19 February 2018
Feeling much better but decided to have a day at Koh Mook. Made a start to some stainless steel cleaning then ashore mid morning. Walked over to the other side of the island stopping for the occasional iced coffee or soda water. We stopped to watch the children of the middle school – about 8-12 years old the girls all in starched white blouses and longish blue skirts white socks with black soles as they leave their school shoes on racks outside the class room. The boys were in white shirts and longish short brown trousers with long brown socks again sensibly with black soles and brown trainer style shoes -everyone looking very smart and all the same. The older children from 13-15 wore sports shirt and track suit bottoms with the school name on them. Children from 16 onwards go to the mainland for schooling. Then back to our regular visit to the hilltop restaurant. The family have 5 children and over the years we have watched them grow up with the oldest now going to university and the youngest boy now 5 attending school. The food was excellent and Sandra commented she had never had such a wide selection of vegetables in any dish she had ordered. I had fried squid and vegetables and for once could not finish the plateful. We saw a large basket of mangoes and Sandra asked to buy some but she said they were not ready. We paid our bill and left and a hundred yards later the 10year old daughter and little brother came racing after us with a large bag of mangoes and paw paw from their mother.
We were forecast thunder storms by four and so we headed back to the boat even though the skies were clear. Checking the Thai weather radar we could see the heavy showers approaching over 100 miles of coastline. We put the covers up, hatches down and poured a gin and tonic with ice. 2 hours later the sky was clear again and I went to do my star gazing.
Orions belt and sword are usually directly above us and easily identifiable but I had never been able to work out what the rest of the shape should be. I searched for a picture on the internet that finally had them in the direction we were looking and drew out the shape of Orion and I lay on my back with my laptop for an hour comparing the image on the screen to the sky above and eventually I was able to see the full shape and if you looked long enough at the right spot you could see even the faintest stars. The plough is very low just above the horizon and many nights is not very clear but it was clear tonight.
18 February 2018
Still with a temperature and sore throat so sticking to liquid diet. We waited for a while to see if wind would drop a little but left at 9.00 with 3 reefs in the main and 10 rolls in the Genoa as the wind can really whistle down the mountain range of Ko Lanta. We had a good sail with a steady Easterly wind and as the morning progressed we gradually let out all of the Genoa. By 1pm the wind had almost disappeared and we motored the last few miles to Koh Mook. Only one other yacht in the bay which gave us a choice for anchoring. Though you can see the bottom and it looks sandy the ground can be very hard and difficult sometimes to get the anchor to dig in. We pulled back slowly and felt the anchor slide along the bottom for about 20-30 metres and then it eventually held even with some vigorous going astern. Just to check it was not caught on some coral I went for a dive and the anchor was well buried in sand. We had a bit of lunch and I was feeling much better but went for a lie down. At 4 I decided on a swim to cool down and as I swam round the boat I suddenly noticed we still had the reefed mainsail up. There were now another 4 boats anchored in the bay and I hope they thought I was just doing this to keep head to the light wind blowing. We went ashore and I walked up to the hilltop area and was fascinated by a Thai man creating a wonderful rock garden. Around lots of houses people plant or have posts with colourful flowering shrubs but I have never seen anyone work with stones in so much detail and care. I look forward to seeing the finished work next year. I had a massage before having dinner 30ft up the cliff overlooking the bay -one of the best views for sunsets in this coastline.
17 February 2018
I had started a sore throat last night and this morning I found it difficult to swallow. I keep a wide selection of medicine on board but my new throat lozanges from Cambodia with combine anaesthetic and antiseptic had been take by Angus in December when he was flying home as he felt a sore throat developing and he wanted to take the whole packet just in case. I resorted to a bottle of 100 pipers whisky and kept gargling and spitting out with that. We left Koh Jum at 7.30 for a short sail to Saladen on the island of Ko Lanta. We are now on spring tides and had to anchor well out into the bay. Going ashore in the middle of the bay is difficult with the surf and in the south there are huge reefs of coral but we took our time and managed ashore. A taxi (a motorbike with side car) took us to the main shopping area so we could visit the pharmacy for a selection of lozenges and sprays. Some cold drinks at the waterside restaurant to watch all the speed boats return from their day trips and prepare for tomorrow the a taxi back to the beach. I had to wade out quite a bit and then paddle the dinghy before we could consider the outboard over the very rocky reef. I now had quite a high temperature and so happy just to stay on board. I don’t think I have ever been shivering before in 33 degrees and had to put on my long cotton Thai sailor trousers and top. It was quite a windy night with a steady force 4-5 from the east.
16 February 2018
A very poor night as the wind dropped but the lumpy sea was still bouncing us around -I changed berths twice during the night trying to get some air as even the fans were not quite enough. Ashore by 9 to hire a motorcycle (£3.50 for the day) – I had printed off a map of the island so we could really explore every road – how many small yachts have a printer all connected up. We headed for the main village and ferry port on the east side of the island. The main roads are concrete and about 5-6 metres wide and there are very few cars. We decided to have a breakfast at a restaurant built out into the water while we watched the ferry boats come and go. We both ordered an omelette which turned out to be awful – it was swimming in oil. I took half a dozen napkins to put under the omelette to soak up the oil but I still could not eat it. I wrapped chunks of it in napkins and discretely dropped in into the waters edge where the fish attacked it.
We travelled to the top of the island to yet another freedom reggae bar on the beach – the music is beginning to wear a bit thin. The map showed a road that completed our circular tour of the island but after a mile we had to abandon it as it was a very rutted stony track that was more akin to an Olympic mountain bike course.
We returned the way we came did some fruit shopping then I relaxed with a Thai massage back at our beach resort and later watched the sun set over the Phi Phi islands.
15 February 2018
We left the mooring at 8am with no wind at all. Once out of Chalong bay the wind picked up mostly north easterly force 3 so a bit of motor sailing. My new fishing tackle was out but failed to attract any fish. We sailed down the coast of Ko Jum which is a 10 mile long islan with beaches all along its west coast. We have bee twice before in 2014, and 2015 but had a difficult time on both occasions as at low tide the island is surrounded by a rocky coral that make anchoring difficult and getting ashore even harder. We went to the southern tip and looked for a beach with a rope extending to the water’s edge – this is for the longtails to tie up to and usually it is clear of rocks. We did a walk along the beach and in our 200 metre stretch there were 5 small resorts with restaurants. A typical small resort has some 20 beach bungalows built just into the shaded tree line and most people sit in the shade of the trees or their bungalow so the beaches look almost deserted. One resort had built quite a few tree houses which looked very impressive -but basic. The resort we chose for dinner had a series of sockets along the bar where everyone plugged in their phone to charge them. When they ahs finished dinner about 8pm they were handed a traditional paraffin wick lantern as none of the bungalows had electricity. I suppose it stops you seeing all the creatures that are going to share your bungalow at night. We had quite a stiff onshore breeze so we got a little wet going through the surf back to the boat.
14 February 2018
Sandra not feeling so well so had quiet morning doing small jobs around the boat. After lunch took all the ships papers and passports to do the “sign out” of Thailand then back to the boat and out to the fuel barge in the bay to fill up with water and diesel for the trip south.
I went off to the chemist, some shopping and then a haircut.
We went along to the cruising club to pay our dues for the mooring and I have never seen a night with so many insects. They were all over us and I had to continually wipe around my collar to clear those who had landed there.
We booked a table at the nice air conditioned restaurant on the pier for Valentine day. So Sandra in a dress me with long trousers and shoes enjoyed a nice meal in the air conditioned exclusive restaurant with no insects.
13 February 2018
A long lie after the rather disturbed noisy night then ashore to take the local bus into Phuket. It is really slow but you are out of the sun and you have plenty of time to look around which I certainly cannot do when driving on these really busy roads. We bought some new fishing tackle some new flipflops each and a stroll through the old town which is very attractive and very Chinese in style. There are a lot of Chinese visitors as this is the Chinese New Year and at each well painted house front they would stop do their pose and take a photograph. We were back to the boat by mid-afternoon for a rest and drinks. We went ashore to the Cruising Club for Taco Tuesday but it was a special night to celebrate Brent’s wife birthday and Jason ( a young American who lost a leg and an arm in a motorbike accident a few years ago and decided to take up a new interest, bought a boat and sailed the pacific and ended up in Phuket for at least a year) who was now about to sail off to south Africa. There was a Philipino band with 2 attractive singers who seemed to encourage the old sailors -much older than me- to get up and dance very energetically. There was about 35 people there – a wonderful selection of food provided and great Margaritas at £1 each. We did notice a large group -again of very senior sailors passing round their reefers sitting back and enjoying the evening. All of whom were either going to get onto a motorcycle to drive home or manage a dinghy and outboard of a bumpy windy beach – but they had survived doing the same thing for many years.
12 February 2018
Monday 12th Ashore by 8am to hire our car and then go for our medical check- so no breakfast. They are very efficient – we both gave our blood samples and agreed all the tests that had to be undertaken. It cost just over £100 and a day later you get three pages of results with you levels and the normal range of levels. The skin lesion I had for more than 2weeks had not improved despite the Antihistamine tablets and steroid creams so we visited the Bangkok hospital in Phuket. Show your passport sign the form and who do you want to see. We asked for the dermatologist. 5 minutes admin and we were escorted up stairs to a waiting room. A nurse takes my weight and blood pressure (both were a little higher than I wanted) then tells me there is one patient ahead of me. 15 minutes and I am in to see the consultant dermatologist. It is most likely an insect bite that has had a reaction and I am given stronger antihistamines and more steroid creams. I am then escorted back to the main reception area, where I wait my turn to pay and then receive my medication. I just wait for me number to be called in English and the number is on the big screens. £25 for the consultation and £25 for the medication. What an efficient service. A bit of shopping for boat parts then back to Chalong. Sandra had a hair cut and I had massage but by 6 it was becoming very windy with a choppy sea so as it was due to increase we decided to go straight back to the boat for one of my delicious dinners. We sat in the cockpit all evening but the boat was getting tossed around on the mooring with strong winds.