Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Too much paint over the years

Every year, when Tortuguita is hauled out of the water, the bottom gets painted with antifouling paint.  This paint keeps the sea creatures from sticking to it by a combination of biocides and ablation.  Ablation is a continual sloughing off process over time.  Ideally, after a year of cruising, all the paint should be worn off.  That way there would be no yearly build-up.  It never works that way since if all the paint ablated, there would be barnacles stuck to the boat where there is no paint.

Ablative paints are can be hard or soft.  Soft will ablate easier and is good if the boat is sitting for long periods in a marina but will wear off faster when moving.  Hard is better if the boat is moving but doesn't sand off very easily. 

Pressure washing and light sanding are usually all that is required prior to a new coat of paint.  Usually 2 coats are applied with more at the high turbulence areas such as keel and waterline.  I figured out that we have 12 layers of paint with 24 layers at the waterline.  The total weight of this paint is around 300 lbs.

I've never seen this anywhere, but from the appearance of the cracks in our paint, I have determined  that if you apply hard ablative over soft ablative paint, it is like building a concrete road on mud.  The hard paint will move around and crack.
As long as the hulls are in the water, everything was fine.  But, with the boat sitting on land in the heat of the tropics, the paints will expand and contract and the hard layers that sit atop the soft layers cracked.

The only way to fix this is to completely remove all the paint.

In Australia we got a quote of $3000 for removing the antifouling by abrasive blasting.  This process is not very accurate and also removes the fiberglass layers.  

I figured that since we were going to a part of the world with cheap labor, that I will save money by waiting so I just sanded the cracked paint at the waterline and off we went to S.E.Asia.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Is the fridge supposed to be warm?

Those words strike fear in the hearts of just about every cruiser.  Our air cooled Frigoboat AH35F refrigeration was installed by the previous owner and has worked flawlessly since we bought the boat.

The most likely culprit of a failed fridge is the evaporator plate.  It is made out of thin painted aluminum and a small bit of corrosion can cause a leak.  This is a $100 fix.

The next most likely cause is the compressor.  Either the actual compressor or the electronic controller could cause this malfunction.  These cost $300 and $200 respectively.  The good thing about these units is that one company, Danfoss, makes them and spares are available everywhere.
The compressor seemed to be running but not very hard.  The current draw, which is usually around 6 amps, measured only 2 amps.  When attempting to release some gas from the access valve to see if there was pressure in the system, nothing came out.    Could be the valve, or more likely, there's a leak somewhere.

We carry freon charging hoses and guages.  Usually you can buy 12 oz cans of R134a freon at the auto parts stores.  It's the same as used in automobile air conditioning.  Not here in Malaysia apparently.  All you can buy here are 30 lb. tanks.  I found a guy that had one with about 1/4 remaining so I bought it from him.

New High Temp HNBR O-ring Installed
I pressurized the system with a little freon and immediately found the leak.  Turns out that it was a failed o-ring at the quick disconnect fitting.

With that fixed, I did 5 fill/vent cycles to get most of the air out of the system and then did a full system charge.
Purging and Charging the System

Two good references to use for servicing these little systems are:


Evacuation Procedure without a vacuum pump
1.  With the new compressor installed, turn on the compressor and depress the access valve on the high side of the system.  Monitor the pressure on the low side of the system.  When the pressure is as low as it will go, close the access valve on the high side of the system and turn off the compressor.  This process will take about 5 minutes.
2.  Charge the low side of the system to approximately 14 psi.
3.  Wait about 3 minutes for the pressures on the high and low side to equalize.
4.  Turn the compressor on and depress the access valve on the high side.  When the pressure on the low side is as low as it will go, let the high side access valve close and turn off the compressor.
5.   Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4.  Note, on successive evacuations, the low side pressure will not go as low because of the absorption of refrigerant in the compressor oil and it’s slow release.
6.   Charge the low side of the system to approximately 14 psi.
7.   Wait 3 minutes for the pressure to equalize.  Turn on the compressor and depress the access valve on the high side.  This time, when gas is no longer coming out the high side access valve, let the valve close.  The air is now purged from the system.
8.   Charge the system with the appropriate amount of refrigerant and turn on the compressor.
9.  Make appropriate adjustments in system charge if necessary.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Anchor Chain Re-Galvanizing

Our first anchor chains were 200 and 100 ft lengths.  One for each anchor.  The standard length comes in a 200 ft drum.  That chain cost $800 lasted 3 years.  It was replaced in 2009 and ended up completely corroded in 4 months.  Fortunately it was under warranty due to a bad galvanizing process.  Our current 300 ft chain was bought in 2009 in Ft. Lauderdale from Secure Chain and Anchor for $1000.  They were really great and were able to cut the 300 ft piece from a longer 1000 footer.  The price of $3.30/ft was also much better than the chandlery price of $4.50/ft.

We have an anchor on each end of the chain and find it very versatile for using as either one very long run for deep water or splitting the difference while using two anchors for more security in more shallow water.

The chain was getting pretty rusted at the most used end but did seem to have some life left in less used end compared to other boats here in the boatyard.  It would have made it a few more years but would have taken a toll over that time with thinning and corroded steel links.

As luck would have it, the marina office was arranging a galvanizing run to Butterworth, Penang.  There were 3 of us sending our chain and 2 were sending their anchors.  My share of the transport was $.30/ft.  The chain cost $1.50/kilo ($1.00/ft) for double dip.  Sounds like an ice cream cone.

All dressed up and nowhere to go

So for $1.30/ft we are now able to keep our hard to find 300 ft length.  Keep it in better condition from corrosion, and hopefully it will last another 7 years.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Stuff's growing onboard

We've returned to Malaysia and will be doing some big projects over the next 3 months.  Keep tuned for some good DIY information.  

In the meantime, no, we didn't have a moldy boat when we returned after spending 9 months back in the US.

One of the problems with buying local food is that there are countries with questionable water quality.  One way to solve this problem is to grow your own food.  We used to have a tomato plant but the yield is low for the effort required.  Also, customs people don't like you bringing food things into their countries.  There is a great cruiser book floating around called Sailing the Farm.  It's a handy go-to guide for growing things onboard. 

Our first project from the book was so easy.  We went to the store and bought a large mason jar.  The top was then replaced with some fly screen and that was the total extent of the hardware needed.

It all starts like this
Next, we put some seeds (we used Mung Beans) in the jar and some water for 24 hours.

Then drain and wash the beans.  Put them in a dark cool place and rinse them every 8-12 hours for the next 3 days.  We lay the jar on it's side to provide better air circulation.

After 24 hours they get little shoots
After the end of the 2nd day

After the 3rd day

After the 4th day

Ready for cooking
So in the end, we end up with safe, fresh food that we can have access to anywhere in the world.  Wish we would have known about this at the 2 week point after leaving Mexico for French Polynesia.  All our freshies were gone and we were down to just canned goods.  This would have been such a treat. 
It doesn't get any better than having freshly sprouted beans for dinner

Friday, January 6, 2017

Siem Rep and Angkor Wat

By land, Siem Rep is essentially half way on the road from Bangkok, Thailand to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  Once again, by booking a hotel in advance and not knowing the lay of the land, we were close, but not directly in the heart of the action.  I initially thought that was bad but turned out quite good since we were a one dollar Tuk Tuk ride away in a nice quiet area.  The hotel had just us and a bunch of pale white Russian tourists. 

Landmines still exist here.  These kids lost limbs and play music for money.
Siem Rep is a very touristy expat type of town like others that we have seen while cruising.  The atmosphere is one of a touring backpackers stop-off and a place with foreigners wanting to live in a fun partying place where you can get 2 beers for a dollar and live well on a pension.  Similar to places like Bali or Puerto Vallarta.   

The activity centers around 'Pub Street' and we did spend quite a bit of time there shopping and eating.  We ate twice at a great Thai restaurant, another Thai place, and a Beer Garden kind of place.  Dinners were around $15 for both of us including a bottle of wine.  Not too bad considering the level of tourism there.

Our tour group in front of Angkor Wat
We took a group tour to the Bayon, Angkor Thom, Ta Phrom, Angkor Wat, and Phnom Bahkeng temples.  We were picked up at the hotel in a minibus and had 10 others with us for the tour.

Buddhist Monks still worship here
These temples were built in:
Phnom Bakheng - 900
Angkor Wat - Late 1100's
Bayon -1200's
Angkor Thom - Late 1200's
Ta Prohm - 1300

Bas Relief Carvings are still in great condition
They were not living quarters or palaces.  They were built by the kings for themselves and the people to come from long distances to worship their gods, which were originally Hindu but later transformed to Buddhist.  The temples gradually were abandoned and covered by the jungle by the 1600's except for Angkor Wat which has a moat to help protect it from the vegetation.

Phnom Bakheng
A restored head.  Notice the arch in the background still used for traffic
At Ta Phrom
The temples were discovered by French Westerners in 1862.  Surprisingly little damage was done to them during the civil war in the '70's.  The Khmer Rouge troops camping there burned whatever wood they could find for fires, an American bomb blew up a pavilion, and there are some bullet strikes on some of the carvings.  Most of the damage was done in the 1980's and 90's by thieves chopping off and taking the heads of the statues.

Angelina Jolie in the movie 'Tomb Raider'

Booker at the same root
The movie 'Tomb Raider' starring Angelina Jolie was filmed at Ta Prohm in 2000 and now has the nickname 'Tomb Raider Temple.

Heaps of stones needing to be cataloged for restoration
Some places look like a jumble of rocks but Angkor Wat itself has 5-10 million sandstone blocks weighing up to 1.5 tons each.  They came from quarries 25 miles away using elephants only for transport.  The Egyptians only had to bring their limestone for the pyramids a quarter of a mile.

Numbered  Stones ready for placement
These temples are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and restoration is currently ongoing.  Alot of the stones were marker with numbers.  Their shapes had been 3D scanned and reconstructed on computers to put the ancient rock pile puzzles back as they were 1000 years ago.

A nice cold coconut at the end of a hot day
Cambodia, all in all, is a really great country.  The country is safe.  The people are welcoming, the cost of living is good, they speak English, and use the US dollar.  Obviously we liked it here.  What more could you want?

Saturday, December 17, 2016


Graves of the last victims killed as S-21 was being overthrown.
Just like you would imagine any holocaust museum to be, S-21 is a very interesting but sobering place.  The torture and death that happened here is on a scale and level of inhumanity that we could have never imagined existed in this world and really quite scary. 

Racks of leg irons used to restrain the victims

S-21 housed 1500 victims at any one time.  During the 4 year rule of the Khmer Rouge around 20,000 people were exterminated with only 7 survivors.  Most of the victims included soldiers, government officials, as well as academics, doctors, teachers, students, factory workers, monks, and engineers.  Even people who wore eyeglasses were determined to be intellectuals, because they must have read too much, and were brought here to be tortured.

The typewriter repair man.
 The Khmer Rouge kept well documented records and photos of the victims.  They fortunately did not have enough time to destroy all the records before being over-run by the Vietnamese Army so much historical content still exists.   

We met an old man that was detained there.  The staff discovered he knew how to fix their broken typewriters.  He was one of the 7 survivors.

Close up of the leg irons
The wire covering was to keep victims from jumping to commit suicide
Innocent people were brought to S-21 to make forced confessions for committing espionage and forced to implicate friends and family members.  The torture system was designed to make a prisoner confess to whatever claims the interrogator wanted.  They used lashings, electric shock, water boarding, suffocation with plastic bags, and whatever else they could think up.  After a victim signed the typewritten confession, they were sent away to be killed for the espionage that they never committed or used for 'medical experiments".  Many tried to commit suicide rather than live to be tortured.  To others, death was probably welcomed after their 2-3 month ordeal.

The Gallows
There was a converted children's swing set turned in to 'The Gallows'. People had their hands bound behind their backs and hauled up by their wrists to hang from the gallows until they passed out from the pain of their dislocated shoulders.  Then they were let down and had their heads plunged into the pots of urine and excrement until they were revived and then the process was repeated until they confessed to something else.

These are not some fake props of the museum.  They were real people.
We planned on visiting the famous Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, a mass burial site outside Phnom Penh but psychologically just couldn't handle it after visiting S-21.

Just like Hitler's Holocaust in Germany, the Cambodians accept this dark period of their history and having this museum to educate them about the atrocities of General Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge so that something like this will not be repeated.  30,000 Cambodians visit this museum every year. 

It's fortunate that this was such a short piece of Cambodia's history because there is so much more good about this country and it's people.  

Our next post will definitely be more upbeat.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Phnom Penh

Statues at the National Museum

We spent a few hours at the National Museum of Cambodia which houses historical culture, archaeology, and art.  It was quite impressive considering many of these artifacts could have, or were partially destroyed by the Khmer Rouge.

Hot souvenir t-shirt at the Royal Palace

It's good to be the king
We went to a few Buddhist Temples with the highlight was the Royal Palace.  It was extremely hot and Booker had to buy a t-shirt to wear over her other shirt since exposed shoulders were not allowed.  That was alot of trouble but worth the experience.  At least there were no monkeys here to steal Booker's earrings.

Buddhists only allowed
After enough great food, museums, pagodas, and temples, we took a day long bus ride to Siem Rep where our goal was to see the Temples of Angkor Wat and then fly to Hong Kong for our connection to Newark Airport.   

The bus ride took us north through plains and agricultural communities.  The people have a very subsistence living.  It was the end of the dry season and things were very brown and dry in the 100 degree heat.

It doesn't get much better than 50 cent beers

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