Mandolin Wind under Spinnaker  

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Martin & Sue


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Mandolin Wind's mini makeover in Phuket


Getting boat work done in Thailand seems to be standard behaviour amongst long term cruisers - and why not, for the work is of excellent quality and is a fraction of what it would cost in Australia.

Some friends of ours have stripped their boats completely and had total repaints and refits inside and out. However, the downside of this plan is that you must commit to spending several months on the hard in some remote boatyard, which can become a bit of a prison sentence depending on the location !

Luckily our requirements were fairly minor - a new teak and ash floor throughout and a reduction in size of the saloon table.

Well, at least they started out being minor!

It is amazing how one thing can lead to another in the boat renovation game. Once the lovely new varnished floor is installed somehow it makes the rest of the woodwork look a bit shabby so why not get that rejuvenated while we are at it! And what about that door we always wanted in the visitors berth and the new cupboard doors at the end of the bed that never actually got made in our first makeover ? mmm. I could go on.......

Above: we felt rather inadequate next to the serious boats on the work dock at Yacht Haven Marina!
Above: Mandolin Wind minus a mainsail - which is in the trolley ready to take into the sailmaker

We had always intended to get a new teak and ash floor installed in Thailand - it was a job we left during our original makeover before we left Melbourne for the cost of such work in Aust was prohibitive. Instead, as a temporary measure, we had laid a very cheap, non-water proof veneer in the saloon that we picked up from Bunnings on the discount rack. At least that got us by.

Finding a good craftsman is of course a little haphazard in a foreign country (although some would say this is no different in Australia!) We had several recommendations from other cruisers and had narrowed the choice down to two potentials. Eventually, based on the advice of the Marina managers at Yacht Haven (Phuket) we decided to go with Mali from Yachts Repair Co

As it turned out this was good advice for the alternative option we were considering had shut up shop by the time we returned to Phuket for the 2012 cruising season!




In preparation for the new floor we had organised for the boat to be measured up and for templates to be made of all the floor areas last year. This was so that during the off-season the actual Teak and Ash woodwork could be completed based on the templates, thus making it a much quicker job when we returned to have the actual floor fitted.

Considering that we required 20 square metres of flooring (5mm thick) this was a considerable job for Mali (and a large layout for him in purchasing the required wood) so in good faith we paid him 50% deposit.


Off-boat Accommodation


On our return to the marina this year, we had to move off the boat for 3 weeks while the floor was being put down and varnished. We did not appreciate initially that this was an absolute necessity, naively assuming that we would be able to sleep onboard. However, apart from the toxic smell of the varnish (of which several coats were applied), and the sanding dust, there was the problem of having every conceivable internal fixture covered in plastic cling film making it impossible to get to anything. Besides, on most days there were 4 or 5 workers on board so to try and have them work around us would only have slowed them down.

So, not having pre-booked any accommodation, we were a bit putout to find that all the units attached to the marina were full. Being quite isolated at the top of Phuket island, there was not a lot of other accommodation available so we did not have a lot of options.

However, very luckily, some brand new private units were just being completed and we managed to book one of these (although we did move in before they were completely finished and had no curtains for several days!) As a bonus our unit was the front one which had a great sea view - and during our stay the other 3 units were not let so we had no issue with noisy neighbours!

Below: Our accommodation for the month


The price negotiations for the unit were interesting. Firstly we were quoted 1200 baht a night ($40) and this would have worked out at $840 for the 3 weeks. When we told the owner (a lovely lady named Ra who made us very welcome) that the Marina units were only 15,000 a month ($500 or $16 a night), she replied that her price for a month was also 15,000 baht if we wanted to take it for a month ??.

OK, so we can get the unit for 3 weeks for $840 or pay $500 for a month ? mmm. Guess which option we chose!



Above: the view from the unit
Above: the maid was very creative when it came to towel sculpture!

The boat interior


The workers duly arrived on the boat as per schedule and preceded to glad-wrap everything in sight.

The new floor 5mm thick timber floor was secured in place with epoxy resin. We chose to have a satin finish for the varnish. However, interestingly, gloss varnish is much harder than satin so the first 6 coats of varnish were in gloss - and it was only then that the 3 final coats of satin were applied.

The cost of the raw materials for varnishing actually made up a considerable portion of the quote - it is a Epifans brand and is all 2 pack. With 9 coats Mali suggests we should get many years out of it before needing to re-apply.

Above: the saloon - with all cupboards wrapped up.
Below: The galley floor before
and after
Below: Before and after shots of the steps down into the hull. The attention to detail was incredible
Below: the saloon stripped bare
Below: starting to fit the floor



Below: Before shot showing the veneer when it was first fitted - and before it started showing signs of water damage
Below: The new floor completed



Below: another view of the new cabin sole
Below: the cutdown table gives the saloon a more spacious feel
As well as getting the new teak and ash floor we also ordered several other bits and pieces – including a storage rack (in an attempt to de-clutter the saloon!) and a new door for a front storage area.
Above: The original saloon wall featuring a small hold-all for bits and pieces
Above: the new storage unit is fantastic for binoculars, pilot guides and sunblock etc
Above: The old storage area looking very messy with no door to hide things
Above: the new door, including a beautifully designed door jamb.
In addition, we organised to have our table cut down to 3/4 of its original size and a compass rose inlaid into the top in teak and beech. When we saw the finished result we were blown away - it was a work of art.
Above: Dong performing miracles on our table
Above: the finished product

Engine Overhaul


The boat was such a hive of activity that Martin, who wanted to overhaul the engines, had great difficulty trying to complete his jobs without getting in the way.

However, he managed to get most of the jobs done and got into the habit of getting to the boat early before the team arrived - and putting a full day in on Sundays when the guys didn't work.




One of the main jobs was to overhaul the turbos. - and he was very glad he did for he found that the exhaust mixing elbows were seriously coked up and falling apart. The 50mm original exhaust outlet was down to about 15mm and the cast elbows were seriously cracking up. The raw water outlet spigot litterally came away in his hands.

The price for new - genuine Yanmar - elbows came in at nearly $1,000 a piece! So we hunted around and found a stainless steel engineer who made up both elbows for us in 304 stainless for only $300 total. He did a beautiful job.


Above: The coked up exhaust mixing elbow...

New Mainsail


Our mainsail was definitely in need of replacing as it was conservatively 8 - 10 years old! We also needed a new boom bag as the old was falling apart. We spent a lot of time researching our options. Some fellow sailors had ordered sails online - by either sending the measurements of their old sail or relying on the designers to create a sail plan based on the type of boat. We were reluctant to do this for it seemed to us that being able to take our old sail in to a sail loft and say "make one the same but with these changes...." was a much safer option.

So, despite some reservations (for we had heard mixed reports regarding their workmanship) we took our old sail in to Rolly Taskers and discussed with them in detail the type of sail cloth and thread they used. Since their answers more than met our expectations - and also with the quote coming in at under $4,000 for both the sail and the bag - we placed the order. This is not only a significant saving on what the cost would be in Aus - but also much cheaper than what we had been quoted on line.


As things panned out, it was just as well we decided to go with the local option for our system of Harken Bat Cars (which are quite old now and do not match up with the current supply of sail head boards commercially available) meant that we had to work very closely with Johnny from Taskers to make sure they laser cut a new one of the correct shape and size.

For the non-sailors out there, Bat Cars are not a strange form of deterrent to transport vampire bats away from the sail! - but a system to attach the sail to the mast that improves how the sail slides up and down the mast. They are cars with rows of ball bearings in them.


Above: The top Harken Bat Car


Above:Measuring the old sail at Rolly Taskers Sail Loft
Above: The new 8mm aluminium laser cut head board especially designed to fit our Mast bat cars
sail   We were exceptionally pleased with the sail when it was completed – the reinforcing was excellent and when we hoisted it we were very pleased that it fitted perfectly and had a great shape.
Below: Inspecting our new sail

The sail bag was also very well made but that did need to be taken back to be reduced in size - however, we expected this as it is a bit tricky getting the sail bag shape exactly right without seeing the new sail in place. This was the other great benefit of getting the work done locally for we could return the bag with our design modifications and the girls at Rolly's reshaped it expertly. In particular, we are pleased that the bag fits snugly where the sail is closest to the mast - for our old sail bag required a separate 'bra' in order to keep all the sail head safe from UV rays.

sail2   sail2
Above: Tina and Noel, Aussie friends (who live on Phuket), assist with the adjustment of the lazy jacks that hold up the new sail bag
Above: Hmmmm - looks a tad too big to me! I'd say by about 6 inches....
Below: New cutdown Boom Bag
  Now all we need is some wind so we can try out our new reefing points - we had modified these so that the first reef now reduces the sail by 1/3 it's original size instead of the 1/4 ratio in the old sail (and the second reef reduces the sail by 2/3's compared to about 1/2).


So that's the story of Mandolin Wind's mini makeover in Thailand. Judge for yourselves based on the photos but we are really pleased with the result. The trouble is that now Sue thinks that with such a smick boat, she needs to go shopping and spend money on interior decorating!

What did it all cost??






20 sq metres 5mm solid Teak and Ash flooring, including all fitting and steps



Remove old floor and clean surface



Varnishing ( 9 coats of 2 pack )



316 Stainless Ring pulls for floor hatches



Fitting of Ring Pulls to floor hatches



Total Floor






Saloon Table Inlay



Cut & Shut saloon table, revarnish



New storage cabinet



New door and jamb






Fully Battened Mainsail including custom made headboard ( 12ozs American cloth )



Lazy Bag in blue Sunbrella