Leaving Borneo

While we enjoy our time home seeing friends and family, a few weeks before returning to the boat , a feeling of great anticipation creeps in.  The excitement of starting our next cruise is always there, but with a touch of concern of what you might find after returning to the boat.  Sometimes it’s a few leaks,  dead batteries, a dirty boat, mold or something that has been rendered inoperable due to lack of use.  This year, we were very fortunate.  We had a great guy, Cris, here at Sutera Harbor watching after our boats (Seabird and Grey Pearl).  Cris checked the boats on a regular basis and reported back to us by email.  The outside of the boats were tended to by two guys from the Philippines, Jerry and Mark, who did a great job of keeping the boats spiffy.  Upon arrival, everything looked great other than a few items that needed to be used to get back to normal, like the toilets!

Both Carol and I (at least I thought so) expected that since we had clothing in the US and on the boat, that we would not be carrying much back and forth.  As it turned out, it was not so!  We stopped in California to see Carol’s Dad on the way home and on the way back to the boat, so we needed clothing for several days just for that alone!  We also brought a few empty suitcases stacked inside one another, “just in case” we needed to bring stuff back to the boat.

AS IT TURNED OUT, the list of items we needed for the boat kept growing and before we knew it, we had three large suitcases, two smaller carryon suitcases, one large satchel and one (very heavy) knap sack.  As it turned out, it was fairly reasonable to bring all of that stuff until we got to Singapore, where the local airline informed us that the one extra large suitcase, which weighed in at 55 lbs, was going to cost us $287 EXTRA,  more than the cost of the ticket to get there!!  Being that they had us painted into a corner, we begrudgingly agreed to pay it but we will visit that again when we arrive by boat as their website advertised $1 per pound.  Braun and Tina had the same problem, multiplied by two or three but had printed out the website and showed it to the agent, but to no avail.  Interestingly enough, the next day, the website was changed!!  To be continued…………..

This was a long trip, about 25 hours total, but it was not without humor.  I had purchased a heat exchanger for the transmission to replace one that was defective, ordering it while we were here in Borneo, but the shipping was close to $500 and we decided to transport it with us upon returning instead.  Fortunately, it fit exactly into my carryon suitcase.  UNFORTUNATELY,  to the TSA agents, it looked like a WMD when scanning the bag with their screens!

                                                                     The Culprit

I wish I could have gotten a picture of a few of the agents when they saw it on the screen.  The reactions ranged from swallowing hard to eyes almost bulging out of the sockets.  All of them, however, were very professional and did the obligatory testing on the bag and the heat exchanger.  I, for one, am glad to have them on our side and actually checking things that are suspicious instead of just “rubber stamping”. They are the first line of protection for us and I am glad that they are there doing their job.

The other thing we had to do was to make the carryon suitcase with the heat exchanger look light.  There was a sign that said “your one carryon bag allowed can weigh no more than 7kg (15 lbs). Well, my suitcase weighed 38 lbs and my knapsack weight 20lbs. In addition, Carol had a 28 lb carryon.   Sooo… I hiked the knapsack on my back, stood as straight as I could and towed the suitcase through the gate with my pinky finger, hoping that they thought it might look light.  I also practiced lifting it up with one hand and not showing the strain on my face so that I could place it on the belt to the x-ray booth.  I am just glad that no one other than me grabbed it as it was pretty obvious upon lifting that it exceeded the limit.  I didn’t feel too bad though because I had a 275 lb guy sitting next to me which was more weight than me and my two carryon’s!  I guess my punishment was having the guy sit next to me for that leg of the trip.

One thing that Nordhavn owners dread is starting up the engine at the beginning of the season.  It is not for fear that it will not start, because they always do, but what comes out of the  dry exhaust pipe can wreak havoc on your neighbor (s).  Braun’s neighbor, unfortunately, was me and when he started the engine, it belched out black soot bunnies the size of golf balls .  Carol and I were just walking down the dock when it happened and saw a remorseful Braun and Tina with horrified looks on their faces.  We had to laugh.  For us being the victims, gives credence to the saying “what goes around comes around”.  Just two seasons ago, when leaving the dock at Hachinohe, Japan, we started our engine, blasting Grey Pearl with the greasy, dastardly dust.  Anyway, our case, we just got out the shop vac and scooped it up before it set in to the fiberglass.  Revenge is so sweet.

So now, other than filling the water tanks and fueling up, we should be ready to go.  This portion of the trip takes us from here in Borneo to Singapore, about a 99 hour trip.

Tuesday, September 27th

Just after we arrived in KK, Braun and I decided that we should dive under the boats to “tune up the bottom”.  We had a diver periodically go down and keep the keel coolers clean while we were away, but we decided to leave the heavy lifting until we got back.

Tools of the trade

Braun in Meditation for a safe dive


So we got our gear out, suited up and under we went.  All in all, there were no surprises.  We had heavy growth underneath the keel where they had neglected to put anti fouling paint at our last haul out in Hong Kong.  There was considerable growth on the propellers and shafts, but the zincs were in good shape as were the keel coolers.  Both Grey Pearl and Seabird use a special coating on our propellers which makes it easier to clean them off.  With a light scraping and a scouring pad, they were just like new.  We went down again later with a powerwasher to  touch up the keel coolers and bow thrusters.  In a previous blog, from Taiwan, we described what we learned  about cruising with fouled running gear and we will never do that again!!

Wednesday, September 28th

We are scrambling to get everything ship shape for tomorrows departure.  You would think that after all of the time we have spent doing this, it would be second nature.  Since it’s been 3 months, we are a bit rusty.  Starting the engines and going to get fuel brings back all of the items on the mental list.  Fueling can be an adventure in this part of the world.  Sometimes you have to exit the harbor and attach to a barge in rolly seas, sometimes travel miles to a rickety pier and sometimes they deliver it in trucks to the dock.  Here in KK, they have fuel available just across from our slip.

Grey Pearl at the fuel dock

We arranged to get the fuel through the marina office and took the boat over there at 10am.  By 11am, I had only 250 gallons in the tank, which means it was pitifully slow.  I had planned on taking 500 gallons, but did not want to spend a good part of our last day here fueling up.  We ended up taking on only 350 gallons.  The fill rate worked out to be 5 gallons per minute and we are used to at least 25 GPM.  The water situation was not much better and it took us from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning to fill up our tanks!!  I think our reverse osmosis watermaker, which converts seawater to fresh at a painfully slow rate, is faster than the dock water faucet!  Anyway, back to the fuel situation.  I had originally planned on filling all of the 5 tanks, which, since we were already  a bit over half full, would have taken 1000 gallons.  I was concerned due to the lack of a good fuel filtering system at the dock that we could get stuck with contaminated fuel and overwhelming our filters.  On Seabird, we never use fuel that has been taken directly from the pump.  All fuel that goes to the engine or generator is taken from a 300 gallon “day tank”, which draws fuel using a secondary pump from the tanks that we fill at the dock.  That pump sends the fuel through a 2 micron filter to the day tank where it is used by the engines.  It does mean that several times a day during a passage that you must manually transfer fuel to the day tank, but it is a simple procedure and prevents the single most common reason for diesel engine failure:  bad fuel.  Subsequently, we isolated the new fuel to a single tank. If it is bad, we can easily filter it if needed.  A friend of ours, Scot Strickland, fueled up with contaminated fuel in the Canary Islands and did not discover it until he was several hours out to sea.  I think he had something like 29 spare filters on board and ended up having to wrap paper towels around them to extend their life.  I love the fact that he was able to come up with that idea, but I prefer to avoid the situation altogether.

So now we are down to wracking our brains, trying to see if there is anything that we missed.  Right now, I would say we are just about ready.  We are looking forward to our 99 hour trip to Singapore.  The weather looks good.  Our weather router, Bob, has sent us the thumbs up!  The next blog update will be from Singapore.  We cast off the lines at 8am.


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Have a smooth cruise to Singapore! I’m jealous of how well your boats survived the offseason.

    Paddle fast, we are impatient for your arrival.

    -Ken and Roberta

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