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  • Writer's pictureJennifer

Skylark's Makeover at Krabi Boat Lagoon

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

As of July 2020, the worldwide aviation situation has not improved, and we are waiting to hear when we can return to work. We have not flown since March. We don’t know when we will go back, but we will plan for the worst and hope for the best. We are thankful to have an amazing boat that is capable of cruising the world safely and in style. This could be an opportunity to have a gap year or two (or maybe longer) in our careers and be able to cruise full time. Chris and I both started flying professionally immediately out of high school and never had extended periods of time off. Now is our opportunity!

We kept hearing from our cruiser friends that davits and solar panels would change our life and that we must have them to cruise comfortably. We submitted to peer pressure since it is now likely that we will be on the boat for an extended period of time.

We also needed to haul out to complete routine maintenance items including:

1. New antifouling bottom paint

2. Servicing the C-Drive

3. Servicing the Bow thruster

4. Professional polish (aesthetically necessary)

We contacted Krabi Boat Lagoon to check their availability and they were offering haul out at 50% off and berthing at 30% off. They were able to provide us with a prorated monthly rate if we stayed more than 14 days. We contacted a yacht services company who recommended a welder who was available and looking forward to some work after the Covid lull. Everything was falling into place and we made a booking for the following day.

Krabi Boat Lagoon ended up being a great choice for us. We stayed two nights on Skylark in the water and then hauled out . When the boat is on the hard stand it is possible to sleep on board, however we would not have access to running water, toilets, or anything that requires seawater cooling, including air conditioner and our fridge/freezer. It would be the equivalent of camping at a hot construction zone with all the noise and dusty air. Also, every time we wanted to visit a bathroom we would have to crawl down a dangerous rickety ladder.

Fortunately, we were able to negotiate an excellent rate for a duplex penthouse conveniently located on site. Due to Covid, there were many units available to choose from and we got a great rate. It would be more expensive to stay at a Motel 6 off the side of the highway in small town USA compared to the price we paid for this comfortable unit. We chose this unit since it had a marina view and, unlike the other units available, came with a big washing machine. The washing machine was a must since our Sunbrella cushions needed some serious attention. (Unfortunately, a six-hour deep cleaning cycle was not enough for the mildew that plagued us during the wet season, but after some serious scrubbing, we managed to get them looking new again.) We also wanted a kitchen since it was going to take around two weeks to complete the boat tasks. We cooked about 90% of our meals here and it was a treat to have constant air conditioning.

While we had marina view, Skylark had pool view. (No, that did not cost extra for Skylark.) This made it easy to check in on the work being completed. While getting work done on the boat, it’s important to be present or perceived to be somewhere in the vicinity of the boat. We could keep a watchful eye while swimming laps in the pool or reading on a lounge chair.

We had the solar arch fabricated with Lek and Wit. Thankfully, they were not very busy at that time and told us it would take about a week to order the marine-grade stainless steel and complete the process. Skylark was right next to their workshop, so it made it convenient for them to work efficiently.

We researched several solar arch designs on other Amel 54s and discussed possibilities for Skylark based on what was important to us. We wanted the arch tall enough to walk under when exiting at the transom and also strong enough to hold both a dingy with engine and a significant amount of solar panels. We showed them photos and they drew a sketch that we were happy with. They provided us with the invoice, we paid the deposit, and they got to work right away. We stopped by daily to check the progress, whether the initial steps were being completed in the workshop or the final installation was happening on Skylark.

We watched as they were 'tack welding' the davits, a procedure used to hold the pieces together before the final weld. Once it is welded, it is permeant, so while they were tack welding, we got to make sure everything was lined up perfectly and at the correct angles.

Lek, Wit, and their crew did a terrific job and we were pleased with the outcome. Once the solar arch was completed, we had three 430-Watt solar panels installed. Octopus Marine drove from Phuket to supply and install the panels. There was complex wiring required, so we wanted a reputable company with a lot of experience installing solar panels on yachts. There are more yacht services located in Phuket, however, the only marina that has a travel lift suitable for Skylark claimed to be fully booked. Once we were at Krabi Boat Lagoon, Boat Lagoon Phuket called to tell us they had a spot for us...Too late! It ended up being a good thing they were initially booked, since we were happy with the services in Krabi and the cost was significantly less for berthing, accommodation, and the completion of our solar arch. The cost of bringing in the solar panels from Phuket and the extra labor hours were still less than what we saved by being in Krabi.

There was only one small restaurant open at the marina, so we walked to a local seafood restaurant to stretch our legs and see the area. The restaurant was a 30-minute walk away and we saw the local village as well as a family of goats.

We had some beers and seafood and then got a ride back from a local family for 100baht (3USD). If only we had bicycles….

We rented a car from the marina to provision and purchase other supplies. We passed a bicycle shop and couldn’t resist buying two folding bikes, one blue and one yellow. The bikes were identical other than in color. At first, Chris and I argued like children about wanting the blue bike. Then we both backpedaled from our selfish motives and insisted the other person take the blue bike. Ultimately, I ended up with the blue bike and felt a little guilty that my husband let me have my choice of color. Thanks Chris:). The blue bike is named ‘Blue Streak’ and the yellow bike is ‘Big Bird,’ (somehow the ATC call signs for PSA and NokScoot…). They both fit beautifully into the lazarette on Skylark when we shifted a few things around.

I have been tracking how many miles we have ridden on the bikes and deducted what we would have spent on taxis from the initial bike cost. Hopefully, we will get thin and save a lot of money!

The new bikes saved us so much time riding from the condo to Skylark. Walking short distances is for chumps. We biked several times to the local market for fresh produce and to the ATM at 7-Eleven for cash to pay the vendors. Seven miles roundtrip on a flat and scenic route. Along the route, super friendly children waved and said hello.

The local market had everything we needed and for amazing prices. Fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables galore! We tasted a chicken wing from a lady selling fried chicken products and it was divine. We were even able to buy a 24 pack of beer on the ride home at a local store and it fit perfectly in our camping backpack. Big Bird and Blue Streak are giving us so much freedom.

One afternoon, Chris had a fantastic idea of painting a 787 silhouette on Skylark's keel. We found a printing shop that was able to print our desired image onto a large sticker stencil. We had two made, one being a reverse of the other so that the airplane is forward flying on both sides of the keel.

Once the hull was sanded, we carefully placed the stencil on the keel. The stencil was large and difficult to apply without any air bubbles. We managed to apply it smoothly after a careful and stressful attempt. We only had one sticker per side and did not want to break or distort the image. Precision was key and thankfully we succeeded.

We applied two coats of blue anti-foul on the cut-out portion of each sticker. Thankfully, Riccardo left us all of the brushes and paint, and the workers were around to help us with anything that we needed. Once the second coat was applied we brought the brushes back into the workshop and the guys said they would clean them and put them away. I love painting when I don't have to deal with the cleanup!

We left the airplane to dry and returned to the condo to shower after a sweaty afternoon of work. We also grabbed a few beers for the big reveal that was about to happen soon. We hoped for success.

Thankfully when we returned and pulled off the sticker, a crisp Dreamliner appeared. What a dream. The size was exactly what we wanted and the lines were perfect.

Thankfully the workers did a fabulous job and painted around the airplane accurately.

A simple 787 silhouette (some people asked us if it was a shark) represents what was a large portion of our life, something we were grateful to have experienced and hope to go back to. In the meantime, we will have our keel plane instead of the real plane.

Finally it was time to splash back into the water. Riccardo had us over to his workshop for beers and snacks along with several of our friends who were getting work done on their yachts. If you are ever in Krabi Boat Lagoon, we recommend Riccardo from Modify Marine. Shoot us a message if you want more details.

After nearly three weeks at Krabi Boat Lagoon, we were thankful to be back in the water and see how these new additions improve our life!! Let's go!


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