Monday December 12

With wind against us we motored out of Telaga heading for the Butang Islands 25 Nm to our NW. We chose the south side of Koh Lipe to anchor. This was our first introduction to long tail fast boats ( should be called long tail noisy fast boats as they have no mufflers) and crazy crowded tourism.

The beach was broad and beautiful with nice clear water. We anchored well out in 23m of water and put out 60m. of chain then went ashore to explore. We found “walking street”, a narrow pedestrian way lined with bars, souvenir shops, dive shops, massage shops and restauants. It was buzzing with tourists mainly from Europe. Motorbikes with wire sidecars provided transport and deliveries. We walked all around and got sorted with a Thai Sim card and another new snorkel for Lea.

An early dinner introduced us to the delight of real Thai food, so fresh and aromatic. As much as we love Malaysia the Thai's win hands down on food.

Back to the boat and we find a large catamaran “Delaware” anchored very close to us. Who knows why when he had the whole bay to choose from. We tried to get their attention but they wouldn't respond so we put the dinghy back in and went to visit. Our request that they move, as they were too close, was basically ignored with that all too familiar arrogant inconsiderate attitude we found frequently in the Med. In fact the captain stated that anchoring this close in the Med was normal. Knowing the type (he had 40m of chain out in 25m) we gave up, figuring it would be him that dragged if the breeze came up. We probably should have moved but my stubbornness and self rightous tendencies occaisionally get in the way of a smarter decision. However, I'll balance that little admission with care and concern for our beloved anchor winch which works so hard on our behalf.

Our neighbours promptly abandoned ship for dinner ashore, returned late, noisy and drunk, then proceeded to party on into the early hours. We derived small satisfaction from the fact the captain was watching closely and keeping the music volume down as we had drifted quite close in the calm conditions. So he couldn't relax. Obviously our smugness came at the expense of a good nights sleep. Timely reminder that the density of assholes sailing the Med is significantly higher that SE Asia.

Tuesday

We got through the night and left early. The traffic here doesn't really start in earnest until 0930. We had picked up a mooring at Koh Bulo and enjoyed a snorkel before the hoards arrived. Coral was average and only a few fish about but conditions weren't ideal.

Moved on to Ko Rawi to hide from the NW wind. Restless M was there. We had met Claire and Errol at McGowans Beach in the Kimberley May 2015.

We went ashore and walked through the jungle to the waterfall. The track was a bit difficult to follow. Suspect the many dive tourists here aren't into walking. Not much of a waterfall but it did offer a cooling bath in fresh water which was delightfull apart from the the very mean Horse Flies out for their pound of flesh.

Drinks that evening on Restless M included a piano recital (Claire has a baby grand bolted to the deck), Christmas Carols, sundry other old time songs and meeting other cruising folk. Errol popped the corks on a few bottles of bubbles to lubricate the festivities. A very enjoyable night. I am still a bit fragile after my Karaoke humiliation in Tawau so didn't join in the singing much. Besides Claire didnt play any Meatloaf songs.

Wednesday

Yoga aboard Restless M on the foredeck. There were 6 ladies joining in the not so difficult session.

We decided to make the most of the breeze and headed out. It was a bit of a struggle to get away from the isalnds with wind and current funnelling down to the south. However, once in clear air we had a great windward beat for 35 Nm with the wind backing to the west enabling us to lay Ko Phetra. A nice bonus as we achieved twice the distance we expected for the day.

The scenery has changed and the islands are now sheer limestone karst ridges rising from the sea.

Ko Phetra was very spectacular but the NW changed to a NE during the night and with strong tidal currents we danced around a bit all night.

Thursday

The flood tide was running strongly north so we left earlier than planned. Starboard engine wouldn't start again. Suspect same issue as before. Motorsailed up to Koh Muk arriving just on high tide. Had to wait for the tide to drop before we could swim through the cave and explore the Hong. Pulled out the starboard solenoid and sure enough it was cooked. Only explanation is that the spring return on the ignition switch is not opening the contacts and cutting power to the stop solenoid. Now need 2 new ignition switches and another $320.00 solenoid. Re rigged the string line for engine shutdown and placed an order with Volmag in Singapore for the required parts.

Tha tide was dropping so we had an explore in the dinghy. The caves contain a lot of birds nests and during the harvesting season people live in these huts. How they climb up to the cliff face caves is just amazing.

We checked out the cave entrance to one of the best hongs in Thailand.

We decided boogie boards and flippers were the best accessories for the swim through the cave. Once the tide had dropped enough we braved the other 10 boats and 100 tourists here to enter.

The cave was great and our torch showed up the lovely colours.

80m through the cave into the hong itself.

Spent a while inside. Claire and Errol off Restless M joined us.

Legend says pirates used to store their treasure here. The main treasure now is the unique flora that the special micro climate inside the hong supports.

Friday

Next stop Phi Phi Ley.

Looked into the SE corner first and managed to find a mooring.
 

The little beach was lovely. Continued around to Maya Bay and found it full of tourists. We picked up another mooring but some dive boats followed us in and crowded us on other moorings. The yacht on the best mooring in the bay left so we pounced onto that mooring. Well, we went to pounce on it but the engines wouldn't start. Took me a little while to remember that I had disconnected the house battery to prevent overcharging. Once this was reconnected the engines fired up no problem but I had just discovered my engine start battery was buggered.

Ashore we explored and found the track to the southern side of the island we had just come from.

A walkway and net allowed tourists to climb down to the water and swim out to their boats.

As evening came many departed leaving us with a more peaceful ambiance on this magnificent beach.

No restaurant here so back to Gemini Lady for front row seats of the sunset.

 

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