Thursday, 26 July 2012

A Hookah in Kota Kinabalu

This is the time of year most people never envisage when they imagine a sailing adventure, so we thought we would share with you why we have paused in KK for 2 months. This is time when the jobs list is too long and you need to stop for a while to catch your breath and prepare the boat for more adventures. I naively thought I was escaping this, my most hated time of year but upon my return, sadly realized, despite Simons hard work the job list was still growing… not shrinking.

While I was assigned the usual array of sanding, varnishing, polishing and larder building and assistant jobs Simon was tackling building a new powerful hookah dive unit in a foreign country with 40kgs of goodies I lugged back from Aussie, parts ordered on the web from India, Malaysian sourced bits and bobs and a Honda motor we brought from the Philippines - fingers crossed they go together.

Loaded down with parts and much to the bemused stares of locals, we boarded the Inanam bus headed to Fast Fit where Mr Pung had agreed to allow Simon to build his machine. It took 3 days to weld and fabricate the body to Simons design with the boys speaking no English!

The drawings, scribbled notes and photos copied from the web slowly became dishelved…

as the unit took shape. Thanks to Alwyn and Ben in the workshop, they did a wonderful job!

With the build complete, we had better test it works so out to Gaya we sailed with plans to clean Thyme’s bottom while testing the hookah unit. It would be silly not to look at the reef too…

What is a Hookah?
Many commercial dive operators the world over use surface fed air compressor units – which is what this is – commonly called a hookah – a little like the power dive units you see but more grunt, reliability and safer fittings. A compressor at the surface, in this case McMillan 19cfm (alloy and stainless for the salt water environs) is belt driven by a petrol motor (Honda GX200). Compressed air is delivered into a reservoir – in this case the stainless steel frame and filtered before being sent down air breathing to a regulator used by the diver. All the fittings are special double action locking TEMA fittings. The filters meet international standards. The unit is capable of getting 2 divers to 40m, or 2 to 20m or so and 2 to 10m, although diving without back up tanks is with no deco within limits. We are always attached to the dinghy when diving, good for when we are diving new and unknown locations, particularly with current.

But wait there's more... the compressor can be used for spray painting, which is what Simon is about to start on – spraying the cabin sides after his port hole repairs. No more leaks!

In between jobs, we have managed to see some strange and interesting sights. A building on fire one morning, staff in a nearby restaurant badly burnt cooking on a grill that was being cleaned at the same time by someone with petrol!, sipping Dom Perignon overlooking the waterfront with some wealthy locals, an amazing fireworks display over the boat to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan, and we also squeezed in time to form a nice friendship with a 2 meter fish. He would appear under the hull every morning and evening and even let us swim with him. From the fish book we can only guess he is a Cobia?

Now the new VHF is installed, the dive machine complete, all hatches and port holes resealed, interior re-varnished, the V-berth painted, the engine cooling pipes re-welded, new coolant in the engine, oil and filter changed, water tanks cleaned out, bilges clean, new timber on back handrails, exterior varnishing complete, brass polished, larder re-stocked, timber where the port holes leaked replaced, cabin sides almost filled and painted now it’s time to start thinking of distant shores – Moluku and Raja Ampat dreaming…


Anonymous said...

Hi! The new bikini looks as do you. You are both busy vegemites, that's for sure. I has been some job and lucky Simon is so handy with the help of your non English speaking friends. Miss you lots of love !!!Ha!Ha!
Mum and dad

Jack Blackburn said...

nice blog.really appreciate your work. wallpapers collection