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Friday, 7 November 2008

Refit Week 11 - Good, Bad, & Then Very Different

Just over 11 years ago we bought a boat, and yes, it was life changing. At the time I thought I was quite the technician - I even owned a (small) tool kit. Nowadays my assembled tool collection will only just fit into the trunk of a modern car (see the photo).

So here we are in Thailand, and for once we are enjoying the refit process ... obviously we have the tools, and the local contractors have the labour and tools whenever we don't.

Living ashore, in a house, is a bit weird for us - who ever imagined they needed so many keys to live a normal life ? Onboard Crystal Blues we have just two keys - one that starts the engine and one that does everything else. Now we've got house keys, car keys, shed keys, window keys, safe keys and the rest. Its way too confusing....and every time we drive into a parking lot, or even into the marina, they give us another security pass.

This place is security crazy. We live in a gated & guarded community, but Crystal Blues is even better off - she gets guards on patrol, guards nearby with 2 way radios, guards on bicycles and of course guards asleep - oops !

Life ashore is very different to life afloat, though its amazing how fast you adapt (regress?). I "go to work" at 8.00am every day, not even thinking that I'm supposed to be retired ... OK, that'll come later. So I dodge the Soi (street) dogs, the buffalo, chickens, children etc until I hit the main road, when all hell finally breaks loose. This I can deal with - its only traffic. Except that half of Thailand's drivers think they're Ayrton Senna and the other half can't find second gear. Did I mention the motor bikes ? It seems that road rules, traffic lights and road markings are only "a suggestion" here... you can drive down the wrong side of the road, you can drive through a red light or cross straight into a busy traffice lane without looking. Thats life. Your periheral vision gets a good work out here!

Its only 3km to the boat from home, though in the mornings we divert to dodge the heavy traffic and its then about 5km, but a relaxing and scenic forest drive. Which is just as well, because the boatyard is not relaxing. Phuket Boat Lagoon has a massive hardstand (right now its kind of empty - only 98 boats on the hard). We're right at one end, under a big tent and sweating it out as the last of the spot blasting and priming happens today. Tomorrow the sides will come up and things will cool down on deck.

Steel Work Problems

In our last blog posting we said that the steel work was almost completed - unfortunately we spoke too soon. Our "friend" Mr Nop, who had made new stainless railings and parts for us, managed to mess up his final job on deck. His boys put way too much heat into one area and severely distorted the roof of our hard dodger. The really unfortunate part was that he wanted me to pay him to fix it ..... extortionate stuff. Clearly, I can't recommend him to anybody now.

Much embarrasment among our Thai hosts, and with their help we found a better contractor, Mr Luk, who has a skillful and patient metal working team that are Lloyds certified. After cutting out the mess, they've created a very beautiful replacement, better than the original, as its now all built in 316 stainless. A work of art, pity we had to sandblast and coat it with 4 coats of epoxy. If you're planning any sort of steel or stainless work in Phuket, Mr Luk is definitely your man (details in our Thailand Marine Directory - download it here).

Divide and conquer was our war cry over the last 2 weeks. I went to the boat each day and worked with the guys on site, sandblasting, welding, painting and expoxy fairing. Ley became the winch wench, stripping and servicing all seven Wilkie winches in a week, as well as completing sewing work on the boom bag and a million other jobs. Some folks have written to ask us for a list of the work we're doing - if you're interested there are now two documents you can download. Firstly, the Main Contract Works schedule, being carefully undertaken by Pro Yachting. Secondly the Other Works schedule, most of this undertaken or at least project managed by us. Read 'em and weep. The hull is now completely sealed, primed and partially faired, and we certainly don't need to tell Jill & Pro (or their team) how to finish the topsides - they're experts.

Something Different

This week, we're entering a new and exciting mind space, leaving Thailand for a month to do something different - we're producing video recordings in Bali, Phuket, Koh Samui and Sri Lanka. We have 3 days in Singapore to collect, test and commission our new video equipment, then 3 weeks in Bali filming. This will be followed by 5 days in Singapore working with the client's production team, before returning to Phuket on December 9. The other regions will follow over the next few months, in between the boat work. Wish us luck ... if the web posts are slow over the next few weeks it's because we're busy !