Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Koh Phayam Cricket Club

January 26 is Australia Day, and at home the Aussies are relaxing around BBQ grills, swimming, drinking and generally lazing about.  Beach cricket is a popular pastime, so here at Koh Phayam we celebrated Australia Day in a perfectly traditional way.

With Crystal Blues "dressed all over" we joined the other Australian boats here for an afternoon of drinks and cricket. Ley raised the Australian flag on the beach and dinghys of all types converged to celebrate.

A dinghy paddle is not a great cricket bat, but it was much better than no bat, so we soldiered on (thanks to Adagio for that).  The wicket was paced out carefully, an umpire appointed, the drinks whistle tested and away we went. 

Predictably, the pitch was shortened as the game progressed, usually after each drink break .... these older cruising bodies were struggling.

The day was completed when we retired to Crystal Blues for a pot luck BBQ dinner with several other boats - Adagio, Chinook of Canada and Sylvia May.  Fireworks mysteriously appeared on the beach that evening, another Aussie contribution to the day - thanks to Persian Sands and Boomerang.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Cruising At Ko Phayam

Our approach to Ko Phayam was compounded by 25 knot squalls and lumpy seas.  A contrary current combined with wind over tide conditions to challenge us, and then the wind changed direction several times over five hours, keeping the crew both cranky and busy.

So when the anchor hit the sand in Buffalo Bay there was a collective sigh of relief from the crew - we'd arrived.

You could actually feel the tension leaving the boat.

Now, after 10 days here, we're chilling....  It's two years since our last visit, and some things have changed, there are more cruising boats visiting, but the essential laid back character of Buffalo Bay remains the same.

This is a very beautiful place, I think perhaps the finest cruising boat anchorage on the west coast of Thailand. When the other locations are rolly, Buffalo Bay is nearly always OK.  Local businesses will provide drinking water for visiting boats, and the river delivers good water when there has been rain.  Of course the food is still sensational. But what about the hippies ?

Friday, 23 January 2015

Too Many Networks - NMEA 2000, STng & More

Turck Devicenet Hub - For NMEA 2000
As you may have seen from our earlier story, we're progressively updating to newer navigation systems on board Crystal Blues, with our first update being the autopilot system. 

It is getting crazy folks - upgrading the systems in stages means that presently we have both the old and the new networks running, which means (count them) seven data networks on board :  NMEA0183 / NMEA2000 / ST1 / ST2 / STNg / HSB / Ethernet.

The NMEA 2000 networking standard is clearly the preferred network for the future, and fortunately has been adopted by our preferred vendor Raymarine, even if they insist on using non-standard connectors for their own version called STNg (those extra pins and wires in the Raymarine cables are there to carry legacy Seatalk 1 data). 

Our new autopilot uses only STNg, the older unit uses ST1.  Our sailing instruments use ST1 and ST2, plus NMEA0183.  And of course the older radar and sonar use Seatalk HSB to share graphics.  What a nightmare.  Unless we put a completely new system on board, we needed a way to integrate now,  provide a logical upgrade path in the future and to monitor what was happening on the network.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Floating Again

Who's A Happy Girl ?
After a month on the hard stand, we re-launched Crystal Blues in late November.  What a relief  - it was great to be floating again and not dealing with paint spatter.

Preparing for the cruising season ahead,  we were busy cleaning and completing our works list.  Three days work on the main engine, including sea water pump replacement, gear box service and overhaul of the heat exchangers,  which we "rodded out" with brass rods.  The salt water cooling system was stripped completely, exhaust elbow removed and checked, belts, filters and lubricants replaced.  On the electrical side we rectified a loose connection in the alternator field wiring and replaced one of the 12volt fans that handles airflow in the engine compartment.

Our Northern Lights generator also received its first service, having run for just 46 hours since new.  An oil change and valve lash (tappet) adjustment and that was over very quickly.  The toilet system has also been stripped out and re-installed, with adjustments to the stainless base.  Ley has also worked hard re-stocking the vessel with food and wine for the coming months.

Its been a busy time. We flew to Australia in mid December, after a farewell dock party with live music from our resident band.  It was our first Christmas with our families for many years, a real buzz. We returned to the boat just before the New Year, ready to cruise north to Thailand. 

The lure of family connections was strong, but it was hard to leave the boat so prepared and ready for our next adventure - we really were aching for some sailing. The adventure started after a fine New Year celebration on Rebak Island, with Neil's band playing at two locations on the night.

Ley & Jan " Just Testing" The Gin
Good friends and frequent crew, Ray & Jan Pitt arrived onboard courtesy of Air Asia, and within days we headed north to Thailand.

Tonight we are at anchor on the north east tip of Ko Ra, only a day's travel from our destination of Buffalo Bay at Ko Phayam.  The winds are good, blowing generously from the East, and the monsoon has set in with sunny dry weather.

Life is grand.