First Adventure

Back in Shanghai after another trip to Phuket, I'm excited about all that was accomplished and all that's yet to come. First things first, I had a wonderful day of sailing aboard my "new" sailboat. She moves with purpose and power, even in a fairly light wind. There's a solid, sure feeling about this boat.

From the marina I sailed out a couple of miles and went through a variety of exercises - raising and lowering (and reefing) the main, furling and unfurling (then reefing) the jib, dropping and setting anchor, moving under engine power, and of course lots of sailing around with the engine off. All of this taught me tons about where the "controls" are, how various systems operate and how to interface with the boat.

Of course, I first had to exit the marina - and that was more than a little nerve wracking, it being my first time to undertake this maneuver on my own. To avoid trouble (or hitting something) I was given a dingy "tug" to help push me around if needed. And it was needed! After some trouble finding reverse and backing away from the slip, I then had trouble finding forward and slowing down... as my stern glided ever so gently towards a catamaran in the slip behind mine. Dinghy tug saved the day, I found "forward," and away I went. Note to self: learn how the throttle/gear selector works while still tied to the dock.

Anyway, I made it out and here's what it looked like:


My plan was to spend at least two days sailing and spend one night at anchor (see previous post). Instead, I spent three days focused on cleaning, maintenance, and repairs dockside, then just one day sailing. There was a lot more work to be done that I had imagined, including:

Removed the old shower sump pump and replaced it with a new one. The old one had seized and even done some damage to the wiring/breaker. I replaced the pump, wiring and on/off toggle switch. While I was at it, also replaced the tubing from the bilge to the pump and from pump to outlet. Still need to look at the wiring and breaker - a project for the future. Seems a previous owner (or the builder? hard to believe?) used single strand copper wiring for a number of electrical connections. This is bad because single strand wiring is more prone to breaking under the flex loads it'll experience on a boat. The old pump:

I don't mind repair work or installing new hardware, actually I really enjoy this kind of work. Still, this next job wasn't my favorite. The old 'black water' tank was just sitting in place, not connected to the head/toilet. It was taking up space and making a smell... so it had to go. Getting it out would have been easy if someone hadn't welded mounting brackets onto it after placing it inside a compartment. That meant sawing off the brackets and a bit of lifting/prying work. In the end, it took three men to wrestle the half-full tank of yuck out of the compartment and off the boat. The tank:



Lots of other little chores were dealt with... buying "house stuff" for the galley, head, and cabins. Cleaning - lots of cleaning. And I made a full inventory of items I'd like to replace/improve. Top of the list of things I can handle on my own is replacing all the original incandescent lighting with new-improved LED lighting. It's amazing how much heat the old lights produce (and energy they waste) - not a good thing when it's already 32c and 80% humidity! Below is a picture of an old (original?) light. I'll be ordering a set of LED lights from a marine products manufacturer in China - then installing the lot of them when I return to the boat in December.



There was no "synchronicity" moment on this trip (that I can recall) but I did have a great time and found a smiley face in my beer to back that up:


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Preparing for First Adventure

Next week I'm heading back to Phuket, this time as owner of my own sailboat. In the period since my last visit, I've been busy at work in Shanghai - and the boat has been busy doing all kinds of interesting boat things in Thailand. While I've been working on video games, she's had her bottom scraped, sanded, repaired and anti-fouled; sailed down to Langkawi, Malaysia to check out of Thai waters; sailed back to Thailand; experienced a not-small number of break-downs and failures; and racked up some impressive bills. All according to plan. No surprises... yet.

These days I'm working on a new plan - the plan I'll follow (or try) during the next visit. With 4 days on the ground (and water), I'm hoping to divide the trip into 2 parts. Part #1: preparing, cleaning and repairing things onboard. Part #2: sailing out of sight of the marina to Koh Phanak and anchoring there overnight.

During Part #1 I expect to make lists of what's needed onboard to make the boat a more comfortable and safe floating home. I'm taking with me no less than 43 items (25kg) from Shanghai - including the aforementioned tool kit, along with zip-ties, a collection of "boat clothes," sailing knives, LED headlamps, work gloves, various chargers/solar panels, bathroom supplies, and so on. These are the things I feel can be reasonably brought into Thailand under the guise of "vacation items" (yeah, the tool kit is a bit of a stretch). Another list of items, to be purchased in Thailand, includes stuff like tableware, cleaning supplies, cordless tools, an ice chest, bed sheets - all sorts of things I think would be hard to explain to Thai customs officers. (Then again, I'm arriving on a red-eye flight, and I've never seen customs people actually working at 2AM. Fingers crossed).

Koh Phanak

During Part #2 things get more interesting. I'll weigh anchor (actually, just leave the marina slip), raise the sails and... go somewhere! The plan is to sail towards the nearest island out of sight of the marina, with decent overnight anchoring - that being Koh Phanak (+8º 10' 28.7", +98º 29' 23"). The island itself features opportunities for dinghy exploring under spectacular limestone overhands along the entire west coast - and entrances to caves and hongs (an interior lagoon within the island, accessible from the sea) on the east coast. My goal in sailing to and anchoring at Koh Phanak isn't exploring though, it's to see how well I can sail single-handed to a known location, anchor and care for the boat. If all goes well, after a night on the hook, I'll weigh anchor (for real this time) and head back towards the marina. All in, this is a ~30 mile round-trip.

Once this mini-adventure is over and I'm back at the marina I'll have a chance to create a proper accounting of the boat and its need for improvement. More lists, more items to acquire, repairs to be made ad infinitum - as it is with boats.