Refit at Yacht Haven Phuket

Yacht Haven - Bird's Eye View!

Yacht Haven – Bird’s Eye View!

Thailand is renowned for its woodworking skills, and we have met many yotties who were finishing their circumnavigations to New Zealand and had had their interior and exterior woodwork refurbished or renewed in Thailand.  Pipistrelle is now 14 years old, and whilst she has been looked after very well we think by us and before that by Stephen and Katherine, a number of objects have been unavoidably dropped or been thrown around in rough seas over the years.  We decided that the time had come to take advantage of what the Thais have to offer.

Yachts Repair workshop

Yachts Repair workshop

Discussing finer points with Mali ...

Discussing finer points with Mali …

The Yachts Repair Company in Yacht Haven came highly recommended and we had seen many examples of their work.  It is run by Marly and his brother Thon, with a considerable skilled workforce.  These craftsmen are diligent, work hard and are pleasant to have on board though communication is a barrier – they speak no English and we just a few words of Thai.  Having had a quote (in English!) for the work we considered urgent, we then had to decide what the priorities were.  Our main focus was theoretically the cabin sole in the galley area but inevitably, as soon as one section was stripped and re-varnished, we quickly realized that the adjoining section would also need doing.

Old and new - no contest!

Old and new – no contest!

Most of the sanding and varnishing work was done at the workshop, and so a temporary cabin sole was laid in the galley, eventually run through to the companionway and temporary steps made.  The way Pipistrelle is built is clever and complex so as ever with such projects, there was much upheaval. Living on board while work was in progress was sometimes slightly awkward, especially when woodworking, cabling and stainless steel were all competing for what seemed to be the same space!  BUT after 5 weeks on a work berth we have companionway steps and internal floors that look like new – wonderful.  Many other areas that were looking tired are now as good as when the Pipistrelle originally left the yard in 2000.  We almost need to lay special protection to prevent damage…

Below in steps …

Temp 'new' ply floor!

Temp ‘new’ ply galley floor!

and temp steps for small people!

and temp steps for small people!

Blemished step prior to treatment ...

Blemished step prior to treatment …

... and afterwards

… and afterwards

What a difference 6 or 7 coats of varnish make!

What a difference 6 or 7 coats of varnish make!

All taped up and ready to go ...

All taped up and ready to go …

Chalong, expert craftsman in action

Chalong, expert craftsman in action

Upheaval - where to go when 2 aft cabins emptied and out of bounds so cables for solar panels could be run to engine room.   Saloon (pictured) not accessible.  Solution - owner's berth with aircon on!

Upheaval – where to go when 2 aft cabins emptied and out of bounds so cables for solar panels can be run to engine room? Saloon (pictured) not accessible. Solution – owner’s berth with aircon on!

But bread and brownies put in oven before fun began were a treat!

But bread and brownies put in oven before fun began were a treat!

The teak deck required careful consideration, as the aft decks do not see nearly as much traffic and wear as the foredecks.  So we compromised, and had these surfaces re-caulked and sanded.  But after much debate and deliberation, we have made the big decision to replace the side and foredecks.  Thus, an end-of-year project awaits!

Deck in stages …

Off with old caulking ...

Off with old caulking …

... on with new (curing took over a week!)

… on with new (curing took over a week!)

Finished product!

Spot the finished product!

Unembellished 14 year old grey teak!

Unembellished 14 year old grey teak!

The next big job was attending to solar panels. The semi flexible ones we installed in Portugal were damaged irreparably by lightning in 2012, and in any case had not achieved any more than trickle charging the main battery bank.  Solar panels today are very efficient, but for us the problems were that we have a 24 volt system, and where to physically place them, without spending a fortune in stainless steel building a garage/arch over the transom.  We settled on replacing the guard rails at the stern with 316 stainless steel tubing, and then hanging the solar panels on them.  The result is a far safer exit from the cockpit in rough weather, and panels that put up to 10 amps back into the house batteries.  Whilst they won’t replace the need for the generator, on those days that we see wall to wall sunshine, it should halve its use.  Somsak of AEM and his team handled all the electrics expertly, and also repaired the autopilot motors, so hopefully our return to the UK will not involve any more hand steering..!

Sizing stainless

Sizing stainless tubing for upper guardrail replacement

Solar panel in place and functioning

Solar panel in place and functioning

Taking action with autopilot motor - Somsak with hammer.  Watch your fingers, Bob!

Taking action with autopilot motor – Somsak with hammer. Watch your fingers, Bob!

Some of the stainless steel rigging wires needed to be replaced, as well as some replacement fittings on the mainsail, and Rolly Tasker’s sail loft in Phuket was conveniently situated to provide an excellent service.  This is claimed to be the largest sail loft in the world, and it probably is.  It was very interesting watching a number of teams at work with fully automated and computer driven machines at work creating sails.  Rolly Tasker himself was a top class Australian sailor, and one of Australia’s great sports personalities, as well as being a highly successful business man, creating one of the largest marine businesses.  His sail loft exports to 61 countries.

In the loft (Mike Tasker - no relation to Rolly!) and current General Manager

In the loft – Mike Tasker (no relation to Rolly!) current General Manager in foreground with team

Rolly Tasker sewing benches

Cutting benches

Meanwhile Yachts Repair have just ordered the block of teak which will become our deck once it has been seasoned, dried and cut to shape.  So we return to Phuket and Yacht Haven in November/December for Marly and his men to carry out the work.  We may well escape for a few weeks while they do it.

Pipistrelle at anchor outside marina

Pipistrelle at anchor outside Yacht Haven

This entry was posted in Thailand and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.