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 - Mixed album from our return to Enchantment
Photos 1 to 45 of 45 | Main
Every 2-3 years a boat needs a new application of anti fouling paint to slow barnacle growth.  I always hire yard workers to do the dirty job of sanding off the old paint and barnacles.  Three coats of paint uses 5 gallons,  at $150-$250 per gallon it gets expensive,  plus cost of hauling and boat yard space add another $400-500.  A lot of barnacle growth can slow our speed by more than half so it needs to be done.
Our poor boat was so dirty after 5 months
I needed to install new engine mounts,  align propeller shaft, and other work that is only accessible by removing everything in the aft cabin.
Even a fairly simple job creates a big mess.  I have tools and parts spread around in several areas and by the time I gather everything I need it is chaos inside the boat.  Good thing Michelle was still in the States.  Not sure I had room for her too.
Bangkok is one of our favorite cities,  modern buildings and huge malls intermixed with mom & pop shops, old neighborhoods,  massage parlors, red light districts, fast food and street food stalls.  And 24 hr/day traffic jams.  This is a major intersection near our hotel.  When the light changes they all take off,  the motorcycles crisscrossing every which way,  it always looks like chaos but we
Paella,  a Latin dish of all things,  served by a street vendor at the huge weekend flea market.  A full meal for under $3.
We took a TukTuk food tour,  our second time,  and always fun.
Our guides
We got lucky and were the only two people on this tour,  we had 2 guides,  Tammy and  Pang, plus George?  who happened to be a historian of Thai culture and Bangkok history.  A nice bonus for us.  With such a small group the tour was more like an evening out with friends.   We ended up an hour and a half longer than scheduled because we were having such a great time.
The tour stops at several places to try dishes from different cooking styles around Thailand.   Here we had minced duck,  pork belly, papaya salad, pork & noodle soup.
We were lucky to have eaten down the street from small but famous street food vendor named Jai Fai.  When I heard this I asked our guides to show us there.  Jai Fai is a 73 year old lady that has been cooking street food most of her life.  From humble beginnings her unique flavors have  earned her a Michelin Star.  She is the only one that cooks in her restaurant and we were told that after 2pm if you do not have a reservation you will not get in.  Jai Fai was highlighted on a Net Flix documentary which is were we first heard of her.  If you like street food,  it
This lady makes small pastries that are similar in size and taste to donut holes.  Her business is just a small cart she pushes around to her favorite selling spots
There is a huge flower market open 24 hrs/day in Bangkok.  Flowers are a big part of honoring Bhuddah with daily offerings.
This small Bouquet of flowers was less than 10 cents
Wat Arun Ratchavararam temple,  across from our last stop on the food tour.
Soi Cowboy is a Red Light district, a few blocks from our hotel,  is one of the 3 main Red Light areas in Bangkok.  By day it is very tame,  mostly filled with workers buying their meals  from one of the many food carts on the street.   We walk through almost every day as a short cut to the street our hotel is on.  If you saw the movie Hangover Two  some of the scenes were filmed here.
By night most of the food carts are gone and the girls come out.  It is still early in these photo
The ladies were trying very hard to convince the gentlemen to go into their club.  One finally did while his friend stayed outside.
With all the Happy Ending massage parlors close by Michelle finally arranged for me to visit one.  The girls could have been prettier for sure,  at least I think they were girls !!!
They did like me a lot
Just before we left the marina our friends finally launched their boat. They brought it here from Columbia 4 years ago to have it completely gutted and rebuilt inside and out.  They had know idea it was going to take 4 years  but they didn
Yi-Lin and Vincent,  proud parents of s/v Hakuna Mattata.  They hope to finish up the inside and head back to Singapore, their home,  by end of December.  We are hoping they can stop in Rebak to share Christmas dinner with us.
First stop after the marina was PanYi,  a Muslin fishing village built on stilts over the water.  Population now about 1700,   originally from Bali, Indonesia the  2 families of Muslim seafarers eventually settled here in the early 18th century.  By 2000 fishing could no longer support the community and the local postman suggested inviting tourists to come.  Now it is mostly a tourist area but still the home to 360 families
Fantastic views from every where in the village.
The floating soccer field.
Ko Pani was a destination for season 19 of the Amazing race.
Our peaceful anchorage was visited by a local fisherman who sold us a kg of fresh shrimp.  He also had some crabs and small fish.  The price was fair but probably a little higher than normal for the area.
Michelle wanted to visit Pattaya,  a tourist town S of Bangkok,  being a good husband afraid to say No,  we went.  Se set up a tour which included transportation and attractions.  For me it was not worth the 3 1/2 hour r/t drive.
This place was the Nongnooch Gardens.  Very nicely landscaped and a huge area with elevated walkways.   Too many animal statues took away some of the beauty for me.  I think small children probably love this place.
They also had a short cultural show demonstrating regional costume and dance. The elephant being the national animal Michelle needed to make friends.
A new anchorage for us was Railay Beach.  It is only accessible by boat and is a funky tourist area with a
That small blue speck high up is Michelle at around 75 feet.  This was her 4th climb and she was going for the highest point at 100 feet.  She was just too tired to make it but we will be going back in a few days for her to try again.  Not bad for a gal in her 60