Back in rainy Phuket

We left the UK on Thursday afternoon, took a cheap EuroWings (Lufthansa’s version of Easyjet), to Cologne, spent the night there and then took a Eurowings non-stop 11 hour flight to Phuket, where a taxi was waiting to take us to the Marina and Sister Midnight. All in all quite a pleasant trip. I did lug a bag over with 23Kg of tools, spares, bearings, Epirb, tubes of special grease etc, and was gutted to see a load of customs guys turn up just 2 minutes before my bag came off the carousel, they decided to xray every single bag leaving the airport. Of course mine was picked out for a closer inspection. It seems the thing that made him suspicious was Kathy’s 4 bags of Alta Rica instant coffee, he had a good rummage and sent me on my way with a smile. I do like the people here.

It’s always a bit of a worry returning to the boat after a few weeks/months break, but I’m getting better at it now. It’s always possible to return to a mast sticking out of the water and no sign of the boat, I think it’s much worse if you can see the boat on the mud at the bottom of the marina. More likely you return to an infestation of mice, roaches or flies. I will never forget as a child turning up to our caravan which my parents kept on a farm near Ruthin in North Wales to find millions of dead flies covering every surface inside. Dad should have left the skylight open for them to escape, instead there must have been a mass breeding program in place. I worry as I don’t leave anything open on the baba as I don’t want any cockroaches, crawling or flying this way.
As it turned out the boat seems free of infestations and all was well. The batteries looked to be holding a decent voltage, but in fact there was a problem, but that could wait. The main thing is the bowsprit, I think I may have spent more time with this bowsprit than my children over the last year.
The problem is that I have rot in the sprit and I have arranged to have it taken away on Monday and to be replaced, with a new, very expensive teak copy. I have agreed for them to collect it on Monday and they have put two weeks aside to do the job. I have also decided use this period to get the mainsail replaced, with another estimate of 2-3 weeks for the new sail to be made.

So if everything goes to plan we will be completed and ready to sail at the end of January. The plan then is to take advantage of the NE Monsoon season and explore Phang Na bay while making our way south to Singapore. From there at the end of March we will most likely head north when the NE monsoon season ends and the winds move to the SW. We are either going to Japan, via Hong Kong and Taiwan, and then onto Alaska/Vancouver Island, or we will spend another year in this area, exploring the east side of Malaysia, the gulf of Thailand and Vietnam/Cambodia with trips to Brunei, Sabah & Sarawak on the Island of Borneo.

I have never removed a bowsprit before. Taking the sprit off means removing the wires that play a part in holding the mast up. Also the windlass (Anchor motor) has to come off. The bow platform and pulpit too. I got stuck in as soon as we had unpacked. Even though it was about 4 AM by my body clock I made good progress, Windlass disconnected, pulpit removed and anchor platform unbolted ready to go.

Tomorrow I’m hoping the wind will drop so I can remove the Yankee headsail before I disconnect the two furler stays, bobstay and whisker stays. I also need to get the mainsail down before the stays come off as I need to hoist it to check on some dimensions before it heads off to Rolly Taskers.
The crappy weather was actually a great help, it was relatively cool and the drizzle was refreshing.

Back to the batteries and I realised that the charger wasn’t keeping up now I had the fridge and other 12V devices powered up. On inspection the battery charger looked dead, and the power had been coming from the solar panels only. Not bad really, they had been enough to keep the boat happy while away. The battery charger was soon fixed, A corroded connecter in the mains supply panel was responsible. This was disappointing, I wonder how many other connections are like that. However As I explained to Kathy, these mains supply issues don’t really matter as they are only relevant when we are tied up and plugged in.

So I expect with the jet lag I will be up very early, which suits me, first light I want to get the bow sprit sorted, then I can relax.

I have lots of new toys to play with, the GoPro camera might provide some better videos, I have some radio toys (Pactor) to setup, and a new system to run the barbecue. So all good fun.

Paul Collister