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Thursday, 15 December 2011

Settling In

Orchid shopping (Photo SV Catchastar)
 The Job List

For cruisers, one of the big attractions of Phuket is the quality marine services and trades readily available.  Fortunately our list for this year is very short.

The first things on Ley's list was to buy another orchid.  So with Cathy (SV Catchastar) and Lyn (MV Mandella II), we visited our favourite orchid lady.  Three flowering orchids, planted in a coconut shell with hanging wires, cost 170baht - around $6.00.  With a little TLC and orchid food we hope to have blooms for months to come.

Our aging Caribe dinghy was repaired by Cholamark Boat Company.  It needed new handles, new valves and strengthening at the transom/tube connection.  The dinghy was returned to us yesterday and now has a new lease of life.  It's 11 years old now and our "car on water" has carried us through many adventures, with hundreds and hundreds of sea and river miles under the keel.
It says a lot for Caribe boats !

Crystal Blues dwarfed by super yachts (Photo SV Catchastar)
Yacht Haven Marina

This is our first visit to Yacht Haven Marina and we are enjoying it.  There is a good breeze most days and the clean, fast flowing water is alive with fish. Friendly staff and security guards, good wi-fi and proximity to local restaurants all make it a great place to call home for awhile. We are surrounded by Super Yachts, one even has its own helicopter on the aft deck.  The most common language spoken at our end of "A Dock" is French, certainly a change from the Singlisgh at One 15 Marina.

Fire On Board MV Grey Pearl

A few weeks back we were invited to the Haven Restaurant here, and with the crews from Catchastar and Mandella II, we sat on the balcony and watched a beautiful sunset over Phangna Bay.

A short while later the Captain from super yacht Michaela Rose asked us if we had boats in the marina - his crew had called to warn him that a boat was on fire on D Dock.  They reported the fire under control and we could see fire hoses spraying water over the fire.  Unfortunately the fire soon raced out of control and the flames leaped brighter and higher.

Damage to other boats was minimised as the blazing boat was towed out by Yacht Haven Marina Manager Nick Wyatt and staff.  That was a gutsy move, given the likelihood of propane or fuel explosions.   It was somehow manoeuvred onto a deserted beach nearby, where the fire eventually burned itself out. Due to the courageous effort by Nick and his team it appears that only one other boat was slightly damaged in this incident.  MV Grey Pearl was a well proven and well loved 62ft Nordhavn motor yacht.

MV Grey Pearl - Skeletal Remains

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Sleigh Ride to Phuket

Rebak Retirement Island!
In early November Neil was busy working in India, so Ley filled her days with a typical Rebak Retirement Island lifestyle.  A walk, swim and water aerobics in the early mornings, cooking classes, fruit and vegie ferry runs and then provisioning.
Hard to take......
With Crystal Blues fully loaded with fuel, water & wine, we departed Telaga Harbour around 14.00 hours.  The wind always gusts strongly around the top end of Langkawi as there are many mountains and high cliffs, so we motor-sailed through the gusts and then turned off the engine.  16 hours and 120 nm later we arrived at our destination, Phuket.  Both crew and Crystal Blues had a fabulous overnight sail.  Winds were just forward of the starboard beam, blowing 10 to 23 knots.  For hours on end we were flying at 8.5 knots or more.  As the wind crept up to 23 knots I prepared to furl in the head sail, but the sea state calmed down and we kept flying with full genoa and mainsail.  I had decided to let Neil sleep longer, but he woke up early, as he didn't want to miss the best sailing we have had in years.  Wind at last !
Squid boat - lit up like a Christmas tree.

Very Scary!  Around midnight  I saw a shadow of an unlit yacht sailing off our starboard bow.  I raced down below and switched on all our lights as this ghost ship silently tacked and glided by 100 feet off starboard.  The only navigation light was a stern mounted red fishing light, flashing dimly.  The sailor had a small flashing strobe in his hand.  I tried to make contact with him over VHF radio, but no reply, so I told anyone else who was listening on radio what I thought of his irresponsible sailing.......a very frightening experience!

Up until then all I had to dodge were lines of anchored squid boats, as in this photo, which are lit up like Christmas trees.

Checking in to Phuket.    There are new check-in procedures for Phuket / Ao Chalong One Stop Shop.  If you have Internet access before you arrive in Thailand, it expedites clearance if you register and check in on line.  All your information online is printed out and is chopped with your boat stamp and signature.  Port Captain and Customs also require a lot of paper work still.  The new system is in trial mode and hopefully once the system is fully tested, maybe the paper work mountain will diminish.


A New Home  We had a delightful sail up Phang-Nga Bay toYacht Haven Marina and are now comfortably settled into our berth on A dock, mixing it with many of the Super Yachts that are based here.  Neil has been busy with work - systems design, emails and conference calls each day.  On the weekend we took time out to show friends, Ray and Jan Pitt, Phuket through our eyes.  I think the highlight of their trip was the fun and games we had at the LadyBoy (Kathoey) bar on Saturday night in Patong.  We have also managed to share a few meals with them at our favourite restaurants and cafes here.
Fun and games with Ray and Jan

A Night to Remember!

Lucky us!
Silence
I was off watch and woke to hear the engine being shut off.  I listened for the sheets  to be released and the mainsail raised, but only heard silence, not good at 4.40am.  We were drifting with a fouled propeller, with Neil sitting in the cockpit locating the fishing boats on radar.  The pitch black predawn and an oily black sea  surrounded us, and we decided to wait the few hours till dawn before diving under the boat.
The PowerDive Hooker was set up on the aft deck.  Neil donned a pair of leather gloves and armed with a very sharp knife he dove overboard.  Five minutes later he hoisted up a floating fishing net that he cut from around the propeller.  We were on our way again....
Exactly two hours later the engine came to a screeching stop again,  but this time we could see the culprit.  We were trailing 6 metre loops of thick rope, which also wrapped around the propeller.  Fortunately we had the hooker set up, so Neil went for his second swim in the Malacca Straits, off Pangkor Island, Malaysia.

Strikes and Boom

Just like this!
The net and rope fouling on the prop was really just a minor annoyance after a bad night of electrical storms.  Around 20.00  hours Neil was preparing to go to bed  when we noticed a large storm on the radar.  Lightning and thunder was  focused on the mainland  and we continued to move ahead of it.  Or so it seemed at the time.  As the storm slid behind us it moved out to sea and then began spawning storm cells all around us.  Soon we were at the storm's epicentre , the lightning  was spitting and hissing all around the boat, lighting up our world, the thunder booming overhead.  Luckily we had just managed to weave through a fleet of anchored squid boats and could see them eerily highlighted with each flash.

We searched the radar looking for an escape route but the storm was traveling with us and growing in momentum, so we decided to turn tail and run away.  The rain pounded down  and with each lightning strike  it illuminated the white-out conditions that surrounded us.  We were not having much fun, but were relieved that we had an escape plan.  After 3 hours the storm moved out to sea and we turned back to our original heading.  Neil went to bed, and for the next few hours I watched the storm angrily boom and flash out towards Sumatra.
 
The Great Escape
At the Shade Tree Cafe, Penang
Apart from rope, nets and storms we had a dream run  up the Malacca Straits! We are heading, via Penang and Langkawi, to Phuket, where we plan to base ourselves for awhile.  With positive current and tide for most of the passage and no wind at all, we were really looking forward to a change of scenery.  We stayed at the new Straits Quay Marina in Penang, for 4 days and caught up with Kathy and Mark on SV Catchastar.

Crystal Blues is now berthed in Rebak Marina, Langkawi.  Neil has flown to India for work for the next two weeks.  Ley has been challenged to stock the boat with all things duty free in his absence.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Changing Cultures

Wanting To Ship To Turkey?

SV Skedaddle Again being loaded in the Maldives 2011
We have posted this on behalf of Pete and Kathy on SV Wave Runner :

"We have negotiated a discounted rate of $800/foot with Sevenstar, sailing early March from Phuket, Thailand, to Marmaris, Turkey. This is the same company that shipped so many yachts from the Maldives early this year, and from Phuket later in the year.  We have had good reports from people who shipped.  To take advantage of the discount, please contact Pete Jamieson, SV Wave Runner waverunnerp@gmail.com who will put you in touch with the agent and note you are part of the group." See here to read of SV Skedaddle Again's shipping experience from the Maldives to Turkey.



A Cultural Exchange

Based in Phuket for our last refit, the boat work left us little time to cook at home.  There was fabulous Thai food available almost everywhere - from the back of motor bikes, street stalls, local cafes to silver service dining.  A few of our favourites are Mama's Cafe in Boat Lagoon, Chili's, Raya's and the Thai House.

We've been away from Phuket for 18 months now, but still crave the freshness and flavour of Thai food.  Luckily for us Ley has two Thai friends who also live in One15 Marina.  They had a cultural food exchange......Ley taught them to bake bread and they are teaching Ley to how to cook Thai.  Larb Goong, Chu Chee Pla, Takrai Pla, Phad Thai and Yum Woon Sen and hopefully lots more to come!

Dee and Somkuan with their bread                                              Ley's Larb Goong (Cold prawn salad)
The refrigerator is now loaded with Thai basil, lemongrass, bunches of mint, Thai chives and coriander, ginger, galangal, kafir lime leaves and green peppercorns. All these and more are readily available at Thai Supermarket in the Golden Mile shopping complex in Singapore.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Never Leave Port On A Friday - With Bananas Onboard

And never sail with a woman onboard - well we won't go there.  So we broke all the old rules last Friday and were severely punished!

We cleared out of Singapore heading for a 4 day break on the Johore River in Malaysia.  We anchored over night and departed just before dawn with favourable light winds and current.  Then the dawn peace was shattered by an engine alarm - coolant temperature was high.  Despite having the necessary parts on board we soon found ourselves limping back to Singapore under dinghy power.

Crystal Blues Uses Dinghy Propulsion
 When the alarm sounded we shut down, quickly hoisted the sails and slowly made our way through one of Singapore's big ship anchorages.  As we sailed we started stripping the engine cooling system, starting with the gearbox oil cooler - if the impeller had failed the parts would be pushed through the system to that point.

A handfull of rubber bits confirmed our assumption, so we then started removing the seawater pump.  We kept sailing, letting the engine cool down and when the breeze stopped we dropped anchor just east of Changi airport.  The water pump location on the Cummins is tucked well forward, where access is mainly by feel, not sight, through a small opening under the galley sink.  Our 11mm ring spanner was too long for Neil to use in such a confined space, so on the back step we used the angle grinder to cut it down.  All was going well until the last bolt head sheared off as we released it.  Now we had no wind, no motor and 9 nautical miles to return to the marina.


Dinghy Propulsion

A handful of impeller blades
With the dinghy sprung with long lines, just aft of midship, we hung all our fenders overboard to protect the hull.  Well smothered in sunscreen and holding an umbrella we did shifts in powering forward, sitting in the dinghy.  Steerage was via the autopilot as we moved at 3.5 to 4 knots back to the marina.

Half way back the 18hp Tohatsu outboard motor started cutting out.  It would start again after a few squeezes on the inline priming pump, but it was quite stressful as we were drifting in a ship anchorage.  We were sun burned, dehydrated and not having much fun!  Fortunately our good neighbours, Peter and Somkuan of MV Inn Lieu came out in their large RIB dinghy and towed us the last few miles home. Once inside the marina we maneuvered under dinghy power and quietly slipped into our pen.  Now the "holiday" can begin again.

We passed two Dockwise boat / yacht transport  ships in the anchorage - maybe we could have asked for a "lift" home?



Monday, 1 August 2011

B.O.A.T Day!

We had a B.O.A.T (bring out another thousand ) day, yesterday.  Fortunately these don't come around too often, but when they do they are nasty.

1. The Genset Saga Continues
Our dear Onan - a love hate relationship

Ley had noticed that there was a light grey, dusty film in the lazerette.  Installed here are a myriad of pumps, washing machine, genset, watermaker, inverter, charger and house batteries - each and every component could be guilty......so we checked everything.  Two Jabsco pumps and a magnetic (refrigeration) pump were recently replaced, the washing machine just over a year old, the batteries were clean and dry, so we pulled off the cover of the genset......a light grey film of dust had delicately settled over its innards, not good.  We started the genset up and saw a puff of grey smoke waft out from the back of the Onan.  Why is it that when something fails the problem is always at the back of the machinery, deeply hidden?  We have pulled this genset apart too many times to count for other problems, see here, the exhaust system will be a new challenge.


2. Followed by the Battery Charger
Mastervolt Mass Charger on the right




But this was just the icing on the cake.  Early in the morning we started the genset, and if you are wondering our latest impeller (30 hours of use) is doing fine, but we didn't seem to be charging our AGM house batteries via the Mastervolt Mass 12/80 battery charger.  We could see spasmodically just a few amps of charge, not the 60 plus amps that are normally thumped in.  The 240 volt refrigeration system was working fine, so we knew the gentset output was okay.  After checking the Mastervolt service book, Neil pulled out the giant tool box and other stuff that is stored in this section to make a pathway for him to lie side-on, over the house batteries and the look at the charger.  The Mastervolt charger was bolted in position when this aft section of the boat was not fully populated with stuff, and as it is a low maintenance piece of equipment, we thought this location was okay. After a few hours of observation and testing we decided that the charger was faulty.

The burnt electrical socket.

3. Seriously Sad Wiring

As Neil was lying across the batteries he noticed that the 240 volt plug from the air conditioner was loose in the GPO socket.  He tried to push it back in, but found out that the plastic fitting was melted, brown and deformed -  a very lucky discovery.  So we totally removed this piece of wire, reinstalled and terminated the connection from the GPO plug to the air con unit.......this was the only bit of wiring on our boat that we had let a contractor do.  We supplied the wire, double insulated, the black cable protector and the Australian approved 240 volt plug, sloppy workmanship was provided in Thailand.

On Monday we talked with Bob Wisniewskii from Power Protection Solutions in Australia and ordered a new battery charger.  We have also sourced Onan manifold and exhaust gaskets locally and from Australia for the genset.

Practice flag carrying for National Day
Ah, a Long Weekend

Of course none of this would be so urgent as most of the time we are tied up to the dock, but next weekend we have a four day holiday to celebrate Singapore National Day and we hope not to be tied up for a few days.  Instead we want to be anchored off Telok Sengat and Sebana Cove in the Johore River in Malaysia.

B.O.A.T.......


Sunday, 17 July 2011

Happy Days

Celebrating 90 years
Four Generations
Ley's father, Ray Worrall, celebrated his 90th birthday on June 21, just a week after the Gemini duo (AKA Neil and Ley) celebrated their joint birthdays.

Ninety years is a sensational achievement and we had a very pleasant Sunday lunch at the Royal Motor Yacht Club of Victoria in Williamstown.  With four generations present Dad quietly blew out his candles and smiled.

Neil's parents also joined in the celebrations - we both feel blessed that we could all celebrate his amazing journey.

Servicing the Whale pump
Pumps R Us

We think our Whale Titan manual bilge pump is around 20+ years old on Crystal Blues.  Luckily we have only had to use it once in earnest,  when our gear box oil cooler developed a serious leak.  Just recently the pump developed a small squirt when being used so we replaced the neoprene casing.  Getting 20 years out of a product that is only guaranteed 1 year is amazing - thank you Whale.

Over the past year we have replaced three pumps -  our 12 volt Jabsco fresh water supply, a Jabsco macerator and a 240volt magnetic drive for our refrigeration system.  The Jabsco salt water deck wash pump also needed a switch replaced, luckily we had a spare in the cupboard.

Our friend Kris on SVTaipan suggested we add up how many pumps we have on Crystal Blues, 16 at least, we think, all moving fluids here and there.  No wonder we have a whole cupboard dedicated to pumps and their spare parts!

Space Matrix Sail Away

Last Saturday we celebrated a visit to Singapore by our good friend Prasanna from Space Matrix's Bangalore office.  As Prasanna and Praveen arrived at One15 Marina, they noticed a famous Bollywood movie star, Sameera Reddy, in the club lobby.  They even managed to get their photo taken with Sameera!

Ley cooked up a multi cultural feast, catering for vegetarian, no pork and no beef diets! Dinghy rides, floating lessons and lots of fun filled our afternoon in the Singapore sun.

Space Matrix Sail Away



Monday, 16 May 2011

Cold & Getting Colder

Back in December 2009 we commissioned Siam Cooling to upgrade our 240 volt refrigeration systems.  A new Hermetique compressor was installed as well as replacing all the 20 year old copper tubing.  Stephan and his team did a fabulous job and the refrigeration and freezer has been running perfectly ever since.

Neil planned to build a new control system himself, using electronic sensors in the cold boxes, to give us finer control over the system.  We sourced Elliwell controllers from Singapore, and stainless thermo-couples from Stefan at Siam Cooling.
 Old contacts in Melbourne helped with a laser cut and engraved stainless panel to mount the electronics.  Over the past 16 months he has slowly completed this project.  Today was the big day, power, sensors, solenoid valves and the controllers were finally all hooked up and the system commissioned.

Now Neil is pacing the cabin, fine tuning the set points, differentials and controller parameters.  It works !  Yep -  it looks like a mini disco is happening in the corner of the galley with red, yellow and green diodes.  One more job from our last refit has been completed.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Tempting Tiomans

View from Crystal Blues in the channel between Pulau Aur and Pulau Dayang
Easter holidays offered us a few days away from Singapore, so we decided to explore the Tioman Island group.  After clearing out with Singapore Immigration at dusk we motored east through the busy Singapore Straits and then continued on north overnight.

Crystal Blues arrived at beautiful Pulau Aur just in time for breakfast. There are three low key dive resorts here and a small Malay village spread along the two sides of the channel.  The anchor dropped between the two islands and we went for a swim in clean, clear water.  The cooling breeze, the towering rock escarpments and swaying coconut palm vistas enthralled us.  Hard to believe that such pristine beauty can be found so close to Singapore. Early next morning our neighbours and friends from Singapore arrived on MV Saraburi, so the partying quickly began - oh we really miss the cruising life....


Sweet sailing - Photo by Rod Steel
Sunset Sailing

Next day we moved on to Pulau Tioman.  Flat seas and a steady beam breeze of 10 to 15 knots showed Crystal Blues off at her sweetest point of sail.  Lucky for us there were a few avid photographers on the top deck of Saraburi. It wasn't long before Crystal Blues was sailing off into the sunset, with the log reading 8.5 knots for the next few hours.



Pulau Tioman

Sailing under the dragon's horns of Pulau Tioman. Photo by Mel Dow
According to local legend a Chinese dragon princess flew over these pristine waters on her way to visit her prince in Singapore.  She stopped here for a rest, fell in love with the beauty of the area and took on the form of an island.  Her horns are the peaks rising up through the mist, her scales the luxurious, green, leafy foliage and her claws are the grey boulders scattered along the shoreline.  She also vowed to give shelter and comfort to passing travelers.

Like the magical Chinese dragon, we too were cast under the Tioman spell.  As always Malaysian check in and out procedures were quick and easy.  We anchored off the marina and dinghied into to have lunch and explore.  The main town is a sleepy village beside the (tiny) airport runway.  A host of small cafes and duty free shops were spread out down the single central road.  As we walked a passing motor bike with side car stopped and gave a lift to a Chinese cafe.  We decided to taste a few bottles of duty free wine with our lunch and the cafe owner freely brought a bucket of ice, glasses and a corkscrew to the table.  Malaysian hospitality is really hard to beat.   Dinner time saw a regrouping of the crews and we headed for a Chinese Seafood feast.  After a late start on Sunday morning we headed back to Singapore.  The wind was there for us again and after 18 hours we were back at One 15 Marina and soon fast asleep, dreaming of cruising.....

Monday, 18 April 2011

Milestones

A Different View
View from the cockpit at dusk.
This month the Singapore Yacht Show came to One Degree 15 Marina on Sentosa Island, and wouldn't you know it, quite a few of the resident "super" yachts had to vacate their berths for a month.  Crystal Blues was moved to a temporary berth and although the change of view was great, the long walk along the dock was not appreciated.

When we first arrived in Singapore late in 2005 there was not a single building around the One 15 Degree Marina pond.  Now the whole basin is surrounded by apartment blocks, a soon to be finished "W" hotel, a multi-story car park and the One Degree 15 Marina Club.  Back in 2005 the marina was "occupied" by international cruising sailors (paying peppercorn rents), and then we had a lot of fun .... now it is a floating parking lot full of large white motor boats which are maintained by permanent crew. We're glad that cruising yachts still visit on a regular basis to enjoy the luxury of One15, and the ease of shopping and provisioning in sensational Singapore. It is still great value.

OMG - My Younger Brother is 50 !
Happy Birthday Pete!

Peter turned 50 in March, and we flew back home for ten days. 
What a party that was - the time flew by - only my brother Pete could have three different parties on three different days at three different locations, for three different groups of friends - and every party was great ! 
Here is a link to Pete's birthday photos.

We still found time for visiting our friends, some shopping and of course playing with our gorgeous grandson, Harrison.

Happy grandson
Ain't he cute....

Harrison is now 6 months old.  He wakes up with a smile on his face and it lasts the whole day through - such a joy for all  his family.

His first tooth was cut whilst we were in Melbourne and his mum Sarah tells me that the second one is on its way.  Harrison is moving backwards, a precursor to crawling forwards ...another milestone soon we hope.

Although he's challenging his parents with his sleeping habits, Harrison's wake up cuddles and smiles just melt your heart.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Celebrating Life, Boats & Women

13 Roses
Valentines Day and our wedding anniversary
Valentines Day and our thirteenth wedding anniversary was celebrated Singapore style this year.

Neil arrived at the boat with a beautiful bouquet of 13 roses and after dark we celebrated at a seafood restaurant that is famous for its live crab and fish.  We were joined by Steven Shaw, who was Best Man at our wedding, and his wife Carol, along with several other local and international crab lovers.

The beer was from Singapore and the live crabs were from Sri Lanka.  Those crabs, plus a large Grouper fish, were selected from huge glass tanks, scooped out and dispatched to the kitchen.  We patiently sat and waited for the feast to begin, and we were not disappointed.










Mumbai Boat Show

Just what we need - an on water couch!
Last Saturday we happened to be in Mumbai and so we just had to visit the 5th International Mumbai Boat Show.

Although India has a long maritime history, recreational boating is a fairly new concept there, so the show was low key.  It was focused mainly on new power boat owners, boats available for charter, a few stalls with marine bits and bobs and two marina design and construction companies.

There are many marinas planned for India, but until a few more are built India will be hard pressed to grow a pleasure boating industry.  We did chat with the builders of the Cochin Marina.  This new marina has proved extremely popular this year as a stop over for cruisers heading towards the Red Sea and the Maldives.  With at least three sailing rallies using Cochin as their Indian base, this marina is planned to double in size as soon as the paperwork and permits are granted. With the recent unfortunate turn of events in the Gulf of Aden, their planned extension may be lacking in visiting International sailors until the Somali pirate issues are contained.



Women Working In India

Our most recent trip to India included both Mumbai and Hyderabad.  With two major AV projects underway for Space Matrix, Neil's time was spent on building sites, co-ordinating services and AV installations.  Both of these projects are fascinating in their scope, budgets and expectations.  Being on-site is like being in the middle of preparations for an Indian wedding - or the Delhi Olympic Games - with its "it will be alright on the night" attitudes.  However the headaches along the way are of migraine proportions!

How do all the building supplies get delivered  - on women's heads, up the back stairs of course!    Such a contrast to the mega$$ high tech video wall that Neil is building.

Of course the biggest headaches are probably felt by the women on site, like those in this picture, who carry all the building supplies and construction materials up the stairs (all day long) on their heads.  The women in this image had never had their photo taken - ever! Seems appropriate to view the James Bond video here, in support of International Women's Day.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

A Story With A Sting

MV Saraburi, photo by Brendan Pollard
 Our favourite weekend anchorage is St John's island, a short 15 minute journey from One Degree 15 Marina in Singapore.  Most weekends you'll find MV Blue Steel, MV Saraburi and SV Crystal Blues anchored in this bay.

Late Saturday afternoon, two weeks ago, our friends Rod and Angie, (Blue Steel) and Al and Mel, (Saraburi) decided to go ashore in their tender, planning to swim and walk the beach at St Johns Island.

They had just got out of the tenders for a swim when Al unfortunately stepped on something in the shallows that sent an immediate searing pain from his second smallest toe up his leg.  He hobbled to the beach, expecting to see a major laceration to his foot.  Mel and Angie could only find the tiniest puncture wound in his toe.

Al's swollen leg, 3 days later
Because of the intense pain they immediately sped back to the marina and soaked Al's foot in hot water whilst preparing for the drive to A&E at Raffles Hospital.  Al tells us that by now the pain was excruciating and all he could do was hold his leg up on the dashboard, squeezing his leg to halt the advancing pain.

Stonefish Envonomation

Very quickly he was admitted and the doctors diagnosed Stonefish envomation.   After 3 pethidine injections the pain started to subside - all the while he was soaking his foot in hot water to break down the protein in the venom.  Al's foot was x-rayed and then he went under a general anaesthetic as the doctor wanted to lance the puncture site and thoroughly clean out the wound.  Laden with antibiotics, antihistamines, pain killers, a very swollen leg and a hefty bill, he was discharged the following morning.

Mean Looking and Dangerous Too !

Google Images / Peter Verhas
The Stonefish is from the family Scorpaenidae, which includes a large variety of fish characterized by the ability to envenomate with various types of specialized spines.  LionFish, Zebrafish, Butterfly Cod, Scorpionfish are also in this family. Stonefish are well camouflaged bottom dwellers and like to live near rock, seaweed and coral.

A quick search on the Web revealed a recent study conducted by Singapore General Hospital on Stonefish stings in Singapore.  Its a common problem here it seems.   For a detailed treatment regime for either a Stonefish or LionFish envonomation see the link here.

Two weeks later Al is still in pain, and his leg is still puffy from a single puncture wound.  We'll all be more careful on the beaches around Singapore from now on.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Fun and Games

Mussel Man
Nephew Brendan's Awesome Visit

Neil's nephew, Brendan Pollard, came to Singapore for 10 days in early January.  We shopped, partied, cooked, listened to good music and were completely zoo'd out during this time.  We were also able to listen to Brendan practicing on his saxophone most days  -  a private sax player in the anchorage.

Widening Brendan's horizons was fun - he can now make mean Margaritas and Mojitos, and he applied himself to other cooking skills.  He baked bread and then moved onto scrambled eggs.  In return Brendan cooked his fabulous French Toast.

Neil and Brendan spent a lot of "geek" time together, shopping and eating in Sim Lim Square- the Singapore temple of all things electronic.

But the most interesting thing we shared was our mutual love of mussels...just how many kilos did he eat?

Sailing In Singapore

Akhil Paul and Jason enjoying the sail.
Last Sunday eight of us set sail for a Sunday picnic at St John's Island.  Five were novice sailors from the Bangalore and Singapore offices of Space Matrix. With a good breeze and friend Rod Steel at the helm we enjoyed a few hours of sailing before anchoring for lunch.  Akhil Paul and Jason Aung (both complete boating novices) spent most of their time at the bow, reveling in the salty sailing. 
After a very cosmopolitan lunch including two traditional and delicious Burmese salads, most of us opted for a swim.  For once the water was cool and refreshing. With our visitors eventually free of inhibitions, Neil and Akhil were last seen jumping off the bow of Crystal Blues.

Strange but True

A few years back a large silvery white fish jumped out of the ocean and danced along our foredeck.  It skidded into the side of the open hatch over our bed, but didn't go through, leaving a trail of silver scales along the deck before flipping back into the sea.  On Sunday a similar fish leaped from the water at midships and whacked into Ley's calves.  We heard the whack and the splash but did not really "see" our fishy visitor, just the scales in the gunnel and Ley rubbing the bruise on her calf.

A work in progress!
Crimping Again
Our refit in Thailand wasn't quite complete when we departed there last year. So last week Neil started work on the new 12 volt control system for our refrigeration system.
For the first time in many months we had the tools out and the boat looking like an electronic workshop.  With the Eliwell controllers, plus many switches, diodes and Blue Seas terminal blocks, there has been a lot of soldering and crimping.  This is all being fitted to a custom stainless steel panel that was cut and engraved in Australia.  A work in progress to be completed....soon.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Christmas Cheer

Even though Neil was in between hospital visits over the festive season, we did manage to celebrate Christmas together with good friends.

On Christmas Day Crystal Blues and MV Saraburi  rafted together at St John's Island, Singapore.  Our friends Richard and Susan, SV Sea Bunny joined  Al and Mel on Saraburi and their friends Maria and Nick, for a shared feast. 

Christmas Day on MV Saraburi, photo courtesy of Richard Kidd



Our grandson's first Christmas! Photo courtesy of Sarah Gatter.


We spoke with both our families on Christmas Day over Skype. As the phone was passed around the tables in Melbourne, we managed to share in the Christmas cheer.   Looks like grandson Harrison also enjoyed his first Christmas!