Phuket: Refitting the boat

Ariel writes:

We have been in Phuket for over two weeks now. This is the place where you get things done, especially if you compare it to Langkawi. There is a buzz all around us. There seems to be a lot more energy here. The only negative we can see is that people here also drive like they are in a hurry all the time…quite dangerous.

We are renting a small jeep by the month. It is a stick so I can’t drive and it has no suspension whatsoever. But it gets us by and allows us to can come and go as we please.

(Derek adds: It may be ugly but at least it’s slow! And it only costs ten bucks a day!).

We have been busy scheduling different people to do work on the boat. We have “Nai and Toe,” who are a husband and wife team, responsible for our interior woodwork. They had previously replaced our teak deck for us when we first bought the boat, so we know they will do a good job.

They also have quite a good reputation in Phuket. We are having them lower our bed in the V-berth. It is way too high for me to climb into and I bump my head every time I make the bed. Needless to say, Derek has also bumped his head many times. So the bed will be lowered by a good eight to nine inches and will also be widened. The bed in our pilot berth on the other hand, is too low (only up to the ankle). So we are having it raised about six inches or so. Those are the two major jobs.

The door to the engine will be altered to open up without having to take the whole door down. Derek hurt his toe pretty badly when the door slipped and fell on it back in Langkawi. The door must weigh more than 100 lbs. (Derek adds: Well, it felt like it weighed a hundred pounds when it landed on my bare foot!).

It was a bad design and we are changing it. We are also having some shelves put in the “tool shed”. Other minor alterations will have no visible effects on the boat but make her that much more livable.

In the meantime, we have rented an apartment in Boat Lagoon Marina for the month of December and have moved most of our things from the boat into the apartment. There will be dust everywhere on the boat. We hauled the boat out of the water on the 2nd of December and Nai and Toe started working the following day.

One of the major reasons we hauled was because of the seacocks. Derek found one was stuck and the handle on another was coming apart. For those unfamiliar with seacocks, they are what is keeping water from coming into the boat and potentially sinking the whole thing. We don’t know when they were last serviced, if ever. So Derek has been sweating every day since we hauled trying to yank all the seacocks out.

We have twelve of them and only one is above the water-line. So Derek will have to yank eleven out, clean them, see what condition they are in, service the good ones and replace the corroded ones somehow. We have not figured it all out yet.

“Sophon” will be doing the stainless steel work for us, mostly in the cockpit. Other cruisers have used him and he seems to do a good job. We hear he is a good engineer and is able to come up with good suggestions. And most importantly his price is reasonable.

We are going to follow his suggestion and widen our bimini (the awning over the cockpit of the boat) and make it stronger at the same time. We are moving our swim ladder so Derek can put in the Monitor windvane. We will see how he does with these couple of jobs. And we still need stainless steel work to mount the radar, etc.

For our canvas needs, we have “Muzza” from Canvas Creations. He is making us a new bimini as well as a new dodger. Both are pretty much beyond repair. He is also making us a cover to connect the bimini to the dodger and two weather cloths so we can stay drier in the cockpit when it rains. Lastly, there will be a mesh cover for the back of the cockpit to help keep out the sun. (All of Muzza’s work and ideas turned out to be great additions and really made the boat much more comfortable).

For our upholstery, we have “Jin and Pong.” They are well-known among the cruisers here and they have done nice work on quite a few boats. The newest thing is to do the salon cushions with buffalo skin. We have seen it done on a few boats and they look and feel great. But our priority will be the beds in the V-berth and the pilot berth since the frames have been altered and the current mattresses will not fit.

Those will be covered with fabric, not leather. Jin and Pong said they are extremely busy this month and they will be able to do only the mattresses for us. We are doubtful that they can even finish them by the end of the month. There were customers chasing them as we were having our meeting! So we shall see. We will wait and see if we have the time or the means to do the salon. Much work ahead.