Work on boats always take longer than you expect.
Since our quote to complete the work on SE2 had been estimated by our project manager Alvin Teh, at 24 days, we thought that taking an apartment for one month would give us ample time. What we hadn’t taken into consideration was the excessive amount of work needed to sand the yacht and all the public holidays that Sabah had during that four week period- 7 days in total.
Frank got a lift to the shipyard with Rosland, the foreman of our job, leaving the apartment at 7.15am each morning and coming back about 5:30 pm. It was a very convenient situation as hiring a car would have been very expensive, as would getting a Grab car back and forth each day.
Once the workers (Rosland, Rais and for part of the time Din) started sanding back the anti fouling to what Frank believed was the undercoat primer, it appeared that there were a number of layers beneath this to get to the original hull. It was a mammoth job that none of us expected and Alvin had not factored into our quote.
So temporarily, work on removing the anti fouling stopped, and they began sanding the topsides to remove the old hull paint which was in a very bad state. Unfortunately there were only two workers doing this because the third was seconded to work on a local power cat that was lifted up on Titan for regular anti fouling.
After 1 entire week of topside sanding, the time came for the first of several primers and undercoats to be sprayed onto our boat. First, they had to wash off all the dust and then ‘glad wrap’ the deck and top of the yacht, to prevent over spray. Once painted SE2 looked like a Navy boat with monotone grey hull. Then it was back to sanding again before the topcoat.
Meantime, it didn’t take long for Frank and I to become regular ‘KK-ites’, knowing where the best supermarkets were and which hardware shops to go to for for boat supplies/spare parts.
I enjoyed cooking meals in the apartment, although the only supermarket in One Borneo Shopping Mall where we were staying hadn’t the best choice of fresh produce.
Also, with the prices so ridiculously cheap to eat out in the modest local restaurants, it was hard to justify buying ingredients to cook.
It was a hit and miss exercise experimenting with all the local eating places, but we soon had our established favorites.
For example, a simple rice and chicken dish could cost as little as 4.50RM (AU$1.60). Frank enjoyed a nasi goreng dish with chunky beef that cost 8.90RM (AU$3.30) and from a local Indian place ‘merkabat’- chicken, onion, cabbage and green veggies wrapped & cooked on the griddle in a crusty thin roti/chapati served with curry sauce- was absolutely delicious and my favorite for 6RM (AU$2.20). Beer or wine, if available, was generally more costly than the food, so we mostly drank water or iced lemon tea (without the sugar they so love in all their sweet drinks) and kept our alcoholic drinks to enjoy in the apartment.
Sometimes, we went out to slightly more expensive restaurants. Glynn, a permanent ‘live aboard’ in Sutera Marina told us about a hidden gem of a restaurant, so modest from the outside, like a cage with its walls of metal bars, but serving the most amazing juicy thick steak meals for $10 that would cost three times the price in Australia.
As the time passed, we started to feel anxious that the work would not be completed within the month. With just over a week to go, the first of three top coats had not yet been painted onto the hull, with 24 hours needed between coats. There was more sanding required under the water line before the high build, undercoat and three coats of anti fouling could begin.
The men worked hard long days and got through hundreds of sheets of sandpaper and discs, as the dust clogged them up every 20 minutes or so. The same dust also covered the boat, the decks and infiltrated every crevice and nook inside the yacht too, as it was so fine and was carried through the air.
However, after painting on the high build primer, the time finally arrived to paint the first top coat.
Although we realized that spraying the paint on the topsides would give a much more professional job, Frank had already purchased top coat paint specifically designed to be brushed on and tipped off. When we had purchased the paint in New Zealand last year, we had anticipated we would be sailing back to the Pacific, and Frank felt that this would be the better choice as he had not been too impressed with the Fijian’s hit and miss spraying techniques, plus we had had some good success brushing paint in the past
It also seemed far too extravagant to simply dump almost a thousand dollars worth of paint to replace it with more.
In retrospect, the brush on paint was very hard to do in Malaysia- the weather was too hot, so the paint dried very quickly and brush strokes were visible, despite all Frank and the boys best efforts and tipping off. Also, we were unlucky enough to have almost daily thunderstorms bringing rain that caused the paint to mark and run.
Frank was present and helped whilst the first two coats that were applied. The finish after the second coat was not too bad but Alvin assured us that the ‘boys’ could improve on this whilst we flew to nearby Manila for a week of dental work we had organized beforehand.
During our absence one more top coat was applied after sanding back the hull, plus the undercoat & anti fouling paint, but the workers were hindered by daily rain squalls. They started to polish the hull whilst we were moved back across to the dry dock ‘Titan’, and Frank & Ros applied the new decal names for Stars End 2.
Requiring high tide, we needed to be down slipped in the early hours of the morning, so at 1am we were woken as the crane and dock workers removed all the scaffolding back across to land.
Titan was moved from the dock area into deeper water and over the next hour or so its back end was slowly immersed into the water until Stars End 2 was able to float free with the help of 5 scuba divers maneuvering the boat sideways between the steel girders that had supported the yacht in its cradle.
By 3am, we motored away from Kinabalu North Shipyard after almost a 6 weeks stay.
David Chang and his team had made a great effort to ensure our time at KNSM was as positive an experience as possible, realizing that the shipyard will not yet be set up properly for yachts with the new travel lift on order and other facilities, for some months yet.
We liaised mostly with his site manager Ong who was so obliging & alleviated Frank’s concerns, by having the yard workers add extra girders and weld brackets to hold the yacht firmly. Rahman and the yard crew were most diligent setting up the shed, scaffolding and supports and were always so cheerful and friendly.
We motored back to Sutera Marina in Kota Kinabalu for one last week before we left Sabah, and East Malaysia. Ros and Rais came by for several days to finish the three stage polishing process that made all the difference to the final paint job.
The haul out of Stars End 2 had been a long, drawn out and sometimes stressful period, with unforeseen issues cropping up and needing to be rectified along the way, but Alvin kept his promise to deliver a professional paint job and it certainly feels great seeing Stars End 2 shine with her indubitable beauty once again.