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
- Reinstall Instruments.
- Install new eyebrow (decorative wood strips over
- 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.
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:
Ending 14 Sep 2002 (Bob)
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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!
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
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
- 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
Re-shaping the bimini - 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
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.
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)
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
- A battery for our Toshiba laptop. A call to the
local dealer located one to be picked up the next day - another mission
- 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 - 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:
|Cost of living
||Democracy, but controlled by a single party
||Democracy, single party in power for 30
years, but some states have different leaders.
||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
||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
|Friendliness of people
||Friendly but reserved and busy
||Polite with mixture of friendly and solemn
||Very friendly and outgoing
||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
|Overall Interest to us
Ending 28 Sep 2002 (Bob)
Anniversary Dinner - This
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 - 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 our 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
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
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.