Almost Dying For Aircon

WE GOT AIRCON! It’s taken me five years to convince Liz but we finally have aircon on the boat! And we’re not the only ones: the trend was set by ‘Slamat’, shortly followed by all the other boats in an attempt to keep up with the Jones: ‘Esper’, ‘Roam II’, ‘Full Flight’, and then ‘Shelter’. ‘Rhumb Do’ is still trying to work out where to install his. But it wasn’t just the small purchase price of the unit I paid for that day, I almost paid for this luxury with my life.



It all started when Armin and Monika of ‘Slamat’ did some research into aircon units and discovered a Samsung model that was the smallest on the market. (No, I’m not going to write a review of it like my Samsung netbook review). It was a household unit so there was still the issue of storing the compressor but the internal wall-mounted fan made it a very real solution. The price, however, was the clincher: $330! Three hundred dollars for aircon on the boat beats the two thousand euro price our neighbours have paid for their marine-specific installations.


So, with the great price, the small unit and the very important issue of 80% humidity that was sucking the lifeblood from us every day Liz finally succumbed. I headed in to town and down the very long MG Road to the Samsung Plaza centre some miles away. The sales man already knew what I wanted when I mentioned Armin (imagine his glee by the time Shelter and Full Flight turned up!) and, paying in cash, I hung around waiting for a lift back with the delivery man. It was a half hour wait spent in the showroom watching Monsters vs Aliens in 3D on a huge widescreen wearing 3D specs. Most excellent. If I could just convince Liz ‘Esper’ needs a 50 inch plasma and blu-ray DVD player…


Anyway, the delivery man eventually turned up… in a tuk-tuk! Actually they are not tuk-tuks, they are refered to as auto rickshaws, a little vehicle called the Piaggio Ape. Here’s Mr Singh with two of his favourite models…








As you can see they are rather small. They’re made of corrugated cardboard, have liquorice wheels and are driven by nutters. In fact it seems the prerequisite to hold a license for one of these things is to drive like a complete arse.


More on that in a moment, first we have to actually get into this thing. With the aircon units in the back I could see the driver’s seat was very clearly designed for one person so naturally I went to the back of the vehicle to climb in amongst the boxes. No, no, no. Wrong. I was to sit with the driver. Where though? On his lap? Astride the handbrake? No, just next to him in the passenger’s seat of course. Now look, in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m not what you’d call ‘Indian slim’. With me stuffed into the driver’s seat literally on top of the driver we had a problem: my new delivery friend found it impossible to turn the steering wheel left. Actually, it wasn’t a steering wheel, it was a moped handle. Every time he turned left the handle hit my knee, causing my knee to inadvertently kick out making my foot depress the strange pedal between my feet. I’m not entirely sure what this pedal was doing on ‘my’ side of the cockpit but it seemed to have the effect of making the driver speed up. This normally coincided with an approaching traffic jam or a hundred people crossing the street. These drivers insist on going as fast as possible for as long as possible  whilst attempting to see if it’s also possible to get their four foot wide vehicles between three foot wide gaps between two buses. Somehow they manage it. How, I don’t know since I have my eyes very tightly shut. Anyway, this inability to not turn left might have explained why the whole journey felt like a clockwise merry-go-round ride from hell. Terrifying doesn’t even come close to explaining this experience.






Actual snapshot taken from a speed-camera of my delivery driver avoiding a pothole on MG Road, Cochin



We made it back to Bolgatty Marina in record time and carried the boxes down the pontoon and on to ‘Esper’. I suppose at this point I should post up some pics of our polytunnel tent that we’ve spent the last few days  constructing. It’s supposed to be our monsoon-resistant boat cover but with the aircon its requirement is almost negated as we don’t need to keep our hatches open any more. We’ve been warned that the winds can pick up considerably during monsoon so I’m not sure if our cover will actually become a sail. If you think we’re being over-cautious with our tent just know that in the next few months we can expect an average rainfall of 2250 – 2500mm. No, that was not a typo.






Esper's monsoon cover. See aircon compressor by the main mast in the shot on the left




What isn’t so clear in these shots is Esper’s gleaming hull. We’ve just had two local lads spend two days scraping, cleaning and polishing the hull after we picked up half of Mumbai’s effluent. These lads did a sterling job and worked really hard. Embarrassingly they cost just $23 a day for their services.




Bolgatty Marina. Good advert for blue tarpaulins





Aircon unit in Esper's saloon. 728mm in length.




Anyway, we got the aircon on the boat and the installation chaps turned up within three hours, so from point of purchase to blissful aircon heaven it took all of five hours. And three years of my life.

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10 Comments on “Almost Dying For Aircon”

  1. I don’t know what was funnier, imagining your fat knee in the way of the handlebars or the random advert for a train horn down the right hand side of the article!

  2. Hi Jamie & Liz. How the other half live.!!!! Sounds like India is just as good as Egypt as far as driving is concerned. Congrats on the Aircon – bet brother Ian will find somewhere on Rhumbdo for one soon as.!! Stay cool.!(and dry)

  3. hahahaha!! excellent post.

    I’ve heard about Indian drivers. I was always convinced that Serbian drivers were the WORST… but this was always hotly disputed by my Indian friends and colleagues.

  4. Rats… Can’t see the train horn ad…

    Sounds like you’re having fun, Jamie! But with regard to the telly, don’t you think the aircon was enough trauma for a year?

  5. How I laughed at the description of the trip back to Esper until I realised it was MY SON who had diced with death just for the sake of a cooler life! Mum 😥

  6. What model # is the aircon? My northern born GF is terrified of moving to South Florida next year without aircon. I keep telling her she’ll get used to it, but even I am having some doubts. For $330 … worth the risk I think.

    1. Aha, I knew I should have written a review/article on installing it! The model number is AS103USB, Samsung Bio-sleep Plus. I’d be interested to know if it cost the same in the States as it does here in India. Sometimes manufacturers adjust their prices according to local income levels so it could be more expensive there. Even so it’s the smallest unit on the market. Not sure of the BTU but we have a 43ft boat with a 4m beam and it cools the whole thing down no problem.

  7. Tim/Bobby: Try as I might I cannot get that train horn ad to appear for me. You know internet ads are quite sophisticated these days so I suspect the system is aware of who you are and is serving up ads specific to your requirements. Knowing what geeks you two are the train horn ad doesn’t surprise me. I AM surprised you didn’t see it though, Christo 😉

  8. Absolutely hilarious Jamie, that brings back memories of our first day in Cochin when we had a serious sense of humour failure in one such auto-rickshaw! Am looking forward to coming back now you have AC!! Esper looks beautiful (albeit covered with a big blue sock!) 🙂

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