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  november 2012


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06/11/12  Spent the last few days doing all sorts of odd jobs, shopping etc.  Still awaiting the completion of my windvane, so the plan to leave tomorrow morning is looking doubtful.  Three divers from Poni Diving School came over today as arranged and cleaned the barnacles from my hull and propeller, it took an hour so that's three man hours..........it would have taken me all day snorkelling!

07/11/12  Checked out with Immigration and Customs in preparation for leaving tomorrow.

08/11/12  I should have had my windvane back first thing this morning but it didn't happen until late afternoon so I was unable to leave with Storm Dodger this morning.  When I did get it back, it was a bit of a struggle on my own to get it to the boat, haul it onboard and fit it to the stern and I knew that I wouldn't be able to use it anyway because of the large gas bottle now on the stern which fouls the control lines.  Darkness had fallen before I was finished and I still had the dinghy to haul onboard and deflate.

09/11/12  Slipped Paul's buoy at 0645, hoisted the genoa and made good progress to Labuan, anchoring in Victoria Harbour at 1030, close to Storm Dodger, Eeyore and C'est la vie.

10/11/12  Weighed anchor at 0945 and made my way northward with Storm Dodger in company (Eeyore having left at first light).  With a following wind making the boat roll, I used the genoa and engine to maintain 5 knots toward Palau Tiga.  Making coffee at 1300, I wondered why the deck inspection hatch by the galley sink was feeling springy underfoot and was alarmed when I pulled it up and discovered the bilge full of water!  The engine bay was the same - I was taking on huge amounts of water from somewhere!  I immediately stopped the engine, called Roger on VHF, and started pumping out - I only have a manual pump for my main bilge and a small electric pump for the aft cabin bilge.  It took 40 minutes to pump out.  Roger closed in on my port side and Astrid swam across to my boat to help where possible.  I suspected the water to be entering through the exhaust system as it only seemed to come in when the engine was running.  Underway again at 1445 to an anchorage in the lee of Tg. Nosong with Astrid helping to pump out when necessary.

11/11/12  Remembrance Day.........and not one I will forget for more than the usual reasons!  Weighed anchor at 0715 and continued in a general northerly direction toward Kota Kinabalu with all sail up and the engine running slowly at 1200 rpm, pumping out the bilge every half hour - a rough calculation that I was taking on water at the rate of 350 litres an hour - that's 700 strokes of the manual pump every hour.  I wouldn't be able to maintain that for very long!  By 1100, the bilges were full again and once more Astrid swam over and sailed with me, taking turns to pump out as needed.  To further complicate matters, the genoa furling gear jammed as it had in Cochin and I was unable to use the headsail anymore - and the manual bilge pump stopped working!  At 1700, I limped into the shelter of KK (the second time I've come into here with an exhaust problem) and anchored in 12 metres of water with Eeyore and Storm Dodger outside Sutera Marina entrance.  With everyone on my boat, Graham and I stripped down the bilge pump and replaced the torn diaphragm with my last spare and pumped out the bilges once more.  I would have to go into the marina and take down the forestay to sort out the jamming furler, not what I anticipated when leaving Muara.  I also confirmed that the exhaust silencer box was impossible to remove with the engine in situ.

12/11/12  Weighed anchor at 0745 and moved into the marina (ending my 431 days of detachment from shore).  With Graham and Roger's help, I rigged a temporary forestay, loosened the backstays, unfastened the foot of the forestay and went to the top of the mast and unbolted the top bearing.  With the forestay lying on the pontoon, I stripped down the top bearing which seemed fine, cleaned it, re-greased it and checked the bottom bearing which also seemed OK.  We refitted the forestay and checked it - it was working again OK.  The more important problem of the water ingress has been confirmed as a holed water trap and that is a BIG problem because it is totally inaccessible without removing the engine and gearbox.  I have no choice now but to sail to Kudat and haul the boat out of the water.

13/11/12  Slipped at 1045 with Astrid onboard to help me with the pumping.  Fortunately, the winds were for once favourable and we were able to sail, leaving the engine off.  We made good speed until 1630 with two reefs in the mainsail and adjusting the genoa sail area as required.  With a thunderstorm brewing, the wind died and I had to start the engine about five miles offshore from our intended overnight anchorage in the bay of Usukan, .  The engine didn't sound right.  Opening the cockpit floor soon revealed the obvious problem - a broken fuel return pipe and a fountain of diesel spurting up!  Age had made the flexible fuel pipe too brittle to repair and the boat was rolling too much anyway because of the light winds and the sea swell.  I would have to sail and tack toward the bay entrance.  Round about now, the thunderstorm struck and the rain poured down.  Tacking at slow speeds of 1 knot is difficult and I frequently found the headsail backing and forcing me onto the other tack.  The light was fading and I knew there were rocks on both sides of the bay entrance.  It wasn't going to be pleasant entering in the dark and tacking.  Because we'd sailed most of the day, the batteries were low and I was unable to use the wheel pilot or show any navigation lights for the time being.  A few hours later, we made the entrance and the strengthening wind was forced around the headland, making my track much easier, but I didn't really want so much wind at the entrance!  The passage between Slime Rocks and the starboard headland was made at 8 knots in total darkness and I could hear the waves crashing on the rocks to starboard but figured we would be able to hold this starboard tack all the way into the anchorage.  I didn't say much to Astrid about my concerns so as not to worry her unduly, but I bet she wished she'd stayed on her own boat!!  With relief, the anchor was dropped at the same time as the sails, just after 8pm.

14/11/12  Early morning - fix the fuel pipe leak, pump out the bilges.  Weighed anchor at 0900, no wind so I would have to motor and pump out every ten minutes for the whole of this trip to the next anchorage at Tiga Bangau.  With only a short period of sailing between 1130 and 1400, I was pumping 100 strokes each ten minutes and by the time I anchored (again in the dark) at 1830, I had aches in muscles where I didn't even know I had muscles!  But I was still afloat and getting nearer to Kudat.

15/11/12  Up anchor at 0645 after a very rolly night in this open bay, and made out to sea.  Once there, Astrid again swam over to take some of the pumping pressure off me, for which I am eternally grateful as I don't think I could carry on like this for very much longer!  Fortunately, today wouldn't be such a long trip around the northern tip of Borneo and down the eastern coast to Kudat.  We sailed up to the turning point and rounded inshore of the lighthouse with Eeyore ahead (who had come out of another anchorage from us) and Storm Dodger a half mile behind.  At this point, the genoa furling gear jammed again and I was forced to drop the sail from the foil and lash it on deck, motor sailing on the mainsail and engine for the remaining distance.  I went into the 'duck pond' for a look around and immediately experienced severe vibration through the steering - probably a bag or rope around the prop.  So we anchored outside the 'duck pond' in 14 metres and had a few drinks onboard Storm Dodger as it was a National Holiday and I was not able to arrange a lift out until tomorrow.   And so ended possibly the worst week of sailing/motoring that I can remember - the whole trip was a nightmare.  Thank you to Astrid for the help given.

16/11/12  Ashore early to see Clarence in the shipyard and arrange an emergency lift out.  He asked me to be in the haul out bay by 1030hrs and I was duly hauled out and parked on concrete blocks over the next hour.  The reason for the vibration was obvious, I had indeed picked up a strong woven plastic bag around my propeller - not much else could go wrong........could it?  I immediately set about un-bolting the engine components and disconnecting electrical cables but it would take some time as the coupling bolts were rusted and seized because of the salt water ingress.

17/11/12  Gearbox out.

18/11/12  Engine ready to lift, but it's Sunday and the yard isn't working!  Tried the furling gear again but it's still jamming at the top of the forestay.  The shipyard is basically a facility for fishing boats although they do haul yachts out.   In fact, it's the only haul out yard for many miles and boats come down from the Philippines to do just that.  The 'facilities' are doubtful and they must have imported the special earth of the yard because it magically turns from dust to thick mud with no intermediate stage during rainstorms!  The toilet/shower blocks are a 200 metre walk from my boat and that includes a paddle through a swamp.  When you get there, it's very basic, push open the rotting door which parts the spider webs and reveals a non-flushing seat-less toilet, a shower head which trickles cold water onto the mud covered flooring, and there is no electric lighting.  The actual town of Kudat is a 30 min walk away and there isn't much when you get there!  Taxi's, such as they are, all stop working at 6pm, so if it's raining you get very wet walking back and the road to the shipyard is an unlit series of water filled potholes in a gravel track. 

19/11/12  After all the sweating and cursing, we (the yard workers and I) finally hoisted out the engine this morning.  A new discovery.....on lifting it out, the front engine bracket remained in the boat, sitting on the disconnected mountings, which of course it shouldn't have done.  The two bolts securing the front of the engine to the engine bracket had fallen out, so the engine wasn't actually connected to the boat at the front end!!!  This is impossible to see when the engine is in place and I have no idea how long it has been like that.   Anyway, the engine is out and sitting on wooden blocks beneath the boat.  I removed the now accessible silencer/muffler/water trap and it's shot to bits - three holes at least!  It's stainless steel and made by Vetus, so a replacement is going to be impossible to find here in Kudat.  I may have to make one, or have one shipped in from the UK.  Whilst the engine is out, the stern gland should be looked at and also the propeller shaft removed and the immovable inboard flange taken off the shaft for refurbishment so that the shaft can actually be removed from outside the boat.  We couldn't get the propeller off the shaft despite heating it and abandoned the job in late afternoon until tomorrow.  The jobs are piling up and it now looks like my intended return to the Philippines will have to be postponed.  I tried to clean the bilge area a bit and employed a local guy to clean the brown marks off the topsides of the boat.

20/11/12  Into town with Graham and Astrid for bread and an attempt to buy some of the spares needed.  Not much luck, there are no good quality stainless steel jubilee clips, no flexible exhaust hose, no exhaust water traps and no SKF bearings for the forestay.  The only things I managed to get was a sim card for internet and two new bolts for the front engine mounting bracket. 

21/11/12  Removed the propeller and withdrew the shaft inwards into the engine bay - not quite as easy as it sounds - it took six hours!  I gave the shaft to the yard in the hope they can remove the broken and seized securing bolt to allow removal of the flange (it's been like that since I bought the boat).  The exhaust systems are now more complex than when my boat was built (or when it was refitted by the previous owner) and I am having to rethink the location of the muffler come water trap, and possibly fit two separate units.  I will have to try and get the required parts delivered from the manufacturer and have e-mailed them in that respect but I suspect they will not supply direct and I will have to use a retailer as middle man.  I will also have to get flexible exhaust hoses and clamps delivered as they are simply not available here.  Fitting sub-standard Chinese parts as used by the fishing boats is completely out of the question as I do not want to go through an engine removal again in twelve months time!  Heavy rain for most of the day prevented me doing much in the engine bay, so I emptied the nav. berth, removed the battery charger and got into the space where the exhaust exits the boat to check for space and feasibility of fitting parts there.

22/11/12  Spent most of the day pondering the complexities of fitting an new exhaust system, the distances above water line, the distance between the water line and the point of water injection into the exhaust elbow.......and my bloody head hurts with the difficulties of it all.  I swear if the designer of this yacht (the late, esteemed Angus Primrose) ever had to repair or carry out maintenance on one of his boats, he would have designed it differently!!

23/11/12  My prop. shaft has had the flange removed and been tapped and re-threaded, though at this moment in time I am not convinced that it is right - a further inspection of that is required.  I may have an idea of the new exhaust system, but I am not absolutely sure of the viability of the solution and will have to re-measure and re-evaluate before committing myself.  Jamie (from the boat Azzan on the hard behind me) and myself went over to Storm Dodger in the duck pond for a spag. bol. dinner during the evening, along with a few drinks.  I eventually fell asleep on a stool.......then fell off it and gashed my right forearm!

24/11/12  I almost got to the point of ordering the exhaust parts last night but a rethink this morning and a re-measure has knocked that idea on the head.  The water trap will have to be replaced in it's original position beneath the prop. shaft.  Vetus no longer make them in stainless steel, using plastics instead but not the same dimensions or design, so I'm back to square one and will either have to find another manufacturer or have one specially made for the boat.  Bandaged up my arm to keep the dirt and flies off my injury!

25/11/12  Practically two days on the internet, trying to find a replacement water trap (which I'm convinced is actually just a muffler) without luck.  I've e-mailed several stainless steel fabricators but only one has replied and he was not hopeful of being able to help, and twice mentioned the exorbitant cost of making a 'one off.'  Another option would be to fibre-glass the old one entirely, though even that has two major drawbacks, (a) it may then be too large a diameter to fit the space, and (b) the inlet and outlet pipes would have to be fabricated here using 304 stainless steel which is useless for the marine environment, especially in the location I have to install it.  I'm being driven mad by flies which invade the boat by the hundreds and I can see  that I will have to buy a case of fly spray, as the one can I have will not last another day!

27/11/12  Storm Dodger sailed out of the duck pond just after 0630 this morning, heading for the Philippines.   I should have been going and how I wish I could have gone too!  I shall miss them all but they had to go and meet a charterer up there.  I've updated my 'links' page to include their site, but you can click here for a quick look if you fancy a sailing holiday.  Whilst the engine is out, I need to take the opportunity to repack the stern gland, and replace the flexible hose around it but Murphy's Law kicked in again!  The jubilee clips holding the hose are corroded and I can't get to them with an angle grinder or hacksaw, so the whole thing has to come off - and that entails removing the cutless bearing and the stern tube which is a two man job.  I took the angle grinder to the original muffler and cut off the end plate to measure the inside pipework.  All the dimensions and photographs have now been sent to my good mate Rob in Yorkshire, who is trying his contacts to get a new one made.  Heavy rain from mid-morning until 5pm prevented me from doing very much after that as I need the after cabin empty to get to the stern tube.

28/11/12  Some progress at last.  With Graham's help, we removed the cutless bearing, stern tube and stern gland - that's the entire transmission out now, from the belts at the front of the engine, right back to the propeller.  I need to fit new stainless steel hose clamps to the stern gland (I had to cut the old ones off), along with new rubber piping, and find some re-packing material at the same time.  Rob has found someone to make me a new muffler by the end of the week, and he is also collecting some other parts for me in readiness for shipment out here.  This is going to be an expensive and un-scheduled stop in Kudat!  Around about 7pm, I got a telephone call from Roger and Astrid - they've had bad weather for two days, were making little headway against the wind and seas, the engine is broken and the genoa ripped......so they are on their way back here and should be anchoring outside about midnight if all goes well.

29/11/12  Storm Dodger arrived at anchor about 0100.  In the morning, Graham and I went out to them and hoisted the anchor by hand (no power)  and with Geoff's help in his dinghy, we towed them into the duck pond marina where we stripped down his exhaust system which had blown hoses off - it's catching!!  At least Rog doesn't have to remove the engine to get at his!  My mate Rob in the UK is busily collecting all the parts I need and they hopefully will be winging their way out here next week.

30/11/12  Napoleon, a French single handed sailor, who set off for the Philippines around about the same time as Roger, returned this morning.  He too was unable to battle the wind and seas to the north, so it looks like the Philippines are out for everyone this year!  I started cleaning the bottom of the hull in preparation for new anti-foul paint.

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