Warren and Zetta, I've replied to some of your questions below......
So many questions not sure where to start.
Our intentions on where to sail from Malaysia are developing everyday as we speak to others that are here. However a long term desire is to reach Cairns as our daughter is a dive instructor there. So we may cross paths J&J at some point. We have spent time from Cairns to Cape Trib in the past but not on a boat. It is an area we would love to explore and a practical place to get to from Indonesia we presume.
Our work boat's called Wavelength and does reef trips out of Port Douglas. We're launching a new boat in May. We know the outer reef quite well and with a little local knowledge it's not hard to anchor along it. A bit intimidating for cruisers though and they tend to go past here too fast and miss out a lot. The top spot for cruisers is Lizard Island and unfortunately that's had direct hits from Cyclone Ita last year and Cyclone Nathan just a couple of days ago.
It's only practical to head south along this coast from the tip around October/November. Earlier and the wind is SE trades, later and it's cyclone season. Heading from here to Indonesia is easier than the other way round but boats do it.
One of our first requirements is to set up a holding tank for the toilet. Does anyone know of how to do that? Is there a production built holding tank that fits the Sharki? Would Popeye have the same bathroom configuration as our Sharki.
It should be similar if not quite the same dimensions. I installed a holding tank in the forward head behind the panel at the back of the toilet. There are many different ways to do it. My preference is for maximum simplicity. The previous owner had a low down holding tank under the sink and an electric diaphragm pump to empty it... very glad to get rid of it. If the pump needed work poo would leak out.
There are some posts here if you search and a sketch in Popeye's photos. Basically the holding tank goes high up behind the panel so you lose some of those storage cubbies. The toilet can pump upwards to the top of a tank, the outlet comes from the bottom straight to the seacock. An air vent with a charcoal filter also comes of the top of the tank and goes through a charcoal filter and then a small stainless deck vent fitting. Nearly all this can be out of sight behind the panel.
The tank can be custom made by a plastics workshop out of polyethylene with appropriate bits for fittings and welded joints, or you may find a rectangular "off the shelf" one that would roughly fit from someone like Vetus. If you close the existing seacock the tank is a holding tank. If you leave the seacock open the yucky stuff just goes straight through, or empties the tank. My tank is white so it's a little translucent and it's easy to check how full it is. If your tank overfills the charcoal gets ruined and the excess fluid comes out the deck vent. It is pretty easy to make a self fill-able charcoal filter.
There are no pump out facilities here so I omitted a deck pump-out. Make sure if you need one as that involves putting a hole in the deck. That has to be done and sealed properly to avoid water seeping into the balsa deck core. If you need one that's another fitting on the tank too with an internal pipe to the bottom of the tank.
Manon2 has an original Neco auto steering system that appears to have been unwired at the floating compass. Is it likely that it could still work? Does anyone have any info about them? Is it worth reconnecting it or better to go electronic?
Do you know the history? Did it work recently? I know of no way to get parts. I presume there isn't another compass wired in and the original left on but unconnected? Do you have the owners manual? Mine still works but it uses quite a lot of energy compared to a modern one. There is a possibility to change the computer and compass and keep the drive motor which is heavy duty (they d'nae make 'em like that n'more). I have some information on how to do it if you like but it's complicated wiring on the motor and I haven't needed to actually do it. (Assuming you have a rotary drive like the Maramu.)
Alternatively Raymarine and Whitlock and others make rotary autopilot motors if you were changing the whole system (best option probably) or you could possibly put a linear system on the quadrant with some modifications of the cabinet work in the back cabin. I think Simrad/Robertson don't have a rotary drive that size. A Maramu probably needs a bigger autopilot than a Sharki and I think you have a few more options in the size unit you would need. If you wanted to, and wanted to do it the cheapest way, a wheel mounted pilot can work. A decent autopilot is invaluable though if you are planning on long crossings.
The multifunction display of a plotter (see below) can also interface with the instruments and autopilot so it is easier if they're all the same brand.
There are no electronics on the boat except a depth sounder.
With modern electronics what are some of the suggestions people would have as a minimum to carry on a cruising boat?
You have a few choices like Rarmarine, Simrad, Garmin etc. Not sure about the others but Raymarine have a basic kit at a reduced price that has three displays wind, log/speed and depth. It's not to hard to use the old wires to pull through new ones for the transducers. Tictak (sp?) do wireless instruments so are easy to fit but I think they rely on a small solar pack on the display so not probably not suitable under the hard top. Also not sure about their reliability.
We have downloaded Navionics and find Windyty to be fantastic. I think you suggested that John. Navionics at first glance looks like it has all the information that a chart plotter would have. Therefore is a chart plotter necessary?
Navionics (the upgraded version) on an ipad is excellent. You've probably worked out that (at least as of the last ipad version) only the cellular ipad has the GPS so although you don't need a phone signal you need a cellular ipad - not a basic model. If you use it as you main nav system then it needs to be powered as the battery will not last long so have a charging point at the nav station. Despite the charts and accuracy being as good as a dedicated plotter I would not have it as the only system and would say a small multifunction dispay is pretty much essential and best at the helm. That way your nav-station ipad is safer too. Something like a small Garmin, they come with inbuilt Garmin charts for the area you buy it. Lowrance, Furuno, Simrad and Raymarine all do similar units. These days they can also display AIS, radar, depth, music, videos etc etc. Some use Cmap charts and some use Navionics. You can't use the itunes Navionics chart and the cards are quite expensive. An advantage of Cmap is the charts can be a little different and having on Cmap and one Navionics means you can compare the accuracy. An advantage of Navionics is that you are already used to it.
The small units nearly always have an inbuilt aerial... much easier to fit. If you get the same brand as the instruments it's much easier to interface them.
I'm old fashioned and also have paper charts. There was a place in Cyprus where you could get a photocopy of any chart in the world for a couple of dollars.....probably got sued years ago. It also used to be easier to buy second hand ones or swap with other boats that were going the opposite way but still worth trying as, being a back-up it's not essential they are as up to date as your electronic charts. At least have a couple of large area charts for route planning as you can't substitute a fully folded out chart on a table with a small screen. Pilot books also can't be replaced by the electronics. Sometimes they can be bought second hand or swapped, especially when going the opposite way to the crowd like it sounds you might be. (Talking of books - an excellent one if you haven't got it is Nigel Calder's Mechanical and Electrical Manual).
I understand there are internet servers that cover the seas around Malaysia and Indonesia. Does anyone have any information on this?
As new members of the Amel group we are very impressed with the group. Everyone seems to be keen to uphold it’s integrity. We have observed a couple of ethical debates and found the exchanges interesting.
I've only had my Amel for three years but checked this site before buying one and it also influenced me. I think everyone just wants to avoid this ever becoming like some other forums with arguments and inaccurate information. Most of the vanguard are Super Maramu owners. I don't think they mind these sorts of posts because they might be selling us their boat one day when they retire and we upgrade!
We look forward to our future with the group and perhaps visiting the factory at some point.
One more question. Being Amel Sharki #15. Does this mean it was the 15th Sharki built or the 15th Amel built?
Sharki #15. Do you know about the history of Henri Amel and the Amel factory yet? It's really interesting. They'd been at it for quite a while by the time our boats were built and he was quite a man. Kind regards, John Maramu #91 1981
Fair winds and best regards,
Warren and Zetta. Sharki #15, Manon2, Telaga Harbour,Langkawi,Malayasia