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Check out Weeks ending: [5 Oct 02] [12 Oct 02] [19 Oct 02] [26 Oct 02

Week Ending 5 Oct 2002 (Bob)

Instruments Back In - We had removed all of our instrument displays so the cockpit could be painted and the bulkhead was sealed with new fiberglass so that it looked brand new.  We agonized over where to re-install the displays so that they would:

  • Be visible from the helm
  • Be visible from our normal seat in the companionway
  • Be visible in the dark with our eyesight (that is not quite as good as it was in our 20's)
  • Allow us to lean on the bulkhead while on watch
  • Not take up too much room in the storage compartment inside the bulkhead

Finally we settled on a cluster arrangement near the companionwayLong Passages new instrument configuration.jpg (19039 bytes) that seems to satisfy all requirements.  The total project schedule was:

  • Agonizing (aka 'planning')  -  90%
  • Cutting holes and installing - 10%

Redecorating - While in Chiang Mai Long Passages Phoenix carving framed.jpg (27487 bytes)with Sharon and Stephanie, we acquired an exquisite leather 'carving' of a Dragon and Phoenix.  Carving art on thin sheets of leather seems to be unique to this part of the world, and we found a piece we both liked while strolling through a Wat in the inner city.  Framing, we found out, was quite reasonable in Thailand, and after rejecting the work of one frame-shop, we had Inter Frame, a small shop near Robinson's in the center of Phuket, do the deed for $25, including a double frame and custom gold paint. 

Cockpit back in shape - Last week the cockpit had been trashed because we had to remove a rotted and leaky coaming board.  By the weekend a fresh new piece of teak had been installed complete with bungs and sealant so that it should be waterproof for a long while (knock on wood!).  We had also removed the winch pad on that (Starboard) side, and rebedded it and its winches and cleat.  Hopefully that will eliminate one more source of leaks into our cockpit locker.

High Tide at Boat Lagoon - Thailand Phuket Boat lagoon walkway at high tide.jpg (20523 bytes)Phuket Boat Lagoon was built in a swampy mangrove, and we are reminded of this every month as the high Spring tides swamp the hardstand, parking area, and walkways to the docks.  This month it seems to be higher than usual, and at midday we need to wade thru calf-deep water to get to the toilets or local stores.  Thailand Phuket Boat Lagoon workers at high tide.jpg (23127 bytes)They are expanding the hardstand area to accommodate more boats, and best we can tell it will also be submerged at Spring tides so that workers must stand in salt water while they operate power tools.  The Travel-lift bay (where yachts are lifted from the water) is undergoing repairs, and at high water the workers continue to operate jackhammers and pile drivers in knee-deep water.  While some work, others take the opportunity to rest in the muddy water, sometimes up to their necks as the pix to the right will attest.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival - preview - For the last 150 years or so, a number of the Chinese shrines on Phuket celebrate a festival at this time of year that involves abstention (from most of the pleasures of life) and enduring pain.  It started this weekend, and runs for about 10 days, so next week we'll report on what we see.

Week Ending 12 Oct 2002 (Bob)

Phuket Vegetarian Festival - The big action in Phuket this week was the Vegetarian Festival, celebrated by Thai-Chinese to commemorate the cure of an opera company from China about 170 years ago when they used a vegetarian diet to cure themselves of a mysterious illness. Along the way, it has developed into a 9-day set of processions, prayers, and ceremonies.  A highlight, for visitors, are the feats of the Ma Song (literally 'entranced horses', or people who endure much pain in an attempt to take on evil spirits, and thus remove them from the community in which they live).  The events we watched included:

  • A procession from each Chinese shrine to the center of Phuket, with young members displaying acts of self-mutilation.  The young men, and women, stuck knives, skewers, rods, and branches through their cheeks and gave little evidence of pain as they rode to their shrine downtown in open trucks.  This was very reminiscent of the self-mutilation practiced by Hindus in India, and Singapore.  These displays were very disturbing to many who saw them, so click on this only if you feel you have a stomach for it.
  • Fire-walking, another demonstration of the ability of the human body to withstand pain. Thailand Phuket Veg Fest men smoothing coals.jpg (16693 bytes) The town was packed with street vendors, food stalls, and crawling traffic as we tried to find the Jui Tui Shrine.  We learned to mistrust our watches as the appointed hour of 8:09 PM came and went while the fire burned bright, and young men braved the heat to stir and smooth the bed of coals.   By 10:00 the crowd had swelled to several hundred and a procession arrived from the nearby shrine to the popping of firecrackers.  Many men, shaking their heads in an apparent trance, Thailand Phuket Veg Fest man crossing hot coals.jpg (22631 bytes) performed their rituals, and one by one they walked (or ran, skipped, or hopped) over the 15'-wide bed of coals.  It was a fascinating display witnessed by hundreds of Thais and tourists, many dressed completely in white as dictated by the guidelines for participating in the festival.
  • Blade-ladder climbing Thailand Phuket Veg Fest shrine with bright candles.jpg (22635 bytes) was the next event on our schedule, and we took this in at a small neighborhood shrine, a short 15-minute walk from the marina.  Here, the schedule established earlier held and we waited 2 hours, but this time we sat in comfort in the friendly company of our neighbors.  Men of all ages climbed a 16-rung ladder with steps lined with sharp blades, often bouncing on each rung to accentuate the pain. Thailand Phuket Veg Fest man climbing bladed ladder.jpg (16815 bytes) All seemed to be in a trance, and finished the ritual with a mock slaying of something with axes or hatchets.  The first man to climb up and down the ladder finished his ritual by offering fruit to the audience, and started with Judi and our friend Jeanette from the schooner Voyager.  Other men gave strings to children and other on-lookers as they passed on the blessings they had received by their suffering.
  • Procession to Return 9 Emperor Gods was the last Thailand Phuket Veg Fest boys running thru fireworks.jpg (18306 bytes) event of the week, and it was AMAZING!  Many of the shrines on Phuket took turns parading through the center of the city, carrying pallets with likenesses of the 9 Emperor Gods or other figures.  Audience participation was the word of the day as hundreds of the onlookers threw packets of firecrackers at the marchers where they exploded around their heads, bare feet, or other unpredictable places.  The objective seemed to be to scare away evilThailand Phuket Veg Fest men carrying spirits amid fireworks.jpg (19717 bytes) spirits or help raise the people to heaven, depending on who we asked.  Many wound long strings of firecrackers on poles, and held them over the heads of the marchers, unwrapping them as they exploded.  It was the most intense blitz of fireworks we have ever witnessed; we smelled of cordite and our ears rang as we rounded out the evening at the local McDonalds having a mid-night snack of chocolate sundaes.  
  • In Review - The nine days were really fascinating, and we saw scenes we would never have believed possible in this reasonably progressive country (although I suppose one could say that about Mardi Gras also). For more background and photos, check out The History of Phuket's Vegetarian Festival.

Canvas, Canvas, everywhere! - Judi extricated the sewing machine from the bowels of our fore-peak and has used the last couple of weeks to good advantage making new canvas covers for most everything that could not get out of her way.  So, Long Passages sports:

  • Weather clothes that now fit properly and keep spray out of the cockpit (after we carelessly moved the stanchions without checking the length of the canvas).
  • Covers for the outboard, that fits like a glove.
  • Cover for the life-raft and fuel container carried on deck.
  • Sun awnings that can be moved to provide shelter for all corners of the cockpit.
  • Water-catchers 

Tragedy in Bali - At the weekend came the tragic news about the bombing of a nightclub in Bali that took the lives of 200 people from 24 different countries.  One of our friends in the marina was affected as a friend of their daughter was in the club at the time, and died a senseless death at a very young age.  On our way through Bali we had been impressed by the friendliness and tranquility of the Balinese people, and it is doubly sad that they will suffer the consequences of this act for years to come.  It also spotlighted that no region of the world is out of reach of the terrorists, and that they must be rooted out and their ability to promote violence must be eliminated.
A corollary to action against the terrorists must be for the Western countries, and in particular the US, to examine their interactions with other countries and to reduce those that serve narrow and shortsighted interests.  We should, as the saying goes: "think globally".

Week Ending 19 Oct 2002 (Bob)

Grinding and varnishing - The work continues readying Long Passages for cruising.  We have really underestimated the amount of time it would take to wrap up the 'details'.  One big project these days has been removing and re-installing the chain-plates (steel straps used to support the cables that hold up the mast).  Several have leaked and many of them have not been resealed since the Caribbean or New Zealand.  We have 17 chain-plates, and at 2-4 hours each (with time out for rainy days) this project has dragged on for a couple of weeks.

Birthday Girl - At the Thailand Phuket Ramayana at Jeanette's b'day.jpg (23308 bytes)week-end we joined Jeanette and Peter from the schooner 'Voyager' to celebrate her birthday at a local Thai floor show at the Thainaan Restaurant.  It was a delightful place and we enjoyed the Thai dancing with scenes from the Indian epic Ramayana.

Week Ending 26 Oct 2002 (Bob)

Odds and Ends - The work on the re-fit is winding down as we finished the chain-plates (finally) and Judi got the final coat of Cetol on the cockpit woodwork.

Visiting Yacht Haven - At the end of the week a 150' motor launch visited Yacht Haven (30-minute's to our north) and many cruisers converged to eat, drink, listen to the band, and hope for a tour on the yacht.  We did 3 out of 4, but no invite from the yacht was forthcoming.


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