Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Long Haul (out)

There's too much to say and most of you are probably not that interested in the exciting details of boat maintenance so I will try to simply summarise each day (well, I'll endeavour to!). 

Out of The Water
Rene spent the morning unbolting the stanchion posts. He accidentally dropped the starboard side traveller overboard and despite diving in the 4.5 metre deep water repeatedly, he couldn't locate it! I discovered the downside to this marina - it's remoteness. Just before booking a taxi, some of our neighbours offered me a lift with them. Trying to locate my short list of groceries within the huge Tesco took hours! By the time I returned, Rene had already taken Anima out of the water! The system they use here is fantastic and really easy. It's like a forklift / boat trailer with airbags along the forks which the boat motors into, and is then lifted up out of the water. Anima was deposited right in the far back corner (we're going to get fit here just walking to the shower block!) because the staff were worried about us angle grinding steel dust over the other boats. The marina staff allowed us to use the water pressure wash to clean our ropes. Their system is quite slow however as the water used to feed the pressure wash comes from a large drum which slowly fills with a hose. The pressure washer inevitably uses water at a faster rate than it being filled and the generator which runs it needs to be turned off at the switchboard. Our dinghy had to be quickly rowed over and pulled up onto land as the leak she developed in Belitung has reformed. We ate out at the local cheap food place and had a terrible meal cooked by two friendly teenagers. Rene enjoyed the dessert of something involving shaved ice, red beans and sugar called 'Cendol'. 
Anima hauled out in Pangkor Island Marina, Malaysia
The First Day Sanding 
We spent more hours cleaning Anima's decks of stuff. It frustrates me how much we seem to carry! Water jerry cans, ropes, fuel, bits of wood and plastic... so much stuff! A heavy rain shower slowed progress for a few hours. I went inside and draped drop sheets over stuff in preparation for the mess of dust that is to come. Rene unbolted the stern railings and lifted the entire structure up about 5 inches using the Mizzen halyards. We have discovered some unwanted guests who have been hiding out in the wood... I first saw them in Townsville and thought they were mites. Now we're worried that they're actually little termites! We're contemplating getting rid of most of the wood in that area in case it's damaged. Need to do more research. The forklift machine thingo eventually let us free but only after the marina staff spent hours welding up metal frames to hold us in place. Rene was humoured and horrified that the large power-line nearby has fallen from its pole and is lying in a puddle. After the rain, it was lying in a very big puddle! The seller from Penang who we've been emailing hundreds of times arrived with our Jotun paint. He was very knowledgeable and friendly and even climbed up on deck to inspect some areas we're worried about. Lunchtime break involved playing Mancala and decorating our little Christmas tree. Everything eventually dried off and we were able to begin sanding. I had the disheartening job of sanding by hand. Progress was hard to see! Rene however, had a go with the angle grinder and was able to sand back a substantial area. We have to remove the entire topcoat of paint. We have a long way to go!
Rene angle-grinding the top layer of paint from our decks.

The Strobe Effect Lightning

A sunny morning greeted us bright and early. We both set to work sanding: Rene on the angle grinder and me on the sander. After about an hour of sweating it with the sander, I looked over to Rene working and watched him clear an area the same size as what I'd just done in about 5 minutes. That's when I decided that the sander wasn't the tool for me and moved to hand sanding again. Sitting on deck in the humidity and hot sunlight, sanding away at paint that didn't seem to budge is not exactly my definition of a good time. However, I persisted at it through the sweat and tears until my hands were hurting and stomach grumbling. 

We took a break together and started a game of Upwords (I bought the set in town for $5AUD and it's a total fake but still mostly works). Rene is insisting that we play a game together every day so that we get to have fun as a couple rather than just working all of the time. Boat ownership means A LOT of work. I reckon way more than house ownership (but I'm not an expert at that just yet). Anyway. After lunch Rene kept at it with the angle grinder and I had the job of finding more sanding disks. Some friendly yachties just happened to drive up to me as I walked through the yard and offered me the use of their hire car to get to the hardware! I was a little apprehensive having not driven in Asia before and having seen how the Malaysians drive (no indicating, changing lanes or simply driving in the middle or wrong lane). But it was totally fine, fun in fact! I love driving! I miss my car! The best part of the trip was driving past a strip of street vendors all selling Durian fruits. Even with all of the windows closed, their awfully sweet and sickly smell seeps in somehow! 

'I think it's going to rain Rene, look at those clouds!'. 'No it won't , the wind is coming from the opposite direction'. 'Yeah but the wind changes direction 360 here!'. 'It's not going to rain, you always say it will!'. At 1700 hours Rene finally switched off the angle grinder and we swept the decks again until I started forming blisters! The clouds continued to build and we continued to have the same discussion. 
Rene after many hours of angle grinding
We cleaned the areas of steel exposed by the grinding with Jotun Thinner no.17 and I mixed up the Jotamastic 87 paint. After painting for about 15 minutes, the clouds behind us really started going black and the atmosphere got a little hazy, reminding us of 'the Nothing' from 'Never Ending Story'. Rene finally agreed that it might rain and set up a tarp but then had second thoughts when the sun came out from behind a cloud and took it down again, saying yet again that it was going to remain fine. Three minutes later, he changed his mind again when the wind turned from the direction of 'the Nothing' and thunder started rolling! I kept painting while he rigged up the tarp, anchoring it to the scaffolding. It was getting dark now and the mosquitoes were biting. I downed a beer on the go to keep up the energy levels and we kept going. Rene took over painting the topsides and I quickly threw everything inside that was going to get wet. I couldn't even see Rene, he was swamped by the tarp which was pressed over him in the building winds. He stopped then after getting some paint in his eye and we had to let the mixed paint go to waste. The wind was really building up, lightning and thunder rolled around us in a constant dance and we stood on the ground looking up at Anima, wondering if she'd fall over.
The slipway by night - imagine it being lit with lots of lighting! 
I felt as though we were in a movie as the lightning flashed so often it was like a strobe effect. As the wind whipped about us, we spoke of how this trip has taught us so much about ourselves and of what we value/want from life.

Cleaned of paint using the showers (simple but OK, a shower head in the same cubicle as the toilet), we met with our friends from Narid to catch up and have a meal together. We ate at the little local restaurant set above the sea shore that sells Satay. Ordering was made interesting due to a large language gap but the food was delicious and very cheap (dinner for 4 with drinks cost us $8AUD). The atmosphere there was really fun too as the staff kept giggling and laughing and joking around. Rene ordered us all a 'Tea Tadic' and I delighted at watching them prepare this frothy beverage. They pour milky tea from one container to another in wide, dramatic arcs (the more risky the move, the better reaction) to froth it up into a drink like a tea cappuccino!

The night ended with a late nightcap on board Narid. The rain continued.
Tea Tadic being made
The Rainy Day #1
I started the day by checking online for the weather forecast. It didn't look good. Rain, thunderstorms and showers ahead for the next 7 days. Bummer! Oh well, I needed to take a break from hand-sanding anyway - to avoid further developing the blisters which tried to form on my hands. Instead, I cleaned up a lot inside. There was a lot of dust that had somehow snuck its way inside after yesterday's sand-a-thon. Tools and sails and ropes were shoved all over the place and it took quite a while to set everything straight again. I rang Maxis (our Malaysian Internet provider) to try and sort out the issue we're having with our broadband. It took many attempts to even explain the problem fully as the staff seem to be more keen to pass us off than help. I was hung up on and Rene was told that the system was down! It's still not fixed. In the afternoon I did some more pressure-washing to clean off all our sheet ropes. So much mould, salt and dirt comes out of them that it's actually quite a satisfying job. The other yachties here probably think I'm crazy but I don't mind. The pressure hose is beast that is quite unwieldy. Rene spent the day sanding and preparing for tomorrow when he hopes to borrow a welding kit.
Pressure washing the Spinnaker halyard.
The Welding Experiment
Rene was so excited about getting to practice welding for such a bargain price. To hire the welding kit is 50RM (about $17AUD) for the day. He wanted to weld some steel to the stanchion post supports so they don't wobble so much and he also wanted to weld up a hole in the hull made by removing the broken speed log. It started well and he was having fun melting steel into blobs that he could (somewhat) control. But then things got tricky when he tried to weld up the hole in the hull. It required him to weld upside-down (a complicated procedure even for experienced welders) and he had only welded once before today. It was a low moment for Ren when he discovered that instead of filling the hole, he actually made it bigger! 
Rene hard at work welding
The aftermath of the welding
The welding mistake
I had some pretty low moments too today. The worst of it was while Rene was welding, I had to sit inside the engine room making sure it didn't catch on fire. The room filled with toxic smoke and heat. I donned a safety mask but couldn't bear wearing it for long because the rubber stung my face so badly (and left a nasty rash). I am feeling very over owning a boat. 

A low moment on this journey

A lovely couple from Tasha D.M let us carpool with them in their hired car. We bought more tools and stuff from various hardware stores and I bought more food with them from Tesco's. There was so much traffic along the main road that I couldn't cross it by foot to buy bananas from a local stall holder without risking death. 
Porthole window all covered up

The Depressed Day
Today I cried a lot. I've been really struggling with homesickness lately and big salty tears just swell up and fall from my eyes as soon as I start thinking about anything from home (I even cried one day when I cracked open an egg and it was really runny and gross, I remembered how nice eggs are back home and it set me off). I'm really missing all of the wonderful Christmas foods and all of the fun holiday times with family and friends. It doesn't help that we're doing hard physical work here in Malaysia with only a few people to talk to, a crap Internet connection and locals who drive by really slowly staring at me (like I'm in a zoo!). Rene worked at grinding back the areas he welded on the port side and I worked at sanding back the dorade vents ready for re-painting. 
An example of how old & sun-damaged the dorade vents are!
Some of the Dorade vents with their first coat of new paint
We found out that Rene didn't get the Sydney job. We both felt pretty rejected about that as we'd been getting excited about the idea of moving back to Australia. We had more big discussions about what our options are and made a few more beginnings of decisions. 

We had drinks under another boat with two other couples who've been here a while. They are both fitting new engines into their yachts and had plenty of tales to tell. It was really good to get away from Anima and all the work and decisions she involves to have a few drinks and eat Malaysian snacks.

The New Job Offers and The Welding
I started today feeling better and then even better when I checked my email and saw that I had a potential job offer working in Singapore as a preschool teacher. I rang the school and had a very informal interview at the conclusion of which, I was offered a job! I went back to my email and saw that I had one from Education QLD asking me to give them my return date to work! Suddenly I was met with yet another decision!! To accept the Singapore job or to work back in QLD? I'm pretty terrible at making decisions, so I put it out there on Facebook and got some great advice from friends and family which helped a lot. My decision at the moment is to accept the Singapore job if it pays well. 
Local welders under Anima 
Extraction hose to help reduce toxic fumes from the welding.
We hired some local welders to fix up the hole. Three guys cut away more steel and tacked a replacement sheet of metal in place. They took the whole day to fix Rene's welding hole with much driving off in motorbikes/trucks to fetch bits and pieces. The welding they did seems really good and we had them weld it from inside as well as out so it's very strong and won't ever leak. While they worked, I busied myself taping up the windows and portholes some more and also sanded back more dorade vents. 

Rene started sanding the top sides by hand, using a hand sander in each palm. After 3 hours of this, I asked him how long he thought the job would take. He thought for a few minutes and then said '3 weeks sanding at this rate and I will have done the top sides'. After a few more hours, he went out shopping to buy an orbital sander but came back with a borrowed one instead. It was much faster and he sanded for hours more until it was dark and the mosquitos started biting. We ate out again at the Satay place - so cheap and yummy (and no doubt loaded with saturated fats!). 
Satay = YUM!
One Week Here Today
We set the alarm for 6am but it was still dark until nearly 7! We both got out on deck to sand back the starboard side welds before they develop rust. It put me in a bit of a grumpy mood to be in the sun, hand-sanding for hours! Ren went on a mission to buy his own orbital sander and some other hardware things while I stayed and finished off the sanding, cleaning and painting. In addition to the welds, I also painted over some steel exposed on the topsides, the keel and two more dorade boxes. Such a sweaty job! 

The afternoon involved making a big healthy tabouli salad and cooling down a little when the paint dried enough for me to turn on the air-conditioner again! Yet again, I had to clean up - organising and putting away almost all of the tools which were scattered around the place. I have been feeding Rene up on lots of snack foods which are quite cheap here and sometimes interesting to experiment with. The packaging for some biscuits ('Calcium Crackers') made me laugh in its explanation of Whole Grain Cereal (see pic below). 
Worrying packaging - my food contains 'Endosperm And Germ'!!! 
I didn't laugh when, on my way down the rickety wooden ladder, I fell and landed on my shoulder and head! I'm OK and didn't break anything but have some big bruises and scrapes on my leg (which much have tried to grape onto the ladder as I fell) and a really sore shoulder. I asked for a better (metal) ladder and the marina staff delivered one almost immediately. It is much more sturdy! 
The rickety wooden ladder
Despite my injuries, I pushed on until late today. I pressure-washed more ropes, sanded more dorade vents and taped up more windows. Rene used his new orbital sander to sand back about 2 metres of the topsides. We're both exhausted. One week here already and so much more still to do! At the moment it feels as though we'll be stuck here forever. 

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