Off to Cambodia

September 9 2017

Early start on the bus from Sitiawan to KLIA2 at 0400. Flight to Siam Reap slightly delayed. Couldn’t see a lot as we didn’t have window seats but first impressions of Cambodia were green and very wet. Visa took some time and $30.00 USD but we were eventually out and back into the heat. We were met at the airport and driven to our hotel. Many fancy hotels line the main road and traffic is heavy with lots of motorbikes, Tuk Tuks and Lexus 4wd’s. 

Arrived at Angkor Boutique Hotel and caught up with Anne and Dave poolside. A walk before dinner took us over the river

 and through the old town main road aptly named “ Pub Street”. Lots of people around and a busy atmosphere. Food carts lined the streets and locals were out playing a sort of soccer with a large heavy shuttlecock. Very skilful! We just wandered for a while to get the feel of the place then headed back over the river to the restaurant Dave and Anne had found.

 Beautiful meal with 2 drinks for around $16 USD per couple. Alcohol, mainly beer, is heavily advertised everywhere. Such a contrast to Muslim Malaysia. The people are very friendly around not much English is spoken. The evening ended with a spectacular lightning display. We ran back to the nearby hotel before the rain got heavy.

Sunday September 10

The French have left there mark as the bread with breakfast was excellent. Our driver Islam was on time to take us out to Battambang, a town upriver so that we can do a boat trip through the freshwater lakes tomorrow back to Siam Reap. His vehicle was a comfy and spacious Mercedes Van. The roads were very busy with lots of different forms of transport.

 Motorbikes and Tuk Tuks keep to the right. Trucks move over as much as they can and cars keep their left indicator on all the time as they try and pass everything. Horns are used incessantly to warn other vehicles ahead. Horn tones are something of an art form here and almost sound friendly. They are certainly not used in anger.

We stop at a Pottery manufacturer to look at what they make. Islam doesn’t speak much English so we don’t get much idea of what its all about. But they like chickens.

The good news is that the toilets out the back are Western and clean. 

We pass through another largish town with a new railway being built through it. Some nice Colonial Architecture.

We stopped at a roadside stall and tried a local speciality. A Bamboo stick filled with sticky rice, shredded coconut and black beans. Quite good and not too sweet. Got charged tourist prices but thats all part of it. 

Checked into our hotel around midday and arranged a 2.30 pickup to see the sights.

The Classy Hotel has heavy dark wood carvings all throughout the foyer and is currently on display as part of a Cultural Festival. Our room is spacious and overlooks a big beautiful pool. Anne is straight off for a swim while Lea and I head into town for a look and lunch. 

Then off again to the Bamboo Railway. This is the Railway line to Phnom Penh. This part of the line is now unused so the locals use it for transport and tourism. The “train” consists of 2 axles with a wood and bamboo frame sitting on top. A slipping fan belt with a lever for belt tension transmits drive from small “lawnmower” type engines to one of the axles. The whole unit can be rapidly disassembled, lifted clear of the track, or reversed. A friendly tourist policeman takes our $5 USD and we make ourselves comfortable on the bamboo frame complete with rugs and cushions for the ride.

Our driver, complete with his assistant and their lunch, fires up the engine, pulls back on the tension lever and we are off.

The trip is interrupted twice as a new freeway being built has cut the track. We hop off our train, walk over to the other side and resume our trip on another train on the other side. Stall provide cold drinks and T shirts if required.

The other interruption is returning trains. Ours is stopped, dissassembeled, removed from the track to allow the other train to pass. We are then reassembled and on our way again in no time. 


The line ends at the local village where the pressure is on to sell us souvenirs. We enjoy a cold coconut and Lea bought 2 locally made scarves. Dave was hounded by a determined and charming little girl into buying a few woven wrist bracelets. She had to work very hard for that sale.

Lots of fun and interesting scenery as we drove through the rice fields at around 20 km/hr. A few Brahman cattle were seen and lots of termite mounds. The driver indicated that the locals eat the termites.

Then it was off to the Bat Cave, Hill Temple and Killing Cave.

At the bottom of the mountain we learnt 4wd was needed for the accent. 

So off we went in the tray of a Hilux for $15 USD each to the top. Our driver didn’t come so we were on our own. However, an enterprising and pushy young man got a dollar off Anne to give us the story.

The cave with its reclining Buddha was where local people fled during the days of Pol pot. Once discovered the Khmer Rouge used a smaller nearby cave to torture and execute people. There are terrible stories of people being thrown down cave holes, heads cut off etc.

The cage contains human bones and skulls of some of the victims. There is a bizarre memorial park showing some of the variety of horrors inflicted on the people here.

At the top, near the temple gun emplacements still remain.

The temple is beautiful with stunning views over the surrounding flat countryside.

Cheeky monkeys are always around.


We were back at the base of the mountain in time to watch the nightly exodus of a few million bats from the depths of the caves. 

Back to the hotel for a swim and dinner at the rooftop restaurant. We are finding Cambodian food a big improvement on Malaysian.

Monday September 11

A rushed breakfast to get to the boat in time. Our vessel for the day did have lifejackets. 4 of them for the 14 on board. It did have a toilet cunningly kept clean via a constant flush from a branch off the raw water pump on the engine. It wasn’t overcrowded and it did have padded seats. However, the big 6 cylinder turbo charged motor running a long-tail prop was unmuffled. VERY LOUD.

The river bank was congested with slap together houses mainly of timber with iron roofs. The river is the rubbish tip and the banks were lined with garbage and plastic of every variety. However, the kids were happily splashing about, women were bathing and men were setting fishing nets. The poverty was evident but  they still had happy smiles and a welcoming wave. The housing did get better as we moved away from the town.


Beyond the city we entered the freshwater lake system with its myriad of channels through marsh land and stilt houses. We had a few short stops to exchange local people and produce. Many others used the river for transport in a variety of vessels.

We had to cross Tonle Sap Lake. The breeze was up and the lake was rough. The boat flexed and groaned.  Navigation was by steering toward the small pimple of a hill in the distance, just as well it wasn’t raining. The entrance to the channel up to Siem Reap would be very easy to miss. 

Finally back at Siam Reap sporting headaches from the constant noise we were glad to get off the boat. Enough of Cambodian boat trips.

At the hotel we met up with Heang our Cambodia Cycling organiser. She briefed us on final arrangements and took our passports for our Vietnam Visa’s.

Enjoyed a Tuk Tuk ride and a great massage in town at Real Spa before dinner. Cycling starts tomorrow.





Recap 3 Back to Pangkor August 2017

Monday August 7

Our first day was a bit of a blur with an overnight plane trip followed by 4.5 hours on the bus from KL to Sitiawan. We were picked up by Super Clean who had arranged car hire and an apartment for us in Lumut for a month. 900MYR for the apartment and 800 MYR for the car. Not a bad deal. We sorted all the paperwork and payments out at their Lumut Office then checked into our 11 Th. floor apartment with magnificent views over the Harbour.

Back at the marina we found Gemini Lady in good condition with her burka still in place. Apart from black coal dust and bird shit that had sieved through the covers the only problem we found was a flat start battery and engine bilges full of water. Soon had the power connected to charge up the battery and pump out the bilges. 

The air quality here is poor and Lea found it affected her quite badly this time. Said hello to Ben and Bell and Ray and Shaunnagh before heading back to the apartment for some sleep.

Tuesday August 8

Busy day. Dinghy out of the cockpit, food shopping, chasing sanding disks and water tube for new pneumatic sander. Lea cleaned the cockpit while I wrestled with the props. 

Our Variprops have 2 grub screws that prevent the main prop nut from undoing. Movement on the spline causes these screws to get bent so you cant undo them. I often have to drill them out then use an easy out. This time I broke the easyout which caused a real problem as I couldn’t drill that. Eventually got it sorted but did a bit of damage to the thread. At least the props were finally off.

Wednesday August 9

Cleaned Props, Scrubbed boat, dropped anchor chain and pulled out anchor winch. Discussion with local contractor Islam and we decided to use paint stripper and scrapers to remove all oil antifoul. We could find no suitable disks for our flash new sander so had to order some from Australia which would mean too much delay. Shopping for paint stripper, rollers and new easy outs.

Thursday August 10

The boys were on the job by 7.30 am to begin the stripping process on the hulls. Lea got into polishing the decks while I stripped and cleaned the anchor winch. The oil we put in the gearbox last year was far too viscous so had to be changed. 

The boys progressed well.

I found the top seal and main bearings a bit worn so arranged to get them replaced. Otherwise the Muir Winch was in good condition inside after 10 years.  Replaced genset water pump with brand new one and put in a new carbon filter cartridge in the galley.

Lea not feeling well so had an afternoon nap and we finished up early and enjoyed a refreshing swim back at the Condo. The heat was knocking us around after coming straight out of a Victorian winter.

The saloon was laid out as the toolshed. It got progressively more cluttered and untidy over the next few weeks.

Friday August 11

Anchor winch main shaft sent of to Bulat for new bearings and polishing. We go stuck into polishing the cockpit, rear seat and swim platform.

Friday night, party night at Jooks Bistro with the marina gang.

Saturday August 12

Bit slow this morning but had to be up early to get the boys more paint stripper. The anchor winch shaft came back all nice and shiny.

Needed to buy sheet gasket material and cut out new gaskets for the winch. This proved a bit a bit of an expedition but Sunny Chan a the Hose Centre in Sitiawan went out of his way to help. Spent the afternoon putting the winch back together with new seals and oil we had bought with us from Australia. Tested ok so reinstalled. A bugger of a job but got there in the end. Very glad of the little wooden table I made a few years ago to support the heavy winch motor and gearbox while bolting it back in underneath the capstan and gypsy via  the anchor locker hatch.


The boys are having a day off so we take the opportunity to cut and polish the inside of the port hull and half the underside of the bridgedeck. A lack of scaffolding or stages made it a bit challenging but gave us us a good upper body workout. Hard work but fortunately mostly in the shade with a nice breeze funnelling between the hulls.


Lea back up polishing the foredeck while I tackled a crack in the gelcoat between the catwalk and frontdeck. Found some pretty poor workmanship underneath but soon had it filleted, glassed and bogged with epoxy.

The boys were going well and we were down to the old barrier coat. Not a divot our gouge had been done to the gelcoat. We were thrilled with job they were doing. They didn’t use stripper on the waterline but hand scraped, a long tedious process before sanding.


A day of odd jobs. Discussed painting and antifoul with Jimmy from Prestige Marine Services. Agreed on an International Epoxy Barrier coat to be sprayed on and then 30 litres of Intersmooth 360 antifoul to be rolled on when we come back from our land based trip through Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. 

I was coming down with Lea’s bug so took it easy. We found a leak in the Port Bow under the genoa furling block so we took that off and resealed. Took the genoa back to the apartment. There was a large tiled area in the foyer of the vacant condo next door. After washing the floor we could lay the sail out.


Cleaned the foyer floor and laid out the genoa. Overall its in very good condition. Just the UV strip stitching is failing and a bit of chafe on the leach. Called in Mr Teh the sail repair man.

Back at the boat I finished the gelcoat repair on the catwalk while Lea sanded the port saildrive leg. Spent the afternoon cutting and polishing the inside of the starboard hull and the other half of the bridgedeck. 


Mr Teh meets us at Lumut to inspect the Genoa. He will take it up to Langkawi to get it all fixed up. His machine is broken and he has just ordered a big machine from Germany. He will be setting up a repair loft in Sitiawan.

On the boat we girded our loins to tackle another window. 

This one is not leaking but the Fixtech 200 is failing and the window lifting. We replaced this one back in late 2013 but it was failing again. We would not recommend Fixtech products to anyone. We are now using Dow Corning 995, recommended by Roger at Lightwave. The window cut out very easily as the Fixtech 200 is so soft. At least it wasn’t still tacky like on the last window we replaced for the second time.

We waited until 4.00pm when the humidity was at its lowest and temp starting to drop. At 5.10 we opened the first tube of 995. By 5.19 the window was in place and clamped. At these temperatures the working time is very limited.

Friday August 18

More polishing today followed by a big night out at the German Bar with huge serves of Pork Knuckle.


The polishing continues while the boys are sanding the outside of the port hull.

Home early, Lea up for a swim but I just chilled in Air-conditioned comfort. Watched the little monkeys in the tree tops below us as the sun went down. A melodic call to prayer in the background and a glass of wine in hand made for a pleasant evening.



Sunday August 20

Another early morning run. Lea saw a beautiful kingfisher and a squirrel. More locals out exercising this morning. Great to see groups Muslim women getting out for a run, fully covered and Hajabed in 26 degree heat.

The boys had finished and done a great job. We tidied the work site and did a few odd jobs before washing all the sanding dust off Gemini Lady in preparation of the Barrier Coat Spraying.


Not much on today so we headed up the mountain behind the Condo. It was a very steep and badly eroded track. Strong ropes had been installed to assist the climbing. At the top was a picnic area and a hammock. We let the sweat dry for half an hour.

On the way down we were menaced by an aggressive looking male monkey, so we diverted around him as he had no intention of moving out of our way.

It was a perfect day for spraying but unfortunately Jimmy had no product in stock even though he knew the job was coming up. Lea cleaned and waxed the leather while I sanded the saildrive legs a bit more.


Lifted the shade cloth skirts for Th. painting then went off to source parts for another small project. Installing header tanks for the saildrive gearboxes. I have been meaning to do this for years and slowly accumulating the parts to do it. Caught up with Heather and Rod off Psycho Puss just back from Australia. Dragged and lowered the Mainsail into the car then laid it out in the empty foyer as before. All in pretty good condition apart from the reefing point tie patches coming adrift. Started cleaning them up and restuck the first batch then clamped them with buckets of water.


A dry morning but the wind was up early. Jimmy and his team were masking up and covering Gemini Lady’s lower parts with plastic wrap to keep off the overspray. The wind made the job difficult and I’m sure half the paint ended up in KL. However, apart from a few runs we seemed to have good coverage. They forgot to mask the ground plate so I had to clean that up. Not his best work but it was done. 


A day off after sticking down a few more patches on the mainsail. We caught the 10am ferry over to Pangkor Island and hired a motorbike for the day. We headed south through the township and went as far as we could to see the beautiful new Mosque built out over the water.

A short stop at the old Dutch Fort.

Then over to the lovely beaches on the east side of the Island. We parked at our favourite restaurant for an iced tea. 

Chantilly was anchored of the beach so Lea swam out to invite them for lunch. They had other plans so we enjoyed a great lunch and a lazy relax n the beach.

We finished our circum navigation of the Island on the bike. Very pretty in the north with walking tracks we might try another day. 

Friday August 25

Morning run to clear the sludge from too much food yesterday. Lea stayed home and prepared the other side of the Main for patch reglueing. 

10 pin bowling night and great Japanese food with Ray, Shaunnagh, Patrick and Elizabeth.

Saturday 26

Day cruise with the Chantilly crew around Pangkor Island. A fun day that ended in Pizza and Karaoke until late.

Sunday 27th

Bit fragile this morning so took it easy. Packed up the Main. Mr Teh delivered the Genoa back all beautifully repaired. Lazed about the rest of the day.


Picked up custom fittings for gearbox header tanks and food shopping. Quiet goodbye drinks with Ray and Shaunnagh off Parlay. 


A 9.00am lift was scheduled and the boys did a great job settling Gemini Lady 500 mm in the air on sandbags to allow me access,to the underside of the mini keels.

As soon as they were finished I was under grinding away all the old antifoul and cracked gelcoat. Still no sanding disks so I had to use the angle grinder. A hot dirty job.

 Not much for Lea to do so she studied up on bread making with a new book she had borrowed “Mastering the art of extraordinary Bread making”.


A morning run before back to grinding. Drilled a few holes to drain water out of keels. We put wicks in the holes to suck out the water before fibreglassing. We measured and cut all the glass. I went off to help Brett with his new fridge. On the way home picked up some more West System Resin and hardener.


Morning swim. Wicks were still damp so decided to wait until after lunch. We set up a plank covered in heavy plastic and prewet each layer of cloth with resin then rolled it onto a length of 70mm PVC pipe. From that Lea unwound the cloth as I rolled it onto the underside of the keels. Messy and awkward job but eventually we had 3 layers on. Abandoned the idea of bogging the glass while still green.


The local Mosque was banging it out from 5.30am without rest until 8.00am. It was a Malaysian Independence day yesterday and today is Hari Raya Haji which is a religious holiday so it was a 4 day weekend for working Malaysians. The bomus was not many cars on the road so Lea did her Strava Segment without dodging too many cars.

I sanded the glasswork then bogged the whole job. The wind was up making it hard to keep the microballoons under control. 


The morning was spent sanding the bog. Lea broke the surface with the electric sander. I followed with a torture board. More hard and dirty work.

Psycho Puss was launched and they headed straight off to Penang. We troweled on the second layer of bog.


Foreshore run before more sanding and bogging. Used red micro balloons this time for contrast. Cooler day today with thunderstorms in the air.

Put the props back on before heading home for beer and chippies.


Final sand of the mini keels then 2 coats of straight epoxy resin rolled on. 


Final sand before applying International Barrier Coat to all repaired areas. Finished job looks good.


Jimmy came over to etch and prime the saildrive legs and props. We are now ready for a light sand and new antifoul when we get back from our land trip.


Started to pack up the unit and move stuff back to Gemini Lady. I went over the shade mesh burka and repaired it where necessary. We masked the waterline and cut and polished the strip just above it. Finished the day with the final fillet on the replaced window. Always a messy job. 

Lovely dinner with James Khoo and family together with Patrick and Elizabeth at the Japanese Restaurant.


Lea finally happy with her running performance. 10 km under 60 minutes.

Not much happening today but shared some Champagne and a great Chinese dinner with Bell and Ben.

Friday September 8

Packed up the unit. Settled the marina bill until relaunch on 25th October and said our goodbyes. Handed in the keys to the apartment and car and got a lift into Sitiawan. Booked into the Mornington Hotel for the night as we had to catch the 4.00am bus to the KL airport for our flight to Siam Reap, Cambodia.






Recap 2 Back to Aus

We spent 5 months back in Australia struggling with the Victorian winter. It was the first winter we done in 4 years and it wasn’t endearing. I worked a full month up until Easter. Lea and I then spent 6 weeks painting the outside of the house. We had all the water damage to the eaves and front doors fixed and the place looks immaculate. 

Lots of cycling and time with friends. I flew over to New Cal to spend some time with Gerry on Aqualibrium. It was great to revisit places from our 2013 trip there.

Gerry is having a ball and right into the hunting and gathering side of cruising life. We had a great 10 days together. The weather didn’t let us wander off too far but we did get some great sailing and enjoyed a couple of good reds with big steaks. 

It was great to see the resident caretaker of Illot Casey, Moose, still in good health.

Back in Aus in early July we did a 3 week road trip heading North and visiting friends and family along the way. 

Greg and Janie have new power boat so we helped them with them change over and had a ball as usual.

Caught up with Annelise at Tamworth and enjoyed some good walking.

 It was soon time to get home and get organised for our return to Gemini Lady in Pangkor, Malaysia.


Back on the Water

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.




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.


Koh Phayam

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.


Thailand 4. Some rat is eating my peanuts

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.


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.


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.


Claire and Stephen

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.


Thailand 3

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.


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


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.


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.