I guess you worked that out, as you’re here.
I’m back in the UK now, the boat is being worked on in Penang, and Erik is keeping an eye on it for me.
Can’t work out what to do with the boats name, I was going to get svwanderlust.com as a Website name, but it’s already taken, by another yachtie blogger, so I went for paulsbaba.com until I get a real name for this boat. My problem is to change the name, I need to update the registration, which involves a change of owner, which might be difficult as it’s a US registered vessel and I’m not an American. I could make it a EU registered vessel, but then I get hit with 21% VAT or more when I enter Europe, and as the boat is passing through Europe and may end up being sold outside of Europe, that tax would be wasted. Not to mention the hassles of getting RCD in Europe (A boat safety certificate, generally only provided for newer boats by their makers). I’m looking into Malaysian registration, at least until I leave the EU’s waters.
The boat is getting the hull fixed up, a bow thruster fitted and the topsides tarted up. The rest of the jobs will be done when I return in April/May and move the boat North to Langkawi.
I’m back on Penang island now, after a lovely day on Langkawi. Yesterday I checked out the luxury marina on Rebak island, and today I travelled to the north west of the island to check out Telaga harbour and met up with some resident marine professionals, a surveyor and a rigger. Telaga harbour was basic, but enough for my needs, perhaps a little isolated, but a lovely beach and anchorage
Before I left Telaga, I managed to get a swim in the sea, very nice too, probably the hottest water I ever swam in.
After a long taxi ride back to the main ferry port, I visited the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club (RYLC), which is adjacent, and does suffer a little from the ferry wash.
The yacht club is nearing the end of a complete refurbishment, and is looking good, I had been told it was a difficult place to enter, as it’s tidal, but it looked like a doddle to me, perhaps my experience on the river Mersey & Dee has toughened me up a bit, but I couldn’t see an issue, wide berths, long fingers and plenty of turning room. I would probably wait for slack water for my first attempt though.
Looking around the marina, I spotted a few more Perry designed boats, Is there a big Perry magnet under Malaysia that draws the boats here and keeps them here, This boat below, which looks like a Baba 40, similar to Wanderlust, has more teak on it than any Baba I have seen before, a quick google tells me this is a baba 40 from 1980, so quite an early one.
So out of the three marinas, Rebak was the prettiest, and most relaxing and chilled, Telaga was good, but full for the foreseeable future and RLYC, which seems just fine.
The ferry ride back was fun, I got a window seat on the top deck and got a great view of the islands along the way
Im spending tomorrow putting the boat to bed, as much as I can, then going straight from the boatyard to the airport and flying home, I’m going to have to shower and change with a hose pipe under the boat, before heading to my flight, not exactly how I would have liked things to be, but I’m sure it will be fine. More worried about keeping the boat fresh for the very hot months ahead.
I don’t expect to post again until my next trip back here in April, when hopefully the hull will be looking like new, with a bow thruster fitted.
In the meantime, enjoy a bit more Malay simplified English, from the ferry terminal.
Today I set off at 06:30 in search of a home for Wanderlust, at least until Jan 2017, when I plan to sail her back to Barcelona. The early start was needed to get across the main area, Georgetown, before the jams started. The fast ferry sped at 25knots for nearly 3 hours north, before arriving at the Island of Langkawi (lang as in language, and Kawi, as in to be a bit like a cow, cow-ee) .
I checked out the main chandlery in the ferry port, not much in stock, not even rope, he just orders it in when you need it, so no fun there. then off to the hotel to check in. I picked one near a beach, just in case I got the chance to have a swim, which I didn’t.
From The hotel I took a short cab ride to the jetty, for the private motor launch that takes you out to Rebak Island, now this is a select 5 start private resort, on its own tropical paradise island, complete with rain forest, monkeys, coconuts, the lot. You can only go there if you’re a paying guest, or if you keep your boat in the marina there. It’s actually cheaper to keep a boat there than in Liverpool, or even the cheaper marinas in Spain, plus you get to enjoy the 5* facilities of the resort. So it’s definitely a contender.
The Island is lovely, very relaxing
The marina looks perfect.
The best bit about the Marina, is that there’s about 6 Bob Perry designed boats here, 7 if I bring Wanderlust.
Back in my hotel chalet you can see how English works so much better if you simplify it
Im running out of battery and didn’t bring the charger, so the rest will have to wait, below is tonights sunset over Rebak island
Had a bad night again, so took it easy today, Eric came over, we strolled along the local shops, more like roadside shacks looking for some rope to tie my new tarps down with, could only find very basic cheap polyprop stuff, but I expect it will last till April when I get back. Zainol, my taxi driver who offered to be my driver for a week, if I paid him up front, a discounted price, took us down to the boat. The discounted price is actually about 30% more than I was paying him, but it’s all peanuts anyway, and he he practically destroyed his car getting me through the building site twice a day.
The really rough road we used to travel along has been replaced overnight with an adjacent road they carved out of the hill. the old road now has a crane some several hundred metres long, in sections, lying on it, waiting to be hoisted into place. They really don’t waste time in construction. Zainol tells me the Bangladeshi workers got 80 MYR a day, about £13, which he thinks is way too much for an unskilled person. I think the boatyard workers get less, perhaps you can see why I’m getting the work done here, rather than pay artisan prices back in Barcelona.
This is the works canteen in the yard, pretty basic, but Erik tells me the food is really nice, I buy him lunch each time he comes over to help me, usually comes to just under £2 with lots of ice tea and coffee.
And this is one of the canteen cats
I managed to get all the sails down and stowed below deck, so they wont rot in the sun, but may get destroyed by mildew. Saturday will be all about wrapping the boat up so it has ventilation and is dry.
Tonight I’m having dinner with Erik and Chang, the Chinese man, in Georgetown, they have promised to take me to a top notch eatery, then up at 6:30 am to get the ferry to the next island north, Langkawi, where I will probably keep the boat for the rest of the year, when the hull is done. I can get the rigging work done there. They have chandleries, surveyors, beaches and all the things I need, that aren’t available in Penang.
Yes, if that’s not magic, I don’t know what is. I haven’t connected the boat to shore power yet, so I’m charging the batteries from the solar panels, and I’ve have had the fridge on 24/7, and it’s now icing up inside the ice box, and that’s on its lowest setting. Just brilliant. I have read how refrigeration works, but I still can’t get my head around it. As a little boy, I had the job to lie on the floor and look under my nan’s gas fridge to see if the pilot light was still burning, still think that’s weird.
Had a long hard day on the boat today, I took the main and two headsails down and stowed them away, they were only going to continue rotting. The mainsail was in a stack-pak cover, which although the cover was starting to rot, the sail looked like new, in fact it’s not that old. The two headsails are not that good, baggy, very dirty and the sacrificial strips are toast. But sails get old, so I’m happy to buy new ones, and I’m in one of the best parts of the world to source new sails. The largest sail loft in the world is just up the coast in Phuket.
Getting down the headsails was a little hairy; as a rule you shouldn’t have any sail up when on the hard in a cradle, just in case a blow of wind comes along, it might topple the boat. It’s worse with a furled up headsail, as you have to let the whole sail out, then drop it quickly. I went with the staysail first as this is the smaller, and it jammed, took a few tugs and eventually it came down. I took more time with the genoa, which is pretty big, and would easily pull the boat over. It took an hour before I had the rhythm of the wind gusts and subsequent calms sorted, then I went for it, I think I got the sail down in less than 3 seconds. I then looked over to see the face of the crane operator, he understood exactly the risk I took, and was grinning at me.
The grinding continues, what a job, I do feel for the guy doing it, he sits there all day with a 6″ grinder, you can see the fan that blows air on him. I expect he will finish all of one side this week.
I have seen some of the work the yard has done on other boats here and it’s of a good quality.
Erik came over today to recover his dinghy, he had brought it with us on the trip down, just in case. He decided it best to motor it back to his boat, about 5NM, however his outboard was playing up, I gave him water and fizzy drinks, and some rope for his anchor. After a first failed attempt, he set off and made it faster than wanderlust did on the trip down.
Today was very exciting, the owners of the boat next to me started to kick off with the yard workers, they were very aggressive, at one point he threw his tea pot at his cabin, before screaming at a yard worker who was antifouling another boat, he then stormed off in a big huff. No sooner had he left the yard, than 4 workers came down, put his fishing boat in slings and launched him, it looked like they were getting shut, or he had said get me out, because the work wasn’t finished on his boat, the rudder was half way through being welded, as his boat was released from the slings, with no one on board, two more big blue fishing boats came screaming over, and the fire brigade arrived. The angry skipper appeared out of nowhere, ran along the quay, jumped onto his boat and reversed out. screaming at everyone and being pursued by an office worker with a clipboard, presumably the bill!
I could sort of piece it together, except were did the fire brigade fit in? Looking out to the two other big fishing boats, I noticed one was squirting a big fountain of water over the side, just like the fire boats do when the QE2 visits liverpool, strange I thought, but then when she was pushed into the slings by the other fishing boat, I could tell she was sinking and that was an emergency pump, provided by the fire brigade doing the fountain display. She was then hauled up and the water was squirting out through planks on the port bow.
Later when they moved the boat to go in the space just vacated by Mr Angry, I suspect the weight of water inside must have sprung a plank, as it started pouring out on the starboard side, took over 30 mins to drain out, must have been a bit scary out at sea at the time. The words ‘bucket’ and ‘rust’ spring to mind when looking at these boats,
The boat’s prop was also badly fouled, I wondered if this could have been related
Tomorrow is my last day working on the boat, Thursday & Friday are going to be spent in Langkawi looking for marinas and chandleries for my next visit here. Saturday will be spent summer-ising the boat, I need to find a way to keep it from going mouldy in the humid heat that’s here.
Finally a trip to the supermarket presented me with another reminder that Chinese New Year is nearly here, Plus I have learnt to recognise the Chinese equivalent of Jingle bells, being played ceaselessly in the shops, and it’s just as annoying.
Still dinner of chicken fried rice in the local restaurant came to 90p and was very nice. I went over the top and for another pound had two glasses of fresh orange. What’s not to like !!
Today I will mostly be inside a locker (fast show reference, in case you missed it). Yes today was the time to remove the rotted wood from the hanging locker and work out what went wrong.
Basically the chain plate, and also the stanchion base next to it has been allowing water to get through the deck and it has been running down the backing plate for the chain plate (chain plates are what the wires holding the mast up are tied to) and rotting the plywood that encases it all. This is more cosmetic than structural, but unfortunately, a lot of cosmetic damage has been done, including about 3 sq inches of teak & holly sole in the companionway in front of the locker. I removed all of the rotted wood, and will replace it at some point, but that’s not a priority now, I mainly wanted to access the chain plates and assess the damage.
I thought you might be amused at the sketch I did yesterday for the thru hulls, not sure why I wrote port on it?
I took a snap of the shanty town the construction site wrokers live in, just up the hill here. Apparently they come from Bangladesh, and before they build the shopping mall, the build their little village out of corrugated iron and shipping containers.
The area all around the ship yard is basically jungle/rain forest, it really feels like I’m in a Tarzan movie when I’m waiting for the taxi up here at night. You hear the strangest sounds coming from the trees.
Below you can see the grinding is moving along, the white-ish circles are blisters that have been repaired before, mostly quite successfully,
A closer look at one of the popped blisters shows it has penetrated a few layers of the matt fibreglass, which is the layer under the gelcoat, this still isn’t of much concern as it’s not structural, and relatively isolated, but it will need grinding out, then rebuilding with new layers of fiberglass
There is an isolated blister on the bow, which when popped, shows dry, fresh fiberglass. This points to a lay up problem, when the boat was build, the builders didn’t get the polyester resin into the glass properly, this is right in the bow and would have been a difficult area to work in. Interestingly, Lady Stardust had a similar problem in almost exactly the same place.
Had a great nights sleep, and today I planned to clean up inside the boat, and check all of the thru hulls /seacocks, as these can only be changed with the boat out of the water. Looking out the window revealed a very dark sky, great, a little less heat today.
My friendly taxi driver Zainol, turned up at 12, and through pouring rain we headed to the yard, to get there, we have to drive through a huge building site for two new tower blocks like those in the picture above, which are linked together by a huge shopping mall, the size of Liverpool one.
The boatyard, like most, has an array of abandoned boats, many wooden fishing boats like those below.
One boat,the ‘MARIA SORG MUTINEER’ caught my attention, as it looked in a very bad way, but was rigged for an ocean passage I thought, what was the story, how had it got here, and why no further. I had a quick google and found references in the Mensa English Group to the Czech owner who was considered mad by some, having sailed it from Europe to Malaysia, then flew to America and sailed to Europe on another boat
So to start I made drawings of the hull from the outside, both sides, marking on it every place where a hose exited. I gave each one a letter, I almost ran out letters! There are 20 holes in my boat, Lady Stardust has about 10. Then inside, and I lifted every board in the sole (floor) to find where they were and what they did, several hours later I was pleased to say, all bar one were accounted for, and none needed any work, a few were stiff and needed freeing up, but that’s normal. There’s lot of plumbing in this boat, the air con, water generator and pressurised water and manual foot pumps, along with the shower, and deck wash are responsible.
The water supply to the Air Con was turned off, so I’m hoping this is the reason it wasn’t working when Erik tested it.
While I was in the area, I spotted bad corrosion where the mast wiring joins the boats electrics, A bit of vaseline would have helped there (as the Actress said …)
Back on deck, i did some tidying up. One of the great things about having a bigger boat, is theres space for some proper guards, There are guard rails around the mast, which give you something to hang onto, and a lot of protection when working at the mast in a rough sea. Also the guards over the dorade cowl vents are great at stopping the sheets (ropes) from snagging. On Stardust, I’m forever ripping the cowls off their base when caught out by heavy gusts.
When I arrived, I had a new neighbour, water was pouring out through his hull, so I think his planking needs a bit of attention.
And finally, I gave the galley another clean, it really is quite a big space, however I couldn’t find a way to get the stains off the worktops, I think they will be formica, or similar , any tips would be appreciated. Will try again tomorrow.
I’m adding a final picture in at a higher resolution to see how it comes across
Well the grinding of the hull started today, and stopped almost as quickly judging by the amount of work done.
The rudder has been ground down to the gelcoat, even though the rudder had no blisters. the bit of the hull that has been done does show a few blisters, but they don’t seem to have gone into the matting below the gelcoat, which is promising.
I didn’t get up till late today, on account of abdominal pains all night, I was on the verge of calling a doctor, but figured it would pass at some point, which it did. I think I strained a muscle, which I find much easier to do as I get older. I found a hypermarket over the road from the hotel, so stocked up on all the usual supplies needed for boat work, cleaners, sponges, lots of kitchen rolls, and treated the boat to some new tea towels and a bathroom towel. I also bought some batteries so the ships clock could start ticking again, in fact she has two clocks, one near the nav station, set to UTC (GMT for you non pc folks).
The picture below is from the stern of the boat, those objects out there are buildings, possibly houses on a group of floating fish farms, they’re a hive of activity. I presume, like most things around here, they were damaged in the 2004 tsunami. I think the concrete poles in the foreground probably supported jetties back then to.
I had a good day on the boat, I found carpet to cover all the cabin soles, and sheets and blankets I threw over the cushions. The previous owner didn’t compromise on quality, and I’m constantly being surprised and pleased with new finds. Today I found that the air con doubles as a cabin heater, that the Radar works fine, and is a fancy one, that Penang’s Capital FM One, really rocks through the cabin hi fi system, that one of the two Epirbs is still working (in test mode), that I have flippers and a diving belt & spear gun (sorry Kathy), and there are spares for just about everything on board. I think the PO was very similar to me in his outlook, I also think he was an engineer, given the amount of tools and spares and liquids/ greases/ solvents etc on board.
I managed to empty out the V-Berth, and remove the wooden panels under the storage under the bed. This is where the Bow Thruster is going, I wanted it clear so I can show the yard on Monday.
I gave the cooker a scrub, not too vigorously, but enough to see it’s going to come up looking like new. It’s a serious 3 burner stove, and you should see the gas locker, space for two gigantic gas bottles, enough to cover several oceans. Yesterday I fired up the SSB, it seems to work, but will need to have a QSO with Neil G4OAR to confirm.
Despite having no mains power yet, the wind generator and the solar panels are keeping the fridge nice and chilled 24/7
Rather late today a motor yacht turned up to be hauled out, she only just fitted into the slip
It was getting dark by the time they had her in the slings
Then it was home for me and a chance to try out the local cafe round the corner from the hotel, suggested by the driver, he recommended the thing on the right saying it was a refreshing drink, but when I ordered it, there was much merriment amongst the staff, perhaps they saved me some embarrassment by not including the fizzling sparklers. Still it all tasted great, if not a bit hot.
The guys & gals on the Baba group are doing a grand job of advising me on some of the specific baba issues I have, like what power bow thruster I need. This internet thing can be jolly handy sometimes.
Today I had my last free breakfast at the Neo+ hotel, before moving out to a cheaper hotel down by the boat.
From now on I’ll be getting breakfast in the street. I had a meeting with the boatyard managers today to discuss how we are going to proceed with the hull blisters. We have agreed to grind/sand down the hull to the gelcoat, so we can see the extent of the blistering. Once they have done this, it is likely they will grind down all of the blisters taking out the fiberglass below the gelcoat, this will then be rebuilt with fresh fiberglass and epoxy filler. We may then go for an epoxy coat over the whole hull, or some form of barrier protection. I’m not convinced either is a great solution, but I’m trying to get a surveyor down to give his opinion, once we remove all the paint/primer on the hull. The whole process may take a couple of months, depending on the extent of the osmosis, as the hull has to fully dry before the repairs start. I’m hoping they will complete the grinding before I leave so I get a feel for the scope of the work.
I was able to spend most of the afternoon/evening on the boat today, getting to know her better, and to rummage through the lockers and stowage areas. I found these pretty Japanese things, presumably left by Toshio the previous owner.
I asked my good friend, and alleged Japanese speaker Dominic, what they meant, with his usual classy wit he responded with the translation; “ha ha you have bought a shite boat that will never get you out of the harbour”, whatever happened to real humour. They actually are some kind of blessing to the boat.
Did I mention the boat has mast steps, so I can walk to the top now. That will be fun.
I’m getting a bow thruster fitted along with the hull work, it’s the perfect time and place to do this. I will also get the standing rigging replaced, that’s the 9 long wires that hold the mast up. After that it should get a good survey and be insurable for the passage around the world.
It’s really difficult working on the boat in this scorching humid heat, I think I got burnt today, also, no sooner does the sun set and it improves a little, then mosquitos appear. Some of them carry dengue fever, which is a killer, so that adds a little excitement to it all.
Saying that, I love being surrounded by nautical stuff, either boatyards, or harbours. At dusk, the fishing boat go racing out from a little port 100 meters north of me, and with the lights of the new bridge twinkling behind me, it’s very atmospheric.
And as is usual here, just after sunset, a lightning storm kicks off.
Tomorrow the boat is being moved to be closer to the grinding station, and I’m hoping I can get some mains power and start up the aircon. I will also be able to work inside then, however I don’t expect to get much done if they are grinding the hull.
While I wait for some legal and financial stuff to clear relating to the boat, I popped over to the Straits Quay Marina complex, as it is recommended by many. It looks to me like its main purpose is to provide a focus for a huge property/mall development. Exactly the kind of thing I hate. But to be fair, it was exactly what a visiting yachtie might want, a safe marina, good washrooms, laundry services etc. Plus plenty of eateries in a very flashy mall. No riff raff here thank you. John the manager seems like a very helpful person, and we may well move Wanderlust here later in the year, as it will be a lot more convenient than Batu Uban
Looking back towards Georgetown, shows how much high rise development there is here
And outside the marina development, the building continues as if 2008 never happened here.
My biggest shock was checking out the Tesco, I had expected an express small version in the mall, not a mega super hyper plus store, this was at least, if not bigger, than any I had seen in the UK.
The thing I’m loving about this trip is how Malaysia is reminding me of how fast Asia is/has moved. Things like Tesco seem so British to me, but possibly one day soon, their UK operation might just be a small outpost for them. And this is just what I get from a relatively small Asian country. Goodness know what it must be like in Shanghai. When I get home I must checkout if the OU are still running the course on cities, Im beginning to realise just how victorian ours are.
On a final note for the day, here are some spices you can buy at the shop next to the marina office
Tomorrow I move hotel to be nearer the boat, I’m going to a more remote part of the island, but will be spending long days on the boat now getting to understand how she is configured, and also preparing her for storage and the work that will be done on her