Christmas in Phuket

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December 26th 2014
Published: December 26th 2014
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What was meant to be our last day in Kuah was not. After completing the checking out of the country formalities we hit the supermarket for food and beverage supplies - taking advantage of the duty free we stacked a box full of spirits, 3 slabs of beer and 3 slabs of coke into the dinghy. Once we loaded this onto Luna Ray it struck Naomi that we really needed some Thai currency for checking in (despite my numerous reminders previously when we had been next to money exchangers). So we hung around while our friends from SV Dream Maker got some for us as they were heading that way. By the time we had this it was too late to make it worthwhile leaving that day.

Our plans to make it up to the ‘Hole in the Wall’ were changed when we were warned about the unusually strong winds at the time so the next morning with Dream Maker we headed back around the west side of Langkawi, back passed Rebak. We relished the clear skies, in fact its only since being in Langkawi that we have been able to see stars again at night for months,
typical Thai island scenerytypical Thai island scenerytypical Thai island scenery

note one of many flags marking fishing pots in foreground
and fantastic scenery as we sailed under the protection of the island. On the down side the steep terrain mostly blanketed the wind, brought it round on the nose and made it very shifty - there was an occasion where the wind rose from 8 to 24 knots in the space of half a minute.

Once away from Langkawi we had brisk sail close hauled in 20knots and crossed the Malaysia-Thai border in the early afternoon. Its only 4 miles of open water before we were getting the same shifty conditions in lee of Ko Tarutoa. Unexpectedly we had some swell sweeping down our side of the island and copying another yacht with a lot of local experience anchored in what appeared to be a very exposed spot but was surprisingly comfortable. It was a little hard to relax as we were hanging only 50 m from the rocky shoreline. Our first night in Thailand.

The next four days were fairly pleasant working our way along the coast passing tall obelisks of limestone rocks jutting out of the water, and we managed to leave the engine off most of the way. As we approached
nice sunsetnice sunsetnice sunset

our 2nd night in Thailand
the anchorage in Ko Lanta we put the engine on but found the throttle did nothing - took off the panel for the throttle control and found the screw holding the throttle to the cable had fallen out - Naomi’s nimble fingers had it back in pretty soon. Not quite soon enough however as a squall came over and I got drenched as I dropped the anchor.

The next day the wind was supposed to be dropping off and we motored towards the Phi Phi islands with plans to stop at Phi Phi Le. However about an hour before we got there some wind appeared and we decided to make use of it and push on pass the stunning islands (that were teaming with tour boats). I got very frustrated as once the islands were behind us the wind became very fickle but seems we were just being sheltered again as after a while they picked up to a comfortable beam reach. Our new target was an island 8 miles from the harbour in Phuket but as we neared this a squall came over. With it came some rain and winds in the mid 20s which had us racing along at over 7 knots so then we decided to push on again all the way to Chalong Bay, Phuket.

We arrived just on dusk into the busy bay full of at least 100 yachts. The wind against tide had some boats weaving around and we lifted anchor when a large motor boat on a mooring crept close to us. I dropped the hook further out with plenty of room but Naomi was still nervous we might swing onto another boat and was constantly checking the chart plotter. It became a bit of an issue, aggravated by the rolly night, she didn’t sleep well so was rather grumpy the next day.

The next morning was the one day we could have done without wind as it was a long ride to the 800 m concrete jetty but of course it was the windiest - around 20 knots most of the day with gusts up to 24 knots. We hung around until after lunch waiting for the wind to drop while Naomi convinced herself that we were dragging anchor but it didn’t on both accounts. So it was a rough ride to the jetty - fortunately the floating pontoons they have there are sheltered from the waves but they are the most hazardous ramshackle set of pontoons we have seen. They were loosely connected with the reinforcing wires sticking out in places, you have to jump from one to the next, like something out of a daredevil gameshow, then climb the ramp with its metal panel flooring curling away at the edges and large nails sticking out of it. To make it more difficult Naomi strained her back badly lifting Alex out of the dinghy.

We followed the checking in procedures at 4 different offices, paid a small fee and we were now legally in the country - I had forgotten how much the Thai people can sound like they are barking at you. Naomi’s back was slightly improved so we walked along the long jetty and found some shops, used the ATM, bought some bread & milk, and got sim cards. The shops were mostly for diving or bars which seem to be staffed by females only - on contrast to more muslim countries we have been to lately there was definitely a more sleazy vibe to the place.

enjoying a drinkenjoying a drinkenjoying a drink

the yacht club, Nai Harn Bay. Luna Ray on left
the wind had settled so the ride back to Luna Ray was drier, and we moved a couple of miles to the east side of the bay for a much more comfortable night.

The next day, the 24th December, I found the windlass was not working so I had a work out lifting the chain (suspecting a problem with the switch electrics) and we motor sailed back through the bay and south around the bottom tip of Phuket Island into Nai Harn bay, a popular spot for cruisers over Xmas apparently. A small swell came into the bay that made dinghy landing on the beach tricky but a floating jetty had been set up on the rocky north side of the bay beneath the Yacht Club 91 restaurant/bar. A young guy had a table and umbrella set up on the pontoon and took a 10$ fee but it was taken off your bill if you used the bar which was a cool spot looking out over the bay, complete with binoculars to use and boat hardware incorporated into the decoration at the tables, and a parrot that kept Alex entertained.

We had lunch there and strolled into town for a culture shock - white holiday makers littered the beach, restaurants touting (hassling) for business with menus in English/Thai/Russion/French backset by market stalls of souvenirs. After a little stroll around we went for a swim - it has a nice sandy bottom and a little surf to play in. We got quite concerned when a overweight guy near where we sat on the beach, who had been laying flat on his back asleep for a while, seemed to have laboured breathing and unaffected when hit by a football from a nearby kids game.

After playing in the waves with Alex, Naomi told me she had tried to wake him but couldn’t. I managed to be more persuasive (with a sternal rub) and he eventually started to open his eyes and groan. I said to the small concerned crowd I could smell alcohol on his breath and a Russion lady became convinced he must be Russion and tried talking to him but with little response. As he came to he managed to say his name was Paul and that he was Scottish - another nation notorious for drinking.

We sat him up and within minutes he was quite fluent though a little confused still. I asked if he had been drinking and he said “not as much as her” pointing to the Russion lady, but then it dawned on him he didn’t know her. He mistakenly thought some guys standing by were his friends and that he was on Koh Lanta (an Island about 50 miles east) but slowly he showed more clarity and was very appreciative for looking out for him. I rejoined Naomi & Alex on the waters edge, and watched him stumble into the water for a swim - a bit of a concern in his state but might well freshen him up if he didn’t drown - so kept an eye on him and by the time we left he was stumbling back out of the water again.

Back to Luna Ray to freshen up and we had our Xmas eve dinner at the yacht club - by far the nicest place in the bay.

We returned there the next morning (Christmas Day) for their tasty “Offshore Breakfast” after Alex had opened his pressies and had another stroll around the market stalls for some last minute Xmas shopping. By the time we had everything we needed it was lunch time so had our christmas dinner at one of the beachside restaurants; me - chicken green curry, Naomi - Chicken and cashew stir fry (as always) and chicken nuggets for Alex. So guess we all had chicken for our Xmas dinner- very traditional.

Returned to Luna Ray to rest our stomachs and I set to work on the windlass. On taking the foot switch apart my suspicion was proved correct as the the positive terminal plate for the switch has fallen off as the screw holding it had corroded to nothing as far as I could see, except for the tip in the plastic mold. So I decided to make a new hole just next to it and hold the plate in almost the same spot until rain interrupted me for the rest of the day.

The next day with some cleaning, soldering and resealing she was good to go. We motor sailed north with a plan to stop in a bay near the airport but once we realised the swell was actually nor’westerly we stopped in a bay on the NW of Patong Bay, off a couple of resorts called Naka Lay Bay.

After lunch, we got the dinghy down and carefully timed our landing on the beach, struggled to drag the dinghy out of the small surf (especially hard with Naomi’s bad back) only to be told we couldn’t stop here.

So we dropped the mooring and headed to the north end of Patong Beach as we saw a few boats there. The weather on the radio predicted 100% chance of rain that afternoon and we saw it coming. We were hit by a very wet squall with winds up to 37 knots and slowed the boat down as visibility was so bad we couldn’t see the boats at anchor. By the time we found our spot it had lessened but I still got drenched dropping the anchor.

We tied up to a floating jetty that the cruise ships use to drop off passengers and booked Naomi & Alex a taxi for the next morning. Walked into Patong proper, the tourist mecca, had dinner and then walked back via the beach. We were of course here on the 10th anniversary of the Boxing Day Tsunami and
The Light Up Phuket eventThe Light Up Phuket eventThe Light Up Phuket event

The 10th Anniversary of the Tsunami. The lights in the sky are flying lanterns
the beach was full of people, with candle lit sand sculptures, fireworks and many flying lanterns filling the sky - quite a sight.

Back to Luna Ray and Naomi is packing for their flight tomorrow. It seems my phone doesn’t pick up internet anymore so there might be a 2 week break in the blogs. Merry Xmas to all and a happy New Year!

Luke, Naomi & Alex


26th December 2014

Happy new year
Happy new year and congrats for reaching thailand' the photos are lovely, and comments amazing, you are having a wonderfull holiday, we will talk in the new year, heaps of love to all xxxxxginny the bionic woman ??????
28th December 2014
nice sunset

6th January 2015

Arrival Thailand
Glad to see you arrived in Thailand safely. A belated merry xmas and hope you have a safe and great new year. Looking forward to your next blog Cheers Waynw

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