Monday, November 16, 2015

Anchorages and routes

We have finally re-entered all of Sea Turtle's anchorages and routes travelled since 2009. The anchorages had originally been done with a company whose system crashed and almost all of our anchorages were gone. Luckily, we had kept a copy of our information! Our anchorages, and also our routes, have now been entered with the program Google Earth. Do NOT use for navigation!!

You must have Google Earth - a free program - installed on your computer to view. When you click the word HERE (or as shown at the right side of this page under Sea Turtle Links), you will be directed to a page that asks you to "Download" (as usual with web pages) or "Save to my Dropbox". Simply click download. Then you will be asked to save the link. No problem. Simply save it wherever you want and open.

So download and save. That's it, easy.

The link takes you to a copy of our Google Earth page where we add or delete stuff, instead of just the globe. If you make any changes, additions, or deletions to the file by accident or on purpose, your changes will NOT save to our linked file. When you close Google Earth, you have the choice to "discard" or "save".

Discarding will remove the copied file from your computer's Google Earth but will NOT remove Google Earth from your computer. Saving will save the file (and any changes you have made to the file) to your computer, not to our link.

So don't worry about moving any anchorages, etc. by mistake. It won't change our original linked file. You can simply close (discard) the file and re-open it from the link on the right where it says "Click HERE..." if you mess it up!

Have fun with Google Earth. Zoom in and visit the places we have been to. You can see the sandy beaches, marinas, anchorages, cities, etc. and share our dream...

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mr. Ted is Dead

In memory of my Dad who recently passed, I (Jordan) have been asked to compose a brief entry for our blog. For a while now, I have been wondering what to say, wanting to avoid a repetitively hollow and cliché piece.

Pondering the subject, 2 compositions that I had heard come to mind that I thought might give me some inspiration. Both were short yet unusual.

One was about Mr. Head (pronounced "Heed" in the Scottish vernacular). After Mr. Head from Bitterhead Scotland died, Mrs. Head thought she should post an obituary with the local village news rag. And when she inquired as to the cost, the clerk said it cost by the word. So Mrs. Head wanted to keep it short. When she suggested that the obit should read "Mr. Head from Bitterhead is dead" the clerk tactfully suggested that it was a little curt and offered to add 3 words more at no charge. So after a brief moment of thought, Mrs. Head revised her submission as follows: "Mr. Head from Bitterhead is dead. Volvo for sale."

The other, a true story, was a posthumous obit written by the person himself posted in the local paper after his death. Apparently he was a jovial fellow and all who knew him weren't surprised by his words. His self-composed obit simply read "John is Dead" under a picture of him with a broad smile.

Now this I think makes more sense than the usual and typical "Theodore David Mills, born...blah blah blah..." because obits are only meaningful to people who knew the deceased and they probably know everything that you might want to say anyways. So words can be an inadequate substitute.

I could bore you and say that Dad was an extremely steadfast and honest father (which in fact he was) and that I couldn't conceive of a better Dad (which in fact I couldn't). And I could add that because of this and by his lead, he taught us there could be a balance in being responsible and enjoying R & R activities. But for those who knew him, knew that his "quiet love" was unequivocally evident without showy displays. I suppose, as a simple description that says it all, I could say this: "If all earth's inhabitants were of Dad's nature, there would be peace without strife and conflict."

Or for the sake of brevity, and in light of Dad's scriptural belief in the life after: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5.5)

Or...I could just say...

"Mr. Ted is Dead"

Monday, April 20, 2015

Put to bed

We tied Sea Turtle up to a dock on April 13th, the first time in many months, at Marina Island, a 318-acre man-made island. Here, we prepared her to be put up on the hard at the family-owned Pangkor Marina.

We hauled out on an unusual but very efficient Sea-Lift, a first for us. Jordan manoeuvred Sea Turtle onto the air-filled bunks and the operator of the lift first raised and then directed Sea Turtle up the ramp and out of the ocean - all with his remote control! No scratches, bumps, or nicks. After a bottom power wash, she was settled on the hard.

Jordan powering onto Sea-Lift

Soft and easy lift

In the humid heat with the daily predictable afternoon showers, we continued preparing Sea Turtle for a long sleep. We found relief from the heat by taking an air-conditioned hotel room and an occasional swim in another hotel's swimming pool!

We felt comfortable with the security of Pangkor Marina's yard knowing Sea Turtle would be in good company for the months to follow, nestled in with other yachts from all parts of the world, some from Canada too.

With a sad goodbye to Sea Turtle on April 20th, it was a cheery hello to family and friends in Canada where we will be until approximately November to complete a project.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Back to Malaysia

We needed to travel a couple of days south from Koh Lipe of Thailand to the Pangkor Marina of Malaysia. So on April 10th, we checked out of Thailand, and with a breeze on our nose, we first motorsailed for the Langkawi group of islands about 5 hours away. Halfway there though, we decided to bypass Langkawi and do an overnighter south for our check-in at Penang Island of Malaysia.

Throughout the night, we kept a vigilant eye to avoid nocturnal fishing boats and nets. Then as the day broke and we cut through the haze as we entered the Penang Strait, it was the freighters we had to give way to. We anchored in front of George Town at Penang Island (Malaysia) around noon (N05°24.646' E100°20.569').

At George Town, having previously seen its sights, we made haste and did our Malaysia check-in and our port check-out all at once for a quick departure to resume our southbound track. The afternoon departure was good timing. Just! We picked up a southbound tidal current that pushed up under both bridges while we watched an ominous black squall intensify just over our shoulder. Realizing we couldn't outrun it, we pulled over in the shallows as close to shore as we could and dropped the hook (N05°16.321' E100°17.524') just as the wind and rain hit.


Looked lower than it was!

Once the squall abated, we lifted the hook at 23:00 and continued to motorsail until we reached Pangkor Island (N04°14.696' E100°34.344') where we anchored on April 12th for one evening. The next morning, we dinghied to the nearby man-made island (Marina Island), where we confirmed our reservation and then motored Sea Turtle over (N04°12.688' E100°36.109').

This would be Sea Turtle's home for awhile...

Thursday, April 09, 2015

In stitches!

April 7th was an interesting day at Koh Adang of Thailand. Early in the morning, many longtail tourist boats passed Sea Turtle on her mooring ball heading to various shores for their passengers to snorkel in the nearby coral or stroll on the uninhabited beaches. We counted at least 20 boats, sometimes 5 all together!

Tourist transportation

We were excited to get into the water for some long-awaited coral reef snorkelling. But as Jordan was about to attach the dinghy wheels, he stumbled when a wave from a passing boat bobbed the dinghy and he stepped on a sharp bolt head which was part of the dinghy wheel bracket. It sliced and ripped into the bottom of his little toe. The diced flesh was bleeding profusely, and upon examining it, it was obvious that it needed stitches. Koh Adang was uninhabited so it was back to Koh Lipe for medical attention.

Back at the village, we went to the closer of 2 clinics along Koh Lipe Walking Street, later wishing we had tried the second one. For 8 stitches in a small toe, including doctor and nurse, it cost $350!! Plus they wanted another $200 for antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, which we succinctly declined.

We returned to Koh Adang immediately afterwards where I snorkelled for the next 2 days with Jordan following me, peering down below from in the dinghy. I felt so bad for him not being able to get into salt water because of his wound, but at least he had snorkelled this same area previously when I was in Canada.

Evening sunset

From Koh Adang, we once again returned to the white sandy beaches of Koh Lipe (N06°29.074' E099°18.009') for one last evening.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Koh Lipe and Adang

After checking out of Telaga (Malaysia) on April 5th, we pulled the hook, and 6 hours later were in Thailand at the island of Koh Lipe (N06°29.076' E099°18.058'). Here the anchorage depth was 22 metres in clear clean waters before the bottom rose abruptly to the shallow coral reef that pre-empted the beautiful sandy beach.

Anchorage real estate was in demand at this busy destination and great care was needed in dropping the hook, because at that depth, at least 60 metres of chain was prudent so swinging radii ate up the available bay.

The first night required close watch as swirling tide and variable winds swung boats around and at times too close for comfort from each other. Competing crafts included longtail shuttle boats, day tourist speed boats, ferries, dive boats, supply vessels, and a few sailboats.

With last night's full moon, tide changes were extreme. There was oodles of coral near the shore so to avoid our dinghy's prop meeting coral, we had to wait for a higher tide before going to or leaving shore.

This was my first visit to Koh Lipe but Jordan had stopped here while I was back in Canada. Ashore, I "met" the Asian girl that Jordan confessed to kissing and groping during my absence...

Caught!

I forgave him! LOL!

Koh Lipe is a small out-of-the-way tourist island destination. Its main attraction is the powder fine sandy beach where visitors' whims are satisfied by the many bars, restaurants, and places to stay that range from very basic huts to fine resorts. It can be defined as a stroller's dream destination as its arteries are built for pedestrians where they can stop at leisure for a massage, a drink, a meal, book a dive, or even get medical treatment. For us, it was also a required immigration check-in port.

Beautiful white sandy beach of Koh Lipe

We did our official checking-in the morning after we arrived but soon left for quieter anchorage dibs an hour away on Koh Adang, the next Thai island just to the north where we grabbed a mooring ball (N06°32.139' E099°16.860').

The first thing we did was jump in the water where we had to hang on to the dinghy rope attached to Sea Turtle as the current was so strong it would have pulled us away from the boat and out into the ocean. But it was so refreshing and the water was so clear you could almost see the bottom at 15 metres.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Back to Telaga

After a few days exploring the south islands in the Langkawi anchipelago, we made it back to Telaga Harbour (N06°21.711' E099°40.832'). As our next trip would be over to Thailand islands, Telaga is an official "check-out-of-Malaysia" port.

Telaga is an out of the way port with a nice secure anchorage ringed with beaches. The numerous anchored boats are protected from sea waves by 2 small breakwater islands and the pleasant scene is marked by steep verdant mountains overlooking us from the north. From the anchorage, one takes their dinghy in past a faux lighthouse and resident monkeys scampering on the rocks eager for tossed treats, then through a short channel to the inner harbour marina.

Sea Turtle anchored at Telaga

Monkey mania

Once inside, we took advantage of the facilities which, among other things, were happy hours at the various harbourside restaurants, the fuel and laundry facilities, convenience store, and of course the official government border control offices.

And Telaga is where we could once again play badminton to get a bit of exercise...

No, that's not a halo!

As soon as the sun sets, the ocean horizon lights up with a multitude of green lights from local fishing boats, out for the night's bounty that the lights attract. No chance of anyone running into these fishermen in the dark! But what they did not have was the "longtail" motor which gives these boats their name. Sadly, almost all of them now in this Malaysian area have regular motors.

Friday, April 03, 2015

The lake

We rose to another hot and sunny day that began with a 10-minute dinghy ride to a jetty already swarming with tourists shuttled by longtail boats from Langkawi (Malaysia). The attraction was the 10-hectare freshwater lake on Pulau Dayang Bunting, the largest freshwater lake and the second largest island of the Langkawi archipelago.

It was a short walk from the jetty, up an incline, through a draw in the cliffs, then down some 100 steps to the rafts on the lake - along the route were many monkeys, some with adorable new infants! Signs at the lake indicated Lifejackets Must Be Worn which seemed strange to us having spent so much time swimming without such things and even au natural. Was it that many visitors don't know how to swim?

However after diving into the cool blue water, we realized right away that the freshwater, compared to seawater, made us much less buoyant and required some definite expense of energy to simply stay afloat.

Freshwater for a change

After swimming, we walked the boardwalk nature trail along the lake shore to a spot called the Miracle Border where we could see the ocean at a level some 12 m (40 feet) below separated by only a thin ridge of rock.

We diverted our return to our Sea Turtle to explore a cluster of smaller islands. There we spotted a cute romp of otters hanging out beneath a cut in the limestone formations with just their curious heads peering out at us. Above the otters, we admired the grey limestone cliffs textured with hanging gardens of streaming 30-metre (100-foot) long vines, palms, and bushes interspersed with weeping limestone stalagmites. We again dinghied right inside a couple of caves carved out by ions of erosion.

Dinghy spelunking

We left later in the day to return to Singa Besar for a relaxing evening.

Another day done

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Here and there

On March 30th after enjoying our experiences at the Hole in the Wall in the northeast of Langkawi Malaysia, we sailed back around to the west side and to the smaller private island of Rebak best known for its marina.

As of late, we've been taking it easy which is a nice way of saying we have been lazy and consequently certain boat jobs have been ignored. But there was one job that was impossible to ignore. The hydraulic steering showed signs of being "mushy" and lacked appropriate response from the wheel and/or auto pilot. It was just a matter of adding fluid, but it begged the question of where it was leaking, albeit slowly. Something that would have to be later traced and remedied.

Our bottom (the boat's bottom, that is) also needs to be painted as it's been 2 years since haul-out in New Zealand. Other big jobs that can't be ignored too much longer are new deck paint, stainless steel polishing, and teak wood refinishing. Sea Turtle seems to be lapsing into poor fettle and in need of some tender loving care!

Our initial plans had been to haul out soon at Rebak Island Marina but now we have decided it will be necessary to wait. More on that later.

We anchored on a lea shore off Rebak Island and the breakwater to the marina entrance (N06°17.382' E099°41.546') at 15:45. With an onshore wind, we would only leave the boat for a short time to meet up with Trevor and Jolanta of sailing vessel Magnetic which was on the hard. We walked the nature trail to the swimming pool of the marina and resort where we caught up on past travel adventures and tried to solve some of the world problems.

Then back to Sea Turtle to re-anchor in more protected waters (N06°16.175' E099°43.712') about an hour away from Rebak - at the spot where I had re-joined Jordan when I returned from Canada.

The next morning to the throb of the engine, we headed south for some island gunkholing. First anchorage an hour away was at Singa Besar Island (N06°13.854' E099°44.738') where we dinghied around some nearby rock islands. Singa Besar is a wildlife sanctuary for monkeys, deer, snakes, lizards, and birds. The island is also rich in unique rock formations and mangrove plants.

Another Langkawi anchorage

Then on April 2nd, we motored a little further south through mystical karst islands whose sheer limestone cliff faces rose straight out of the waters.

No beach here!

We dropped the hook in a narrow but calm channel between the 2 islands of Gubang Darat and Dayang Bunting where their cliffs towered above us (N06°11.366' E099°47.257').

As the cool of the evening approached, we saw a troop of monkeys exploring the rocky shore and night was ushered in by sweet avian chatter...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Maze of mangroves

We left Telaga Harbour of Langkawi Island (Malaysia) on March 28th at 14:30, arriving 4.5 hours later at the northeast corner of Langkawi Island (N06°27.433' E099°49.943'), near our destination of a place locally known at the Hole in the Wall.

We tucked into a very quiet anchorage, drinking in the beauty and serenity with only 1 other boat anchored, a trimaran from Canada. We noticed construction happening which appeared to be the making of an extension to the area.

The next morning, with computer and GPS in hand, we jumped in the dinghy to find the Hole in the Wall. Why a computer and GPS? This geopark area is a real maze of creeks and narrow gorges surrounded by gnarled mangroves and precipitous limestone karsts which are 480 million years old! So if we got lost, at least we would be able to find our way around and also our way back to Sea Turtle. Jordan only confirmed his navigation twice with the computer and we were spot on.

There were many tour boats with paying customers but we in our dinghy got the advantage of a free ride. Our first sighting was a sky full of majestic white and golden orange coloured eagles swooping with celerity down to the water, making it very difficult to capture them photographically.

As we continued onward, there were numerous troops of monkeys among the mangroves watching all the boats, staring back anxiously expecting handouts as everyone stopped for the perfect photo.

Mangrove monkey

We soon slowly went through a narrow man-made cut...

Cut through the karsts

We finally made it to the Hole in the Wall where on the cliffs of the entrance was a natural form resembling a human face.

Guarding the entrance

We pulled our dinghy up to one of several basic floating open-air restaurants all in a line. The one we stopped at had an interesting fish farm. Below in the water in nets were blue blooded horseshoe crabs with helmet shaped heads, LARGE grouper fish, local sting rays that would glide to the top of the water to be hand-fed, and many more varieties. The blood of horseshoe crabs is bright BLUE, not red, due to the presence of copper in their blood. This blood is presently worth $60,000 a gallon in the global industry for medical uses.

Crab's eye is dark spot at center (copied from internet)

What I found to be the most startling was a small fish called an archerfish. I have never heard of it before but Jordan has seen them on nature shows in the past. A employee of the fish farm would stick a piece of fish flesh to a board overhanging the water. The fish would circle around eyeing it up. Then with incredible accuracy, they would spit a shot of water up about a meter for a direct hit knocking it into the water where it would be gobbled up. Amazing!! What is intriguing to biologists is that light rays refract when they enter the water and somehow the archerfish naturally adjust its aim to compensate.

2 archerfish shooting at crickets (copied from internet)

We found our way back through the mangrove maze to Sea Turtle without the use of computer or GPS, and along the way, we also found a low tunnel (one of many tunnels and caves) that we dinghied through. Cool!

Nature's tunnel

It rained later in the evening, an indication of the rainy season that is slowly approaching...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Back on board

I spent 6 weeks back in Canada with family and friends where I even had the opportunity to go up to northern country to visit my Grandson and Great Granddaughter. She loves to have her photo taken, but my Grandson hates to have his taken!

More beautiful everyday

The weather back home was exceptionally good for winter time, but of course Jordan was in hot and humid Malaysia. When I arrived back on February 28th to the thick heat, I found walking only a couple of blocks exhausting and where time was the only means to acclimate.

But getting back out on the water and being back with my loving Captain was the most welcoming home coming. Jordan had anchored (N06°16.435' E099°43.663') conveniently close to the village, but many seadoos and motor boats pulling para-sailors speedily through the sky all about created agitated seas that rocked and rolled us till dusk. We soon decided it was time for quietude so we headed out to some ideal spots around the Langkawi archipelago.

March 6th arrived with sunlit seas and favourable winds as we sailed the entire 3 hours northward to Telaga Harbour (N06°21.717' E099°40.696').

Several boats were in the Harbour well protected by 2 small outer islets with sandy beaches. Nearby was a mock lighthouse that marked the narrow channel into the marina restaurants and other facilities. One evening on one of the little islets, we had a fire and potluck supper with fellow boaters. A little relaxing mellifluous guitar music by another boater provided some entertainment.

Occasionally the wind piped up, causing the sea to lave the shores with small agitated waves.

Ashore internet was available and was usually not too bad. We were unable to connect from Sea Turtle. Price was inexpensive at 5 Ringgits per 24 hours ($1.35) or even better at 18 Ringgits for an entire week ($4.87). Laundry service was available as well as several nice Harbour view restaurants, a store with basically "junk food" items, and a gas station. Other than that, Telaga is somewhat out of the way and with that it provides a certain calm atmosphere.

We found an area that had a badminton net set up under shade. We spent several early evenings batting the birdie back and forth and then quenching our thirst with delicious, tall, strong, 2 for 1 margaritas at a restaurant afterwards. This bit of exercise gave us a break from what was becoming a daily routine of just hanging out.

A couple of times we rented a motorscooter for the 15-minute ride to the small town of Peland or a little further to Kuah where we could find a good variety of groceries and supplies. In the park of Kuah, is a beautiful lily pond where the lilies were in bloom.


Even the bees found them attractive!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Island cruising

With me still back in Canada, Jordan and his visiting friend and author Rik continued their activities. As well as Langkawi Malaysia, they spent 3 days in the Thailand archipelago of the Butang Group, just a 7-hour sail away to the northwest out in the Andaman Sea.

There, the crystalline waters displayed an abundance of marine life making it an excellent diving destination. Jordan and Rik wanted to snorkel but unfortunately Rik had developed a condition with a symptom that gave him anxiety attacks when he attempted to snorkel. He succumbed to his fears but relaxed on board while Jordan took in the wonderment of the aqua environment...

2 corals dancing in the current

Shades of blue

As well as colourful coral (which isn't always around), fish were in abundance. An attention grabber was the lionfish with its display of feathery fins. It can live for 16 years and the male mates with several females whose eggs hatch in only 2 days. Those beautiful fins, though nice to look at, need respect as they are spiked with deadly poison so can't get too close for photos!

Sneaking up on the lionfish...

Quickly leaving the lionfish...

Of course, the cutest fish must be the clown fish aka Nemo from the movie! These 3 are swimming above their habitat of the sea anemone. Curiously, they are immune to the stings of the anemone.

Clowning around

At the quaint little beach village on Koh Lipe with its white sand beach as fine as flour, sea of sapphire, and  pedestrian paths and alleys instead of roads, Jordan and Rik ambled from cafe to bar to massage spa.

After Rik's departure of the 19th, Jordan was once again alone with Sea Turtle, waiting for my return.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Visitor aboard

During my absence while I was back home in Canada, the 6-month time limit to have the boat in Thailand was due so Jordan sailed Sea Turtle from Phuket Thailand to Langkawi Malaysia. It took him 3 easy days in which he had winds to sail most of that. Each night he was able to rest at island anchorages along the way.

Jordan enjoyed the cornucopia of the green hued water below while sailing through Thailand before reaching Malaysia.

Bright blue fish

Did you know that moray eels can live for 10 to 30 years! This fish (not reptile) eats meat and likes to hide in crevices, but here he is peeking out at Jordan.

Secretive moray eel

These giant clams, once they fasten to a spot on a reef, are there for the rest of their lives. They come in such a variety of bright or mundane colours and patterns. They are male for a year and then possess both male and female reproductive organs, but they do not fertilize themselves!

A pair of giant clams

Once in Malaysia, his time was occupied with boat jobs, daily workouts, and regular routines all at the easy pace of the cruisers' clock.

During my time away, Jordan's friend and author, Rik, flew down from China for a 10-day sojourn to experience cruising life, wile away the hours in philosophic palaver, and catch up on old times. They hadn't seen each other for about 13 years.

Most of their time was spent around Pulau Langkawi where Jordan showed Rik the typical interesting sites including the SkyBridge perched high up on a peak, accessed by a cable car lift. (Last year when Jordan and I visited the SkyBridge, it was having maintenance work performed so unfortunately we could not access it - see our blog posting of July 18, 2014 titled Scooting around Langkawi.)

Spectacular SkyBridge

This sunset silhouetting Sea Turtle and 2 longtail boats is an example of the ending to many of the days for Jordan and Rik.

Sea Turtle at sunset

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Mother's Sunset

It was with great sadness for family and friends when we paid farewell to my beautiful, talented, and caring Mother on January 25, 2015. It is indeed our loss, but I am sure for my Mom, she is now at peace in Heaven where she will even be able to see once again! Her last days had been difficult but now she is with other loved ones singing with angels and having a grand time up above.


Roses were always Mom's favourite flower and I believe she is still enjoying them...

Roses Grow In Heaven

I believe Lord,
that roses grow in Heaven.
Please pick a bunch for us,
place them in our Mother's arms
and tell her they're from us.

Tell her we love and miss her,
and when she turns to smile,
place a kiss upon her cheek
and hold her for awhile.

Because remembering her is easy,
we do it every day.
But there's an ache within our heart
that will never go away.

So as roses grow in Heaven Lord,
please pick a bunch for us,
and place them in Mom's arms
and tell her they're from us.

So now we must accept her fate and continue till me meet once again...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Making repairs

We spent several days anchored at Patong Bay of Thailand and also doing a lot of errands ashore. We took our damaged spinnaker sail into Rolly Tasker Sails for repair and were quite surprised to discover that it was at the "thread bare" stage. It could be pulled apart with bare hands and was not able to be fixed.

We were offered the chance to choose from existing new stock - orders that had been made for other sailors but had never been picked up. We looked at the lot trying to find one that would fit our boat and were lucky enough to discover one that we snapped up at a greatly reduced price. It was a bit smaller than our old one but that was good because our old one had been a bit too big for Sea Turtle.

We had the sail loft also re-stitch our dodger and put in new zippers that had deteriorated over the last 5 years.

While still hanging out at Patong Beach, we also made arrangements for repairmen to come aboard and see if they could fix our refrigerator that had been acting up. Luckily, it was an easy fix for them and another problem solved for us.

The days were passing by and a rendezvous was planned at islands to the south for an old chum of Jordan's (who moved from Canada and is now living in China). I was receiving bad news from back home as my Mom's health was deteriorating and it came to a point where I decided to fly home and let Jordan host his friend.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Miang Island

Still at Miang Island (Thailand) and in search for more snorkel spots, we decided to take the dinghy around to the other side of the Island where hopefully there would be less people. On the side where we anchored, there were numerous dive boats all loaded with tourists coming for diving and snorkelling adventures.

And once around to the other side, there were no tourist boats, in fact, no boats at all - except us in our dinghy! We found a little tucked away cove where we anchored the dinghy and jumped in to check what was below the surface.

There was some nice cabbage patch coral spread out on the bottom that Jordan snorkelled down to as I tried to capture his photo...

Sunlight twinkling on Jordan and cabbage patch coral

And these beauties, all coming along in pairs...

2 by 2

There was also a sighting of beautiful soft coral, slowly swaying in the moving ocean current...

Soft coral of Miang

We left Miang Island early the next morning at 04:30 continuing back south where we anchored at Patong Bay of Phuket Island around 15:45 (N07°53.477' E098°17.075'). As expected at this tourist hot spot, there were noisy jet skis everywhere careening around large cruise ships, swimmers, and boat traffic. What a difference in ambiance!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Similans

Today we left the Surin Islands very early in the morning at 03:15 for an approximate 12-hour run south to the Similan Group of 9 marine park islands. Along the way, we briefly anchored by the Island of Tachai (N09°04.147' E097°49.141') for 2 hours for breakfast and a quick snorkel. A park boat came by asking us for a park fee, but relented when we assured them that we were making a short stop.

The brief visit was special as the water was so clear that it seemed as if we were floating in an emerald hued air. We indulged in the most pleasant aqua fauna display that we have seen in a long time, including a passing sea turtle with a remora fish hanging on for a free ride...

A sea turtle with a passenger

...and the patient photo pose of these normally shy angel fish.

2 angels (in background)

Swimming around, we looked back and saw our dinghy anchor just quietly sitting all alone in the sand and couldn't resist taking a quick shot of it...

Just waiting

Neither of us knew the name of this painted fish but it was sure hard to miss with its bright complementary colours of blue and gold! (We later found out it is a Powder-Blue Surgeonfish.)

No camouflage

After a great snorkel that made for the most pleasant serendipitous interlude to the long day's journey, we continued sailing to Miang Island, arriving at 15:00 (N08°34.154' E097°38.647'), 12 hours after leaving the Surins. The rocks ashore were very impressive where we were anchored and we soon jumped in the water for snorkelling around the Island and spotted colourful parrot fish. Do we ever get tired of snorkelling? NO WAY!

Sea Turtle

Parrot fish pose (on the left)

Later we met up again with Morning Glory. After sunset, we all went ashore and walked the interesting nature trail to the park facilities on the north shore and ate dinner in a beautiful natural setting. The late evening walk back along the trail revealed nocturnal frogs, and more interestingly, Pu Kai or "chicken crabs" that make a sound like a chicken!

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Surins

To begin the New Year of 2015, we sailed out of Ko Phayam (northwest Thailand), heading southwest.

We had heard good reports about the Surin Islands and with that destination in mind, it was a pleasant downwind sail in a light to moderate breeze, a natural for our spinnaker sail. But in the sudden deployment, a section blew out! However we left it up to complete the run and would get it repaired back at Rolly Tasker's sail loft in Phuket. We have had this seldom used lightweight sail since leaving Victoria BC Canada over 5 years ago.

The waters were busy and we counted 27 fishboats as we sailed past them before anchoring in the clear waters of Surin Nua (N09°26.420' E097°51.427') on January 2nd.

The next morning, we met up with our friends aboard Morning Glory (who were moored in the next channel by Surin Tai) and we drift snorkelled between the 2 islands of Surin Nua and Surin Tai. There were many colourful fish and some coral; unfortunately some of the coral was not in the best condition but there was enough of the more pristine that made the swim well worthwhile.

After snorkelling, Jordan and I beached our dinghy on a quiet secluded small beach on Surin Tai for our private picnic lunch under the shade of a tree.

Swells from the Andaman Sea were rolling in and was making the anchorage for us a little uncomfortable, so for our last night (January 4th) at these small group of islands, we moved around to the channel close to Morning Glory and picked up a mooring ball for a smoother lay (N09°25.722' E097°51.327').

Normally we take mooring balls with a certain amount of suspicion of its unseen lower strength and integrity, however in this case all doubt had evaporated as the day before we saw 9 large fishing boats all tied to the same mooring ball (and apparently a few days previous there had been 14!) holding securely against a wind and current. So little Sea Turtle had nothing to worry about

Gang of fishing boats

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Ko Phayam

We spent 6 nights anchored at the island of Phayam (northern Thailand) where we met new boaters and visited with old friends. Most of the folks we met were sailing with kids ranging from very young toddlers to older and wiser teenagers.

Throughout our days, it was interesting to watch the interaction of all the youngsters. We never saw any angry words, fighting, or sibling rivalry. In a setting like that, how could one not be in a happy mood?

An intriguing sight on Ko Phayam is the Hippy Bar. This unique bar is built entirely from floating debris collected after the terrible tsunami of 2004. Included are several adjacent buildings and even the front of a ship where one can relax overlooking the ocean sipping a relaxing juice or drink.

Several of the Hippy Bar structures viewed from dinghy

(Clicking on any photo will make it larger for better viewing if you wish.)

A close-up of Hippy Bar "ship" with Jordan onboard

On New Year's Eve, many of the boaters gathered onshore to watch the kids break open a pinata that many of them had helped to create. When it finally broke, there were gleeful exclamations as they all dove to retrieve the scattered treasure and share and trade their booty.

Sunset from Hippy Bar

After sunset, 6 hot air lanterns were lit on the beach and kids and adults watched them float high up into the night sky until they finally gave a few winks as their lights went out. It was very beautiful. The perfect night culminated over delicious meals at a beachside restaurant.

All in all, the days spent at Ko Phayam were a nice break from being in 1 spot at Phuket for so long.