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Friday, June 28, 2013

June 19th, 2013 - Destiny loaded!

Desinty did finally get loaded the afternoon of the 19th. Frank had a rough time of it and so did our boat. He is exhausted. I will write more later as he relays his experience to me. I had a very long trip home and hate being so far away from them. Frank took footage for me - the wind was a real problem for them. My nerves would have been shot watching this live.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 17, 2013 Shipping Destiny…Loading Day!

This is really happening! The skies are clear and the seas calm for the first time in ages. The ship is here, Destiny is first to load in about an hour - Whoop! Whoop!
We thank God and any of you who have been sending prayers and kind thoughts our way for this amazing window of good weather.
Well just as we got close to the ship the wind kicked up now it's blowing like crazy - too rough to load so they're moving the ship hoping to find a calmer spot.
Destiny did not load after all. We were nearly to the ship, they were preparing the deck with our cradle and then the winds began howling, seas kicking up and it became too rough to load. We circled for a couple of hours but it worsened and storms came along. They finally called it off around 1:00, telling us tomorrow will be worse than today so not to expect to load before the 19th.

I'm in a hotel room at the new little Nai Yang Beach hotel, just by the airport market until 9:30 tonight. I fly home tonight at midnight. My poor little mom is fading and I have to see her. I'll meet Frank at Marmaris in a few weeks. Frank is stuck on the hook by the beach outside Ao Pao, and will have to move to the deep water port (Panwa??) on the 19th to load. Then he'll stick around here for a week and take it easy before heading on to Turkey.
Oye! What a world - huh? Love this cruising life - it makes great stories :)

SevenStar was going to feed everyone but obviously there were no others out there today so when they aborted, they dropped off 8 sandwiches for him! They told me I had to leave then and there or be stuck on the boat until the 20th! So I got a hotel room for 8 hours near the airport to wait.

June 16, 2013 - No ship yet

We have been told the ship will be here tomorrow. Destiny is to be at the ship at 9:30 to begin loading. I'm flying out tomorrow night for Texas. Our plans of a trip to Hong Kong have been cancelled. I have to go home and take care of personal family matters. My parents’ home has to be put on the market and my job is to clean out 40 years of accumulation. They are not capable, as they are both in a memory care facility now.

Frank will be staying around Phuket for about a week before flying on to Turkey to meet Destiny on her arrival there.

The weather here is absolutely dreadful - we now get massive storms every day that bring very high winds and hard rain. Three of the yachts to be loaded require fairly calm conditions for the straps to be attached, so the loading process here may take a fair amount of time as they dodge the storms. Destiny is scheduled to load first. Fingers crossed - and lots of prayers going up for everyone on this shipment.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 6, 2013 – More Venting & Another Visa extension to Singapore!

We are having real problems here. Boats only get 6 months in Thailand before they have to be "imported". Destiny's 6 months runs out the 20th, so if we aren't gone by then I don't know what we'll do.  Most of the other cruisers booked on the transport are European and have flown out to their respective homes, leaving 7-Star to hire captains to load their yachts at 7-Star's expense. There is no way we are going to leave the sealing and  loading of our boat to anyone else.

We are so disappointed and a bit angry - have spent beau coups $$$ fooling around with the darn visa extensions, and only had until June 11th on our final one. Now the ship is not due here before the 16th. So we were trying to figure the easiest and least costly way to extend from that date. We found that the minimum cost (just a couple hundred $) would be if we rent a car and drive to the Thai border, take the boat to Burma (again), but will only get 15 days, and that is a horrible trip. We never want to do that again! Meanwhile the others who are really griping and making a fuss are getting all kinds of things paid for, such as extended marina fees and so forth, by 7-Star. We really don't know what amount they are getting but do know that paying for a captain to load their boats and paying their boat fees here in Phuket are not cheap.

That's not our style, but finally we told the local 7-Star Rep. about our issue with the visas. She called Frank and told him they had a surprise for us for my birthday. They said they would pay for our air ticket to fly to Singapore to get our passport stamped for 30 more days. That was a very sweet gesture and one that we appreciated, but if we had done it ourselves, we were just going to fly to KL, in and out in one day. We want to spend our money on a trip to Hong Kong on the way to Turkey during our 3+ weeks off the boat while it's being shipped.

7-Star booked the plane ticket for us (we did not get a choice of where or what airline or date - probably b/c they were looking for the cheapest airfare from Phuket). They booked us for an overnight stay - out on the 5th and back on the 6th. Frank asked if they were going to pay our hotel, airport transfers and meals and they said NO.

For some crazy reason we had a real hard time finding a hotel for one night in Singapore - everything was booked or required minimum 3-night stay, except for some backpacker hostels in Chinatown. We finally found a room at the Swissotel. That plus meals plus all the airport transfers ended up costing us over $500 (and we used the train - no taxis!!!). The air ticket that they paid was under $300 for us both on Tiger airways. We have never been on a plane with seats so small. Frank's knees would not fit into the back of the seat in front of him because his legs were too long! He had to sit sideways. Our ticket was not upgradable or refundable. He was NOT HAPPY.

I know they were trying to be helpful and in spite of the frustration, we did have a good time (at least I had a nice birthday), but Frank grumbled the whole time about this being our most expensive visa extension and not what he would have planned. Frank said my present from him was the hotel. Now we are back in Phuket waiting and waiting. I sure hope that getting to Turkey is worth all of this because right now, we are ready to ask for our money back. It would have been so much cheaper and less stressful if we had sailed back to Penang that second week of May and sat out the season in the nice marina there, where at least I could do my own laundry and be in walking distance of groceries, etc., which was our original 6-month plan. But then we thought we would have been shipped between the 14th and 25th of May too.

OK, so we did really enjoy our quick trip to Singapore. Enjoyed a wonderful dinner on the Singapore River. Our room had a nice river view, and we visited the astounding Botanical Gardens before returning to Phuket.
views from our room of the river

travel docs for Singapore

Saturday, June 1, 2013

May 20-30, 2013 – Growing Frustrations/waiting /killing time

Our projected ship date came and went with a shrug and sincere apologies from the reps at 7-Star. It appears the vessel that had been contracted for us was making unscheduled stops along the way to pick up cargo and not moving as quickly as promised. The agreement with our transit company was that the yachts were to comprise the entire cargo because we were paying for the entire ship. No one really understood what was happening but nonetheless we all stood at the ready for the yachts to go. Meanwhile our Thai visa was about to expire.
Have been given a new date of before May 25th. Monsoon season starts soon here so we are a bit anxious to get this done. Our Visas are running out soon.

Phuket Friday, May 24, 13 Another Visa extension
It is raining pitchforks and devil babies here nearly every day now. Yesterday we went to immigration to get the visas extended. We were hoping not to have to do this again and that the ship would come before any of this became an issue but time is not our friend here. My unexpected hospital visit last week affords us an opportunity to ask the doctor for a medical extension since I am due for a follow-up on Monday (27th). He only wrote 15 days on it and apparently didn't "tick" the correct boxes on the form so we had a real hassle with it but eventually got the extension - the stinkers charged us the 30-day fee ($65.00) anyway.  He must have stamped our passports 10 times each - I have no idea what all those stamps are about. I'm just happy that is over - and happy we never have to deal with Thai visas again!
We are marking "paid" to Thailand and are ready to move on. Because of all the hassles it hasn't been our favorite place. I'm wanting to get the blogs caught up and it is a stretch to write about it in a positive light. Maybe it is because we have spent so much money on the boat here although it is purported to be the cheapest place to get boat work done but certainly was not. Or maybe it is because of the tremendous number of tourists here - literally thousands and about 80% are rude, nasty ugly Russians, or maybe because the traffic is insane and it takes us over an hour just to go to the grocery store, or maybe it is because crime, drugs and Aids are so rampant here. Take your pick…

May 25th – more delays
The transport ship was due to arrive here the 24th, but that has already been pushed back. We don't have a load date and probably won't until it actually arrives in Thailand. The company told us not to book any airline tickets until Destiny is on that ship. We need to find somewhere to go for two weeks, which is the anticipated amount of time that it takes to get from Phuket to Marmaris, Turkey. Where we go while she is being shipped is kind of up in the air because it will all depend on what kind of last minute air fares we can get to somewhere between this area and Istanbul. It is so weird literally flying by the seat of our pants. We are told to be in Marmaris a week before the ship arrives so we can work out the import/immigration/customs clearances, etc., with the shipping agent at the arrival port. It is all a little exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.

There is a lot of red tape involved in shipping a vessel, and then all these rules about how long we can stay in the country, etc.
May 30th  - Invited to a group dinner with all yacht owners due to ship; something smells fishy!
Well we now understand why 7-Star invited us all to dinner tonight - it was to soften the blow of bad news! And this way they could tell us all at once instead of emails flying around.

The ship, MPP Shield that was/is to be our transport is now telling 7-Star that they will not arrive here until June 8th.
Chris, the lead 7-Star contact said that the ship and his company are having a bit of a row. Several reasons were thrown out - there are mechanical problems, the ship wants to take on more cargo in Singapore and is waiting for a full load (or some such nonsense), and they are Russian and therefore liars and untrustworthy (according to Chris).
Chris said we are stuck in a difficult situation now because they are trying to get another ship to replace this one in case it doesn't come through, but the replacement cannot be here before June 15th.

We are seriously not wanting to use the original ship now after this mess up but we are over a barrel and have to wait to see what happens.