Thursday, December 29, 2016

Working on Two Boats Again

When we sold our CSY earlier this year, with a sigh of relief. We said "never again will we own two boats." Well... we don't own two boats again, but it feels like we do.

Our friend Jerry on s/v Challenger passed away unexpectedly in late August. He had left his boat at the Oceanview Marina in someone else's care in 2015, with a big worklist. For whatever reason, the worklist never got done, and the caretaker left the marina to go cruising in early 2016, leaving Jerry's boat unattended.

When we knew we were going back to Oceanview, we contacted Jerry's friend Kennedy and asked him if he could find out what was going on with Jerry's Estate and if we could be of help with regards to his boat. So a few emails and telephone calls later, we are now representing the Estate in trying to sell Jerry's Whitby 42.

Whitby 42 For Sale

Jerry's family is dealing with so much other stuff that they want to sell Challenger quickly, and aren't interested in taking the time or fronting the money to fix her up. So we did some pretty good research on prices for Whitby 42's for sale in various locations and various conditions ($60K-$120K) and have priced Challenger at $49K USD. She is definitely a bargain at that price--a good "classic plastic" boat equipped for a round-the-world cruise--but she needs a little TLC. We figured Challenger needs pretty much the same worklist that we did on Soggy Paws to sell her--mainly paint and varnish and a little woodwork. The rig is in good condition, the sails are good, the engine sounds good, and all the instruments work. She had a good dinghy and two outboards. With solar, a KISS wind generator, a big alternator, a Honda 2000 generator and a large battery bank, she's set for power. And with an autopilot and a wind vane, and new roller furling gear, she's set up for easy single-handing. Anyone out there looking for a good well-equipped cruising boat at a great price?? More details here.

But we've had to put off our own boat work in the last 2 weeks to jump into the "Challenger" project... Lots of cleaning and sorting and figuring things out (without the owner there to tell you how the xyz system works, for example). Plus, of course, taking pictures, making the website, and posting on "For Sale" sites.

So we have both been a busy little beavers. Dave, trying to keep the workers going on the projects already in progress on Soggy Paws, while making progress on Challenger. And me, sourcing material/parts for both boats, handling finances, maintaining websites, and tracking costs.

Here are a few things Dave's been doing or overseeing

1. Yanmar Saildrive Refurb

One of Our Saildrives

Dave and his helper Alex removed the leaking port saildrive and found saltwater in the bell housing, and some corrosion. Plus the exterior of the saildrive leg was pitting due to galvanic action. So Dave decided to take it all apart, clean and grease the mechanical parts, and completely strip, repair, and recoat the leg, before he puts it all back together. After looking at the seal that was leaking, he decided to do the starboard saildrive as well. Both seals seemed to be aged, inflexible, and prone to cracking. I was put on the task of sourcing new seals, and whatever other Yanmar parts Dave found he needed. (Azumi Corporation, Subic Bay, Philippines)
The Top End of the SD20 Removed from Engine

Evidence of Water Ingress

The Seal and the Pitting on the Saildrive

Meanwhile, Alex was given the task of completely stripping both saildrive legs down to bare metal, and then beginning the process of buiding them back up properly. They started with an Aluminum Primer, and then an anti-corrosion primer, then non-sag epoxy filler to fill any holes, then an epoxy primer, and then 2-part polyurethane paint. Now they look like outboard motor legs. But we're not finished... Dave managed to buy some aluminum antifouling from another cruiser (Marlin Velox Plus), so we'll add another coat of primer for that, and then the proper aluminium anti-fouling. (Last time we used copper-based bottom paint, that's why we had the pitting on the leg).

When we took our trip to Subic and Manila in early December, we visited the Yanmar representative for the the Philippines, Azumi Corporation, and bought $1500 worth of seals and motor mounts. The parts needed to be shipped in from Singapore. We just got the parts in our hands a few days ago. So hopefully we will get our engines back together again in the next week or so.

Engine Parts in the Bathtub!

2. Drawers and Shelving

Dave had the carpenters put in two new drawers at the nav station, and 3 new drawers in the galley. This will help with stowing the small stuff that's been hanging about with no place to go.

Carpenters Working on New Drawers at the Nav Station

And a Couple of New Drawers in the Galley Too

He's also putting a shelf along the forward edge of each of the 2 forward bunks...mainly so he has a place to store his books.

3. New Refrigerator

After the huge upright refrigerator we had on the CSY, we were just not happy with the tiny dorm-style refrigerator in the galley. We ended up having to put half our refrigerator stuff in the freezer, with mixed success. This makes the freezer more inefficient, because we are in and out of it all day, and it harder to find anything with all that stuff in there. And the refer has such poor insulation that it runs all the time and barely keeps up in the tropics.

So Dave's solution is to convert the bunk aft of the galley in the port hull into a "pantry". We blogged this effort in full in a different post.

New Refrigeration for Soggy Paws Cat

4. Fiberglass repair

We had a small encounter with a rock island in Palau, and we gouged a big piece of fiberglass in two places on the starboard bow rubrail. We've got the marina's best fiberglasser/painter working on fixing that boo-boo.

Iquoy, The Fiberglass Guy, Grinding Out the Damage

One of the Two Patches (Not Finished)

5. Painting up the bottom paint

We have finally decided it would be stupid not to paint another 2 inches up on our bottom paint, while we have the opportunity. So we've had Alex remove the stick-on white bootstripe around the waterline. We still need to prep and paint this area, and put one more coat of bottom paint on.

6. Painting the deck non-skid areas

Dave's preferred deck shoes are a pair of slick-bottomed flip-flops. And he never goes out and sits on deck. So he wants some fairly grippy non-skid. Someone in the marina has found a local product that they claim to be identical to the popular "Kiwi Grip" product. It is a fairly gooey product that you roll on with a special roller that makes the surface lumpy. No need for sand or walnuts and all that stuff. They say the special roller is available locally, but we have borrowed one from a friend who put on Kiwi Grip last year. We have seen one boat's application of the local product and it looks good. The only problem is that the white is too white, and the lightest non-white color is too dark for deck paint (gets too hot in the tropical sun). So we're planning on mixing! We'll let you know how it turns out.

7. Canvas work

We have a long list of canvas projects lined up for me. But I'm having trouble getting started on them, with so much "part sourcing" and other work on the computer. Very soon I need to get off this damned computer and get to work!! Of course, the canvas work can be done anywhere, we don't have to be in a marina. But it makes sense to work on it while Dave is otherwise occupied with his projects.

Tired yet?? We sure are!!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Diving the Wrecks of Coron Bay

For my birthday, we booked a one-week stay at a dive resort in Coron Bay. This would be the first time Dave and I have ever gone to a dive resort together. After a little research and agonizing, we picked the Sangat Island Dive Resort as our place to stay. It's a fairly upscale resort that is focused on diving (the #2 choice was El Faro and D-Divers).

Map Showing Davao, Manila, Coron
Map from Wikipedia By Hellerick, annotated by me.

We flew from Manila on a smaller Cebu Pacific plane than they use for the Manila-Davao leg. They had tighter weight restrictions, and since we were bringing our dive gear, we stressed the entire week before about getting our luggage down under the weight limit. We finally decided to repack after the Subic/Manila weekend and leave one bag of stuff we didn't need at the Nichols Airport Hotel. Our return flight had a 3 hour layover in Manila. So we felt pretty sure we could get from Manila's Terminal 4 to the hotel and back to Terminal 3 (this is not a sure thing, because Manila traffic can be horrendous sometimes, and the two terminals are on opposite sided of the airport).

The flight goes into the island of Busuanga, where Coron is the major town on the south coast, and Sangat Island is a smaller island off the SW coast.

Looks Like Mostly Backpackers on this Flight!

We were met at the airport by a Sangat Island driver, and a half hour later were dropped off at a dock, where a Sangat Island boat awaited us. It was a calm day and we had a short ride to Sangat Island.

Dave at the Boat Dock

On Our Way to Sangat Island

The Beachfront
With bungalows nestled in among the palm trees
and the dining area and dive center hidden behind the small island

Sangat Dock Area


A Nice Cool Drink to Celebrate Our Arrival

Though we'd booked one of the more budget rooms, they told us they had a Beachfront Cottage available and upgraded us at no cost. Here's the view from our room.

We strolled around the grounds and took pictures. The place was pretty quiet until everyone came back from their daytime excursions.

View from the Pagoda on the Little Island Off the Beach

The Patio Bar Out on the Little Island

Sunset Over the Beach

Then we started diving... on most days, we did 3 dives a day. The first dive was always a wreck dive, the second a reef dive, and the third another wreck. It was actually a pretty grueling schedule.

It was "Up at 7, eat, dive, eat, dive, eat, dive, cleanup, happy hour, dinner, klunk we were asleep". There are approximately 15 Japanese ships that were sunk in the area by US Navy dive bombers and Hellcats. We saw 8 of them. Some of the ships were big enough and deep enough that it easily took 2 or 3 dives to see the whole thing. And on some dives, Dave was so busy taking pictures of "critters" he didn't get pictures of the wreck.

I've picked out some of the best "critter" pix and the best "wreck" pics, and put them here. Dave really likes taking pictures of Nudibranchs, because they move slowly, look very colorful, and even in poor visibility, he can get a good picture.

Nudibranch (aka Sea Slug) Chromodoris leopardis

Nudibranch (aka Sea Slug) Chromodoris reticulata

Nudibranch (aka Sea Slug) Flabellina rubrolineata

Nudibranch (aka Sea Slug) Hypselodoris

Nudibranch (aka Sea Slug) Joruna funebris

Swimming Flatworm

Green Anemone


Yellow Seahorse

Though we dove on 8 wrecks, some of them more than once, we didn't get very many good pictures. Most of the interesting stuff on the wrecks have been looted long ago. Anything that wasn't nailed down (and some that was) has been taken off and sold for scrap or souvenirs. Also, the light wasn't very good. Some days it was too overcast and dark down below, other days the water was too stirred up. Other days, Dave was too busy taking pictures of Nudis.

Sherry Looking for Nudis on the Side of a Wreck

Hydraulic Control Wheel on a Wreck

Following Our Guide Through a Wreck

Part of the Engine Room

The last day before we left, the resort had a Christmas party for all their employees, and they invited us.

Secret Santa Presents

The Kitchen Staff Doing their "Dance Number"

They had set up a pole and put 2 1000 peso notes at the top of the pole. The pole was well-greased. The guys tried several times to get up the pole, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

First Attempt On the Pole

Second Attempt

There are other things to do at Sangat Island besides dive, but we were there to do, and so, dive we did. After 6 days of diving, we were too tired to work up any enthusiasm for anthing else.

We had a good time at Sangat, and it was nice to get away from boat work for a short respite. In my opinion, the wrecks at Sangat are not as good as the ones we saw at Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon.

After two weeks of goofing off, it was time to go back to work. Because the tide was so low the morning we left, we had to take a bigger boat around to Coron Town to be dropped off for our ride to the airport. This was via one of the traditional Philippine bankas.

Heading for Coron

View off the Bow of the Banka on the Way to Coron

Once we got to Coron, they squeezed this big wide trimaran-like boat into a narrow slot, put out the gangplank off the bow, and helped us off.

Walking the Gangplank

Our dosey-doe at the Manila airport to go get our other bag we had left at the hotel went fine. We had plenty of time. Except Cebu Pacific charged us an excess baggage fee to check in the extra bag. They seem to always get us at Manila airport.

Our friend Terry on s/v Valhalla was nice enough to pick us up at the Davao airport, so we didn't have to walk on and off the ferry with all our dive gear and extra luggage.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Our Manila/Subic Trip

When we were in Palau, and decided to go back to Samal for the winter months (instead of going to Subic Bay as we originally planned), we decided to take a flying dive trip to Coron Bay. We arranged the trip with a visit to a former Navy friend in Subic Bay and the annual Army/Navy Game watching party in Manila.

We flew into Manila and friend Kent picked us up at the airport and drove us back to his house in Subic. We hung out Kent for few days. Dave and Kent played golf, warming up for the Army/Navy golf tournament.

Kent and Dave with their Caddies at the Subic Golf Club

We had lunch at Vascos, and stopped in to check out the primary Broadwater Marine store next to Vascos. Vascos' ad say it is "A Hotel museum with a picturesque ambiance." Plus a waterfront restaurant where local ex-pats like to hang out. There's an interesting little underwater artifacts museum at Vascos.

While in Subic we were delighted to get to spend an afternoon helping our friends Graham and Avril on DreamAway launch their boat after a long haulout and refit at Water Ventures.

DreamAway on the Travelift

We have been running into DreamAway here and there since we first met on a dark night in the Tuamotus, where we were making landfall after dark at a tiny cul-de-sac with reefs on both sides (Anse Amyat, Tuamotus) We got underway early in the morning and pushed all day, trying to make the anchorage in daylight, but ended up arriving a little after dusk. Though we did have our own track to follow in, we discovered that the light we expected to guide us in was not working as we approached. So we made a call on VHF to see if someone could help us identify and pick up a free mooring. We made a VHF call, and Graham from DreamAway answered our call. Knowing him now, I'm sure he was saying to himself "What the bloody hell are those stupid Americans doing, coming in at night!" But instead he said "Soggy Paws, this is DreamAway, we're on a mooring here at Anse Amyot, and yes there is a free mooring available right next to us. Come on in, we'll help you out. Mind the coral bits."

Anyway, DreamAway was looking pretty spiffy on the outside, after the yard had painted both hull and deck. The launching and docking maneuvers went well and after a 100m boat ride, we all celebrated with a glass of wine in the cockpit, and with dinner and ice cream afterwards.

Doing One of Dave's Favorite Things, Eating Ice Cream

We had several nice dinners with Graham and Avril, catching up on each other's adventures in the last 2 years. Avril and I spent a couple of hours side-by-side on the computers, swapping info and GoogleEarth charts. The last time we had seen them was in March 2015, when we stayed on their boat for a few days while visiting New Zealand by air.

We spent another afternoon trying to arrange Yanmar parts to fix our saildrives. A friend had given us the contact info for Azumi Corporation, and they listed themselves on their website as the Yanmar representatives for the Philippines. We had exchanged a few emails, and had a list of the parts we needed, but Dave had a few questions and wanted to talk with someone face-to-face. We met the nice young man who is the parts manager, asked him a few questions, and he revised our quote on the spot. We were a bit shocked at the prices he quoted, but I checked US prices online and found his prices were actually quite good.

When we tried to hand him a credit card he said "No, no, pay cash". This is a bit of a problem in the Philippines. The bill was for around $1,500 USD. And most of the ATM machines in the PI will only dispense 10,000 pesos ($200 USD) at a time, with a $4 ATM fee "for foreign transactions" each time. And, one of our two debit cards wasn't working.

Fortunately, we had "stocked up" on cash for the trip, and we found we could do two $200 withdrawals per day. So after 3 days and with a loan from Kent, we were able to pay the parts bill in cash. Azumi ordered the parts from Singapore and said they'd be delivered to Davao in about 20 days. The $1500 included a $160 fee for shipping and customs handling issues (via DHL), which I think would have been a nightmare if we had ordered the parts directly from Singapore. And it would have cost even more to buy the parts in the US and have them shipped.

Then it was time to head for Manila for the weekend's activities surrounding the U.S. Military Academy's Army/Navy Football game. There are a surprising number of Filipinos who have attended U.S. military academies. Those who can, gather in Manila every year for the Army/Navy game. There is usually a golf tournament, a dinner, and a 4-am watching of the actual game (5pm in the US is 4am in Manila). This year, the game watching was at the US Embassy in Manila, in the Marine Guard's rec room. (Thanks, Marines, for hosting us).

Army and Navy Banners at the Dinner

The Whole Group

Roilo, Kent, and Dave, USNA Class of 70

The Army Fans Hoping "This is the Year"

Watching the Game

Unfortunately for the first time in 14 years, Army beat Navy. Navy had a tough year this year, their very good 1st string QB was injured in the first game of the season. The 2nd string QB was injured in the last half of the previous game, and they played a big playoff game the weekend before (while Army was off). So they went into the biggest game of the year with their 3rd string QB, who had only played about 1/4 of a game. They gave a good account of themselves, but Army ended up scoring more points, and winning. Our Army friends were ecstatic, and we were happy for them to finally get a win. But we'll be back next year...

On our way into Manila from Subic, we stopped off at Concrete Solutions to take a look at their "blueboard" insulation product. We wanted to buy some blueboard insulation for our new fridge. Blueboard is a Dow Corning product used for lots of things, including building insulation. This product turned out to be 2" thick, 2' x 4' "block" they use to insulate buildings. It seemed OK for our purposes, so made up an order and whipped out our credit card and... you guessed it. No credit, just cash. So back to the ATM's again. Fortunately my 2nd ATM card started working, and some of the ATM's in Manila would let me take out 20,000 pesos at a time. So with only 2 days of ATM visits, we could pay Concrete Solutions, pay off Kent, and have a little money left over. (We could be Wiring money from our US Bank accounts but every time we've done that, it's a real PITA to make happen, and more expensive than using cash and ATMs). Concrete Solutions handled the shipping from Manila to Davao, and we should get our shipment just before Christmas.

On our last night in Manila, Kent went back to Subic and we moved to the Nichols Airport Hotel, recommended by friends. This is a hotel near the Manila airport convenient to Terminal 3 and Terminal 4 (where the local flights fly in and out of). It has reasonable prices, clean, and neat, with a small restaurant, free wifi, and free shuttle to the airport. But in a fairly dodgy section of Manila. Good for transit, not much good for anything else.

And then we flew off to celebrate my birthday with a week's diving at a resort in Coron.