Back in October we decided that the boat simply HAD to be in the water by Christmas, so we made a plan to achieve this, which included a long, long, long check list of all the jobs that had to be completed. This included building a new genoa furler and forestay, new backstays, installing the mast and rudder, antifoul painting, Propspeed on the running gear, and a million carpentry, painting and electrical jobs inside the cabin. In the machinery space aft I needed to recomission the watermaker and the generator - not trivial exercises after 15 months. Then the washing machine died, never to be repaired, and we found ourselves building a new stainless steel frame and deck to support the air-con equipment and a new washing machine. Our rented storage shed was still full of posessions, and these were slowly moved back on board day by day. Our contractors caught the spirit, and work accelerated to meet out launching date of December 4th.
The night before launching we organised a small function to thank our friends and contractors and to bless the boat for her new life afloat. A shy yet graceful Buddhist monk officiated, blessing the vessel and crew with sacred waters and scribing his blessings with finger paint on the new bow seat, with a crowd of friends and workers looking on.
Not surprisingly, we all partied long and hard that night, with Thai food and drinks served under the boat on the hard stand area. The man with the thumb in this picture is Malek, from Pro Yachting, who graciously organised the temple monk. The man with the food is our good friend Yat, skilled carpenter and all round nice guy. The cool dude in the black jacket is Lek, responsible for the better stainless steel work on the boat. Oh, the girl is Lek's sister Nat of course ! Next day we literally staggered out of bed to prepare for the launching, with the travel lift scheduled for 11.00am. This being Thailand, it arrived an hour early, as the yard guys wanted to be finished before lunch! It all worked out in the end, and a crazy procession of friends and workers followed the travel lift as it moved through the yard carrying Crystal Blues toward the water. So here we were launching the boat, still with a carpenter (Yat) and cleaner (Joy) working on board - for Joy it was her first boat trip - not very far! You might feel that Crystal Blues is dwarfed by the huge travel lift in this image - but thats their small lifting machine - the really big one costs more.
As she was lowered into the water we checked every through-hull, the rudder seal and the shaft log, then signalled all clear to the guys on the travel-lift.
The Cummins diesel started first touch and seemed keen to get a move on. In traditional Thailand every new boat voyage is started with fireworks, to drive away the bad spirits. Yat did the honours for us that day, setting off a massive string of 1000 fire crackers, all suspended from our boat hook on the bow as we moved out of the slip.
We motored away from the dock and moved down the creek to a new berth - but the channel there is so shallow we were led by a pilot boat, and we pushed through the mud for quite a while before finding deeper water at Royal Phuket Marina.
Of course putting the boat in the water didn't mean the end of work for us - in fact our job list seemed to grow, whilst the contractors were almost finished. We spent three weeks in that marina, fitting sails, sheets, halyards, air conditioning (OK, don't laugh, its very cool), commissioning myriad electronic systems and even relaxing a little bit..... Christmas and New Year were approaching......