January 2017 - Thailand & Andamans - Page 2

8 January 2017   Ao Chalong East, Thailand
It threw it down all day, so we lurked down below.  Glenys was investigating a two week land trip that we want to do in Sri Lanka, looking at good places to go hiking and accommodation.  

Having recently bought a year’s subscription and 500 minutes air time for our Satellite Phone, I spent most of my day trying to get it working.  I haven’t used the sat phone for over a year and I’d forgotten how it all connects through to my laptop.

Random Photo - Typical Thai Street Wiring

Unfortunately, I’ve also upgraded to Windows 10 and the standard Iridium driver was crashing the laptop, so after a couple hours of tearing out my hair, I downloaded a new driver, which at least didn’t crash my laptop. 

We use an email compression service from a UK company called Sailamail and they supply a utility which controls the type of data being sent via the sat phone and also reduces the size of the data to reduce the cost of using the sat phone.   Well, it used to work fine on Windows 7.  I got in touch with Sailamail and they said that I needed to buy a small firewall box from them at a staggering cost of £500.  I was not a happy bear.

To cut a long story short, Windows 10 and its applications expect to be connected to the Internet, so when they see the satellite phone connection, they all try to get access to the internet and the narrow little bandwidth of the sat phone simply gets overloaded.  Sailamail haven’t found a bulletproof way of stopping this behaviour with software, hence their hardware solution.

It took me hours to come up with a (free) solution that works.   I’m using the built-in Windows Firewall to prevent everything accessing the internet except the Sailamail email compression utility.  When I want to be in “SatPhone Mode”, I simply load a file into the Windows Firewall application and then when I want to switch back to “Wi-Fi Mode” I reload another file.  It sound like a chore, but it only takes five minutes and I’m often in either Mode for weeks at a time.

So that I won’t forget how it all works, I’ve published my notes on our website.  It’s very dry and technical, but if you’re really interested in how to get an Iridium 9555 sat phone working with Windows 10 then have a look at Configuring a Sat Phone.

9 January 2017   Ao Chalong, Thailand
We were planning to go into Ao Po Marina tomorrow and hire a car for the next day to do a huge provisioning run.   Unfortunately, the marina office sent us an email this morning saying that there are no cars available for hire - unbelievable!  So we’re just going to have to stay in Ao Chalong and hire a car here.  This is not good news because of the horrible logistics of getting loads of provisions from the car, along the ½ mile long pier, into the dinghy and back to the boat nearly ¾ mile away.   

It was another grey day, so we had another day on board.  I sent an email off to Pekka, the manufacturer of our propeller, telling him that we were getting a singing-ringing noise.  He came back saying that “It seems that propeller is singing (kind of resonance with your hull).  You can usually fix the problem by applying anti-singing edges to the propeller blade trailing edges.”  I Googled the problem and found this:

Our Singing-Ringing Propeller

Some propellers in service produce a high-pitched noise, often referred to as Singing. This sound typically is a clear harmonic tone much like a humming or ringing wine glass.

More of an annoyance than anything harmful, the causes of singing are not completely understood. Many theories have been put forward to account for the phenomenon of Singing, but it appears to be affected by critical factors for which the theories make no allowance. For instance, in some cases when a twin-screw vessel has one propeller that sings, the noise is eliminated just by switching position of the propellers.  

The singing is a function of propeller diameter, RPM, boat speed and trailing-edge geometry.   In most cases it’s impractical to alter the diameter, RPM or speed, so the main strategy has been to modify the trailing-edge geometry.

Most Propeller professionals are familiar with the Anti-singing Edge – a Chamfering of the Trailing edge, typically on the Suction side. The intent of this shape is to avoid the creation of curving flow eddies by cleanly separating the flow off of the blade.

Pekka offered to do the work for me, but we’re now too far away, so he sent me a drawing and instructions.  It’s not a particularly difficult job - I just need to file a chamfer along half the length of each of the trailing edges.  Unfortunately, it will have to be very precise, so I can’t do it underwater and I don’t want to remove the propeller again, so I’m going to leave it until we next haul out.  Unless the singing-ringing sound drives me mad… 

Our stainless steel holding tank (which temporarily holds effluent from the front toilet) has been leaking for a year now - not a pretty sight.  With a heavy heart, I pulled the front toilet to pieces.  It’s an unpleasant job, with the main problem being getting the 1½” diameter, wire-reinforced hoses off the various fittings.  The fittings are (of course) inside cupboards and very hard to get at, so I ended up cutting off most of the hoses.

Hacking off  a Hose

By the end of the day, I’d removed the four hoses, the two valve assemblies and the holding tank.  I rinsed out the holding tank by dunking it in the sea a dozen times - it needs several small holes welding up.  The main valve at the bottom of the holding tank has seized up, so I soaked it in Liquid Wrench and I’ll have a go at freeing it tomorrow.

10 January 2017   Ao Chalong, Thailand
I did some more admin in the morning.  “Sea Monkey” gave us a hard disk with loads of movies, so I spent the morning copying 50 movies and half a dozen TV series over to my laptop - it should keep us going until South Africa.

In the afternoon, I did some more work on the toilet.  I tried to free the valve, but it wouldn’t budge and I ended up snapping off the handle assembly, so I need to get a new valve.  I tidied up everything else, so it’s all ready to be reassembled when I get the holding tank welded and the new hose delivered.

In the evening, we went to beach for a meal with “Sea Monkey” and “Conrad”.

11 January 2017   Ao Chalong, Thailand
The weather forecast is starting to look a little more promising and we’re hoping that the NE monsoon winds will return in about ten days’ time.  I had another planning day and spent an hour printing out all the paperwork for checking into the Andaman Islands - a special letter to customs; a detailed itinerary of all the anchorages that we plan to visit; an inventory of all the equipment and supplies on the boat; ten copies of each Passport; ten copies of each Indian Visa; ten crew lists, etc, etc.  All have to be stamped with our Alba rubber stamp and signed.

We’re expecting it to take two days to go through the clearance procedures when we arrive.  They say that the British Empire invented bureaucracy, but that Indians have perfected it.  We’ll just have to be polite and patient.

Calculating routes on four different dates

With a firmer departure date in our heads, Glenys has been finalising our trip to Sri Lanka and actually booked some accommodation.  It looks like we’ll be visiting a Safari Park and doing lot of hiking.

The ocean crossings that we've done to date (North Atlantic and South Pacific) were fairly straight forward with firmly established trade wind routes. Crossing the Indian Ocean will be a little more complex because the route goes from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere encountering several weather patterns.  At the end of the voyage, we’ll be faced with a 1,000 mile passage between Madagascar and South Africa, which is fraught with strong weather fronts and currents. 

So far on our circumnavigation, my weather forecasting and route planning has been very simple.  I download GRIB files using our satellite phone and then predict the wind speed and direction that we will encounter using mental calculations and piece of paper. While sailing across the Pacific, I even resorted to sticking small bits of paper to my computer screen to show our forecast positions, so that I could view the expected wind speed and direction.

This manual approach has worked okay, but I've decided that it’s time to have some routing software to help me.  This will calculate a number of routes based on the weather forecast and our expected departure date.  I investigated some options, both on-line and local programs and after a lot of work, I’ve decided to use a standalone program called qtVlm.  (It’s a horrible name, but a good piece of software.)  If you want to know more, I’ve published an article called Weather Routing.

12 January 2017   Ao Chalong, Thailand
At 07:00, we motored back to Ao Chalong and anchored well clear of the damn moorings.  We then headed ashore and picked up another hire car with the intention of doing our major food provisioning and to get a few other jobs done.

The long walk down the Ao Chalong Pier

As always, our first stop was at Boat Lagoon, where we picked up the laundry which we left last week.  I took the holding tank to the stainless steel fabricator, who repaired the leak while I waited.  I haven’t been very successful in finding cheap engine filters, so I bit the bullet and bought some Volvo filters - £13 for an oil filter and a staggering £30 for a fuel filter. 

After our technical spending spree, we went to Macro, which has been recommended to us by friends, but it’s geared for bulk “cash and carry” and wasn’t much use to us.  We bought a dozen boxes of wine and some cases of beer, but it wasn’t any cheaper than Tesco.  We didn’t have much luck at Tesco either, the big store seemed to be running out of the things that we wanted, like breakfast cereal & tins of tomatoes -  they didn’t even have any potatoes. 

Nevertheless, when we arrived back at Ao Chalong, we had a car packed with stuff.  We paid 200 Baht (£4) for the privilege of driving the car to the end of the ½ mile long pier and then lugged the stuff onto the pontoon.  It took two trips in the dinghy to get it all back ¾ mile to the boat, dodging the scores of tourist boats coming back from their day trips.  I then had to go back ashore to return the car.  The moon had risen by the time I got back to the boat - a long day.

13 January 2017   Ao Chalong to Ko Yao Yai East, Thailand
The weather forecast is looking good to leave for our three day passage to the Andaman Islands later next week - the NE monsoon winds are finally kicking in.  We’ve decided to wait until the 21st to make sure that the north-easterlies are established and, by leaving on a Saturday, we’ll arrive on a Tuesday and not have to pay overtime.  

So, we’ve got a week to finish off jobs and buy any further spare parts and provisions.  Our plan is to head north to the hongs for a few days and then come back to Ao Chalong to finish off our chores.  

After tidying away some of the provisions bought yesterday, we headed ashore once again.  I wanted to pick up our two dive regulators and a BCD, which I dropped off a week ago to be serviced.  Annoyingly, they weren’t ready, so I’ll have to wait until next week to pick them up.  I then headed off to Nina Cars and booked another car for Thursday next week for our final spending spree.

Another Load of Provisions

Glenys walked to the Villa Market supermarket, which is a little more expensive than Tesco, but stocks a surprisingly wide range of goods - mostly aimed at Westerners.  After the frustrating time yesterday, she was able to tick a lot of items off her list - tinned tomatoes, a couple of tubes of tomato puree, tortillas and even Tinned Salmon!, which we haven’t seen for months.

As soon as we got back to the boat, we upped anchor; motored 25 miles up to Ao Po Marina and anchored just outside the marina.  I scooted in, persuaded the guys on the fuel dock that I didn’t need to pay for entering the marina (God help me…) and walked to the AME chandlery.  My 10 metres of chain and the 5 metres of hose for the front toilet were waiting for me, so I lugged them back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

By this time it was 16:30 and we needed to find a home for the night.  We tried to anchor to the west of Ko Nakha Yai at 08°03.47N 098°27.32E, but even at 10 metres depth, the chain was rumbling noisily over coral or rock, so we ran away.  The wind was coming from the east, so we headed 4 miles over to the north-west point of Ko Yao Yai and anchored at 08°06.64N 098°31.69E.  Unfortunately, by the time that we arrived in the anchorage, the wind had switched 180 degrees and was coming from the west making it very uncomfortable.

We now had 30 minutes until the sun went down.  Glenys looked at the Navionics chart and found that someone had placed a marker for an anchorage in 5 meters depth on the other side of the headland on the east side.  What a difference a mile makes.  We anchored at Ko Yao Yai NE at 08°06.72N 098°31.95E in 10 metres of water and it was lovely and calm.  We collapsed with a cold beer.