Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Voyage Phuket - Lumut

We left Phuket on the 22nd Aug in order to be in Lumut a day before haul-up so I could sort out any problems from yard side as well scout out the area where I was going (it is un-charted).

Impressive clouds at Phi Phi Island

The weather was not too bad when we left but became increasingly poor the further south we went. By the time we were passing Langkawi Island it was pouring down cats and dogs and whatnot.

View to Phangnga Bay

John, our agent, who was driving down south called me and told the weather had been equally poor on the highway, only after Penang had the rain let up a bit. At sea we got westerly swell from our sb quarter that was not making the going any easier. As we had plenty of time on our hands I decided to enter from south of the Pangkor Island, the channel is wider there and I had been here in 1998 before so I sort of knew the waters. High seas were still rolling in from the Straits but as soon as we were in shelter of the Pangkor Island it stopped. The mainland side had been developed with tens of highrise buildings compared to 1998 there had been nothing there.

The Navy Colony on mainland opposite Pangkor Laut

Also the channel was better marked than in 1998, there is a 90degrees bend about halfway in the channel. Once cleared we were passing massive naval installations and greeted by the odour of a fertilizer factory that also closely resembled the smell of a brewery. I anchored in front of the Lumut International yacht club that consists of a 2 small piers and a collection of small craft. In front was also anchored a laid up navy vessel, Rahmat, that seemed it had been there a long time.

We launched our tender and took ashore Kalpana who needed medical attention as her wisdom tooth had started acting up. John met us at the pier and I got my clearance papers handed over as well. After this we headed up the channel to scout the “un-charted” area. We passed a flour mill and cargo piers until we reached a fork and took off right, shortly after, we arrived in front of Grade One shipyard. The 75m double pier where the lift was going to happen was flanked by three 60m long offshore vessels. We surveyed the waters in front of the pier and found ample water there except to the immediate west where we discovered only 3-4m of water, it appeared to be a mud flat just at the western pier end. Having done this we headed back to the ship and it was time for me to meet the yard people.

At the yard I met up with the lifting Engineers and we went through the way they wanted to lift up. It was the same as in Langkawi last year, stern first until we were inside of the piers, then stop. It appeared that the shore side was a bit shallow too. Instead of hauling the next day the yard wanted me to arrive same day at 1530hrs. Oh well, said and done, I was happy to get the show on the road. John dropped me off at the marina where I got a refreshing rain shower on the way back to the ship. We hoisted back our tender and anchor and sailed up river.

When we arrived the lifting piers I had a westerly current and wind going on and I saw it was not going to be an easy task to get the boat in with all elements at my broadside. My first attempt failed as I could not keep my bow up to the wind and current so I had to abort and try again. My 2nd attempt I was keeping my bow well up wind and tried to approach with my stern and then let my bow turn when I was easing her in between the piers. Easier said than done, I got stuck in the mudflat just west of the piers so I had to redo my approach. My 3rd attempt was successful, Saini was giving me good instructions of the situation aft and I backed in with speed. My bow fell again but I was in before it was too much. No damages either. We handed lines ashore and the yard started to position the shiplift and prepare to put is on the hard stand. My next story will about our works in Lumut, until then…
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Monday, 24 August 2009

Back to work again...

So, once we arrived Phuket 6th Aug I was off the ship again on to spend my remaining vacation days, after that it would be continuous work until next May again...

I went home to Jira and just relaxed until 14th when we made a sojourn to Chumphon province to visit relatives, this time Jira's brothers mother-in-law. She has farms near Lang Suan. It was a grueling drive up north half way to Bangkok with a lunch stop in Surat Thani at a highway Co-op eatery. All and all it took us 5 1/2 hrs to get from A to B. The mother-in-law had her house high up in the hills and it was pleasantly cool in the evening, even the mozzies did not bother us too much.

After arrival though we still drove down to Lang Suan Pak Nam (Lang Suan by the Beach) and saw a huge aircraft carrier built from concrete erected on the beach. It was a memorial for King Mongkut (Rama 5th). At the market we bought seafood for dinner and also visited an aunt there. Well up in the mountains again cooking began. As it was nearing voting time some guys appeared with rice whiskey bottles and tried to get the local menfolk drunk. I guess they ended more inebriated than the guys of the house (I had no part in it).

The Kings memorial

Then saturday morning 15th we got up early and started to pick Long Kong fruit from the mother-in-law's orchard. Long Kong fruits are as sweet as Lychee's but hairless and they grow funnily straight out from the tree trunk. The fruit is very well liked by ants and the are testy too and like to bite. This discovered too when climbing up a tree and harvesting it. I was picking ants off myself for an hour afterwards.

Mother-in-law also gave concentrated Durian candy to take down South. The candy is manufactured that several Durian fruits are peeled into a wok and then put on low heat while the wok is stirred all the time. Some people also add sugar but in this case none had been added. The stirring goes on for up to 12 hrs until all liquid has been heated out and only a thick brown paste remains, this then is collected into containers and kept in a fridge. The candy can be eaten just like that and is very filling, same as the fruit in it's natural consistency.

Once we had 7 crates (abt 120kg) of Long Kong in our pick-up truck we loaded ourselves in it and headed down south again. This time we did a late lunch stop near SUrat Thani at the Phrap Pla restaurant by the sea. It had a long walkway to get to the building itself but the view was very stunning and the oysters cheap (25 THB compared to Phuket 45 THB or >). Once fed we loaded us up again and headed for the last stretch home to Trang.

Then on 19th morning it was time to travel to Phuket and sign on Kalizma. I had an handover with Avnish and he arranged a farewell party in his restaurant Kargo Curry near Laguna. The food was excellent.

Next day, 22nd Aug, it was time to cast off Phuket an head down to Lumut for our drydocking. The weather forecast looked fairly ok and what happened then, I will update you after we've completed our works in Malaysia...

Related pics here
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Friday, 7 August 2009

Voyage Phuket - Langkawi - Phuket

As agreed I interrupted my vacation to take Kalizma to Langkawi and back. The purpose was to get some movement on the engines and pick up stuff that I had been shipping to John over a few months time. The main issue was to get our aft emergency exit hatch so we could install it here in Phuket before we would leave for our drydocking in Lumut.

I came onboard on the 31st and had a short recap with Avnish, confirmed we were all stocked up, sent passports for clearance and so on. On the morning of 1st Aug we left in sunny weather conditions. As we got out of the channel and sailed down Ko Yao Yai the sea got more rough, not bad but it shattered all our hopes to be able to stop for a dive during the passage. We slowed down and pottered on for 7kts and reached Royal Langkawi Yacht Club early morning.

In Langkawi I was met by our usual agent, John Orr, and the morning went swapping gossip and sorting out the business at hand. Tickets for Richard and Martula had been arranged so they could leave for their annual vacation. Later on John delivered shipments and I could see that I was missing one packet. It was again off to go sending emails to the shipper. In the evening I was invited out to Pantai Cenang for a private party.

The venue was at TJ's pizza restaurant where I had had earlier I think the best pizza I ever had in Far East. I met also previous acquaintances like Brendan and Lyn and several other familiar faces whose names I can't recall (apologies).

The Hotel at Kuah waterfront, looks like a piece from Disneyland

Monday morning on 3rd our freezer contractor started work on our freezer that had been long pending. Richard and Martula was whisked off to the airport. I got reply from shipper re: our missing parcel that it should be on the Island already. I relayed the info to John who discovered it should have flew the day before but it hadn't, then after much wrangling and knocking on doors it was finally located in the Customs warehouse. Our freezer contractor hit a few snags in his installation program that we had to postpone not only for him but also for the missing shipment of our anti marine growth system.

Tuesday 4th I woke up to nice sunny weather. Things were going my way for once. the Cathelco package was found and delivered onboard and Michael, our freezer technician started the freezer late in the evening. Only in an hour the freezer went to -15 degrees, a thing that in India was told us to be impossible. In the evening I was invited by John to come to his pad for his wife, Pam's, birthday party.

Wednesday the 5th was a disappointment weather wise, from early morning a strong breeze blew from west causing us to be pinned in the RLYC marina's N-S pier. John came to pick up the passports for clearance so I could depart when I wanted. I was constantly watching the wind meter but it refused to budge, on the contrary it went up to 40kts at times. The weather forecast was not much better, it promised better weather after 2 days. Finally, in the evening when the sunb started setting the wind came down a tad so that I deemed it safe to maneuver. I chased my crew to disconnect shore power and start engines whilst also letting John know that we were leaving.

Departure went well although I had some flies in my belly. I left my forward spring at the corner of the pier and slowly eased her over the corner and turned my stern against the wind and out of the port. Once I could see that I was good to go astern I started going slowly. Guys on the pier helped the going with fenders and I used the bow thruster to keep her off the pier. Having the bow clear of the corner I had to use my bowthruster the other way so my stern would turn more towards the port exit. The current was still flooding probably due to the strong wind that had prevailed the whole day. I cleared the wave breaker and turned around to face west and for Phuket. On the way we celebrated Jyothi's birthday in the exit channel and had some cake and dinner.

Once we entered the open seas at Pantai Cenang I confirmed the weather forecast, waves 4m high was rolling in from Indian Ocean. Luckily my stewardesses and other knew what I meant with bad weather so they had prepared the ship properly for rough seas. After entering open waters part of my crew went senseless from seasickness as usual. Luckily they were not my watchkeeping crew.

Next day was not much better, same weather prevailed and it eased down a bit while going north of Phi Phi Island, then it was easy going towards yacht haven. I missed the high water but was informed that current and wind is not bad so the marina allowed me to berth a bit later. I tied up port side along side at our usual corner without any mishaps. My crew was happy to have a stable deck under their feet again. Anyway, the cleaning started for some minor items that had broken during the passage...

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