Apr. 2002
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Check out Weeks ending:  [6 Apr 02] [13 Apr 02] [20 Apr 02] [27 Apr 02

Week Ending 6 April 2002 (Bob)

Life at Boat Lagoon - We have settled into the cruiser's routine at Boat Lagoon: chatting with new and old friends, eating out at the many little restaurants around the marina, discussing the merits of the various boat repair companies, and perspiring in the heat.  Last week a new activity crept into our repertoire: Bocce!  We braved the 90heat to make the big balls chase the small ball round the lawn: the women beat the men soundly!

FantaSea Phuket - Fantasea Lights of turtle.jpg (27858 bytes)- One of the big tourist attractions on Phuket is an amusement park named FantaSea, and we decided to go last week with Peter and Jeanette from Voyager.  This is a 5-star extravaganza with dancers, acrobats, comedians, and a finale with 10 performing elephants!  It was really glitzy and a lot of fun.  The venue is a theater so large you almost feel like you are outdoors under the stars. Around the theater are scores of restaurants, pubs, and entertainment areas for people of all ages.  Despite the so-called downturn in tourism, there must have been 5000-6000 people at the show, and they perform every night!

Refit Fever - When we arrived in the San Blas islands in Panama, cruisers were hit with 'Mola Fever', a frenzy to buy these beautiful appliqu� artworks pieces designed and made by the Kuna Indians, as if there were no tomorrow.  In Phuket, upon arrival, we have been bombarded by stories from friends about the beautiful work done by their woodworkers, or upholsterers, or boat painters - the list goes on!  So we, who had planned to do a few minor things and then go sailing suddenly find ourselves with  big list of potential projects to take advantage of Thai prices and workmanship.   Here is our list of 'maybe's'; next week we will narrow it down to the final 'to-do' list

Project Maintenance Improvement Cosmetic
Install new rigging X    
Remove main mast for inspection X    
Enclose pilot berth and make new storage area   X X
Replace cockpit cushions X    
Replace main salon cushions with leather X X X
Check and align engine X    
Enlarge wet locker and enclose radar   X X
Replace toe-rail and rub-rail X X  
Build new Bimini canvas cover X    
Replace inside cabin liners with laminate   X X
Upgrade stanchions and replace life-lines with Spectra line   X  
Rebed cockpit coaming, and paint winch pads, or X    
Rebuild cockpit coaming in fiberglass   X  
Rebuild propane locker in fiberglass   X X
Connect Bimini frame to stern-rail   X  
Enlarge or add cockpit drains   X  
Refinish cabin sole X   X
Repaint hull X   X
Re-varnish interior X   X
Repaint coach-roof and cockpit X   X
Remove mizzen mast for inspection X    
Add Cabinets on each side of companionway for radios and storage.   X  

Week Ending 13 April 2002 (Bob)

Preparations for work aboard - This week was somewhat quiet.  We dealt with a small parade of trades-people supplying quotes for the potential projects for the upcoming Long Passages refit.  A jeep was rented and we spent 3 days in the hot weather offloading gear so that we and workmen could get to all corners of the yacht, particularly the toe-rail.  We rented a shared storage locker and filled our half with jerry cans, sails, booms, and boxes of assorted stuff - one wanders how we accumulate all of these 'necessities'. 

Songkhran - All meaningful work stops in Thailand over the weekend for the Thai New Year's celebration.  The prime event: throwing water and smearing talcum-powder on others, particularly Westerners.  Within the marina the talcum-powder was gently rubbed on our cheeks and we were invited to return the favor; on the streets the approach was more forceful with buckets, hoses, and high pressure water-guns used with gusto.

Moving ashore - At the end of the week we moved off Long Passages for the first time in a few years, as the preparations made her increasingly difficult to live aboard.  The marina maintains a set of apartments for just this occasion, and they are very convenient - and the air-conditioning is quite welcome.  When we move back aboard in about 2 months, LP should be shiny and happy again!

Some refit decisions made - We have made some tentative decisions of things to do now and others to be put off until another day - check it out.

Week Ending 20 April 2002 (Bob)

Larger quarters - We decided our small hotel room would not hold the contents of the boat so we moved into a larger room (roughly twice as large).  We now are trying to fill up all the empty space with "stuff", with some modicum of success.

Making room for improvements - In order to speed the refit process (and perhaps limit the collateral damage) we have begun to remove some of the joinery to make room for the new.  Bob's make-shift bookshelf installed in Annapolis came out easily with nary a tear.  The original Pilot Berth leeboard from Shannon was more difficult, and psychologically wrenching since it was a beautiful piece of work and part of her original glory.  We hope the famed Thai workmanship can match the original quality.

Haul Long Passages for a refit and rigging change, a chronology:

  • 0630 - Early risers, grab a cuppa coffee
  • 0700 - On board for last-minute preparations: remove all halyards from deck fittings; tape cardboard on bulkhead to protect it as mast comes out, grab photo album of previous haul-outs to show Travel-lift operator, put fenders in place, remove mast boots,...
  • 0745 - Engine on, back out of slip for our 0800 appointment with a crane to remove masts.
  • 0746 - Run aground on muddy bottom
  • 0800 - Warn shipwright, Scott, that we will be late since tide has not come up high enough to motor around to crane location.  "No problem mate; we'll come down to your boat and rock it free"
  • 0810-0830 - A scene from Monty Python ensues whereby the skipper motors alternatively in forward and reverse, Scott and his mates perform synchronized running from the Starboard rail to the Port rail rocking the boat, Judi and Kim throw lines to John and assorted others as they jump from transom to transom on other boats pulling us thru the mud, dinghies and work-boats buzz around us, and a 1' furrow is plowed in the Boat Lagoon marina.
  • 0830 - 0930 - Calm prevails as we slip into the work bay, and Scott and his crew expertly extract both masts.
  • 0930 - 1000 - Sin, the chief Travel-lift operator and his crew slide Long passages free of the water and bring her to her temporary land-home, H23, for a 2-month refit.
  • 1030 - Sin notes that our rudder-stock appears to be bent, so they go off to an early break and lunch while we ponder what to do - we decide removing the rudder is not necessary.
  • 1300 - Long Passages is lowered gently into her cradle, and we heave collective sighs of relief.

Week Ending 27 April 2002 (Bob)

Let the demolition begin - Well, the refit isLong Passages hull microballons revealed.jpg (8941 bytes) underway! The hull painting crew attacked first, and by the end of the week, they had stripped off 20 years of dings and scratches plus a lot of gelcoat and paint.  Under the slightly cracking paint they found some water-logged filler, and remnants of the original hull layup. The painters, an outfit by the name of Pro-Yachting, rightfully came to us and said "now what"?  Fortunately we had the weekend to think about it.

Visa Run! - One of the mysteries of life is the Thai Immigration policy.  Yachts may come into the country for 6 months; skippers may not leave without the yacht but can only stay 28 days, passengers (i.e. everyone else of the yacht) can also stay only 28 days, despite assurance from Thai Immigration elsewhere that they could remain 90 days.  The upshot of all of this is that generally everyone must leave Thailand every 27 days to renew their Visas - thus the Visa Run!  Several companies have set up Visa runs, where they drive you to the nearest  border, you check out of Thailand, into the other country, and back into Thailand in the shortest possible time, and get back to work.  For us, Myanmar (aka Burma) was the closest, so Thursday went like:

  • 0530 - Up early and grab a cup of coffee.
  • 0610 - TheThailand elephant on truck.jpg (18935 bytes) 10-passenger 'Mike's Bikes'  van stops in front of the marina and adds us to its motley collection of immigrants who paid $US25 each for the trip.  One of the highlights of the trip was passing a work elephant - carefully being transported to his next assignment.
  • 0800 - Stop for breakfast, fried rice or a tasty but greasy omelet. 
  • 1100 - Arrive at Mynamar Immigration checkpoint.jpg (17135 bytes)Ranong, a port town with a burgeoning Immigration business where we check out of Thailand, hop on a boat, pass a Customs checkpoint on the water, zip across a strait (15-minutes) to Mynamar, and our 'guide' checks us into Myanmar, with a crisp $5 bill stuffed in our passports.  Although we never set foot on Myanmar, we were privileged to see the wonderful checkpoint where our $5 bills went.  We had lots of company, about 5 boats arrived and departed while we were there.
  • 1130 - A quick trip back to Ranong where we check back into Thailand.
  • 1800 - After lunch and a long snooze on the way back, we are dropped off at the marina at the end of a l-o-n-g day.  Mike's Bikes was a very efficient company helping us perform a seemingly useless exercise.

We actually left the country, although briefly.  Often the process consists of giving your passport to an Immigration official who takes care of all of the niceties - for a fee.  This is known as a 'Virtual  Visa Run', and is illegal, but practiced by those who do not wish to waste a day with the real thing.

Party Hearty - There are lots of cruisers in Boat lagoon, and we seldom get together as a group, so Judi decided to fix that - with a party.  She invited 15-20 new and old friends, and we all spent a wonderful evening stuffing ourselves on appetizers, burgers, sausages, and various drinks.  Talk stretched late into the night, and a good time was had by all.


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