommended ocean-front restaurant in Patong, on the West side of Phuket.  We had a delightful Thai meal with the sound of surf in the background (after the rain stopped) and a view of the beach.  We will have to return when the weather is better as the sun kisses the horizon.

An Ugly Surprise - Cartoon - another ugly problem.jpg (15389 bytes)Just as we felt that the cockpit was almost done we were reminded of a cartoon by Les Barton.   We had asked Nai and Toe (the carpenters) to install a section and some wood plugs to the coaming around ourLong Passages port coming board.jpg (9616 bytes) cockpit.  In the process, Son, one of the workers pointed out that air blown into one screw hole came out of an adjacent one - NOT GOOD, an indication of severe rot inside the teak.  So we reluctantly made the decision to remove the starboard coaming and replace it.  Stop the installation of the stern piece, remove all bolts installed only weeks ago, cut thru the freshly installed caulk, and 24 hours later the board was out and the cockpit was trashed.  We really hate messy jobs, but it is even worse when we are re-working something only re-installed weeks ago.  

Extension of our Temporary Import - The Thai government views people as totally divorced from the boat on which they are traveling, and so our new visa allows us to stay until December, but the boat had to leave this week - unless extended.  The current law allows boats to remain up to 1 year in the country before a 100-200% duty must be paid.  When we arrived the law allowed only 6 months, so we had to petition Customs for permission to stay until January.  Our rationale was that we did not wish to sail during the monsoon period.  It seemed like a pretty flimsy excuse to us, but we went, with a letter written in Thai (that we could not read), and asked 'mother, may we please stay 4 more months'.  After a week, they said 'Sure, glad to have you', and we are now legal until January, 2003. 

 

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