Trapped in Kudat

Month and a half ago when we sailed away from Philippines and arrived to Kudat, a small town in Sabah, also known as the „Land Below the Wind“, we thought we finally left all those potentially disastrous typhoons far behind. Turns out not quite so… Although it rarely happens that a typhoon ventures that south as Borneo, these cyclonic monsters can influence weather even in regions hundreds of miles away. And so here we are, already two weeks helplessly trapped in Kudat. It’s not that a typhoon’s path is predicted to go anywhere near us, but last week it was the super typhoon Usagi and now another typhoon Pabuk that is sucking in and thus intensifying the monsoon winds, which blow from south-west, i.e. exactly the direction we want to travel. The wind itself would not be such a problem, but the local waters are infamous for serious currents, that are strongly influenced by monsoon winds, and to sail on a small yacht not only against the wind, but also against a 2 knot current is not really much fun.

This is how it currently looks in SE Asia...

This is how it currently looks in SE Asia…

It’s kind of frustrating. Every day  in the morning we use zyGrib to download the newest grib files which show wind predictions for the next couple of days. Every day we hypnotize the screen in hope of a weather window that would finally allow us to leave Kudat. Just yesterday it seemed we might be able to cast off next Monday, but today it’s a completely different story. And so our departure date is still quite uncertain at present. The only thing that keeps our spirits relatively high is the hope that tomorrow’s prediction may once again change…

To pass the time, we buried ourselves in the joys of manual labor. Now that all the translations we have been working on for the last few months are finally over, we took out our long-resting hammers, screwdrivers etc. and began yet another demolition.

Couple of days ago we met a very friendly Belgian guy Willie, who also owns a Halberg-Rassy, 35’ Rasmus. When he invited us for a visit, we instantly jumped aboard and had a close look on his boat to see if there are some modifications, that we could also use on our boat. We were immediately intrigued by the scuppers Willie made on the lower sides of his cockpit seats. The water drains through them and won’t collect around the cockpit locker lids, in other words another useful prevention from undesired leaks. Back aboard Janna we wrote down the idea to our endless “todo list”, so as not to forget it, and when it became obvious that we won’t be able to leave Kudat any time soon, we immediately set on the project.

However, we didn’t want to drill holes through the cockpit teak, that we spent so much time putting in last year, and so we decided to make the scuppers in the fiberglass edges below the cockpit locker lids. After all that’s where most of the water tends to collect anyway.


Also instead of copper tubes Willie used we made them out of polyester resin and fiberglass cloth. As a mold we used a piece of plastic hose, which we first sprayed with Silicot, so that it would be easier to get it out of the polyester tube once the fiberglass cures.


Then came the demolition phase – i.e. the part, that I personally dread the most. The boat gets filled with tools, spare parts and other odds and ends and you have to jump over it while at the same time paying attention not to end up in the opened engine room or bilge or some other “trap” that had to be set because of the current project. Plus it always turns out that before the demolition can even commence, something first has to be disassembled, emptied and thus the whole cockpit (sometimes even the main cabin) is suddenly flooded with boxes of various shapes and sizes, jerry cans, hoses, anchors and what not. To put it shortly, before the demolition proper, it is usually necessary to first undergo a preparatory one…

This time it was quite easy. We “only” had to empty two out of the three cockpit lockers and unscrew the locker lids and put them temporarily on the pontoon. Then we took some measurements and started the destruction. On both sides of the cockpit we drilled two holes, drilling under a slight angle, so that the water would drain even when Janna is heeled while under sails. Once again the tiny fiberglass sawdust was flying everywhere and our skin itched even after we took our evening shower. A good warm-up exercise before the haul-out in Langkawi…

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Once the holes were drilled and sanded, we glued in the polyester tubes – first by using the quick hardening epoxy putty and then reinforced everything with more polyester resin and fiberglass cloth. We left it overnight to cure properly and then as the last step put on a plastic hose with clams. The lids were screwed back in place and a bucket of water was poured over them to test our new upgrade. It worked wonderfully! All the water drained away and not a single drop ended up inside the lockers. Hopefully the SW monsoon will calm down soon and give us chance to test the scuppers even when heeled and at sea!


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