Welcome to the blog of the sailing yacht Sea Bunny.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

And now for something completely different! 28 Feb - 14 Mar

2 weeks skiing in Austria (St Anton) was much fun, once we got our ski legs back after 7 years.

Being older we found that we didn't need to be on the piste as soon as the lifts opened or to remain there until they shut. There was even a day when we went up the gondola - took one look at the grim conditions, had a coffee and went down again!

View from our hotel room

From the top of Valluga (2811 m)

On the piste - you can walk on water!

Coffee time

Richard's memory lane trip. March 2015

The trip started in the village of Rotherfield in Sussex, seven miles from Tunbridge Wells, where Richard grew up. This was the first visit back since his mother's death in 1985.

The basic structure of the village was little changed since his childhood in the '50s but behind the conservation facade obviously quite a lot had. Many of the shops were now private residences as was one of the three village centre pubs -the  George. In the picture the building on the corner used to be the petrol station, which Richard's father bought when he moved to Rotherfield in the 1930s, living in the flat above until his marriage in 1937. In the 1940s serious illness forced a sale of the business. There used to be a butcher's shop on either side of the petrol station and a bakers opposite.
The main difference now though was the traffic and the parking.  The village discounted a bypass so with satellite navigation the shortest route does often indeed pass through its heart.

St Denys Church
As his father was Churchwarden at St Denys parish church in the late 50s and early '60s Richard spent a lot of time there. The church is unusual in retaining all enclosed boxed pews and in having the west end stepped to accommodate the slope of the hill on which it is built.

The medieval wall painting above the chancel arch has survived well. R sat through many sermons trying to work out what it actually depicts!

Thorn Island
In his late teens in the 60s Richard spent several summers as the boatman on Thorn Island off the south west coast of Wales at the mouth of Milford Haven. The fort, one of several built in the 19th century to defend Milford Haven and the approach to Pembroke Naval Dockyard was, at the time, an hotel.

The island is no longer an hotel so it was not possible to go over to it but we viewed it from the mainland. The 80concrete barge that was towed there and sunk in 1964 to provide a low water landing stage remains there, although it looks as if it has moved slightly in a storm - as it did a few weeks after its initial sinking.

West Angle Bay - hotel guests were picked up from here

To LFP or not to LFP? That is the, very frustrating, question. Jan-Mar 2015

Our European trip really didn't allow time for blog updates - but we are back now.

Since mid 2014 it was apparent that we needed to replace our house batteries. Recommodation was that we consider lithium batteries (for a marine application these are lithium ferrophosphate, LFP, technology not the lithium cobalt oxide type in your mobile phone or computer). On investigation we discovered that using either Victron or Mastervolt units would enable a saving in weight of around 50% and an increase in usable capacity of around 75% - albeit at increased cost. Victron provided very useful diagrams showing the equipment required to protect their batteries from over- or under-voltage, enabling the system to be designed.

We looked at "Where to Buy" link on the LFP battery page of the Victron website for agents in both Malaysia and Singapore, obtained quotes from listed agents in both countries and decided to go ahead. Because of limitations on air-freighting these batteries they had a 4-6 week lead time, not a problem as we planned a 2-month Europe trip.

However at this stage Victron decided they would not supply through either of these accredited agents. They advised that they did not have confidence that their Malaysian or Singapore agents were competent to install and support this equipment. We found this somewhat bizarre as we were not asking them to install, only to supply. The potential suppliers had been identified from Victron's own website. Victron had also clearly provided wholesale prices enabling the agents to quote. It is particularly annoying that when Victron provided system design and installation details they did not indicate at that time that supply would not be forthcoming despite being advised of our location.

At this point, having spent over 6 weeks on the abortive exercise with Victron, a quote from Mastervolt agents in Singapore was obtained. This company were able to supply. Unfortunately their unit is bigger and space limitations would not enable us to have the security of two batteries. Also we would have wanted to replace the Victron inverter/charger with Mastervolt to enable communication with the batteries, increasing the cost.

We have now reluctantly concluded that attempting to commission a complex system in the imminent run-up to our Indian Ocean crossing was probably not wise and this, coupled with the increased cost, tipped the balance against LFPs at this stage.

So Trojan gel batteries have won the day, with retention of the Victron inverter/charger. The charge voltages and battery temperatures on these will be carefully monitored.

Link to Victron LFP batteries

Link to Mastervolt LFP battery

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ko Phayam - Buffalo Bay - New Year 2015

On our way up to Ko Phayam we used the AIS (supposedly now compulsory for foreign yachts on the west coast of Thailand) to see who was already anchored there. We spotted Kalypso anchored at an island some 15 miles S of Ko Phayam and about 3 miles from our current position. We diverted to join John and Judy and their son David . We enjoyed dinner with them on Sea Bunny - it was good to catch up.

New Years Eve - the fishing fleet gathers
Continuing the next day we arrived in Buffalo Bay ready for New Year festivities, followed by Kalypso.

New Years Eve dinner at the Kong Kleng restaurant

Launching New Year wishes
The early hours - Happy Hippy(?) at the Hippy Bar

After the New Year festivities we stayed another week.

The Hippy Bar

The clock works!

Raymarine Service Jan 2015

Recently the trackpad on our Raymarine E120W chart plotter fell apart. We suspect that it didn't really like continuous exposure to temperatures in the high 30s and high humidity.

Mick at Octopus Electrical in Boat Lagoon, Phuket is the local Raymarine agent. However, he told us that despite having several failures on local charter boats he was having difficulty getting replacements.

We contacted Raymarine in the UK who couriered two replacements to us free of charge. These were collected from the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club in Kuah. Fixing it was a 5 minute job.

This was somewhat of a relief as we were not sure how much longer the temporary fix with contact adhesive was going to last.