Welcome to the blog of the sailing yacht Sea Bunny.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Changes at Ao Chalong

Just before Christmas we had a need to visit Chalong for food goodies and haircuts. We had been warned that the local marine department had laid free moorings in most of the day,but that they were of doubtful security.
As we crossed from our overnight anchorage at Panwa Bali, this seemed to be confirmed by the presence of an anchored yacht in the middle of the bay, with a mooring buoy and line still attached.  There had been a squall overnight with winds of probably 30-35 knots.
As we entered the anchorage we were hailed by another yacht to warn that the buoys were not secure. We found what may be the only clear area among the buoys and put the hook down.  As we were doing so the crew on a nearby boat were gesticulating and holding up a mooring buoy (not one of the free ones). When we were safely anchored Richard took the RIB over to see what the signals were about.  They pointed out that the mooring buoys are free of charge.  When Richard explained that he did not trust them they showed the buoy their boat had been on overnight, together with a length of broken mooring warp.
The marina on the pier, refurbished last year, is already breaking up, although it is still used by some of the charter boats and can be used as a dinghy landing.

Escape from Boat Lagoon!

Sea Bunny leaves Boat Lagoon (at last).
Photo: Dick & Anita, Kind of Blue
December 16 was the last day before Christmas when the height of the daytime high tide was 3.0 m or more - which perceived wisdom indicates will give Sea Bunny, with a draft of 2.3 m, sufficient depth to negotiate the channel without running aground.
So, at 1130, we were on the fuel dock, waiting the pilot who, it transpired, would be on another, larger, yacht (draft 2.7 m) to lead us out of the shallow winding channel.
We saw least depth of 2.4 m - obviously we took that bend a little wide.
Having waved goodbye to the pilot we then crossed the 3 miles or so into the lee of Koh Rang Yai (literally "larger Rang Island".
The next day, we crossed back to anchor Sea Bunny close to the outer entrance marker to Boat Lagoon and took the RIB back in to the marina as we had appointments to keep.  This was an interesting trip as it was at low water and the 30 or so tour boats, all large planing speedboats most with 3 x 250 HP on the stern were constrained to the channel. We were in Jane our 8' RIB with 1 x 9.8 HP!.
3 boats had the courtesy to slow down when passing (thank you Phuket Adventures); the rest did not! Being resourceful people we had complete dry sets of clothes with us.
We repeated the exercise in and out for two days completing shopping, getting rid of rubbish and the stitches in Richard's hand. Baptism by wash and wave is what we called it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Sea Bunny returned to her proper environment on 13 Novemberafter nine months and 4 days on the hard.  We'll be in Boat Lagoon, Phuket for another month trying to catch up with the long list of jobs still to do.

Photo © Ley Langford
We're not sure if the marina designers got the levels wrong, allowing the whole launch area to flood at high spring tides or if it was deliberately done to permit launching of boats with a beam larger than that of the launch dock.

Photo © Ley Langford

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Visa run

One of the issues with being in foreign countries is that visas periodically run out.  With the type we have in Thailand this is every 90 days.
At such times we have to cross an international border, get checked into a another country and return to Thailand to have our passports stamped and earn another 90 days. The time in the foreign country can be as little as 5 minutes!
Having considered two main options - fly to Penang, Singapore or KL or take a trip to Myanmar we chose the latter.
We rejected the various one-day visa run options, involving 4-5 hours each way in a minibus to the border town of Ranong and either a longtail across the river  to Kawthoung or a more comfortable ferry to the Andaman Club Resort on Thahtay Khyun Island in the mouth of the river.  Instead we hired a car, drove to Ranong and stayed overnight in the resort.  The resort essentially takes care of everything and all payments are in Thai baht.

Andaman Club resort
Thus it was that we found ourselves taking a couple of days off from boat work and spending a night in Myanmar, a country we had not expected to return to after our trip last year.  In fact you wouldn't know you are in Myanmar if it weren't for the all-important stamps in the passport - it is to all intents a Thai hotel (except for the casino).

The next day we returned by the longer "scenic" route across the central mountains and back by the old road across to Phang Nga.  A side visit was to the Keereewong Nature Temple, a Buddhist temple set in a forest glade.  We were looking for a "geocache" hidden there, which we failed to find, but were glad we went as it is a really peaceful place which most drive past.  We then visited our friends Richard and Pauline (cousins of Susan's cousin Paul's wife Elizabeth) at Khok Kloi just north of the bridge onto Phuket for a late lunch.  It was however so late that we stayed the night and still managed to return the car in Phuket before it turned into a pumpkin at 0900.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sea Bunny progress slow but sure

Test fit of the rudder
The weather has been unseasonally kind to us and the hull underwater has mostly been filled, faired and more epoxy applied..  Just the parts that were under props, now moved, remain to be finished.  Then we will be ready to antifoul.  We have decided to use Coppercoat which, although slightly more expensive, should be effective for several years - some boats achieve 10 years or more with just gentle rub downs.  The topsides are undercoated and being finally prepared for topcoat as we write.  We will not have access to the boat for a few days as she will be masked up and surrounded by clingfilm.

Seawater inlet manifold before fitting

R has modified the huge manifol, that controls most of the seawater flow intothe boat, under the floorboards outside the engine compartment. The area has also been painted white so will be able to see the crud in future.

S has repaired the 3 large awnings, made 5 new hatch covers (essential to keep the heat out) & new cockpit table cover (essential as it is knocked every time something is taken out of the cockpit locker). She also found time to make herself a new blouse but not from the same material!

The galley beautiful project is virtually complete.

Cutting times

Cutting the cake
Here is a some recent cutting experience -  R with his birthday cake at a local seafood restaurant and Susan getting rid of of a weight on her mind.

More cutting

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Indian Ocean Voyagers

With the increasing dangers of piracy in the NW Indian Ocean an increasing number of boats are choosing to cross from SE Asia (Malaysia and Thailand) or Australia to South Africa.

Last year Dave and Jan on the yacht Baraka compiled a list of these boats with the aim of facilitating communication between them and helping to get boats to team up if they so desire.  With Baraka's departure on the trip and consequent limited internet access, we  have taken over the running of the list, which at present covers yachts planning the voyage in 2012 or 2013.

N route (red), S route (yellow), S route outside Sumatra (green)
Essentially there are two routes. 

The "northern route" leaves SE Asia in January-March and heads to the Chagos Archipelago via some or all of Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives, using the NE monsoon of the N Indian Ocean.  Traditionally these boats have then waited for about 2 months in Chagos for the saesons to change in the southern Indian Ocean, notably the end of the cyclone season.  The British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT)administration now restrict stays to 28 days so boats have had to adapt plans to accomodate these rules. Boats on this route then either pass to the north of Madagascar and cruise the eastern coast and then to Richards Bay or head down to Rodrigues, Mauritius or Reunion and Richards Bay or Durban.

The "southern route" either passes down the west coast of Sumatra and then to Cocos Keeling or Mauritius or down the Malacca Strait to Singapore then through Indonesian waters to the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java thence to some or all of Cocos Keeling, Rodrigues, Mauritius, Reunion and then to Durban or Richards Bay.  Best timing for this route commences in either May/June or September from the Sunda Strait.  The SE trades can be quite boisterous in July and August.  Boats from Australia would probably pass south of Java to Cocos Keeling.

There are, of course many variations.

Yachts planning this trip can be included on the monthly updates of the list by emailling us at seabunnyhr42@gmail.com. The information required is- yacht name, type, length, communications equipment carried, route and dates proposed, email address, sailmail or similar address if carried, skipper and crew names.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Its neck and neck in the Hull and Galley Beautiful Stakes

The weather held until a couple of days ago

The fibreglass sheet went on without a hitch. We asked Jimmy Watt to inspect it - his view was that Oh's men had done an excellent job so relief all round.

It was left for 10 days for the amine bloom to come out and the hull was then scrubbed with Scotchbrite pads and  hot water.  Then 500 microns West system epoxy was put on & now epoxy filler, which will be mostly faired off, in place. Then the boat supports will be moved & the same process done where they rested. We have kept tabs on the amount of product used etc. Like after 8 coats "we have finished " - NO only half the required quantity of product had been used.  All done without loss of face & great humour!

As our bunk mattresses have at last succumbed to mould after 12 years. 2 queen sized latex ones have been delivered from Bangkok to Mr Peh who has the pleasure of cutting these heavy bulks to fit the 4 covers that make up our bed in the aft cabin. He will store this until we are ready.

The fridge cabinet goes here
In the galley beautiful stakes Richard has removed the fridge cabinet and reinsulate around it,.  Removing the foam was a time-consuming mechanical job and it was interesting to find, on removal that two of the hull stringers had been cut to make room for the cabinet - presumably on initial installation by Hallberg Rassy as it was the original cabinet. Yes that is daylight you can see shining through the hull which is more translucent without gelcoat or paint.

The galley top has been fitted & unfitted. It is now back in the workshop having all Staron fiddles moulded around so that no liquid will drip down beside the cooker or into the cupboards when we heel over. This will take another 2 weeks. Richard has refurbished the fridge compressor - what a guy.

Most days Susan is high on paint thinners 10 & 17, as she is painting the insides of cupboards  with 2 part, ie 4 coat paint. The only type that does not go yellow on boats.
Richard has been in the engine compartment doing more electrics & installed a new inverter/charger system.

On Monday Susan had a girlie day out with Ley, Carla & Diane - little boat talk. Richard may have a day off on his birthday!

Weather permitting - 14 June

Well while we were in the UK there were 4 dry days here.
Since our return it rained on most days for a month!
So during the rainy period Richard was has been crouched in the engine compartment rewiring for the galley panel & updating other bits of knitting! He reinsulated the fridge & the carpenter finished the underlying woodwork. The kitchen guy for the tiny work surfaces in Staron came to remeasure yet again!
Susan did entire boat stowage list that is now on the iPad! Very tedious but will be invaluable.

The best photo would have been of Susan on her bike wearing yellow poncho, sporting an umbrella in one hand, riding through a foot of water in the boat yard at high tide! Unfortunately there was no one to take the picture as it was raining so so hard. During this time we had to be extra cautious getting on & off Sea Bunny, Richard only fell over in the mud once!

Glassing the hull
After long talks with Mr Oh our painter & jimmy Watt, the surveyor, we had agreement ( so many technical details- just to say the glass fibre resin has to be mixed correctly & applied in a tight time frame easy in Europe not so easy in Thai time) & felt happy that Mr Oh with new weighing scales, has the expertise  & was willing, to do the hull work with a team of 6 men. On day 1 of dry days the fibre glassing process started under Richard's supervision. This stage was finished in 3 days with no rain clouds building.

We took photos and copious paperwork to customs for an extension on the time Sea Bunny can stay in Thailand without a heavy fine and duty.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Phuket - itchily back to the grindstone,

Our Emirates flights back to KL were not full, so we were able to spread ourselves.  We only had a couple of hours in Dubai, just time to get a coffee and pastry. Arriving in KL in the evening we overnighted at the Concord Inn, near the main terminal. 

During the night Susan remarked on being a bit itchy.  Over the next few days she developed some 60 inflamed and very itchy red weals, identified as flea or bed bug bites.  These took about three weeks to go down, after a large doseof antibiotics and anti-histamines.

Back at Boat Lagoon we asked Jimmy Watt, the local surveyor, to check on the moisture readings. They were good, so jubillant we can proceed with repairs when the rain breaks.

Monday, July 2, 2012

UK visit 5 - Geocaching in the New Forest

After a few days with friends on the way down we arrived for the Bank Holiday weekend at James and Jane's in Bransgore.  The boys, Josh and Jake were lively as ever.
Out Travelbug
On a walk in the New Forest (actually "New" in the 11th century when it was a royal hunting reserve) we were introduced to Geocaching.  For those who are not familiar with this it involves using GPS to visit exact locations and searching for either a cache, containing a logbook and things left by previous finders, or a clue to the next location in a route that eventually leads to a cache.  In our case we had three smartphones between us, all giving slightly different directions. We discovered that, as our phones do not have compasses they can only accurately show the direction to the next coordinate when the phone is moving, so it can detect the direction of travel from the GPS change - same as a chartplotter on a boat or GPS unit in a car.
Despite this we followed the route to the cache, where we acquired  a much travelled "travelbug" which we took to deliver to a cache in Phuket on its way hopefully to New Zealand.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

UK visit 3 - Over the Sea to Skye

The ballard actually refers to Bonnie Prince Charlie's trip from south Uist to Skye not Skye to the mainland. Actually we went over the bridge, but it doesn't sound as good and has only been possible for a few years, certainly not in 1745!

We first attempted to get to Skye in 1969, before we were married, but chickened out when it started to snow heavily in Glengarry.  We have been promising ourselves the trip ever since and have now succeeded.

Having appreciated light, clear water & mountain ranges on our travels - Skye has them all in spades & our photos cannot do justice to the scenery.

While England was suffering torrential rain and storms, Skye was windy and cold, but reasonably dry & the air was clear. This last fact was important to us coming from a polluted Asia. Our excellent snug B&B, Glean an Ronnaich in Portree, was nicely central & we can't recommend it too highly. Walks range from gentle rambles to serious climbing in the magnificent Cuillin range. We limited ourselves to a daily gentle ramble. 

North Skye
Kilt Rock ( in the distance)
Kilt rock is a cliff formation on the NE coast where a layer volcanic rock shows half way up the cliffs, apparently resembling tartan in a kilt (English of course).

Duntulm Castle

Duntulm Castle near the northern tip of the island is the ruins of the former seat of the MacDonalds of Sleat. Not much remains & the what is left are unstable.  We have to confess that we ignored all signs & climbed up.

View from the top
The view from the top of the Trotternish Ridge is spectacular.

UK visit 2 - Edinburgh

The 3 weeks of our visit with Catharine and Steve in Edinburgh flew by. Grandsons Archie and Max are growing apace with Archie now at school and Max becoming quite articulate.  We managed a bit of babysitting and some weekend outings .It was a good break from the littleies to have lunch with Susan's sister. We also did duty visits to Susan's 102 yr old mother. 
Stuck in the mud - Roslin Glen

Female panda Tian Tian

During the visit we managed trips to both the botanical gardens and the zoological gardens, the latter just us with the boys. At 1000 hrs the only tickets available to see the giant pandas were for 1700 hrs- long time but the 7 hours with inquisative,agile boys passed quickly.
For the record we only lost Archie once!

Wooden ones are less aggressive than real ones (when awake)

UK visit 1

21/22 March saw us travelling Phuket-Kuala Lumpur-Dubai-Gatwick, with an overnight stay in Dubai. The KL to Dubai leg was supposed to be an A380, but it had been replaced with a 777 and that was only about 1/3 full - signs of the economy? So we spread ourselves & slept.

Dubai Fort
In Dubai we had a morning free so we had a healthy brisk walk to a museum in the old Dubai Fort. 

The Dubai-Gatwick leg was however nearly full. Susan was seated next to an obese man who spread himself largely into her "territory" & was very rude.  One of the few empty seats was next to Richard so she was able to move, otherwise she would have contacted the stewardess.

In UK we touched base with Nik and Lou, had the annual sort out of wardrobe and moved on to Paul & Elizabeth, catching up on Fenland news.  Richard absented himself for a night, off to Cambridge for an old boys reunion. True to promise he didn't buy the photo of white haired men!

Dubai - Air conditioned bus shelter

Boat Lagoon, Phuket

Apologies to all our readers for the lack of updates. Life has been a bit hectic.

On 9 February Sea Bunny was lifted out at Phuket Boat Lagoon principally to have the topsides painted and for a few minor jobs, expected to take about 3 weeks. However, we planned to leave her on the hard for our UK trip commencing in late March.

Not well adhered - but it is 18 years!
This was very fortunate as we found a few blisters in the paintwork below the waterline. On investigation we discovered that the epoxy coating that a previous owner had applied in 1994 could be peeled off in sheets.  This was done, copious copies of work specs written and the hull left to dry out while we went to the UK.


Playtime came when  Susan had a major birthday, so we all saved our Baht to celebrate with friends at an Indigo Pearl buffet luncheon
It was good to have John and Judy (Kalypso) and Barry & Noote (Coco de Mer) from the 2001-3 Blue Water Rally join us as well the present crowd of fun makers.

Friday, February 17, 2012

RIB rescue!

From Koh Phayam we went to the Surins for a few days.  Unfortunately the coral in both the Surins and the Similans has suffered from bleaching over the last couple of years.

The Koh Miang anchorage (taken in 2009)
At anchor off Koh Miang in the Similans we were in the cockpit playing cards, when Susan observed a very smart RIB heading out through the channel between the islands, with the tide and wind, but with no-one on board.  Was it was supporting a drift dive? Too fast to have divers attached.  We launched our RIB and collected the drifting boat.  There was a swimmer, complete with flotation vest, chasing the RIB.  He had swum at least 0.4nM (750 m) from the large motor yacht M/Y Amadeus from whence the RIB has escaped but he was losing the race. There were us and one fishing boat on a mooring between him and a 40 nM swim to the mainland!  We picked him up and reunited him with the RIB, which had apparently gone adrift during lunch.
In the picture we were on the second mooring from the left, the RIB was further E (right) when picked up and the fishing boat was on the last mooring (no tender) - then nothing till the mainland.

We can only assume and hope that the  skipper was not on board Amadeus at the time the boat became detached and that the crew member made the decision himself to try to rescue the RIB in such a potentially suicidal way.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Man cannot live by bread alone - Koh Phayam

We have been a bit busy planning for our maintenance period in Phuket and hence have not got round to blogging for a while.

We headed up from Nai Yang, via Ban Thap Lamu and the channels inside Koh Ra and Koh Phra Thong (don't try looking for Koh Ra on Maps on an iPad - it apparently doesn't exist but does on Google Earth) to Koh Phayam.

Ko Phayam - main road
Butterfly - Ko Phayam
Koh Phayam is like what Phuket probably was 30 years ago - low key backpacker resorts, good beaches, very relaxed -Lonely Planet says demure.

R had an arguement with a lawn mower at the hairdressers. We found fruit and veg and the cafe beside the library (book swap or loan) took an order for bread. 

2 kg loaf

Be warned however, a 2 kg wholemeal loaf cost us THB 600 (GBP 12) and was dense (like R's hot cross buns -have 2 for breakfast and you don't need to eat again all day). R suffered from severe indigestion after two slices of toast.  The loaf was quartered, frozen & lasted 2 weeks - so quite economical really!
With no inverter, this was an investment & kept the male of the species happily married to cracker girl!
The b...d word looms so large on Sea Bunny that it is now banned & has to be referred to as fermented wheat.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Some success - and moving. Posted from Nai Yang, Phuket

The repair on the gen set seems to have worked - hurrah! Now we can move again, clever Richard.
The inverter is a different matter & according to Xantrex is an expensive, in warranty, throw away item. Guess what our valentine day present will be?
With AC power partially restored yesterday we motored up to Nai Yang in a very rolly anchorage as there was a NW swell and an unseasonal westerly wind. In the evening our friends on Cankata organised a dinghy raft up for sundowners. 9 dinghies with 23 people drifted along enjoying the sunset and the camaraderie.
Today we will continue in day hops towards Ko Phayam, just south of the Myanmar border and then to the Surins and Similans.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Run up to Friday 13th - lost bikini top and electric BOAT* issues

Our genset had been becoming slower and slower to start, with smoke coming out on the inlet manifold.  Eventually, on the Tuesday after New Year it failed entirely to start.  Richard embarked on a "top end overhaul" to restore compression and get it running again.  This was successfully done over a period of about 3 days.  Lack of the genset is usually a minor annoyance as we can charge the batteries using the main engine for about an hour a day to supplement solar and wind power.  In this mode "mains" AC is produced by an inverter.  However, attempting to make bread on two successive days resulted in flat unrisen pieces of dough.  Investigation revealed that the inverter, which is only 2 years old,instead of producing 230 volts at 50 Hertz, was producing 225 volts (OK), but at 100Hz.

With the genset working again, and breadmaking restored, we returned to Nai Harn, where the laundry service produces better results than that on offer at Panwa Bali and we can hire a car to go shopping in preparation for a trip to the Surin and Similan islands.

In the windier conditions Susan lost the top of her best bikini from the guard rail.

Unfortunately, the genset had still not finished with us.

The lower hole shouldn't be there!

While running the genset to charge the batteries, the bilge pump suddenly came on. Investigating the source of the water showed a steady stream coming from inside its enclosure.  Further investigation showed a spray of water coming from around the cylinder block.  Immediate reaction was that R had used the wrong O rings on the water channels when rebuilding the engine.  Off came the cylinder head, the O rings were checked and supplemented with a liberal dose of gasket sealant, the head replaced and the genset restarted.  The leak was still there.  Closer examination revealed that it was coming out in a powerful jet from the bottom of the water jacket of the cylinder block.  The engine was stripped for the third time, the hole cleaned up and patched with steel extended epoxy and the engine put back together again.  The current situation is that the epoxy has been allowed to set overnight, the valve clearances need to be reset and we will then see if the temporary fix has worked.

Watch this space!

* BOAT = "Bring out another thousand"- expression borrowed from SV Crystal Blues' blog.  Unfortunately theirs are Aussie dollars, ours are pounds, although the two move ever closer!


New Year celebrations

After a windy few days at Nai Harn, with swell making getting ashore difficult, Sea Bunny moved back to Panwa Bali for New Year,spent in the company of Neil & Ley. The New Year was seen in on Crystal Blues after dinner on Sea Bunny. We had views of at least three firework displays - fairly low key locally at Panwa Bali, across the bay at Ao Chalong and over the hills at Patong.  Earlier in the evening there was a bit of excitement as some idiot let off parachute flares, one of which appeared to land, still burning, on the deck of Daemon.  Neil & Richard set off in the dinghy with a fire extinguisher, but it seems that it had actually landed in the water behind the boat, giving the appearance of being on the deck. Jill and Bruce were woken to enjoy th fireworks.