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10 December 2018  Langkowi, Malaysia

We finally set out from Pangkor, after being there for just over a year. We anchored at Penang and passed under this bridge (one of two in Penang) where these hanging wires make a 90 foot clearance seem like a 75 foot clearance. Can you imagine snagging one of these wires and having your mast crumple onto the deck? I alerted “the authorities” and they claimed “it has been like that for years”. Excuse me?

Along the way, we did find one beautiful anchorage, and took this photo of SV Betty Boop (sailing with us) (Netherlands flagged) at anchor. Its a Hans Christian 42, and in fine shape.

We arrived at the island of Langkawi, on the NW corner of Malaysia on 14 November. This map gives a simple view of where we are and the border with Thailand/Malaysia. Off to the west is North Sentinel Island, a part of the Indian owned Andaman Islands - where an American tourist was recently killed by the remote tribe living there.

We started to seriously prepare for the next leg of our journey by submitting our passports to get 3 month Thai visas in them. We started stocking up on duty free booze and sourcing hard to find items. After three days at anchor - we discovered a serious oil leak with our generator. Oops.

We hadn’t used our ONAN 6KW generator in over a year. A month ago, I started it up while still in Pangkor, just as part of our routine system tests. It seemed OK. We didn’t actually need to run it until we got to Langkawi, and after 3 mornings where it ran for about 45-50 minutes, I noticed something odd. There was oil in the bilge, and there shouldn’t be. I pulled the dipstick on the generator and it was dry! I put a few litres of oil in the generator and returned to it 30 minutes later. There was more oil in the bilge and no oil on the dipstick. The was a serious leak.

We called in Robbie Andersson of Andersson Marine. He is a Swedish mechanic, very competent and in high demand. We moved the boat off anchor to the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club and eventually Robbie came down to diagnose the leak. The generator is built, flawed in my opinion, with a steel tray under it. With the sound reduction enclosure, that tray helps to capture fluids (oil, sea water and coolant) than might leak from the engine. While some people might argue the benefit of such an installation, I view it as a flaw because there is nowhere for these fluids to go. When there is a leak, the fluids are captured in a very tight space and end up weeping out the sides where the door panels fit. The gap between the steel tray and the aluminum oil sump (under the Kubota motor of the ONAN generator) is only about 3/8”. Years ago, I realized this flaw and drilled and installed a small 3/8” drain using a through hull and drain tube. It was as big as I could make it at the time, its a very tight space. I thought this was enough, but obviously it wasn’t.

The gap between the tray and the sump was packed with dirt, dust, oil, water and debris. Diane and I worked for hours to clean that space where you couldn’t even shove a knife blade under it. Eventually we cleaned it out and put about 4L of soapy water in the tray. When the oil sump was pressurized to about 6psi (using a bicycle pump and the oil breather hose), bubbles became evident from the aft section of the sump - in the same way that you might check a bicycle tube for a leak.

Rather than remove the generator from the boat (which was what I thought was necessary), Robbie convinced us that if we could tilt the motor to the side (after releasing it from the engine mounts), he should be able to remove the sump from below. Alternatively, I drilled a 3/8” diameter hole in the cockpit floor and we passed a small cable through to attach to the generator lift point. It was not too difficult for two men to lift the generator using a rope and this cable. 

With the generator thus suspended, Robbie and his partner Andrew were able to remove the sump for repair. Replacing the sump was considered but I couldn’t find the part available. ONAN said that although the generator was only 19 years old, and had 1360 hours on it - the machine was obsolete and parts were no longer manufactured. I couldn’t find a replacement sump anywhere. This is a photo of Robbie and his partner Andrew. 

The sump was heavily pitted and there were several serious holes caused by corrosion.


Robbie brought the sump to York Machinery (a local foundry and machine shop) for acid wash and aluminum welding. This welding and pressure testing took several days. This was the intermediate product. 

The welding (from the outside) even led to a large amount of liquid aluminum flowing through to the inside. These are not air bubbles, but they do seal up all the potential pin holes and cracks. 

While the welder was doing his work, I was working on the steel tray, the base for the generator - making new drain holes. I cut two 2” drain holes and put in the corresponding tubes to route any drained fluids to the bilge - where they belong. These two holes end up right under the sump. 

A few days later, Robbie returned with the renovated sump. This is what he got back from the welder, after working on it with a grinder and a wire brush.

Then Robbie painted it with red primer.

Then he painted it with silver paint, and that is when it looked “as good as new”.

After a few days of work at my end, reinstalling all the hoses, wires and bits that I had to remove — I can report that the generator is now working and does not leak any fluids at all. It is ready for operation. 

Its not always about work though. We’ve been out for lunch several times with Fred and Maria on SV Sarafina (US flagged). 

Diane and Maria also played tourist and had their picture taken at this park in Kuah city, Langkawi. 

This iconic view of the waterfront shows the anchorage where we started out. 

The pool at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club is very inviting at the end of the day. The sun is setting and the pool is a great way to relax and let the stress ease out of your body - as we discuss boat projects and world politics with the cosmopolitan mix of cruisers in this idyllic location. 


So - we are back on schedule and plan on leaving for Phuket Thailand in a few days. 


To see previous log entries, just use the tabs at the top of this page. 

SV Joana is listed for sale at this site with Our boat and home, is always "for sale", and we are always open to new "opportunities". The price is substantially below the actual built cost (over $500K for materials alone, not including any labour cost) in recognition of the fact that the hull and systems are getting dated - although well maintained. We've had many inquiries, and a few "lookers" but we probably won't sell until we get back to the North American market.

We have visited 36 Countries since we left our home, Canada in May 2009, and detailed in the Log:         

Antigua: May 2011
Australia: November 2016 - July 2017

Bermuda: June - August 2009
Bonaire: February - April 2014

Bahamas: December 2009 - March 2010, December 2010 - February 2011

Barbados: March 2012
British Virgin Islands: May 2011
Cambodia: May 2018
Colombia: October 2014 - December 2014

Cuba: March - May 2010
Curaçao: May 2014 - September 2014

Dominica: May 2011, April 2013

Dominican Republic: March - April 2011
Fiji: September/October 2015
French Polynesia (Marquesas, Tuamotos, Tahiti and the Society Islands): April-July 2015
Galapagos: March 2015
Grenada: June-November 2011
Guadeloupe: March 2013
Indonesia: July 2017 - October 2017
Malaysia: October 2017 - 
Martinique: March 2012, March 2013
New Zealand: November 2015 - November 2016
Niue: July/August 2015
Panama: December 2014 (San Blas Islands), (Portobello and Canal) January/February 2015

Puerto Rico: April 2011
Singapore: October 2017

St Lucia: May-June 2011, December 2011 - February 2012, December 2012 - February 2013

St Martin /Netherlands Antilles: May 2011

St Vincent and the Grenadines: June 2011, February 2012, December 2012, April-May 2013

Tobago: March-May 2012
Tonga: August 2015
Trinidad: May - December 2012, June - November 2013
USA: August - November 2009, June - November 2010
US Virgin Islands: May 2011
Venezuela: November 2013 - February 2014
Vietnam: January 2018

Before we went cruising, we also "had a life" and did our fair share of visiting (or living in) other countries.
We've also been to a few other countries, but just not with our boat.  (36 countries so far)

Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia Herzogevinia, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway,

Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland), Vatican City.


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