Sunday, 1 November 2009

Captain's blog October 2009

As many you may have read my previous posts, I will just cursorily go through what we did in October (which was not much) but still in hindsight seems to me like a lot of things.

1st October we are sailing towards Phuket, finally being released from the Lumut Shipyard. John Orr is being put on vacation as he is just plain sick of the last months pressure.

Weather is getting choppy after Penang Island so I decide to scurry north and sail between Langkawi and mainland as well as Ko Tarutao and mainland, the weather is sunny but windy. I get good cover from land, but once I emerge to open seas after Tarutao Island I get same old rodeo ride as before but it only lasts a few hours until Phi Phi Island. We have avoided the worst area and also no damages are sustained as we have secured everything to the hilt due to the forecasts we got from local weatherman.

During the passage my port radar decides once again to give up, same as our both echosounders, no news on that front, seems to be usual Nobeltec quality in play again despite no obvious problems.

I sail into the "Monk's channel" (Chong Pak Phra)to Yacht Haven on radar observation and anchor at 2 am in front of the marina. After a short nap and daybreak I heave up the anchor and move alongside with the highwater.

In afternoon I get ashore and do some serious shopping for provision and a new TV to the crew messroom that broke down in Lumut.

Next day 3rd starts in earnest to prepare for our MCA survey and various maintenance works.

6th Oct I send Saini to pick up our MCA surveyor Alf Cashmore and Naval Architect Mishraji while I move the yacht to in front of Phuket commercial port. The pier itself is occupied by Star Cruises m/v Superstar Virgo, a 75000GT behemoth. Later Mr. Cashmore and Mishraji join us onboard to survey the inclination arrangements that we have arranged same as last March.

We need to change the thread of the pendulums to metal wire so while sending both distinguished gentlemen ashore we race to a local hardware store to secure some piano wire.

Next day 7th Oct we start early, I heave up anchor at 5am and move alongside Phuket commercial pier that is now vacant. It is low water. We start marking the zero point and then moving the weights (1600kg in 4 piles). As we have minimized the personnel onboard we all get a decent morning exercise by moving the weights first from p to sb, the sb to p and as the reading were not that sure we moved another time p to sb and back. By that time it was 10 am and Alf and Mishraji were content with the results and we can relax for a few hours before pulling off in order to reach the high water in Yacht Haven. It is now raining heavily.

We leave in good order but encounter bad seas and rain squalls even in the close proximity while passing Phuket Bay, Ao Tha Lua and more north. We arrive well for the HW in Yacht Haven and make fast with no hassles at our usual place at the outer corner of Dock B.

Same evening I have dinner with both gentlemen in Phuket town and hurry back onboard to get some shuteye and give Saini instructions of next days "taxi" service.

8th Oct we finish our safety survey and I do the UKLAP exam with Alf, I pass after some gruesome instruction into the mechanics of the Empire and am finally eligible for a UK CeC. At end of day Saini sends Alf back tot the hotel and onwards to the airport, this years survey is complete. Now as we are nearing fulfilment of the commercial yacht status I can see our paperwork has tenfolded and surveys increased to annual instead of every 5 yrs. That is the price of safety.

But the pressure does not stop here, on the 9th I receive onboard our Company auditor, Mr. Ashoke Roy, he comes onboard scheduled to check out our accounts and inventories. By the 11th Ashoke has gone through a years worth of accounts and even found some obvious mistakes I've made but not to my benefit, ha-ha. At noon I drive Ashoke around Phuket for some last minute sightseeing and shopping before sending him away to the airport.

By this time I have my contractors working full ahead for MCA outstanding items as well as preparing for receiving Boss in December.

Not to keep me sitting on my laurels Cmde Mongia arrived on the 14th to inspect some plots for sale as well as meet with Nick Coombes from APS Langkawi in regards of the docking disaster in Lumut.

16th we meet with Nick and come to a mutual agreement (which I suppose you read earlier) and I send the Cmde back to India on his scheduled return flight.

Thereafter follows Diwali weekend and me and Saini & Kalpu drive away on 16th with our BBQ set to Trang to meet with Jira. Vivek and Raja Ram will follow next day as they got job 2 do.

Next week was rather uneventful, we were all back onboard working full ahead and maintaining Kalizma to her splendour. On 22nd I headed off to Thap Lamu to inspect the port as an option to moor at in case we would head up north along the coast.

Thap Lamu is a naval base but also has a fishing pier available. The pier is a 90 degree contraption from shore (about 50m long), quite high and offers no fancy shore connections or fresh water as in yacht marinas. E.g. Kalizma could not land a gangway at this pier. At the end is a staircase to the waterlevel, which I think caters well for tender boats. My idea is that I will anchor off the pier and use tender for any passenger/ crew transfers.

On the 23rd Oct was Toby Koehler's 40th Birthday. He invited whole crew (among all other yacht crews too) to participate in the festivities at Nai yang beach at the Beach Club. We all came with gusto (see other post).

On 24th we take down our tender boat and discover it is not working properly despite repair works earlier. We change boats and head for Phangnga Bay for sightseeing James Bond Island etc. Whole afternoon is spent driving from Is to Is with our tender and we see very photographic vistas and views. We can only "ooh" and "aah" at the spectacular views we are presented after every turn.

A brackish water steam on an uninhabited Island

The famous "James Bond" Island

Views in Phangnga Bay

Lime stone erosion at the waterline

Same evening I go down to Sapan Hin to look at the grande finale of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, I tell you it was a lot of rockets and crackers...

Rest of the month goes in terms of work. On the 27th Sunil Sharma comes back from his long wanderings in the UK bureaucracy and Vivek prepares to leave for his tour of vacation in order to renew his CoC.

On the 31st we cast off and depart for Langkawi to see our old agent John Orr and Nick Coombes, and what happened then, I will let you know...

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