The sky above was a beautiful shade of blue with hints of emerald as big puffy clouds float by a brilliantly hot sun. The surf rolled into Nai Harn Bay where each afternoon we spent on the beach—kids and mom playing in the waves while Papa Marc played a fierce set of paddle ball along the shoreline with a steady variety of racquetball enthusiasts. Ahh, the hot, dry days of February in Thailand. But those dry days, one after another for weeks, also suggested that it was the perfect time to take Imani
out of the water for her biennal haulout, because the rain would begin to return again in the late spring, so the Thailand long-timers informed us. So, we left beautiful Nai Harn on the southwest of Phuket Island and made our way to Phuket's eastern shore to find Ratanachai (ra-Tan-a-chi) Slipway Co.
On Phuket Island, we found two major haulout facilities that handle yachts. Phuket Marina Services at Phuket Boat Lagoon Marina is a full-service yard offering 60 and 80-ton travelifts and a hard-stand area where repairs and major refits are commonplace. Then there's Ratanachai Slipway Co., Phuket's main commercial shipyard, which also offers full repair and maintenance services, and slips boats utilizing railway cars for vessels up to 45 meters and 180 tons. We decided to go with Ratanachai because we prefer to slip Imani
on rails rather than use a travelift. Ratanachai is also a better fit for our haulout budget.
The afternoon we arrived, Imani was hauled carefully and expertly then immediately power-washed. Days prior to the haulout the staff requested pictures of Imani's keel and measurements, and that preparation definitely paid off since the process all went very smoothly.
We decided, of course, to do a bottom job and to repaint Imani
's hulls and bridgedeck. But a difficult bottom paint dilemma popped up weeks prior like an annoying dream that we just couldn't shake. We have used Pettit Trinidad Anti-Fouling since Imani
first splashed into the water in April 1994 and have been extremely happy with the results. We have experienced very little growth over the years and of course we wanted to continue to use the same paint. The last time we hauled out in French Polynesia two years ago we were lucky to find some there, and, even though it cost three times more than we'd paid in California, we went for it. Yet ever since arriving in Southeast Asia, we can't find that paint. Even in you-can-find-everything-here Singapore we couldn't find one pail of Pettit Trinidad.
That brought us searching for another paint that would be compatible and still keep the little sea rascals off our hull. We talked to many cruisers who have been in this area for quite a while and heard at least a couple of horror stories of incompatible paints that began to peel off within two months after application. But we also heard of folks who just painted on the new paint and had no trouble. Still others told of sanding off the old paint and then applying the new one, and others talked of using a barrier paint before applying the new paint. With all this information floating about us, we were still unsure what to do. We contacted Pettit Trinidad by way of their website and still remained in the dark because they didn't respond to our questions of how best to apply a different anti-fouling.
Ultimately, we decided to give the hull a heavy sanding and then apply a barrier coat of Jotun's Epoxy Coal Tar and thereafter Jotun's HB-66 anti-fouling, which most sailors we met here use and endorse willingly.
Given the very inexpensive labor costs in the yard, we hired four guys to help us sand the hull. For the first time in Imani
's finished life, we actually could afford to hire help and we found that our workers really worked hard as long as we did too. Other boats in the yard whose owners did not work alongside the workers complained of the slow tempo of their helping hands. So it does pay to work with them since you can also closely monitor the work to ensure that the job is being done correctly.
Another challenge in hauling out so far from home is the language barrier. In Thailand most people do not speak English, and Thai is not an easy language for English speakers to acquire. This makes directing your workers a real challenge. Ratanachai Slipway is well aware of the communication difficulties, so there are numerous Thai-English translators all over the yard. These young ladies are ready to assist the boat owners and workers whenever the need arises. This service is invaluable; yet even with the translators, there is often miscommunication because of all the nautical and technical terms that these young ladies have to master. Nevertheless, the camaraderie in the yard between the translators, workers, and boat owners makes the work move quickly, with smiles all around.
Painting Imani's hulls went smoothly thanks to the very careful prep work performed by our helper, Boi, and the spray painter we hired. They paint a lot of boats in this yard and Imani has definitely benefited from all that experience. I should reiterate that Ratanachai is a commercial boatyard and thus at night you often hear work crews continuing into the wee hours of the morning. It's also situated next door to a fishmeal processing plant that regularly sends an aroma wafting through the yard that is enough to make you want to take refuge elsewhere. But we found we could live with these discomforts. The only negative we heard from other boat owners was the quality of the carpentry staff. This yard mostly works on large fishing vessels and thus does not have a lot of experience finishing out yacht interiors. Still, if you are a good communicator and have plenty of patience, it is possible to come out with a very good result. But if not, you should probably haul out at Boat Lagoon, where they specialize in yachts.
Nine days after Imani's arrival she was lowered back into the water. The foreman of the slipping-crew gave Marc the go-ahead to light the "bad-spirit-chasers" and a riot of machine gun bangs filled the air as six feet of firecrackers exploded one after another across Imani's bows. And so Imani followed Thai tradition—cleansed of all bad spirits, she was carefully placed back where she belongs to skim easily through the waters again. We've crossed our fingers that the anti-fouling will stay on her hulls.
Hauling Out Thai StyleOne of Thailand's most popular islands, Pukhet is often called the Pearl of the Andaman Sea. Here you'll find some of the most beautiful islands and beaches in the region, crystal clear waters, and stunning geography, making it an ideal location where to spend additonal time hauling out your boat.
In case you're cruising on this side of the world, here are the coordinates of the two major haulout facilities for sailing vessels that can be found on Pukhet Island:
Phuket Marina Services
Phuket Boat Lagoon
20/9 Thepkasatree Road
Moo 2 Tambon Koh Kaew, Phuket 83200
Tel: (076) 238 943; Fax: (076)238 944
Ratanachai Slipway Co
60/58 Ta-rue Mai Road
Tel: (076) 252 852, or 210 246; Fax: (076) 212 2443