Fixing leaks.

Nothing interesting here, just boring leak fixing, feel free to skip.

I was aware of two leaks (leaky areas) on the boat, one was in the starboard cabin lockers, most likely caused by the chainplates, the other was overhead in the cabin hatches. So I decided to fix these before Kathy gets back, 1, because they are very messy jobs, and 2, because I would be doing a lot of cursing as I worked through these tasks and I’m best left alone at times like this.

The chainplates are basically steel bars very securely bolted to the boats hull, the wire shrouds and stays holding the mast up are fixed to these, and it’s important they are in good condition, otherwise the mast might fall over. In actual fact, the design of this boat, a cutter sloop, means I have 11 stays holding the mast up, so the failure of one might not be as bad as on other non cutter rigs. The plates go through the deck, and because the mast is constantly tugging at them, the seal between the plate and the deck eventually fails, and lets water in. This isnt really a failure, more a fact of life on boats, the nature of the problem means that these will fail, and should be resealed on a regular basis. It’s not much different to how old wooden boats would need the seams recaulking every so often.
The chain plates on this boat were replaced about 8 years ago, the original steel used might not have been the best, hopefully the replacements are better. I can’t see them completely, but the plates look to be in good condition, however I need to pull all 8 of them out, when I get a chance and give them a proper inspection. Probably when I have to take the mast down I will do this.
In the meantime, I’m replacing the sealing so that the water stops coming in and the lockers can dry out. Below you can see the locker is lined with a silver foil, this was supposed to keep the heat out from outside, but of course it only works on radiated heat, being a foil, and there’s not a lot of that in a locker. What it is good at is hiding problems.

With the foil gone, the rust and damage becomes clearer. Fortunately the rust is on the backing plate, not the chain plate, the bolt will need to be replaced.

Beind the foil, the voids have been injected with expanding polystyrene, again I think to reduce the heat transfer, this would work, but it also allows for any water that does get through the deck to stay trapped and do damage. Ths explains the rust stains under the cap rail, where the water couldnt escape. On top of this the void under the cap rail is filled with foam and encases lots of electrical wiring. All of this I have to remove by poking, scratching, scraping, all while my neck is twisted one way, my body the other, and I’m bent backwards to reach the void. A little cursing may have occurred at this point.

This is the rotted plywood headlining in the lockers that had to be removed.Eventually all the foil, foam, lining and rotted wood was removed. The the sealant was replaced. Before I did this I ran a hosepipe over the area and could clearly see the water coming in on each of the 4 chain plates, before I couldn’t see this as it was trapped in the foam, but spread around over time.
It’s looking a lot better now, just bare fiberglass in the lockers, but in a few weeks time, when I’m sure the leaks are fixed, I will refurbish the lockers properly and have them looking smart again.

Next the hatches in the main cabin. These hatches are mounted on teak bases, which, I think, give it a touch of class. However the teak bases are made of 4 pieces, one on each side, and joined at the corners, and sealed with caulking, this is what I think has failed and is an easy fix. I have a special multimaster machine, made by the German firm Fein, which has a special fitting designed just for this job of cutting out the old caulking. Here you can see the results, and you can also see the gap underneath where the caulking sits that was leaking.

Once the bulk of the caulking is cut out, all remnants of the old caulk must be removed, then the area completely degreased with acetone, teak is naturally a greasy wood, and this grease stops the new caulk sticking to it.
I should have also used a primer, but none was available, so I hope the cleaning was enough. Now I had a tube of the best caulking, Sikaflex 290DC, but I had used it 3 months ago and it was probably off, despite only using a small amount. So I cut the tube in half and found caulk that hadnt gone off yet and was able to use that. I’m getting a lot better applying caulk with a gun/nozzle these days, but this required a spoon to extract the caulk, adding a new dimension to the job. The caulk has the consistency of very thick treacle, it’s very very sticky, and has “skin homing” and “target avoidance” systems  built in. So using the spoon technique was never going to be easy.  The trick with caulking is to get the stuff on quickly, and then get the masking tape off pretty quickly too, before it develops a skin. I thought I could fill all 10 seams then be back for the first before it skinned, but I was a bit slow, and ended up rushing and getting gunk in the wrong places. However, I can tidy this up once it has set, as I will be sanding down the wood a re-varnishing soon.

It’s not easy caulking on near vertical surfaces, thankfully the caulk only ran out a little.
I’m hopeful that this problem is sorted for another decade or so.


Paul Collister


A possible hiccup averted

I was in the stern of the boat re-making some of the earthing cables, these are heavy wires joining all the metal parts of the boat together. This is done for several reasons, the main one being to stop galvanic corrosion, but it also helps in the case of lightning strikes, and could help reduce interference to the HF SSB radio. None of these reasons really make sense to me when investigated properly. And in the case of corrosion, it is possible they could make things worse. however, I’m in a minority here, so I connected all the wires together, the wires themselves seem to corrode and become detached very quickly. It’s a rubbish job, I have to contort my body to fit in, more skin lost to the boat. Anyway, I was using my multimeter to check the continuity of the earth wires and I pressed it against the eye bolt that holds the steering cable to the rudder quadrant. I have put a picture of the said eye bolt below

I was just a little surprised when the bolt snapped in half with just the slightest push from me, Obviously I had either acquired ‘super powers’ like spiderman, or I had been steering this boat around with the steering ready to fail at any moment because of a condition known as crevice corrosion.
It turned out to be the latter. There are two eye bolts connecting the steering, and if either fails you lose steering, I had already checked the one closest to me and it was like new, so I had assumed, never assume, that the other one, which is hard to see, would be the same, but for some reason water was getting to the other one and it, and the wire and clamps were in a bad way.

It’s all tickety-boo now, but I was a bit freaked out  that I had actually missed this, and it would have been a pain to fix at sea, but worse could have caused a collision when manoeuvring in the marina. I have now spent so much time in the stern of the boat I am confident I have checked everything and feel quite good about it all. Ah just remembered I need to grease a bearing, Damm.

While I was down there I had noticed two shiny Racor fuel filters connected in series, I had seen them before but hadn’t given them much thought, I assumed they were connected to the cabin heater, but now I have serviced that I know they are not and the thought that they may actually be in use on the engine bothered me, as I had never changed them. So I followed the hoses back from the filters, to under the engine, across to the other side of the boat, along the side of the engine, then to a dead end!Here they had been terminated with some bolts being screwed into the pipes. I may well resurrect them and use them to create a fuel polishing system. Anyone who thinks I have gone mad to want to polish my fuel needs to do a bit of research, polished fuel is the best!

I moved onto the leaks next, there’s just a few small leaks, and they never bother us here, despite torrential rain at times, because everything dries so quickly, but I’m not that long out of the Irish sea to remember how cold the northern latitudes can be, and how damp stuff is really horrible, how you dream of getting to port for a chance to dry stuff out. So I’m working on these. The annoying one is the hatch above the table, this just drips a little from the hatches wooden frame, I had assumed this would be a pain to trace, so I removed the headlining (ceiling) around it, no trivial task in itself. This revealed a very dry area, and no sign of any water, despite the hose above covering the area with lots of water. The water was coming through the wood, directly. Looking above I could see the caulking in the wood had failed, so that’s a relatively trivial job to fix. I hadn’t needed to dismantle the headlining, but it was reassuring to see it all dry inside anyway.
The next job was the chainplates, some of which had been weeping a little creating a slightly damp space in the lockers below them. I’m not removing them and rebedding, they don’t need that, but just resealing them where they pass through the deck with fresh sikaflex sealant. This should sort the problem for a good few years.
In my mind there is a mythical place were I will do all of these jobs properly, when I get there, wherever I happen to be at the time of realising a job needs doing is never appropriate for many reasons. The place I am waiting to get to, is a bit like North America, where supplies of high quality parts are plentiful, but it’s also like Thailand, were skilled craftsmen are everywhere and very inexpensive. It’s very hot so the boat is always dry to work on, yet also quite cool so you get get the varnish and paint jobs done without rushing. It will also have a great boatyard, with lovely facilities, perhaps even a pool, but will also be so cheap you won’t feel pressurised to get the work over quickly. I will let you know when I find this place 🙂

For now I have the problem that I don’t think you can buy the sealants I need for the caulking of the chainplates in Borneo, I did see some in a shop, but it was a silly price and had gone off. So I had a couple of small tubes shipped in from the USA, reading the label it says to use within 24 hours of opening, which is crazy, I am keeping them in the fridge to try to lengthen the time they are usable, but tomorrow morning I will be up with the sun, to try and get as many chainplates done as possible in one day.


Chinese new year continues..

These guys have been doing the rounds for a few days, might get them to visit the boat, checkout the budding Michael Jackson.

“The lion’s dance is primarily performed at the beginning of the Lunar Year to drive negative and evil spirits away from the household.  The dance of the lion along with the din of firecrackers, clashing cymbals, and gong and drums that accompany it is believed to scare the monsters, ghosts, evil spirits away. Lion dances take place during the first few days of the Chinese New Year and are performed by two people manning a special lion dance costume, one at the head of the lion, another at the tail and body of the lion. The head of the lion and its movement of the eyelids are known to bring vitality and longevity, while the tail of the lion sweeps away bad fortune and unpleasant things from last year.”

“A mirror is attached to the head of the lion which is known to dispel negative energy. Most of the shops and the houses are visited by the lion dance performers which is believed to expel all the bad luck and usher in good fortune.”

Paul Collister


Tiga to Labuan, then boat jobs

The trip from Pulau Tiga to Labuan took about 5 hours and was pretty uneventful, it rained for most of the trip, quite heavy at times, so I took the opportunity to see if I could use the radar to plot the rain’s progress. Rain shows up on the radar quite well, so you can see the area it covers and watch it move, however, the radar also has built in rain removal, so you can see objects like ships and land through the rain. I couldn’t work out how to use this, the radar on Lady stardust had a knob you twiddled to adjust the rain sensitivity, but this one is more sophisticated, and requires me to RTFM ( do some reading). I pulled into the same berth I was in last time I was here, except this time Isabelle was in the next berth and jumped out of her cockpit to take my lines, which was nice. We first met her on the Santobung river and then again in KK at the Sutera harbour Marina. It’s quite a small well connected community of cruisers up here on the NE coast of Borneo, many of them don’t see much reason to leave.

Ian & Marilyn were also in Labuan when I arrived, their cat, pictured below leaving for Tiga, is huge. We had become friends back in Miri, I helped them wire up an anchor windlass wireless remote. I was invited around for a ginger beer tasting, (homebrew piss-up more like) with all the other yachties in the marina, and I had assumed ginger beer would be quite un alcoholic, wrong again. After one glass I had that uneasy feeling that everything was a bit wobbly, my head wasn’t clear and I was about to start talking nonsense. Still it was good to meet the other guys

Craig, pictured below with his partner and dog, lives on a large powerboat a few berths along from me, but he has just bought a big old steel yacht opposite me, and he rows back and forth, as it’s quicker than a long trek around the marina wall.
Bill was another guest, he’s from Australia and built his own steel yacht a few decades ago, 800 km from the sea inland in Australia, and has been sailing her around asia with his Columbian wife ever since. I tried to practice my Spanish with her, and got into an argument where I tried to persuade her that she was pronouncing the Spanish LL wrong, I think it’s a Columbian thing 😉 .

So finally I had to get down to doing some of the bigger jobs I had been putting off, first off was wiring in the new sat phone system, which is the iridium go, this allows us to stay in touch when well offshore, and to download the latest weather reports. it comes with free phone and SMS calls, well I say free, it’s about £100 / month contract, they should have chucked an iPhone X in for that price.
The problem with this install is routing the cable to the antenna, I had also decided to fit the wifi antenna to the solar panel frame at the same time, as the cable could take the same route. Everything in the lockers at the stern of the boat had to come out, most of it fitted on the other cockpit benches as you can see,  the ropes all went onto the deck.

The quarter berth also had to be emptied into the main cabin. All in all I spent two days running the cables, I did lots of other little jobs along the way, and l lost a lot of skin with grazing and cuts.

All is installed now, and looks like it should work well, however I don’t want to activate my sat contract until I want to start using it. Daft to pay when I have good wifi here, and probably across the Philippines and Japan.

Yesterday was Isabelle’s birthday and she was doing drinks and nibbles on her boat at 6, but before that I had to evacuate my boat, I thought I was on fire, but the hotel groundsmen next to the marina were burning the undergrowth along the edge of their grounds. I thought this was inconsiderate, but it turned out they were trying to smoke out a large cobra snake that had taken up residence there. I had to leave the boat for an hour and I was in the middle of sorting out the oil leak at the time and was covered in oil. I must have looked odd to the scores of tourists passing by on their day trip motorboats.

The engine had been using oil, not a lot, but too much for my liking. so I cleaned out the drip tray which seemed to have about a pint of oil in it, the next day I had a new trickle, which was good, as it confirmed that the leak was from the sump area. This is where mobile phones come into their own, I was able to get the camera close to leak and I’m pretty sure it’s coming out of the sump drain pipe connection, the problem is I can’t access it easily to tighten the nut, but I did a reasonable job. I will know soon if it worked.

Today brought the job I could no longer find a good enough excuse to delay any longer. It was replacing the hot water calorifier pipes. You can see below how cracked the outer surface of the pipe is, the ends had been leaking too. I have been carrying the replacement pipe around for over a year, and my big fear was that once I got the pipe off, the new one might not go on with the tight curves needed. I can’t run the engine without these pipes. In the end the fitting of the pipes went quite easily, I had to drain the coolant from the engine, then flushed out the system with fresh water before adding antifreeze/rust inhibitor. Of course I can’t work with fluids without getting them everywhere, also the coolant is harmful to skin, so that was fun trying to keep dry.
Before: (working well)The pipes take hot water from the engines heat exchanger (radiator) system, and sends it to the water heater at the back of the boat to heat the domestic tap water.

After (Not working)

The manual for the water heater say’s it’s intake should be lower than the takeoff point at the engine, well it’s not, and other then a complete boat redesign with the engine being installed another foot higher, it’s not going to change. So although the plumbing went well, there’s a problem, I think with an airlock in the system. I spent ages trying to sort this, mostly by pulling pipes off at various points and waiting for water to arrive, usually hot, full of chemicals and squirting all over my hands arms and legs. I thought I had it all working when I got the hot water to go through the calorifier, but it doesn’t flow back to the engine.  The sun set and I decided to leave this for tomorrow, once this is done, I can stow everything back in the stern and get onto the deck leak jobs, I have 3 days to fix a small leak on the main cabin hatch, and to see what I can do with two chainplates that are damp inside.

It’s Chinese new year, and it’s my year, the salty dog (Actually the Earth Dog 1958), I did hope this might get me a discount in the chinese restaurants, but I doubt it.
There’s no shortage of red lanterns in town, and a big bash is planned for next week here in Labuan.

Paul Collister.

Zombie survivor island

I’m currently anchored off Pulau Tiga, half way between Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah, and Pulau Labuan, the duty free island state just offshore from Brunei after a glorious days sailing.
First I had two nights in KK in the luxurious setting of the Sutera harbour marina.

Yesterday I popped into town and picked up groceries, finally got some nice tomatoes and fresh lettuce, as usual, the Imago mall had put up a big display for the Chinese New Year

Can you spot the lucky charms on the shelf below, It wasn’t that long ago that the colonising Brits insisted the indigenous tribes cut down on the old skull collecting thing.


Pulau Tiga, (AKA Survivor Island)

Early morning, 9AM and I’m all set to leave the marina, I had to wait for the office to open to pay the bill. It was a gorgeous day with just a light breeze and a very calm sea. The marina only charged me for one day, even though I had been there two nights. Very generous of them, I will be back.
I motored effortlessly out of the marina into the sea, and immediately realised there was enough wind from the right direction to sail, so up went the Main and both headsails, off went the engine and we were away. I started off close hauled, then as I passed around the back of Manakuan Island I turned to the south and let out more sail until I was on a reach. On went the Monitor self steering and I settled down to a 4 hour passage to P. Tiga. The sea remained very flat but the wind varied between 5 and 10 knots, however we spent most of the time making between 5 and 7 knots, helped along by a bit of current heading south. There is a buoy at the bottom of Tiga, it’s an easterly cardinal, meaning to keep east of it, It’s a long way off the island and marks a big underwater spit that travels out, I figured I could cut the corner a bit, one chart had 20 mtrs of water there, the other only 1.8, but that was an old chart. As I approached in 28 mtrs of water I was quite shocked to see it go from 28 down to 4 metres in less than 10 seconds, at this point I went to kill the revs only to remember the engine hadn’t been on for many hours, and the sudden realisation it’s not so easy to kill speed under sail, I hung a big left, risking a jibe, away from the shallow and quickly saw the depth rise. Back on course and I was then able to beat up the leeward ( in the winds shadow) side of the island and find a nice anchorage. This was one of the few times I had sailed the boat in a decent wind but a flat sea, it was very pleasant. I have put a little vid of the conditions on below.

Also I was able to measure the tacking ability easier, and I programmed a tack into the autopilot to take me through exactly 90 deg, which turned out to be pretty close to the limit of the current sail / rig setup. This means I can only sail 45 degrees into the wind when trying to head upwind. I would hope to get closer to 35 deg, and can fine tune this, one of the problems I can see is that the headstay is not very tight and I need to see what I can do about this.

Pulau Tiga was the setting for the TV Reality series Survivor island, Kathy mentioned this when we took shelter here a few weeks back, but didn’t go ashore. This time it’s so calm and sunny here I was able to launch the Kayak and have a little wander. First off I paddled over to the nw edge where the beaches were full of monkeys, shy ones who disappeared into the trees as I approached, the island is full of lovely beaches everywhere, at the first resort I spotted the  monitor lizard below, and while snapping this a bigger shock appeared from the trees

A Zombie! not really, but a mud volcano monster. At first I wondered what the heck… I thought this person has some serious skin issues, and tried not to stare, then I remembered the ‘mud volcano experience’ that the island is famous for. More of the monsters appeared, heading for the sea, quite surreal, they posed for selfies, then entered the sea, only to return as near humans. Apparently they will look younger and live longer now, somehow I don’t think this has been through a very thorough peer review process. But it’s cheaper than buying ‘No 7’ or whatever the current trend is.

I took these pictures with the new android phone, and I do like the phone, the big screen is much nicer than I imagined, and all the apps work just the same as on my iphone, however the camera sucks. I hadn’t appreciated how much I take for granted on the iPhone, there’s loads of shake on this one, not sure if that’s due to exposure time, or lack of stabilising software, also it cant handle bright lights, or low light. The display is rubbish in bright sunlight, so bad that the 2 minutes of footage of the monkeys I shot turned out to consist of my ugly mug staring at the phone trying to see what I was filming, without realising the camera was on me! SO now I don’t know what to do, it’s nice being able to take pictures from the Kayak without worrying about damaging the phone, for £90 I can risk it, but I do miss the quality of the iPhone.

It’s now tomorrow, I couldn’t get internet last night to upload this, and it’s very calm, I will explore the island more and stop another night.
Just as a footnote, not everything is perfect in paradise, I have a little hole in my finger where I burnt the skin off melting the end of some plastic rope I was seizing, then I followed that with a broken toe. At least I suspect it’s broken or very badly bruised. I had left one of my Yankee sheets (ropes) lying in the cockpit sole, normally I’m more tidy, and I jumped down onto the rope, and my foot landed on the big figure of eight knot in the end. The knot rolled, my toes curled under it, and my foot continued in one direction and the toe in question remained steadfast. It hurt like hell, I couldn’t walk much for a day, and  it went a funny colour. If you’re reading this Kathy, and they find me dead on the boat from some deadly toe based infection, I want it clearly stated on my death certificate as cause of death to be ‘Death by Figure of eight knot’. However I think it’s healed enough for me to try one of the island walks later.


Paul Collister


Leaving Kudat and back in Sutera Hbr

Bye bye Kudat, and thanks for all the fish

I did like the market there, good fish, so cheap, and very tasty, sadly some stalls sold ray fish and sharks, which are protected here.

Anyway a few days ago I found my lost SIM card, this was the one with my UK number, and is used by various businesses I use the send me 2FA auth responses, you know, when they send you a code by txt/sms when logging in, so because I lost my main phone, I’m having to change SIMs on the backup phone a lot, this came to a halt with the phone refusing to accept any SIM, and the consequent loss of all communications, and internet access for me. I did plan to see if I could get my newer, soggy, iPhone repaired when I hit a main town, but I need weather forecasts, if nothing else before I get there, so off to town to look for a cheap phone to stand in. I settled on an Android RedMi Note 5, this cost about £90, and is pretty cool, it’s also a dual SIM device so I can have a Malay and Philippine SIM card in it. So far it’s been great. The old iPhone started seeing SIM cards again after a full reset, so things are good. Did I mention I also bought an iPad for the navigation, that’s great for pictures too. The RedMi has a high spec camera but the pictures don’t seem as good under low light, or if there’s movement. We shall see. A word of warning, should you chose to make your phone into an authenticator, using something like google or microsoft authenticator apps, should your phone pack in, or drown, then it’s no easy matter to get a new authenticator to take over, and in the case of some of my accounts, I am locked out now, until I have been through the verification process. Quite a pain, I thought the authenticator apps might make things simpler.

One thing I have to respect the Android developers for, is a fantastic bit of marketing, it’s the beautifier option, especially useful on selfies. I mean, who isn’t going to turn it on when doing a selfie, which is what 99.99% of all pictures I see being taken here are. I love the fact that it’s just going to be a few lines of software as well. I gave it a try and it seemed to work, see below:



Not bad eh!

So I headed on downtown to checkout, and found there is no need for immigration between Labuan and Sabah, something I had been told was needed, between the states, Labuan is a state, but used to be part of Sabah. I caused a bit of concern with the staff by turning up and requesting a stamp, it seemed, so I made a quick retreat. I wonder if they feel the same way in Labuan, we will see in a few days time.

Tuesday morning 8AM was set for launch, but the NE monsoon perked up, and started blowing very hard and consistent from Sunday night,  On Tuesday morning the sea state was quite rough and the wind was still blowing strong, the yard didn’t want to launch me so I thought best to wait a couple of days and launch Thursday 8AM.

The travel lift arrived bang on time at 8AM, and I was in the water 20 minutes later, doing the old reversing the wrong way trick. still I missed all the hard concrete piles and got out just fine. I would have had a lot  more trouble without the bow thruster.

Before launch, I waited for the boat to be lifted off its supports so I could paint those areas that had been inaccessible, they had removed the ladder and to get me back on board for the launch, a fork lift truck arrived and I stood on the forks and was raised some 15ft up to the boat, that was fun.

Below you can see the strops being passed underneath the hull, they are joined together by pushing steel rods through the hoops at the end. Human ingenuity never ceases to delight me.

As I left the little basin and headed out into the South China Sea, I was confronted with big waves, the remnants of the previous few days high winds, I had about 15 knots of wind blowing onto me, but 10 ft high waves coming at me too. I was only able to make about 2 – 4 knots in these conditions, and I had 15 miles ahead, before I could turn and head south, putting all of this behind me.

It took a good three hours, and at the top of the Kudat peninsula I was rounding, the sea was quite rough and breaking in quite a scary way on the two reefs I had planned to motor in-between, I could hear the voice of uncle Arthur from Dads Army saying “Do you think that’s wise sir?”  Anyway, I pushed on, and once round the top, I unfurled the Yankee headsail, turned of the engine and had a great 6-7 knot rush down the coast to my first nights anchorage at Agul Bay.
The problem here is that the NW coast is exposed to weather, wind and waves, coming in from the NW, and although the monsoon is primarily bringing winds from the NE at this time of year, the big swell and waves generally come from the NW, so you either hide behind an island, of which there are few, or you have to find a crag/inlet in the coast you can get behind. most of the spots on this stretch of coast still are affected by the NW swell, so Agul bay as lovely as it was, was still quite rolly.

Once I  had dropped anchor and got settled, I heard some excited voices approaching, it turned out a local fisherman and his son had canoed out to see me and say hello, we had a little chat, they were ever so nice. Then he rowed back ashore.

I was up at 6:00 the next morning and after a quick coffee, the anchor was up and we were away. It’s a good 8 hours to the next stop at Sambalong.

On route to Sambalong I was able to get the mainsail and headsail up, we were reaching along nicely in the morning breeze, which was now more westerly, WNW making it a reach, in sailing terms, this is quite a fast point of sail, and we were bombing along for a while. I decided to setup the wind steering and get more familiar with it. I made a little vid to show how it works.

By about 11 AM the wind had dropped right off as expected, and I had to motor  sail the rest of the way, at one point I could see a trawler was crossing my path, he was travelling across my bow from starboard to port, showing me his red light (meaning he had right of way, also trawlers trump sailing boats regardless). It looked as if he would be way past me by the time I got close, but as I closed on him, he had slowed down, and we were now on a collision course, we were still a mile apart, so I increased my speed a lot to pass his bow, but it seems he sped up too, because the gains I made were lost and we were back on a collision course. This has happened before, so this time I just carried on until I was quite close to him, and could see that he did intend to carry on regardless and run me over, then I killed my speed, let him pass in front, turned to starboard and followed his wake along until I was sure I was past his trawl then resumed my journey. Just after the encounter, he turned to port, which confirmed my suspicions that he was heading for me. My track is the wiggly line below

I mention this because I would love to know what was going on. I have two theories, based on the fact all the fishermen I have met have been friendly decent folks, I don’t think he’s trying to kill me! Theory 1 is that they have been at sea for a good while and seen nothing but sea and sky, and get so bored that when they see a fancy American yacht, something pretty rare out here, they make a bee line, to break the boredom and out of genuine curiosity. Theory 2 is that they have had a bad time fishing, no catches and the most obvious reason is they have an evil demon onboard.  I have heard this is quite a common belief, now the best way to get rid of the demon, apparently, is to steer very close to another ship and turn away at the last moment, just as the demon jumps from your ship to the other. If this is the case, I must have a shed load of demons somewhere on board. Maybe I didn’t fall off the boat but was pushed in Kudat!

So after this encounter it was just a few more hours to Sambalong where I anchored just behind a bit of headland that was sticking out protecting me from the strong NW swell that was out there, however as I type this it appears the swell has moved around to the west and the rolling is on the rise, the boat is getting quite noisy now, if I wasn’t so tired, I might not sleep in all this rock and roll. I may go to KK tomorrow and check into Sutera harbour, just so I can get a good night’s sleep. Below the sunsetAt this point I lose my internet connection, so I’m finishing this off from Sutera harbour.
Saturday morning, 7am, and I’m up, I had a quite broken nights sleep, the boat kept swinging to be beam onto the sea, that means the waves hit the side of the boat causing it to roll a lot, and kick me out of my bunk.

The north side of the bay looked lovely in the morning sunrise light Now below you can see my course to leave the bay, The Khaki is the land, and the green is underwater mud/sand which is less than 0.5 mtrs deep. I left the anchorage on the bottom right and set the autohelm to slowly take me out, using my eye to work out the course, as you can see it wasnt a good idea, I was going very slow, about 1 knot, so I could secure the anchor to the boat, while doing this I looked over the side to see the bottom of the sea was quite close, it looked to be about 2-3 foot, but it’s usually deeper, is that parallax, or some other effect, either way we were going to go aground for sure, and before I had time to react the boat made a small gravelly sound and stopped. Bugger, not again, a quick sprint to the wheel, a blast in reverse and we motored back without any effort, yet the wheel wouldn’t turn, it seemed jammed, I’m thinking has the grounding damaged it, could the rudder be in mud still somehow, what to do. Then I remembered, the computer was steering, so quickly turning the autopilot off, and we were away. You really wouldn’t know there was a shallow there without the navionics chart, which is nearly always wrong on these matters anyway. My Cmap chart has the water as being 8 mtrs deep there. Attention to detail is required, or even just attention would help!

So onto the 6 hour trip back to Sutera harbour so I can get a good night’s sleep, and buy some lettuce and sugar free bread. Very hot, no wind and a still rolly sea. A totally uneventful trip, but good 4g data all the way allowed me to catch up on emails and make some decent scrabble moves.  Arrival at Sutera harbour was a doddle, I didn’t hit anything or fall off the boat/pontoon. Perhaps I’m getting better slowly.

Finally, I try to keep the blog just about boating, but I had to put this picture on, if you haven’t seen the video of these two rockets landing you must, I was so excited, it was the most awesome thing I have seen in a very long time, this was human endeavor and science working together brilliantly. Well done everyone at spaceX, not that I expect you are reading my blog, and if you are, get back to work, you still screwed up on the third rocket return.
Paul Collister

Boat yard update

Well I’m almost ready to go back in the water, the hull is antifouled, the anodes inspected and changed as needed, and the prop cleaned and greased.The faulty seacock and one way valve is working fine now, and I’m just going to do a few cosmetic jobs, like patching some scrapes along the waterline / boot top, then have a relaxing weekend before launching on Tuesday. I decided not to replace the hull zincs, although they look worn down, there’s still a substantial amount of zinc there, and given the rate of decay, they should be good for another year. One of my jobs is to redo the earthing wires inside the boat, several have broken off the seacocks so, this might increase the anode decay.

Oh almost forgot, the solar panels are installed and doing a fine job. 

A few mornings ago, I went into the cockpit to get some bananas, I have them hanging there, only to find they had been eaten, and the visitor had left me a load of rat shit as a calling card. How it got up the ladder is beyond me, but I’m not mad on the whole idea, I keep the hatches shut at night now.
I’ve had time to get to know Kudat a little now, the boatyard is at one end of a man made lagoon, most of which is surrounded by a golf course, that has its clubhouse / hotel resort on the front.  There’s a lovely little marina at the other end from the yard, and you can tie up to mooring bouys here for free. It’s very laid back, the marina has a nice little cafe, and a few berths, but it’s a low key affair.

Downtown is also sleepy and pretty laid back. The market below is very busy every time I have been down there, but no lettuce or plumb tomatoes, so my salads will have to wait a bit. The fish market is great. Mostly the town is home to a fleet of fishing boats, many of them squid boats. I had one of the crew help me choose the best lure for catching Squid today. I have restocked on lures, lines, wires, hooks etc. I fully expect to have a full freezer of fish by the time I arrive in Labuan in a weeks time.

Work continues in the yard, with a constant procession of fishing boats arriving and also launched. I have been told that many boats will haul out in 2 weeks time for the Chinese new year and stay ashore over the period, which is about two weeks long. I hope to see some of the festivities in Labuan.Of course, the boat has been quite a tip the last week, but all the jobs are done now, so I can start tidying up. I gave my three old solar panels away to some French cruisers who are in the yard here. So I built a mockup of the frame for the solar panels to sit on first, I found a double glazing shop that sold me a stack of aluminium extrusion, box shape, which I used. I had planned to have it welded together, but the hardware store next door had a good supply of stainless steel bolts at a very very reasonable price, so I bolted it all together, with the thought of maybe welding it later. I have since decided that bolts are better, and will have more give than a weld as the frame comes under stress.With a little help from Brent, a Brit on the catamaran behind me, I got the new panels mounted and bolted down. I can’t find  supply of jointing compound anywhere. I hope they have some in America 😉

I’m very happy with the physical install, there’s not a lot more weight than the three old panels and canopy, plus the windage area is much the same, so I’m hopeful it won’t blow away in the first gale. As for performance, look at the readings below. The panels are pumping 35A into the boat, I had to put every 12V device on, lights, deck lights, radar, fans fridge etc to get this up, as the batteries wouldn’t take more than 20-25A. I expect I could get 40A if needed, but at the moment, I have had the mains charger turned off for a few days, and I find the batteries are fully recharged from the evening/nights drain by about 10AM. At 07:30, not long after sunrise, with the sun low in the sky, they are providing 10A. I expect that in the northern latitudes, they will perform less well, but will be more than enough. I’m keen to find out.


For Kathy, some yard pups, hope that doesn’t get me into trouble with the metoo gang 😉

I had booked the 8 AM slot for launch on Monday, but later realised that I had to go to three offices to checkout, harbour master, immigration and customs.  I have to get my passport stamped to leave Sabah to travel to Labuan, both Malaysia, but different states. I don’t think people back home fully appreciate the benefits of freedom of movement.
Consequently, I have put the launch back to Tuesday, that gives me more time to get fresh food on Monday. I need to be in Labuan before the 27th Feb, so I have plenty of time to meander down there, it’s only 160 Nautical Miles.

Paul Collister