Arrival in Taiwan

Tainan, other than being the third largest city in Taiwan, is the home of Ta Shing Yachts, the company that built all three of the Nordhavns in our group.  Of all the Nordhavn boats that they have produced, all were exported and not a single one has ever returned to the factory for a visit.  We were the first and, boy, were they ever excited!  So were we.  The coast guard met us outside the harbor along with another private boat to lead us through the entrance to An  Ping Harbor.  I was told that we were going to get a warm welcome and fully expected to see 4 or 5 of the managers waiting for us to welcome us and help us tie up.  What a miscalculation that turned out to be!!!! Click here to see a short video shot by a Ta Shing employee showing our arrival:

We were greeted by agood portion of the factory personnel, large welcome signs, a tent, aband complete with dancing dragon dancers!!!  There were champagne toasts, lots of laughs and an introduction to the warmest, friendliest people we have met.

They could not have been more hospitable.  We had a 130 kw land based generator waiting for us and they had all three boats wired up for power in a few hours.  It may not seem like a big deal, but we have been running our generators for several weeks since leaving Nagasaki. 

Tim Juan, the president of Ta Shing, hosted several lunches and dinners for our group in the first few days. The highlight was the barbeque dinner at the factory one evening that included us as well as all of the Ta Shing employees.  There was great food, good friends and, …….a Karaoke Machine with a huge stage!!  Most of us participated.  Some sounded good and some not so good!  I actually did it for the first time, doing a duet with Tina Jones which roughly resembled the Everly Brothers “Bye Bye Love”.  My understanding is that the “Bye Bye Love” song was ok but before that I sang a solo of “The House of the Rising Sun”  and if the Taiwanese used the hook, I would have gotten it. Hey, I was just tuning up!!
Tina also did a duet with Roberta and Jonn Merrill had a hard time putting down the microphone once he got going!! Jeff Merrill did a hilarious version of Tina Turners “Proud Mary” complete with dancing girls!

What was really exciting for us was the factory tour.

Ta Shing has two factories in Tainan. One that produces the 72 and 76 and one that produces the 64, 68 along with the 56 foot motorsailer ( .  It also “used to” produce the 62 like ours.  Production was supposed to end years ago but orders kept flowing in. They are now telling me “no more 62’s” but I did notice a twinkle in Tim’s eye and noticed that there was no plan to immediately cut up the mold.

I pleaded with them to at least mow the grass around the mold but I don’t think they took me too seriously. I for one, hate to see the N62 phased out, but I also understand that they want to spend their time on new models. 

I could not have been more impressed with the quality and craftsmanship and engineering at Ta Shing.  They have something that other manufacturers do not have, and that is 50 years of experience in building yachts.  Their woodworking expertise is incredible.  I watched them carving out elaborate pieces and finishing them by hand.  I come from a manufacturing background and appreciate computer produced products, but what they are doing can only be produced by 50 years of experience.  I came away thinking that if I were looking to buy a new boat, I would look no further.

As long as we were here at the factory, the three of us decided to take advantage of being here by having them repair and add things to our boats.  What better place to do it than the factory that built the boat?   We had some nagging issues.  Our ceiling fabric was 13 years old and it was starting to separate from the panels.  There is a foam backing which, over a period of time, starts to deteriorate, making the fabric sag.  Ta Shing removed every panel in the boat (all 66 of them), brought them back to the factory and made them just like new.  At the same time they rewired all of the ceiling lights with quick disconnect plugs.  We also had them fix many old fiberglass issues, shallow stress cracks, leaking deck prisms etc etc.  They did a magnificent job.  They are such proud workers and good enough is not in their vocabulary (in Chinese OR English!)

Well, all good things have to come to an end and our departure date was coming.  Braun and Tina, along with their guests Wayne and Pat, had left for a side trip to mainland China.  Braun was having more extensive work done on his boat and needed to stay longer.  Sans Souci and Seabird had made plans to leave….and we did……sort of…..

Our departure was similar to our arrival, sans dancing dragons and the band.  Everyone showed up.  It was very sad to be leaving.  We had made such good friends here.   We departed the dock and headed out for Hong Kong at 7am.  About 20 minutes out I noticed that my exhaust temperature, which had been running high anyway, was running at the max, but at a very low (1400) rpm.  This alone was problematic as it would delay our arrival in Hong Kong to late in the afternoon.  I attributed it to growth on the prop and bottom and figured it would wash off over time.  I went down into the engine room and  I noticed that the oil temp on the main engine was running about 15 degrees warmer than normal along with the transmission oil temp doing the same.  I didn’t like the situation and after a few hours, I radioed Ken and told him I needed to turn back.  He wanted to do the same but we encouraged him to continue on as he had guests flying in and hotel reservations.  Normally, we don’t like to leave each other but I was in no danger and we were within a   few hours of land.  The plan was to turn around, head back to Taiwan but anchor outside the harbor so that I could dive down and  check out the running gear, particularly the prop and keel coolers.  We found a suitable anchorage just outside An Ping Harbor.  It was a bit rolly but we anchored and I dived down using my compressor and regulator.  The first thing I noticed was that the prop was completely fouled with these tiny white worms, coating the prop with about ¼ inch on both sides of the blades.  I scraped as much as I could but the water was very rough and the boat was bouncing up and down creating a dangerous situation for me. After about 20 minutes of getting pounded under the boat, I came up, did a brief sea trial and decided to come back into the harbor and get it resolved. 

We checked in again, which was painless with the assistance of Rachel, at Ta Shing who arranged everything.  We were hooked up and checked in within a hour or so.  They offered to get us a diver, which we did, to clean the bottom better.  To make a long story short, we ended up staying for another week because of weather issues.  It seems that you only get 3 day windows and then a tropical Cyclone pops up or a Typhoon.

We plan on leaving tomorrow morning with Grey Pearl (July 24th) transiting to Hong Kong.  We have a good weather window so we need to take advantage of it.

Yesterday was a day of odd experiences.  In the early morning hours, sadly, a man in a minivan drove off the pier, committing suicide about 100 feet in front of our boat. When we got up in the morning, a bunch of fire trucks were there and they had divers pull the body out of the water.  A short while later, they pulled the van out and left it for the police to check out on the pier.

 About 4 pm we had a severe thunder and lightning storm.  The wind and rain were whipping by the boat at about 50knots.  I was beginning to wonder if a Typhoon had developed.  Carol and I were sitting in the pilothouse watching out the windows when I noticed that the wind was beginning to move the driverless van. It picked up speed and was heading right toward our boat!  There was nothing that we could do but watch and hold our breath.  I could not imagine what was going to happen next.  Fortunately, at the last second, the van veered off to the right and plunged off of the pier, into the harbor, about 5 feet in front of our boat! As it turns out, the van went underneath the boat after plunging into the water and we were asked to move the boat back so that they could hoist it out again!

 It was a very close call and all I could think about was how in the world would I explain to my insurance company that I was in a collision with a truck?

Tim and his team surprised us by inviting us for a “Goodbye” dinner.  It was so nice of them to do that as they had already done too much for us.  As in every lunch and dinner we had with them, it was very special.  Places that you would never find on your own.

We look forward to leaving in the morning but are sad to leave such great friends. Thank you Tim, BK, Rachel, Lillian, Cooli, Al, Mr. Tung, Eric and everyone else.

Thank you Ta Shing!

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