Ready to launch

I got the bill today and was pleased to see it was about what I expected, it’s not cheap, but a lot cheaper than it would have been in Europe or America. The discount I negotiated for the osmosis covered the cost of repairs, and left some change to pay towards the bow thruster.

The shiny prop

Tomorrow (Saturday) we should launch.

I spent the day checking on odd bits and pieces, the last seacock, which needed to be checked, was seized. I was sure I had checked this before, but that was 3 months ago. Anyway, it’s the cone type and was easy to fix, and should be good for a while.

Checking the anchor windlass works. (holding was very poor, mostly dust on concrete)

I decided I would check the engine instrument panel to see if I could fix the temp gauge, I suspect it’s a wiring problem as the panel is cracked and allowing water in behind, however, things went quite wrong for me. I started by cleaning all the spade connectors behind the panel and checking for loose wires, the last time I tried the main starter switch it was a bit flakey; like a car, it has many positions before the actually engine start bit happens, also it goes backwards as well. On my old Volvo engine, or is it on the Beta engine, you go backwards (Anti Clockwise) to put the pre-heaters on. anyway I thought I could try both ways quickly, as the worst that would happen would be the engine would try to turn over and I could stop it and try the other positions. So on turning it to pre-heat, or so I thought, I heard a clunk from the engine, thinking that it had tried to start, I was startled to hear water gushing out the exhaust, a closer listen revealed the quiet purring of the engine as it ran. Shit, that’s a big problem, I don’t remember how to stop it, there isn’t a stop knob to be seen, fortunately it’s in neutral, so no passing workers hands will be chopped off by the prop, but if I don’t stop it quickly, the engine will suffer badly without cooling water.

So into the engine compartment, apparently, it’s possible to remove a stack of junk from the engine box cover, undo the clips, remove the companionway steps and heave the big box cover out of the way in 3 seconds, when there’s a will! I quickly found the little lever by the throttle that stops the engine, and could start breathing again.


The problem now is that the impeller, a little pump that draws in the sea water to cool the engine has been running dry, and may have started to break apart. I wouldn’t know if this was true or not until shortly after launch when the engine would start overheating, and not having yet fixed the temp gauge I wouldn’t be able to tell, until the engine seized up. Nothing for it but to extract the impeller and check for damage. Actually it’s a job I planned to do anyway at some point, so it just meant a late dinner while I dug out the manual and worked out where the pump was. The impeller didn’t look good at first, but turned out to be fine, I replaced it anyway, and hoped I have done it right, because they can be a bit temperamental on the Volvos, I had an awful time with the Volvo on Stardust.

After that, I headed off into town and tried a new Malaysian restaurant which did a very tasty honey basted chicken

Not sure if I will get away tomorrow, but if I do, it’s a 1 or 2 hour trip to the marina, where if they have wifi, I will update the blog, otherwise, it’s going to be a short post if any.

Here’s a little vid on the maxi-prop, it feathers itself and changes pitch for forward and reverse.

Paul C


Can I have the bill please

I’m not looking forward to this bit.  The boat has been in the yard for 4 months now, and it’s not as cheap as you might think. Still at least all the work is complete now.

This morning the seacock was fitted and I added the hose. Thinking about it, why is the gas draining into the sea, that can’t be right

New seacock and hose, overkill for a gas locker drain!

Replacing the autohelm took a few hours, and when I had got the last bolt down I noticed the key was missing from the rudder attachment, this is not like a house key, but a block of steel that stops the quadrant from spinning on the rudder stock. So more unbolting and re-bolting. Finally all done and I could start re-loading the lockers.

IMG_0347I had been a bit paranoid about the max prop auto feathering prop, it’s a fancy bit of gear that has to be setup right. When I looked out the cockpit at lunchtime, three guys were sitting round with it in all its constituent parts, cleaning each bit. I was shocked wondering how they would ever put it back together, it’s full of cogs and little screws and things, anyway, when they finally fitted it on to the prop shaft, the main guy said something to me , like he had to get something and would be back soon, I took the opportunity to have a play with it, and it was all wrong. My suspicions confirmed I had a go at him later, and he asked me to check it, it was working perfectly, and in fact it was much smoother than before. I felt a bit stupid, and he pointed out in his best Malay English that I should have waited until he had finished.  I felt properly told off.

So I loaded up the lockers with all the crap I had pulled out, cleaned the cockpit, removed some varnish stains from the prow and called it a day.
I’m now going to try and remember how to be a skipper again, I need to download a chart (sea map) for the area, think about safety at sea, remember how to make the engine work, check the anchor windlass works, re-check everything below the water line, as I don’t want to haul out again this year. Then find some ropes and fenders and get ready for the off.
Erik can come and help me on Saturday, as we retrace our steps back to Batu Uban marina, which hopefully has less mosquitos than here, they are driving me crazy, in fact it looked like the office buildings were engulfed in a fire tonight as they disappeared into smoke, which apparently was created by huge smoke bombs designed to kill the mosquitos.

Mosquito spray ( Big Time)
Mosquito spray ( Big Time)

Hopefully I will have something more interesting to say once we hit the water

Paul C.

Hull finished

Last night we had a massive thunderstorm, very impressive, I sat on the bow watching the lightning, I was soaked through from the walk back from dinner, but it was so warm, that didn’t matter, what might have mattered was the rain washed off my Deet, mossy repellant. Consequently I woke up about 1 AM in quite a lot of pain, I had bites/stings all over and  couldn’t sleep for a long time.
I managed to get to sleep eventually but was woken by the work on the hull, the last bit of painting happened today, the boot top, this is a line of paint that runs around the boat at the waterline. In the UK, we tend to use a special kind of paint, called unsurprisingly, boot top paint, it’s like antifoul but harder and lasts longer. They don’t do that here, eventually I settled for a blue line using ordinary antifoul, this was followed by a debate over which blue. The boats name is in Midnight Blue, appropriately, however the blue they provided was different, being colour blind, I couldn’t tell, and I don’t really care, but I have to be careful as Ive got used to buying brown clothes that turn out to actually be green. The guy painting didn’t like the colour, and wouldn’t paint it on, however he couldn’t explain this to me, and we ended up with a big pow-wow in the store room where they got a large colour chart out and we chose colours that would work, however, they only had the one colour, the one we started with, so thats what we used.

So to start the day I decided to tackle the broken seacock in the inaccessible place. I emptied out the two lazaret lockers at the stern of the boat, this gave me much better access than I had realised, however as I thought, the auto helm would have to come out, so “in for a penny…” I grabbed some spanners and started unbolting.

One of these must fit
One of these must fit
A very heavy autohelm
A very heavy autohelm

Pretty soon I was there, really good access and I could now see that the other seacock had rusty hose clamps, in fact they were quite useless and made me realise that I couldn’t skimp on any of these tasks.

Rusty Hose Clips
Rusty Hose Clips

At one point I was thinking of what I need to do to satisfy the surveyor and the insurance company, whereas now I realised, I have to satisfy myself first, and that everything needs to be 100% where it affects the boats safety.

Broken handle on siezed seacock
Broken handle on siezed seacock
Seacock base
Seacock base

I got to work on cleaning up the area, cut off the old hose, and got the engineer over to remove the broken seacock, he returned later saying he was going to repair the seacock, as he had unsiezed it, and would repair the handle, he considered this original bronze seacock superior to what he could provide. Which was nice. so I set about washing that part of the boat, it looks good now, and I feel very confident I won’t be having any issues there. He promised to do the prop tomorrow, as he has others ahead in the queue

Messy Rear
Messy Rear
Cleaner Rear
Cleaner Rear
seacock area cleaned
seacock area cleaned
He said he’s from Syria and are we in Luton yet?

And that was basically a days work for me, tomorrow the repaired sea cock will be fitted, and I can re-install the auto pilot. In theory, the yard here won’t let me do any work below the water line.

Here’s another attempt at a time lapse, embedded this time, so you don’t need to download it, however it may take time to load. Once again, they didn’t steam off, due to engine problems, see if you can spot the holes in his rudder, rust buckets, or more accurately rust spades.



Paul C.

Listening to Iggy Pop in Malaysia

Yes, I have radio 6 music streaming, which is just great, and it seems appropriate that as I select “New Post” and get ready to upload a pic of Sister Midnight, the man himself pops up.

Up early to get the new boat name on the hull before its to hot. I’m outside at 8:30 to find the cutless bearing being fitted, next the prop shaft was put in, but no prop yet.

prop-shaft-fittedThe boat name is sticky back plastic, kindly created for me by my long time friend Dave Fairbairn. I tried my best, but there’s a skill involved, and I just don’t have it, it’s made harder by the shape of the hull and the planking effect. Anyway from a distance a partially sighted person would think it just fine.

starboard-quarterNext I decided to check the three seacocks (taps on the water inlets and outlets through the hull)  that are impossible to reach without an hours worth of emptying lockers, two were OK after a bit of persuading, but the most remote one snapped off. This is a show stopper, as it can only be replaced out of the water and if the pipe connected to it sprung a leak then the boat would sink with no way to turn it off. I may get the other two done at the same time just as it’s probably easier now.

Had a good tidy up,  and threw a lot of junk out, however I can’t find any pots or pans, which is a mystery.

slightly less messy

Dinner back at the same Chinese place, very nice.

dinner venue

This is the autopilot, looks pretty primitive, almost meccano in its finesse. However on a boat simple is best. The vertical shiny bar is the rudder stock. I may have to remove the autopilot to access the seacock, I suspect the seacock was fitted before the rudder as well, great!


This one is for Isaac who as a child had an obsession with how many yanmars an engine was (HP), this was a customs boat launched today, wouldn’t like to try and outrun him.

customs And this chappy found his way onto the deck, Can’t think how, almost like being at sea again.
Up early tomorrow to sort out the seacock.

Paul C


Another busy day cleaning

A very good nights sleep, I think jet lag has passed now.

So straight out at 9AM to remove some lettering on the bow I forgot about and to remove some hideous fender marks, in fact more like dissolved fender than marks. Now the topsides look reasonable, at some point they will need a good polish but that can wait, perhaps Fiji is good for polishing boats ;-).

So it looks like we are having black Antifoul, (Stealth mode in  operation)
So it looks like we are having black Antifoul, (Stealth mode in operation)

The hull painting zoomed along today, they moved the boat supports and applied all the missing layers there, I expect the painting to complete tomorrow. Then it’s just down to fitting the cutless bearing. I also need a seacock replacing, so I’m hoping that will all happen tomorrow as well.

A cleaner Galley

I spent the afternoon inside cleaning the galley, it’s looking good now. The cooker came up well, but to use a software analogy, I only worked on the user interface, the back end and middleware are still full of bugs. (Am I mixing my metaphors and analogies now).

Drying the shelves in the sun
Drying the shelves in the sun

Found some droppings in the cupboards, but old and small, important as that’s the best way to understand infestations. I’m pretty sure whoever was living here ran out of food and left. I haven’t seen or heard anything since I got here, however the huge lizard that ran up the wall as I sat down on the marina loo caused me to jump, to be fair I don’t think he was mad on me either.

Must say the engineers here at the yard know their stuff, the owner of the yard showed me a printout of a power point presentation of the investigation they did on my bubbling epoxy, they think the problem was due to gasification, but I won’t bore you with the details. I think the reason they haven’t done the cutless yet is down to time and how busy the mechanical engineers are. The picture below shows the old bearing, they showed me the replacement, which looks lovely. For those who aren’t experts on cutless bearings, this bit sits in a hole at the back of the boat and the propeller shaft sticks out through this, it supports the shaft, and also lubricates it via the groves with sea water, so the grit in the water doesn’t cut up the rubber, i.e. it cuts less, nothing to do with pirates swords, although I would prefer it if it was, Arghhh.

The old Cutless bearing
The old Cutless bearing

The yard was very busy today, several boats were launched and several more hauled out. I thought I would try my time lapse on one launch, but sadly they had a leak when they lowered the boat, so the video ends without the boat steaming off into the sunset. Hopefully I can work on this.

Click here for the video launch-1

Found a better access point for the wifi today so can upload more pics now.
I’m writing this after having another great local meal, huge prawns and rice for 7 ringgit with fried egg for an extra ringgit ( 5 ringgits to the £1, Chinese ice tea type drink for 1 ringgit called “flowers” I think, all in a very friendly Chinese restaurant, which looked quite intimidating for me as I’m the only westerner in town, and get a lot of stares, but the owner made me feel very welcome, asking where I was from, apparently Liverpool FC are into the Europa cup final?, they know more about it than me, but they’re very happy to meet someone from the city. I forgot to mention, my taxi driver the other day played for Malaysia, at Wembley, he also played at Old Trafford, he was a football star in his day, strangely Tony, who varnished Stardust in St Lucia, represented his country at the London Marathon.

My Fine dining destination for the nightMy Fine Dining destination for the night

I took this picture on the way home, it’s a shrine, Buddhist I think, inside the boatyard.

Shrine inside the boatyard
Shrine inside the boatyard
The fishing village next to the yard
The fishing village next to the yard

Maybe tomorrow they will fit the cutless bearing and seacock, then we are ready to launch, still haven’t decided where to go yet, either Batu Uban, or Straits Quay.

Paul C.

No more Wanderlust

Lets get scraping and cleaning

Don’t Panic, just the name has gone, and that was todays main activity. Removing the name, and the honolulu registration numbers took most of the day, originally the name was applied as a transfer, but as that faded, the PO (Previous owner) painted over with a gloss paint. It was a nightmare to remove, and the subsequent staining of the hull means the name can still be seen close up. I could get the hull rubbed down and polished to try to remove it, but I think I might skip that.

Having thought about it, I’m not going to be too precious about the boat, I could easily add another weeks here in the yard polishing the hull , shining up the exhaust etc, then the deck/cap rail and fitting could take weeks to make look pretty. I’d rather be out there sailing the boat, so these things can be worked on, on the trip. After all I will need something to do while we laze at anchor in all those south pacific islands 🙂

Can’t stop now

I had a good sleep last night, the AC kept the boat cool enough, and I was up early to start work before the sun got too hot, I settled on a midday siesta, seems logical to do, then this evening I explored Batu Maung, I was told there’s nothing there, but after a 15 minute walk I came across lots of shops and restaurants, An Indian dinner of chicken and rice was lovely, however I need to get stuck into some experimentation with the local dishes soon.

Typical local restaurant

Back at the boat, I moved the wifi antenna to a higher spot, and ended up with a worse signal, should have expected that.

Two more coats of bottom paint were applied today, so we have one layer of clear epoxy over all of the repairs, followed by two layers of grey epoxy seal, next will be two layers of a tie epoxy coat, followed by 2 coats of antifoul. It’s hard to imagine this boat will ever have osmosis (blistering) again. I’m hoping the prop shaft goes bck tomorrow then I can get to work on the quarter berth and look at fixing up the shore power properly.

I had to chuckle when I saw this link today, about a brit sailing, god bless Pathe news for making this stuff, precious, and quite hilarious. We tend to have less crew on Stardust.

Paul C.

Bow Thruster now wired up

Last night we had a tremendous downpour with lightning & thunder, the noise on the roof of the hotel was deafening, I think this is what’s in store for a while now.

I moved onto the boat this morning, had a great taxi driver, I learnt a lot from him, included the best place for a certain type of fish head meal, although it might be a while before I try that.

The cutless bearing proved quite a match for the guys here, they spent all day working on it. I’m not sure where we are at, I didn’t pay too much attention because the bow thruster was more important. The wiring was completed and I had the yard fabricate a stainless bracket for the control joystick which is mounted on the pedestal, by the wheel. All is working, but the propellors aren’t fitted yet as they have to be anti-fouled, and we are a couple of days away from that. The main thing was the wiring was done so I could clean up the v-berth and get my bed sorted out. I must say, she scrubs up well, the V-Berth looks gorgeous now, the wood really glows and there is just so much stowage there.

It’s also great to have the mattress out of the main cabin however, it’s still a mess, but getting better.

I managed to get the galley surfaces looking good, and one of the galley lockers cleaned up great, so I have somewhere to stow my food. Tomorrow I will clean up the rest of the galley, while I wait for them to finish the gutless bearing. Cleaning is a bit drawn out because I can’t use the sink, in case water drains out over the paint jobs being done below.

I can’t get into the quarter berth as thats the main access point for the prop shaft and is full of workers tools right now, so it’s mattress still lives in the main cabin.

Outside, the barrier coat is being applied, both sides have had one coat and all the port side a second. The hull looks like a real boat now.

Looking good
Looking good
more hull
more hull

Finally I got the wifi working, but at a slow rate, I may hold off on the pictures until I get a better signal.

The boat is remarkably cool now, but I don’t know if the mossy who was here earlier has left, and if so, was it just to return later with his extended family!

A very pretty boat, possibly waiting to come in here, might get hit by a fishing boat if she stays all night

So now the pictures have uploaded (10 minutes later), I can confirm I have at least one mosquito to keep me company tonight!

Paul C.

Preparing to move on board and removing the prop shaft

Tonight (Friday) is my last night in the hotel, and Im moving on board tomorrow. I’m doing this as it will force me to get real with the chores, it’s too easy to find excuses not to work in this heat, but now I really need to get stuck in.
I called into the supermarket and loaded up on basics today, I think the diet for the next few days may be omelette and stale bread, with some fruit. It’s so hot I may find I have hard boiled eggs by the time I open them.
When I arrived at the boat, I found it crawling with workers, two wiring up the bow thruster and two working on the prop shaft.

cutless bearing
Cutless Bearing

I’m having the gutless bearing replaced, there’s a bit of play in it, and although it wouldn’t worry me the surveyor pointed out that there won’t be a better time to change it, so off we went. I’m so glad they took it on, as I hate that business of crawling around behind the engine trying to release bolts that are as determined to stay in place as the Greenham Common CND protesters (note to self, work on your analogies Paul). It took them hours to release the last two bolts.
Now the prop shaft is out, the next job is to get the bearing out, A job I particularly hate, having done it twice on Stardust, perhaps they know a clever way.

Prop Shaft

While they were running cables for the Bow Thruster, one of the guys pointed out a very flattened, dead cockroach near the V-Berth, I was wondering when I was going to have to deal with them, only ever had one on Stardust, and he quietly wandered into a roach hotel and that was ‘job done’. Hope I’m as lucky this time. there is a suspicion amongst cruisers that they lay eggs in corrugated cardboard, inside the tubes, and the workers at the yard have brought lots of cardboard onboard to protect the wood surfaces, perhaps it’s true.

An unwelcome visitor

I sat on the foredeck for a while enjoying the breeze and making lists wile they all busied themselves below.


deck-fro-bow The deck

I took a picture of a bungee cord strap I bought new in January, after just 3 months, it’s destroyed.

bungee cord

Later when everyone had left, I started cleaning the v-berth, where I will sleep from now on, it took ages to get all the fibreglass dust out, however on the plus side, I found two new big lockers, with two big sails in them. I didn’t have room to get them out, so I have no idea what they are, but they looked in very good condition, almost new! so every cloud…
I also found a hat, at least I think it’s a hat, but it could be one of those things for keeping the bread warm


So the bow thruster is almost complete, the wiring should finish tomorrow, a lot of the staff leave for prayers on Friday, so it’s a short day. Being a muslim country, I also get a lovely wake up call every morning, about 5AM I think.

Bow Thruster
Bow Thruster hole

May not have internet from the boat yard, or if I do it will be 3g data so updates will be brief I expect, I plan to install the Ubiquity wifi antenna tomorrow, so who knows.

Thanks for reading,


First day back on the boat

Back to Sister Midnight

jodrell Bank
Jodrell Bank Observatory

Tuesday morning I headed off to Manchester airport on the train from Liverpool, for the start of the long trek to Malaysia. I dumped my car at the garage/breakers yard on the way, the £200 I got for the old banger will cover the cost of a hire car for the few weeks that I will be back in the UK this year. Also the annual bill for road tax/MOT/insurance and servicing due in November, will more than cover the costs for 2017, as I believe we will start our trip around this globe in earnest as soon as we get christmas out of the way.
The trip to Penang, via Istanbul and Kuala Lumpa was very smooth. It was great to see Jodrell Bank Observatory gleaming out from the plains of Cheshire as we rose up from Manchester. Jodrell Bank has played a major role in space exploration and discovery and was always a place I was captivated by from childhood, shame that when I took my kids, the ice cream shop was the only thing that excited them.

The Heritage Hotel, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

Erik, my trusty Finnish friend who has been keeping an eye on the boat kindly met me at the airport and drove me to my hotel, which looks grand, but is really quite basic. All of the hotels are booked up, something to do with the Chinese holiday season just starting, which confuses me, as it seems we only just had the new year.
The hotel is situated right in the heart of the touristy bit, Im surrounded by loads of foreigners from Europe, they’re the worst kind. I don’t count myself as one of course. However the area has a lot of attractive ladies calling me over from darkened doorways, promising me a good time, Erik tells me I might be in for a shock if I follow them, as some of them may not be all they’re dressed up to be….

Epoxy coat over repairs

So up early Thursday morning and off to the boat, some trepidation as I heard they had messed up on the epoxy application over the repairs. The epoxy had bubbled, and was not going to be acceptable to me.
On arrival, I found they had sanded the epoxy right back and re-applied the epoxy, this time with more care, and had achieved a good result.
On the picture above you can see all of the fiberglass repairs where there had been blisters, and the shiny epoxy coating over it.

Below there is a picture of the other side where the epoxy has been lightly sanded back to give a key for the two coats of barrier epoxy which will be applied next

Mostly sanded port hull, waiting barrier coats

The bow thruster is fitted, but not wired in yet, this picture doesn’t do it justice, but it looks very smooth in real life.

Bw thruster, all glassed in

Inside is a disaster, looking aft to the galley …  Mess


Looking across at the main cabin table… Mess

The main cabin table
The main cabin table

and more mess heading to the V Berth

I managed to get some mains wired up in an ad-hoc sort of way, I have a problem using the boats supply right now, but I have the air-con running and the battery charger, so I can keep the fridge running cold, and that’s enough to be getting on with. Priorities for tomorrow are to complete the bow thruster wiring, so I can get the mattresses off the main table and into the v-berth and make a bed there. As soon as the sanding is finished, I’m going to get the sails bagged and stowed away on deck. Once I have the wiring issue solved, I can get the quarter berth back into use, and then I will have some decent space to work in. Aiming to do all this by Saturday when I move onboard.

From Saturday, this will be my main home for the next 4 years, at least.
So in the spirit of getting down and out in Penang, I skipped the taxi and took the bus back to the hotel, 50p versus £10 for the taxi, and much more fun!!

I will try to update as often as I have wifi access

Paul C