Friday, 24 January 2014

How I Stopped Worrying and Learnt to Love Biocides

We are back in Malaysia, with the breathtaking beauty of white sandy beaches and clear water of the Thai west coast becoming a memory, we launched into some hard work for the start of our cruising year ahead. Such tasks included hauling the boat out of the water and having it propped up on the hard stand for 4 days while we sanded, scraped, scrubbed and washed the bottom ahead of a new painting of antifoul (this was to become my domain while Hugh wrestled with the more technical projects on the boat). We went shopping in Kuah town, hired a car and bought three tins of antifoul paint, sanding gear (including a new grinder and orbital sander, much to Hugh’s joy) and protection equipment required for the hull work. We had a short but fun two day reunion and catch up with our friends Bill on ‘Solstice’ and Jake and Jackie on ‘Hokulea’ as they were at the end of their time in Malaysia and heading to Thailand. Some goodbyes and ‘see you down the road’ and they were off to explore a new country.

15 tonnes of EJ suspended from the Rebak Island Marina travel lift
There is something unnerving about seeing your boat hauled into the air a foot off the solid concrete ground. The boat looms above you, reaching some 25m into the sky and being meticulously driven in an enormous travel lift cradled in a soft canvas sling. The guys who did the hauling work were very experienced and do this 8 times a day in the high season, so thankfully it all went smoothly. From the hauling, to the pressure wash, to our home propped up by stilts for 4 days, the travel lift was skilfully driven around the hard stand. With a ladder lent against our starboard side, we climbed up to view our new savannah. Sailing boats to the left, sailing boats to the right and then another line behind us. We were in a new anchorage, no wind, no shade and concrete below. It was certainly a different context for living aboard a boat!

Antifouling fun under the keel
While Hugh was problem solving the dripless seal on our prop shaft that had been giving us heartburn for 4 months, I got busy being the grunt. I donned my plastic jump suit with hood, gloves, eye goggles and nose mask, and started sanding the hull of the boat in 33C of blistering sunshine. There is nothing like getting to know the underside of your boat. Through the next 4 days, I got to know every nook and problem spot, every section that attracted barnacles and all those wonderful ones that did not. I was also resembling someone just emerging from a fire disaster with black biocide antifoul paint dust covering me from head to toe.

We got to know our neighbours – Trevor and Yolanda from New Zealand aboard ‘Wanderer’ who were giving their boat a birthday by repainting the entire hull and topsides and repairing some holes that they had in the hull. Also Drew aboard ‘Lara Pinta’ who had an incident with a coral bommie and his keel had come out the worse from that incident. We also met Michael on ‘Blitz’ who was a friendly bloke with an extremely extraverted 3 year old daughter who was tirelessly interested in EVERYTHING we were doing. Once again, meeting such friendly cruisers was a wonderful part of our adventure. Throughout the days of sweat, swearing and just plain disappointment, our neighbours became our brains trust with the dripless seal drama providing a shoulder to whinge on and handy lenders of tools.

We had to do a run into Kuah town, as we needed to pick up some more boat bits, because there is always something that you forgot when doing boat projects. Thankfully our friends Jack and Zdenka on ‘Kite’ wanted to go in as well. It is a bit of a mission from the Rebak Marina as we were on an island away from the main town. So we organised to get on the 8:45am ferry and made our way to Mr Dins’ car hire (the bloke that hires cars to the cruisers and must have a booming season because he is known in cruising circles as the car man). Today we managed to get a 40 Ringgit car ($13AUD) and we had learnt from our previous trip here that a 40 Ringgit car was a risk as there was always something about it that was dodgy (like not starting, not having widow wipers that work in torrential rain or not having doors that open). Today it turned out to be windows that wouldn’t open, the rear left hand door that was falling to pieces and the air conditioning that seemed to use the entire engines capacity to push out a modicum of cool air. Nevertheless, it went and we hooned around town running into hardware stores, engine part stores, supermarkets, the booze warehouse and the necessary lunch stop for an Indian feast at our favourite hawker market. 

Hugh using his diplomacy skills with some stubborn bolts
Back to the marina and Hugh continued his ongoing battle with some prop shaft bolts that needed some persuasion to undo, they came, but not before a snapping sound which had me convinced he had just broken the propellor shaft off.

So at the end of our haul out adventure we had a hard earned thirst, but more importantly a seal that did not leak, a newly painted hull and we were all set (fingers crossed) for some more blue water adventures. A goodbye to our hard stand neighbours with thanks and wishes of fair seas for them on their return to the water and we were making our way out of the marina lagoon.