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  january 2013


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01/01/13  Happy New Year to all my family, friends, fellow sailors and anyone who is still reading this boring drivel.

Well, not such a good end to 2012 - in fact it couldn't have been much worse for me.......... 

........the observant amongst you will have noticed (in my guestbook), message numbers 91 and 92 from my brother Clive.  The "medically imposed rest" to which he refers was a major heart attack which I suffered shortly after my last log entry on the 26th December.  I was rushed into the Emergency Room of Kudat Hospital where it took the medical team some four hours to stabilise my condition.  The hospital is of a basic nature and does not have any cardiac facilities, so after four days of observation, I was discharged with medication to take.  I now have to consider the options open to me with regard getting the 'old ticker' fixed up.  With the state and position of the boat, it is not going to be easy to arrange everything.  Whilst not wanting to bore anyone with all the details of events over the last week or so, I would just like to offer sincere thanks to all who helped me, visited in hospital and been so attentive during my misfortune - that's..... Amelia and Gilles (Freedom V), Jane and Roger (Wings & Strings), Nynke (Walrus), Clarence (Yard Manager),  Boy and his wife Lan (Office staff).  Mostly I want to thank Astrid from Storm Dodger, to whom I am once more indebted, because she spent days travelling back from Palawan to Kudat in order to look after me during recuperation, and thanks to Roger for letting her do so!  I cannot thank either of them enough.

On New Year's Eve, we were invited to join a group of yotties who were going out for a meal in town.  None were 'midnight revellers', just a gathering for a meal.  Although it isn't far into town, we caught a taxi there and arranged to be picked up at 9pm.  The meal was very good but I was exhausted by the time we got back to the boat - it had been a little too much for me.

02/01/13  I got the yard to hoist the engine in today, just to sit it on it's mountings in the engine bay.  I was not allowed to do anything (Astrid's orders), and Roger from Wings & Strings came onboard and guided the engine onto it's mounts.

03/01/13  Nothing done today, just sitting reading and being bored.  It's rained most of the day so I couldn't ask anyone to help with fitting the gearbox and other ancillary equipment.  Astrid is looking after me well and I've eaten more fruit in the last few days than in the last twelve months!  I've booked a flight back to the UK for the 23rd of this month, so everything has to be sorted out well before then.

04/01/13  Roger (Wings & Strings) came over this morning and bolted in the gearbox again, but I have a problem!  The gearbox flange and the prop shaft flange do not line up!!  It should be possible to get them almost in alignment, then bolt in the coupling and adjust to the tolerance allowed, but the gearbox flange is approx. 6mm too high and the engine is at it's lowest point on the mountings.  The problem has to be connected to the new steel plate that I put in the aft cabin bilge to hold the stern gland in place, so the engine may well have to come out again.  I'm going to let the yard mechanics have a look at it first because I cannot do that job now.  I ventured into town again during the afternoon (by taxi) and took a slow walk around before getting a taxi back.

06/01/13  Nothing happening.....yesterday or today, just rain.  I've spent the whole of today on-line trying to get a return airline ticket for Astrid - Filipinos do not make it easy!!  Firstly, you cannot board the aircraft in Kota Kinabalu  to anywhere in the Philippines unless you have "a printed return or onward ticket".  I spent ages on the phone talking to airline offices in Manila and Cebu and all say the same thing, "if you can prove you are leaving by sea there's no problem."  Anyway, the upshot of it all is that I've had to get Astrid a return ticket to Manila, then an internal flight from Manila to Busuanga.  The internal flight was also a long winded affair, going through numerous slow pages until the last page of the payment part, then came the final insult....you have to have a credit card issued in the Philippines!  In the late afternoon, as a sort of thank you, Astrid very kindly made a roast dinner for eight  - yotties who have helped me over the last week or so - Amelia and Gilles, Roger and Jane and two I haven't mentioned before ...Australians Jacquie and Phil from the very English named boat Whitby Lass.

10/01/13  After a couple of days where nothing happened, the yard provided a mechanic from outside to get the engine alignment sorted out.  To say I was un-impressed with his assessment and methods would be an understatement and we (through an interpreter) disagreed on most things.  Anyway, at the moment the shaft is out of line by about 1mm and we are waiting for new nuts and bolts to be delivered from Kota Kinabalu in order to fit the coupling.  Meanwhile, I want to get all the ancillary parts fitted to the engine but am reluctant to do so as I'm not confident about the mechanic's abilities in avoiding further damage after I've fitted the parts.  Astrid continues to be a star, keeping me well fed and stopping me from doing anything she considers too 'work like'.   However, there are still many things to do before the boat can be re-launched prior to my departure back to the UK.

13/01/13  Happy Birthday Babs!  Progress is slow.....I've received new nuts and bolts from KK for the shaft coupling and yesterday it was fitted by one of the yard 'mechanics.'  I use that title loosely because I think it was the first time he'd ever tried to line up a gearbox and shaft.  I will have to check it myself.  Between Astrid and myself, we've managed to get some of the other little jobs done over the last few days, but everything is so tiring for me at the moment.  Internet access is very slow and sometimes non-existent.

14/01/13  I decided to tighten the stern gland a little, thinking it would be better on the tight side rather than loose while I leave the boat unattended for a spell.  However, I couldn't reach the damn thing with the engine in place!!  I engaged the help of Tommy, a local guy from the shop and he, with his wiry frame and ability to squeeze into tight spaces managed to do the job for me.  While he was onboard, I got him to fit the starter motor too!

15/01/13  I'm having a lot of trouble with the computer now, some sort of malware has affected my registry files and is preventing me accessing e-mail in the normal fashion.  Slow wi-fi doesn't help matters!  After a bit of shopping, we went over to the 'marina' in the pond and spent a while with Jacquie and Phil.  Giovanni, who is back from his break in Palawan also came over and chatted for a while.

16/01/13  I'm now pushed for time to get the engine finished and the anti-foul paint on.....it's frustrating when it rains all the time and prevents much being done.  Today, I ground down the sleeve I've had welded to the exhaust manifold, so that it would fit the 40mm flexible hose.  Previously, the manifold had a 50mm outlet and the join to the 40mm hose was an abomination of tape and hose clamps.  Amelia and Gilles launched Freedom V after lunch and moved over to the pond.

17/01/13  After raining all night, it brightened up this morning so that some paint could be applied to the hull.  Jacquie and Phil from Whitby Lass came over from the pond and while Phil helped me with the engine rebuild, Jacquie and Astrid painted on almost two coats of anti-foul before rain called a halt to the proceedings.

18/01/13  I topped up the fresh water cooling system of the engine and bled the air out of the fuel system.  Jacquie and Phil came over again and while Jacquie and Astrid finished off the anit-fouling, Phil and I jammed a hose pipe into the engine raw water intake and got the engine running - all seemed OK, but that of course was not checking for any vibration caused by shaft misalignment.

19/01/13  I postponed the scheduled launch at 1300hrs because the winds were north easterly into the harbour entrance and blowing in excess of 30 knots.  Launching stern first across wind and waves and trying to avoid concrete walls on both sides of the boat was just too dangerous - demonstrated by a powerful, twin engined Maritim Malaysia launch which struggled against the conditions when launched at 1100hrs.

21/01/13  At 0600, I knocked out four of the supporting chocks and painted the bare patches with anti-foul, topped up the fresh water tank and tied a few things down for launching.  Jacquie and Phil came shortly afterwards and waited to help me with ropes etc.  The travel hoist couldn't get in to Rhumb Do though and first had to lift and move Jane onboard Wings & Strings, so we had to wait for sometime while that happened.  Astrid painted the areas where the keel had rested and when we eventually did launch, everything went reasonably well with just a small drip of a leak from the stern tube (at the rear, close to the cutless bearing), I'm hoping that will self seal during the next few days.   I took the boat out to sea, only about a mile, and ran the engine at above cruising speed, there was no obvious vibration which was a great relief.  We then returned to the duck pond and secured alongside one of the more stable pontoons of the marina.

22/01/13  A hectic day of 'last minute stuff,' putting things away, finding a few bits to take with me back to the UK.  I was beginning to stress out again with all the things still to do as darkness fell.......so, Astrid and I left everything and went out for a meal with Giovanni, Jacquie and Phil.

23/01/13  We were up at 5am, packing the last few things away before Danny came to collect us by taxi at 7am and take us into town for the taxi to Kota Kinabalu.  So started a long journey!!  Four hours later, we were in KK waiting for a bus to Wawasan, but finished up with a taxi again.  Then Roger phoned and wanted Astrid to collect diesel filters from a shop in Inaman - so taxi again out to there, get the filters,  then back to KK airport - Terminal 2, where I very sadly said goodbye to Astrid as she checked in for her late afternoon flight to Manila.  I then had to get yet another taxi to Terminal 1 for my 7pm flight to Brunei, which was then delayed an hour.  Changing planes in Bandar Seri Begawan, I then took off again for Dubai.

24/01/13  Sleeping most of the way, we landed in Dubai after about seven hours for a fuel stop and took off again from there about 90 minutes later.  With the clocks continually being turned backward, the entire flight was in darkness and seemingly unending.  We landed in London, (Heathrow) just a few minutes late, around 7am local time - 3pm by my watch!  It was cold and I had to dig my jumper and coat out of my bag.  I then caught a bus to Heathrow Central, caught another to Banbury, Birmingham Airport and then Birmingham City Centre.  Although the roads were mostly clear, there was about five inches of snow everywhere else.  After an hour or so wait in Birmingham, I caught the 1pm bus to Wolverhampton, Stockport, Manchester Airport, Manchester City Centre, Bolton, Preston and finally Blackpool, where my brother Clive picked me up for the drive northward to his house.  It was now just five hours short of three days that I had been travelling!!  I was glad to get indoors and get warm!

25/01/13  Registered with the local Doctor's Surgery and saw a doctor to arrange further tests on the 31st.  At the pharmacy, when I asked how much I have to pay for the medication given me, the pharmacist asked "have you never had a prescription before?"  I told him it was a long time ago, so he explained that I don't now have to pay because of my age.  That's one good thing about getting older! 

26/01/13  Into town to get a couple of warm shirts and other bits and bobs. The M6 motorway was closed in both directions around Wigan last night because of heavy snow.  I've had my hair cut at last - it was driving me up the wall and I hadn't really had time to get it attended to in Kudat.  Now I need to wear a hat to keep warm! 

31/01/13  I went around to the Doctor's surgery this morning for blood tests and an ECG.  They couldn't get any blood out of my arm at first and it took four jabs with the syringe before anything happened.  I now have to wait once more for the test results to come back.


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