Tales of Enchantment

also known as "Michelle and Vern's Excellent Adventure"

19 January 2021
11 November 2020 | Phuket, Thailand
08 August 2020
01 March 2020
17 November 2019
13 November 2018
29 August 2018
12 January 2016
27 December 2015
15 September 2015
25 June 2015
26 March 2014

Thailand bits and pieces

07 May 2021
Vern Noren
We have been "stuck" in Thailand for just over a year now. There are worse places to be stuck for sure. Phuket went 3 months without a new local case of Covid, then suddenly went from zero to 250+ in a matter of two weeks. The rest of the country is under severe restrictions in an effort to contain it again. Officials believe it all started with large groups of partying youths and other "socially entitled" in and around Bangkok. I just read the Thailand ranks 124th in the world for vaccine distribution.
It has not been boring. Since our last update several months ago we have become better friends with many of the locals, had $6,000 in damage to our boat, had our diesel engine commit suicide, and revisited my hippy days.
The photo gallery has many new pictures with no rhyme or reason to the assortment.

North Thailand

19 January 2021
Vern Noren
We took a 3 week trip to N Thailand to a region I have never been to before. Michelle toured parts of it several years ago when our son & grandson came to visit. The region is mountainous and mostly remote with many small towns and villages.

Many different ethnic groups live in the highlands, many with their own languages, customs, and beliefs. The weather is pleasantly cooler than down in Phuket, and things are a lot cheaper. Our most expensive hotel was $25/ night, most under $20, and the cheapest was $7/night with a balcony on the river.

Thailand Tales

11 November 2020 | Phuket, Thailand
Vern Noren
It has been a while since our last update and a lot has happened. We returned to the marina for a month to have some boat work completed and repairs made, then returned to Phi Phi for two weeks. There was a big festival starting in Phuket which we did not want to miss so we sailed back to Chalong Harbor and anchored for a week.
We were in a gray area with immigration, we never got visa’s when we arrived last March, just crew papers that said we could stay legally for 30 day, NO renewal, No possibility to get visa’s. We spent two months talking to immigration officials, visa agent’s, other cruisers, with no solutions. Complicating the situation the harbor masters were instructed not to clear out any yachts to leave the country until borders opened up. So one agency says you cannot stay, another says your boat/home cannot leave. Immigration policy changes every few weeks here so everyone remains confused. Eventually it got sorted out after many, many trips to immigration. Every 30 days we have to return to the main office and they will stamp us in for another 30 days until borders open, which could be mid 2021, no one knows. At least our stress is greatly reduced.
To make things interesting the following is how we spent the second night in Chalong.

After living on board 16 years, and cruising full time the last 11 years we had a new first. We have been anchored in Chalong Bay, Thailand for the last few days. Big anchor, 200 ft chain on a mostly mud bottom, 10-1 scope. We always back down at full throttle and our reversing prop give us almost full thrust. Around midnight, as another of many short squalls barreled through the anchorage Michelle went out to check wind speed and our position. All good. Ten minutes later the wind picked up again and when she checked this time we were less than 10 meters from a catamaran that used to be 100+ meters away.
For the first time ever we had dragged our anchor but this was not the time to celebrate. I took the wheel as she tried to get the anchor up. The chain jumped out of the bow roller toward the middle so now she is pulling it up across the teak front lip. As I struggled to gain some control and keep us off the other boat the anchor winch breaker kept tripping from the strain of the pull. Too noisy from the howling wind and rain communication was impossible and I could only guess which direction the chain was leading. Complicating the situation was the full awnings we had up. They hindered visibility forward and acted like sails, pushing us around with great force.
We finally got the anchor up and headed down wind behind all the other boats and dropped all 250 feet of chain, the 55lb Delta anchor, large snubber, and a prayer. We wrestled the awnings down, the wind dropped to about 20 kts, and we were happy again.
In hindsight I think the new awnings were the main factor in our dragging since it had never happened before and we have used this anchorage many times.
When we finally settled back down to finish a movie we had been watching my wife gave me a kiss and said we did that whole thing without yelling at each other, like that has ever happened.
Start to finish of our adventure was one hour. Since we did not damage anyone else, worked together smoothly, it was all sort of fun in a demented kind of way.

Still alive after Covid

08 August 2020
Vern Noren
After a long period of laziness I am updating our blog. The short story is about our Covid challenge. In mid March we sailed 200 miles across the Mallaca Straits and Andaman Sea to Northern Sumatra. Our intention was to join a group of other cruisers for an organized rally down the West coast. The day the rally officially began the Mayor of Sabang , our starting point, said he did not want us there because of the Covid scare. The next day there were guards at the port gates to keep us in. The following day the organizer told us the next rally stop told him not to come, and the one after that was still deciding.
Things were going downhill so we decided to drop out and went through formalities to clear out of Indonesia. Our new plan was to get to Langkawi, Malaysia as quickly as we could, 200 miles away. By the time we finished preparing to leave, Malaysia announced the closing of all borders. Our only other option was Phuket, Thailand, also 200 miles away. We were just hoping they would still be open. Thailand closed it's borders a week after we arrived. A week after that Phuket shut down the airport and were shutting down movement between provinces, with highway check points to assure compliance. Along with other shut downs of pretty much every thing.
We decided to go into a marina we have stayed at before so we would have easy access to a grocery store, boat supplies, ability to walk on land, plus see a few friends again. Shortly after that the marinas were banning all new arrivals. We were very lucky to make the right decisions. We know of many other boats that were stuck in anchorages and not allowed ashore. Arrangements were made to bring them food and supplies. The boats that continued with the rally were chased out of many harbors by police boats and scared locals. They were rumored to be carriers and few towns were willing to let them stop. Cruisers all over this part of the world were at sea when borders were closed. One family friend of ours has been stuck on their boat in Sri Lanka for 4 months now. Several other couples went up the Red Sea to the Med and were never allowed off their boat the whole passage, two months. Then a 14 day quarantine in the Med.

So any way, we are good. We spent 4 months in the marina which killed our budget. It is very expensive but at least we had unlimited fresh water and electricity. We got spoiled by being able to run our air conditioner. After the first 8 weeks the authorities started open things up slowly so we could move around Phuket. Despite the cost we were there long enough to make some new friends and felt like we were becoming a part of the local community.

Thailand did a great job containing the virus. Stay at home orders, mandatory masks, crack downs on big groups, contact tracing, temperature checks every where, and still continue. Alcohol was banned for 2 months. Thailand has not had any new local cases in 9 weeks. They just tested several thousand people would attended a crowded event, most not wearing masks despite the law. None of those tested had the virus.

Hey Ann Rowe Pramis, I can't find your email address

Check out the 2 new video links in FAVOITES section

02 March 2020
Vern Noren

We are still alive

01 March 2020
Vern Noren
Not much has happened since our last post but we thought we should update our blog anyway. Next weekend we start a new adventure. It starts with a sail from Phuket, Thailand to Sabang, Indonesia. We will sail down the Western coast of Sumatra, then up to Borneo. After a few months in Borneo we will join a small group to sail to NE Indonesia and work our way back to the S Pacific. We should each the Solomon Islands around Feb of next year.
Vessel Name: Enchantment
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet 40
Hailing Port: Chicago
Crew: Vern & Michelle
Vern, originally from Chicago, has lived in New Orleans and the Nashville, Tn area. I have been sailing for almost 40 years, have logged over 15,000 offshore miles and hold a 100 ton masters license. I also work as a critical care nurse. [...]
Extra: We are currently finishing with upgrades and improvements to Enchantment in preparation for a 3-4 year cruise from Baltimore to New Zealand. Our cruising kitty will be fully funded and our departure date is set for Oct 2010 with a transit of the Panama Canal late February 2011
Enchantment's Photos - Indonesia Part 2
Photos 1 to 65 of 65 | Main
Komodo Island dragons are the largest lizards in the world.  Growing to as long as 8 feet they can kill animals as large as a bull, or adult human.  They ambush their prey along animal tracks and if the initial attack does not kill you the 50+ germs in their mouths will cause massive sepsis and you will die within days.  Being very patient predators the dragons will follow you for days until you are too weak to continue and then have you for dinner!!
Lovina,  on the island of Bali,  is a local tourist area and we were lucky enough to be there for the annual Lovina Beach Festival.  They had different dancers, performers,  and a parade that lasted 3 hours.  The costumes and music were spectacular
The musicians on stage
	Lovina, on the island of Bali, is a colorful local tourist area that we really enjoyed.  Bali
	Michelle competed in a fighting kite event along the beach in Bali.  The idea is to cut your opponents like with yours.  The lines are abrasive and it does not take much.  She won her first match but lost the next round
	Local bulls all dressed up for the races
They are trained to prance in formation,  heads held high and proud.  It was actually kind of boring,  they don
Michelle getting a lesson in bull racing
As usual,  the cruiser got the best seats,  sometimes the only seats
One of the most unique hotels we have ever seen.  A Dutchman settled here in Lovina 10 years ago and decided to buy a small hotel and decorate the ENTIRE hotel in sea shells.  The walls, floors, ceilings, shelves,  even the bed "mattresses" were made out of fine shells.  Felt like laying on a firm bean bag chair,  surprisingly comfortable
Seashell bathroom
And a bed
I came across this group harvesting tamarind seeds from this tall tree right next to the busy main highway.  There are 3 guys high up and hard to see in the photo.  In the States OSHA rules, government  bureaucracy, and hungry lawyers would make this endeavor  impossible
Friends from the boat Persephone and we flew from Bali to Jakajakarta on the island of Java to see Borobudur, Prambanan, the Sultans Palace,  and a traditional play.  Borobudur  is the largest Buddhist temple in the world.  Constructed around 825AD the monument consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome.
  Restoration still underway
The 4th level walkway,  carvings can been seen along the walls
Our excellent guide explaining details and history of Borobudur
Inside each bell shape structure is a Buddha.  Legend says if you can touch him through one of the holes in the bell you will receive good luck and happiness
We also saw a traditional Balinese play called Plot of Ramayana.  It was a little hard to follow for us but the colorful costumes and expressive gestures were a pleasure to watch
Prambanan Temple is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia,  constructed around 900AD it is still being rebuilt.  There are 10
Close up of the intricate stone work, all cut by hand more than 1000 years ago
We had limited access to the Sultans palace and he did not invite us in for tea.  This is ceiling is an example of the opulence he lives in.  hat is al gold leaf and crystal
We arrived in Karimata just in time for the annual festival.  The local population is only around 800 but people from surrounding islands come for the fun.  The haze in the picture is smoke from fire burning on Kalimata, 100 miles away.  The palm oil companies indiscriminately burn native forest to clear the land each year.  The smoke causes havoc for all those to the West.  The smoke effects cities as far away as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.  10
The long dock into Karimata
Karimata is what is know as a stilt village,  most or all of the homes being built on pilings over the water.  This is  usually do to the land being too steep to build along the water front.
Typical home
The wooden dock eventually becomes cement but the homes are still built over the water.
The local boardwalk
A fishing  boat like this takes a year to build,  using nothing more than a chain saw and hand tools
Taxis are slow but reliable
The village ladies preparing food for the nights festivities
Fresh pineapple,  yum yum
Ringside seats for the cruisers
A highlight of the festival are the dugout canoe races
Marike and I crossing the finish line.  We were the only non locals to participate.  We won our first race,  beating out the village chief,  then took second place in the Grand Finale.  Not bad for a couple of  old folks competing against
"Team Cruisers"
And the awards
The health board sent these medic to do health assessments on the villagers.  Us being nurses seemed to give us some sort of minor celebrity status.
These guys were the local
I find these young girls so pretty in their native dress
family invited us into their home to share stories.
Fairly typical home inside,  minimal furniture,  chairs and couches are an exception and not the rule.  This probably compares to a middle class home in the states.
Johnny was the first person to greet us in Benan,  then proceeded to give us a tour of the island
Benan is another stilt village on a very small island,  and our last stop nice stop.  Benan has a narrow cement track that circles the island and nor cars were seen.  The people were super friendly and we hated to leave.
A visit with the local school where the teacher asked us to say a word or two about the importance of education
Persephone and us joined with new friends to go scuba diving along the reef.  The young man on the left is Rhazi,  the island
Ahman invited us to his home for dinner.  We are Indonesian style, low table and sitting on the floor. They served us fish, crabs, several new to us vegetables, fish balls, and a few others I have forgotten.  The primary means of income for the islanders is fishing.
The back side of Benan has a wonderful beach with several cabins to rent and small shelters to use free.
Our last stop,  Tanjung Pinang,  to officially clear out of the country.  It is a major port and thus a very dirty harbor and kind of a grimy,  typical of all large commercial ports
Our last dinner together as a group.  Most of the boats are heading to Malaysia from here and we will meet up with many in a few months.  We are stopping in Singapore for a month to take care of some boat business.
For a reality check,  it all looks wonderful but we all are subject to the same whims of fate as anyone else.  A week after this photo, Leslie,  the lady in blue,  fell down her boat steps and broke her hip in route to Malaysia.  She had it repaired in Indonesia but then had to fly back home to NZ to recuperate.   
Our friend Anthony had to fly to Bali for intravenous antibiotics to treat and infected bug bite the our cruising doctors could not heal despite strong oral medications.
And most sadly our good friend Mike died of cardiac arrest after he and his wife just sailed back to Tonga,  their favorite islands in the Pacific.  Mike was only around 50 yrs old and appeared in good shape.

All our clocks are ticking,  so enjoy every day and every person.