Home of the yacht "RHUMB DO"
  december 2014


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01/12/14  Happy Birthday Ann!

02/12/14  Astrid made a safe journey home to Germany and is now back with her family there, and I am having a bit of difficulty getting back into the groove of being on my own!  Not doing much at the moment as the weather has been wet and windy since I got back onboard.    I need to check out my alternator, which I suspect is not charging as it should, so I guess that is my first job on the list - I hate electrics!

03/12/14  This morning I think I've solved a problem that has been bugging me for some time.  I have always wanted to have a back-up chartware system on the computer and prior to my little health issue in December 2012, I bought a small laptop in KK for the express purpose of installing OpenCPN and using it solely for navigational purposes (no e-mails or web surfing!).  However, despite long periods of trying and letting others try also, the new pc refused to load the OpenCPN software (it's running Windows 7 Starter), so it was stored away for the time being.  Now with a new laptop from the UK, I decided to try to install it on this one, and it works fine.......except this laptop has Windows 8.1 and the Globalsat BU-353 GPS driver is not compatible with it!  So now I had a PC that wouldn't load OpenCPN at all, and another that would but wouldn't recognise the GPS dongle!!  Now, over the last day or two, both I and Lesley of Crib have been scratching our heads and trying to over-ride the driver with various other versions, and this morning I think I've cracked it and got it working.....Yay!!  So, if you are running Windows 8 or 8.1 and have a Globalsat BU-353 GPS, or any other with a Prolific PL2303HXA/XA chipset, which will not 'talk' to your computer, it's because Windows automatically installs the latest drivers for it.....and they are incompatible!  I have put a copy of the instructions to workaround the problem on my Workshop page.

06/12/14  For a little while (as mentioned at the start of this month), and certainly since my day out to Molleangan Island last month, I have had doubts about my alternator not charging as it should, so today I began tests on it to determine the problem.  It didn't take long to discover that the fault lies within the ignition circuit rather than the alternator itself, i.e. the alternator rotor isn't receiving the initial exciter charge to induce the electro-magnetic field within the stator (if that is the right way of describing it!)  So tomorrow, it's strip out the nav. berth again and see if I can find out why by tracing the wiring back from alternator to ammeter to ignition switch.  Don't you just love boats!!

07/12/14  Nav. berth........I hate electrics!  I'm OK with the basics of AC and DC but start adding shunts, relays, rectifiers and diodes and I get lost.  I understand the principles of each, but that's as far as it goes.  So, I opened up the space behind the instrument panel today (a lie on your back in the dark sort of space) and tried to test voltages at certain points of the ignition circuit but it all got a bit too complicated for me.......so I went over to Jubilee and enlisted the help of Joe!  He is a great electrician, an ex-Navy submariner, and it didn't take him very long to discover a fault.  We (or rather Joe) think the problem was a short (3") length of small diameter wire from a connector to the ignition relay;  he reckons that it may have been OK when installed by the electrician in Marmaris, but was too small a diameter to maintain it's purpose and has now given up the ghost.  After replacing the wire with larger, the alternator now charges!  Pleased! 

Next project in the pipeline is to fit AIS to the boat - that's Automated Identification System for the non-boaties.  It's a device that transmits your boat details, Name, flag, radio call sign, position etc., which can be picked up by any AIS receiving station either ashore or afloat.  At the same time, it receives data transmitted by other vessels and displays it on a dedicated screen or on your chartplotter, so you know the position, name, direction and speed of all the vessels within say, a 20 mile radius of your own position.  I have looked at them several times over the years and always baulked at the cost of such a luxury, but now it's creeping into the realms of 'legal requirement.'   All boats HAVE to have it fitted in Singapore, unless you can transit their waters in 24hrs, and now Phuket in Thailand are imposing fines on vessels without AIS, and giving owners just ten days to fit it.  How long before Malaysia, Brunei or the Philippines (or indeed the UK) take the same sort of action?  I am looking into the various systems and the availability of same - better now than when the boat is impounded somewhere!!

08/12/14  Made a decision on the AIS and opted for the Vespermarine make.  Now on order!

09/12/14  Went over to Crib this morning and helped to remove and strip their raw water pump, which had developed a leak.  Now they have to wait for spares to arrive before heading off to Brunei.  Lesley and Rene kindly invited me to dinner onboard in the evening along with Brian and Meg of Celtic Castle.  I received sad news  that Gina of Impulse (met in Gibraltar, Greece and Turkey) passed away this morning.

  R.I.P. Gina


10/12/14  My AIS parcel is now in Hong Kong.....hopefully DHL will get it through Kuala Lumpur without too much delay!

11/12/14  Well my parcel didn't go through KL!  At 6.30pm today it was in the sorting facility in Kota Kinabalu.......three hours away by road, so let's see how long it now takes!

I realised too late that I will also need a cable deck gland in order to get the AIS cable from the unit to the chartplotter in the cockpit and I cannot find online suppliers here in either Malaysia or Singapore, so it's back to the UK chandleries.  Now, it's here that I get really cheesed off about delivery costs to Malaysia!  The deck gland is just a small plastic fitting weighing a few grams, yet the postage cost by DHL from the UK to here is 45 - OK, that's extortionate but understandable, one package, one price. What is totally illogical to me is this:  if I order three glands which will still be one package and probably weigh less than 250 grams total (a padded envelope would do), why the hell does the postage cost go up to 55??  That is daylight robbery and totally unacceptable!

12/12/14  Following on from yesterdays rant about postage costs, four glands delivered via Amazon Global Priority would cost 21 postage - a considerable difference.  Guess where I have just placed my order?

14/12/14  My DHL parcel is still (according to tracking) in KK, but has cleared customs, so maybe that will arrive tomorrow?  My Amazon package is in Malaysia as of 9.08am this morning.

15/12/14  Why is it that once a parcel delivery arrives in Malaysia, everything switches into snail mail mode?  The DHL package was picked up in Exeter, UK at 4.37pm on the 9th, it was processed at East Midlands airport, then Leipzig, Germany and in Hong Kong, before being delivered to customs in Kota Kinabalu at 6.33pm on the 11th - not bad going for so many checks and such a distance!  But then it took until noon on the 13th to clear customs in KK - fine, it's now a three hour road journey to Kudat, but it's now 7pm on the 15th and no sign of it's arrival here!  On the Amazon parcel, (delivery by UPS), it was collected at 11.18am on the 12th, went to Tamworth and Castle Donington in the UK, then to Cologne, Germany, onward to Mumbai, India, then to Shenzhen, China before being delivered to Sepang, Malaysia at 9.08am on the 14th - again not bad going!  Since its arrival in Malaysia, it has been shuttled back and forth between Sepang and Shah Alam several times and is still not on the aircraft for it's onward flight to KK.  So what is it about the Malaysian workforce?  Are they unable to operate a scanning system, or are they just plain lazy?  Answers on a postcard please.........no, on second thoughts, maybe not!!

16/12/14  Well, well.......my DHL parcel has arrived!  That's 1 day, 18 hours from UK to KK, then only 4 days, 22 hours for the last few miles!  UPS continue to shuttle my second package back and forth in mainland Malaysia with the tracking explanation of "delivery address is in a remote area with no daily service,".......mmmm! 

Today, I had to move the boat away from the pontoon in order to allow 'engineers' (the marina managements description, not mine!) to replace the pile location bracket at the seaward end of the pontoon.  Watching them work is entertaining - why use a spanner or screwdriver when you have a hammer??  So the last securing bolt is removed.......the pontoon immediately rolls over by 40o and spash, splash goes the angle grinder, extension lead, welding rods, hammer and several other tools while the surprised 'engineer' hangs on for dear life!  Needless to say, the job wasn't finished today and the boat is still pulled away from the pontoon, making boarding a little more difficult.

17/12/14  It's poured down all day.......spent it reading the destructions for AIS installation and for a new battery monitoring system - I think I've bought a lot of work for myself!   3pm and lo and behold, my Amazon (UPS) parcel arrives!  No progress on the pontoon work, boat is still sitting in the middle of the berth area.

19/12/14  Whoa!  It's stopped raining!!  Two days and nights of incessant rain has finally given way to a dry morning!  Get ready, go into town for shopping quickly while I have the chance, and while I am there I decide to have a KFC - (not had one of those in ages), so I go in, queue for ages behind just two customers who were being served, very slowly, (obviously by ex DHL staff), and finally order a Colonel Burger with fries....."sorry Sir, we no have burgers yet, maybe one hour."  Well, I'm sorry too, I mistook the place for a 'fast food outlet.'  Back to the boat for some lunch then!!  I can get on with running the co-axial cable through the stern gantry for the GPS input to the AIS.......well I could if it wasn't pouring with rain again!  I feel sorry for the guys hauled out in Penuwasa and trying to get their hulls painted with anti-foul.


20/12/14  I woke up to rain!  Mid afternoon it stopped but remained grey and threatening - however that was good enough for me and I began the task of running antenna cable down through the tubes of the gantry on the stern.  I have removed the now defunct Navtex antenna (and it's co-axial cable) and replaced it with the new GPS antenna for the AIS unit.  The cable is now through the gantry and coiled in the aft locker in readiness for the next stage - running it through 4 lockers in the after cabin.  Afterwards will come the fun part in the well known Nav. berth!!


21/12/14  Guess what?............it's raining!!  At least it's the shortest day of the year - not that it makes much difference at my latitude.

Weather prevents any progress with the co-ax cable running.  Went up to the above gathering of yotties for a chinwag and a beer or two.

22/12/14  Got up early as usual - and it was raining.  Humph!  But......around 6am it stopped and an hour later the sun came out and everything dried out.  After breakfast, I emptied the aft cabin and removed the old antenna cable, replacing it at the same time with the new one.  It's a slow job and a bit of a fiddle getting the cable through small holes in the bulkheads of the lockers and it took me several hours to get through the three lockers and into the wardrobe space.  Because of the narrowness and depth of the wardrobe, there is no way that I can reach the back (outboard side of hull) and the next hole through which the cable has to pass. So now I need another pair of hands to feed the cable through from the wardrobe whilst I crawl into the space behind the engine instrument panel and pull it from the other side using the old co-axial as a mouse.  Tomorrow is another day!

23/12/14  Enough!!  I'm fed up with the rain now!  It started again yesterday about 6pm and it's still pouring down now at 9.30am.  And each time it thunders or rains hard, we get a power cut!  On top of that, a couple of other issues have arisen this morning - 1) Google have changed their mapping systems and as yet I am unable to figure out how to change the details shown on my "Route Map" page - a check online of that page now shows my whole route, whichever option you might choose!  2) My laptop battery is not charging from the AC mains; it isn't the charger because it will run without the battery installed, so I know it is being supplied with power via the charger.  Well, it is when the power isn't cut off by the weather!


MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my family, friends and fellow yotties around the World, I hope you all have a very festive season!  Thanks for the guestbook entries, the words of encouragement and the e-mails  throughout the (difficult) year - much appreciated.  Special thanks to my good friend Astrid for her help and company during her recent visit to Rhumb Do x.  Astrid is now currently in the UK with her children and family.

26/12/14  It actually stayed dry for the whole day yesterday!  But today we are back to the normal downpours.  There are really only two seasons here, the wind blows from the southwest (dry season) or the northeast (wet season) and as we are now well into the latter of the two, the rain is no surprise!  It's two years now since I was taken into Kudat hospital and ten years since the tsunami took 270,000 lives in Asia.  My thoughts are with the families who suffered in that disaster.


27/12/14  The icon on the left gives you a clue for today!!  It has now poured down for over ten days and parts of mainland Malaysia are suffering the worst floods since 1971.  Two states and Kuala Lumpur have been severely affected and all New Year celebrations have been cancelled so that efforts can be channelled toward flood relief.   Some photo's from the web shown below.



At times like this, maybe the best place to live is on a boat?

28/12/14  I need to go into town for shopping, basics like bread and potatoes are needed, but there is no let up in the deluge, no taxi drivers are working, it's thundering and lightning and I'm staying put!

29/12/14  Happy Birthday Mum wherever you may be.  No rain!  Went into town and got the essentials during the morning after coffee onboard Crib where we discussed the problems associated with fitting both the battery monitor and the AIS.  I'm going to need some more 50mm2 battery cable, but it isn't available in Kudat and I may be forced into making a trip to KK - or ordering some from the UK along with the associated fittings.  During the afternoon I had a phone call from UPS (female Asian voice), asking if I had received a parcel from Amazon............they don't know???

30/12/14  I originally wrote a lot for todays log, about the problems of wiring in the new battery monitoring and charging system, but reading it bored even me, so I've deleted it for the time being!  Suffice it to say that the existing system and wiring is a complete disaster and I am struggling to find a way to make it more logical, understandable and efficient.

31/12/14  The last day of 2014 and I'm stalled!  Nothing is getting done and I'm in a rut, feeling somewhat down because of the weather and the complexities of fitting new equipment!  I seem to spend all my time trying to get my head round problems of electrics and wiring, and the order in which I need to do things so the jobs can be completed with the minimum of disruption on the boat.  The facts are that I will have to empty the nav. berth yet again, take down the deckhead and bulkhead panelling and put it all in the forward cabin while I sort out the mess of the old charging system, order more parts, wait for them to arrive, fit both AIS and battery charging/monitoring systems simultaneously and then replace it all.


(But not like this in Kudat, because it's raining!!)


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