Sent: 15 Mar 2004
Subject: Feifdom on a hilltop

My Dear Readers,

I have received a lot of e-mails over the last few months asking where I am and what I am doing. I stopped the sailing stories for the time being. Well, they are suspended until I get back to the boat and the sea. That was my plan. I laid things out pretty clearly in my last letter or two but I guess I could elaborate and fill in some details. I could give a general Captain Andy update.
I also have some other objectives which I can fulfill in the same letter. It has been about a month since I last wrote my “mum” and I have tried to make it a policy to let her know how I am doing at least once a lunar cycle. I think I am a little late this time but I was waiting for some photos to be developed to accompany this little email.
The other reason is that I am going to start campaigning for my next sailing trip now. I will get to the plans later in this letter. So, the first part of the campaign has to do with my birthday in April. I am going to be straightforward this year and ask for the equipment I need for the boat. But before I get into that I think the first order of business is a brief run through of events from leaving the boat until now.
The boat is safe in a marina just to the north east of Singapore. The marina goes by the name of Sebana Cove and is located about 7 or 8 kilometers up a fresh water river in a mangrove forest. The boat is in a very safe slip, being guarded along with a lot of other boats. It might be worth mentioning that the value of any other individual boat in the marina is between two to five times as expensive as the Wind Spirit. Not to say that I don’t love my baby. I just don’t worry about her safety in a place like that.
I am paying about 135 US$ per month for the slip in the marina. On top of that I am paying about 30 US$ a month for a guy to look after her, check the bilge, run the engine in gear for an hour every week and air the boat out. I am not very happy about that though because he has a monopoly on the marina and he charges way too much. But I will deal with that when I go down to the boat in May or June.
I left the boat in the Marina and took the ferry over to Singapore. From there I took an overnight bus into southern Thailand and then another one to Bangkok. My sister had sent me the newest Harry Potter at the time and I burned through it. I finished it a few hours after my arrival at my father’s house just outside of Bangkok.
I think everyone is fairly clear on this part of the story. From here on people seem to have a few more questions.
My first order of business in Bangkok was to find a job. I began looking into the newspapers and magazines in Bangkok. There are a healthy amount of English language periodicals in the city. I was hunting for a job doing anything in the writing business. Even though I am not ecstatic about being a journalist I wanted to sample the writing industry to see how much I enjoyed it. I was rewriting a lot of my stories at the time as well. I sent out a few stories to sailing magazines.
Unfortunately neither of these panned out. I began searching for jobs in the Science/ Technical writing field. I spent a few weeks at this one. I also hit my father up on possible connections he might have. He worked a few and we got nothing.
All this time I have people asking me if I want to teach English somewhere, anywhere, anytime, wherever I want to work, in many different institutions, all over the country.
If any of you don’t know by now. I hate teaching English. I did it for two years in Japan and liked the job so much I nearly lost my marbles. In fact, I might be short one or two. I lost the marble required to find a well paying job.
So what did I do?
Before I tell you that I will talk about Christmas. I had yet to find a job when Christmas rolled around. I didn’t really ask for anything specific. I just figured I would see what I would get. Normal this is not really a bad policy but this year it was depressing. I was feeling quite agitated due to the fact that I was not able to find a job in Singapore and then I had been living at my father’s house for the last two months and was still unable to find any kind of employment (besides teaching). So what did I receive for Christmas? Ten excellent dress shirts. I smiled the whole time but every present I opened reminded me that I had not found any work yet. I don’t want to seem ungrateful. The shirts were all really cool and if I had a decent city job I would gladly wear them to the office with a nice tie and a big smile. But I had no job. Shit!
I was starting to feel a little desperate. So I made a few decisions about this next year, the boat and when I could get back to her.
Two years ago I met a guy named Sangwien who used to look after the boat for my father. When I rebuilt the boat I hired Sangwien’s father, the master carpenter I mentioned ages ago. When the boat was completed, Sangwien helped with the large-scale operations such as craning the boat into the river and stepping the mast. He was also the guy who stored most of the old equipment off the boat so I had to talk to him to find a lot of the stuff that was missing. Over the time period I worked on the boat I got to know him and found out that he was a contractor and overseer for a wealthy Thai family. He told me that if I was ever interested in learning any field of the construction industry in Thailand he could hook me up with a job at a Thai salary.
Two years later I called him up. It was the beginning of 2004 and I wanted to do something with myself other then looking for a job in Bangkok. I told him I would like to work as a carpenter and learn more about the trade. He told me that he had a friend in Cheng Rai, the far north of Thailand, who made furniture. He told me he could hook me up and I could work up there for as long as I wanted.
So I jumped on a bus and headed north. I had no idea where I was going. I had jotted down directions in my little notebook. I had not spoken to the guy I was suppose to meet. I had no idea what kind of shop he had. I arrived early morning, mid January to find out that Cheng Rai is butt ass cold in the morning. I pulled out my only jacket and three other shirts. I pulled them over the one shirt I was wearing.
I sat around the bus station as the sun came up. I had to wait for the songtaew that ran up to the University. The place I was headed was supposed to be located behind Ratchapat University. I was the last person in the Songtaew and the driver had no idea where I was trying to go. I finally decided to call the guy I was supposed to be hooking up with. He answered and said he was just down the road and on his way to the property. He said he would pick me up in less than 3 minutes.
He pulled up in his Toyota truck and I hoped in the back. We drove a short while through some backcountry roads and then came to this large piece of property. I was taken up to the main house and the guy, Boon, told me to go inside and talk with the owner of the place.
I said, “You’re who I will be working with, right?”
He said, “Sure, but you have to talk to my boss because she pays my salary and she will pay yours too.”
“Hum.” I said, thinking that this was not what I had expected.
So I wandered into this beautiful wood house and found the kitchen. I looked around a few seconds and then said “hello?”
A tall slender Thai woman walked down some stairs and asked, “Who are you?”
“Yikes, she has no idea what I am here for,” I thought to myself. So I went about explaining about Sangwien and my father and how I ended up in her kitchen at 7:30 in the morning.
She looked at me for thirty seconds, which seemed like a terribly long time, and then said, “Ok, I think you can work here. We need the help, but I will have to talk to my boyfriend first.”
“Uh, . . . . ok sure. I’ll come back and talk to you in the afternoon,” I said.

I worked that day in the “shop” which is a tiny shack with a table saw and a super old arc welder. The table saw is actually a circular hand saw turned upside-down and attached to the bottom of a metal table. I got to know a few of the other guys who worked in the shop and we talked about some of the different jobs they were doing. They showed me an ancient wooden oxcart. They were rebuilding the parts of it that were completely falling apart. I started helping and I worked on one of the main structural beams.
In the afternoon I returned to the house and met Vincent, Pat’s husband. He seemed a bit shocked to find me there, but Pat had explained things and it was all right. So I was invited to dinner with Vincent, his mother, another Thai guy and Pat. It was a rather uncomfortable dinner. Fortunately Vincent’s mom and I had a fun conversation about the sea. She was totally French but had enough English for us to talk about all the islands she loved and the way the ocean looked in the late afternoon, etc etc.
From then on I joined Pat and Vincent for dinner.
Vincent's mother was only visiting for a few more days and she was soon on a plane back to France. The Thai guy was something else. He was the PR man for one of the largest Hotels on Koh Samui. He knew the “Schmidt Family” for quite a few years. When I speak of the family, I am referring to Pat’s family which I will explain in a minute. So this guy, named Picaroon, was one of the biggest faces on the Island of Samui for years. He was at Pat’s place because he was forced off of Samui. He was forced from Samui because he had supposedly put a hit on a guy who was killed a few months back. Picaroon was on trial in the south but had come up north to get off the island and away from his people in Bangkok. So he had been hanging out at Pat’s place for the past month or so and was there until his next hearing. At first I had no idea who he was but slowly I got this story from Pat and Vincent and eventually from his own mouth. He did not seem like the kind of person to take a hit out on someone but how do you ever really know such things.
But maybe I should get to Pat and Vincent. They are building a bungalow operation together. They just recently had a beautiful baby who is now 5 or 6 months old. The piece of property is owned by Pat’s family. Pat’s family is one of the richest families I have ever met. They do not wear their wealth but they keep it in property. I think they have something like 30 pieces throughout Thailand and then some in Germany and Europe. Pat’s mother is taking a trip to the States this summer to check up in their property in Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle. It will be a short two-week trip.
If I met Pat in Seattle or on the street in the states I would think that she was a perfectly normal person. In fact she looks very west coast to me. She is tall and was a model in her younger years. She looks the part. She studied civil engineering at Washington University. She has a side to her that is totally west coast and very familiar to me. When she switches to that side of her personality I feel at ease. But then she often switches to the Thai side of her personality which borders on high society and I get lost again. I have come to understand Thais pretty well but high-class Thais are still a mystery to me. But I think Pat is more like a Princes. Sometimes she is scary, like you could have your head chopped off for saying the wrong thing. Then she shifts over to the French part of her personality when Vincent is around and once again I am thrown off.
Pat is the daughter of a powerful Thai family. Schmidt is the family name. Her father was the German Ambassador to Thailand years and years ago. He had wealth. He married Pat’s mother who became a master of wealth accumulation. So Pat is part Thai and part German.
Vincent is a typical young Frenchman with class and style. He plays a mean blues guitar and we play together on occasion. He is presently in a fit over Bossa Nova and is trying to teach me as much as possible. Unfortunately I am a bit slow with the diminished ninth augmented seventh. But I am learning. In a lot of ways Vincent is “cool.” I like him. He is a cameraman by trade and does features and documentaries which are often sent to French news agencies. He is well educated and makes a hefty salary when he works. He stays down in their Bangkok house when he is on the job. But the last few months he has not been working. He has been sticking around for the baby, which I think is great. He is a good person and we get along pretty well. He is fairly straightforward and tends not to shift from one cultural identity to another. But he is very critical of everything. He is also like Pat in that he is like a Prince.
So on this piece of property we have your Prince and your Princess, and we have your young lords(myself and other friends who visit), you have your carpenters and workmen (I also fit in here), then you have your serfs and peons. It is not so much a bungalow operation in the construction phase as a little fiefdom on a hilltop.
So that is the scoop on the owners of this place. They are my bosses.

A short note on the peons. There are a group of young guys who look after the garden / jungle on the property. They are actually not Thai in some respects. They are hill-tribe boys who have come to work in Cheng Rai. Pat has some connections to one of the “Aka” villages near the boarder of Burma. She invited some of the young guys to work on her property. Kay is the main guy. He is the ringleader, the oldest, and the smartest. I like him a lot and I spend a lot of my off time with him and the “Aka Brigade,” as Vincent calls them.
Because Kay’s motorcycle is our only means of transportation, only three kids can go out on the town at a time. One of the pictures included in this set shows the Aka Brigade on their way out.
Yes, I can fit on the bike with two of them. It is a squeeze but always exciting, especially when Kay drives like a mad man. Exciting, but certainly not safe. I usually start swatting him on the head when he gets too rambunctious.

Let me take a second to describe the fiefdom. It is a very large piece of property with so many different kinds of plants it blows my mind. Pat’s mother’s thumb is so green it could be black. She takes seeds from Germany and plants them up here on several of her pieces of land. She takes plants from the south and brings them north. She imports exotic trees from Central America. She picks up seeds in Hawaii. They have so many rare plants on their property it reminds me of the “Land of the Lost.”
They have a fantastic swimming pool which no one uses, accept me, of course. Sometimes after work I take a long swim to cool off and relax. I am starting to feel like it is my pool.
There are seven gorgeous bungalows on the property all built from the wood of old Thai houses. They have kept a lot of the carvings in the wood and the quality Thai architectural designs. In this respect this is an excellent place to be a carpenter because wood and quality carpentry are of great importance. We rebuild old furniture and then make new stuff based on old designs.
I helped rebuild a large portion of two carriages once I started working for real. I did such a good job on the parts I did that they slowly left more and more parts for me to do. The rest of the crew had other jobs to take up their time and eventually I was one of two left completing the job.
I am presently working on a cabinet for the dinnerware for the restaurant. The wood I am working with is one of the hardest woods I have ever used. It actually sinks in water. It is so hard and the edges so square that you can almost cut yourself on them. I have to keep sharpening my tools over and over again. It is a good lesson in exactness. My joint-work has improved immensely on this project.
I have built other things over the last few months. I completed a set of nice teak folding chairs. I built and installed about 10 new shelves in the restaurant. Many spaces where not shelved after construction. I added another support on a beautiful teak bench. I did a quality job on this one because the bench was in Pat and Vincent’s dinning room. I took all the wobbly restaurant chairs, about 15, and rebuilt parts, strengthened them structurally, and finally stained and laquored them. That was a good lesson in finishing work. I then built a shelf with wine glass holders under the shelf. It is possible to slide twenty to thirty large wine glasses under the shelf suspended upside down. That was a very challenging job. I spent quite a few hours balancing boards and redoing the spacing over and over again.
I then got into welding and made two large worktables for the shack we work in. The welder guy was always working on the top of the table saw because it was metal. But I could never cut anything on it because he was welding. His other option was to weld on the floor. He didn’t like that very much but never did anything about it. So I took a few slabs of metal and a few steel “2 by 3”s and put together a welding table for him. I then built another table for me to work on but then I couldn’t find any wood for the tabletop. There are a lot of quality slabs of wood around but they are reserved for the main house, the restaurant or the bungalows. I would be ok with some thick plywood but the carpenter who supervises me is kind of a tight ass. He hates buying anything for anyone. This particularly sucks in the tools department. I hate working with shitty tools and at times I have to. But that is just the way it is and in some respects it is good to be able to do things the old school way. A miter saw, a regular hand saw, a few chisels, a hammer, a good square, and a small red pencil are my key tools. But since I built the new welding table I now have a table saw. We also have a good router and electric planner. I am becoming pretty skilled with the planner because most of the wood I am starting with is either old, or comes in large blocks of “rough cut,” which I have to square and then cut into smaller chunks.
I have repaired and rebuilt a great many things I cannot remember off the top of my head. I have rewired a lot of cable in the work area. One thing that I do as a farang here is to make the workplace more efficient. For some reason the Thai guys just don’t seem to do anything about it. I don’t know if they even care. But they certainly seem happy when I do something. So I have rerouted a lot of cables throughout the shop so that there is a triple outlet near every worktable. Before they were dragging around old worn out extension chords from this end of the shop to the other. It was a recipe for death by stumbling over the three extension chords and falling into the arc welder.
I spent one morning making metal rakes for the yard boys with the arc welder. I was not very familiar with the smoke that rises from welding work and I fried my eyeballs. It was pretty horrendous to wake up at midnight with the feeling that I had thousands of glass shards behind my eyelids. I opened my eyes and it got worse. I closed my eyes and the pain intensified. After two hours of this horrid pain I finally went up to Pat and Vincent’s house on the property and asked for some kind of painkiller. I told them I needed something to get rid of the glass behind my eyelids or I would soon start screaming and running around the property like a blind psychotic. Thankfully they gave me two aspirin tablets. I asked for four but they told me two was quite enough. Each tablet was 1000 mg. I put them both down and then stumbled back to the little house I am living in. I was in so much pain it was hard to bear. I know that I am a sissy when it comes to pain but this was brutal. The painkillers started to work and I went unconscious almost immediately. I stayed inside my dark room all the next day and Pat brought me more drugs, some eucalyptus for my skin and lots of good food. It was nice. The maid then periodically came and looked after me as well.
Thankfully there was no permanent retinal damage. I had used a good facemask which “I” had to purchase. But I had not paid attention to the fumes and gasses releases from the metals I was welding. The rakes also involved much more detailed welding than I had ever done before. So I was trying to get close to the work to do a decent job. Unfortunately I got too close and learned what it means to have glass behind the eyelids. Horrible stuff.
I live on the property for free. My room is located in a small building on the far side of the property. The building was going to be the café but has not been completed. I live in the back room. It is comfortable and I have plenty of desk space for my computer, CD player, and books. I have my guitar and play with Vincent and Kay, who works on the property.
I eat very well here. In fact, I don’t think I have ever eaten so well in my life. Shortly after my arrival Pat and Vincent hired a quality chef for the restaurant. The guy last worked in a 4 star hotel in a large kitchen with ten cooks under his supervision. His name is Sak and he cooks fabulous Thai food. The restaurant has not opened because a menu has not been completed. Pat and Vincent are testing out all of Sak’s best dishes to decide what to put on the menu. Sak cooks lunchand then a late dinner. So who gets to test the dishes with them? Who else but Carpenter Andy.
Sak usually makes four dishes per meal with a tasty desert to top it off. The flavors he comes up with are amazing. Many Thai dishes that I used to dislike are transformed into something amazingly delicious. He is very good at what he does and I frequently find myself in the kitchen, tasting this or that. Wonderful! Especially after months of boat food.
Near the end of my travels though Malaysia I was subsisting on Ramen, beer and Chrysanthemum Tea. It was not such a bad way to live but the contrast to this sort of lifestyle is amazing. I could pretty much say that we eat like kings and queens.

Now to contrast all these fabulous things I will tell you all something that I was rather embarrassed about at first. Now it doesn’t bother me much. In fact it makes me laugh. So I will tell you. I make the same salary as the lower carpenters on the property. It is enough to cover my expenses, just barely. I make 100 Baht a day. At the present exchange rate that would translate to 2 dollars and 50 cents a day. I don’t think there is any way to compare such a wage to the states. It is almost hilarious. 2.50 an hour would be silly, but 2.50 a DAY is just not.
To put this in a bit more perspective let me explain that I can get a large bowl of super tasty, extra thick, pork soup for 10 Baht. That is 25 cents. On the other hand if I want to buy a cheep pair of jeans it will cost me two days work. It is interesting to have such a minuscule wage and to consider the things I purchase on a daily basis in terms of days worth of work. I will have to purchase a new autopilot for the boat which will cost 900 US $. That would translate into 360 days of labor. So I would have to work for a year straight to purchase that piece of equipment. Lordy!
But enough of that.
Recently Pat has been trying to give me more responsibility. I have been resisting but like a good ruler she does insist. Most of the guys who work on the property do their jobs and projects to the 75 percent level. They work fast but often things have to be redone twice or even three times. In contrast I finish my projects at about the 95 percent level. I am a lot slower but I do things once. I learned a few things from the boat which have become engrained habits. If at all possible, do a job with the idea that you won’t have to fix or repair it again. I couldn’t stand fixing things twice on the boat. So much shit broke all the time that if I ever did a half-ass job I would never be able to keep up. I tend to make stuff heavy and sturdy and make sure it works well before I consider the job finished. The other requirement is that most things should be easily removable for future repairs or problems. The last thing I do here that most of the other guys don’t do is that I ask Pat and Vincent 50 questions on exactly what they want. I am not quite sure why the Thai guys don’t do it. I could guess that it would imply that you don’t now what you are doing and it is a cardinal rule to make sure everyone knows that you know exactly what you are doing. So if you ask questions it might imply that you don’t know everything already. It seems sort of asinine to me but some cultural differences are hard to understand. Maybe after a few years of working here I would understand the underlying principles but at the moment it just seems silly to me. The result is a lot of mistakes and redone jobs because it is not what Pat asked for in the first place.
This has resulted in Pat trying to use me in important jobs around the property. I have done quality jobs in most of these cases partially because I try to get into the details of exactly what she wants. The thing that sucks about this is that she now has me supervising the crew and contractors doing work on her house. There are about 10 guys and I get to check up on them at 9 am and 4 pm. We go over what they have done and what is on the agenda for the next day. We go over mistakes and general policies. It is definitely improving my Thai but on the whole I don’t like it that much. I know what it means to manage. It is hard. It is about people, and that makes doing a good job much more about how you manage, explain and assist those workers under you. This is a field of work that I am not interested in at the moment. Pat has asked me to think about what I want in return for my efforts. We are doing a test run this week. The other thing that sucks about this and other larger projects on the site is that they reduce my woodworking time. I am building a really cool cabinet now but it is taking a really long time, because I spend more and more of it being more responsible.
Anyone have any advice on how to skirt responsibility?

I think I have made it pretty clear what I am doing here and what this place is like. Maybe before I move on I should address one more question. Why am I up here? The answer is that I love working with wood and I wanted to learn how to be a better carpenter. I wanted to see what it was like to work as a carpenter, on a daily basis. Unfortunately I have found that I love it. What that means exactly, will be a long time in developing. I wake up happy because I know that I get to go to work. I finish the days satisfied with what I have created. These things are fundamental. I have a spring of happiness in my heart. This spring keeps flowing and I have plenty of extra to pass around.
In contrast, while I was teaching in Japan, I had anguish, fear and frustration in my heart day in and day out. And what did I have to give to other people but exactly what I had in my heart.
So that is the reason I came up here; to see how much I liked this line of work.

Now on to the next issue in this letter. My birthday is coming up. I am turning the big 30. Does it scare me? Hell yes! What am I going to do about it? I am going to live it up and go out sailing some more.
After my trip through Malaysia and during my time in Johor Bahru I learned a tremendous amount about the proper equipment necessary for the boat to make longer journeys. Specifically to go out into the Indian Ocean for some blue water sailing. So I am going to write down that list here in this letter. I will also include a specific or average price depending on what I understand it to be. I know that most of these things are way more expensive than any one friend could give me. But I will hope that some of my friends can get together on some of the cheaper items. It will also give me a reasonable excuse to ask for money for my Birthday. I can create a pool for each item and friends and family can decide what they want to contribute to. So here is the list.

1. Hand Held GPS “Garmin 76” 210 US$
2. Small color Printer for chart printing “durability is key” 120 US$
3. 4 – 5 large scale NOAA charts, together covering the entire Indian Ocean (Indonesia to Madagascar) 80 US$
4. Single Sideband Receiver (SSB), long range ham style receiver 120 US$
5. Sunglasses “Maui Jim” Pipeline Model (MJ-406-02) polarized, plus full UV protection 115 US$
6. Battery Charging Switch (to charge two different battery banks separately or simultaneously) 40 US$
7. Thesaurus, and Dictionary (not too large, but complete) 50 US$
8. Surfboard 350 US$
9. Manual winch type anchor windlass 200 US$ (not sure here)
10. Autopilot “Ray Marine” ST4000 MK II with spare belt (West Marine part # 2680205) 899 US$ last I checked
11. Wind Vane (used) self steering system 500 to 3000 US$
12. Storm anchor (small parachute-like sea anchor for heavy seas) (?) have not researched this one. Might make it in Thailand instead.
13. Emergency Life Raft 2000 US$

Some items on the list might not be purchased at all. The boat requires more than what is on this list but most other items I can buy in Thailand for quite cheep.
So what I am asking for my birthday this year is money. I will accept it in cash checks or plastic. Just let me know which item you would like to contribute to. Another incentive I have is that if any friends or family purchase some of the medium to larger priced items they will be compensated by free passage on the Wind Spirit. I usually charge a tiny rate of 50 US$ per week to all guests on the boat. If considerable money is spent on any of these items this fee will be waived. So act now and . . . Ok, I can’t do that.
Seriously. I have many friends out there who have little to no money. A card or an e-mail is just fine for my Birthday. I know that I am asking for lots of money so I won’t be crushed when I don’t get it. But at least I wont get 10 more dress shirts.
That covers the “B” Day Wish List.

Another little piece of info that I should mention is that I am putting together a little web page for the Wind Spirit. It will house most of my stories, a lot of photos, details about the boat, my future plans for her, and information for and about past and future crew. It is a bit slow in the making though because I have been learning how to use Dream Weaver in the process.

I believe the last order of business is future plans.

What does Captain Andy have in store for the future?

I will try to be brief because I could write another ten pages on this topic. I will
depart Chiang Rai in late May. I will pay a one-week visit to the Wind Spirit in Sebana Cove to make sure all is well. I will take care of any problems and prepare the boat for my stay in the states, where I will not be able to drop down to see her on the drop of a ball.
I will return to BKK and then fly to San Francisco. I will be attending the wedding of a good friend by the name of Ritu Kumar. Then I will take care of misc. business in SF while staying with my sister. I will get my red card training for firefighting through my friend’s company. In early July I will attend my sister’s wedding. Directly after the wedding I will depart for Oregon to work as a firefighter in my friends company. It is a Contract Firefighting business and we will be located out in the wilderness in the general area of the western states. That is the case as far as I understand it. If anything exciting happens I will be sure to write you all about it.
I will do this until the season is over. That should be around August or September. I will then return to my sister’s place in SF and take the time to purchase the necessary equipment for the boat. I will depart in October for Thailand. I will take the critical equipment with me to Singapore and get the boat up and running again.
My friend Bet, the squid-fisherman, will accompany me on this stage of the adventure. We will get the boat in decent condition and then sail north to the Andaman sea area. We will arrive in Satun, the southern-most province on the west coast of Thailand. There, I will redo the boat registration as well as do the serious work required to get the boat ready for the Indian Ocean. I will spend the next month or two doing upgrades and repairs and cruising around the Andaman Sea. I would like to test most of the systems and take friends on short cruises.
So, all of you interested in safe, short cruises should consider coming over to Thailand at the end of 2004. The Andaman Sea is by far one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world. I have seen enough of them so trust me, I know.
Those of you interested in the outer fringes should wait until the beginning of 2005. I will depart for Sri Lanka in early January. I will spend a few weeks there. My father has some good friends who will show us around. After Sri Lanka we will head for the southern tip of the Indian Subcontinent, then on to the Maldives. I would like to spend some time cruising the Maldives looking for good surf. After the Maldives we will sail south to Diego Garcia. Then it will be on to Mauritius and the collection of islands just east of Madagascar. I am not sure right now whether Madagascar will be on the list but there will be plenty of time to decide. From here there will be two clear choices but at this point I will not go into them. I will just leave the plans as laid out up to that point.
Keep in mind that this is a general outline and who knows what will happen in the next year. I am also not sure how long it will take to travel through some of these locations. I know the distances between them but how long we will linger is hard to tell.

At this time I would also like to make an invitation to all of my friends and family. You are all welcome to come out and sail with me for short or long periods of time. I will also need crew for almost all of the legs so keep in mind that I will be cruising many of the archipelagoes of the Indian Ocean during the first six months or so of 2005. Plane tickets are not all that expensive and 50 bucks a week is less than you would spend in most countries around the world. That would be 200 bucks for a month of cruising around the Indian Ocean.
This invitation goes out to friends of friends as well. As long as they are people you trust then I think that is a good start. Just give them my email address and tell them to get in contact with me. Surfers are also invited for the Sri Lanka, Maldives and Reunion stints. I will be hunting specifically for Surf during those periods.

I will finish this letter off with a few explanations of the photos in this set.
Lounging at the Restaurant was taken shortly before lunch after a pleasant morning of work in the Shop.
Workspace is the “shop” we all work in and out of.
Pat and Vincent are the owners of this place, my bosses and the Prince and Princess of this little fiefdom.
Sak in his Kitchen is our master chef at work. You should see him flip shit. I stand five feet behind him with a plate and he flips egg-roles over his shoulder onto the plate in my hands. He is good at what he does.
A Night Out is a photo of my friend “Kay” (in the middle) and his two buddies Mac and Moo, heading out on the town on his little red two-stroke motorcycle.
Old Carriages was my first project at the place.
Restaurant Chairs shows one of my later repair and rebuilding projects. I only shot three of the chairs but I think I repaired 15 or so.
Back Country Road gives a good feeling for the scenery around here. I shot it while on the back of Kay’s Motorcycle.

That is about it for this letter. I send my love to friends and family. I have not been writing emails that regularly because of my other projects, but rest assured I am thinking of you all.
Please drop me a line anytime. It is nice to hear from you all. It is also important for me to use my English before I forget too much of it.

Much love,
Captain (Carpenter) Andy