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Friday, 29 May 2009

From Little Things, Big Things Grow

Crystal Blues pre fit-out in NZ
Back in 1980's, New Zealander Murray Yeoman dreamed of a yacht that would take him to Antarctica. Murray turned that dream into reality, launching Crystal Blues (then called Aslam II) in Auckland early in 1988. We're very glad he did.

Inside Crystal Blues pre fit-out
The hull and deck were professionally built at Greenhithe, then shipped to Murray's home where the fitout was completed by a shipwright Murray hired from Ireland. She was designed by fellow New Zealander Dennis Ganley, who had made a specialty of metal yacht design (Dennis was tragically killed in a car accident the year we purchased Crystal Blues). We tracked Murray down in Auckland in 1998, and he kindly provided photographs of the construction (above and at left). He also spent a weekend sailing on Sydney Harbour with us a couple of years later, and had some great stories to tell.

Our connection to those early days in the boat's history became a little stronger this year. During this refit we demolished the lining of the forward hold, where we found a tiny pine cone wedged in the steel frames up forward. This is clearly a blow-in from the trees in Murray's front yard. Though banged about and marked a little by primer and high-build paint, it sits safely on the desk beside me as I write these words, a tiny link with the past. Besides entering Australia illegally on many occasions, that pine cone has travelled to some wondrous places !

Just a few weeks ago we shared a lunch table with a recently arrived cruising couple, at the local Thai cafe. An hour or so later they were crawling over Crystal Blues with some joy - the world is a very small place. Our new friends are Garth and Janine Ganley. Garth, brother to the yacht's designer Dennis, had sailed to Phuket in another of his brother's designs, a Tara 39. That's Garth and Janine (on the right) with us in the image at right.

So, for the past few weeks I've been trying to track down Murray Yeoman, without much success - if you know where he is, I have a tiny little pine cone I'd like to send him.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Borneo / Sarawak Cruising Information

We're still planning to visit Borneo this year, but for those who will undoubtedly be there before us, some of this news may assist.

New Check-In Procedures in Kuching

Anchoring at Santubong is always a delight, it is a very special and beautiful place (that's Samsara II in the anchorage in the image at right). However in the past the check-in procedures were always a little daunting.

I'm pleased to say that things have improved, with the Harbour Master now re-located to a building on the new Express Wharf, right where the high speed ferries berth. Unfortunately it is on the other side of the port boundary fence from the Immigration office, but it is a lot more convenient than before! To help with Check-In, Ian Robertson of SY Kumang in Kuching, has updated the procedures document for visiting yachts.

You can download the guide here, or from the Borneo Cruising Information area, lower down in the right hand column of this site. Of course if you're travelling as one of the rally boats to Borneo this year you probably won't need the guide, but then you also won't see the Santubong at its most peaceful .... I just can't imagine 40 boats anchoring in that place. The very shy and rare Irrawady Dolphin can usually be seen there, which leads me to our next story....

Dolphins In Sarawak Waters

There is a UNIMAS team doing a survey of Dolphins in Sarawak coastal waters. Ian Robertson has been in contact with the survey team and offered the services of passing yachts as dolphin spotters. Ian says the more people we can get involved the better. Nothing too strenuous just note down when / where / numbers / species etc. If possible with photos, then relax having put in a hard day's spotting for a good cause!

Information about the survey and response forms are available here. There are both online and downloadable forms for recording details.

Borneo Cruising Resources List - Updated

Over the last month we've updated and re-loaded all the major Asian marine resource directories that can be downloaded from this blogsite (check the right hand column).

If you have an earlier version of the Borneo list, or haven't seen it yet, you can get the new one by clicking here. Remember these are .pdf files, and are designed to be searched to find the resource you're chasing. If you type say "heat exchanger" into the search query box, the Adobe software will pop up with all the service options we've found and included. All of the updated guides, country by country, can be downloaded from the table in the right hand column of
this blog.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Go Backwards To Go Forwards - Refit Week 34

Rugby is a football code where going backwards, away from the goal, is an accepted part of play. Despite the glossy hull and newly applied signwriting, this week our boat refit feels like rugby. "Bum" & "On" our painters from Pro Yachting, have started power-sanding off the brand new non-skid deck paint.

Two weeks ago Ley & I started re-installing the deck fittings and the new railings on Crystal Blues. Whilst screwing down all those turning blocks, jammers and line organisers we noticed a few defects in the new grey paint areas - and another defect in the white non-skid. It turns out that a thunderstorm moved through the area not long after the grey paint was applied. The winds blew dust onto some areas of the paint, whilst the moisture in the air caused the gloss to diminish. After discussing the situation with Jill & Pro they made the logical decision - to sand it off and start again. This was a fairly serious decision - linear polyurethane paint is wildly expensive.

However Pro has shown his dedication to quality by taking the hard road this time. So the guys started, initially hand sanding the grey with 400 grit and then power sanding the non-skid. What a job .... we expect they'll respray the grey sometime next week, and the non-skid a week later. Looks like we spend another few weeks in "paradise" .....

Yat lining out the forward hold
Meanwhile, work continues on other parts of the refit, where I've completed the overhaul and re-build of our steering system. This involved new bearings and sleeving for the bronze axle in the binnacle, plus a new sprocket, chain and wire. Ley is now working on the paint trim for our deck hatches, whilst I'm completing the priming and finishing in the machinery space and lazarette. "Yat", a carpenter from Pro Yachting, is almost finished re-lining the forward hold and locker area. Next week we'll start putting fittings and rigging back onto the mast & boom, whilst Yat will move into the galley to re-install our freezer and galley cabinets.

Holidays In Paradise

This is the hottest month of the year in Phuket. After starting work at 8.00am we're usually dripping by lunchtime and very glad to spend most afternoons at home, compiling and editing video for our "other life" (see the story here). The impressive website for Private Homes & Villas has now been launched (click here to link), so all 25 of our Bali villa videos can now be viewed online, along with the first few samples from Koh Samui. Next month we'll be filming more properties here in Phuket.

Our good friend Danny Kildare, a pro photographer from Sydney, stayed with us for almost two weeks last month. I worked with Danny years back, and he hasn't changed a bit. Still food crazy and an expert on fine wines. It was inevitable that he'd love the local food, but be disappointed with the ice we liberally add to our wine - both white and red. Its a Thai thing ....

Also staying with us this month was Robert Goh, a sailing friend and mountaineer from Singapore. Robert was in town to scout locations for his wedding to Elaine, later this year.