Surin and Similin Islands

Sunday January 22

Great spinnaker run curving down the Thai – Myanmar border to avoid straying too far into Myanmar waters. 33 Nm with 15-18 NE behind us. Plenty of fishing boats hovering near the border to poach stray fish from Myanmar.

The best mooring was taken when we arrived so we checked out a couple of others and picked a nice new looking one. Anchoring was not the preferred option due to deep water and coral bommies.


After lunch we enjoyed a snorkel over the reefs. Very clear water but the coral was unspectacular. We learnt later from our neighbour that about 8 years ago there was a significant bleaching event that destroyed much of the coral here.

Monday January 23

A pleasant night with more protection from the close by headland than we expected. Lea went off for a morning snorkel. Water temp a bit more chilly here than we have become used to.

We dropped our mooring and headed around to the next Bay and the Ranger Station. The tide was half ebb and the channel up to the big yellow moorings we wanted to get to was not obvious, with bommies and shallow water everywhere. We tied up to what we found out later was the channel marker tied to a big bommie not far under the surface. Fortuantely the tide flow kept us away from it. I took off in the dinghy with the dragonfly deepthsounder set up to work out the best path in to the moorings.

We also watched a few of the fast boats come in, had a chat to the catamaran on the other mooring and got a good picture of the way in. We soon had Gemini Lady tied up to one of the big strong moorings that we assumed were public.

We took off in the dinghy to explore the bay on the other side of the narrow shallow gap. Unfortunately the coral garden we were expecting here was virtually non existing. We went over to the campground on the other side of the island and had a walk around.

Very pretty! On returning to Gemini Lady we found a large heavy steel Parks boat rafted alongside. Apparently we were on their mooring. The boat operator couldn't speak English so he called over the Ranger. He was very polite and apologetic. He invited us to raft up to the Parks boat once it was attached but we declined and headed back to our first mooring. The boat operator had been very carefull to fend off and no damage was done.
We got another snorkel in that afternoon before the weather closed in with heavy rain.
Tuesday January 24
We watched the catamaran that was on the other mooring yesterday depart so we figured we would go back and pick it up. After a picking up the mooring Lea took off on her SUP for another explore and snorkel. I am into my reading more than snorkeling at present. She enjoyed it and reported evidence of the coral growing back. She was just about finished when a large shark appeared (we assume a harmless reef shark). This fueled a rapid withdrawl from the water and paddle back to Gemini Lady.
Had an ordinary cooked buffet lunch at the Ranger Station. Saw 2 flying Lemurs and a short tail Macaque. After lunch we dinghied accross the shallows of low tide to the Sea Gypsy Village.
The village is compact and built of traditional grass huts on stilts. Very neat and tidy with recycle bins for water bottles and aluminium cans. The men in the above photo are weaving a roof for their Longtail boat out of Palm fronds. Lea bought a woven bracelet off one of the young girls. She had a little English and was good fun and all smiles.
Wednesday January 25
An unpleasant night due to a strong Easterly wind all night coming straight into the Bay and reef all around us. The moorings look new, strong and secure but there is always that nagging doubt that plays on the mind.
We were glad to get out of there early to make use of the wind. Once clear of the island the spinnaker was up again for another lovely sail to the Similan Islands.
After 17Nm we pulled in at the western side Koh Tachai where we believed a good snorkel site existed. We found a mooring free and took the dinghy for an explore. The island is very reminescent of Tasmania (except 20 degrees warmer). Large smooth granite rocks straight down into deep water. The scrub facing SW was growing nearly horizontal. The only trees were in protected gullies. Visability in the water was at least 15m. Turtles, Moray Eel, and small pink jelly fish.
The tide must have changed because Gemini Lady started to bounce around Time to get going. The screecher was enough in the 15-18knots with a good swell running. Later the breeze dropped a bit so the kite went up again. 43 Nm of good sailing for a very pleasant change.
We arrived at Similan Island about 1500 and the place was still full of tourist boats and all moorings taken. We dropped anchor in 26m and put out 70m on a good smooth sandy bottom. Unfortunately, we still out far enough for the swell to reach us.
A brilliant white sand beach, as fine as Whitehaven Beach at the Whitsundays, and large boulders made for a dramatic and spectacular Bay.
A climb to Donald Duck Rock for a view was first up.

We met fellow Aussies, David, Gloria, Katrina and Ian off Verve on the way up. They advised us to pick up one of the unbouyed moorings further inside the Bay for the night to get out of the swell.

Thursday January 26

Beach time for us is early to 10.00 before the hoards arrive. We enjoyed a good swim in crystal clear water 500m to shore. Caught up with the Verve crew and arranged to have drinks on the beach at 1700. The beach was lovely and quiet with only us and a few campers around. Back on Gemini Lady we moved to another mooring further out to avoid the press of fastboats.

By 1100 Lea counted 56 fastboats each carrying 40plus passengers. Our beach was now crawling with over 2000 people.

After a brief afternoon thunderstorm which helped to stimulate an early exit of many fastboats we took the dinghy across to Koh Bangu. Verve's crew joined us and we had a great snorkel over the granite monoliths. Not much coral but the fish life was awesome.

By 1630 all was quiet on the beach so we went ashore and enjoyed a few drinks celebrating Australia Day with the crew off Verve.

Friday Jan 27

A short hop down to Honeymoon Bay on Koh Miang with a fresh NE'ly. It was a bit bumpy there and the fast boats had started to arrive and deposit tourists so we kept going through the channel and picked up a mooring on the southern beach.
The southern beach was nearly as crowded but we climbed to the view point and had that to ourselves.
It was a steep walk but well worth the effort.
We walked back to Honeymoon Beach and saw it at its craziest, just before lunch, with people and boats jostling for space everywhere. Another mass produced mediocre lunch.
Back on the southern beach we lay under the shade of some trees and people watched for a couple of hours. Amazed at the self absorbtion of so many people taking selfies with all manner of poses. Quite entertaining and very hard not to laugh as they seem to take it so seriously.
As the fast boats began to depart we moved over to another mooring sheltered from the E and NE by a small island and crescent of rocks. We scrubbed the waterline and most of the hulls underwater. It has been 2 weeks since the last clean and we were pleased to find minimal barnacles even though there was lots of carpet like fur.

The wind died off and we were jiggling about a bit so we moved around to Honeymoon Bay.Completely different beach with the day trippers gone and peace restored.
Saturday Jan 28
A rough night as the forecast easterly did come in at 15 knots. As there was a decent fetch across the Bay it soon got uncomfortable. At 0100 I had had enough and we decided to follow our track back to our previous mooring. Just as well we had the track though as for the first time we noticed that the chart was significantly offset. With our new torches we had no problem finding our mooring. Much more comfortable for the rest of the night.
Some more lovely snorkelling, finding these colourfull things as well as some pelagic fish.
We also found these strange underwater ocular monuments. There was a whole row of them followimg the approx. 10 m contour. We hailed a resting diver off one of the charter boats later and he said they were memorials to those killed in the 2004 tsunami.

A quick circimnavigation of Koh Miamg for something to do then back to our favourite mooring.

Had a chat to Katherine and John off Catchcry who we had seen but not met at Koh Phayam. They planned to just do an overnighter but as parks charged them for a 5 day pass they were staying on to get their moneys worth.

Sunday Jan 29

On the go early to catch the breeze to no avail. Motored the whole way but at least the water tanks ended up full. Picked up a mooring on the north of Patong Bay and enjoyed good internet for the first time in a couple of weeks.

Monday Jan 30

Motored across the Bay so we could get laundry done and resupply. Outboard died. We were using the new fuel purchased from Yacht Haven Marina. Found it full of water. Had a long difficult row out to GeminiLady dodging inconsiderate jet skiers to strain the water out of the fuel and get it going again. However, I must admit to a stupid mistake before we diagnosed it as a fuel problem. Because the engine died so abruptly I though that the ignition coil had gone. To test I pulled off one of the spark plug leads and held it to the block looking to see the spark while Lea cranked the engine. Anyway the bloody engine started and I'm left holding the lead getting a very painful zap up the arm and I can't let go. I'm paralysed! Lea finally managed to shut the engine down. Diagnosis? Definitely not the ignition coil.


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