April found us in Phuket for the first round of Amandla’s refit. We are so happy with our choice to bring her to Phuket Boat Lagoon for repairs. While initial cost estimates were higher here than in other dockyards we’d considered in Malaysia and Thailand, our very positive experience compared to that of fellow sailors who opted for the ‘less expensive yards’ lead us to believe that our total cost, in the end, was lower.
Every delivery was on time to specification. The list of repairs was a long one, but shorter than originally anticipated including:
- Fuel Tank replacement fabricated in stainless, windlass back panel, and anchor chain roller by Precision Shipwright
- Yanmar engine maintenance and turbo cleaning by C&C Marine
- Yamaha outboard maintenance and cleaning by Yamaha Marine
- New plexiglass for hatches and new wooden instrument panel by Phuket Interwoodwork (they also did an amazing job painting our friend SY Grasshopper’s hull)
- UV replacement with Sunbrella ™ by Rolly Tasker
- Freezer by Ao (+66 (0) 810 839 743)
- Boat cover repair by Canvas Creations
- Alternator Repair 2x and electrical connection for the windlass by Octopus Electrical Service
- Bottom cleaning and general handyman support from Wat (+66 (0) 86 503 789)
- New Lofran Tiger ™ anchor windlass installation by The Captain
Amandla was in total disarray during the refit, so we stayed at our friends, Cheri and Jeff from SY Grasshopper for a week while they traveled Thailand and subsequently rented an apartment at the marina. When wanderlust is a lifestyle, a stationary existence with air-conditioning and endless supplies of running water is a vacation. I barely left the place except to assist The Captain as needed.
While most of our time outside the marina was spent visiting hardware stores, auto parts suppliers, sail makers and the like, we did manage to get out for a day of touring with the crew of SY Grasshopper. On our way to see Phuket’s famous Big Buddha, I suggested a detour in order to view Phuket from atop Radar Hill. Unfortunately, there were no views to be had as the fog rolled in just as we were nearing the top …and some in our touring party were put off by ‘no trespassing signs’ lining the roadway (even though the radar is on a military base, the top of Radar Hill is WAY before the ‘forbidden zone’) and didn’t want to go further.
But all was not lost!
As we made our way from Radar Hill toward the Big Buddha, we happened upon Wat Silsuparam and stopped to take a few photographs of the beautiful temple.
While we were walking the grounds, we noticed an early morning celebration was underway.
Apparently, we had wandered into a young monk’s ordination ceremony during the part of the ritual where family and friends cut pieces of his hair and bless him for a prosperous future.
Following the ceremonial haircut, the candidate’s head and eyebrows are shaved as a symbolic renouncement of worldly goods. But we missed that part of the rite and all those that followed.
Although the welcoming family and friends invited us to stay, ‘time’ did not permit us to linger for the remainder of the extensive ceremony. If I had the opportunity to do it all over again, I would let time wait.
We continued onward from Wat Silsuparam and completed our journey to the famous Big Buddha (Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha). We first spied the Big Buddha from far away while sailing into Chalong and have wanted to visit ever since.
This revered landmark was built in 2004 of reinforced concrete covered with small white marble tiles and funded primarily by donations. While the Buddha image is complete, small tiles are still being painstakingly applied at its base. Messages are written inside the tiles that can be purchased by visitors for a small donation.
From the Big Buddha, we headed into charming Old Phuket Town for a lunch and a wander.
With this portion of Amandla’s refit primarily complete, our time in Phuket (and our life as apartment dwellers) is coming to a close. We plan to set sail on 2 May and hand steer our way back to Penang where we will have our instruments replaced (we lost our two autopilots and several other instruments in an electromagnetic surge in Port Dickson, Malaysia back in February). Then it is onward to Pangkor where we will put Amandla on ‘the hard’ (dry dock storage) for six months so we can enjoy a bit of land travel in the region before finishing the refit and heading out across the Indian Ocean in early 2018.
Broom in hand, I’m heading over to Amandla for one last thorough top-to-bottom cleaning before we get underway.