Off to Work

Thursday August 16

Our first job was to clear in and get our Customs Clearance form to Ruz at the Marina Office. Our shipment had arrived and was being held in a Bonded Customs warehouse at Port Klang. Again Sailrite impressed us with their prompt service.

Au Wei, our Sailmaker, came by and we arranged car hire and a test sail for him to study the old sails which were now really falling apart,

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and look for ways to improve on them for the new set. We spent the afternoon out in light flukey conditions but enough for Au Wei to come up with a few good suggestions. His knowledge from his racing experience was impressive.

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Finished the day at the German Resaurant in Lumut for a catch up with friends and to stuff oursleves with wonderful pork knuckle.

For the next few days we got stuck into Marina duties like catching up on laundry and polishing Stainless Steel. I pulled out the anchor winch again and stripped it down. We were all ready to order a new one when our friends Bell and Ben off Samira said they had the same Muir Atlantic 2200 winch but it had got wet with salt water and badly corroded. They were happy for me to strip it down and from the parts of the 2 electric motors I managed to rebuild one working motor. Their chrome parts and gearbox were in good order so we offered to pay for those as Lea wanted the newer shiny ones. I was very surprised to find how much lighter the bronze castings were on the newer Muir winch base. We also found that the end of our gearbox had basically dissolved under the Stainless cap that protects the gearbox from the falling chain so we needed the new gearbox anyway. Bell and Ben intend to use a new above deck unit as part of their major refit.

We also commissioned a new genset exhaust elbow, new ball studs for the gas strut on the crane and new anchor rollers from the local foundry and engineering works.

Wednesday August 22

The fabric and materials had all arrived and all the old covers removed from the boat and taken to the Sail Loft. It was a bit daunting as we rolled out the meters of fabric for the first time.

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We layed out the old pieces to use as templates.

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We rough cut all the panels with a generous margin then realised we had the wrong side of the fabric to the outside.

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Fortunately we could mirror all the cockpit panels but the GodPod would have to have  the grey layer to the outside. Not so bad we decided. Now we had smaller pieces much easier to handle on a smaller table.

Back to the boat to watch the Sailrite uTube videos again.

Thursday August 23

Au Wei had arranged for the FoxSew 4400 machine we would be using to be fully serviced overnight and ready to go.

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Today we tackled a door. Lots of corners and stitch lines. Flyscreen at the bottom and clear material above was sandwiched between the 2 layers of Stamoid Vinyl. We used lots of seam stick to keep the layers flat together while we sewed. Our new clear material was Stratasglass 40 Gauge. Very heavy and stiff. In hindsight we should have bought one sheet of this for the GodPod but used the lighter 30 Gauge for the lower doors and windows. We were using Tenora thread and this took a bit of getting used to as it handles like fishing line and getting the tension correct on the machine is quite difficult.

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While we took our first tentative steps with the sewing Au Wei watched on while repairing our Spinnaker.

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Lea was the steady hand on the scissors and the machine while I worked out logistics and assembly. We soon had our first panel complete.

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Our next 3 weeks were spend on the job form 7.30am to late afternoon. After 11 days straight we had a rest day but we were loving the job and enjoying working with each other. The results were looking good too.

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Our last jobs were new covers for the life raft, crane, dinghy and a mast bag for ropes. We had a few minor disasters like when Lea sewed on the box pieces for the crane motor on the wrong sides and a door piece that ended up short for some reason but these errors were soon fixed. Edge binding was a bastard and we had many redo’s on this part of the job. Even though we had the old pieces as templates we still ran into errors of fit and had to fudge things by millimetres to get panels for fit. A big stuff up was putting seam stick right over the stitch line for window cut outs. This created a nightmare job to cut the Stamoid smoothly and clean up afterwards. It all just took time and patience. At times we nearly ran of  patience.

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After hours social life of the Marina continued with fun card nights with Jenny  and Irvine on Backchat,  Steve and Liz off Liberte, Friday nights at Jooks Bar. Thursday night beer and fried chicken at Kopitan 65.

Thursday September 13

Finished! A few tweaks on the centre God Pod panel as the zip position was not quite right. New stitching left a line of visible needle holes but we can live with it. By now Lea was on more intimate terms with our sewing machine, fondly known as “Ruby ”, named after one of my son’s early “temperamental” girlfriends. Ruby was not in a good mood today but lea eventually got her to co operate for the finishing touches.

Friday September 14

Girls Day at the loft. Lea has dragged around the remnants of our old screecher for 3 years hoping to make bags out of it. She had also salvaged bits and pieces of our recently demised mainsail. Back at the Jemaja Festival we had met Mick and Janice off Zoa. Janice used to make bags out of old sailcloth so with the covers all done Lea was very excited to start making bags. So she arrange with Au Wei to have a girls bag making day at the Loft. Janice instructed, Lea sewed and Kerryn knitted.

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This day soon morphed into a full scale production.

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So Lea had all the family and friends Xmas presents covered and she also made some tool holders for Au Wei and spanner bags for Rod and me.

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Meanwhile I now had time to repair the rudder we broke going to Anambas. Both rudders were full of water so I decided to rebuild both. First job was to sand them back and remove the fractured material on the port rudder and dry them both out out. A few days in the sun soon did the job. Then I glued the side of the port rudder back on and 4 x 50mm thick blocks of foam to create the new foam core of the missing section. Bell and Ben had some foam scraps lying about. Then using the starboard rudder as a template I shaped up the foam.

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Sealed this with a peanut better mix of West System Resin and 410 microballoons. Also cleaned out old broken down fibreglass where the rudder shafts enter the blade. These areas were then reglued and sealed with West System Resin and 403 Microfibres. Then the blades were reglassed with 450gm/m2. 2 layers on port, one on starboard with overlaps on both leading and trailing edges. Then they were refaired with 411 Fairing compound, sealed with 2 coats of straight resin and painted with 2 pack epoxy. Another good result.

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Moving on to the mast. Our standing rigging was 11 years old and the Insurance Company wanted it renewed if we wanted to maintain cover under our policy. We had been in discussions with Au Wei for some time and he had ordered in all the new wire and fittings from Stalok in the UK as well as a brand new swaging machine from Sweden

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We agreed the best way to do the job was to lift the mast off the boat so we could check everything thoroughly. So I spent a couple of days disconnecting all the mast wiring, removing halyards, reefing lines, mast head wind instruments, TV antennas and the boom. Then we were ready for the crane. Au Wei organised everything and it all went very smoothly.

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With the mast horizontal we went over every Stainless Steel Rigging  fitting, removing them where possible to examine and re polish. The only problem we found was the sheave for the screecher had worn badly on its axel. A new sheave and axel were made locally. Au Wei used the old rigging to get the lengths correct for the new diamonds, jumpers, caps and prodder stays. The new swage machine did a beautiful job.

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I took the opportunity to fit a new TV antenna coax and a new line and mount for the wind instruments.

Tuesday October 9

On the spur of the moment we decided to join Rod and Heather on a 3 day 2 night road trip to Malaysia’s largest National park: Taman Negara. It was just over 400km away and took us all day to get there. It was an ominous start to the day when we found the hire car had a broken bonnet catch. Au Wei to the rescue again arriving in no time flat with a another larger car for us.

We were away by 9.30am. Coffee, fuel and ice were all required first up then off to the scenic Cameron High Plains. Lea and I have been meaning to get up here for years but this was the first time we actually made it. The coffee house had great variety of products for sale and the temperature  was lovely and cool. Fat fix at KFC for lunch then off into the countryside along the winding roads which had very little traffic apart from the odd log truck to slow us down. Passed a fairly unique road sign.

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The little village of Kuala Tahan sits on the confluence of the Tembiling and Tahan rivers. Very hilly and narrow streets. We found clean, purple painted accommodation and after a bit of haggling we settled into the Taman Negara, River View Hotel. We had 2 river view rooms and enjoyed the contents of the esky sitting on the balcony watching the log boats ply the river.

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We found a nice dinner down on one of the floating restaurants down on the river.

We came back to the riverfront next morning and while enjoying pancakes at Mama Chops restaurant for breakfast we planned our day. First we crossed the river to the NP headquarters.

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The list of animals listed as found in the NP is impressive: Elephants, Clouded Leopards, Black leopards, Tapirs, Gibbons, Dusky Leaf Lemurs and lots more including many birds. We headed off for our canopy walk. The wooden broadwalks made it easy going as we followed the river a way. Then we climbed the stairs to the suspended canopy walk.

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“Strict rules” of contact meant no photography, keep 10m apart and hold on. It was rope sides and a single wooden plank set on top of aluminium ladders as a base 40m up in the tree canopy. We still didn’t see any wildlife or birds but it was the middle of the day and hot. Some of the plants were spectacular if not a little weird.

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Lea and i decided to do the walk and climb to the high point Bukit Terisek so we left Rod and Heather and started climbing. Lots of steps and the trail was in good condition. Lots of birdcalls and rustling in the trees but nothing seen. The view from the top was nice but we were not sure if we were looking out toward Gunung Tahan at 2187m and Peninsular Malaysia’s highest peak.

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The descent down was a lot tougher with a steep track often badly eroded and slippery. however, we enjoyed the thick jungle until a load noise close by made us jump. We think it was a pig but Leas had all sorts of fearful fantasies of tigers lurking ready to pounce.

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We were quite relieved when we finally got back to HQ. and caught up with Rod and Heather.

After a much needed lunch we hired a river boat to take us upstream on the Tembiling River through the rapids and on to the village of Kampung Orong Asli.

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The people are indigenous Malays who look very similar to people from PNG. Their houses are very basic, made with rattan and palm fronds. Rod broke the ice with a group of men by offering cigarettes. They were more used to visitors turning up with a local tour guide. Once we expressed interest and indicated we wanted to purchase a couple of the blow pipes on display and pay the visitor fee they warmed up and gave us the full show of shooting blow darts.

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They are surprisingly powerful and deadly accurate. For hunting they tip the darts with a paralysing poison.

Back to the boat for the return trip, a few beers on the hotel balcony, a great dinner at Mama Chops and we were ready to crash.

Another pancake breakfast, then it was time to head back, stopping at and Ipoh wholesale meat importer for more supplies on the way.

Friday October 19

The mast is ready to go back on. A bit of a delay waiting for a 6mm die for the swaging machine but now all ready to go. Crane duly arrived and within 90 minutes the mast was restepped and the new rigging tightened. .

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Another very smooth operation managed by Au Wei.

As soon as the mast was back up we had the sealift come to lift us to refit the rudders and level the boat as it was a bit bow down and accumulating water in the cockpit.

As well as working we had been keeping fit with 3 walks a week up a steep hill nearby. Lea finished her bag collection:

13 tote bags, 4 iPad sleeves, 2 overnight bags, 2 spanner rolls, 1 screwdriver roll.

Saturday October 20

Started to fit the shade cloth burka over Gemini Lady to give her some protection from the sun. My neck was out so I let myself be conned to try Mr Yap and his buffalo horns.

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Not one of my smarter decisions. It hurt like hell. Au Wei measured up for the new sails. I cleaned up the old sail hardware to reuse.

Wednesday October 24

All too soon it was time to catch the bus to KLIA2 and our plane home to Australia, ending another full and eventful season in SE Asia.

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