1 Haul Out
HELP! Packing chaos on Ocelot
Summary: We sailed down from Yacht Haven at the northern end of Phuket Island to Ao Chalong Bay in the SE corner of Phuket, and started preparing Ocelot - taking EVERYTHING out of all the lockers and putting them into big plastic storage containers. We also removed all the sails and even the boom! Started our contract with Golf, our main contractor, and gave him a down payment so he could start buying materials [actually, we found out later that Golf squandered most of this money]. Bangkok is currently flooded, so some things have to be bought quickly, before they're no longer available. Manoon, the Coconuts boatyard manager, came out to inspect Ocelot and on Thursday he hauled us out with only a few heart stopping moments (like the 16 knot wind from the quarter pushing us sideways, and when a rope got caught in the propeller and had to be cut free). Then Golf's team descended on Ocelot and started tearing the teak decks off her, as we started transporting everything to Golf's workshop for storage. On Saturday the crane arrived and took out Ocelot's mast (along with the masts of 2 other boats).
Monday, October 24:
On Sunday we sailed down from Yacht Haven, at the north end of Phuket where we'd spent 2 delicious weeks in the calm anchorage next to good friends Steve and Gayla on Ariel, working on our boats all day, then joining up for a swim in the marina pool and a lovely dinner at Phen's Restaurant just down the road. At first we'd been frustrated and disappointed that we couldn't haul out in mid‑October like we hoped, but the tides were only high enough for us at midnight on the 13th, and there's no way they'd take out an unknown boat in the dark. So, relax. C'est la vie. And Hey! You can't fight Mother Nature!
The busy anchorage in Au Chalong was a bit less busy than usual and we found a mooring for a couple nights, then anchored closer to Coconuts Boatyard (Koh Thanod, in Thai) to be ready to haul out on Wednesday the 26th. Once we were settled in we removed the long battens from the mainsail, slid the mainsail off the track and folded it up to store. It is SOOO heavy - about 200 lbs (100kg)!
Just a few of the packing boxes ready for storage
As we emptied out lockers and cubby holes it seemed like the junk on Ocelot was endless! Golf, our Thai contractor, took us shopping for more storage boxes and several runs to the bank - he said he wanted 40% to start ($20,000) so he can buy materials [in fact, most of this money was squandered on a stereo system for Golf's truck]. We ate on board, trying to use up food that we wouldn't be able to cook in the little apartment we were going to rent.
Tuesday, October 25:
We moved off the mooring to a closer anchorage, and the boatyard manager, Manoon, came out to measure Ocelot again. He needs a 10.9' (3.3m) tide to get his funky old trailer under Ocelot to lift her out and there's a lot of finagling to be done to get the supports just right to fit under each boat. No complaints -- we want it done right and appreciate the time and care they take!
See Ao Chalong, Phuket, Thailand in a larger map
The boatyard is near the top, & our apartment is lower left
We took the battens out of the stack‑pack (mainsail cover), removed the lazy jacks (ropes that help the mainsail fall into the stack‑pack), removed the stack‑pack, and did lots more packing inside. The cockpit is filled with storage boxes. Luckily they're waterproof, as we're still getting the occasional squall coming through, even though the monsoon season is changing.
We got word today that we wouldn't be hauled until Thursday, so we sort of had an extra day. But the stress level went up, as we HAD to haul by Friday or we'd miss another MONTH before the tides were high enough again. Mid‑November has tides the right height but they all occur at midnight, so we wouldn't be able to be taken out. It was the 27th or 28th or not at all.
Wednesday, October 26:
Jon spent a few hours at the boat yard today checking things out. It seems that 3 boats have to be put in the water on the 27th before we can be hauled! Yikes. Blood pressure up. Hopefully the other boats don't need quite as high a tide as we do.
We got the boom off the mast today. We're really committed to this haul out now -- it's not like we can shrug it off and go sailing away. No boom. No sails. No sailing.
We did get to to socialize in the evenings with our friends Frank and Sa, a Canadian/Thai couple on Libelle, who we've known since Richards Bay, South Africa in 2009. Au Chalong seems to be quite the cross-roads and meeting place of yachties.
Thursday, October 27:
The day of the frightening beginning - taking Ocelot out of the water! The tide is high enough for Ocelot's haul out from exactly 09:45‑11:50. Knowing Manoon has to launch 3 boats before he takes us out has us biting fingernails. We hope he can work quickly.
Positioning Ocelot above the trailer
First thing in the morning, Jon went to the yard to watch progress. Manoon had put the boats to be launched on individual trailers, so they could be launched relatively quickly. When the last one was going in, Jon came back to Ocelot with our contractor, Golf. It was only 10:30 so we had an hour in hand. We quickly picked up the anchor and motored towards the yard's concrete apron, waiting for Manoon to reset his trailer for Ocelot's underside. But there was a strong 16 knot NE wind blowing from our starboard quarter, pushing us towards and across the trailer, so maneuvering was difficult. If they didn't secure Ocelot as soon as we got over the trailer she started drifting away, requiring that we reverse strongly and make a fresh approach. Luckily, Manoon had rigged a line to shore, and another to an anchor directly upwind. These should have been sufficient, but Golf let the aft line go slack and it was quickly wrapped up in our starboard propeller, stalling that engine! Once they had us positioned correctly, we had to cut the line free with a dive-knife.
The strange trailer used to pull Ocelot out
Apparently the tractor doesn't have the power to pull us out by itself, so Manoon tied a big rope to the back of the tractor and grabbed it with his baby tracked scooper, and the two of them towed us out together. They pulled us to a corner of the yard and blew all our barnacles off with a high pressure sprayer. Our biggest shock was that the zinc anodes on the rudders were largely eaten away! One of our jobs while we're out of the water is to coat our new stainless steel rudders with epoxy and then antifoul them, but we didn't expect the anodes to dissolve away so quickly. They're less than 4 months old!
Sue has been packing up most of our possessions into storage boxes, so the deck is piled high with the junk we've accumulated over the last 10 years. Much of this was piled into Golf's truck and taken to his workshop for storage. This effort will take several more days to complete.
Friday, October 28:
Today the work of tearing Ocelot apart started in earnest. The woodworkers, lead by Meng, started by taking off our teak hand-rails along the top of the cabin top and the teak-planked "eyebrows" that were added in the Galapagos, and were supposed to keep water from getting into the forward salon port‑lights.
Meng begins to remove the "eyebrows" on cabin top
The workers also started removing 10 years of accumulated antifouling paint off the bottom. They used a chemical stripper before scraping off the softened paint. This process revealed a narrow band of small blisters in Ocelot's gelcoat, just at the waterline. Although Wauquiez apparently used Isothalic resins on the bottom to reduce blistering, he didn't continue using it higher up. The blisters are in a band about 6" (15cm) wide but they're quite small and easy to fix, so no real structural problem. They certainly have not penetrated into the fiberglass.
With the scraping and chiseling going on we continued packing up the boat. Amazing how many nooks and crannies there are on a sailboat!
Twice up the mast within 15 minutes. But not at sea!
Saturday, October 29:
The big event of the day was the removal of the mast!! While at anchor, we had already removed the mainsail and stack‑pack, then the boom. Getting the mast off requires a crane, and Saturday was the day, as Golf had 2 other boats lined up to also have masts pulled.
Jon made 2 trips up the mast. The first one to the very top was to retrieve the wind instruments. He was part way up when he thought, "Dang - Forgot the tools. Hope it pulls out by hand!" It did. He was no sooner on deck than the crane was in position and he climbed again, this time to retrieve the line we needed to tie around the mast to lift it. Tricky, holding on with one had while tying a VERY secure knot with the other hand, all the while balancing 45' (15m) up the mast!
This is the first time we've PURPOSELY taken out our mast. We had an inadvertent mast removal on our first boat, Oriental Lady, in Martinique in 1986 when Sue was 8.5 months pregnant. We were beating into Fort de France Bay when a cap shroud chain plate broke and the mast and sails crashed to the deck. Been there. Done that. Don't need to do that again!
With just 3 pieces of standing rigging to loosen: the headstay and the 2 cap shrouds, the mast was soon released. Golf's men all manhandled it over the lifelines, then ran below to gather and guide it into position on the barrels beside the boat. Cost for mast removal: US$100. What a deal!!
Sunday, October 30:
Nominal day of rest for the workers, but they haven't had much work lately, so some of them came in to work. We got there late morning (still riding in with Golf everyday!) and attacked the masses of STUFF in the boat. We're meeting the other cruisers on the hard with us: Swiss cruisers Rolf and Daniella on Yelo and Aussies Kay and Jim on Bach and Byte.
Some of the junk we're taking off the boat is of interest to the Thais. Our 2 old ship's bells (which we've never mounted!) brought big grins to Manoon and Manop, the brothers who mange the yard. Ringing one enthusiastically, Manoon announced, "Lunch time!"
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