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  august 2011


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01/08/11  After looking on-line at a diagram of the dinghy valves, I decided to take mine out and inspect them, knowing of course that the port one was broken anyway.  Instructions say that a special purpose tool is required to both remove and refit the valves and the tool costs around 50 GBP........so I used my 'special purpose' pliers (cost 2 GBP) and unscrewed the valves, then went into town in search of new ones.  Sadly, they are not available here and the nearest stockist in Johore Bahru isn't answering the phone, so I ordered them direct from the UK to be delivered here.  Storm Dodger is still stranded in Kota Kinabalu with a non-functioning autopilot course computer which may not be repairable and may have to be replaced new from Australia or Singapore.

02/08/11  Happy Anniversary to my brother and his wife. Two electronics technicians turned up this morning to look at my depth sounder - which hasn't worked since Sardinia, despite fitting three different processors and two transducers.  The boat is now in an even bigger mess than normal, with all drawers and runners removed to access the processor and holes in the cockpit bulkhead where instruments have been removed for testing.  To have that working again would be a real boost, but I'm not going to hold my breath on that one!  Stripped down the outboard motor - the exhaust manifold was shot to hell, so was the impeller, it's housing and the carrier plate (photo right).  Amazingly, I was able to get all the parts needed in town and I just have to rebuild it now.  If I had dismantled the engine whilst in Muara, I wouldn't have been able to get the spares anyway.....so it's as well that I waited a few days.  A telephone call to the UK confirmed that my dinghy valves have been dispatched and are on their way to Miri.  The news from Astrid onboard Storm Dodger in Kota Kinabalu, is they have a big problem with  rats climbing up their anchor chain from the river - I'm so glad that is not me, I hate the damn things!!

03/08/11  Breakfast out of the way, then did my washing and hung that out before rebuilding the outboard motor.  I replaced it on the bracket (instead of the valve less dinghy), positioned a bucket of water underneath and pulled the start cord - immediate start AND copious amounts of cooling water being discharged!  Just as I was about to go into town, the electronics guys turned up to refit the instrument heads and processor.  I don't know what they've done, if anything, but I think the depth sounder is still non-functioning as it reads one metre less than is under my keel - and fluctuates through 3 metres or more.  However, I'd booked Simon and his taxi for 3pm, so I had to kick them off the boat and they will come back tomorrow.  Went into town and collected my main engine air intake filter from Sturdy Engineering.  I'd taken it in yesterday to be boiled in their hot degreaser and power washed because it had been 'choking' the engine during the return from Muara the other day.  I hope it performs much better now.  Did some shopping and spent a couple of hours trailing around all the car accessory shops in a failed attempt to buy a 7psi radiator cap.  You can buy them by the bucket load in the UK, but you can't get one here, they are all 0.9kg/cm2, which equates to around 13psi.  Returned to the boat about 7.30pm.

04/08/11  Happy Birthday to Kate in London.  Not wanting to damage my 'expensive' pliers, or the dinghy valves when refitting them, I decided I'd better have the special tool for removal and fitting, so yesterday I bought a cheap car windscreen squeegee, disposed of the squeegee part and cut a length off the aluminium handle.  I then cut slots into the handle and I now have the 'special tool'.....total cost 6.20 ringgit, which is about 1.30 GBP.  A squall around midday prevented me from doing very much on the boat except battening down the hatches etc but it had all passed over by 1.30pm.  At 2.30pm, the electronic guys showed up, three of them this time (although only one ever does anything) and wasted my whole afternoon.  They kept checking the cables and the instrument heads, before finally coming to the conclusion that it was the processor that was at fault.......something I told them four days ago, then telling me that they cannot repair it because they don't have tools small enough to change resistors on the motherboard circuit.  What??   Hello......you are an electronics engineering company are you not??   I give up!

05/08/11  Spent the whole morning reconnecting the instruments and rebuilding the drawer unit under the chart table before showering and going into town with Simon.  I say 'going into town' but it isn't quite like that!  Because I'm on my own, Simon thinks I don't mind picking up other taxi customers (which I don't), and we often finish up driving for miles with other people - I guess it's one way of seeing the area for free!   Today it was to the hospital - my third visit there (I've been to the airport twice), then onto another town outside Miri to drop the three passengers off before returning to Miri and the timber yard to collect my  wood for the new dinghy seat   So a ten minute journey into town took over an hour!  At least I get to see both the opulent and exclusive areas of housing, as well as the poorer areas.  After shopping in town, I called him again.....then went around all the backpacker hostels and local hotels with a young French couple who were looking for overnight accommodation before finally being dropped off at the marina with my wood, 40 litres of diesel and my shopping.  Joined in the usual Friday night get together with Steve, Graham, Lorraine, Teresa, Mark, Dick, Ian, Phil and others, on the end of the pontoon and had a couple of beers amidst a few salty tales or two.

06/08/11  Happy Birthday Leah!  Sorry I couldn't be with you this year, I hope you have a great day.  I'll treat you to a McDonalds or KFC next time we meet - just one more year and you'll be an obnoxious teenager and will be able to leave home 'cos you know it all !!  Cut and shaped my new dinghy seat and also made a new fuel tank dipstick.  Dowelling has been extremely hard to come by but I found a piece in the timber yard yesterday and it will make things somewhat easier - the old dipstick was calibrated in gallons, so constant conversions to litres were required, and that caused all sorts of unnecessary 'extra' maths the other day when calculating fuel consumption every hour.  Dumped a lot of useless gear from the cockpit locker, including the steel jerrycan in which my 'emergency' fuel had been stored, because steel and salt water do not go well together!

08/0811  Yesterday (Sunday) I did nothing, just relaxed and watched the world go by.  I should have been checking the engine alignment but I couldn't be bothered to don overalls and crouch in the engine bay for hours on end.  I didn't do it today either!!

09/08/11  Happy Birthday to my friend M'Leia, wherever she may be today.  Finally got down to checking my engine alignment which I'd been putting off for days.  All four engine mounting bolts were loose - it was as though they had never been tightened and I cannot understand that.  It's not possible that I forgot to tighten any of them.  That job is now done and the engine seems to be in alignment with the prop shaft although I still have doubts in my mind about that.

10/08/11  Into town in an attempt to have a connector machined from either nylon or teflon to connect the dinghy pump to it's hose as the present one is on it's last legs.  None of the workshops visited could offer any help.  It's worrying to see the news in the papers of riots across the UK.  My thoughts on the scum, thugs, criminals and mindless morons who perpetrated these acts of violence and destruction are probably not printable.

11/08/11  I received my dinghy valves from the UK this morning - delivered straight to the boat - so I guess eleven days for a Royal Mail package to be delivered to Borneo isn't bad at all, especially as it only cost 5 for delivery.  Talking of delivery costs.......I've been trying to source a new depth sounder, which is easy enough, but I've been quoted 150 for delivery!  Now that is extortionate for an item weighing less than 1kg when you realise that I didn't pay half that price to have engine mountings and water maker pump shipped to Malaysia, and they weighed several kilos.  I'm now looking for another supplier with more realistic delivery costs.  This afternoon, I changed the dinghy valves and inflated it - several problems ensued.  Firstly, I have a 12volt electric pump which is new and unused, so I thought I would try that as a precaution against the foot pump connector failing but on plugging it into the cigar lighter socket.......it blew the fuses!  Not only on the lighter socket, but all the saloon lighting as well.  Now I have a box of 3 amp fuses onboard.....do you think I could find them?  No, not a chance!  They are in a Golden Virginia or Old Holborn tin, and I am constantly coming across them, but when I want them.....they've disappeared!  On launching the dinghy, it became apparent that the leak repair in Langkawi was not 100% successful and water is still coming in along the join between tubes and transom.  Also the outboard engine wasn't running as it should but that was relatively easy to rectify.  Storm Dodger are still stuck in KK awaiting delivery of a new autohelm course computer.  Full Flight and one or two other boats have suffered burglaries further north!  It seems we are all having problems of one sort or another.

12/08/11  I read in the papers that some of the thieving ratbags who were fast-tracked to court for their involvement in the on-going UK riots have been given 'heavy' custodial sentences - and so they should be.  But it will be the public majority, the decent taxpayers who will foot the bill for their 'time inside' watching dvd's and playing video games whilst receiving three meals a day.  And what of the under 18's caught looting and destroying property?  They will be pampered by the bleeding heart liberals, taxied around by youth workers, taken to theme parks, given time in the gym, escorted to fish 'n chip shops, offered really useful DJ courses or taken to indoor rock climbing centres to improve their breaking and entering skills before being taxied back to the youth detention centre to play on their Nintendo's or Game boys in their cosy rooms - the detention centre workers are not allowed to call them 'cells' because it "offends the occupant's human rights."  The whole criminal act system is broken in the UK - wake up MP's and smell the coffee, hear what the real people of Britain want and stop pandering to the free-loaders; benefit leeches and the so called 'do-gooders.'  Bring back the good old days when we could all be proud to be British!   My brother recently sent me a ditty about us 'old farts' which is appropriate, so I've included it in a web page here.

Went into town again (via the hospital and market) to buy some more fuses and another dinghy pump in case my one gives up the ghost.  I wish I'd thought of it when in Satun, I could have had a connector made there in 5 minutes but hey, I've got a complete spare pump now and maybe I can get a connector made elsewhere.  I also needed a new phone charger because that blew at the same time as the fuses.  Confirmed my delivery of new depth sounder (at a half of the previous delivery charge) and paid for that over the phone, arranging for it to be shipped to Labuan over the next week......so, I'm looking at sailing from Miri on either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on getting all jobs done and of course favourable weather.  During the evening I joined the others in the usual Friday night get together at the end of my pontoon.

13/08/11  Pelangi came into the marina this morning but I hadn't noticed until Julie came over and said hello, so it was nice to see her and Gareth - familiar faces from Tioman and we had a couple of beers and a chinwag in the evening.  During the afternoon, I drilled the dinghy seat and screwed on the fitments before deflating the dinghy and stowing it in it's bag to be lashed down on deck later.

15/08/11  I was woken in the wee small hours by rain coming in the open hatch and the boat rolling.... I'd better check the anchor my sleep muddled brain reasoned...........hang on........ I'm in a marina?   It turned out to be a squall blowing through and I recorded 35 knots of wind while it lasted.   Called Simon about mid-day and went into town with Julie and Gareth, showing them where the Customs and Immigration offices were before going off to eat and wander around another shopping mall - the Bintang Plaza.  Bought another 40 litres of diesel on the way back to the boat.

16/08/11  Again woken around midnight by rain coming through the open hatch above my bed!  Up and about by 6am, all my washing done and on the line, transferred the 40 litres of diesel from cans to tank before helping Gareth by hoisting him up the mast while he rectified a forestay problem.  Had Mr Ho collect my half empty gas bottle and refill it by 11am.  By noon, it had started to rain, so washing in (dry), batten down the hatches and sit it out!  I was running out of steam anyway, so I decided not to go into town today but leave it until tomorrow.  At 6pm, we all went to the get together for Walter's (Atlantis) birthday....and who should arrive there.........Armin and Monica from Slammat!  I haven't seen them since our meal together in The Anchor Pub in Ao Chalong, so it was great and we did a lot of catching up.  They had actually arrived in the marina yesterday but we hadn't seen each other.

17/08/11  It was 10am before I woke up this morning......with a fuzzy head.   It must have been last night's rum punch.......or the beer that Walter kept feeding me!!  Anyway, I had a lazy day, so tomorrow I will have to charge around the various offices in order to sail soon - maybe Friday, maybe Saturday!

18/08/11  Took down my sun awning and folded it away before hoisting Gareth up his mast again and taking down his furling gear and forestay.  We then shortened it by one inch and re-attached it to the mast and deck - he had been unable to tension it properly.  We both (and Julie) then went into town with Simon to pay marina dues and check out with Immigration and Customs.  The plan is to sail either tomorrow or the next day and retrace my course to Kuala Belait, Jerudong and Muara, then onto Victoria Harbour in Labuan where my new depth sounder is waiting for me......delivered from the UK in just three days by DHL!!  Tides are not favourable for leaving Miri at first light as it would be too shallow to safely exit, so it's either leave in the dark, or arrive at the next place in the dark!

19/08/11  Up at 5am but decided not to run the risk of grounding at the marina exit by leaving on a marginal tide.  Spent the day doing very little, scrubbed a cushion cover and got that dry, put some odds and ends away and went into town for cheese and bacon (and more bread), then joined in the Friday evening get together to say my goodbyes to everyone.  The plan is to sail tomorrow morning at first light......or thereabouts!

20/08/11  I don't believe it!  I'm always up early....and this morning I overslept and didn't wake until 6.20am.  So, I was an hour late leaving the berth, slipping at 06.45 in company with Gareth and Julie onboard Pelangi.  We made our way out to sea and were able to motor sail for most of the way to Kuala Belait, anchoring there at 2 pm.  I have obviously not got the engine and shaft correctly aligned because I could feel vibration throughout the boat on leaving Miri and entering Belait.  It will have to wait until the engine is cold and I have a day to correct it.

21/08/11  A terrible night's sleep - or not sleep is more like it.  Maybe it was guilt at oversleeping but I just couldn't sleep and kept waking every half hour throughout the night.  Weighed anchor at 0700 and made our way out to sea again, hoisting all sail in the offshore breeze and making 6 knots until mid-morning.  As the wind veered and dropped, I was forced to motor sail until the wind changed direction and blew onshore.  Again we made good progress, frequently hitting 7 knots until mid afternoon.  I was below making the 2pm log entry when the boat started to heel and things started sliding off the chart table.  I scrambled into the cockpit as the boat heeled further and further with the wind instrument showing 36 knots, the wheelpilot making noises of protest and the off course alarms sounding.......and all sail up!!  I let both sails fly, then furled two thirds of the genoa.  The boom was now trailing in the sea on the starboard side, so I quickly went forward and released the mainsail halyard, returned to the cockpit and turned to wind allowing the mainsail to fall completely.  I then sheeted in the boom, reeled in the fishing line (never caught anything) and resumed course - still doing 6 knots with only a third of the genoa out.  Entering Jerudong Harbour was a little tricky as the wind was across the boat at 30 knots and with a two metre following sea making steering very difficult.  I 'gunned' the engine at 3000rpm (twice my normal cruising revs) to keep steerage as I made for the narrow entrance between the two stone breakwaters.  Glancing backwards I saw Pelangi at a most peculiar angle....bows down, stern pointing skywards and heeled way over to port as they surfed into the entrance.  Once inside of course, it all calmed down a bit - still windy but calmer seas.  We both anchored close to the SW breakwater, hiding once again behind the man-made island.

22/08/11  Weighed anchor at 0700 and motored out to sea again, there was little or no wind, but there was a residual one metre swell from yesterday which rolled the boat continually for the five hours or so to Muara, where I once again anchored off the Royal Brunei Yacht Club.  Gareth and Julie came over in their dinghy and we all went ashore to check in with the Harbourmaster, Customs and Immigration before having a steak in the yacht club....not as good as the steaks in Marmaris Yacht Marine however!

23/08/11  We made enquiries about getting fuel delivered to the boats but it seems you have to do that yourself.  There are people who will go and get it for you from the filling station but they only deliver it to the yacht club jetty.  We hired a car and went into Muara and Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) for a look around and a fast speedboat trip around Kampong Ayer (Water Village) which was reminiscent of the klongs of Bangkok though not as claustrophobic.  (photo's)

24/08/11  During the morning we made a couple of trips to the Shell filling station and brought back 300 litres of diesel - 150 for me and the same for Pelangi.  A lot of things are subsidised in Brunei....like fuel, so it only costs 31 a litre which equates to about 15p GBP - a lot cheaper than in the UK!  Petrol is about 25p per litre.  Income tax is around 4%, no wonder there are quite a few ex-pats living here!  We went to Immigration and Customs again to check out, then spent the afternoon ferrying the fuel to the boats before going up to the pool for a swim, a meal and a few drinks (bring your own because Brunei is a dry country).  Back onboard about 9pm.

25/08/11  Spent the whole day cursing and swearing in the engine bay checking and re-aligning the propeller shaft.  Around 4pm, I weighed anchor and took the boat up and down the river at varying speeds to check for vibration.  I don't know whether it's any better....but it's no worse!

26/08/11  Weighed anchor at 0900 and sailed in company with Pelangi.  There was very little wind outside the harbour and although I had the mainsail up, it wasn't really driving the boat at all and I had to keep the engine on for the short twenty mile crossing to Labuan.  An engine oil pressure malfunction showed 150psi on the gauge - clearly not right - I shall have to investigate that in Labuan, I suspect that I've dislodged or broken a wire close to the engine mounting blocks.  On arrival in Victoria Harbour, I made for the marina and squeezed past the huge pile driver barge into the entrance.  The marina will be closing on the 1st September whilst construction work is completed, so all yachts have to leave by then.  I went to the office and retrieved my parcel before going into town and checking in with the Harbourmaster, Immigration and Customs.   Gareth and Julie also checked in (and out) and are in the harbour at anchor for a few days.

27/08/11  Decided on a site for the new depth sounder instrument and cut the required hole into the cockpit bulkhead with a jig-saw, modifying the securing bracket to fit the available space.  Now I need to run all the cables and site the transducer.  Storm Dodger will be sailing from Kota Kinabalu on Monday and heading for Labuan to collect more electronics to repair the still non-functioning autohelm, so it will be good to see them again.  Presently, I have no internet connection and the Celcom sim card doesn't seem to be working despite topping up the credit on it this morning, maybe I'll go into town tomorrow and find a Celcom shop to sort it out.

28/08/11  Met up with Julie and Gareth in town and sorted out my Celcom sim card, wandered around the shops and had a meal and a few beers before returning to the boat at 9pm.

29/08/11  About mid-night the sea in the marina became very rough and I turned on instruments and readied the boat for an emergency departure from the marina.  The rolling was extreme and I put all my fenders down the port side.  The end forty feet of pontoon broke away and was clanging noisily on the now shaky pile still holding it, partially blocking the entrance to the marina.  A flashing navigation warning buoy which had broken adrift, jammed itself between my boat and the pontoon and it took me a while to free that and haul it onto the pitching pontoon.  It was 2am before things began to calm down a little and I was able to get some sleep.  Later in the day, I realised that the pontoon some 50 metres behind me had also broken free - so in effect I was moored on an isolated length of pontoon!  (some photo's)   Locals think the bad weather was the edge of Typhoon Nanmadol which has just swept through the Philippines (latest satellite image on right), killing quite a few people with it's 143mph winds.  Gareth and Julie aboard Pelangi sailed from the anchorage this morning heading further north.  Storm Dodger delayed their departure from KK for 24 hours and will sail tomorrow morning.

30/08/11  A more peaceful night even though the winds were stronger than the previous night.  However, at 5am, the heavens opened and it poured down.  15 minutes later I lost all power supply to the boat.....probably a result of the broken pontoons and the mains supply being damaged.  Four hours later, shore power was restored and  I could have the fans on again to cool the boat interior.  Traced and rectified the engine oil pressure problem - a broken terminal connector.  Ran wiring for depth sounder and decided where to put the transducer, loosely ran the cable and hooked it all up before switching power on.....hey presto.....7.9 metres of water under the boat!!  I just need to drill a few more holes in bulkheads now to run the cables more permanently.  I will do that tomorrow.  The Malays are on a three day holiday now, so the pile driver is silent.  Most yachts have departed from the marina in anticipation of the closure and only six boats remain.

31/08/11  It rained all night last night but at least it kept the temperature down!  Completed the installation of my depth sounder and calibrated it for the keel offset, so now I have a working echo sounder for the first time since Sardinia.......for the time being!!  Roger, Astrid and family arrived in the marina onboard Storm Dodger around 5pm and I took their lines for them.  As is the norm......we then had a couple of drinks and caught up on each other's news. 

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