Category Archives: Westerly Sealord
I’ll start this weeks blog with some information requested after last weeks blog was published.
We got our mainsail from Phil Auger who is based in Kuah, Langkawi. Malaysian phone no 017 625 4902 Phil came to the boat to measure up and discuss our requirements at Christmas. Our new sail is Marblehead Dacron fully battened with UV proof thread. Phil is very knowledgeable about sails and forwards the requirements to a sail loft in Hong Kong where they are made. When it arrived after 5 weeks we gave Phil our old sail so he could remove the cars and sew them onto the new sail, as there wasn’t any thing wrong with them and new ones are expensive. The cost of the new sail worked out to about £2300, which included the battens.
The sailbag was made by Nasir who’s based on the road to Kuah just outside Matsirat. It’s made of sunbrella material. We gave him our old one and asked him to copy it, which he did beautifully. It cost RM2200 (£400)
Friday 20th February The 50/50 under/topcoat had been applied on Wednesday and rubbed down yesterday so this morning Bill started the first proper topcoat. He is using International Perfection 2 pack Mediterranean White that is thinned using International No9 thinners. I kept out of the way in case of problems and went off for my run. When I got back Bill had a big smile on his face and said he was pleased with it; praise indeed.
As a result of the successful first topcoat we’ve taken the decision to stay at Rebak and Bill will now paint the topsides too. This is a huge undertaking but as you can see in the photo the coach roof is as bad as the hull and having now started it makes sense to continue. You can also see how worn the Treadmaster has become. The problem we have is our friend Norman, who’s just arrived, has a couple of days spare to help Bill with the removal of the Treadmaster and if we moved the boat there’s a limit to how much of the deck gear could be removed. We couldn’t undertake a 2 day passage with holes in the deck and if we didn’t remove the deck gear Norman wouldn’t be able to help with the removal of the Treadmaster; so you see our dilemma.
In the afternoon Norman came to help Bill start removing the Treadmaster. After a lot of experimentation with scrapers, solvents, heat guns, multi-tools etc. it really seemed that scraping it laboriously with chisels was the only thing that removed the cork surface leaving the thick epoxy glue to be ground off. All in all, regardless of the extra painting work, this was going to be an extremely difficult and time-consuming job.
To help with the task, as we weren’t moving now, I was able to remove all the lines off of the deck. The fuel cans needed to be moved too so I tied those to the A-frame, which is looking rather overloaded. Bill also removed the grab handles, which he’s replacing, but this left bolts sticking up from the deck. Bill carefully attached a nut to the top of each one with a bit of blue masking tape around them so that if anyone sits or stands on them hopefully they won’t do to much damage to themselves.
The dinghy cover is almost finished. To attach it to the dinghy I’m going to use Velcro but first the ‘sticking’ side of the Velcro has to be sewn onto strips of Neoprene, which in due course will need to be glued onto the dinghy. So I spent the rest of the afternoon sewing the strips of Velcro to the neoprene. On Camomile I am lucky enough to have a fridge and a freezer. The freezer is a Waco unit and continues to work as normal while we are out of the water. The fridge is a new water-cooled unit that Bill fitted in NZ and unfortunately was protesting about being out of the water without any water to cool it. I have turned it down to stop the unit overheating but it’s protesting too much so I’ve decided to turn it off. In this heat that’s a huge problem but I’ve turned the freezer up so it’s not freezing and have moved some foods in there. It just means I’ll have to shop more often. Wash day again.
Saturday 21st February Bill was up early to give the transom its first coat of Mediterranean white to match the rest of the hull. It can’t be painted on the same day as the rest of the hull because Bill has to start on the port aft quarter first thing moving around the bow and down the starboard side before the sun gets too high. By that time the sun is on the transom and it’s not good to apply the paint in direct sunlight. If Bill painted the transom first he wouldn’t get all the way around, therefore he paints them on alternate days. The rest of the hull had a final very light rub down for the second and final topcoat tomorrow.
Meanwhile Norman arrived to do more Treadmaster scraping.
I took my bike on the ferry to get some shopping. The shops should be open now after Chinese new year. I decided to cycle to Hegners otherwise know as the Australian shop because they fly goods in from Australia. It’s a good 6kms away but the exercise will do me good. I cycled round the airport perimeter fence and continued along the road to the shops. I was so cross because it was SHUT. I realised I had 20 minutes before the next ferry went so I cycled as fast as I could back again. I did it in 19 ½ minutes and just made the ferry!
In the afternoon Bill started stripping the aft deck, removing the grab handles and covering them with more nuts and blue tape. The dorade vents were also removed and I moved the lines and the aft fuel cans. When it was all cleared I vacuumed the whole deck to clear all the dust from the deck ready for Bill to paint the final topcoat in the morning. There must be no chance of anything ruining it. There was time for a swim at the end of the afternoon and a meal with Norman and Sara.
Sunday 22nd February
In the morning I went for my run as Bill started painting the Final coat. I got back and nervously asked how it was going, “Great” was the reply; music to my ears. Bill was really pleased with the final topcoat; all those hours of preparation and rubbing down have paid off. We have a shiny boat. Paint dries very quickly here and within a few hours it was dry enough to remove the masking tape. It was very satisfying pulling it off; like peeling wallpaper, we both had a go.
It has to be left a week now until we can put the blue vinyl stripe on; that will be fun! If it will load I’ll put a video of our beautiful shiny boat on facebook.
We went off to the resort to celebrate with a couple of their lovely coffees. When we got back Norsa was just being lifted out of the water, she’s come to visit Camomile having her spa treatment. Norman and Sara are going back to the UK for the summer in a few days. I spent the rest of the day writing and publishing the blog and Bill rubbed down the transom so that could have its final coat tomorrow.
Monday 23rd February
First thing in the morning Bill was up to put the final coat on transom but this time he was not happy. I thought it looked ok but Bill said it had fluff in it and there were runs. We went off on the ferry to get one of Mr Dins cars to do shopping but Bill spent most of the day being cross with himself. We did our usual tour of the hardware shops for various bits and did the food shopping. By the time we got back Bill had calmed down and he got straight out to rub the transom down so it could be painted again in the morning.
At the end of the afternoon Bill removed the lugs for the yachtlegs that will be in the way when we have to apply the stripe. They put up a bit of resistance so using his club hammer made him feel better. They are chunky old things but then they need to be to hold the boat upright when the yachtlegs are in them.
The holes had to be covered with tape to keep the mozzies out until the blue strip goes back on.
Tuesday 24th February
Final coat on the transom in the morning and this time Bill was happy. Bill started burnishing the copper coat with very fine sandpaper, I washed the dinghy ready to do the gluing first thing in the morning and Norman arrived to do more scraping although he has to work on the bow so that he doesn’t spoil the transom but it’s usually dry within a few hours. Norman has a saying ‘Don’t sack I boss just give I a bollocking’ but today he was working away and suddenly he said ‘Why don’t you sack I boss!’ Haha, its difficult work and we are grateful for the help he is giving, it’s in return for the jobs Bill has helped Norman with on Norsa. At the end of the day the decks looked like this and it was time for a cold beer while I vacuumed the decks down again.
Poor Norman was exhausted.
Wednesday 25th February
It was too damp to start the gluing on the dinghy first thing. The humidity in the day often leaves dew the next morning for an hour or so. Bill moved the dinghy into the sun to dry off and started reassembling the transom starting with the bathing platform. I cut to length and marked the neoprene strips and laid then out ready for gluing. Before it got too hot Bill started on the dinghy by first masking where the glue was going to go.
I had everything ready and first handed him the primer which he applied and also to the backs of the strips of Neoprene.
Next the glue had to be mixed with a small quantity of hardener and applied to the dinghy and the neoprene strips and then a second round of glue to the dinghy and strips. I passed the strips to him one by one so he could stick them in place. We had to work fast because the glue was going off quickly in the heat and the strips were sticking to each other but we did it.
Finally the masking was removed. I now have to wait 3 days for it to completely harden before I can finish the cover and use the velcro.
In the afternoon Bill continued with the transom by refitting the serviced Hydrovane and Norman started sanding with the big grinder but he still wants to be sacked!
At the end of the day the finished shiny transom looked like this; just needs her name reapplied now.
We try to be self-sufficient as much as we can and this is Bill regrinding the chisels, he has also made his own cutters because they are so specialised that no-one makes them.
Thursday 26th February
I gave Camomile a pedicure after we had scraped her toes on the coral last year (I anti-fouled the keel!) Nice shade of black. It had 4 coats in all during the day.
Bill started on woodwork by removing a section along the top of the rubbing strake. The rubbing strake can’t be removed because it forms part of the bond between the deck and the hull and the nuts inside are glassed over and inaccessible but Bill intends to skim it top and bottom and clad it in new wood; a bit like a crown on a tooth. He makes a cut all along the top of the rubbing strake.
Then it’s lifted off.
These are the new tops and sides jointed and glued drying. Unfortunately they turned out too weak to lift so Bill is going to glue them in place in sections. We bought the wood in Thailand; it’s Burmese quarter sawn teak. Bill took his cutting list to several wood yards and agreed to buy what he needed from a supplier near Yacht Haven in Phuket. The guy called James allowed Bill to pick his pieces and let him have a carpenter for the day to help him saw and plane it to size. We have enough wood to replace the rubbing strake, the toe rails, all the grab handles, all of the new cockpit planking, a seat by the steering wheel, a dolphin seat and a couple of other pieces. The wood, planned with the use of the carpenter for the day, cost just over a thousand pounds. I dread to think how much it would have cost to buy the pieces ready made.
We had a farewell meal with Norman and Sara in the evening.
Friday 27th February
Bill made this routing guide to fit onto his angle grinder to true up the sides of the rubbing strake to set it up for bonding later.
This is it in action. It was very efficient.
Norman wanted to do a couple of hours sanding before he left. This is the aft deck after he finished with it. Bill has still got to do quite a bit but Norman’s help has made a good start.
At 2pm we cycled down to A pontoon to say goodbye to Norman and Sara. They were leaving with Susie and Rex on board Ariel bound for Panang then onto the UK on Wednesday. Poor Norsa up on the side behind them looked on sadly to see them leave in the lovely Ariel. After they left I cycled to the other side of the island to see them motor out into the sea.
Bill has been planning Camomile’s refit for over a year now. The treadmaster on the deck has become badly worn, the woodwork is gradually eroding, the hull has become stained and yellowing and the mainsail has become weakened and torn by heavy duty and UV damage. As she will be 30 years old this year and with the miles we’ve travelled she’s in need of a face-lift. I did an assessment of the marina prices before Christmas and, despite everyone saying Thailand is cheap, it was going to be cheaper in Malaysia. The two options were Rebak marina or Pangkor marina further south. They both had lifting facilities but also both had their pros and cons. The biggest pro for Rebak for me was that it has proper showers, washing machines and a pool to cool down in after a hot day working on the boat, the con is that the internet signal is weak and it’s based on an island so everything had to be on board or brought over on the ferry. Pangkor pros were that it has a reasonable internet signal, Joe had given us a competitive quote to do the deck painting and good shops nearby but the biggest con is that there are no proper showers and only men’s toilets that the yard boys use. Call me a princess but I choose Rebak for our haul out!
So after leaving Thailand early on 30th January (I’m hoping to write a blog on our adventures in Thailand soon) we motored all day and arrived back in Kuah, on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia at 9pm ready to check-in the next morning. Our last week in Thailand had felt like a holiday and now we were back home (?) to get on with some work.
Saturday 31st February
There were a couple of errands to do after we checked in (so easy in Malaysia). Bill bought a length of studding for taking out the rudder and after taking our mainsail off it was taken into Phil the sailmaker in Kuah to see whether or not it was beyond repair as a back-up; our new one was due to arrive within the week. We then motored round to Rebak tying to the pontoon at 7pm.
Sunday 1st February was lifting day. First on the list Bill backed Camomile onto the lifting jetty while the yard boys tied up our lines. We’ve found in the past they always take such care when lifting boats on this side of the world and Rebak was no exception. A diver was sent down to position the strops maybe they don’t do that in the UK because he would need a full wet suit on.
Once every thing was in place Camomile slowly raised up out of the water. I always feel a bit emotional watching her come out; she looks like a fish out of water.
Straight away we could see how mucky her hull was. The Cuprotect is still working fairly well because there wasn’t any serious weed growth just the usual layer of slime and loads of barnacles which the yard boys starting shovelling off straight away. The travel lift wheeled Camomile into the pressure wash area for her ‘bath’.
Meanwhile Bill took our mattress out and rolled the bed up so he could take off the front of the cupboard to start releasing the rudder. The studding Bill had bought was passed through a wooden block and screwed into the rudder shaft to stop it suddenly dropping out. Bill released all the bolts that held it in position.
After about an hour Camomile had had her pressure wash and was wheeled into her new position. We’ve got a nice view of the marina across her bow and the jungle from her stern.
The yard boys brought the forklift in ready to take the rudder out but Camomile was objecting to her ‘colonic irrigation’ and wasn’t going to release the rudder easily.
Bill unscrewed the studding and the boys were jiggling from the bottom but still it wouldn’t move. Bill started hammering on the top of the shaft with the old Hydrovane shaft but it wasn’t having it. There must be something else holding it. Bill did the studding up again to stop it accidentally falling out and did a further check inside the cupboard and discovered a keyway had become fouled. Once cleared and with the rudder resting on the forklift the studding was slowly released to allow the rudder to gently slip down.
Once the forklift prongs were on the floor Camomile was lifted higher in the strops and it was out. Finally the boys could get on with their job of fitting Camomile into the cradle that would hold her steady for the next 4 or 5 weeks.
The strops were dropped and the boatlift pulled away leaving Camomile comfortable in her new bed.
The first thing we noticed were the scratches across the front of the keel from sitting on the reef in Indonesia. No damage but it would need some sanding.
This photo is looking up into the hole the rudder came out of. The bearing will need to come out and it all looks a bit worn.
While I disappeared off to the laundry Bill started scrubbing the propeller with a rotary wire brush and by the time I got back it was nice and shiny Apparently he had found a live oyster growing on the prop.
The prop holds the rope cutter in place, which is our silent friend. We never know whether its done its job or not but we’ve only ever been caught in one net so it obviously does. Bill loves to tell the story that I bought him a stripper for his 40th birthday and it usually raises a few eyebrows until he tells the full story.
Bill got his ‘puller’ kit out and removed the prop without too much trouble; the rope cutter decided to be more difficult. The reason the rudder has been removed is partly to replace the bearings but also to get the prop shaft out.
After Bill detached it from the engine it came out without too much trouble and Bill was able to clean up the P bracket – which he also managed to bang his head on giving himself a nasty gash on the head and renaming it ‘the complete and utter bastard bracket’.
So her rear end looks a bit bare now without a rudder or a prop shaft.
Bill set about removing the cutter from the prop shaft, which took another hour. Time flies when you’re having fun.
And this is why it needed removing. The stuffing box packing has worn a grove, which has been causing bad leaks in the engine bay. We intend taking it to a local machine shop to get a new one made.
Inside the P bracket is the cutlass bearing, which also needs to come out and be replaced.
Bill, of course, had made an invention to remove it. As you can imagine the P bracket unattached to any thing is fairly delicate and the last thing you can do to it is whack it with a hammer, tempting though it may be.
So Bill put together a series of metal tubes with the studding through the middle which when tightened with the clip on spanners gently pulled the smaller tube into the P bracket pushing the cutlass bearing out with it. I’ve suddenly realised all this detail is way too boring but some people might find it useful. That was the end of our first day out of the water. In the evening we sat down to a nice lamb curry that I had made. Our bed was still upside down so we had to sleep in the forepeak.
Monday 2nd February
This is a view of the transom before we started. As you can see the paintwork isn’t in bad condition but all the metal fittings need a through clean and the wood of the bathing platform has gone all green and black. As the transom has always been painted it will need to be painted again so everything has to be removed.
This had Bill back in our cabin removing all the bolts from the inside.
Meanwhile I haven’t been sitting around without anything to do. When Camomile was pressure washed it took all the slime off but left the bases of lots of barnacles that needed to be removed. Not sure if you can see the little white dots in the photo because they are quite small but some of them were stuck fast and needed quite a bit of scrapping. I felt that was something I could do so over the space of several days, in between the washing, cooking, washing up and generally trying to keep things tidy I took every one off with a little scraper and the hull went from this….
… to this.
Bill said to point out that I still managed to find some old shorts to match my crocs!
Inside our bed is back in place and the forepeak bed has now been lifted to store all Bill’s pots and potions. All of this is supposed to be kept cool but with 32C outside and 80% humidity it’s a bit difficult. Luckily we’ve got the air conditioning unit going. This job would be so difficult without somewhere cool to retreat to at the end of the day.
Tuesday 3rd February
We needed to take the prop shaft and rudder bearings to the machine shop on the main island so we joined the 8.45 ferry, which takes about 10minutes, and hired one of Mr Din’s cars. The advert says “ALWAYS starts, usually no fuel, no insurance, cash only 40RM” (£8) and that’s exactly what you get. Our one also had air con and the doors locked! (We’ve had one before that didn’t, neither did the speedo work but as they don’t do more than 40mph it doesn’t matter.) Forgot to take a photo, I’ll take one next time.
We drove to the little machine shop we found at Christmas time and showed the father and son our prop shaft. Bill had made a drawing of what he wanted and took it with him. The son speaks a bit of English but the father very little. There were lots of smiles and ‘can do can do’ which was encouraging. “New year, new year” meaning after the chinese new year wasn’t quite so but he has a lathe and he makes all the prop shafts for the local ferries so fingers crossed. We also gave him our lump of POM bought in Thailand to remake our rudder bearings “can do can do” along with big smiles so here’s hoping. I’ll let you know if we ever see either of them again! We carried on into town to the International shop to buy the paint for the transom, one of the few things we hadn’t bought in Thailand. After lunch we headed back to the ferry, left the car in the car park with the keys in it (NO ONE is going to steal it) and back to the boat.
In the afternoon Bill started removing the lettering with a heat gun and rubbed the transom down. Camomile is now completely anonymous because the sail bag with her name on it was removed at Christmas to be remade. She’s going to look so posh at the end of this refit. I carried on with my scrapping.
At the end of the day the transom looked like this ready for painting. The rubbing strake was new in 2008 so won’t need replacing. Bill has rubbed it down ready for oiling with the rest.
As I said at the beginning of this blog Rebak has a pool. This is our third day here but we haven’t visited it yet. So after we’d finished our work we cycled over to the other side of the island for a well-earned dip in the pool.
Wednesday 4th February
Bill was up early before the sun got too hot to put the first coat of paint on the transom.
After my run (walking jog) and more washing in the machine I carried on with my scrapping, this time on the removed rudder. So as well as router and navigator, chief cook and bottle washer I’m now an expert barnacle scraper with sweat dripping off the end of my nose like a dew drop, at least it’s not a cold dew drop. One of the odd things that happen here is that the hotel does tours of the boat yard so every now and then a golf buggy carrying photo clicking tourists comes by taking pictures of us all – bizarre.
After painting Bill moved onto removing the gold strip and rubbing down the blue cove line. Again we’ve got new ones of these. He has to keep changing sides because in the tropics it’s important to work on the shady side of the boat unlike in the UK he used to work in the sun to keep warm.
Thursday 5th February
Bill gave the transom a second coat of paint and finished off sanding the blue cove line before spraying down the topsides with oxalic acid. This was time consuming because each section had to rinsed before continuing to the next.
In between jobs Bill has been rubbing down all the pieces that came off the transom. This is the bathing platform hardly recognisable with all it’s green slats rubbed down. I finished scrapping the hull and washed down where the boatlift straps had been as the pressure washer missed them.
My next task is to clean all the metal work from the transom with metal polish. It’s a nice job because I get to sit in the shade and chatting to everyone who comes by. Another swim in the pool at the end of the day.
Friday 6th February
The end of the week here. Fridays are the Malaysian Sundays. All the shops are shut on the main island, the yard boys don’t work on a Friday and all the men go to the mosques to pray. It’s also the day the little Chinese man sets up his fruit and veg stall on the Langkawi side of the ferry dock. After my early morning run I joined a group of yachties on the 8.45 ferry to go and see what he had. All the fruit and veggies were really fresh plus he had some frozen salmon and chicken in polystyrene boxes and Easi-yo yoghurt mixes, which are really difficult to get here. I came back all happy to find Bill despairing back on the boat. The hull won’t cut.
We went over to the resort to sit down and have a coffee and talk over our options. Apparently while I had been out he had rubbed down a section of the hull and tried cleaning it with the aggressive rubbing compound we had bought but it wasn’t cleaning up. There are white blotches on the hull from past repair work and they show up against the yellowing of the original hull. Bill had hoped to clean up the yellow patches to bring them closer to the colour of the repairs but it wasn’t working, he said he had been dreading starting this stage because it was make or break time. Do we go to the expense of repainting the hull or do we leave it as it is?
Monday 19th we took a taxi to the JB area to get some fibreglass. We had been given an address, which we gave to the taxi driver. He dropped us in the middle of an industrial area with the comment ‘will you be ok?’ which was a bit unnerving but everything was fine. We stepped through the gates of the fibreglass company to be faced with half a dozen barking dogs that were quickly pushed to one side and we were ushered inside. Two odd chairs were placed in front of a very elderly Chinese man who spoke fairly good English and whose sons produced what Bill was looking for at a fraction of the price he had expected to pay. The entire time we were sitting there we were scratching our legs, I think it was mossies and sandflies biting us although I’m not sure but I was really glad to get out of there. The fibreglass would not be allowed onto the boat until it was fumigated. We walked to the bus stop pointed out by the son but as the neighbourhood felt more like Beirut than Malaysia we decided to take the taxi into town that was sitting there instead.
Our next stop was the big mall that sold electronics to see if we could replace the TV or the music radio but all they sold were computers. No one had even heard of a 12v television. We got in the taxi to come home and I pointed to his car radio and asked him if he knew where to get one from, despite the language barrier he seemed to understand what we were after and whisked us off to a car accessory shop which sold just what we wanted. The taxi driver even managed to negotiate a further MYR50 off (about £10) before taking us back to the boat and receiving a good tip, it really pays to get help.
Bill spent the afternoon fitting the radio even though all the wiring looked very complicated. At least we don’t sit in silence now.
The next day Bill started working on a mystery object.
Wednesday 21st we were ready to accept Aquila’s quote and pay over a sizable amount of money for the supply of all the new instruments. The easiest way to do this was to go to their offices in Singapore. In the morning we took a taxi to downtown JB and joined the throng on their way to Singapore on the bus, stopping to get 2 stamps in our passports on the way. We had a good day in Singapore apart from visa putting a stop on our Nationwide credit card. We discovered this after 2 phone calls to Nationwide, several calls to Aquila’s CC company and having to wait for the visa offices to open at 8am UK time (3pm Singapore time) all of which took no less than 3 hours. Eventually they released OUR money and the order was processed so now we wait for delivery in about a week.
Meanwhile they had an SSB radio set in stock so we bought it
but another 2 stamps in our passports.
Our old faithful but unusable SSB set was removed the next day and Bill rewired and fitted all the parts for the new one over the next 2 days. All we have to do now is work out how to programme it!
I try to do what I can to help, I pass tools to him like an operation theatre assistant, and tidy up behind him, along with finding things like his glasses, screwdrivers, etc that he’s always putting down and forgetting where. It’s nice to be based in the same place for a while because I’ve been able to catch up with washing, stocking up the boat and getting on with my writing. We tend to eat on board so I support Bill with cooking nice meals and of course making numerous cups of tea and coffee.
Friday morning I joined Jackie of Hokele’a at the lovely gym that’s 5 minutes drive away while leaving Bill to carry on with jobs. It might seem a bit mean but I think he likes a bit of peace.