Pacific Transit 2013 to Asia and Thailand 2016

We spent 2014 in Fiji, 2015 in New Zealand and 2016 in Malaysia and Thailand. Always Saturday was sold in 2016 in Malaysia

07 February 2016
24 January 2016
14 January 2016
12 January 2016 | Phe Phe Lee
31 December 2015 | Debut, Indonesia
27 October 2015
29 September 2015 | Medana Bay, Lombok Indonesia
16 September 2015
07 September 2015
01 September 2015 | Hoga
20 August 2015
26 July 2015 | Debut, Indonesia
21 July 2015 | Horn and Thurdsday Island, Australia
16 July 2015 | Thursday Island and Horn Island, Australia
07 July 2015 | Lizzard Island, Australia

Our Last few days in Thailand

22 March 2016

Our Thailand experience was centered on the time we spent with our international company. We had Byron and Wendy arrive first for several days and then 2 days after they left Amy came in and she hung out with us for about 10 days and then Harold and Sylvia flew in the day Amy left for 3 days on board and 5 days together at a fabulous Resort.

We started off with a plethora of mechanical failures including the high-pressure water line for the water-maker on Wendy and Byron's first day. That turned out to be very restrictive since we couldn't shower with impunity. After several trips to the hydraulics store and after Wendy and Byron left we finally got that working again.

We visited many of the same places with everyone but a clear highlight was the king of hongs at Ko Phanak. This one had a long maybe 200 yard long cave but it was the most tricky because one had to wait for the height of the water to be just right! One has about 1 hour to have enough water to float over the beach to get into the cave and the water has to be low enough to sneak under the ledge to exit into the inner lagoon. Despite two attempts, Wendy and Byron never got into the lagoon. We even waited as much as a half hour in the pitch black cave for the water to ebb but then we ran out of daylight.
With Amy I was more experienced and we didn't have to wait too long to slip into the lagoon. In the cave you are not supposed to use the outboard engine because the exhaust is toxic to the resident bats clinging to the ceiling. We had to hand row in the dark to get through but it was pleasant and COOL. By the time we were leaving the hoards of tourists in crewed kayaks overwhelmed us as they came in.

Sylvia and Harold also got in to the lagoon and Sylvia went to town photographing everything!

One of the highlights was the fresh shrimp that we bought from local fisherman minutes after they had been caught. The shrimp were huge maybe 6 inches long and 1 ¼ inches thick. Nancy boiled them up in a beer batter and with Old Bay Seasoning, We all feasted!

The weather was settled and fortunately we didn't have the huge wind accelerations so our anchor stayed set even though it was a roadstead anchorage.

The water quality in Thailand has been disappointing with the exception of 2 places where we had 15 to 20 feet visibility. However, the temperature of seawater was delightful so we were able to swim almost daily and enjoy the aft deck shower.

With Amy we visited Rolly Tasker, a world renowned sail maker and spent several hours viewing his humongous sail-loft. We were given the freedom to walk the entire floor and even get up close to the rope weaving machines making Dacron braid. The had their own injection molding machines and hand on hand the most incredible inventory of sailing hardware that I have ever seen. Their loft was big enough to be fabricating 20 sails simultaneously. Each of the emplyees perform the same job repeatedly over their career. Each lady performed their task without wasted motion and we could watch how they marked, cut sewed the sails and especially how they finished them off with their rope and leather work.

Harold and Sylvia took us to Naka Island Resort where we experienced luxury like never before. We had our own villa with a private swimming pool, garden, steam shower, out door bathtub and all the other accouterments that go with decadent living! Needless to say it was a unique experience for us and one we will never forget.

On the sail back to Malaysia we had an owl land on our boat and stay with us for about 2 hours. We also saw a few dolphins at the same time. We hope these experiences will bring us good luck in our future plan.

Over the last month it has become clear that it is time to move back into a land life and we have decided REALLY to sell Always Saturday to any lucky buyer who makes us a reasonable offer. We have now been cruising since 1998, eighteen years! As such we are now in Langkawi, Malaysia where we have contacted a broker. The next several months will be spent cleaning painting and varnishing and preparing her for sale. So we will NOT be heading across the Indian Ocean nor touring S. Africa. Our home becomes vacant on Sept 1st so we hope to be ready to move back in by then. We do hope that we'll travel mainland Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam after we complete our yacht maintenance.

We would like to thank all of our blog readers for following our trials and tribulations and look forward to meeting with many of you after we get home.

From the Crew of Always Saturday

James Bond Island

07 February 2016
James Bond Island

January 31, 2016

Motoring in Phang Nga Bay is a little tricky as the charts leave much to be desired and you can’t read the water because it is too murky. Many areas are very shallow and the tides on a full and new moon range about 2 ½ meters so one must always know where you are.

We proceeded slowly and then followed some of the large passenger vessels to get to our destination which was spectacularly beautiful, especially on a sunny clear day. We ran out of water quickly and had to do a 180 to stay in deeper water where we anchored and quickly got in the dingy to go ashore.

Again there was a zoo. Here there were maybe 20 boats, some very large, with several hundred people on the shore obscuring most of the beach and the souvenir huts. The rock formations are unique and photogenic and we first did a circumnavigation of the island. One bay was buoyed off so that you couldn’t approach it from the beach. What we didn’t expect was the 300 Batts National Parks fee per person! That’s about 11 dollars per person. Unfortunately, Thailand does not sell a single National Parks pass so they charge at every island park and it becomes very onerous for cruisers who are living on a budget.

We look forward to returning with our guests and to watching “Man with a Golden Gun”. After another day we wanted to get away from the crowds and find a deserted anchorage where we can clean the bottom of the boat. The trip to Ko Roi was quick but we didn’t find desolation. This stop must be on the Sunsail/Moorings charter itinerary and we had maybe a half dozen sailboats per day visit this “remote” island. There was a small hong of little note but the water was clearer than anywhere else we’ve seen here in the Bay and after a few days we completed our set task.

Now we have been awaiting our company and not traveling much. Many chores and repairs have been completed and we are getting close now to sailing to Yacht Haven Marina to pick up Wendy and Byron next week. The weather has become somewhat gusty with large accelerations, up to 30 knots, next to the high islands and we have lots of scope out on our anchor chain! We don't wish to drag and hope the charter boats know how to anchor as well. We look at the charter fleet as “a new paint job has just anchored”..........

From the Crew of Always Saturday

Pheng Nga Bay, Ko Hyai, Thailand

26 January 2016
Pheng Nga Bay, Thailand

We connected with an electronics man and he didn't show so we attempted to troubleshoot our SSB problem ourselves. Once again we accept the fact that we a required to be self sufficient as finding help along the way seems impossible at times. Since we redid all the connections on the antennae and cleaned the grounds the only thing else I could think of is to go back and read the operators manual. Voila! OPERATOR ERROR!!!!!. PISS ME OFF.

Our next adventure took us to Ko Phanak, the king of hongs. With anticipation we motored a short distance and anchored near a group of tour boats. There were probably 50 kayaks from all of these boats entering a break in the limestone rock at beach level. The tide was high enough to float over the beach and apparently low enough to allow entrance to the hong at the other end. We were going to wait until the next day to do our hong exploration but a longtail boat with two paddlers in their kayak approached us and asked if we wanted them to take us in. We had to do a lot of bargaining since we had no small change to negotiate a price but for a small price we jumped in and were taken in. The cave was pitch black and only since there were so many other kayaks each with it's own flashlight could we easily navigate to the other end. The ceiling of the cave was high with lots of stalagitites and stalagmites. Bats were living in the cave and it was eerie. After about 200 yards we had to bend down to clear the rock at the exit which opened up into a beach and lagoon. There were a large mangrove and of course tons of other visitors. Our guides continued paddling and before long we found ourselves entering a second cave which was shorter than the first opening into a second lagoon similar to the first. The lighting was not good and we were unable to get any good photos but as we expect to return several times with our company yet to arrive we hope to capture the event photographically. When our guides took us back out through the caves the water was a little higher and we had to duck down to get back into the larger cave before we could head back and out to the sea. It was truly a memorable experience! We hear that Ko Phanak has six hongs so in the coming weeks we hope to explore several more. Nancy thought today was as momentous as our passage through the Panama Canal! That's saying something.

We only stayed two days then off we were to Ko Hyai. We followed the boats again and this time found a large outdoor entrance to the inner lagoon which was spectacularly beautiful. We had great weather and lighting and spent the afternoon in the dinghy messing about taking photos. We also did a small circumnavigation of the island and arrived back on Always Saturday just in time for a longtail to approach us and sell us large shrimp. Thailand is known for it's shrimp and we have been boiling it up and peeling it as we eat. It's a nice feast. The next day we were back in the dinghy but the lighting didn't get any better photos.

We've been having beautiful calm and sunny weather and our only complaint is that we have been sweating constantly which has introduced us to "Pricky Heat". It's also known "Mileria" and is an itchy rash caused by obstructed sweat glands that become inflamed and then itchy. No matter how much talcum powder we use we sill sweat and so far it hasn't improved.

Next we'll be visiting "James Bond Island"

From the Crew of Always Saturday

Ko Yo Mei

24 January 2016
Ko Yo Mei, Phang Nga Bay

January 24, 2016

Our first stop was the island of Ko Yo Mei, which is where Wendy and Byron plan to stay after a short cruise with us. We anchored off the west side and were entertained by all the activity on the beach. There were three resorts and lots of nightlife and beach sports. Each resort seems to have a small contingency of longtail boats to transport guests to the various attractions.

Hongs are caves and lagoons cut into the limestone that are fun and exciting to explore. In some, one has to row perhaps 200 yard in the pitch black to pass through a tunnel that opens into a large lagoon. There are many hongs around and plenty of explorers. Then there is the famous James Bond Island of “Man with a Golden Gun” fame that is a must to visit. Lots of people come to spend their money and the locals are geared up to take them wherever. The water is warm and green and inviting but not clear. It is certainly not what we have become accustomed to across the Pacific and makes cleaning the bottom of the boat more of a chore.

The next day we went ashore and beached the dinghy. We spent a couple of hours walking around and taking some photos. We even got a tour of a very expensive resort up the mountain. We had a driver who drive who took us up and around the villas and the common areas all overlooking a most wonderful seascape. I think he was more of an escort in a very nice way. Very posh resort with all the finest amenities, many of which we have missed.

Most of the tourists were Europeans and there were no Americans. The lawns and gardens were manicured with cheap labor maintaining the rooms and meeting areas immaculately. Everyone was very polite and helpful and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. I expect Wendy and Byron will be at a different resort!

We have had a sporatic problem with our SSB Ham radio and I have been struggling to clean contacts with little result. The next stop will be close to the main island where a professional can have a look at it.

Nancy and I are contemplating continuing our journey and crossing the Indian Ocean eventually arriving in S. Africa where we could spend several months driving around the preserves and national parks. Many boats are leaving from Thailand and traveling the northern route but one has to leave during the right time of year and if you don’t one can encounter heavy headwinds. Not for us! The other alternative is to plan to cross in the southern hemisphere which is more like an express train. Taking the southern route allows more time in Asia before one must depart but it does require to travel back south through Indonesia to depart after May 1st. Since our engine still needs an overhaul which could be done well in Malaysia we may choose to do the southern route. It will become necessary to return to Maylasia and use Pankgor Marina as our launching place. Otherwise we will need to stay in Malaysia during the hot and rainy season, something neither of us want to do. That is unless we find a buyer for Always Saturday (which doesn't seem promising) in which case we would have to create another plan!

From the Crew of Always Saturday

Ao Chalong, Thailand

14 January 2016
We got a very early start and arrived in Ao Chalong by noon time motoring most of the way. The anchorage was huge and very busy with tour boats speeding off to Phi Phi Lee and the likes almost continuously. Once we anchored, we went ashore to clear in, and buy telephone and internet cards. The docks were run down and dangerous as there were sharp objects threatening to puncture our inflatable dinghy. We did get ashore but the engine died on us on arrival. Another project just waiting to be tackled. Keep in mind that our dinghy is like our SUV without a garage. Once we cleared in, off we went exploring. The jetty from the dock is so long that there was a shuttle bus just to take us to the main land.

The sun is unbearable during the day and one tries to stay in the shade as much as possible. Between our ignorance of what we needed to buy, where stores were and our inability to communicate with most Thais we stumbled along and sweated our way to eventually getting what we needed. We did discover a to die for western expensive supermarket and decided to eat out nearby in the shopping center. This turned out to be a poor decision as the food was not terribly good and by the time we walked back to the dock it was dark out. Naturally, our engine would not start and I couldn’t get it even to cough so eventually some local men passed us in a dinghy and they towed us back to our unlit boat. We gave them 200 Batts for their trouble and their eyes shone. They did not expect a tip and were delighted. The wages in Thialand are very low so I can only imagine what the “boys” did with their money.

A new job! …. fix the damn engine! That became a first priority and after I had exhausted every effort to find an outboard mechanic to visit the boat, we finally persisted in fixing the problem. There was water in the fuel tank, and the carburetor had some debris that took several attempts to thoroughly clean before it became reliable again. We decanted the old gasoline, changed and cleaned fuel filters and fuel lines to finally get clean fuel delivery to the engine. The engine is now running fine, keeping our fingers crossed. We hate being stranded and rowing the dinghy isn't our favorite chore.

For the next week we met up with our friends, shopped until we dropped, went to the dentist, Nancy got a haircut! The best haircut for $10 usd.

In the end we did not particularly take to Ao Chalong. It is crowded, old and worn, poor , littered with garbage and many bars with a thriving sex trade. We found the tourists overwhelmed the city and they were boisterous and aggressive and it seemed as if the locals were only in it to make a buck. Lots and lots of Russians have moved into Thialand as the business opportunities seem to be thriving. It was very opportunistic and fast paced requiring high energy and awareness at all times. Even the harbor was stressful as we had a roll many nights so we were eager to get on our way as soon as we were fully provisioned for all of our soon to arrive guests.

Onward to the hongs!

From the Crew of Always Saturday

Maya Bay, Phe Phe Don and Lee, Thailand

12 January 2016 | Phe Phe Lee

Our trip north from Telaga Harbour in Langkawi was an uneventful motor and motor sail. We first traveled to Ko Lipe, Thailand and had a nice anchorage on the north side of the island. Our trip north from there took us to Ko Rok Nok where we picked up a mooring and were approached by some officials looking for money for the national park. They explained they were park rangers and there was a charge of 400 Batts the stay overnight. We declined, as we weren't able to get Batts before leaving Malaysia, we were penniless. Once we explained we didn't have any money the rangers just looked at us and gave up. We spent the night and left at 0500 the following morning in the dark no less. We were on our way to Ko Phi Phi. Ron does a great job of keeping all the island group names right. Me, on the other hand, can't keep anything straight. The island names just become a jumbled mess.

We arrived at noon at Maya Bay and it was sensational! The beauty of the island was spectacular and the activity was beyond belief! Since it was mid-day the tourist trade was in full swing. We entered the bay and were besieged with traffic swimmers divers, tour boats, dive boats and wakes. We proceeded slowly but had to maneuver between the numerous moorings to select one, which we did. There was a beach that was a mob scene with tourists bodies obstructing a view of the sand. It was like Coney Island on the 4th of July! Dive boats had groups of divers. Maybe 5 or 6 groups in the water at a time. Longtails (which are shrimp fishing boat with a long shaft with a propeller on the end of the shaft. The large propellers were churning the water all around. See picture in gallery of longtails. We saw maybe 30 to 40 speed boats anchored next to the shore each with maybe 10 to 15 passengers (on shore). The tourist trade on Phuket Island is big business. We had no idea of the number of tourists that come to Thailand and most are either from Europe, New Zealand, Australia and of course China.

The whole bay was surrounded by limestone cliffs that were probably about 300 to 500 feet straight up. There were some small bays and coves where small parties were swimming and diving.

We got in the dinghy and explored the bay with our camera in action and were able to capture some of the pandemonium. By about 6 pm all of the tourists cleared out leaving just us and another cruiser for the night. Subsequently, a few other cruisers showed up including some friends so we had a nice reunion.

There was a well known large hong (cave opening into a cavity created by erosion. Tides are important because we didn't want to get stuck inside waiting for the tide change) on the east side (exposed side) of the island we hoped to explore early before everyone showed up but the waves were too big and our outboard kept on quitting on us so we limped back to the mothe-rship.

Next we sailed to Phi Phi Don, just north of where we were and explored the hotel scene with our friends. It too was overcrowded, loud and unpleasant except for it’s newness for us.

Tomorrow off to Ao Chalong to clear into Thailand officially!

PS: We went to Pennang, Malaysia to apply for a Thailand visa, before arriving, which allows us to stay for ninety days. We left our passports and returned the following day to get our visa and were 150 ringgits each lighter.

From the Crew of Always Saturday
Vessel Name: Always Saturday
Vessel Make/Model: Ross-Brewer 12.8
Hailing Port: Cary, NC
Crew: Ron Epner and Nancy Bertha
Home Page:
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Added 26 September 2015