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  december 2012


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01/12/12  Happy Birthday Ann!  A totally wasted day for me - I went into town to get 40grit sanding discs and a length of 50mm diameter rubber exhaust pipe but after walking around every hardware store I could find, I had to admit defeat and return to the boat.  This town has nothing!  On top of that, the flies are driving me insane - I spray the boat twenty times a day (or thereabouts) and the damn things are back in two minutes, the spray is killing me faster than them!!

02/12/12  What's been happening today?  OK, it's been a day of sanding off the old anti-foul paint - and after two showers I still look like a Smurf....the blue is still in my skin!  Roger and Astrid's crew (Michael) has arrived here in Kudat but Roger still has some essentials to attend to before sailing.  They say that everything happens for a reason, and I'm beginning to think that may be the case.  Presently, there is a typhoon (a Category 4 one) called Bopha heading for the Philippines.  It's forecasted track will take it straight through Coron and northern Palawan - which is where both Roger and I should be right now.  The forecasted winds are 150-200 knots!  Maybe, just maybe, my exhaust broke for a reason!  I'm worried about my friends Julie and Gareth on Pelangi though, they are presently anchored in Coron.  On a completely different subject (and one close to my heart), for the last two mornings I've found rat crap in my cockpit - I've been having a visitor in the night!!  The boat is shut up at dusk, so theoretically, the rodent cannot get inside, although it makes the boat extremely hot for my comfort.  Nonetheless, I don't want it/him/her onboard and tonight I've laid poison pellets in the cockpit so it'll have something to eat for it's midnight snack.

03/12/12  Cockpit full of rat crap again this morning and all the poison gone.  No sign of a dead Roland on the deck so I guess it's feeling sickly today!  An almost completely wasted day looking for bits in town - I managed to get a few 40 grit sanding discs and the same grade sanding paper so I should be able to get the anti-foul sanded off over the next day or two.  Typhoon Bopha continues towards the Philippines and is expected to hit the Coron, northern Palawan area tomorrow (the 4th).  Present wind speed estimates vary between 130 and 150 knots with 48 foot high waves - not conditions I want to be in.

04/12/12  As yesterday, all the rat poison was gone this morning and was replaced with crap!  Still no sign of a dead midnight snacker.  Rob now has all my required parts and should be sending off the parcel tomorrow.  My day consisted of sanding anti-foul off and turning myself in to a Smurf again - by evening, my arms and shoulders were killing me and I was glad to knock off for the day.  I still haven't found a length of 50mm inside diameter hose for my stern gland, several yachties have offered up bits of hose but none are the right diameter.  I believe that Bopha is now over Palawan, about 20 miles north of Puerto Princesa, so they will be catching it up there.

05/12/12  Typhoon Bopha has now gone over Palawan and is out to sea again.  I've had no word from Julie and Gareth onboard Pelangi so I'm assuming they are in a hurricane hole without internet connection.  On the home front, the war with the rat is becoming personal - another load of crap in my cockpit this morning and all the poison gone yet again.  Maybe there's a few of them coming onboard at night for a party?  I'll keep trying the poison until I run out, then the traps go active!!  Roger has almost completed his tank cleaning (due to diesel bug infection) and is intending to sail in the next 48 hours.  Graham has almost finished anti-fouling and will re-launch soon, leaving shortly afterward.  I've been hull sanding all day.......about another three days of that to go!

06/12/12   Some 270 killed in Typhoon Bopha according to The Daily Telegraph.  For me another day of sanding, another day looking like a Smurf.

07/12/12  Storm Dodger came into the lift dock this morning at 0730, filled up their tanks with water and sailed at 0900 for Puerto Princesa - I have no idea when I might see them again, if ever.  The Daily Telegraph, BBC News and others now report over 400 killed by Typhoon Bopha with as many again listed as missing.  No sanding today because I seem to have a reaction to the dust and am itching all over - so into town in an attempt to find 50mm dia. rubber hose for a new stern gland, and this time I found some!!  Graham re-launched eeyore at 1630 and remained in the lift dock for the night while checking for leaks and to await diesel transfer scheduled for tomorrow.  Brian and Glee onboard Second Winds invited Graham, Giovanni and myself over onto their boat for dinner, which was very civil of them and was an excellent meal - probably the best I've had since coming out of the water as I tend to skip meals, or take the easy option of buying something already made rather than keep stopping and cleaning up.  The new 'Taj Mahal' toilet and shower block opened today - so now we have closer, cleaner showers with HOT water!  Of course, the yard prices went up to offset the costs of this new facility!

08/12/12  Another day of sanding the old anti-foul off the hull - just a half day more and it should be finished!  Then it's filling the hundreds of holes where the barnacles have stripped the paint down to the fibreglass, followed by more sanding before I can put on the 'undercoat' and the new anti-foul.  Graham pumped in his fuel this morning before sailing out at 1115hrs.  He will anchor tonight about 30 miles north of here before heading up the coast of Palawan to Puerto Princesa.  All the 'old' crowd have gone now and I'm the only 'Brit' left in the yard, the rest being Australian and French with the exception of Giovanni who is either Italian or German depending on his mood!!  Went with Jamie (Azzan) to the Golf Club for dinner, where we met Giovanni and the entire French contingent!  I received an e-mail from Pelangi and they are OK which is great!

09/12/12  Cleaning my teeth last night and I saw a huge cockroach which ran along the sink edge and tried to hide.  Fatally for him, I had a spray can close to hand and he was soon legs up in the sink.  Yuk......I hate rats 'n' roaches equally - I just hope this one was a 'one off' that had flown onboard.  Completed sanding off the blue anti-foul with the exception of the area where the chocks are.  Now I need to get some epoxy filler and start filling the barnacle holes.  Giovanni discovered his 'P' Bracket is broken internally (this is what supports and guides the propeller shaft) so has had to cut it out, a new one will have to be made from stainless steel as no bronze is available here.  Storm Dodger arrived safely in Puerto Princesa this morning.

10/12/12  I went into town first thing this morning, to the Harbour Master, Customs and Immigration - I thought I'd better check into Malaysia as I've been here a couple of weeks, and with a parcel due into Customs I thought it prudent that I was actually registered as being here!!  I started filling the barnacle holes with epoxy filler, the boat now looks like it's got measles or chickenpox!  So far there have been no recurrences of roaches and I've seen no evidence of ratty for the last couple of mornings.  The new showers (which we yachties christened 'The Taj Mahal') are great.....hot water, clean, plenty of space, flushing toilet (with seat), bidet, lighting, a mirror - just what you need at the end of the day to get all the fibre glass dust off.   But I'm not sure how long they will remain in such good condition, this is Asia after all, and the workmanship isn't that good!.  I have started to upload some photo's of this haul out onto the Borneo page of my photo album, there is a quick link to them here.  Boats are coming and going on a daily basis, two yachts hauled out because they hit reefs - one a ferro-cement boat that had been on the reef for 74 hours and had some heavy damage to it's keel and rudder (would have sunk had it been fibre-glass) and another which had damaged rudder bearings and was unable to steer.

11/12/12  Almost finished filling all the holes made by barnacles, need to sand them now, then fill again, sand and paint!  Tracking my parcel from the UK shows that it is on schedule for delivery on the 10th.......er, isn't it the 11th today?  Tracking also shows it was in Malaysia a few days ago, then went to China, then back to Malaysia!?!?  Went into town with Jamie and Giovanni for something to eat during the evening, had to walk back of course because there are no taxis.

12/12/12  Nice date!  Rain first thing this morning so unable to sand the hull.  I examined the mounting for the stern tube and in the after cabin bilge is a steel plate which bolts through the bulkhead onto the locating flange of the stern tube in the engine bay.  This steel plate which both locates and secures the stern tube, is undersized and  additionally one of the bolt holes has elongated, so I gave it to the workshop to make another, bigger one. 




Yeah!!  My parcel of parts arrived this afternoon at 3.00pm!

Thanks Rob!





13/12/12  More sanding this morning until rain showers stopped play!  Cut the gland packing to size and loosely fitted it to the stern gland housing.  Chased the workshop for my stern gland plate - and when I got it ......it didn't fit!  Had it modified, then sanded it and painted it in readiness for fitting.  Loosened off the backstays, rigged a temporary forestay and loosened the furler in preparation for lowering it to renew the top bearing.  Heavy rain again in the evening.

14/12/12  Undid the bottom of the furler, rounded up Giovanni and Jamie to hoist me up the mast.....and it poured down!  Job cancelled for a little while.  Late morning, the opportunity to go up the mast came.....I took down the forestay and stripped the top bearing again.  The bearing seems OK, but it wasn't turning!  It consists of three pieces; two thrust races and a ball race - one of the thrust races is a smaller inside diameter than the other but both fit onto a 20mm diameter shaft which is not tapered.....so which way does the bearing go on?  I changed the bearing for new and put the smaller diameter thrust race at the top of the stay (I had put it the other way in Sutera marina), then refitted the forestay to the boat before heavy rain once more stopped work.  Re-tensioned the rigging.

15/12/12  A bit of a fuzzy head this morning!  Giovanni and I went to the Golf Club last night to meet up with Jamie for dinner.  We then teamed up with Jenius and George (two Malay policemen) who certainly liked a beer or two (or three), we all went upstairs to the Karaoke Bar and one thing led to another......don't know what time I got back onboard!!  Didn't wake up until 8am though, which is very late for me.  Sanded the hull down, more filling to be done tomorrow.

16/12/12  Completed the filling of holes by 8am and started sanding again.  By 4pm, the sanding was all but complete (just a few areas still to do) and then with Jamie's help I managed to re-install the stern tube with the new plate - it's a two man job because one side is in the engine bay and the other side is in the after cabin.  Mark (with the reef damaged rudder) re-launched today and sailed off, Claude continues to repair his concrete keel following his encounter with another reef.   During the evening, Jamie, Giovanni and I went into town for a meal in one of the many Chinese restaurants, returning onboard just before 9pm.

17/12/12  Got the prop. shaft back in today but the stuffing box still needs fitting and tightening.  Also got two coats of primer paint on the hull.  Heavy rain and strong winds during the evening and through the night.

18/12/12  Sebastian left this morning, it took him 30 minutes to clear the entrance against the wind and waves but I don't suppose it mattered much to him as he is not going to the north-east but down the coast towards Tawau.  Jamie also left this morning by taxi to Kota Kinabalu on the first leg of his journey home to Australia for Christmas.  I'm feeling stressed and depressed, the jobs don't seem to be getting any less, the boat is a pigsty with gear and dirt everywhere - and of course I'm feeling isolated.  On top of it all, I wasn't feeling too good today and was forced into taking it easy for the afternoon - apart from polishing the white of the hull, nothing got done!

19/12/12  Brian and Glee (Second Winds) were launched this morning at 0800, they are making their way south to Miri for Christmas.  Shortly afterward, Giovanni (Mescalito) launched to sail northeast to Puerto Princesa but a stern gland problem kept him in the dock for sometime.  I've added pictures to the Haul Out in Kudat page.   10.30am and heavy rain is again preventing me from working in the engine bay - now we have thunder and lightening to go with it and I'm cooped up inside with all the doors and hatches shut!  Unable to work in the engine bay all day because of the weather, so I crawled into the space behind the instrument panel and disconnected the 3 metres of flexible exhaust hose, removed it and fixed the new hose in position.  It was a struggle to get the old one off the skin fitting and I had to revert to a hacksaw whilst lying on my back and hanging my head upside-down in the small space and using my (wrong) left hand.

20/12/12  What an awful night!  The boat has been shaking in the wind (I don't like that) and it's been raining all night long - I don't envy Giovanni being out in this, but he knew what he was letting himself in for and I had tried to talk him out of making the passage in bad weather.  I hope he's had the good sense to take shelter rather than his intended plan to go to Puerto Princesa non-stop.  At 8.12pm tonight (2012hrs), it will be - useless trivia!  A wasted day because of the winds and rain - every time I got out the tools and opened the engine bay hatch, it poured.  Put them away again and it stopped.  That went on all day!  The only thing I managed to get done was to replace a broken skin fitting (the cooling water tell-tale)  that I have been meaning to do since Turkey and the old one fell off yesterday when I was sawing through the exhaust hose.  Dark now, so time for food and a film.

21/12/12   I was woken several times in the night by the sound of heavy rain and it still hasn't stopped (0700 hrs) so I suppose that if the ancient Maya civilisation have got it right and today is indeed the end of the World, we are all going to get washed away!!  Having a coffee in the shop about 10am (because of the rain), I heard that Giovanni was back in the duck pond, defeated by the bad weather and a failed auto helm.  Brian and Glee onboard Second Winds have arrived safely in Labuan.  It stopped raining about 1pm, so I got into the engine bay to fit the stuffing box/stern gland assembly - there was insufficient 'play' in the rubber hose so I had to remove the prop. shaft again, then replace it.  I cut the exhaust hose to length and fitted it to the rear of the new muffler and got that in place.  Then I freed off the two cockpit drain seacocks which were seized, before rain once again stopped play at 4pm.

22/12/12  Just to give an idea of what I had to do yesterday, and the difficulties of a confined space!  The photo is taken from the position of the engine, looking back into the engine bay where the hull curvature joins the top of the keel. 

The stuffing box/stern gland with rubber hose is fitted.  The muffler is lying in it's allocated position beneath where the propeller shaft will be.  The new flexible exhaust hose on the left had to be pushed backwards on the left side of the stuffing box and connected to the outlet pipe of the muffler directly underneath the stuffing box.

The re-inforced pipe on the right of the photo is the manual bilge pump suction hose and that extends into the keel a metre below the engine bay.  The maximum width of the space occupied by the muffler is about 200mm in the foreground, tapering to around 150mm at the back - very little room to work!   

Today's job was to fit the exhaust hose inlet to the front of the muffler, replace the propeller shaft and tighten the stuffing box onto it (I'm worried about that job), but once more torrential rain from 4am to 4pm held me back.  This is not just rain.....it's a continual downpour!

I met up with Giovanni in the Golf Club for dinner and a beer during the evening.

23/12/12  Woken at 4am yet again by the sound of a heavy downpour.......I'm getting sick of all this rain.  I understand from on-line news that the UK is suffering floods as well.  E-mails from old friends in Greece say it's the same there too.  When it did stop, I got into the engine bay and tightened the stern gland nut up - but I'm very worried about that for a number of reasons:  a) if it's too loose, water will leak in past the packing.  b) if it's too tight, friction between the shaft and the packing will cause it to heat up and fail.  c) there are no castellations (or dogs) on my particular stern gland so any excessive torque between the gland and shaft will destroy the rubber hose.....and water will cascade in.  The trouble is, once I've put the engine and gearbox back, I can't get to the gland!  Perhaps I'll check it again tomorrow!!    I also fitted the exhaust hose to the front of the muffler before having a look at the fuel return pipe on the engine with a view to modifying the present (unsatisfactory) set up.

Giovanni came over to the shipyard from the marina to say Cheerio, he leaves for Kota Kinabalu tomorrow and a flight to Puerto Princesa via Manila to meet up with his family.  He will attend to all his boat problems when he returns mid January.

24/12/12  A Christmas Eve tale.........I wish I'd been woken by the sound of rain this morning, but I wasn't.  Just about dawn, I felt something on my leg.  There were a couple of flies about, so I just twitched my leg and it went away.  Then through bleary eyes, I glimpsed a movement and sat up, looked to my left, saw nothing and assumed it was just the fly buzzing around.  A minute or two later I was again aware of movement on a spare pillow  which was on top of cushions to my left.  With half opened eyes I looked and there was this enormous cockroach!   I mean it was gigantic.....a monster!  I thought the roach two weeks back was big, but this was the Daddy of them all.  It was looking down at me and  I think sizing me up for breakfast.  For ten minutes we stared at one another (well maybe it was 0.5 of a millisecond), before I shot out of bed and started scrabbling around for a a club hammer or a speargun or something.  I didn't put on the lights because that scares them into hiding.....grabbed the Raid roach killer spray and blasted it at point blank range.  Of course it scurried off into hiding and as yet I haven't found it.  I haven't seen any others anywhere in the yard......but two on my boat is two too many!!

I wanted to lift the engine in today, actually I wanted it in yesterday but the yard said Monday - now after waiting all day, they say they can't do it because of lifting seven fishing boats out.  Tomorrow is a holiday of course, so it looks like it'll be Wednesday.  That's four expensive days of waiting for me.

Tonight we are supposed to go to bed early, so that 'he' will come when we are asleep.  So far I've missed all the Christmas palaver and only heard a few carols in the three visits to the supermarket - which suits me fine really.  I never could stand all the hype and commercialism of the season in the UK, the manic shoppers, the traffic and all that goes with it.....and then there's this Santa Claus thingy.  Apparently he was born in Turkey but now lives in the North Pole....why would anyone from a warm place want to up sticks and go live in a frozen wasteland?  Some say he's from Holland, or Germany, the Canadians claim he's one of theirs.  Well, I know the truth!  Examine the clues - he wears red - he enters people's homes without invitation and steals food and drink - he carries a sack of untraceable electronics - he drives an un-insured and unlicensed vehicle and he only works one day a year.   North Pole my arse......he's from Liverpool!


and thank you for all the e-mails and messages throughout the year.

26/12/12  I have to admit - that's the most boring Christmas I've ever had!  I only spoke to one person all day, and strangely enough that was a little Muslim kid, about ten years old, who wished me a Merry Christmas as he passed by my boat.   I watched three films during the day (nothing else to do), The World's Fastest Indian, Bruce Almighty and the ever popular It's a Wonderful Life.  But....that's it for now......so let's get back to work, I've wasted enough time already!  By 0630, I had the headsail back on the foil, hoisted and furled away, then moved to the rudder where I had noticed some previously missed 'bubbles' which I then drilled out and filled with epoxy.  Lo and behold, after two sunny days.....the rain started!

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