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Saturday, 31 March 2007

Its A Whale

Its not so often we hear that call on board, but Ley was pretty excited and she called it out REALLY LOUD. This occured just yesterday, on the passage from Langkawi to Penang. Sure enough, in amongst the fishing fleet, she got a good look at the creature. Reference to our whale books suggests it was a Goosebeak Whale, with a surprising spotted brown colouring. The whale sounded several times in our view, and slowly moved away from the fleet (and from us). This one wasn't so big (about 6 metres), but its great to see them, and nice to know they're surviving.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

The Taxi Driver Told Us ...........!

Crystal Blues departed Langkawi this morning, heading for Penang. Sailing at 6.5 knots with an 11 knot NE breeze, flat seas, blue skies. Lovely!

After several weeks of "boat jobs", we spent our last few hours yesterday in Kuah Town stocking up on duty free wine for the next few months. Towering thunderheads were building all around the bay and our taxi driver suggested that the wet season was coming a month early this year. Loaded with our bounty we stopped at the Asia Restaurant for a final meal there this season (mango squid, baby kailan and broccoli).

It started to rain lightly, so the owner's son kindly offered to drive us to the dinghy dock with our provisions. After unloading at the dock we waited for the light rain to pass over. Then it just got heavier, the thunder and lightning started, and we made a run for it. The cardboard boxes dissolved before our very eyes, the dinghy was filled with loose bottles of wine and beer, and gallons of water. Unfortunately the bailer was buried under a mountain of wine so we used a shoe to empty out the dinghy, as we motored out to the boat.

Yep, the taxi driver was right, the wet season is coming earlier this year.....

We'll be in Penang until April 11, when we fly home to Melbourne for Peter & Maria's wedding.
Crystal Blues will be left at Tanjong City Marina whilst we're in Australia. When we return at the end of April we'll set sail for Singapore and then Borneo.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Boat Jobs In Paradise

Right through March we've worked hard on boat maintenance. Ley repaired the small wear/tear in the genoa’s grey sacrificial cloth. Then it was her turn to go up the mast and sew four new leather (pigskin) boots on the spreader tips.

We hauled the boat out of the water and antifouled Crystal Blues bottom, at Rebak Island Marina. Last time we applied paint it was Jotun Sea Guardian, at Yamba in January 2005. Exactly 2 years later the antifoul just stopped working. There weren’t too many surprises on the hull. Yes, paint had been damaged here and there, but we had been in flood on the Clarence River in northern NSW and up and down the Rajang River and its tributaries in Borneo. The battle scars from logs, trees and general rubbish were evident. These were all dealt with after the hull was wet sanded by Ley. Neil cleaned up the hull, shaft and the prop and soon we were ready for the painting. This time we applied Jotun Sea Force 90.

In between coats of paint we dismantled the aft raw water inlet manifold, cleaned out the barnacle growth and rebuilt the manifold. New hose was obtained and installed, and every thru-hull checked for growth. This effectively ended our pump gremlins. Other works included repairing paint and timber damage on our rear steps, removing and replacing damaged insulation in the base of our refrigerator, replacing all anodes and servicing the PSS Shaft Seal.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Tug Boat Crystal Blues


In early February Helsal II, a 60ft racing boat from Williamstown (our home town) was berthed in the Tanjong City Marina, Penang. She had been chartered out for the Asian racing circuit, and the client reported a missing propeller blade. Now Bill (the owner) had the problem of getting the yacht to Langkawi (60 nautical miles) for a haul out to replace the propeller. A quote for a professional tow made Bill’s eyes water, so we stepped in and offered to take on the tow, for a much reduced consideration.

Within two days her crew arrived, and had a whirlwind introduction to Malaysia. A towline was assembled from two long nylon hawsers (one ours, one theirs), with 10 metres of chain in the middle. We ran a bridle from our welded cleats on the aft deck.

The tow departed Tanjong Marina (Penang) just on dusk and after a smooth motor up the channel both boats flew their headsails - a #3 on Helsal II and a full genoa on Crystal Blues. With our engine just ticking over at 1000 rpm and very little strain on the tow, we motor sailed through the night into a stiff noserly and lumpy seas. There was so much wind we were running ahead of schedule, so sail was removed at around 5.00am. Two hours later, just after dawn, we approached the “skinny bit”. A quick radio check with Bill assured him that there was enough water for their 3.2metre keel.

Another three hours and we arrived at Wavemaster Langkawi where the day was spent warping Helsal II into the slip. Tension, sweat and all of our long lines were required for this job. Helsal II was lifted the following morning – but there was no damage to the prop and all three blades were there….. guess how Bill felt !

The following day they departed for Darwin, via Port Dickson. Crystal Blues maintained a daily HF radio schedule with Helsal II until they were approaching Kupang in West Timor. We understand the boat is now in Darwin, and look forward to catching up with the crew in Melbourne next month. Check out more photo's at :

http://picasaweb.google.com/svcrystalblues/HelsalII