Checking out of Malaysia is a doddle. All the authorities are in one building and you can check in and check out at the same time. We (as usual) were on a very tight time schedule, so this is exactly what we did – as you have to check into Langkawi from Penang because it is a duty free island. After the obligatory stop at the bottle shop and after filling up with diesel in Telaga we set sail for Koh Lipe – the first port of call in Thailand. The outer islands of Phuket are lovely – with a relaxed backpacker vibe. I wish we could have stayed longer this time but we needed to get to Phuket to haul out so we kept going. Koh Lanta was our next stop, and this time is was deserted. No cruising boats and few people. Even the bouncy jetty had been removed so we stayed on board and left early the next day arriving in Au Chalong early in the evening. We checked in the next morning, hired a motor bike and headed off to check out a couple of the boatyards.
The boatyard we chose to haul India out of was G & T next to Ao Po Marina in the north of the Island. We had heard good things about this yard and they could get us in the next day so the decision was made.
We are very wary of hauling out as we have had bad experiences in the past. We usually like the strap method where the put huge straps under the boats and physically lift the boat up and out of the water straight onto the hard. This method was where they put a very long trailer under the boat and pull her out by tractor. We stayed on board and watched as they very expertly manoevered India into position and the whole thing was done in an hour.
The guys waiting for us to come in – the cottages are just half way up the hill.
We had arranged to stay in one of their bungalows overlooking the yard and I while I moved our stuff over, Ian started preparing for all the work we wanted undertaken during our month on the hard.
We were hauled out at lunch time and by early afternoon, Toi the owner/manager of the yard had organised four of the trades to come and give us quotes. We were so impressed with the organisation – it is a small family run yard with most of the workers living on site. They all seem to really care about the boats and their owners and already we feel part of the family.
The next morning as promised the Engineer, Carpenter, Gel Coat guys the Stainless Steel guys turned up. By the afternoon I had all the written quotes. We hit the ground running and within a couple of days had the boat in pieces – literally, as Ian had removed the bed and re-glassed the bulkheads in the port forward cabin in preparation for the carpentry team to go in and convert it into his workshop. As with all boats, we found much more work than we had anticipated, with cracks, rot and damage in places that were inaccessible until now. This pushed out our timeline but we were so comfortable in our little air-conditioned bungalow overlooking the water that we didn’t mind.
As the boat was in pieces, and Ian was busy sorting out his side of things I started on the enormous amount of paperwork involved with heading to India. First I had to find agents for the Andamans, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Then I had to get lists made for these agents to give to the authorities. These lists include electronic inventory, proposed cruising itinerary, last 10 ports of call, food inventory, medical declarations, ships stores, crew lists etc. I also had to organise visas, health insurance inc medivac (!) and wreck recovery insurance for Chagos…
We had some friends, Sarah & Mike from SV Soul who were staying at the marina in Ao Po so we were able to pop down there for a swim most days. Sarah and I spent quite a few days in the car running around getting things – I had a battery replaced in the Ipad which was not a good idea as it now just flashes at me – but at least the new battery in my phone works. Phuket has everything a cruiser needs and we are really glad we decided to haul out here. Even the weather has been kind with cloudy days and rainy nights which keep the heat down.
Busy yard – Putting a swimming pool in the water to tow by barge over to a new resort.
View from our bungalow verandah. A lovely place to sit and have a sundowner after a long day.
We wanted quite a bit of carpentry done and unfortunately the carpentry team could not start for a couple of weeks so we did not get time to have everything built. Ian decided he would build the pantry, the cabin conversion would go ahead and the new table and saloon cupboards would get pushed back to a later date. This meant a trip to a timber yard for Ian to source his wood – his favourite pastime…
Just love the state of the yard – covered in wood shavings and sawdust and the workers were barefoot and smoking! The dogs just wandered around and seemed unfazed by the noise and the machinery.
We managed to squash all the teak and plywood we needed into a small Toyota Yaris!
Ian went ahead and started work on the pantry while all the other trades worked on their jobs. We had the sails taken off to a sail maker for an overhaul and new trim. New anchor wear plate, new anchor roller, all the small cracks glassed and gelcoated and a full cut and polish. The sail drive diaphrams have been replaced, new striping around the boat, new accumulator for the fresh water system, new lines & halyards, new life lines and new anodes and antifoul. We have had the inside seating covered, new boom bag, new outside helm seat, and even a new zip for my sailing jacket. All the rigging has been checked, the windows resealed, the bilge pumps checked etc etc etc – the list has got longer and longer but we are getting through. We are starting to worry about time and so extended our stay here to 6 weeks but I have faith that we will be finished in time to do our visa run to Malaysia and back to pick up my sister from the airport on 12th Dec.
On Saturday night Toi threw a bbq for the yard. It was open to everyone and Sarah and Mike (SV Soul) and Pip & Mike (SV Waiari) who were staying at Ao Po came as they had both had extensive stays here. It was also Ian’s birthday so I got a big Ice Cream cake which was enjoyed by all. It was a great night, and everyone had a blast including some Slovak crew who wandered in because they heard the music.
The new workshop is neally complete. It took a long time to design exactly what we wanted as Ian needed a work bench and we needed somewhere to put the washing machine. We have converted the forward cabin with Ian’s workshop on the outboard side and my laundry and storage on the inboard side. We had to cut a hole in the cabin sole for access and then add some flooring. We have decided to keep the Engel in here and put built in storage compartments around it. It is a much better use of space as we didn’t need 4 cabins and now most things have their own home – all clearly visible and safely stored.
The pantry is another feature that I am thrilled about – I had most of my food stored in boxes sitting on beds and had to rummage through to find anything. The new pantry is huge – of course! It has three separate sections each with 4 compartments. These are quite shallow as I didn’t want it to stick out into the corridor too much. At the end is a couple of open compartments for some of our paperwork and files. I put 4 coats of varnish on the pantry and painted the backs white. We are really thrilled with it – life on board is getting more comfortable every year.
Days off are a rare luxury when you are up on the hard but we had to source materials and buy food, so we hired a car once a week and ran around getting everything we needed. The list was long but after a few of these trips we knew which hardware shops had the best items for the job and learnt to navigate our way around Phuket town quite well. On one occasion we hired the car from Toi and went to see the carpenters office at Boat Lagoon and bumped into Jeff from SV Grasshopper and Jan & Glen from SV Jennie D. This is a small island…
Most of our food provisioning is done from a large cash n carry shop called Makro. It sells in bulk which is good for us but sometimes not – you don’t want a whole gallon of sesame seed dressing or 10kilo bags of rice. We find ourselves alternating with Tesco Lotus for smaller amounts but I think the provisioning in Malaysia was better – especially with their Giant and Aeon supermarkets. We are going to have to miss out on some of our favourites like licorice and big ass blocks of chocolate!
Finally the time came for us to relaunch to head back to Malaysia for a visa run as our two month visa for Thailand had nearly expired. We chose to get our new visas in Malaysia and do a booze run at the same time. Toi cooked us a great roast dinner for our last night which was wonderful as I hadn’t had a roast for months – we all sat around drinking and eating listening to the call to prayer accompanied by the dogs howling! The next day we splashed down and headed off – sad to leave as this haul out had been so lovely – a real family run yard with excellent workmanship. It was a pleasure to stay there.