Aug 30 - You need lots of diesel...

or infinite amounts of time and patience. We do a lot of motoring around here. The currents are strong and the winds not always dependable. We motor sailed to Ko Yao Yai, and anchored at N07deg58.20min/ E098deg37.00min in front of a beautiful beach. A small fresh water river flowed down to the beach and we got to do a bit of beachcombing before heading back to Infini with a large storm cell in the distance tracking our way. It never did hit us, but we did get some afternoon light rain. Our anchoring spot was so peaceful; isolated beauty and cool breezes. The squid fleet's bright lights were in the distance about 10 miles away. The only sounds were birds and insects, and an occasional airplane going to the Phuket or Krabi airports. A heavy rain around midnight had us doing the "close the hatches" shuffle, but it didn't last long.
Pic: On the beach- Ko Yao Yai.

Aug 29 - We be hongin' it...

A "hong" is a room or cave in the Thai language. For her birthday, Sue decided she'd like to go exploring, so we departed early for the motor sail to Ko Phanak. We took extra gas for the dinghy, and stopped at every beach and cave we could find on the east side. One spot even had a ladder to climb up into the cave, no doubt for the many tourists who visit daily. The limestone overhangs and coloring were amazing. Turning the corner to go around the north side of the island, we encountered a strong chop, so decided exploring the north and west sides of Ko Phanak would have to wait until NE monsoon season. By late morning we had seen quite a lot and the tour boats began piling in. Time to go. We motor sailed back to a mooring in Ao Po and after a nice swim, had a wonderful dinner with Bruce & Alene (Migration) at their condo (named Sumptuous Villa). The autopilot got a good workout, but I needed to bleed a bit of air out of the system, otherwise it was good to push a button and have dependable Otto steer. It was a great way to spend the day, and Sue was smiling...a lot.
Pic: Sue with headlamp on ready to explore.

Aug 28 - we're on auto...

We seem to be sorted out on the autopilot issues, at least for now. It's required a new pump to be installed and a lot of labor charges, but things seem to be working as they should. (For those interested, I bought an Octopus model 1012 linear drive unit. The new electric pump with solenoid was then taken off that unit, securely attached to our existing hydraulic ram unit, wired to the Simrad processor and the system hydraulics were hooked up. Everything checked out properly at sea trials. Time to repack that lazarette!) We're planning on staying around Ao Po and Naka Yai for a couple more nights as the tides east at Krabi aren't deep enough to allow us to enter the channel to the marina until Sept 2nd, so we've planned on dinner with friends tomorrow evening, then off we go on the 30th to explore new regions.
Pic: M & Bao sorting out the autopilot. Second worker is in the lazarette too!

Aug 25 - Sailing with friends

Our sea trials with the autopilot didn't go so well. It seems the previously diagnosed "healthy" motor and solenoid have packed it in, so now we're back to looking at an entirely new pump unit as finding a new replacement solenoid and fixing the pump itself just wouldn't be cost effective. After spending another night at Ko Naka Yai, we picked up Bruce & Alene (Migration) and John & Sue (Ocelot) and had a delightful sail up to Ko Phanak, dropped the hook to enjoy the scenery and go for a short swim (very strong current) and sail back to Ao Po. With a favorable current, Infini was doing 7-8+ knots in her inaugural sail after refit and romped along just loving the conditions. What a great afternoon! We took a mooring just outside Ao Po Marina for the night, and I have a 0800 meeting with our Simrad rep tomorrow morning.
Top Pic: M, Jon & Sue. Bottom: M & Alene at the bow.

Aug 22 - Color us....gone

Not far, mind you, but out of the marina. The last few days have been hectic. Our refrig compressor decided to cut in and out continuously....running full time and eating up amps. Plus, the noise of the compressor doing that was enough to drive anyone batty. At any rate, after a lot of diagnostics, it was finally determined that a resistor had gone bad. I mean, how often does a resistor go bad? I have no idea the answer to that somewhat rhetorical question, but it's now fixed by putting in a variable resistor board, which will save amperes and be more efficient. We chose the rpm to run the compressor at, and will just have to monitor the system and see how things go. Our autopilot passed its dockside testing, so we're now planning "on the water" testing, which will be discussed shortly. We picked up our last minute laundry (30 baht/kg), Sue did a bit of last minute provisioning, and we had fresh water delivered to the boat (20 baht/20 liter bottle). Boat Lagoon Marina is tide dependent, meaning deep draft vessels have to come and go at high tide. We arranged to pick up diesel at the fuel dock, paid our final marina bill, and headed out, destination Ao Po Marina....nine miles away. We were to pick up the Simrad fellow and have our final check out, so out the long, winding channel we went. No drama. Gotta tell you, it felt so good to be back aboard and going somewhere...anywhere...even if it was only nine miles away! We reached Ao Po and it was blowing 15-18 knots and choppy, not ideal conditions for picking people up by dinghy or testing the autopilot, so arrangements were made for pick up tomorrow morning. We re-anchored two miles away at Ko Naka Yai (N08deg 03.123min; E098deg,28.30min), and enjoyed a swim, happy hour nibbles and calm conditions. Meanwhile, we have about two million system items to check (Westsails...those simple boats....), and are smiling about it...It's been about seven months since we've been out at anchor....way too long, but Infini is back in her element and looking good.
Pic: Looking toward Phang Nga Bay from our anchorage at Naka Yai.

Aug 16 - Dockside

We're enjoying being back aboard. Of course, we're still sorting stuff out (we tend to do that full time), but overall, things are good. I changed out the old engine room insulation for new, high tech stuff. The emergency tiller was fixed and has been stored back in the lazarette. One leaky dorade box aft is being addressed, and the autopilot pump has been repaired and should be back first of next week. The reefer/freezer systems are working fine so far, and there's been enough sun to keep the batteries happy. So, overall, things are good and we're looking forward to leaving the marina next week for a bit of cruising; it has certainly been a while. Tonight, we ate at the Hardstand Cafe at their Friday night BBQ. The menu is all you can eat ribs, chicken, sausage, shrimp, Thai salad, pumpkin soup, regular salad, spring rolls, garlic bread, watermelon and pineapple for 250 Baht (about $8.00 USD); highly recommended. Restraint is also recommended.
Pic: Our cockpit view of the marina office (lighthouse) and fuel dock just below it; the entry/exit channel into/from the marina complex goes right past it.

Aug 13 - We've moved aboard!

After many trips from the condo to the boat, we're back aboard. Still have a bit of organizing to do (lol), but things are coming together. The A/C is working fine and now we just need to find space for everything....

Aug 11 - "Ya can't live the dream every day...." (Thanks, Liz)

Today just sucked...I mean, really sucked. If you don't want to hear me gripe and groan, turn the page, close your eyes or come back whenever. You know, many of our friends think we're in daily nirvana land. Well, the reality is that often times it is, but frequently it's not. The work goes on, and if the work doesn't go on, the boat breaks down and nothing goes on. Not much of a choice, huh? Well, to get organized to do whatever work needs to get done encompasses a lot of things. Often times, it's chasing parts in other areas of town, getting there by bus or whatever transport is available; getting lost is just part of the day. Often, it's gathering the tools and clearing out an area to get to the item that has the "fix me" sign attached to it. Today was like that. I had to clear out the lazarette to get to the nuts that were attached to the bolts that held down the cheek blocks (foot blocks) for the jib. The blocks were frozen (and in my defense for anyone who's thinking I didn't do proper upkeep) and were 1970's technology with a bronze sheave that turned around something...but I had to get to that something to determine why it didn't work. The starboard side was, I thought, no problem, as I took out a small mountain of rope, a lot of oversize poles and such, and even found an area of our emergency tiller which needed attention. The two part tiller, made of aluminum, was bolted together with a 1/2" SS bolt, and the electrolysis which followed essentially damaged the aluminum plate to the point where a replacement plate is now necessary. Put that on the list. At any rate, I climbed over a partial bulkhead in the lazarette, squeezed in with a flash light, looked up at where the caprail was thru bolted, and had Sue turn the bolt head of the block....No matter, I couldn't locate the bolt. The good thing was that when Sue tried to turn the bolt, the sheave freed up and now turns. That sounded good and I then realized that the port block was in an area that would necessitate me taking out the hot water heater to get to the underside of the caprail where I thought the nuts were for the port block. By this point, I'm a sweaty mess, so figured I'd measure some distances from a fixed point to try to better determine where the damn bolts were to begin with. Sure enough, the port side appeared to be above the quarter berth, not in the lazarette. No problem. That just meant taking every damn thing out of the quarter berth and dropping the head liner to confirm my suspicions. Of course, you guessed it...that didn't go so smoothly either. At any rate, I finally did manage to get the overhead down, had Sue turn the bolts, and, Eureka!, the nuts were, indeed, visible, We worked to get the nuts off, and the sheave turned out to turn around a solid SS bearing thru which a 3/8" bolt went thru, and the base of the block had another 3/8" bolt which helped attach the cheek (foot) block thru the shaped teak platform and caprail. Nuts off...two 5" bolts removed...sheave still frozen....what the ?? The bronze sheave had essentially welded itself to the SS inner bearing, and in attempting to gently remove the sheave, the bearing broke off the platform, no doubt from crevice corrosion and crappy design, although I must admit that it had lasted for 35 years...not a bad thing. The teak support pad decided to fly off and come along too, so we now had a broken cheek block, a caprail with holes in it, a torn up quarter berth, a ripped apart lazarette, a dirty, tired man, and rain pouring down. This extravaganza took about five hours, and now we had to put stuff back where it belonged. Not to mention, the cost of repair of the block is probably not worth it as modern blocks have bearings that take higher load and perform better than these older blocks do. Not to mention, this means we have to tear down the main stateroom overhead, get to the nuts of the starboard block, and remove that block as well. It may be turning now, but doubt it will last long, seeing what the port block looked like. So, that about sums up how the better part of the day went. Living the dream. Ya.
Pic: Pieces of the broken foot block

Aug 10 - More progress...

We've done a lot of little stuff these last few days. The motor to the autopilot, along with its hydraulic resevoir and hoses, was taken off to the shop for R/R. I haven't heard anything back yet, so that may be a good thing or it may not if needed parts aren't to be found here; we'll have to wait on that outcome. One of our reaching poles needed a few rivets replaced on a small padeye; cross that one off. The Perkins motor has been started every day; all good there. The yankee jib sheet and furling lines have all been led aft now and seven winches have been serviced. The refrigerator guy finally pulled his gauges off this afternoon, announced "all good" (the gauges have been there for days) and we're ready to fill up the freezer and fridge. (If you're stopping by, bring the beer....) A couple of small blocks have been put back in their places; the standoff tubing for the SSB antennae has been attended to, and we continue to stuff more stuff back aboard. The thermometer read 87F earlier this afternoon down below, so I'd think we'll be hooking up our A/C while we're at dockside for the next week or so. The rain has been intermittant and our solar panels have been putting in over 30A during the sunny periods. Nice. We cut off work early today and are going to see the movie "2 Guns" at Central Festival; all work and no play....

Aug 8 - Progress...

The rain spared us and it was another hot and muggy day. The thermostat finally arrived and installation was completed at 5:00 PM, a late day for the refrigeration lads. Final system check-out is tomorrow morning. After Sue chased for a 1m Simrad cable, it took me a while but I finally hooked up the GPS NMEA 0183 data stream to the autopilot. What should have been about a 15 min project turned into a two hour one as the wire colors for the two input/output signals had been changed during the GPS install many years ago back in Tarpon Springs and it took a while to figure. Things seem to be working but the fellow commissioning the unit will have to check it all out. In the cockpit, the bimini sun shade curtain retrofit had their final measurement and install in the afternoon, so all’s good. Clothes and food continue to be moved aboard; we’re almost there. And finally, we went to dinner with our friends Chris, Liz and Alene (Bruce was sick) to a new seafood restaurant in Ao Po and toasted to our wedding anniversary in style. Love you babe; may we celebrate many more in exotic locales!

Aug 6 - Chaos

The last few days have been chaotic. There have been way too many things happening at the same time, so I'll try to give a rundown of what I mean. With help from Chris (Rumrunner II), the liferaft and portable A/C units are now on the deck in their proper places. Down below, when I turned on the fridge and freezer, nothing happened. The thermostats were both toast, apparently having gotten water on their circuit boards at some time during the refit. I called one of the local refrigeration repair vendors, and both systems have been undergoing testing, one new thermostat has already been installed, and the other is being shipped from Bangkok and should arrive in the next day or so. OK then....The engine, which had taken us from the slipway to our berth when we were launched, decided to not start. Diesels are, essentially, simple creatures. They need clean fuel and an air supply; that's about it. In our case, we also need a source of current to the starter and solenoid, which originates in the starting battery. Our battery was pushing on in age, and its resting voltage was only 12.2V, so the first thing done after checking the fuel filters and making sure diesel was being delivered to the injector pump was to search out a local battery distributor and purchase a new starting battery with similar specs to the original. Done....The engine still wouldn't start. At first, there was a slight sound coming from the solenoid, but that stopped and the sound of silence ensued when the start button was pushed. Hmmm. Well, they say most solutions are simple ones, so I decided to go over (again) all the wires, traced and cleaned the connections, and found one loose wire at the back of the push button (to the starter) and one wire that had fallen off the relay that goes to the starter/solenoid. Ya think? The engine fired right up and ran just fine. It's been pretty rainy and cloudy these last few days and half our solar capacity was keeping up with the 12V refridge and freezer systems, but it sure was good to see 90 amps coming into the house battery. By way of saying thanks, I changed the oil and oil filter and continued to clean up the engine and wiring. What of the local Thai guys has been helping us; his assignment was to polish all the stainless on deck, sand the teak at the bow platform, and sand and put two coats of Interlux Brightside LPU paint on our caprail. Done. I've wired up the new Simrad autopilot but had to wait for the local distributor to return to Phuket (today) to arrange for him to commission the unit (tomorrow). Another local guy is resewing our old bimini sun awnings to make them fit the new boltrope track that has now been fitted on the very outside of the hard bimini all around the cockpit. That project should be done this week....As should our moving out of this rental condo....As should the return of our rental car....We've also visited our friends in Ao Po and had another wonderful dinner with a small crowd of folks there as well as sharing Chris' birthday dinner with him here at Boat Lagoon. We're going to have to go anchor someplace just to chill out. Unfortunately, the forecast is for more heavy rain, strong winds, and flash flooding (in town) most of this week, so we and everyone else just have to accommodate and do what we can when we can in spite of the downpours.