Monthly Archives: April 2014

Camomile struck by lightning!

Crrraaaack, an arc weld blue flash in the cockpit came at the same moment as the earsplitting sound of the lightning. Sue and I had been cowering down in the saloon for the past hour tensely counting off the seconds between the flashes of forked lightning and the roar of the thunder. The deluge hammered the water around the marina flat and drummed relentlessly on the coach roof. We had been taking care to keep our hands away from anything metal and had already packed all our computers and other electronics safely into the two metal lined boxes we use as Faradays cages to protect them from electrical surges.

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PC's, radios and hard drives go into the box

Our count between flash and bang had started at about 12 seconds which according to lore means that the strike is as about as many miles away but it soon went to 5 then 3  and the frequency was viciously quick so there was no hesitation about putting our stuff away even though we had done it scores of times before for what had turned out to be false alarms.
Then I thought I smelled smoke so I ventured a  head up the companionway but all seemed to be in order on deck from what I could see through the driving rain.
A few seconds later one of the saloon lamps went out accompanied by a small phuT and a wisp of very smelly smoke.

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Fried Led from the saloon

It was at that moment I realised that we might have been struck and when the other three lights went out one by one we started to look more carefully around us. Sue spotted that some of the breakers had gone out on the DC distribution panel but it soon became obvious that nearly half of the LED indicators were not working. By now the anger had gone out of the storm and flashes were tracking further and further away so when Sue suggested trying the instruments I agreed that it should be safe to try this. We found that the Raymarine wind, speed, and graphic instruments were all dead and the remaining depth was making a protesting squeaky alarm noise. The chart plotter did not work either and the autopilot failed to engage. It was very clear that the whole system was badly compromised.

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Dead wind instrument

We wondered what else could have been affected so we carefully searched the boat for scorch marks or smells of smoke. It seemed ok but by now we were late for the civic function that had been called in honour of the visiting yachts at Danga Bay Marina near Singapore with the Sail Malaysia East Rally. In the end we decided to attend, though we were hardly in the mood for it, but the Malaysians rolled out a superb evening that took the edge off our darker mood for a moment.
We made made an interem visit back to the boat to check up on her and finally, on our return, we checked through the exterior navigation lights while it was dark and easy to see them but all seemed ok so we decided to go through the boat’s systems with a fine toothcomb the next morning and settled down for what turned out to be a calm night.
The following mornning did not start well as Sue opened the fridge and realised that it was not working. By then I had worked out that the AIS was completely dead and its circuit breaker was shot. And it went on, the Eberspacher diesel domestic water heater, the gas and co alarms, the TV and both the music radio and its speakers. The VHF had lost a channel and the Navtex sparodically lost its memory. Although there was no obvious damage or scorching on deck it was clear that the hit had been very close and we were both appauled and upset by what we had found so far. I cringed at the thought of starting up the engine to find out whether that was still with us and although it started first pop the DC metre showed its alternators charging at dangerously high voltages so I shut it straight down noting that iroincally the LCD engine hours metre on the starter panel which had faded into nothing a year or so ago was showing a reading again!
My euphoria over this small victory was short lived though as it struck me that we were stuck here until we could at least get the engine and depth sounder going and, worse still, Angela, Sue’s sister who was one of those who had so kindly looked after us when were back in the UK for Christmas, was coming out for a well deserved holiday on the boat in time for Sue’s birthday celebration in a few short days time. That was a low point as the whole event sunk in and our plans fell apart in front of our eyes, we would not even be able to join our new freinds on the rally it seemed.
Through this I had emailed Chris, our Topsail Insurance broker who was both responsive and supportive. He must have moved heaven and earth to arrange with the underwriters RSA to get Geoff Holland a local (Brit) surveyor from Braemar down to the boat just two days later so that we could kick off the process of making a claim and getting the damaged repaired. We spoke over the phone and Skype and his positive attitude bouyed me up, perhaps we could get through this after all.
Four days later, Angela is aboard and though we still have no fridge (just an ice box) and no main autopilot I have jury rigged and brought enough backup systems on line to allow us to move again… Limping.

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Afloat but poorly

We plan to enjoy Angela’s stay, hopefully show her a desert island, and at the same time gather information from suppliers and contractors for the insurers so that when she leaves we can get to the business of rebuilding Camomile back to 100% as soon as it is feasible. With luck, a following wind and the the support of Topsail/RSA, who knows, we may still catch up with our freinds
Watch this space……

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30 Days in Thailand

Leaving Pangkor

Leaving Pangkor

This is our blog for Thailand but it takes quite a while to load so I’ve broken it into two parts.

Part 1

After our land travel and Bill doing more boat jobs, it was finally time to leave Pangkor marina on 15th February, Camomile having spent the best part of 4 months there.

 

Tim and Rebekah with Ophelia on the left and Willow on the right

Tim and Rebekah with Ophelia on the left and Willow on the right

We sailed gently up the coast stopping in anchorages overnight and then had a few nights in Rebak marina. Here we caught up with our sailing friends Tim and Rebekah, fellow Westerly owners on their Ocean 49, and their lovely twin daughters Ophelia and Willow. We enjoyed some baby squeezing time between lovely languid swims in the resort pool.

After stocking up the boat on the duty free island of Langkawi we checked out of Malaysia on 28th February but will be back here for the start of the Sail Malaysia East rally on 2nd April giving us 30 days for a whistle stop cruise around the Andaman coast of Thailand.

Bill raises the Thailand courtesy flag

Bill raises the Thailand courtesy flag

 

 

Our first anchorage was off Ko Adang in the Ko Tarutao national park. As is our tradition Bill hoisted the Thailand courtesy flag on arrival.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful anchorage

Beautiful anchorage

 

 

The island was uninhabited and a great place for picnics on the beach and snorkelling. This was what we had imagined Thailand to be. As I’d bought a new waterproof camera in Langkawi I was anxious to try it out.   It felt strange putting it under the water but I managed to get some interesting shots.

Crown of Thorns starfish

Crown of Thorns starfish

Beautiful clams

Beautiful clams

This starfish, beautiful as it is, is a member of the crown of thorns variety, which destroys the coral. Luckily this was the only one we saw, but it reminded us of reefs visited on our voyage that have been devastated by these creatures. It was a striking specimen.

There were lots of lovely clams, which draw themselves in as you swim near them; the colours were stunning. Difficult to photograph though so I probably need to play around with the cameras settings.

We watched the sun go behind the tiny island

We watched the sun go behind the tiny island

We took pleasure in spending a couple of days there while enjoying sundowners and watching the stunning sunsets before stopping off at Ko Rok Nai for 24 hours to do some more snorkelling. By this point we were getting pressed for time as we needed to get to Phuket to meet James again.

 

James on board

James on board

The official port of entry for Phuket is Chalong bay. We only stopped there long enough to check in, do some shopping and washing and pick up James. Chalong is full of bars with white men of the age 60+ being entertained by girls of between 16 and 25. Some people think it’s ok but I think it’s awful. Some of the older women offer ‘masssssaggge’ but they all looked like Ping Pong from the TV programme ‘Little Britain.’ You had to run the gauntlet trying to get past them walking to and from the boat jetty.

We left Chalong and sailed to a bay on the south west corner of Phuket island called Hat Nai Han and anchored off of the Royal Phuket yacht club only to discover it wasn’t a club but an upmarket hotel and they didn’t have any yacht facilities.

Sailing on up the west coast of Phuket we anchored in Karon bay. Within 10 minutes Camomile became victim to the jet ski brigade. As there wasn’t anyone else anchored in the bay the jet skiers thought it would be good fun to come and have a look at us. After about the 10th jet ski that came whizzing passed us in half an hour it was time to move on again! We continued past Patong bay and Surin bay because through the binoculars all that could be seen were rows and rows of deck chairs literally right across the beach and yet more jet skiers.

Took the dinghy into the waterways

Took the dinghy into the waterways

Refuge was finally found at the northern end of Ao Bang Thao, the deckchairs being at the southern end. With only half a dozen boats anchored in the bay we got a peaceful night. At the northern end of the bay a channel led to a very interesting waterway, which was great fun to explore in the dinghy.

This old girl won't be going very far.

This old girl won’t be going very far.

Lovely sunsets

Lovely sunsets

 

It was very calm with lots of local ‘long tail’ boats up on the side; some wouldn’t be going anywhere any time soon.   We all went ashore for a nice beach side meal that evening and watched the sun setting again.

 

 

The fishing port of Ngan Yong

The fishing port of Ngan Yong

The 10th and 11th March found us doing a couple of long hops up the coast to Ngan Yong so that James could spend the day ashore renewing his visa. It’s possible to get a 30 day visa-on-arrival but it can’t be renewed inside the country so then it’s necessary to do a ‘visa run’ to Myanmar (Burma) or Langkawi. If you want to stay longer it’s best to get a 60 day visa before you arrive but James hadn’t and he’d already been in the country 3 weeks. Bill dropped him off at the fishing port where he managed to catch a bus to the border town of Ranong then he took a boat to Kawthoung in Myanmar to get his passport re-stamped.

Sailing out to the Surin islands

Sailing out to the Surin islands

Thursday 13th was a lovely sail out to the Surin islands, a group of islands with pockets of white sand beaches and rocky granite headlands creating some nice little anchorages. The water was really clear enabling us to see the wonderful marine life. We picked up a buoy under a headland on the northern island of Ko Surin Neua and joined a group of cruisers on the beach for sundowners.

A beautiful scene .......

A beautiful scene …….

 

 

 

The next day started with a dinghy ride around to the Park Headquarters where there’s a café with basic but nicely cooked food.

 

 

 

..... until someone stuck their face in it!!

….. until someone stuck their face in it!!

Bill loves Magnums

Bill loves Magnums

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stunning views

Stunning views

 

 

 

 

 

After lunch we walked around the bay while looking out at some stunning views; more real Thailand.

 

Panorama of the bay

Panorama of the bay

 

James with his Mum

James with his Mum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More coral

More coral

 

James free diving

James free diving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and Bill

and Bill

 

2 metre Moral eel

2 metre Moral eel

 

 

 

We got in the water for a snorkel and found lots and lots of fish including a 2 metre long Moray Eel.

 

 

'Long tails' anchored

‘Long tails’ anchored

That night the wind got up and was licking round the headland making us roll really badly. As none of us could sleep Bill decided to drop the buoy and make a night sail to the Similian islands some 55 miles south. It was a slow sail through the night under main and genoa and once everyone was up in the morning the cruising chute went up. Camomile made good time and by midday had picked up another buoy this time off of island No 4 Ko Miang. It was packed with tourists but fortunately by 3 or 4pm most of them have gone leaving just a handful of campers and the yachties.

Camomile in the beautiful azure water

Camomile in the beautiful azure water

 

 

The island has a very good trail to follow to the top of the hill that afforded stunning views. Camomile looks very comfortable on her buoy in the beautiful blue water.

 

 

More islands

More islands

 

 

Looking to the north you could see the little group of islands that we snorkelled that afternoon.

 

 

 

 

Climbing back down the hill

Climbing back down the hill

That evening a very unseasonable storm blew up from the east with lashing rain and high winds putting us on a lee shore on a very bouncy buoy giving us a nervous night. Fortunately everything held ok but the next morning we decided to leave and motor sailed back to Ao Bang Thao, some 51 miles; not pleasant with wind on the nose most of the way but it felt more secure back at anchor with an off shore wind.

Tuesday 18th we were back in Chalong for more shopping and washing again before leaving to tour Phang Na bay between Phuket island and the mainland but that’s for the next blog.

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