Light stories about this and that, which keep me awake at night.
In general with no connection to cruising under sail.

(Cruising related stories are found in the Log & Yarns -section)

NOTE. This is the Off-Line Blog. An off-line version of Scorpiosail Web site is rare. If you are connected to the internet and want inter-activity, choose the ON-LINE BLOG instead. The off-line blog can naturally be viewed on-line also, but not the other way around.

Blog entries between today and October 20, 2011

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Our Last Post
February 12, 2015

On the 30th of January the title of Scorpio was transferred to new owners. After 23 years of messing about in a yacht all over the world including a circumnavigation and visits to about 100 countries it was time for Malla and me to move ashore and head for new challenges.

We know that the new owners will take good care of Scorpio and we hope that they will enjoy the cruising life as much as we have done. Thanks also to all of you web surfers, who have followed our adventurs on the web.

Fair winds and calm anchorages.

owners
The new owner looks happier than the old owner?


Back Aboard
October 31, 2014

After 10 busy days we are finally ready to launch Scorpio, again. This is the 22nd time in 23 years, and the event has taken place in 20 different locations. During the first 20 years we did all the work ourselves, but nowadays we hire contractors to do most of the dirty work (cleaning, sanding, painting).

I may be a bit biased, but looking at the photos below, I think Scorpio looks as this could be a virgin splash.


Back Aboard
October 29, 2014

Hi again folks. We are finally back aboard Scorpio after an absence of 6 months.

Scorpio appears to have taken our leave well. We didn't find any mildew, rodents or roaches on board. We just found this grasshopper measuring the decks. Maybe he's been acting janitor?


No Crocs, Frogs or Flippers
November 23, 2013

Looking at photos from the early 1990s, when we first visited the West Indies, I detect a clear change in the way people dress. Particularly when you look at the footwear! Below is a photo of our family and our very good friends, the Lindqvists, in Philipsburg Sint Maarten. Everybody wears proper sailor's shoes. No cheap plastic crocs, frogs or flippers in those days (remember, you can click on the image to see a larger version).

When I returned in 2013 (see previous post below) I was naturally wearing crocs, as the rest of the world (but I cropped the photo to hide them).


I'm Fuckin' Retired!
November 16, 2013

I could certainly not imagine, 21 years ago, when we arrived in the West Indies the first time, that I would meet retirement in these islands.

Retired
Bequia, November 16, 2013

I'm not one who normally advertises his birthday, but as we are presently crusing down Memory Lane (see report here) more than two decades since our cruising lifestyle started, I am experiencing some emotional moments. As 63 years is the age when one can retire in Finland, I guess I am now officially retired. Although I prefer to use the expression 'senior citizen' instead - it sounds a lot more distinguished.

Actually, I wasn't at first quite sure what it is I'm retiring from, having been a sail bum for twenty plus years. But then I realised that, now that we have decided to swallow the hook and sell the yacht, I am actually retiring from cruising.

I realize that things could be worse; some people wont go cruising until they get retired. At the age of 42 I decided to live the cruising life because I had no guarantees I would ever reach retirement age.

However, until the boat is sold I guess I will continue the life as a soon retiring sail bum.


Don't Have Too Much Fun
November 8

Some proprietors are obsessed with signs. I have commented about signs a couple of times before in this blog, but recently in Chaguaramas I found one of the worst examples. At the docks of a boatyard called Powerboats there is a small building, convenience store, where most walls are covered with restrictive signs.

I couldn't understand the reason for all these signs, but I guess every proprietor has the right to decide what people are allowed to do on his premises. Or maybe this one just happens to have a sign-maker son in law. Neverteless, although I know the meaning of fishing, sitting, loitering, parking and so on, I wasn't sure what liming is. And, as I didn't want to break the rules I went in and asked what I should refrain from doing.

The girl at the check out explained that it means "having fun". I found this surprising as I had been given the impression that Tribagonians loved to have fun. Yes, she said, but the sign says that you can not have too much fun here!

Return to Prickly Bay, Grenada
November 6, 2013

Our first visit to Prickly Bay was in the early 1990's. It was one of our favourite Caribbean anchorages and we returned there on several occasions during our time in the Windward Islands. After almost a decade we briefly returned at the end of the year 2000 on our way from Europe to the US east coast. There had been very little change during those years. It was still one of the prettiest spots in the West Indies, with usually less than a dozen yachts at anchor and a cozy little restaurant.

Today, 13 years later, the small, informal, charming marina, with fresh green lawns, dotted with palms and almond trees is gone and instead of the dozen yachts of yesterday there are probably a hundred now at anchor, with an additional two hundred on the hard. However, there is a new marina, with better docks, a good dinghy dock and probably a much more efficient shipyard and better services for yachts over all.

Unfortunately, I much preferred the old days. I fear what more changes I will discover when we move further north through the islands.


Splash, finally
October 31, 2013

After several postponements of our bookings with the travelift, Scorpio is finally back in the water, ready for yet an other sailing season: 2013-2014. We had to cancel our launch several time because contractors didn't show up to start or finish their jobs and then when we were finally ready the lift was scheduled for a yearly over haul.

But now Scorpio is back in the water. We hope to be ready to leave Trinidad on Monday, November 4, and sail to Grenada.

Travelift last paint Powerboats marina
In the travelift Last application off anti fouling paint In Powerboats Marina

The Bar of Destruction
October 21, 2013

We are now on Island Time (IT) and therefore most of my days are spent waiting for contractors who will not show up. I should be used to this after practising during 20 years in numerous countries. However, it takes some time to adjust having just spent 6 months working 10 hours a day, 7 days a week on our house project back home. We had planned to launch the yacht next Thursday, 3 days from now, but I'm pretty sure this schedule is too ambitious. Fortunately we are not in a hurry - yet; our next appointment is not until November 27, when we need to be in Martinique. Our son Jens and grandson Rasmus are expected to join us for a couple of weeks.

Today Island Time became slower than usual because it happens to be an Election day in Trinidad & Tobago. Not only did time slow down, also the menu is restricted. There is a ban on the sale of alcohol all over the place, in stores as well as in restaurants. I have no problems staying a day or without my regular lunch beer, but, starting to ponder about the ban I find it quite strange that legislators in some locations still, in the 21st century, find it necessary to ban alcohol during elections. As if the outcome of the election would be any different without a ban.

We have come across this ban a few times, the last I can remember was in Thailand and once it happened in Charleston, South Carolina, during the Presidential elections in 2004.

 


Cartoon from 1874 by Thomas Nast
Source: harpweek.com

This ban is a clear anachronism of the law, at least in the USA, where the ban on alcohol sales during polling hours was a response to a well-established tradition in some areas, buying votes with liquor. Back then, in the 19th century, it wasn’t unusual for saloons, often the largest buildings in town, to double as polling places. Corrupt politicians did whatever they could to make voters happy. This "tradition" is probably long gone by now, but apparently two states still have the ban in place. One of them is indeed South Carolina and the other one is, surprisingly or not, Kentucky, where alcohol is a big business. In Kentucky, however, there is some logic applied as the ban is lifted at 6pm when the polls close. In South Carolina the ban stays on the whole day.

I have no idea why the Trinbagonians need an alcohol ban during elections, but the ban apparently concerns everybody. I received no sympathy at the restaurant when I tried to convince them that they could sell me a beer because as a foreigner, I am not allowed to vote anyway.

Maybe booze for ballots is still considered a risk in T&T.


Back Aboard
October 17, 2013

The trip from Finland to Chaguaramas in Trinidad was not our worst transfer, but uncomfortable enough. We had to change airports in London, from Heathrow to Gatwick and carry all our luggage as well, on and off the bus. That bustrip alone took 2 hours. Then we had to stay at a hotel over night and catch the plane to Port of Spain next morning. The departure of the plane was delayed by two hours because of some technical problems.

This time we had booked a hotel room at Peake's Yacht Services, the yard where Scorpio has spent the past 6 months. Traditionally we have always lived aboard the yacht, even in the yards all over the world, but this year we decided we had earned the luxury of some service for ourselves during the first week while we were preparing Scorpio for launch. We did the same last spring after haul-out, during the last days before we flew to Finland. Obviously this is an indication of us getting older and the end of our cruising life getting closer. The only time we have been living ashore before was in Thailand during our major renovations of Scorpio, when we stayed at a hotel for a total of about 8 months.


These two photos are from Peakes web site
The hotel is in the red-roofed building

So, although the heading is "Back Aboard", we are living in a hotel room about 100 metres from the yacht. But mentally we are already on board. And the terrace outside our room is only 5 metres from the Caribbean Sea.


View from our room
 

We hope to splash the yacht and move aboard again within a week.


End of Silence
October 5, 2013

It is almost half a year since my last post to this blog. But now the time has come, and we are preparing to return to Scorpio in Chaguaramas, on October 15. Ever since we arrived in Finland in mid April I have been very busy with the renovation project of Ferry Beach, the property we aquired last year. The weather in Finland this summer was almost perfect and we managed to get even further with the building work than planned. The Beach House is almost completed and we even had time to start on some of the projects on the main villa itself.


After Scorpio is sold I will return to smaller craft again.

It is now time for a well deserved vacation in the Caribbean. However, the plan is to start actively selling the yacht while we are aboard. The length of our cruise will therefore depend on how well the selling project advances. We will sail north in the Windward and Leeward Islands with the goal to arrive in St Martin after Christmas. If we cannot find a buyer this winter we will have to leave the yacht again stored somewhere, as we wish to get back to Ferry Beach before the end of April 2014. The big question in that case will be: should we sail north to the east coast of the US or back to Trinidad. We do not want to leave Scorpio in the Caribbean during the 2014 hurricane season.


Above: The red building to the right is the Beach House at Ferry Beach.
(click on the photo) The main building is hidden by the trees.
Right: A closer view of the red-brick Beach House.

Haul out at Chaguaramas, Trinidad
April 8, 201

The 2012-13 season is now almost over. Scorpio was hauled out today, but we will live aboard for 4 days preparing the yacht for a 6 month rest on the hard. Then we will move to a hotel room for an other 4 days during the final preparations. This year, the season ended earlier than usual, but on the other hand we covered a longer distance than usual instead, about 8,000 nm.

As I have written before, we have hauled out 21 times, and only twice at the same yard, so this must be something like our 19th shipyard. A lot of new things and people to learn to know and to evaluate.

Happy New Year
January 1, 2013

Last year we had an average of more than 5,000 visitors per month on this web site. We would like to thank all our visitors for being interested in our journey.

Happy New Year 2013.


A Wine Tour to Stellenbosch
Tasting Wine near Cape Town

December 27, 2012

rust_en_vrede
Rust en Vrede

About a week ago we went on a Wine tour. It was a great success and I would like to encourage anybody visiting Cape Town to do the same, even if you only have limited time and/or local knowledge at hand. One day is enough to visit at least three vineyards and it doesn't have to be expensive. You only need to rent a car, get a map (or a navigator) and do some minor research. Or you can skip the research and just follow our route.

I don't pretend to know much about wine in general, and my knowledge of South African wine in particular was very limited before we went on this trip. My only preparations, the evening before, included some browsing of an old edition of Frommer's South Africa and studying and printing of some Google Maps showing driving directions.

Vergenoegd  

I had chosen three vineyards in Stellenbosch, based partly on the descriptions in the guide and partly based on their location with respect to each other and the distance to downtown Cape Town - we were staying at Royal Cape Town Yacht Club. Each of these vineyards is different from the other ones, with different architecture, settings and views. All of them were worth visiting and all produce great wine.

Rust en Vrede  

Our first stop was at Vergenoegd, only about a 50 km drive from Cape Town, less than an hour. Their main building is a magnificent old Dutch mansion, probably built in the late 1600s. We started the day with a taste of one of their white wines and then tasted three great red wines, rounding up with a port wine and finally bought a case of assorted reds for Christmas.

Our next stop was at Rust en Vrede, in a fantastic setting at the end of Annandale road. Their red wine (they don't make whites) was chosen by Nelson Mandela to be served at the Nobel Peace Price dinner and one of their wines was nominated as the first South African red wine in the Top 100 Wines of the World. Their restaurant has also been nominated as one of the Top 100 Restaurants.

Street musicians in Stellenbosch town Springbok on the menu at Tokara

On the way to our last vineyard we made a stop in the centre of the charming town of Stellenbosch, where we recommend a visit to Oom Sami Se Winkel, a general dealer with an amazing inventory.

Great views from Tokara

We chose our last vinyard Tokara because of the views from its restaurant. Their modern architecture and art exhibition also make for an intresting experience. From Tokara we could have driven on to Franschhoek, said to be the prettiest valley in gthe Winelands, but we decided we had experienced enough vineyards for one day. Tokara produces red wines, white wines, brandy and olives.

All wines at all three estates were excellent, and very reasonably priced. It was a good day indeed.


The Longest Day
Christmas memories

December 24, 2012

In Scandinavia, the most important moment of Christmas takes place around 18:00 on Christmas Eve, at least if you ask the children. This is usually the time Santa arrives and all the presents are delivered. In the rest of the world they have to wait until the morning of Christmas Day, December 25th, as Santa cannot be everywhere at the same time.

The day of Christmas Eve is the longest day of the year; you can ask anybody who has been a child in Scandinavia. It feels like it will never be evening, the time passes very slowly and you are likely suffering from a stomach disease. As a pastime our parents brought us along delivering flowers and gifts to friends and relatives and lighting candles on the graves of our ancestors. Usually, as I remember, there used to be a lot of snow.

As a tradition, in our family, most Christmas Eves were celebrated at the home of my grandparents together with our cousins. Therefore, when all were present, there were quite a lot of people, 8 adults and 7 children. Usually the children were seated at a separate table, which was a relief, as in those days, if seated at the same table as the adults, children were not expected to speak if they weren't expressly addressed by an adult.

When dinner was finally finished, everybody gathered in the drawing-room, except my father, who suddenly remembered that he had forgotten to lock the car. Unlucky for him, but Santa Claus happened to arrive when he was away. I think my father never met Santa during all those years.

Christmas Eve 1956 Christmas Eve 1961 - dress code tuxedo.

My grandmother was famous for giving great presents in generous amounts. I later learned that she used to buy them all year around, everytime she happened to find something she thought would be a great Christmas gift. However, she tried to treat all children equally, and therefore the boys often got identical presents as did the girls. So when my cousins had unwrapped their Meccano sets, I instantly knew what was inside the same size parcel that had my name on it.

This photo is from around 1960 or 1961. Cousin Micce and I have just received those Meccano sets. But take a look at the style of our clothing, there was a dress code even for kids. Jacket and tie - and still buttoned although the party must have gone on for several hours already. Micce was probably only 7 years old and I must have been 11. They don't make kids like this anymore, ha-ha. But Micce, those brown shoes ...


Brompton Stupidity
We refuse to help you

December 21st, 2012

Some time ago the inner tube of a tyre on one of our folding Brompton Bikes broke - the stiff valve broke off from the soft rubber, impossible to repair. I started to look for a replacement tyre, but the weels are of such a small size that it seemed impossible to find a tyre in South Africa. I looked at Bromptons home page (they are located in England) and found that they do not have a distributor in SA, so I sent them a mail, asking for a quotation for two inner tubes to be delivered in Cape Town. Their reply was astonishing:

- "We do not have a dealership in South Africa. We are unable to ship directly to you as we expect each Brompton to be checked by a qualified mechanic prior to being given to the customer to ensure it is of the highest safety and standard."

We own two expensive Brompton Bikes. One of them is now useless because of a simple flat tyre. You would think that it would be in Brompton's interest to keep their customers happy, when it would simply require sending a new tyre by mail. Instead they refuse because, in their opinion, the replacement of an inner tube needs to be checked by a qualified mechanic.

I have never heard of such nonsense before. Surely there cannot be a more simple service task on a bike than replacing a flat tyre! And adding insult to injury, they informed us, that we could contact their nearest distributor in South AMERICA! Thanks a lot, why not a dealer in Japan?

We have had these bikes on board for 12 years (photo on the left is from Nassau, Bahamas, 10 years ago) and they have been very useful.

I have changed the tyres and inner tubes numerous times, but this time we didn't have a spare on board.

This is apparently how Brompton rewards their loyal customers. Thanks for buying our bikes but we will not send you any spares.

I guess this must be a classic case, where the manufacturer turns down an opportunity to earn goodwill and instead caused a lot of bad will.


5,300 Visits
September 27th, 2012

Thank you all, very much.

In September 2012, so far with 4 days still left, there have been almost 5,300 visits on our web site. This is pretty impressive, I think, for a non-commercial site, with the main objective just to stay in touch with friends and relatives.

We will now be even more motivated to share our stories with you.


Is Scorpio for Sale?
September 2nd, 2012

Looking for the right yacht for a circumnavigation?

Look here ...


Resuming the Voyage
September 2nd, 2012

Hi everybody. This is a heads-up that the long silence at this site is ending.

After enjoying a couple of months of the rather wet and cold 2012-summer of Finland we are preparing to return to Scorpio on Wednesday 5th September.

Here are two photos showing what we have been doing on our vacation, away from cruising under sail:


Cyclone Alert - Executive Decisions
May 19th, 2012

The poor guy could probably not help himself. He obviously had a pressing need to say something insulting. Read more ..


Tsunami Warning - And Then What?
April 14th, 2012

- Are you aware of the recent tsunami warning?

We had just tied our lines to the quay in the recently constructed harbour at Foamullah island in the Maldives. Two young locals on a moped stopped and told us that there had been a giant under water earth quake, 8.7 on the Richter scale, in Indonesia, near the location of the disastrous Boxing Day tsunami 2004. The government had issued a Tsunami Warning.

Malla and I looked at each other in disbelief. Pirates, political riots, tsunamis. What is next?

Read more ...


Signs Are Us
March 22nd, 2012

People communicate by signs. The sign boards are usually displaying either commercial advertising or communal restrictions and warnings, the latter category often religiously related. Having spent the past 3 years mainly in countries with a major Islamic influence we have often seen signs like the one below left. We usually do not chose this kind of establishments if there is a choice, like on the photo on the right. That sign almost made us drop the hook immediately.

nothing
cold_beer
No, nothing for us here!
Drop the anchor! (But you have to click to read the sign)

Recently we climbed Sigiraiya, the Lion Rock, in Sri Lanka (see report) and there was a sign displaying a ban on entering with liquor which, I suppose, referred to all alcohol (below left). A cold beer would have been very welcome after the 1,200 steps to reach the top, but the only sign we could find up there was a warning that "going down is dangerous" (below right). Well, be as it may, staying on the top without beer wasn't an option either, so we quickly ascended the rock, almost seeing mirages of ice cold beer on the horizon. Imagine our disappointment when, after finding a five star restaurant, they told us that it was impossible to buy beer anywhere that day in Sri Lanka - because of Full Moon Day! And this isn't even a Muslim country and this time there was no warning sign.

no_enter_liquer
going_down
No entering with liquor
Staying on top is no option either

Corruption among persons in authority at the port of Galle is rumoured to be rampant and we had some experiences ourselves. There is a warning sign posted at the gate, informing that asking for and offering bribes are criminal offences (below left). It must have been a politician who had that sign installed. Politicians usually come up with ideas which have no relevance in resolving problems they address, but give them a chance to claim that they have done something. The photo below (right) displays what a Lankan tuk tuk-driver thinks about politicians.

bribes

(Click on sign for larger photo)

maddog

Some signs are completely useless. Or what do you think about the advice on how to react if attacked by wasps (below left). An equally stupid sign is the (presumably) restricted parking. But maybe the restriction doesn't apply to foreigners.

Sometimes the warning signs are addressed to a particularly broad public. I bet the monkeys crossing the road at this particular spot in Malaysia are extremely grateful to be warned about vehicles.
crossing
 

Political Unrest and Routing Decisions
February 15th, 2012

Cruising used to be quite straight forward. Plans were practically made based on weather patterns alone. Not so anymore, read more ..

eyes


Fuel Is Killing my Outboard
January 31st, 2012

I have a 4-stroke outboard engine - I do NOT want a 4-stroke outboard.

So why do I have a 4-stroke?

In 2005, in Panama, I bought a new (tax-free) 15hp Yamaha Enduro outboard. It was a 2-stroke machine; powerful, reliable, easy to DIY-service (could have been salvaged even in the event of being submerged) - and easy to start. I loved it.

The Yamaha was stolen less than a year later in Raiatea, French Poynesia. The only replacement outboard of the required size (15-20hp) we could find in the Society Island was a 4-stroke Suzuki, which was shipped to us in Raiatea from Papeeté. I didn't really want a 4-stroke outboard on a cruising boat in the third world; it is heavy, technically complex and vulnerable. But I had no choice. As with everything else in Polynésie française it came with a price: more than double what I had paid for the Yamaha. In addition to the price of the engine itself, I later had to design and order a hoisting crane on the transom because of the weight of the machine.

Working on this complex machine on deck is a nightmare (left).
You are guaranteed to drop some parts in overboard and get your
deck messy. In the photo above I am getting some professional
help with the carburetor on the beach at Chalong, Phuket.

Our biggest problem with the outboard has to do with the increasing mix of ethanol and other ("bio") ingredients in gasoline. At the filling station pumps we cannot get 100% gasoline (or even something like E5 98 octane) anymore (at least not where we have been in Malaysia and Thailand). Markus, who runs the Suzuki service at Derani Yachts in Boat Lagoon told me that one of his customers had sent a sample of the local 95 octane fuel to a laboratory and found out that there was 20% ethanol and 10% palm oil!

The primary reason for ethanol (ethanol alcohol) being harmful to an engine is alcohol's water-absorbing and solvent qualities. Ethanol is an excellent solvent. It will dissolve plastic, rubber, some types of fibreglass and (I think) even aluminium. It will create a sludge that coats and travels through the engine, causing complications including clogged fuel filters and carburetor jets. Therefore all major car and marine motor manufacturers have limited the allowable portion of ethanol to 10% (in the western world this fuel is called E10 and is 95 octanes). However, when even ten percent is questionable, imagine what higher levels of ethanol can cause. Regarding the 4-stroke outboard the biggest problem is the complex (and expensive) carburetor. Fuel flow is adjusted by extremely tiny orifices (referred to as jets) in the body of the carburator. The sludge created by ethanol will definitely clog these jets. With the extremely simple carburetors of 2-stroke outboards this was less of a problem.

I have found out (the hard way) that if the engine is run every day there is less risk of a clogged carburator, but if you leave the outboard standing for more than 2 days it is best to completely drain the carburator. This is done by opening a screw on the side of the device and letting the fuel out. This is a messy operation and can not be done after you have hoisted the outboard up on deck, so before hauling it out you need to know when it will be in use next time. There is no practical way to collect the drained fuel either, so guess where it ends up? And the idea with 4-strokes was supposed to be their environment-friendly clean burning process (due to precise fuel injection) ....

And before you suggest just disconnecting the hose to the fuel tank and then run the engine until it is out of fuel: don't! It doesn't work; I don't know why, but I have tried.

So, why is this not a problem with cars? There must be millions of cars running on this ethanol-rich gasoline day after day. The reason, I am told, is that they have high pressure fuel injectors, which is also the case with bigger outboards (over 40hp).

An other problematic quality is the short shelf life of fuel containing ethanol. Even E10 is reported to have a shelf life of only 1-2 months in ideal conditions. Fuel in small boats is usually stored in jugs prone to condensation and consequently some water builds up. Therefore, with higher quantities of ethanol, we shouldn't store more than a couple of weeks use of outboard fuel onboard - particularly in tropical conditions. Problem is that some times there will be months between the filling stations.

4-stroke outboards are great at your summer cottage in the western world, where you can better trust the quality of the fuel at the pumps and don't have to store any reserve amounts at home - and, where you can easily contact a repair work-shop when shit hits the fan.


I had to design and order an expensive crane
for lifting the outboard on deck.

Related story (about the theft of ther outboard): From Polynesia to Cook Islands.


Staying Connected
January 20th, 2012

Yesterday we arrived in Kuah, the main settlement of Langkawi in Malaysia. Our first task, having visited the offices of Customs, Immigration and Harbour Master, was to get new SIM cards for both voice and data communication. It has been a while since our last visit and our old Malaysian SIM cards had expired. This time we purchased 5 cards: two for dumb phones, one for a smart phone (Nokia Lumia 800) and two for dongles that we connect to laptops (Mac and PC). As usual, we bought cards from two different operators, in case one has better coverage in certain locations than the other.

The three most important things nowadays appear to be: connection, connection, connection.

Related story: Biggest change in 20 years of cruising.


A Reminder
December 14th, 2011

Once in a while I need to remind visitors that this blog is mostly about non-cruising related stuff. The cruising stories are found via other links from the Home Page, particularly in the Log & Yarns -section.


The Ark?
December 14th, 2011

Our visas to Thailand were expiring, so we flew to Singapore for a few days. The skyline had changed since our previous visit!

As you all have seen in the news, Thailand has recently suffered from the worst flooding in 50 years. More than 500 persons died and at least one million people became temporarily or permanently jobless and/or homeless.

ark
Click on photo for a blow up

Apparently the people of Singapore have learned a lesson from the ordeal of it's neighbour and have started to prepare for the deluge. What could serve as a better launching platform for their Ark than these skyscrapers?

Maybe they have a lottery running also - Who gets a chance to get onboard?


Getting Proper Screwed - again
December 11th, 2011

When you are a long term cruiser, and regularly find yourself in a new country, with a language you don’t understand and cultures, habits, politics and religions different from your own and previous countries you have visited, it is likely that, sooner or later, you will make a fool of yourself when it comes to money stuff - no matter how smart you try to be.

This has happened to me many times in many countries. We have now been visiting more than 80 countries on our yacht during 20 years. Each time I get screwed, I tell myself: OK, they will not get me on this scam next time. And of course they won’t, because I have learned from my mistake. Problem is; there will be a new plot next time in the next country.

Last month, here in Thailand, I decided to send my old wind generator on a factory over haul to England. I was advised, by a local contractor (in good faith as far as I can determine) to use a shipping agent and go for a “repair and return” procedure. Doing so I would only have to pay import charges, on the return, based on the cost of the repair plus return shipping costs.

At the end, the project turned out to be a big mistake, something that the agent must have realized from the start and she should have advised me to just ship the unit in a regular way without the “repair and return” hassle.


First, I paid, in government charges and the agent’s fees an amount equal to about 130% of the value (on the repair plus TNT return shipping). I would call this confiscation!

Second, the return shipment took more than two weeks as there was so much paper work included AND the package had to be routed via Bangkok (because of the “repair and return” scheme). When I received the invoice there were 22 attachments stapled to it!

In comparison: I have ordered marine products four times to be sent here to Thailand (from both the EU and the USA), deck hardware, winches, electronics, and they arrived directly to Phuket within 3 working days and generated only 10-15% import charges.

This is only a fragment of the sad story about the wind generator in question. The whole picture will be revealed in a later story called: The World’s Most Expensive Electricity. Stay tuned.


Splash - finally
December 3rd, 2011

During the past 18 months Scorpio has spent 13 months in a "dry dock", being subject to the Mother of All Refits (a slight exaggeration, as there was nothing seriously wrong with her). We started the project in May 2010, then went for a sea trial of 4,000 nm to the Maldives in January - May 2011, after which the project resumed between May and December 2011.

For this reason, between May and December this year, there has been less activity on the Scorpiosail website than usual. This is about to change soon: Scorpio was lifted back into the sea a couple of days ago.

 

We, the crew, have been living in a hotel for seven months during this renovation project and we will not move aboard until around mid-December. Until then we will work on the last details of the renewed interior of the yacht including electronic installations.

We hope to be sailing again before Christmas.


The Parking Blues
November 11th, 2011

During the past 12 months we have lived 5 months in an apartment at Boat Lagoon Resort while Scorpio has been subject to a major refit. It is very convenient because the boat stands on the hard only 200 metres away. We decided, however, that having a car permanently is necessary because I constantly have to hunt for parts and other stuff all over Phuket.

dick
What is this? Read on to find out!

This is where it gets interesting. Parking here in Boat Lagoon is a difficult subject. At street level the resort’s buildings are occupied by various stores and offices. In front of these is a row of parking spots under the buildings, protected from sun and rain. Half of them are reserved for commercial use and the rest for the hotel’s guests.

Unfortunately, the shopkeepers have little respect for this arrangement. Many of them have a habit of parking in the hotel guests spots because that provides them with more spaces as they can use their own spots also. Often, if I managed to occupy a vacant guest spot, the people of the store facing that spot gave me a sour look. Sometimes they even claimed that the spot was reserved for their business - although every guest spot is clearly indicated by a sign.

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Some businesses, like this tour operator (photo above), have put out chairs and tables in the guest spots outside their premises - right under the sign “Parking for hotel guests only”. Others use the spot as a work shop for carpentering, painting etc.

Having been constantly kicked in my ass because of my parking for a couple of months I went to talk to the hotel manager. She kindly decided to give me a designated spot and put up a sign with my register number indicating that this particular spot was reserved for my car only. However, I was not surprised when, during the next days, this spot was almost always taken by other cars. I tried to improve the sign by writing on it in English with a red felt pen: RESERVED - to no avail. Finally, one day when I had to find another spot some distance away, with a lot of stuff to carry, I put a note under the windshield wiper of the car that happened to be parked in my spot that day.

Are you blind, or ignorant or just plain stupid? You are parking in a reserved spot!

Next morning I found a note under my own wiper. There were no words, just a drawing. And it didn’t illustrate just the middle finger but the real thing, I guess. Whoever the poorly talented artist was, he had also torn down my parking sign and stuffed that too under my wiper.

I decided to look at the incident with humour. The resort’s manager, however, put up a new more impressive sign, including the logo and name of Boat Lagoon Resort.

The situation has now improved somewhat. Maybe word has gotten around that I am a problem, who knows, and there may be some respect for me in the area now. But at least half of the time now, my parking space is available for me.

Nonetheless, very soon we had to change the reserved-sign one more time because my rented car broke down and therefore the sign didn't match the number of my new car.

If it is not one it is the other, said the girl bleeding from her nose.

On the other hand, having myself fined and my new car clamped in my own parking spot would have provided for an even funnier ending of this story.

 

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