Saturday, April 30, 2016

Phuket

On April 3rd, our last day of sailing for awhile, we had a great downwind spinnaker run west to the island of Phuket as our fixed base for the immediate future for boat work and land travels. (Phuket, being the largest of the country's islands, is no longer labelled as Ko Phuket.) We dropped anchor in the midst of about another 150 boats at the familiar big Chalong Harbour (N07°49.259' E098°21.327') of southern Phuket where we had spent 4 months in 2014.

Flying Thai colours

There have been a few changes. New wharves are almost finished to replace the wrecked and dilapidated ones and a new surrounding breakwater has been added. Dinghies in the meantime have been relegated to some old concrete wharves with a confined approach necessitating one to pull their dinghies up onto the wharf. This landing arrangement has resulted in a chunk out of our dinghy bottom. The few spots where one can just tie up leaves a dinghy vulnerable to rough and ragged edged concrete and metal especially when wind direction exacerbates the problem.

Dingy dinghy dock

After official check in here, our first order of business was to reclaim our motorcycle which had been in storage with friends we had made from our previous visit to Phuket. With the unusually very hot temps here, scooting around is a nice way to get some relief. The rainy southwest monsoon season is still not here so the rare couple of short downpours with the slight cooling effect and the chance to rinse the decks of salt was welcomed.

One morning ashore, we noticed 4 Thai boats along the shore that had burned during the early morning hours. News reports said the event was suspicious and an investigation is underway after rumours that Thai boaters were heard arguing on the shore the night before.

Hot-headed fire?

We've done a little sightseeing since our return to this area. One such night included a carved hefty figure, a detailed wat, and a great gold coloured Buddha located near an upscale restaurant very high up on the terrain.

Scary Buddah mascot

We soon settled into a leisurely pace at daily activities whether short sightseeing jaunts or boat jobs. One job that has been keeping me busy is polishing up all of our brass fixtures and decorations. Note to future boaters: Preferable to not have anything on board that requires constant polishing!

Eventually Jordan began the involved boat job of replacing the deteriorated lexan windows. The old existing lexans were simply caulked and screwed into the slightly curved cabin sides. But the new flat tempered glass requires fibreglass built-up surfaces molded to shape for the glass and the stainless steel frames. At the same time, new interior frames will finish the job nicely.

We leave tomorrow for the Phuket Boat Lagoon marina complex, about 20 nautical miles north, for a month's stay to take advantage of some convenient and economical local help on some more involved refurbishments.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

More new anchorages

Early March 31st, we left Koh Muk to continue island hopping northward. Next stop...the north end of Koh Lanta Yai (N07°37.842' E099°01.443'), a delightful 5-hour downwind sail. This coastal island is a popular backpackers' destination in the Andaman Sea of southern Thailand approximately 70 km south of well-known Krabi Town.

After anchoring in the open roadstead, we launched the dinghy, and picking a spot along the wide beach where the surf was minimal, we made a dry landing. Pulling the dinghy up on shore, we made just a few steps to a beachside cafe for our favourite dish - Pad Thai - washed down with a cold one. We were surprised to find a good-sized town on this approximately 6 km wide and over 30 km long island that is only accessible by 1 or 2 short ferry rides (although that is about to change as a new bridge is just about finished).

A tuk tuk ride took us to the end of town, the epicenter of offloaded visitors where small waterfront bars, cafes, and rooms lined the shore.

We soon made our escape in the dinghy, following the red setting sun back to our floating home.

Contemplative Jordan

Next day...

April 1st, again getting lucky with a nice east wind, we sailed 4.5 hours north finding a really nice anchorage setting between the 2 craggy islands of Koh Dam Khwan and Koh Dam Hok. Approaching Dam Khwan, we could see the striking feature of what the cruising guide suggested looked like a chicken figure in the rocks...

Chicken? Or maybe a turkey!

We anchored close to the coral reef (N07°57.555' E098°48.482') by Dam Khwan, but just far enough from the midday hoards of longtails and their interlopers wading in the sandy shallows.

Longtails and tourists in front of nearby no-name rock island, sand bar stretching out to the right...


We wiled away the afternoon snorkelling with an abundance of colourful life such as a sea snake, puffers, coral, and numerous unknown bright fish. And even a group of 5 razor fish that swim vertically - but darn it anyway, by this time, our underwater camera battery had gone dead.

Cool coral

To close the daylight hours off, we packed some munchies and headed over to the now vacant sand bar (with the exception of some semi-permanent park workers who stay on the island). After the daily migration of tourists back to the mainland (returning the islands to their natural tranquility) we witnessed another, more impressive daily migration. The island's caves and cavities exhaled thousands of fruit bats. Like whiffs of dark clouds drifting to the mainland, they made their routine nocturnal flight.

Sand bar stretching out to the left from Koh Dam Khwan, cabin on right where we had picnic lunch after longtails were gone...


On April 2nd, we hung out at Dam Khwan until 14:15 and then pulled the anchor for a 1-hour motor to another new island, Tham Phra Nang (N08°00.187' E098°50.293'), a coastal tourist hot spot close to Krabi where we dropped our hook amongst the impressive towering limestone karsts and in the midst of the ubiquitous longtails and tourists.


We read about several caves in the area but found nothing significant. One cave we visited onshore was just a wide opening in the cliffs at beach level with a "goddess" (a dressed-up mannequin) and many, many wooden phallic carvings. These penises along with the goddess were believed to be good luck for fertility - family planning Thai style!

Fertility goddess behind Jordan

We took the dinghy over to the next overrun beach area called Rai Le Beach. We searched around for more caves but couldn't find any that we wished to explore. So after a cursory beach stroll before sunset, we called it a night.