13 December 2017
Woke up to a really still morning and by 7.30 it is hot. Went ashore to pick up Alistair so we could go sailing today. Left by 9 and still no wind so motored for an hour south of Phuket. Hoisted the main and were able to sail at 4 knts for several hours. We did a circumnavigation of Ko Ratcha an island some 2 miles long very steep cliffs and 40 metres of water 30 metres off the shore. There is one sheltered bay and 2 others with small resorts. Dozens of dive boats, sport fishing boats and speed boats delivering tourists. There are a least some mooring buoys and I will consider coming back to stay overnight later in the season. There were a lot of sport fishing boats with 4-5 trawling lines and we did not see anyone catch anything –we are not the only ones. On the return leg to Phuket we did catch a fish but I think I was just too eager to get it in that it escaped just short of the boat. Our wind died early afternoon so it was back to the engine to reach Nai Harn a lovely beach resort at the southern tip of Phuket. There were about 20 boats anchored in the bay but plenty of space for us just close to the floating pontoon. As it was calm I got out the dive master and gave the hull a clean. It is mostly a soft weed type growth with the occasional barnacle. I was surprised how rough the base of the keel was and it had no antifouling so when putting the boat in the water next year I will make sure I paint that section and not leave it to someone else. I also found the cockpit drain seacock was completely filled with barnacles I had to use a big screwdriver to clean 3inches of barnacles out of it. There is still work to be done cleaning the propeller which I decided to leave for another day. Once everyone had a swim and shower we went ashore about 4.30 to have some refreshment a walk about then dinner.
12 December 2017
Cup of tea and as there was a gentle breeze we headed out on a broad reach from Chalong at 7.30. We had a good sail for 5 hours and then back to the mooring. On the way we saw Alistair sail his boat out for a few hours. We had a lovely traditional Scottish lunch of smoked mackerel and oatcakes. (The bar we frequent has a customer who imports vacuum packed smoked mackerel from Norway so we had bought a couple of these and they were really very tasty. Angus had to be ashore early for another of his rabies injections and we all met at the Cruising yacht club for Taco Tuesday. I was really feeling my age as the music was blaring out and it was standing room only and you had to shout at each other to be heard. We finally got an upturned dinghy to sit on and have our taco’s a couple of hours after ordering, but at least we got cold beer.
11 December 2017
An early call from Alistair to say his dinghy was missing – could I come and pick him up from the shore. He was sure he had secured the dinghy to the pontoon securely the previous evening so someone must have taken it. We did a trip along the shore then out round the moored boats before heading to the marina area. After searching all the boats I took Alistair back to the shore so he could go and report it missing. Fortunately it was located inside the boat yard. A Thai boat boy had been asked to pick up the dinghy for a yacht that had just been taken into the yard. He picked up Alistair's dinghy instead of the one at the yacht’s mooring. Alistair was back with his dinghy at 1 in time for lunch but was too mentally exhausted to consider going sailing and was heading home. We put up the sun covers for angus to sit on the deck and watch all the boat movements and I prepared for a phone conference meeting of Dental Nurse examiners.
By 6 we were able to go ashore and have a beer at the usual bar then decision time for which restaurant then back to the boat for 9.
10 December 2017
It was a hot sunny day so after putting up a sun screen I set about trying to clean the rugs and carpet from the ground coffee that had been spilled over them. I was really surprised how ell the carpet cleaner and my hard scrubbing restored the carpet to new. There were also dry in 30 minutes.
I went ashore to join angus for Breakfast and pleased to find him in good spirits though all the injection sites were a little uncomfortable. I did a walk around the various stores trying to replenish our stock ready for the next trip but with angus needing to return for more injections this week I think it will be more day sails this week.
Alistair took his boat for engine trials and then we met up for dinner.
09 December 2017
A relaxed start after our disturbed night. There was very little wind and with the engine we were going faster than the wind. We put the mainsail up so we are more visible but it did not contribute to our passage. We of course had the fishing line out and of course we did not catch anything. We were back on our mooring by midday after a quick stop to pick up 70 litres of fuel and 250 litres of water, and after a quick lunch I took Alistair over to check his boat then ashore so he could collect his car from the garage. Angus was going to have a couple of nights ashore to enjoy an undisturbed sleep in a comfortable bed and a nice long shower. I went ashore with him and took the laundry in before going to do some shopping. No sooner back to the boat than a phone call from angus to tell me he had been bitten by a dog while walking along the street. The girl at the bar arranged for someone to take him to the medical centre to have it cleaned and checked. I meet up with angus to give him some more cash and the guest house owners gave him a lift to the clinic where he had the wound dressed and plenty of injections into various part of his body. £200 poorer we met up to have a drink and as it started to rain heavily asked the bar staff to order us some food from the little Thai café. It was a very tasty meal and the co-owner of the bar came to talk to us. He lived in Australia but he told us the place that he held most dear was Tiree. His father had been a “boarded out” boy on the west side of Tiree and had returned for all their summer holidays when his family were growing up. I was able to show him a selection of old Tiree photos I had on cloud storage and we had a good long chat about people we knew.
Yao Yai Island
08 December 2017
Up at 6 to dry quiet morning except the call to prayer from the Mosque where the tape seemed to have stuck.
We had a good 2 knots of tide with us as we followed the deep channel through to the deeper water of the bay and I was pleased to leave the 2 fathom patches behind me. There was very little wind from the north East and we struggled to fill the Genoa. It was time to have the sun screen on one side of the cockpit and the autohelm on. We stopped off at Yao Noi island to look at possible anchorages and we found a Swiss man building a new resort – no accommodation but restaurants bars, 12 quad bikes, walkways into the mangroves, and a huge plastic floating water park. He hoped to have it open in 2-3 weeks so it will be interesting to see once the visitors arrive. We went to Rang Yai island which is a sandy knoll of about 150 metres long with a dozen restaurants a floating pontoon and speed boats arriving full of passengers every 5 minutes. We had lunch then took the dinghy into the shallow water so Angus and Alistair could practice their snorkelling. They tried using fins for the first time but we were standing in a metre of water on a very sandy bottom and the gritty sand just gets into the flippers so I don’t think they were very impressed with them. There were plenty of fish to see even in the very shallow water so they enjoyed the experience and then we had some practice at getting into the dinghy from the water without assistance. We watched a little girl catch several good sized fish in the mooring next to us but nothing wanted to take our hooks. We then headed North again to Yao Yai island and went ashore for a walk along the beach. We started to walk into the village but even at 5pm the sun was still really hot and we opted for a chilled coconut in the shade. We had a thunderstorm for about 30 minutes but the lightning afterwards was really very impressive lighting up the bay for 20 miles to the west. We had a good selection of seafood of steamed fish in lemongrass, squid, fried vegetables and chicken curry with rice, soft drinks all for £6 each. Back to the boat and after coffee or tea and the crew were in their bunks by 8.30.
Angus fortunately uses ear plugs because the band from the shore less than 100 metres away were really loud and the Korean and Chinese visitors key doing Karaoke and it was not very pleasant. Because it was so calm we all had visits from mosquitos during the night and I certainly woke with a start at 4.30 with the high pitch buzzing in my ear.
Koh Pan Yi
07 December 2017
Was awake at 5.45 in time to hear the start of the insect chorus from the trees on the shore. By 6.15 the sun as rising giving a lovely colour to the water and all the wonderfully shaped islands. Cup of tea then quickly up anchor to go to Hong island before the visitors. We secured a mooring just outside the entrance and walked in with the dinghy. It is about 5-6 acres in size and in a few hours the tide will cover the inside completely and there will be several hundred tourists swimming around but we had it to ourselves and could watch the eagles and see all the small sea creatures in the pools. We rushed on to visit the Muslim village on stilts at the head of the bay as there are several patched of water with only 2 metres of water marked and I wanted to negotiate these shallow patches on a rising tide. We had to motor most of the way as the wind was almost on the nose and we arrived just before midday to our first really hot sunny day. We anchored in the channel opposite the village with almost 2knts of tide running through. After lunch it was siesta time and we put up the sun covers and I lay on the foredeck to read my book. The village has thousands of visitors each day that arrive by speed boat or longtail have lunch at one of the many huge restaurants, do a tour of the village and all the small shops selling crafts especially pearls and shells. We decide to go ashore at 4.30 when all the visitors had left so we could wander around in peace. The whole village is built on stilts including a large school with playground, basketball court and football court. There was also a floating football pitch with no net round the side!!. By 5.30 there was only one restaurant open and Alistair was able to select his fish swimming around in the cages under the restaurant so he knew it was alive. Back to the boat by 7 and put up the covers before the rain started, but unfortunately not enough to start filling the water tanks.
06 December 2017
It was actually quite cool this morning with the cabin at 24 degrees – I had to put a tee shirt on at 6am. Cup of tea – the rain covers off and we were away by 7.30. Still a brisk wind that suddenly increased to over 20 knots. We had 2 reefs in the main and 15 rolls in the Genoa and still managing 7 knots, but while we had been caught out with the sudden increase in wind my plastic jar of ground coffee with screw lid bounced onto the cooker split open and from the cooker to my desk we had 3 sq metres of ground coffee onto our nice light brown carpet and mats. We hoovered scrubbed and beat the mats and carpets but I don’t think we got everything out and we don’t have enough fresh water to wash them. We need a water supply or heavy rain. We had a pleasant sail for several hour and anchored off Railey beach but it was so noisy with longtails speeding past us the crew opted for a quick lunch and up anchor to sail on.
In the afternoon the wind dropped to a gentle breeze and even with full sail up again we only made 2knts for several hours. Still no luck with the trawling. We passed a moored tanker and a loading bulk carrier which prompted hours of discussion from my crew despite passing some of the most spectacular views of Phang Nga bay and the outcrops of islands. We anchored at Pulay Bay at 3.15 and I went for a dive to check the anchor but it was so cloudy there was less than a metre visibility. The others had a swim at the stern and then a wash down at the back of the boat. The tide was going out and a group of school children on a holiday trip walked to within 20 metre of the boat so I was hoping I had not misjudged the depth. We went ashore at 4 to go for a walk but I was quickly told no one walks in Thailand so we only managed half a mile before returning and deciding on a massage while we waited for dinner. It was very pleasant and the meal was enjoyable too with another lovely sunset before returning to the boat for 8pm.