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  december 2010


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01/12/10  HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANN!    Enough is enough and we weighed anchor at 0930 local time, made our way out of the bay, set a course due East and motored into an F3 headwind for the island of Tarutao.  Roger has a lift out date of the 4th at Satun, which is mainland Thailand, but as yet they cannot give me a place on the hard.  The plan is to go there and wait outside the yard until they can fit me in.  We altered our intended Tarutao Island anchorage because of the East wind and dropped the hook in about 8 metres of water off the little deserted beach at Ban Ao Makham.  Initially it was quite calm but the winds increased to 33 knots during the night and although I held firm, Roger dragged anchor for about 100 yards.

02/12/10  Underway again at 1030 in a flat calm sea towards the mainland, eventually anchoring again in very shallow water off the point at Ban Tanyong Po to await tomorrow's high tide in order to navigate the shallow river to Phithak Shipyard and Services at Satun.

03/12/10  An early start weighing anchor at 0730 to navigate the torturous river on the rising tide.  It is a little disconcerting when you cannot see the final destination because of the close, mangrove lined river banks but we arrived safely off the shipyard and anchored in the river to await haul out, then went ashore to see what the yard was like before catching a bus (pick-up truck!) into Satun.

04/12/10   As I was getting ready to help Roger into the slipway, a call from Oh (the shipyard manageress), told us that a suitable cradle was not available for Storm Dodger until tomorrow.......so they would lift me out instead!   With roles reversed, Roger came and helped me to the slip.  I've never been lifted in this manner before, steering into a submerged cradle which is then winched up a ramp onto the hard.....so it was interesting!

05/12/10  Work started almost immediately at 8am with two workers sanding the bottom of my boat to remove all old anti-foul.  Unfortunately, they went too deep and removed the gel coat over about a one metre square area which will now have to be coated in epoxy resin (at their expense).   Helped Roger to bring in Storm Dodger at 10am.  My cutless bearing is showing signs of excessive wear which wouldn't have been helped by the engine movement when my mountings collapsed, so it will have to be replaced.  Removed the propeller in readiness.

06/12/10  More sanding.

07/12/10  Yet more sanding!   Removed the cutless bearing housing and also drilled the hole for the water maker inlet.  Hearing about the coldest winter in the UK for the last 100 years, snow falling everywhere.  Well, just to let you know......it's close on 30oC here and very hot and humid!

08/12/10  Removed the saloon hatch and re-seated it in new Sikaflex bonding - it had been leaking for some time.

09/12/10  Unhappy with the yard's plan of epoxying the damaged area, I've instructed them to sand the whole underwater boat area down to the fibre glass and epoxy the entire underwater surface.....which will now obviously take longer than anticipated.   As both Storm Dodger and I are booked into Rebak Marina (and paid) for the Christmas period of 18th to the 28th, the yard will now have to get a move on in order to launch me in time to get there.  Removed the forward cabin hatch for re-seating.

10/12/10  Bummer!  Heavy rain woke me at 5am.......and I have no hatch on the forward cabin!!  Opened umbrella through the hole which kept most of it out but the bed still got a little wet until the rain stopped mid morning.  Re-fitted the hatch during the afternoon.  Workers sanding the underwater area to the fibre glass.

11/12/10  Organised carpenter to make new fridge top, the old one having come off for the second time.  Sanding completed by 4.30pm and the boat washed down of dust.  A group of us 'on the hard live-aboards' had a get together for a few beers outside the shop which went on until midnight.

12/12/10  Underwater area given coat of glue to seal all small holes.  Freed off my seized outboard tilting bracket and swapped the instrument computer over for the one taken off whilst crossing from India to Langkawi.   Fridge top renewed!  Storm Dodger had her coat of anti-foul primer put on.

13/12/10  Fridge top stuck!  Carpenter recalled and the job was rectified during the course of the day.  Five coats of epoxy resin applied to my hull.  Re-fitted the cutless bearing housing and the new skin fitting for the watermaker inlet.   Rebuilt the watermaker pump and fitted a new pipe union that was broken on the 19th of last month (had the union made here in the shipyard), then showered and off to the shop for our usual evening beer or two.

14/12/10  My workers today sanded down the hull and applied the anti-foul primer coat .

15/12/10  Left the workers applying three coats of anti-foul whilst I went into town with Roger and Astrid to pay our yard bills at the TOA shop which is owned by the shipyard.  Then went to Tesco's (yes...really, but it is some 15Km out of town) for a bit of shopping.

16/12/10  A stressful day with immigration, customs and harbour master whilst we checked out of Thailand - and I'm coming down with another cold!  Roger and I tramped all over the place trying to find the right offices and finally returned to the shipyard just before 5pm - only to find that my boat had been moved in readiness for launching and the electricity disconnected.  As I had shut the boat up against the possibility of rain and rats, the temperature inside was in excess of 50oC because the fans had all stopped!  I wasn't best pleased after a hard day, and I still had to fit my propeller and the seacock to the water maker hull fitting.  I made a mistake because of the heat inside, and over tightened the seacock, thereby turning the skin fitting and destroying the seal.  Roger and I worked until nearly midnight to remove and refit the whole thing.

17/12/10  LAUNCH DAY!  Up early for the launch.......wait.....not enough water for Storm Dodger to go off the cradle!   A bit of shuffling around and I was eventually launched around 9am with the traditional good luck firecrackers tied to my bow.  I anchored just off the shipyard slip and went ashore in the evening for our last beer with the other live-aboards - a great bunch including Chris and Judy of Braveheart, Doug and Pam of Helly,  Iain of Scott Free, Mike and Gaye of Whim 'O Way and the guys from the superyacht Silver Lining.  Roger will not be able to launch until tomorrow morning - then we will make our way directly to Rebak for the Christmas period.

18/12/10  Storm Dodger was launched about a half hour after I weighed anchor at 0915 and we made our way back down the river to the shallow winding channel out to sea.  The trip to Rebak on Langkawi was a mixture of motoring and motor sailing before arriving in the marina at 1630.  Fish and chips in the restaurant!!

19/12/10  So we are back in Malaysia for the Christmas period, in Rebak Marina.....a small island resort off Langkawi.  This marina was wiped out in the tsunami on Boxing Day of 2004, so let's hope history does not repeat itself!  After registering this morning and overcoming the  slight problem of 'no dogs allowed' (Mutley on Storm Dodger!), we caught the ferry to the 'mainland' and hired a car to go into Kuah and check in again with the authorities, did a bit of shopping and came back on the 1830 ferry - I say ferry, but it's really a speedboat, propelled by two 250hp Honda outboard engines that shove it along at about 50 knots!  I'm suffering now with the cold/flu but fortunately I had bought a bottle of 'medicine' from Scotland whilst in Kuah, so it was a case of a few doses before bed!!

21/12/10  It's very quiet here!  Rebak is a holiday resort, a small island which is basically split in two halves - on the one side is the marina and on the other is the resort complex of hotel and chalets and you can walk between the two in about 3 minutes.......but it's so quiet!!  Christmas seems by and large to be going un-noticed (suits me) with very few boats actually putting up any lights (guilty).  There are some recognised boats from Kuah and Satun moored close by and today I heard that Marco and Francesca onboard Easy 'n' Free are some 150 miles off Sumatra - so maybe they are heading here from Cochin for some peace and quiet too!  In the UK, airports are crowded with holiday passengers going nowhere because of the snow and ice, while supermarkets are alleged to be running out of stocks.  It's hot here.....................and quiet!

22/12/10  I received an e-mail from Marco and Francesca who are heading to Langkawi but they are currently holed up in Sabang, Sumatra, following a stormy crossing of the Bay of Bengal and are expected to remain there until Boxing Day.

25/12/10  Merry Christmas to my family, friends and fellow sailors!  We spent last night in SY69 (a covered area of the marina) enjoying the music of guitarists and other musicians whom we first encountered in the Muslim cafe on Kuah pier.  I awoke later than usual this morning, looked out of the cockpit and was disappointed that there was no snow.....just wall to wall sunshine!  We all trooped off to the Hotel restaurant for Christmas lunch - a brilliant









affair with so much food and such a variety, that we didn't quite know where to start.  As you can see from the photographs above, Roger and I had a hard time of digesting our lunches during the afternoon!

27/12/10  For some weeks now, we (Roger and I) have had trouble in sourcing gas for cooking.  We are both very low on gas and have so far been unable to find anywhere to have our bottles filled.  In Royal Langkawi Yacht Club we were told the bottles were non-fillable in Malaysia but we would get them filled in Thailand......we couldn't.  Today I'm told that I will have to buy new bottles and regulators from Thailand in preference to Malay bottles.  I know, it's crazy.  Spent the afternoon in Kuah, checking out of Malaysia again in readiness for leaving the marina in the morning, then cooled off in the pool for an hour before dinner in the restaurant.

28/12/10  Storm Dodger left the marina just before 9am whilst I sorted out last minute things and paid my marina bill.  I then slipped at 10am and motored to Talaga Marina to raft up alongside Roger on the fuel pontoon, collecting just 40 litres of diesel and a take-away KFC!  We then slipped and put to sea, drifted whilst having our lunches and got underway again at 2pm in squally conditions.  Turning the clocks back one hour, we made our way in a general northerly direction towards Thailand, finally anchoring on the west side of Ko Laen in a heavy rain shower.   I am taking in water in the aft cabin bilge - something which has never happened before and will need investigating.

29/12/10  Weighed anchor at 0730, motor sailing (genoa only), again in squally, rainy conditions toward Ko Muk where we anchored just after 4pm in a small high cliff inlet, along with two other yachts.

30/12/10  Last night wasn't totally comfortable because of wind gusts and wave slop which made it's way into the anchorage.  At 0715, I hauled up the forty metres of anchor chain and we made our way back to sea toward Koh Phi Phi.  For a change......it was good sailing!  With the main and genoa up on a close reach, the Aries windvane was able to cope easily with the steering for a few hours, giving me a break from helming.  The intended anchorage on the southern side of Koh Phi Phi (Ton Sai Bay) was far from ideal because of the many mooring buoys, chains, ferries and general mayhem of this holiday resort, so we came out of the bay again and went around to the northern side to Lanah Bay and picked up a couple of vacant tourist boat mooring buoys for the night. 

31/12/10  Last leg!  Slipped the buoy at 0730 and made our way almost due west to our New Year's Eve destination of Patong Beach in Phuket, arriving there at anchor around 4pm.   In the anchorage are Colin and Trish onboard Moody Time, Marco and Francesca onboard Easy 'n' Free, Gary and Vanessa onboard Neptune II, some other familiar faces .......and another 200 yachts swinging at anchor!!  Met up with Colin and Trish and their crewman John, good to see them again after parting company in Eritrea.  We all went ashore to this wild tourist place, had roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding, a few beers, met Marco & Francesca and settled on the beach to watch the fireworks and general night life.  We returned to Storm Dodger to watch the grand firework finale just before midnight, but really, the sky had been lit by colourful explosions the whole evening.  Mixed with this were the thousands of lanterns which were released into the night sky - these are like paper hot air balloons with a firelighter slung underneath.  It really was a spectacular sight to see and well worth the hurried trip here!

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