Langkawi to Phuket, Thailand.
18 January 2013
Photo: Vege run, Langkawi
Christmas Eve we had drinks on the back of Dol with Wayne and Ally, Blue Heeler and Claes and Laila, Comedie. Claes and Laila’s children, Christina and Christopher and his wife, Mia, also joined us. A great evening was capped with dinner at the Hard Dock café. Christmas Day started with an informal champagne breakfast at SY69. We supplied the BBQ, toaster and electric jug; everyone brought their own food and drink. It was a good start to the day; about 20 people turned up and enjoyed the morning. We then had a quiet day ending with a Christmas dinner at the resort restaurant with Wayne, Ally “Blue Heeler”, John, Cheryl “Sea Mist”, Claes, Laila and family “Comedie”.
The few days before New Year’s Eve we found a walk through the forest and took some great photos of the toucans. We also went into Pantai Cenang with Wayne and Ally for an Indian meal. The New Years Eve function at the resort was a little pricey but Aisha, the chef from the Hard Dock, put on a function for the yachties, a great night with a buffet, music and at midnight the kitchen staff brought out a cake complete with candles. On New Year’s Day we went to Pantai Cenang and spent 2hrs walking around Underwater world, not bad. The following day we took the dinghy across to Pantai Cenang as the shop we had wanted to visit on New Year’s Day was not open.
We finally left Rebak at 09:00 on Saturday 5th January, after a final vege run on Friday, and motored around to Kuah arriving at 10:45. Before lunch we went ashore and found the only shop in Langkawi that sells pork products, including bacon. Can you believe it is in the back of a Chinese grog shop! Then it was onto the supermarket for provisions before returning to the boat and getting fuel from the fuel barge. A quiet afternoon, Brian snorkeled on the hull to see why the paddle wheel had stopped and found it had lost a blade. He cleaned the barnacles from around the paddle wheel and then replaced it, our third in a year. The following morning we walked into town to clear out, returned to the boat and moved to the “Hole in the wall” an idyllic anchorage on the north eastern coast of Langkawi, in preparation for leaving for Thailand the following day. On our way through the islands we were buzzed by the coast guard plane that flew so low we thought the mast was in danger. The entrance to “Hole in the wall” is similar to Man of War passage at Great Barrier Island only slightly narrower and then it opens out to a very sheltered anchorage. In the afternoon we took the dinghy for a blast around the various inlets, watching the Sea Eagles playing. During the day the peaceful anchorage is constantly assaulted by the many tour boats speeding around the inlets, the evening once darkness fell and they left, was very peaceful.
The following morning, 7th January, we left, listening to the dawn chorus and headed north to Thailand. We decided to take advantage of the one hour time difference and motored 47nm, anchoring at Koh Phetra. Koh Phetra is a very high, long rocky island. This is typical of the west coast of Thailand where large, sheer cliffs forming islands, rise several hundred feet straight up from the sea. Next morning was an early start, helped by Thailand being UTC+7, Malaysia is UTC +8, we motor sailed 50nm to Koh Lanta, anchoring off Had Khlong Dao beach. We are now very comfortable working our way around the hundreds of fishing poles encountered everywhere in Asia. Brian snorkeled to clean the bottom of the boat late in the afternoon, managing to do one side. It looks like we may be sailing in circles until he gets a chance to do the starboard side! The anchorage was rolly overnight; we left at 8:00 the following day and sailed to Koh Phi Phi Don. On the way, having spent the month in Rebak next to Avant Garde, Brian trialed a new main preventer system he saw on her, looks like it will work and be safer to use at sea than our old preventer system.
Ton Sai Bay was full of dive and day charter boats, this is the most crowded anchorage we have ever seen, how many day trippers can you fit on a boat. It was a hectic bay, calming down late in the afternoon as the day trippers headed home. There were also many ‘long tail’ boats, a canoe type hull with a long shaft propeller attached to a motor. The boats have no gears and steer or move by putting the prop in the water. After dark, we woke to a thunderstorm with torrential rain, wind and lighting. As per Murphy’s Law, the flashest boat in the bay had anchored too close to us late in the afternoon and then gone ashore for dinner. We sat in the cockpit watching to make sure there was no contact between the boats until they returned and re anchored a safer distance away. Thursday 10th January we upped anchor and motored around to Ao Chalong to clear customs. We cleared Customs after lunch, an easy process with lots of form filling in duplicate using carbon paper. We then went for a walk around Ao Chalong to get phone and internet organised, which we managed for the phone but will have to go into Phuket town for the internet. We cleared our emails at a local coffee shop with free wi-fi. Our first impressions of Thailand are it is a very busy place, lots of motorcycles again, they seem to speak very little English and the Thai written language is very unfamiliar, it is impossible to try and interpret the wording so we will have fun using our Thai phrase book over the next couple of months, especially as polite phrases have different endings depending on whether you are male or female. We returned to the boat late afternoon and left the following day for an anchorage on the west coast of Phuket, Nai Harn. Once again the beach was full of beach umbrellas, sun loungers, resorts, cafes, stalls, more sun burnt people and skimpy bikini’s than we have seen in a long time. The predominate accent and language seems to be Russian. Every square inch is occupied; it seems no bay in Thailand will be secluded, very different from Indonesia and Malaysia. Even so, it now seems like we are cruising again and not merely travelling, which is what it felt like coming up the west coast of Malaysia.
We were anchored off the smaller beach in Nai Harn, less crowded, and stayed for 2 days. Each afternoon we took the dinghy ashore for drinks and dinner at the beach café, or walked over the hill to the larger crowded beach. Whilst in Nai Harn, Brian put a scuba tank on, having bought new gauges in Langkawi, and cleaned the bottom of the boat; hopefully this will improve our boat speed. The weather in Thailand seems to be cooler in the evenings and we are enjoying sitting out in the cockpit after dark without the heat and humidity we have experienced for the last few months.
Sunday 13th we left Nai Harn at lunchtime and motored around to the east side of Phuket Island to the Koh Rang Group, anchoring off Koh Rank Yai bay. Graham and Anne “Kakadu” were in the anchorage and we enjoyed sundowners on their boat. The following morning we waited until just before the high tide and slowly made our way over to the entrance to Royal Phuket Marina, a pilot from the marina came aboard to take us up the very narrow and shallow channel to the marina.
It’s been a busy week in marina, meeting with contractors who want to quote on the work we would like done on the boat. We have met them all, given them the details and been to visit their yards. We will now sit back and wait for the quotes to come through and then decide on our next move, do we or don’t we go ahead and get the work done, watch this space. We are also slowly getting used to another culture, the language and customs, like taking your shoes off before you go indoors – including local shops. Gail has also taken the opportunity to get a haircut, long overdue.
Due to the tide depth restrictions for getting in and out of the marina, we will leave tomorrow, Saturday 19th, if we don’t go out we will have to wait for another 5 days for a favorable tide.