Saturday October 27, 2017

After 7 months Gemini Lady is back on the water. We left Pangkor yesterday and enjoyed a good shakedown sail to Penang. Had to completely recommission the Autopilot on the way as it was 180 degrees out and sent us into a tight spin everything it was engaged. All part of the software upgrade I had done. All other systems are working well and the afternoon sea breeze gave us a 9 knot reach for the last 35 Nm. Peacefull night at anchor after the thunderstorms passed by. At Straits Quay Marina now waiting for our friends Simon and Jodie to join us for a 2week cruise between here and Langkawi.

My last post was from our trip up the west coast of Thailand 7 months ago so here is a quick recap since then.

January 31st 2017

Back at Patong beach we picked up Brain and Marcelle for another lap around Phang Nga Bay.

We first met these two cruising around the Kimberley Coast in 2015 on their cat Simply a Seawind 1200.

We had great 2 weeks enjoying more of the spectacular scenery of the Bay. Cooked up some fabulous meals and were introduced to Frangellico with lime juice another dangerous combination.

A highlight was a visit to Koh Rachi south oof the Peninsula. Managed to get a mooring buoy amongst the cast of thousands.

Another stunning island once the day boats had gone home.

Then back up to Ao Chalong, out to Phi Phi Don, then accross to Krabbi. Marcelle got the hang of the SUP in no time. 

Checked out the local shrine to the Phallus

Tonsui Bay, Krabi was delightful apart from the constant boat wash of hundreds of Longtails. Caught up with Tiki, Aquadreams and Tuppenny and enjoyed sunset drinks on the beach watching the rock climbers.

Some base jumpers dropped in as well off the cliffs above. 

Headed over toward Koh Hong and stopped at Ko Kudu Yai for the night. Beautiful anchorage. Met Sarah and Mike from Soul a lovely Chincogan 52 Cat. 

I caught some evil bug and spent the day in bed. The rest of the crew went off exploring in the dinghy. 

Back to Koh Hong again then on to another unexpected highlight, the Stilt Village up in the north of the bay. A lontail trip took us deep into the Mangroves. We viewed 3000 year old cave paintings that resembled some of the artwork we saw in the Kimberley’s.

The village is Muslim and everything is built over the water including the Mosque and the floating soccer field. The people were very friendly and we enjoyed exploring the quite extensive village before settling down for lunch.

Back at Koh Hong playing cards that night the bug got Marcelle and by morning Brian was out too. We decided to head for Yacht Haven Marina. Marcelle and Brian booked into a resort to recover. 

A couple of days later we were all recovered and drove a hire car into the old city of Phuket taking in the architecture and museums as well as browsing all the usual tourist merchandise. Back at their resort for a swim then said our goodbyes.

Our visa was running out so we headed back down to Ao Chalong to clear out. Didn’t read our Passport stamps carefully and after wasting a day bumming around, presented our papers to clear out on the 16th Feb only to be told we had overstayed our visa by a day. No great problem just a “fine”. 

Back to Malaysia via Koh Lanta, Koh Phetra, Koh Bulan and Koh Tarutoa. This last island was lovely and we stopped a day to explore the NP. The island has a history of Pirates and Political Prisons.

Then back to Langkawi via “Hole in the Wall”. Cleared back into Malaysia at Kuah.

 

 

 

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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.

 

Thursday January 19

Again the forecast easterly failed to show but the tide was in our favour and a sailable NE came in for the last 10 Nm. Lots of fishing flags to keep the lookout vigilant.

We were the only yacht in the SW anchorage called Long Beach. Small dumping waves would make dinghy access difficult so we anchored up in the northern corner with the least swell. More blue sky today after the grey overcast conditions we've had recently. Ashore we walked the firm wide beach.

Lots of small bungalow accomodation with restaurants attached. Very bohemian , hippy style establishments. Furniture made of driftwood and decorations of flotsam and jetsam off the beach. A couple of newer resorts stood out along the beach but they were single storey and still blended in well with the surroundings. We walked the beach then ventured up the road past more quirky eateries and buildings half hidden in the foliage. No cars on the island just low powered motorbikes.
Back at the beach we chose a nice, new modern resort for a drink.
Then moved on to beachfront deck of Hornbill Resort for a great dinner.
Friday January 20
Hired a motorbike and set off to explore the island. A bit wobbly at first avoiding pot holes and cracks in the road.
The main road led down to the pier where hundreds of tourists were shipping in and out on fast boats and ferries.

Parked the bike at the pier and went for a wander to the Buddist Monk section of town.

 

 

We thought this shrine might be a bit of ancient Thai Cultural Heritage but it turns out to be only 33 years old.

 

Lots of love interesting statues and the like but no information boards to give tourists any indication of what they are all about.

This cat just about summed the island up.

We covered just about every road and ended up down the southern end of the long beach. Much quieter down here and a very retro feel to the resorts.

Saturday Jan 21

Moved around to Buffalo Bay about 3 Nm further north on the island. Spent the rest of the morning stripping down the port Vacuflush Toilet again as it still had a slow vacuum leak that set of the pump every few hours. Very annoying at night.

Found the problem to be a split “O” ring on the spindle shaft. New “O” ring fitted but got cut every time the shaft was inserted. Found a small bur in the plastic that sliced the “O” ring during insertion. Finally got it smoothed out and a whole “O” ring in place. Lea had cleaned up all the parts and after a successful reassembly all was good in the toilet world again.

Swim to cool down and a paddleboard around the bay for some exercise. Found our bar for sundowners.

Headed ashore later to explore this unique construction and enjoy a beer.

Fabulous concept and construction but not sure it would satisfy anyones idea of a building code. Found the resident Hornbills.

Sunset colours added another dimension.

Settled onto the deck of the nearby Sun Resort for dinner.

Tomorrow we are off to the Surin Islands.

 

Tuesday January 11

Left Phi Phi Don and the slop created by hundreds of power boats which caused the boom to bang about a bit. Nice broad reach for a while then we dropped the Main and continued on under spinnaker. Destination Nai Harn Beach on the SW tip of the phuket peninsular.

Evidence of a rat on board. A few pooh's were found so we started emptying the pantry to check . A few holes in biscuit, yoghurt and powdered milk packets were found. We dug out 2 large plastic tubs to put all the packaged food into, vacuumed and cleaned the pantries. Checking under the seats in the saloon we found the little bugger had chewed up part of the airconditioning duct work. Fortunately the Chippies and Twisties were ok. For once we were gratefull for the heavy duty plastic packaging favoured in Malaysia.

We motored into Nia Harn. A lazy NW ocean swell was still rolling in from the storm and all the monos were tucked in a corner and still rolling. We had the bay to ourselves apart from the hundreds of tourists on the beach.

Enjoyed a beer while googling how to make rat traps.

Thursday January 12
No succes with the home made traps but the bastard was still at large. The only thing that wouldn't fit in the tubs was a large packet of Jasmine tea. Lea thought that would be safe but no; got into that too. We also discovered chewed up wires behind the stereo. One audio lead was chewed right through and the computer power lead was badly damaged but the braided wire sheath under the plastic saved it. Now we had an explanation for the damaged gas detector lead. Time for serious anti rat action!
We surfed the dinghy ashore through the small breakers, on a mission, looking for traps. Couldn't find any mechanaical traps but found this at the local 7/11

The roads were busy and lots of people were exercising around the Lagoon. Lea swam back to boat and after setting up our new rat trap we moved on the short distance to Freedom Beach. Took the SUP's in toward shore but soon realised the beach was being closed out by dumping waves up to 4 feet. We made a strategic withdrawl and moved around to Patong Beach.

This is the tourist Mecca of Phuket with wall to wall restaurants, bars, hotels, tatoo parlours, highrise and traffic. It was devastated by the 2004 Tsunami when 250 people lost their lives. None of the destruction is apparent now and its business as usual.

Our uninvited guest had been caught by the sticky tray placed in the cupboard behind the upper nav station. Unfortunately I hadn't put down any newspaper and there was sticky glue everywhere from the rat's struggles. I negotiated a deal with Lea where I removed the still wriggling rat and she cleaned up the mess. The clean up wasn't as bad as expected as on reading the rat trap instructions we found that the glue is soluble in vegetable oil. Good riddens. We must have picked him up at Yacht Haven Marina.

Ashore it was crowded with lots of hawkers trying to sell their goods or services. The whole place had a smell tinged with the sewer and has a seedy feel to it. About as cultural as we could find we inquired about the Thai Boxing bout scheduled for tomorrow evening.

A full moon that night over the lights and sounds of Patong Beach.

Friday January 13

No loud music disturbed us but the breeze dropped and we ended up broadside to the swell rocking and rolling anyway. Swung by Chantille 1, anchored nearby, to say hi. Ashore we dropped off a big load of laundry then headed up the hill to the SW of town for some exercise. Lea went off for a good 7km run.

Found a nice little restaurant called Rustic for coffee. Back on board we spent the afternoon restitching cockpit covers and replacing worn out elastics. Arranged to meet up with Claire and Stephen for the Thai boxing. They seem to be enjoying their “detoxing”.

Dinner at “Tigerland” then met up with Claire and Stephen for our first ever boxing tournament.

The bouts started with kids, 8 years olds first moving up to teenagers. Gloves, box's and mouthguards but no head protection. Kicking is allowed. The referee quickly seperates them after a clinch. One kid was knocked down hard which wasnt pleasant to watch and in the female bout one girl got her leg hammered repeatedly until she could barely walk. The young men were much more skilful but only Lea was enjoying the fighting and the eye candy of lean, fit, finely sculpted bodies.The usual loud drunken yobbo (Dutch, not Australian for a change) was just behind us. A vote to leave was 3:1 for.

We walked down the main street to the beach, repeatedly saying “no thank you” to the locals touting “sexy club” and “ping pong girls”. The go go girls were up on the tables wiggling their ” booty” and looking bored as they swung around their poles.

A nightcap of soda water back at Rustic and we called it a night.

Saturday January 14

Another rolly night and the poor mono behind us was rolling nearly gunnel to gunnel. It was a relief to get off the boat. Walked to the wet market, which was excellent, to restock. Back to pick up the laundry and then we couldn't get away quick enough.

We didnt go far though as all the anchorages further north are exposed to the swell still running in from the NW. We found a mooring tucked into the NW corner of a little bay called “Naka Lay”. Water clarity was good so we spent the afternoon cleaning the hulls.

Sunday

Finally a good nights sleep.

Headed north while it was still calm. The mooring was free on Koh Waco a pile of granite boulders just offshore. Stopped for a snorkel in lovely clear water. great rock formations and small fish but very little coral. Chantille joined us from their nearby anchorage so as there was only 1 suitable mooring we passed it over to them and continued north. Debated how far to push but elected in the end to tuck in behind tge reef at Nia Yang near the airport. Glad we did as the NW'ly came in quite strong in the afternoon.

Lovely walk ashore through the parklands where many locals were picnicing with their families. A good selection of local food was available at the car park where many street vendors had set up shop. Very pleasant without the tourist hype.

Monday

Daylight departure on a very low tide. The reef extends much further out than charted but fortunately the locals have put a buoy out on the end of the reef. Motored the whole 33.5Nm against a light NW breeze. Lots of fishing flags to dodge.

Got into the Ban Than Lamu anchorage before the breeze got up. Spent the afternoon dancing, spinning and bouncing around on anchor in fresh winds opposing a strong tide flow. Chris off Quasar called us up to make sure we were ok. Explained our manoeuvres were just the joys of high windage and shallow footprint of catamarans.

Stayed on board that evening but conditions settled nicely just after dark.

Tuesday January 16

Decided to spend the day here as forecast winds were not in our favour again. A bit of boat cleaning while the fast boats loaded up their tourists for the trip to the Similan or Surin Islands. Once things had quietened down ashore we tied up at the floating barge under the Navy Wives Club Restauant.

The village outside of the Fast boat area was the most authentic we have seen so far. Grimy fishermans houses littered with trash and junk are right next door to well groomed and mainrptained homes. The smeel varied from delicious home cooking , fresh herbs growing in gardens to raw sewage and rotting food scraps. We wandered the back streets down to the local fishing docks.

Crossedover the big shipyard which had large fishing boats in all states of repair.
 

We found 2 fish processing wharfs where the boats were being unloaded.

On board the fish are stored on ice in these big blue bins.

Ashore they are hand sorted and packaged.

We didnt see any fish that appealed to us. Most was small stuff and the larger fish were mainly barracuda. Massive ice blocks were made in the ice works close by and transfered to tge boats by a large overhead gantry. The wharf area smelt ok so they much keep it nice and clean.

Lots of industrial looking workshops were nearby and with a good interpreter we suspect that you could get most things fixed here. Caught up with Chris off Quasar and planned dinner ashore with him and his partner Claire. Had a dreadful coffee at the Navy Wives Club but the food that evening was quite good.

Wednesday January 18

We expected to wake up to a nice Easterly. Instead it was mirror calm as we caught the last of the ebb out of the estuary.

It ended up as 45 Nm day of frustrating winds which varied from 4kts NW to 25 kts ENE. The land seemed to either block or funnel the wind. We had a close look at a nice beach on the west coast but the NW swell was still there so we made our way into the protection of the channel between Koh Phra Thong and the mainland for the night. Tomorrow we would get to Koh Phayam.

 

Friday January 6

Grey and rainy with no improvement in the weather forecast. Rain stopped so we had our village breakfast and tour.

Then off on the last of the ebb to Koh Phanak. Our first Hong was through the 200m cave. I think Claire looks a bit worried.

All went well on the paddleboards and we managed to get into the second Hong as the tide height was perfect. Then around to the sand cave on the NE of Koh Phanak.

We also explored the other cave nearby.

Then on to Koh Hong and our favourite mooring again for another roast dinner.

Saturday Jamuary 7
Rain, rain, rain. We had a great sail from the top of Koh Hong, SE towards the north of Koh Yao Noi. We past the besutiful Koh Kuda Yai where a catamaran can anchor inside the secluded Hong. Each year the Indie film festival is held inside the Hong on a specially errected big screen.
The rain and wind continued as we tucked up on the southern side of Koh Hong Krabbi. Plenty of people about and we went ashore for a very average lunch. The beach would be stunning in sunny weather. The wind swung around to the SE pushing up an uncomfortable swell so we headed back to the north side of the island.
Through a narrow cleft we could enter a large lagoon on the SUP's after the crowds and Longtails had departed.
 
Sunday January 8
More rain and it wasnt letting up. We got an early start and sailed under screecher to Chicken Island. Despite the weather boatloads of tourists were being deposited on the sandspit. Snorkelling didn't appeal and I wanted to catch the last of the ebb down to Phi Phi Don so after a quick look around the corner at the Chicken Head we moved on.

 

It was a good plan as the wind began to pick up from the north together with the swell and driving rain. We had good fast run under Screecher. Changed down to Genoa as gusts reached 25 knots. The weather took us by surprise as it is the worst we have had in 2 years. We gybed to go down the the east coast of Phi Phi Don then round up into the Bay. We needed googles to see anything in the driving rain that stung like needles. The wind was funnelling down through the isthmus and gusting to 38 knots. Visibility was minimal as we made our way to the west side of the Bay though lots of boats, most anchored and swinging wildly but some were moving about and the fishing fleet was in its way in. Lea and Stephen were on lookout. We found a good spot near the west cliffs and reef, well south of the head of the bay. It gave us a little protection from the wind and rain and was relatively calm. We dropped anchor in 18m and put out 80m. Just behind Pedro 3 as it turned out. Lunch and a nice cup of tea were very welcome. The storm had blown itself out by evening.

Monday January 9

A calm night but the gas detector went off in the early hours. Lea heard it first and gave me an elbow in the side as a wake up to check the problem. I couldn't smell any gas and the supply solenoid had been closed for hours. I figured it must be the sensor head so tried a new one with the same result. Detector unit must have failed. Went back to bed planning to hard wire the solenoid switch in the morning.

Hardwired the gas solenoid so we enjoy our morning cuppa with breakfast. I had found that we had a brand new sensor line in stock so I wired that in as a test and all worked perfectly. Relief! So I then pulled out the old sensor line and found it had apparently chaffed through in 2 places. Didn't really make sense but the internal wires were exposed and one broken. Running the new cable proved difficult and I lost patience and called in Lea's smaller hands and calmer temperament. Eventually all was installed and working fine but a questionmark about the chaffing stuck in my head.

Maintainence completed we headed ashore stopping at Pedro 3 to say “hello”. They had a boatfull of guests and were heading back to Boat Lagoon. A heavy downpour was a good excuse for a coffee and doughnut before the obligatory ascent to View Point.

After an average lunch Claire, Lea and I enjoyed a Thai massage while Stephen roamed the streets, exploring. We had tried to arrange a Longtail to take Claire and Stephen for a trip around Phi Phi Le, but were informed that all boats were cancelled due to the large swell still running that made Maya Bay dangerous.

Cocktails at Caio Bella then collected some takeaway from local vendors from the non touristy part of town. Some of the best Thai food we've had.
Monday January 10
The sun was back and skies were clear. Lea and Stephen went for an open water swim but there were a few stingers about.
Bacon and eggs for breakfast and a discussion about getting back to Phuket. The sea state was still untidy and with no wind it would be a very uncomfortable 5 hour trip. We decided to do a tourist loop around Phi Phi Le then put Claire and Stephen on a ferry to get back to the mainland.
We did our circuit of Phi Phi Le and found a big swell still running into Maya Bay. We just missed out on a mooring in the SW grotto but surge was clouding the water so it wasnt worth a snorkel anyway.

Back At Phi Phi Don we picked up a mooring close to shore and Stephen went off to book a ferry. No problem so we got them and their bags ashore. Lea and I went off to anchor up further out then we joined up ashore for a final lunch at Anna's Restaurant. This was recommeded by Trip advisor and the food was excellent.

Said goodbye as they left to board the 2 pm ferry to Phuket ready to commence 7 days of detox at a health farm on the beach at Rawi. It had been a great few days despite the lousy weather.

 

Sunday January 1

After saying goodbye to Ken and Jess we stopped to admire a lovely looking big catamaran. Turns out it was a Gunboat 66. Chatted to the delivery crew who had just picked it up off the boat from Italy. Nice guys but lucked out on an invite to have a look inside.

As we walked back down the jetty, Liz, off a Seawind 1260 called K'Gari introduced herself. We stopped and had a chat to her and her crew Steve. Liz had picked the boat up new from Vietnam and was slowly making her way back to Australia.

Monday January 2

Big day of cleaning and laundry. The bad weather finally arrived with strong winds and torrential rain. Fortunately it didn't last long but I was very glad we had said no to the first berth the marina allocated us as the waves got quite high and we would have been pounded onto the jetty. As it was we were nice and snug in the lee of a big motor yacht.

Caught up with Parlay and K' Gari for dinner at the “Living Room” restaurant. We were hoping to see the otters again but they didn't show.

Tuesday

Quiet day after a run/walk. Dinner at “Coconuts” Restaurant with Parlay and K'Gari.

Wednesday

Joined Liz and Steve on K'Gari to haul out at Premier Boat Yard. Very slick, professional operation. Very pleasant walk back through the forest and rubber plantations.

Wednesday

Hired a car for the day and went into Matro to re provision. This took all morning then we set of to do some sightseeing.

We navigated our way to the back of Old Phuket and drove up the steep hill. A few tourists and lots of monkeys.

Views were good across the old town and Ao Chalong but obstructed by trees so no good photos. We then drove down into the old township of Phuket. Some nice old buildings but nothing special compared to Malaka and Penang.

The main streets were full of souvenir vendors and thousands of tourists. Found one small park dominated by this dragon statue.

Next we headed for the ” Big Buddha”. He sits on top of a high peak that overlooks the whole of the soutern peninsula of Phuket. The beautifull white stone finish of quartz tiles reminded us of the Sydney Opera House. Chanting was being broadcast over the crappy quality loud speakers. Lots of information boards giving historical information of the Bhuddist Religion. The Statue is still a work in progress and lots of finishing off to be done but very impressive.

We stopped halfway down the mountain for a beer and a snack. Nearby was a company offering elephant rides.

We were caught in peak hour traffic madness and took forever to get back north to the marina. Claire and Stephen arrived at about 2030 and once they were ensconced aboard we cracked a bottle of Champagne. Finally got my sister to visit us on the boat.

 

Monday December 26

Up the hill to a village warung for banana and egg roti then cast off heading back to Koh Phanak to show Ken and Jess the Hongs.

Timed our arrival to get the tide right for the first Hong on Koh Phanak with a paddle through the 200m cave.
Then around the corner to visit 2 more caves and Hongs.
Headed over to Koh Hong in the afternoon and sent Ken and Jess off on the SUP's to explore while we prepared dinner.

Ken earned his keep by scraping off some of the small barnacles that were accumlating again. After 4500Nm and 9 months the anitfoul paint is just about useless.

Roast Lamb dinner and champagne.

Tuesday December 27

Headed south down to Phi Phi Don. Stopped at Koh Phanak to give Jess and Ken a chance to get through another cave but the tide was still too high for them to get through to the Hong within.

Another short stop at Koh Khai Nai. The place was packed with day boats and Chinese tourists. Picked up a mooring but as the moorings are so close together I stayed on board while the others dinghied ashore for an explore and a snorkel. The snorkelling was poor but the smell of BBQ seafood and corn from the food stalls was great.

Continuing south we diverted via Shark Point in the hope of better snorkelling. Hovever, the alleged mooring buoys were not present nor was shallow water around the rocks so we kept on going to the northern anchorage of Phi Phi Don. Lots of bommies around so took a long time to find a place I was happy with in about 16m of water.

Once settled we took the dinghy up to a little inlet and beach to the north. Once again packed with boats and tourists. Had a great snorkel around some sea caves. The tide was a bit high to go in them but good fun anyway.

 

Wednesday December 28

“Duff Duff” music until 0300 from the waterfront night clubs.

Ken and Jess off for a morning paddleboard.

I finalised arrangements to pick up our engine parts, back at Yacht Haven, after giving up all hope of avoiding the extra tax. Another expensive learning experience.

Then ashore to expore, climb, eat and drink. We also organised a Longtail to take us on a trip around Phi Phi Le tomorrow.

By late afternoon we were ready to head back to the boat but the tide was way out. Rather than drag the dinghy half a mile we had another drink at a waterfront bar.

Back on board we moved Gemini Lady around to Monkey Beach to get away from the direct line of the beachfront speakers.

Thursday

At first light there were monkeys on the beach so we went ashore to check them out. Lea left a waterbottle in the dinghy and in no time it was stolen by one of the cheeky little buggers. Our longtail never showed up even after I had texted him to confirm the booking. Lea and I took the dinghy in and arranged for another boat who promised to pick us up at 1030.

Our boat arrived on time and we had a fabulous 3 hour cruise with a bit of snorkelling as well.

Red heads and sun don't mix. Maya Beach was absolutely chokkers.

So was the grotto on the SW of Phi Phi Le

While the others swam at Maya I checked out the engine. 4 cylinder Nissan diesel with a small turbo. This one didn't have a gearbox but many of the larger Longtails do. Chain drive onto propshaft and surface piercing prop. Strait out exhaust, and block is raw water cooled.

On the East side we had a brief look at Viking Cave.

The lagoon on the east side was again totally full of tourist boats.

Heading back down the west side of Phi Phi Don we went into a narrow cleft which opened into another beautiful little beach. Also full of other Longtail boats and tourists but not as bad as the other places.

Water clarity was superb and many small fish about.
Back at Gemini Lady I spent 3 hours underwater cleaning off barnacles. Lea and Ken helped around the waterline until the stingers got too much for them. I ended up with a lot of bites which I suspect were caused by sea lice.
Friday December 30
Took the morning breeze and headed north. We had a good 18Nm sail and stopped for lunch at Elixer Resort on the Island of Koh Yao Yai
Enjoyed lunch, a pool swim and wifi. The girl's managed to get their hair washed at the pool shower as well.
Moved up the island a few miles to the next bay.
Saturday December 31
Spent the morning ashore checking out the flash 5 star Resort here for New Years Eve. Bit expensive for our taste and we learnt that there would be no fireworks this year as part of the mourning for the dead king. They were having a band though and from the size of the speakers we decided not to be nearby for the night.

After a bit of a walk we settled at a local restaurant for coffee. The girls organised a massage each and Ken and I discussed his new job and business plans. Ended up staying for lunch. Then moved on into a very sheltered bay a bit further north in anticipation of a bit of a blow.

The blow never came but we enjoyed a good night opening a bottle for each time zone as another year rolled in.

We celebrated NZ and then East Coast Australia before we signed off for the year.

Sunday January 1 2017

The expected strong winds never came until we got back to the Marina and had to get Gemini Lady into a tight pen with a 20knot crosswind. I'd declined a berth on the outer side of the easternmost jetty as it was too exposed so we were given this awkward pen instead. The marina had an RIB ready to push if we got into trouble but we got in ok. Said our goodbyes to Ken and Jess. They were great to have aboard and even impressed the water Nazi with their frugal usage. (4 people, 7 days, 400l)

We had live music (well Jazz anyway) most days as we travelled from place to place.