Hello again from Hong Kong! It seems like forever since I last blogged on this website and it actually has been about six months. It was tough leaving Seabird all locked up for the winter but it was nice to get back home again to the US. We spent a few weeks in California, then Connecticut and finally, Florida, where we spent most of the winter months.
First and foremost, both Carol’s and my hearts go out to the people of Japan and their recent tragedy. We spent nearly a year there on and off and got to know the Japanese very well. They are the kindest, most warm hearted people that we have met in our cruising. There is an air of innocence about them that everything is taken care of and it was all taken away in a flash of violence. As of right now, I have not heard from anyone that we know who was personally affected, but we traveled extensively through the country and met many people from that area. We are praying that they are safe.
The flight back to Hong Kong was VERY long. It was 36 hours from the time we left Florida until we arrived here via Newark, NJ, Anchorage Alaska, Taipei Taiwan and finally Hong Kong. Lots of sleepless nights and sleepy days for a few weeks!
We got down to business as soon as we arrived, actually BEFORE we arrived. A crew from Seattle preceded us and worked on all three boats to fix or improve them mechanically. Thanks to Jeff Sanson from Pacific Yacht Management from Seattle for another job well done. We had some nagging problems that needed attention. Our Generator seemed to overheat at will. Craig Hatton from Hatton Marine in Seattle replaced the water pump and the thermostat and all seems well.
Another nagging problem we had was that we simply used too much electrical power underway to run without the generator on. The result was that we ended up putting lots of hours on it that were unnecessary. After investigating, we found that about 50% of the power we used was from the Jabsco 110v water pump used to cool the Naiad stabilizer oil tank. We also had a rather smallish alternator (160 amps) that charged the house batteries underway and seemed to be always running at full blast and fairly hot. The solution was fairly simple. Doug Janes, who works with Jeff, recommended last year that we change out the electric water pump for a hydraulic one driven by the Naiad stabilizer hydraulic pump.
He changed out the old Naiad pump with a new one that could support the extra demand and added the hydraulic powered water pump also. Doug then changed out our old 160 amp alternator for a new 320 amp alternator and also bypassed the 3 stage regulator (those tend to make the alternator work harder). I have to say that Doug is a brilliant guy when it comes to anything mechanical on a boat. Everything $eems to work fine now. Problem $olved. All it take$ i$ per$everence, a good mechanic and a few boat Unit$.
I replaced a defective 50 cycle battery charger with a new and different brand. All I can say is that I will never buy another Xantrex product again. Customer service?…..what’s that?
In a few short days, Doug had just about all of my problems resolved. It is safe to say that he is just about the best all around systems mechanic that I have met……..and he travels!!
As I am typing this, Seabird is out of the water for bottom maintenance.
Being that most of you are from the US, you cannot fully appreciate the experience of hauling the boat here. First of all, just getting to the boatyard proved to be a challenge. We were first told that you needed a Cruising Permit issued by the government just to move the boat 16 miles from the marina to the boat yard. To get that, you had to pay $400 USD plus have an approved insurance policy. Ok, no problem, you would think. I am insured by Lloyds of London, so it’s a piece of cake, right? Nope, Lloyds is not on their approved list. Option number two is to hire a Pilot for $800 USD to take you the 16 miles. We opted for plan C which was to have a friend on the dock, Alan, who is a Hong Kong licensed captain, come along for the ride.
Bart, from Asia Yacht Services, located at our marina here in Hong Kong, arranged everything in advance for us with the boatyard as we were not familiar with any of the services here. We were very fortunate to have someone to do that for us. Also fortunately, Braun on Grey Pearl and Sans Souci preceded me and let me know what to expect. Let’s start by saying that land in Hong Kong is a precious commodity. Forget about what you know about boat yards in the US and elsewhere. Here, they are a “slipway”, which is a wooden structure that goes into the water, similar to a railway but on wooden rails, and pulls you out. The entire facility is only about 20 feet wider than the boat itself!
Our facility is the one with the gray canvas hanging down
You are not entirely out of the water either. About 50 feet of the boat is suspended about 3 feet above the water in the harbor. No one in the yard speaks English so you have to arrange everything in advance and be fortunate, as we were to have Dennis Mok, a local consultant there to translate. Dennis is also the Naiad stabilizer service person here. He removed the fins and replaced the seals for us as well as helping guide us to the yard on board.
Dennis Mok installing Naiad Stabilizer seals
Here is another picture of the yard next door hauling out a boat.
Next door to us at the yard
The work here at Sunny Marine Services has been very good and reasonably priced. They work hard all day and everything came out just fine. This year, I had them put on a product similar to Propspeed, but made in Japan which is supposed to keep the props clean. I will be interested to see how it works.
I cannot wait until the launch tomorrow. Evidently, they simply let the chain go and you rapidly slide back into the water with a splash!
Sign of the Times
Here is something that I did not expect. Here in Hong Kong, you see very few American built boats. Most are Asian built with a few European designs. While at the boatyard, we came across a bunch of American built boats built by Sea Ray, Carver and Maxim. We were told that it was becoming common here to purchase large lots of repossessed boats in the US, ship them here, fix them up and sell them at attractive prices (and profits).
Being a boat lover, I cannot help but think there was some sadness felt by the former owners. I did ask about electricity on the boats as they are all 60Hz boats and Hong Kong is 50Hz. The response that I got was that 90% of the boats in Hong Kong are not hooked up to shore power and mostly sit on moorings. My assumption is that they start the generators every so often to keep the batteries topped off.
We finished earlier than expected and launched this morning. The experience was pretty amazing. They do, in fact, simply
On the trip back to the marina, we found one problem that we have had for two years was resolved and was a pleasant surprise. We have had an elevated exhaust temperature and I have been frustrated time and time again in trying to resolve it. I had the bottom cleaned extra good and the props and other running gear under the water ground and polished. As I said previously, I also had a product put on the propellers similar to an American product called Propspeed.Supposedly it makes the prop slicker and more resistant to growth. We shall see…..As you can see by the photo, it almost looks like a varnish on the prop.
Prop before cleaning and coating
The result is that my exhaust temp dropped over 100 degrees! It is now almost normal at cruise speed.
As in typical Asian fashion, the yard workers were friendly and industrious. This guy pictured was drooling over our boat, if you can believe that! He is used to old beat up fishing boats and ours must have looked like a luxury liner to him. Carol invited him in for a tour. I guess he was very excited.
After the boat was launched a Sampan came by to extract the three workers who launched with us. These Sampans are a business in itself. In most of the fishing harbors, all of the boats are moored out and rafted to each other. The families live aboard and their only transportation to and from shore are these Sampans. They transport the fisherman, deliver groceries and run errands for them. They are rickety wooden crafts proudly owned by the drivers and are powered by a single cylinder diesel engine that sounds like its ready to blow up (but they don’t!)
This year, as some of you already know, we will be cruising without our good friends Ken and Roberta on Sans Souci. Ken and Roberta decided to forgo this part of the trip in SE Asia and go straight to the Med. As you are aware, the pirate attacks are no longer limited to large ships. Four Americans, sadly, were killed recently by Somali pirates in a highly publicized story. More recently, four adults with several children who were cruising on a sailboat in that region were also attacked and boarded. They are still being held captive at this writing. Needless to say, Ken and Roberta were not interested in the risk, so they had their boat lifted onto a freighter last Sunday and at this moment the boat is headed to the Med. We will miss them this year but plan on cruising with them again in 2012, when we arrive in the Med.
Sooooo……is it GSSR Jr or GSSR III? Probably we will just call it another GSSR because it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that Seabird and Grey Pearl will be moving on in April. Our plan is to travel to the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, where we will arrive in June. The route we are taking is very safe and many boats of all sizes do it without any issues. We will be sending out regular blogs as both Seabird and Grey Pearl are equipped with fairly high speed satellite Internet devices that will work anywhere in the world that we travel.
For the trip from Hong Kong to the Philippines, we have our friend from home, Doug, coming with us. Doug traveled with us on our initial voyage from Florida to Puerto Rico, 25000 miles ago. Having a third person aboard really lessens the load on Carol and me. It is the difference between getting 4 hours of sleep at a time and 6-8 hours. We rarely ever sleep the 8 hours and it is more like 4 good hours and two napping hours. That being said, if the weather is crappy, we all go several days with very little sleep. You really need to have a good sense of humor to do this stuff.
Oh, by the way, for security purposes, we are not disclosing our exact route this year, but you will know soon enough!!
Longer term, we plan on leaving the boats in Singapore or Malaysia for the summer months as it is very hot there. We will return at some point this fall and take the boats to Thailand for several months. In the spring of 2012, our tentative plans are to ship the boats from Singapore to the Med, where we will spend a few seasons on the boat.
Lastly, I apologize for not reporting much over the winter, but there was nothing really to report (about the boat). I assumed that not many would be interested in mundane things like weekly boat washings and bilge checks!
Sooo…..The boat is ready and so is the crew!! Our next blog will be after we leave Hong Kong unless there is some “breaking news”. This should be an exciting trip for us, or, maybe I am hoping it is not……….