Jacana's yarns

Sailing west about from Melbourne, Australia.

26 October 2011 | Bundaberg, QLD
04 October 2011 | On passage to Bundaberg, Australia
01 October 2011 | On passage to Bundaberg, Australia
26 September 2011 | On passage to Bundaberg, Australia
20 September 2011 | Port Vila, Vanuatu
10 September 2011 | Port Vila, Vanuatu
09 September 2011 | Port Vila, Vanuatu
08 September 2011 | On Passage to Port Vila
05 September 2011 | On Passage to Port Vila
02 September 2011 | Fiji
01 September 2011 | Lautoka, Fiji
18 August 2011 | Suva, Fiji
02 August 2011 | Suva, Fiji
24 July 2011 | On Passage to Suva, Fiji
21 July 2011 | On Passage to Suva, Fiji
17 July 2011 | Neiafu, Tonga
28 June 2011 | On Passage to Tonga
27 June 2011 | On Passage to Tonga
23 June 2011 | On Passage to Tonga

The best restaurants in Phuket – august 2013

17 August 2013
Dan & Yo Hellier
In july 2013 Yo and I returned to the land of the sweaty armpit. We left Jacana in her berth at Hobsons Bay Yacht Club in Melbourne, and took the big silver bird to catch up with some of our cruising mates from a decade ago (Glen from Firefox, Gatesy and Ali from Legs Eleven, and Steve from Cautelle) and to renew our relationship with Thai cuisine.
Without boat jobs to occupy us we had time to give the local restaurants a good going over.
Here are our favourites in order .

Opposite the beach at Rawai. Sit in the shade of the trees right by the sea wall in a cool sea breeze.
The waiters take your order then dart through the traffic to the restaurant on the other side of the road.

This is a medium priced restaurant catering primarily to middle class Thai people. Food and singghas for 2 was about $20 Australian
The standard of cuisine is excellent.
We recommend:

Winged bean salad with shrimp and pork. (yam tua plu)

The dish is topped with toasted dessicated coconut and lemongrass .
It can be ordered with chicken, but we much preferred the more traditional version of shrimp and ground pork.

Deep fried flossed (shredded) catfish with green mango salad

Found in Phuket town, in Chinatown, in Dibuk St (that runs east west). It is just to the west of the Bang Yai canal that runs through town.
It has its own car park and is a fairly pricey place by Thai standards, with a reputation that stretches to Bangkok. Meal and singgha's for 2 is about $50 Australian.
The food exhibits traits of Peranakkan, Chinese, Phuket cooking. Very good. And served in an original Sino Portuguese house.
The standout dishes are:

Deep fried whole fish in crisped lemongrass and tamarind sauce

Crab meat in yellow curry

The mudcrab is all meat - no hard work de-shelling here, and the morsels are the size of walnuts. It is served with a side dish of steamed rice noodles.
Drool territory.

On a corner between the main market in Phuket Town and Robinsons Department store in the sth east cnr of town.
It's so nice to have an Updown instead of more Downtown joints.
This place is ultra clean, friendly, dinkum Thai tucker, and spotless toilets.
Prices are good - about $11 Australian for 3 dishes and a large singgha.

Pad Thai
The best we've had. The noodles come with your choice of prawn, pork or chicken, and the lot is encased in a thin omelette and served with shredded banana flower, crushed peanuts, tiny dried shrimp and crushed dried chilli.

Stir fried pork in red curry.
When they are available this dish includes those wonderful fresh green peppercorns.

Stir fried rice with chilli paste with sweet pork and salted egg An interesting dish with contrasting tastes. A central island of spicy rice is surrounded by little mounds of sweet, salty, and sour - sweet belly pork, the salty egg, the sour of shredded green mango and the sweet and sour of threads of pineapple.
Salting eggs in brine for between 14 and 20 days is a way of preserving them. The salt concentrates in the yolk of the egg.

Found in Phuket town on the Sth West cnr of the large 5 way roundabout. You can easily recognize the joint by the charcoal sate grill and the large steamer out the front.
This place specializes in hokkien inspired food and is one of our favourites. It falls into the Thai cheap category.

Pork sates over charcoal
They are famous for the sates that are served in lots of 10. Dirt cheap, well marinated and a tasty sambal sauce.

Homak Talay
Known in Singapore and Penang as Otak Otak, these are a spiced fish mousse, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Delicious. Order 2 per person, as they are quite small.

Fried Rice With Salted Eggs and Baby Clams
A little oily, but quite delicious.

A beaut authentic Esaan restaurant.
From the Chalong roundabout take the road to Kata. Look out for the entrance of the Phuket shooting range. On the opposite side of the road about 60 metres on towards Kata is a sign in Thai amalgamated with an advert for coke a cola. It is easy to miss but persevere. It is worth it.
Plenty of onsite parking. Dirt cheap. A large singga and 2 courses was $7 Aust. Heaps of locals eat here daily, and the turnover is large, but so is this open-sided restaurant.

Grilled catfish
Done over the coals it takes on a smokey flavour. The slight oiliness of the catfish keeps the flesh moist.

Pork neck lab
Another version of these unique north eastern salads - limey, chilli, shallot yummy, and pork neck is such a good cut of meat for this.

Flossed catfish salad
Here we go again. Even better than the pork neck. The grilled catfish is forked into tiny shreds, then fried till crisp and served with a sour green mango salad that cuts the richness of the oily catfish.

By the way always order kaoy niiao (sticky rice) in the Esaan restaurants. It's what the locals always eat with this food. It is steamed in those woven baskets then served in them to the table. Quite often it arrives only slightly warm.
The locals will eat with the hands, making little balls of rice; pushing a pocket in the centre, then picking up the morsel of laab etc and usually dipping it into a prik naam pla sauce or chilli paste.
Gai Yang
The grilled chicken is very good here and most popular with the stream of locals.

Salt crusted fish
The entire fish is encrusted in salt and then grilled. Good oh.

A really handy place if you need to pick someone up or drop em off at the airport.
As you head north on the main road, about 1 or 2 kms , before you turn left to the airport, look out on the left for a large sign, a drive in carpark out front.
The place seats 300. You won't spot a farang, at's all locals and the quality is extraordinary.
3 dishes and singghas came to about $22.

Yellow curry with soft shelled crab and young coconut heart
When the crab are caught around full moon, they have shed their old shell and are growing a new tender young covering. No need to peel these small explosions o f sweetness.

Stir fried Collard greens with chopped salty egg
An interesting way to serve up your greens. Crisp, tasty.

Stir Fried Collards with Salted Fish
Another snazzy way to add interest to the veg.

Grouper with Yellow Curry and Coconut Tree Tip
Unusual but tasty, but only for those who like the chilli. The different flavour and texture of the tender coconut tree tips is surprisingly palatable.

Head north towards the airport. About half way, turn right at the heroines monument.
If you get to the Ao Po turnoff you have gone too far. There is a sign on the RHS saying Bang Pae. It is in the vicinity of another sign for a waterfall. Turn right and go to the end of the road. Voila.
$30 Oz for 3 dishes, rice and 2 large singghas. Frequented by middle class Thai people and their families. Right in the mangroves. Maybe dusk would be a mozzie problem.

Spicy tamarind sour fish soup with fern leaf and fern leaf omelette

The name won't mention the fern leaf. The waitress will just ask if you want the vegetable with it. Say yes. Something different and balanced with nice textures.
Cutting up small squares of the fern leaf omelette and putting them in the soup was a winner.

Guewan greens, scrambled with eggs and glass noodles.

Another tasty innovative way to serve the greens. Couldn't get a translation for guewan, but you could substitute a number of the asian green leafy vegs.

SStir fried crab meat in black pepper

Another dish with obvious Chinese ancestory., with all the peeling work done for you.


We like chilli and cook with it a lot in our Szechuan, Vietnamese and Indian cooking, but in Thailand we have been brought to tears with pain of the tongue. Searing pain, worse than waterboarding in Guantanamo Bay.
Glaang means medium in Thai.
We have found that if you ask for glaang chilli heat, you normally end up with farang medium and that means next to no heat. The cooks use those long mild chillis that are about as hot as round capsicum.
So we ask for glaang thai mai glaang farang- medium thai not medium farang.
This generally works for us - a nice chilli heat but no pain.

Back to Bundy

26 October 2011 | Bundaberg, QLD
Yo and Dan Hellier
We tied up to the custom jetty by 1630 hrs on the 5th Oct 2011, 36000 miles since we left Melbourne.
Customs were lightening quick, nice friendly Aussies.
While Joel from quarantine (AQUIS) was just as personable, this took longer as there was much more to check. Still 1 hr later we were downing a celebratory beer under a gum tree while rolling in kangaroo dung. It was good to be home.

Squash the Chinese whispers.

The pacific is awash with a virulent plague of rumours about officials and regulations in Australia.
Yachties, relax. Most of these rumours are simply false.
For instance AQUIS leant down and peered at our antifoul. It was obviously in good nick. End of story. No underwater cameras; no core samples taken; no forced hard standings for inspections. Those rumours (that we had heard many times) were hogwash.

A big thank you to the Port to Port people.

What a splendid welcoming bunch of volunteers.

This is Fred, who is the voice of the daily skeds.

Leslie is the head honcho in the Bundy Yacht Club and a more community minded spirit you will never meet. She is one of the real dynamos in the club, working tirelessly for the yachting community.

She knows the ropes when it comes to quarantine matters as she worked for them for many years in Bundy.

Leslie cleared us back in to Oz in 2003 after an earlier Pacific loop.

A fleet of like minded yachties work with Lesley to welcome rally sailors.
We have become good mates with Ann and Marina.

Now, we are not really rally people, liking to make our own decisions as when to leave port, and not needing our hand held.
This rally is different. There is a window of many weeks for leaving or arriving.
This is a rally based around welcome and partying, plus it is an economic no brainer.
If you join the rally your $300 AQUIS fee is refunded, courtesy of the accumulated funds of the Bundaberg Yacht Club. This bonanza can't last.

Bundy is beaut

71000 people live in Bundaberg. It boasts an amazing array of light industry and a plethora of shops. It is so nice to be able to get just about anything we want- sour dough bread, turkey thighs, pates, affordable quality wines.
Bundy has changed in the 8 yrs since our last visit. It used to be an anglosaxon enclave with not a stem of boc choy to be had.. Now a number of Asian people work here, and those wonderful Asian greens and supplies are readily available.

Rental cars are on hand at the marina for $40 a day. We are sharing a car with our yachtie friends on Marionette IV.

Two young Spaniards, Julia and Ivan, are tied up next to us. First thing they did was to head into the neighbouring paddocks at dusk, and to their delight spied a few kangaroos. They were tickled pink. There is a resident family of roos that feed not far from the marina- camera fodder for foreign arrivals.

Birds of Bundy

Southern Queensland has over 450 species of birds. The range of species around Bundy is gob smacking.

Australia only has 1 species of bee eater. It is readily seen here as you walk from the marina to the nearby Lighthouse hotel to wet the lips. It is the beautiful teal and bronze coloured rainbow bee eater.

It digs it's nest horizontally far back into the sand. You can spot them near the entrance to the Burnet Heads Volunteer Marine Rescue Base.

The melodic calls of the butcher bird are flung with operatic strength from the trees surrounding the tafe marine college.

All the locals are sporting long cable ties on top of their bike helmets to deter the swooping magpies - it is nesting season.
White breasted sea eagles are working the river.
Hundreds of noisy rainbow lorikeets dash from tree to tree.
There are so many species of honey eaters, we are downright confused.
Don't miss a trip to the Bundaberg Botanical gardens. There must be at least 40 species present.

List of Birds we spotted
Magpie lark
Rainbow lorikeet
Australian white (sacred) ibis
Straw necked ibis
Willy wagtail
House sparrow
Rainbow bee eater
White breasted sea eagle
Noisy miner
Grey butcher bird
Welcome swallow
Silver gull
Muscovy duck
Great egret
Little egret
Cattle egret
White faced heron
Purple swamp hen
Little Friar Bird
Black faced cuckoo shrike
Eurasian coot
Dusky moorhen
Plumed whistling duck
Maned wood duck
Pacific duck
Bush lark
Royal spoonbill
Pied oyster catcher
Grey fantail
Spotted turtle dove
Black swan
Australian pipit
Australian hobby
Cicada bird male
Double barred finch
Brown honeyeater
Little (brush) wattlebird
Pied cormorant
Little pied cormorant
Little black cormorant
Crested tern
Whiskered tern

Info for yachties.

While wifi is available it is problematic.

We bought a Telstra USB stick in Bundy for $100 with 3 gig of data included.
It costs $150 for a 10 gig top up or a yr, whichever comes first. Of course you can buy smaller top ups for shorter stays.$15 a gig is top value.
Telstra has the best coverage outside of capitol cities by far.
The reception is excellent, even nonĀ¬-buffering TV via the stick.

Top quality work
The trades people at Bundaberg Port Marina are a find.
Gary, the mechanic; Ray, the shipwright; Paul for your yacht electrics; and Rolph for your fridges, are excellent tradespeople and decent human beings.
We are leaving Jacana on the hard for a mighty long list of work to be attended to in our absence in Melbourne.
After eight and a half years round the world it is time for new rigging, to replace the ever reliable 26 yr old bukh engine with a new one; for a new set of instruments etc etc.
The marina's facilities and people are also friendly and professional - a huge change from the arrogance exhibited at Shelter Bay in Colon

On Passage Day 10

04 October 2011 | On passage to Bundaberg, Australia
Yo and Dan Hellier
Jacana is back in Australian waters after a fast sail for the last 24 hours. Getting colder though! ETA Bundaberg 1700. Looking forward to our first beer.

On Passage - Day 6

01 October 2011 | On passage to Bundaberg, Australia
Yo and Dan Hellier
The alternator that we had totally rejuvenated in Suva is now making bad bearing noises. We are nursing it in order to preserve power for the autopilot and navigation. Tried to replace with a spare backup alternator but it failed as well. Fortunately we have been sailing in moderate winds for the last couple of days which has taken the pressure off running the motor other than for power. Just coming into a small tropical front so the winds will now go on the nose for a couple of days. Isn't sailing fun?

On passage to Bundaberg, - day 1

26 September 2011 | On passage to Bundaberg, Australia
Yo and Dan Hellier
Good to be on the move and pointed at Oz. Able to sail without motor for the first 24 hours. Conditions have now lightened so we're motor sailing. We've reefed the main to stop it slapping (what a rotten sound that is!). Haven't put out the fishing line yet but our passenger on the bowsprit is keeping a good lookout for us. Anyway we need to eat down the supplies to fit the next mahi mahi in. We're already doing a good job of that - Malaysian chicken rendang last night, Stephanie's veal chops in wine and mushrooms tonight. What else is there to do??

Returning to Port Vila - 8 years on

20 September 2011 | Port Vila, Vanuatu
Dan and Yo Hellier
We spent a quiet night at anchor in the quarantine area, where you are never quite sure of your holding, and the grinding of coral can be heard. Quarantine was quick and friendly.
Later you are required to visit customs and immigration ashore.

It was pleasant to return to familiar Port Vila. In the morning we called up Lemara at Yachting World and were led in by the work boat to our mooring buoy behind Iririki Island.

Lemara remembered us from 8 years earlier.

We renewed our acquaintance with Tusker, the bia blong Vanuatu.

The local market was still vibrant with good produce.

The live produce, certainly fresh.

Friends to celebrate with
Our mates from Melbourne, Liz and John made a flying visit. They stayed at Iririki Island, a couple of hundred metres away from our mooring.

While the youngsters favour board shorts these days, John opts for the traditional budgie smugglers at pleasant Hideaway Island.

We all hired a car for the mandatory circumnav of Efate on the new bitumen road.
We lunched on the north east corner at the Beachcomber to the wonderful harmonies of a local band.

Nurcan, a friend of our lads, was working in Vanuatu for a couple of weeks for Origin Energy and we shared a top night on Jacana.

Info for yachties.

The best supermarket is Au Bon Marche. As you leave the Waterfront Bar and Grill (the location of the dinghy dock), turn right, away from town, and You'll find the new supermarket a short 10 minute walk away on the west side of the road. This supermarket has a much wider range than the other branches in Pt Vila itself. Wi fi on board is good from the anchorage and we paid for it online. We do use a boosted wireless antenna extension so we can get the antenna up high. If you haven't got one it will serve you well through the pacific. We coupled ours with an alpha antenna and had few complaints. Several of the pubs offer free internet to customers.

A decent pho can be consumed at the Vietnamese restaurant in town.

It is easier to dinghy over to clear customs at the commercial dock. You are not allowed to tie up to the dock, but it is simple to tie to a pandanus tree 20 metres to the east and walk into the port to customs. The forms are long winded, but painless.
It is smart to ask for a set of forms for clearing out. This way you can have all the paperwork done in advance.
Surprise, surprise, but you fill out the same long winded form to depart.

Vessel Name: Jacana Of Melbourne
Vessel Make/Model: Northshore 46
Hailing Port: Melbourne Australia
Crew: Dan & Yolanda Hellier
About: Departed Melbourne April 2003. We have now finished our circumnavigation. Thought we might cruise down the east coast of Oz for a while
Jacana Of Melbourne's Photos - Birds of South Africa
Photos 1 to 4 of 4 | Main
Ostrich, Capetown, Sth Africa
jackass penguin, , Capetown, Sth Africa
Egyptian geese, Capetown, Sth Africa
Guinea fowl, Capetown, Sth Africa