Monday, 5 April 2010

Refitting In Thailand

Are we addicted to refitting ?  Many of our friends think so, yet I know I'd rather be sailing. Our recent stay in Thailand was our longest refit, lasting 16 months on the hard stand in Boat Lagoon, Phuket.

Anyone can make 8 months of work extend to 16 months - ask me, I'm an expert ! A good proportion of the time delay was caused by us going off to travel and work elsewhere .... but its still a long time to be out of the water.

The golden rule to refitting in Thailand is never leave the boat - you just have to be there every day, checking, assessing, instructing and of course trying to have fun.  If you manage to find the right approach (the right attitude) you will have fun, and the local Thai workers will be responsive and friendly.   If you get way too serious and way too demanding you'll lose them (literally), and find yourself with no workers on the boat the next day.  This can be a serious problem ....

After 16 months on the ground in Thailand we've dealt with every type of problem, and almost all the major service providers in Phuket.   Quite a few stood out, providing remarkable service, and we are confident in recommending them. Here are our Gold Star Winners :

Siam Cooling are without doubt the most competent marine refrigeration engineers I have ever dealt with, anywhere in the world.  The level of expertise and standard of workmanship was truly amazing.  They upgraded our 240 volt refrigeration to a more efficient system, working to my design (which would test any contractor).   Then they installed a split system water cooled air-conditioning  system that is first class.  Introduce yourself to Stephane, a third generation refrigeration engineer who heads the company.  Place your trust in his solutions - we believe they are world class.  Just to visit their factory is a delight - a clean and well organised working environment, motivated staff, top class facilities, an education in best practice. The Siam Cooling team stand out as leaders in the marine refrigeration market.
Cutting out the damaged steel dodger
Luk Engineering are the best marine engineers in Phuket.  Have I made myself clear ? 

They can custom manufacture almost anything for boats in stainless steel, mild steel or marine grade aluminium.   Their service is excellent, the team are universally friendly and if they make a mistake they fix it, no questions asked.   Early in our project a "less scrupulous operator" managed to demolish our beautiful steel dodger - Luk and his team re-built it carefully, better than new.  With a huge and well equipped machine shop, they tune and repair propellers, turn customs shafts and build everything from rudders to complete ships.  A very impressive operation.

Precision Shipwright Services are a division of East Marine at Boat Lagoon.  David Samuelson and his team provide skilled rigging services with a huge range of rope, wire, parts and spares on hand.

David supplied our new Profurl genoa furler, new forestay and rigged our twin backstays.  He tuned the rig and was always there when we needed him, a rare gift among service trades in Thailand.  None of this comes cheap, but its all well worth it.  I wouldn't trust this kind of work to anybody else.

Do we look happy?
Morn Car Rentals   Some times Thai people and culture are difficult for us westerners to understand - and at first glance my good friend Morn seems just too nice to be true.  But get used used to it - this guy really is that good.  Morn operates a "cruisers support service" from his small shop on the highway, just outside Boat Lagoon Marina.  He rents cars and motor bikes at reasonable rates, he runs a laundry service for cruisers, and a book lending library.  If thats not enough, Morn has recently started offering a Poste Restante service - you can have your mail and parcels delivered to your name, care of his address. As he's right across the road from the local Post Office the service is regular, and we trust Morn implicitly.  Have your mail sent to :  Your Name, Your Boat Name, C/- 12/15 Moo 2, Thepkasatree Road, Kho-Kaew, Mung, Phuket, Thailand, 83000.   Morn will also collect you from the airport when you arrive, and will deliver your rental car to almost anywhere on the island. 
When I landed in hospital with Dengue fever, Ley needed a car desperately but none were available as it was peak season.  Morn took the bus to Bangkok (almost 20 hours) to collect a car and then drove it back to Phuket so Ley would have transport.  He's one of those special Thai people who give us very happy refit memories.

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