Thursday, November 30, 2017

November 2017 | MONTH IN REVIEW

Here's a quick summary of what we were up to this month.

  • As some of you may already know I flew back to Malaysia to visit my family last month while Alex flew in to join me on the 10th of this month.
  • The plan was to fly back to Trinidad in December, complete our long list of boat projects and hopefully set sail again by end January 2018. 
  • Of course, things never go as planned... a couple of days in of my arrival back home, I had an opportunity to work again in my former company! (a contract role) :D
  • Needless to say, I was a little conflicted at first, the thought of having to miss out on yet another season in the Caribbean was a little woeful (have not sailed since we arrived in 2015 - miss visiting new places, not so much the sailing/repairs 😀). I can't help but wonder if the universe is persistently trying to tell me something.
  • You see, we arrived in Trinidad late February 2015, what was meant to be a quick haul out to re-anti foul our hulls (and some minor repairs & maintenance), turned out to be a much longer stay after Alex injured his back while lifting our 50kg outboard engine from the ground to the transom at 1 m high.
  • 2 months later with his back still out, we decided to return home so that he could fully recover. We were very fortunate to find work and both ended up working back in Singapore and Australia respectively for 6 months.
  • Due to some unforeseen circumstances, our return to Trinidad in December 2015 was delayed by another 9 months. Thus missing another season in 2016.
  • We finally returned to Trinidad late September last year in hopes of completing our list of boat projects and sail the Caribbean in 2017. Unfortunately, the list of boat projects only seemed to grow and everything took a lot longer than expected. Read our past posts.
  • We missed the sailing season again in 2017, as we spent a whole year (2 visa extensions & a visa run) working on the boat and we still have much to do!
  • Sorry I digress.
  • No prize for guessing I took the job! ;) I'm utterly grateful for this opportunity. Thank you! Thank you! (to my boss and colleagues, please be patient with me as I'm a little rusty!) 
  • I guess I'll see you (the Caribbean) in 2019, maybe?

October 2017 | MONTH IN REVIEW >>

Gardens By The Bay
Gardens By The Bay
Gardens By The Bay
Marina Bay Sands
Did you know? The orchid is the national flower of Singapore
Sushi Tei
Alex's favorite Japanese joint in Singapore
Sushi Tei at Vivocity, Singapore
Gyuniku Roll
Gyuniku Roll
Pork Rice
One of my favorites ;9 Sliced Pork Rice

Till next month! :)

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October 2017 | MONTH IN REVIEW

Here's a quick summary of what we've been up to this month.

  • Some of you may know, I flew back to Malaysia via New York & Hong Kong on October 6th, leaving Alex on his own on Raptor to continue working on our never ending list of boat projects. 
  • It took a total of approximately 24 hours of flight time, 8 hours of transit time, 1/2 an hours train ride and an hours car ride to get from Port of Spain, Trinidad to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I finally arrived home on October 8th (after ~34 hours of travel time!)
  • Haven't been posting much as I've been quite busy with family activities and duties. My first order of business when I got home was to send my dear niece to her swimming, music and ballet classes the next morning. I was also tasked to cook dinner on weekdays!
  • On one of the nights, I made them my "famous" chicken rice! Unfortunately the chicken we had was.. well, kinda hairy {yikes}. My mum and I tried our best to pluck as much as we could, but my nephews found a couple of strays and they were horrified! I guess my famous chicken rice is now infamous! ;(
  • I celebrated my birthday again at my favorite all-you-can-eat Japanese Steamboat at Sukiya in Paradigm Mall, had a delicious chocolate cake and also received lots of lovely birthday presents! Thank you family! ♥
  • Time really flies by when you're busy {or having fun}. Much like being on the boat, the days just go by so quickly.. 
  • While I've been busy with family stuff back in Malaysia, Alex has been working hard to make as much progress as he possibly can on Raptor before he joins me next month.
  • He's been pretty good at taking photos of his hard work and sending them to me.
  • He made quite a bit of progress on the Jib Sail Track project despite the rainy weather. Finally filled the cavity with fiberglass and foam, and of course, lots of sanding! See photos below. Stay tuned for a separate post.
  • He also painted the fuel tank. I guess that's about as much as he can do on the Fuel Tank project for now. Till we get the parts i.e. fuel filters (Racor 500FG & 10" stainless steel Shelco), pump (Walbro FRB-22) & variety of connection fittings from the US. 

Check out our posts this month:

Hurricanes 2017

September 2017 | MONTH IN REVIEW >>

November 2017 | MONTH IN REVIEW <<


Flight home (Goodbye Trinidad!)
My famous/infamous chicken rice!
Made my favourite burrito bowl for my favourite family
Met up with Daniela's good friend Nicole from Switzerland in Sunway Pyramid
Cut-out pieces of foam to be filled into the deck (part of the Jib Sail Track project)
After many days of layering fiberglass, foam & epoxy and of course lots of unpleasant sanding!
And finally, the painted fuel tank

That's all for now.. till next month! :)
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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Hurricanes 2017

It's been a tough September. We are thankful to be in Trinidad (out of the hurricane belt), but it's truly heartbreaking to see all the islands, boats & homes destroyed and lives lost. Haven't felt this strongly about hurricanes before. 

Perhaps it's because we are closer than ever before (geographically). Perhaps we know how much we put into making the boat our home and seeing so many of them destroyed is gut wrenching. And perhaps it's because a lot of the islands we've been looking forward to visit are now wiped out or in complete chaos. 

Countries affected by the hurricanes this season include Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Barts, Cuba, St. Martin, St. Maarten, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Guadaloupe, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Florida and many more..

Courtesy of

With all this happening, I couldn't help but realise how little I knew about hurricanes and wanted to learn more about them i.e. how they are formed, categorised, and even named. If you're interested (like me), read on.

Disclaimer: The following information is obtained from various sources i.e. NASA, National Hurricane Center, The Weather Network, Wikipedia.

Hurricanes do not just appear overnight; it starts off over warm ocean waters within 8Âș and 15Âș north and south of the equator where surface sea temperatures reach 27ÂșC. The air above the warm sea is heated and rises. This causes low pressure. As the air rises it cools then condenses, forming rain clouds.

It begins as a tropical disturbance which is a mass of thunderstorms with light wind circulation. Depending on the wind speed, it grows into a tropical depression, then into a tropical storm and becomes a hurricane when wind reaches 119 kmph or higher (more on this below).

So, what's a Hurricane?

Hurricanes are large, swirling storms. They produce winds of 119 kmph (74 mph) or higher. That's faster than a cheetah, the fastest animal on land. Winds from a hurricane can damage buildings and trees {obviously}.

A hurricane is a tropical storm that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and northeastern Pacific Ocean, a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, and a cyclone occurs in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean. These all form over warm ocean waters and they are the same weather phenomenon - just different names for different places.

Image source:

How does it become a Hurricane?

As we already know:

Tropical Disturbance ➜ Tropical Depression ➜ Tropical Storm ➜ Hurricane

  • A tropical disturbance is a mass of thunderstorms with slight wind circulation, sometimes grows into a tropical depression if its winds reach 37 kmph (23 mph).
  • A tropical depression becomes a tropical storm if its winds reach 63 kmph (39 mph).
  • A tropical storm becomes a hurricane if its winds reach 119 kmph (74 mph).

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is used to rate hurricane intensity in the Atlantic Basin. There 5 categories of hurricane and they are based on wind speed.

  • Category 1: Winds 119-153 kmph (74-95 mph) - faster than a cheetah
  • Category 2: Winds 154-177 kmph (96-110 mph) - as fast or faster than a baseball pitcher's fastball
  • Category 3: Winds 178-208 kmph (111-129 mph) - similar, or close, to the serving speed of many professional tennis players
  • Category 4: Winds 209-251 kmph (130-156 mph) - faster than the world's fastest rollercoaster
  • Category 5: Winds more than 252 kmph (157 mph) - similar, or close, to the speed of some high-speed trains

Below are some facts (from various sources) and key messages issued by during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria:

Hurricane Harvey

  • Formed August 17th and dissipated on September 3rd.   
  • Developed from a tropical wave to the east of the Lesser Antilles, reaching tropical storm status on August 17th.
  • On August 26th, Harvey rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to a hurricane and made landfall at peak intensity at Rockport, Texas, USA with winds of 215 kmph (130 mph).
  • Moved over the Copano Bay (northwestern extension of Aransas Bay, west of Rockport, Texas) and made a second landfall as a Category 3 hurricane just north of Holiday Beach, Texas. 
  • Harvey stayed inland for a couple of days dropping very heavy rainfall causing widespread flash flooding. 
  • Produced 1.31 m (51.88 inches) of rain at Cedar Bayou, Texas – the most ever recorded in the mainland US and breaking the old record of 1.22 m (48 inches) set in Texas by Tropical Storm Claudette in 1979. Apparently it was still raining when the gauge broke, so the number may be higher than even Hawaii’s record of 1.32 m (52 inches).
  • On August 30th, Harvey made its final landfall just west of Cameron, Louisiana with winds of 75 kmph (45 mph), and weakened to a tropical depression over central Louisiana later that day.
  • The costliest hurricane on record at $198.63 billion in damage, also making it the costliest natural disaster ever in the United States.

Hurricane Irma

  • Is the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane recorded in history. Irma generated more Accumulated Cyclone Energy than any Atlantic tropical cyclone on record, and more than the first eight named storms of the season (including Harvey) combined.
  • Formed August 30th and dissipated on September 16th. 
  • Developed on August 30th, 2017 near the Cape Verde Islands, Irma rapidly intensified shortly after formation, becoming a Category 2 hurricane within 24 hours and Category 3 shortly afterward.
  • On September 6th, Irma reached a maximum wind speed of 298 km/h (185 mph) – tied with the Florida Keys Hurricane of 1935, Gilbert (1988), and Wilma (2005) for the second strongest max winds of all time in an Atlantic hurricane. The record is held by Hurricane Allen (1980), which reached 305 km/h (190 mph).
  • Maintained 298 kmph (185 mph) for 37 hours, the previous record time anywhere on the globe for a storm of that intensity was Typhoon Haiyan, which was at peak intensity for 24 hours.
  • Was a Category 5 for 3.25 days, tied with the Cuba Hurricane of 1932 as the longest time at Category 5 strength.
  • Was the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in Cuba since 1924, and the first major hurricane (Category 3 or greater) to make landfall in Florida since Wilma (2005).

Hurricane Jose

  • A powerful and erratic tropical storm which was the longest-lived Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Nadine in 2012.
  • Formed September 5th and dissipated on September 26th.
  • Is the 5th hurricane of the season. It's maximum sustained wind speed is 209 kmph (130 mph).
  • Developed into a tropical storm on September 5th from a tropical wave that left the west coast of Africa.
  • Rapidly intensified on September 6th and on September 8th, Jose reached its peak intensity as a high-end Category 4 hurricane.
  • Fortunately, Jose did not make any landfall. Having said that, Jose still brought tropical storm force winds to Barbuda and Saint Martin as well as heavy rain, swells, and rough surf to the East Coast of the United States, causing beach erosion and some flooding.

Hurricane Maria 

  • The third major hurricane in a row to threaten the Leeward Islands with a direct strike or major impacts within two weeks, after Hurricane Irma caused catastrophic damage there.
  • Formed September 16th and dissipated on October 3rd.
  • Developed into a Category 5 strength on September 18th just before making landfall on Dominica, becoming the first Category 5 hurricane on record to strike the island, causing catastrophic damage.
  • On September 20th, Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 with winds of 225 kmph (140 mph), making it the strongest storm to hit the island in 80 years.
  • Maria also hit the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Turks and Caicos, causing widespread flooding.
  • Moving slowly to the north, Maria gradually degraded and weakened to a tropical storm on September 28th.

How Are Hurricanes Named?

As you know, there can be more than one hurricane at a time. Names make it easier to keep track of and talk about storms.

A storm is given a name only if it becomes a tropical storm i.e. winds reach 63 kmph (39 mph). That name stays with the storm if it goes on to become a hurricane. (Tropical disturbances and depressions don't have names).

Each year, tropical storms are named in alphabetical order. The names come from a list of names for that year. There are six lists of names. Lists are reused every six years. 

If a storm does a lot of damage, its name is sometimes taken off the list. It is then replaced by a new name that starts with the same letter. This is carried out annually by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

You can see the six list of names here:

Hope you found this somewhat interesting/informative. This post serves as a reminder that we need to look after our mother earth. Global warming/climate change is real. As our ocean waters get warmer, the hurricanes become more frequent and stronger.

Good to know:
What is Global Warming
35 Easy Ways to Stop Global Warming

Updated: "The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was a hyperactive, deadly, and extremely destructive season, featuring 17 named storms, ranking alongside 1936 as the fifth-most active season since records began in 1851, and the most active since 2012

The season also featured both the highest total accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) and the highest number of major hurricanes since 2005. All ten of the season's hurricanes occurred in a row, the greatest number of consecutive hurricanes in the satellite era. 

In addition, it was by far the costliest season on record, with a preliminary total of over $368.66 billion (USD) in damages, which is nearly three times the cost of 2005’s total, and essentially all of which was due to three of the season's major hurricanes — Harvey, Irma, and Maria

This season is also one of only six years on record to feature multiple Category 5 hurricanes, and only the second to feature two hurricanes making landfall at that intensity. This season is the only season on record in which three hurricanes each had an ACE of over 40: Irma, Jose, and Maria." - Wikipedia
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Saturday, September 30, 2017

September 2017 | MONTH IN REVIEW

Here's a quick summary of what we were up to this month.

  • We finally re-bedded the aluminium rail and stanchions on the port side! If you read our 'August 2017 | Month In Review' post, you'd know that this was our second attempt. If we had a dollar for every time we had to re-do a job because the epoxy, sikaflex or silicone set too fast or didn't set at all. We'd have a sizeable nest egg!
  • We made little progress with the Sail Jib Track project. The weather has not been co-operative. It's not called the rainy/hurricane season for nothing.
  • Speaking of hurricanes, it's been a tough month for those affected by the hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria. Very heart breaking to see all the islands, boats, homes destroyed and lives lost. Mother nature is not happy. It's a harsh call to remind us that climate change is real and we need to look after our planet {bring our own bags, say no to straws}.
  • A couple of months ago, we re-bedded the cleats on the deck. We are now in the process of re-bedding the other remaining deck fittings. Yes, it never ends! So many deck fittings... and all installed without first protecting the balsa core with epoxy (seems ALL boat builders cut corners), resulting in areas of rotted core where water had leaked in. :( 
  • We co-hired a car from Econo Car Rentals with S/Y Katarina. The price increased from $125 TTD/day to $150 TTD/day. A little dearer but still cheaper to hire a car than to take a taxi to the airport. Fortunately, we had a free upgrade and so the car was not as shitty as the last one. Unfortunately, on the last day, while Alex and Tony were shopping for some boat parts, the car was towed for "illegal parking" which cost $500 TTD to release even though there were no signs anywhere on the street to indicate "No Parking"! After our car was towed, 3 other cars parked on that same stretch and nothing happened. What luck!
  • I celebrated my birthday on board at the boatyard. I had a day off from boat work. No cleaning, handing Alex tools, cooking or washing {yay!}. Special thanks to Alex for making me a special brunch and dinner that day and preparing breakfast all week! :) I was also very happy to receive lovely birthday greetings from my family & friends. 
  • We met another Aussie sailor, Dave from Sydney on S/Y Syreni.

Check out our posts this month:

Forepeak Repairs

FAQ | Costs of Cruising

The Fuel Tank Project (Part I)

August 2017 | MONTH IN REVIEW >>

October 2017 | MONTH IN REVIEW <<

Re-bedding the aluminium rail on the port side with life seal
Re-bedding the port stanchions with life seal
Jib Sail Track Project - Sanded 4cm around the edges
There's Rambutan in Trini!! But at $87.99/kg (~$12.57 USD/kg)??! :O 
Needless to say we did not get any..
My special brunch and dinner! {tastes better than it looks} Thanks for helping me make the Chocolate Fridge Cake.. and by help I mean pouring it into the mould! ;)
Every now and then I find a grasshopper on board (usually on my clothes). Cute ey? :)

Till next month, thanks for following our journey!
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    Wednesday, September 20, 2017

    The Fuel Tank Project (Part I)

    The Fuel Tank Project - wish we didn't have to do this, but.. Alex was very determined and after much deliberation, the project is now underway. After all the hard work we put into cleaning & repairing the engine, we did not want to risk dirty diesel spoiling it. 

    The fuel tank is 20 years old and has never been cleaned. What's the objective of this project? To add an inspection port, clean the inside and install a fuel polishing system, comprised of a fuel pump & 2 filters, to keep it clean thereafter.

    Of course like a lot of things on board, the tank was installed in such a way that it was never intended to be accessed post install {go figure}.. So Alex had to cut an access hole in the wall of the queen sized cabin.

    The initial access hole

    Unfortunately, as you know, nothing is ever quite that simple, easy or straightforward on a boat. After spending several hours unsuccessfully attempting to take it out, he ended up having to remove the entire wall! 

    Could not, would not come out! until..
    The entire wall was removed

    We carried the tank out and placed it under the boat so we could work on it with ease. Of course this did not go as smoothly as planned; even though we drained as much diesel as we could, some residual diesel still spilled out onto our luggage in the cabin as we were carrying it out {oh bugger, diesel really smells bad!}.

    Fuel tank under the boat

    We cleaned the outside of the tank with a scour and rust remover. The tank looks pretty good, except for the bottom which has some deep pitting (probably from standing on a wet base for a long time).

    Alex then made the inspection port backing plate & cover from two (12" x 9") 3mm stainless steel plates. Drilling the holes in the stainless steel plates was a pain. We had to drill 14 holes on each plate. Oh and by "we" I mean Alex, while I helped to clamp the drill guide tool and hold down the table {hard work!}.

    Each hole started off with a 1/8" drill bit (until both broke and we finished the job with a 3mm drill bit), then a 3/16" drill bit and finally a 6mm drill bit. That's 3 times per hole x 14 holes x 2 plates! Making it a total of 84 times of aligning the drill guide to the hole, clamping it down, changing the drill bits, placing it on the bench vice, and of course the actual drilling!

    Update: Alex later enlarged the 6mm holes on the cover plate to 7mm to allow for thermal expansion of the cover plate.

    14 holes per plate
    In case you were wondering, the drill guide tool is that vertical piece with holes (made from nickel-alloyed steel that is heat treated for durability)
    Cutting out the middle with an angle grinder to make the backing plate

    Fortunately, we bought the 'drill guide tool' in June. It helps to keep the drill bit perpendicular to whatever you are drilling -- like a portable (poor man's) drill press for precision alignment. It works well. Having said that, we still broke a couple of drill bits but that was due to placing the clamps a little too close to the drill hole and when the drill chuck "hit" the clamp, it snapped the drill bit.  

    Next, we tried our best to flush out the residual diesel in the tank with soap and water. As a safety precaution, we filled up the tank with water before Alex cut out the inspection port hole with an angle grinder. Very glad all went well -- no explosion.

    Marked, drilled some holes and cut out the hole with a grinder
    Alex used the backing plate to mark the holes on the tank and smoothed the edges with a file.

    With the access hole, we were able to stick our arms in to scoop out the sludge and clean the inside of the tank with a scour and detergent. For the bottom of the tank, where we could not reach, we used de-greaser and a Karcher K2 pressure washer which we borrowed from our friend Tony. We loved the pressure washer! Very compact and powerful. It's definitely on our "to buy" list, whenever we can find a 240V version!

    Cleaning the inside of the tank with pressure washer

    The tank is now clean inside and out! 

    Top left & right: The sludge from inside the tank {yuck}
    Bottom left & right: Before and after using de-greaser & pressure washer

    Next steps: To get the bolts welded onto the backing plate, paint the bottom of the tank (maybe?), and order the fuel filters (Racor 500FG & 10" stainless steel Shelco), pump (Walbro FRB-22) & variety of connection fittings from the US. 

    Till our next update!

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