13th March 2013.
Well, picked up the tourists, on time and fully loaded with all sorts of surprises. We headed back to Boomerang and lazed about for a bit and then Captain Erratic made the decision, lets bugger off, so then it was get rid of the hire car, pick up the washing and any last things like milk and a bit of cheese, go over and say seeya to the Persians who have proved to be splendid cruising companions, or I think it is buddies, but that sounds a bit gay. Thanks guys seeya in Sumatra. We then gave the Yanmah’s a kick in the guts, hauled in the anchor which had been well and truly set after three weeks of us and sixty metres of chain hanging off it, then set off for Koh Lipe or perhaps Naiharn or was it Koh Rok Nok. Just had to be at Koh Lipe in a couple of days to meet up with Hubert and his folks on Investigator.
Pretty much motored down the west coast of Phuket, no breeze to speak of but once we got to the bottom there was a bit, 10 to 15 knots from the ESE which although pretty tight, 30 to 45 degrees, enabled us to get the sails up and get rid of the starboard engine. Got on the blower to the Persians and asked about pulling into Koh Rok Nok at night, “piece of piss, I will email you the coordinates”, just what you would expect from them. So it was that we headed out into the Andaman Sea on our way south with a couple of options. I carked it for a few hours, Jen and Chris had us in good position when I got back up to do a bit, three slabs of Australian eye fillet, half a block of chocolate, a coffee and my new book from home, The Mulberry Tree, which is written by Ken Hill and is a ripper, had me sitting there all night pinching up and up as the wind gradually moved more east which helped us to make Koh Lipe. Koh Rok Nok not an option anymore, so it’s the long haul. One hundred miles instead of sixty but it is a nice night.
The Mulberry Tree is partly about my Grandad Sweetman, and his brothers’s lives living on the Canning River and down Mandurah on the Serpentine, which is where we spent just about every school holiday I can remember when we were growing up. I had the pleasure of sailing down to Freo from Dongara with my Uncle Alf, who also features in the book and as we sat there heading south he told me story after story about Gran and Grandad. Then reading this book just shows how skilled they were, fishing, hunting and building stuff and how generous the Sweetman’s were. It is an excellent read.
Had to slow down a bit to let the sun come up to pass between Koh Adang and Koh Rawi, don’t know why, its pretty bloody wide but my eyes were playing tricks, ended up just angles being a bit out there. Had no problem with boats or nets, didn’t even have to adjust course once to avoid anything, which is pretty bloody good for Thai waters. We sailed down the passage, no Investigator, so on to Lipe and still no Investigator so grabbed a mooring, big mother, and I went to bed while the crew, who pretty much slept the whole way in what I would call a bit rough conditions, all came to life and hit the town. Little Molly was a big surprise, sleeps like a log, got to be happy with that. Jen took Chris, Em and Molly to Fino’s for lunch and introduced them to Pete at the Peace and Love Bar, giving me a good few hours sleep, the bloody long tails wear a bit thin but at least there are no jet ski’s.
Caught up with Hubert and met his parents and we hung out in Pattaya Bay for a couple of days, then up to Adang and some snorkeling. Molly has not done this before, I remember Em’s first go, years ago at Rotto, geez I just about pissed myself when she first put her head under with the goggles, she came back up in a funny as flurry, so how was Little Molly going to go. They stuck the goggles on and the snorkel in her mouth, she was in a Mickey Mouse ring and she bobbed over for her first look underwater, took to it like a duck to water which was what she looked like, head down bum up. We have a snorkeler in our midst’s you can be certain of that. We went and snorkeled Koh Rawi, got Em set up and had her enjoying herself in no time, they have now seen Nemo’s and heaps of other stuff. Molly had a sunburned bum, which was pretty funny as it was the only part of her not covered in sunscreen.
The guys from Aurelia passed by, hadn’t seen them since Christmas, then Micah anchored up nearby. Had a bit of a rubbish burn on the beach one night with a few beers, then a big one back on Lipe, the frog got me, Laphroaig Quarter Cask Whiskey, it is amazing the things that happen when a bit of frog is about. Probably pay to stay away from it for a while, it is scary.
After a few Chris, Em and I went to town to get pizza, roast duck and money, came back with loads of stories, pizza all scrunched up in three plastic shopping bags and a sore jaw from laughing so much. Well and truly frogged.
We woke up to long tails and ferries all on top of us so escape stage left, our plan to get going early now a bit like the duck and money, had gone to shit but never mind the tide changes at 1030 and looks like being the only natural assistance we are going to get for the next few hours, it is like a millpond, with only a slight two knot flutter from out of the West, so we took off about 1000 and around Lipe then back up the channel and forty odd miles North again to Koh Rok Nok.
The last fourteen miles we got wind and motor sailed into the anchorage right on 1700, struggled a beer down, dived on the mooring which is bloody deep, just got there and only just got back up, the water is crystal clear and almost tempts you to go that bit further, good coral and a few good fish here too. Deane and Yanina come over and asked us out for tea at the restaurant, we had just got there so we declined and said we might get there for a drink later, then the Marine Parks boys rolled up wanting our fees, 400thb each, 100thb for the boat, kids and captain are free for five days, it came to 1300thb, we went through Ems purse and found 1360thb and handed it over.
I don’t think there is anything under 60thb for sale here so hobnobbing at restaurants is out for us until we get to Koh Lanta, a bit further North and what is meant to be a sizable town. Forced saving, classic, it’s only type of saving that works on me.
We can dive off the back of the boat, swim twenty metres and be onto a pretty good bit of reef, it is about twenty metres deep under the boat, imagine how Molly feels when she jumps in and it is the big blue, she loves it though. She has moved away from Mickey and just using a lifejacket now, she hasn’t got the flippers bit quite sussed yet but it won’t be long.
Doing some repairs on a snorkel I cut my finger with the Leatherman knife, blood sprayed out, never seen that before, but got it covered up and now in a bandaid with the heaps of good old Three Legs Brand, Yellow Lotion, it has stopped throbbing, probably a stitch or two would go down well but not going to happen out here. Chris also did some major big toe nail carnage kicking his toe twice on the same thing.
Have now checked most of the spots for snorkeling around here, some nice viewing to be had and some good fish.
We watched an aluminium cat come into the anchorage the other day, he was going flat out and I said to the crew he is going to hit the reef, then they came to a screaming halt, then one of the rudders popped to the surface, then, I could go on but the I feel sorry for them, their holiday would be rooted, fair few aboard as well, just goes to show how stuff happens and can visit you, when and where ever you are out here. It happened so fast you didn’t even get the chance to stand up or offer any warning, it was a low low tide as well, all you can say is, poor bastards.
Another session on the Laphroaig did pretty much the same as the last one, arghh frogged again, upped anchor next morning and only had to motor twenty odd mile to Koh Muk and the Emerald Cave, not a breath of wind, got there and the rangers come over, we handed over our five day tickets, they handed them back and said, give us 200thb per person, we have 60thb left, tried to explain, even offered my lucky American twenty buck note that has lived in my wallet from way back when we bought the boat, he looked at it and said, not enough, I looked at him and gave up, took my twenty back, then out comes Molly, he sees her and has the big change of heart, I conferred with Chris, who had been checking out the crowds, then had great pleasure in shaking my head and taking off. The place was teeming with people, music going off, boats everywhere, only thing not there were jet skis, so perhaps they actually did us a favour.
We upped anchor and buggered off to Koh Lanta, which ended up being a good little sail with all sails up in 12 knots, a bit tight but good fun all the same. Halfway there we were confronted with about twenty Thai fishing boats, two boats with one net strung between them. One good thing about them is they are slow and we managed to drag them off.
Came around the bottom of Koh Lanta, got the guide out and headed for anchorage B, Hat Kan Tiang, apparently a nice little bay to hang out in.
We abandoned ship and hit the shore, asked a girl from the resort the location of a money changer, sent us on our way down the beach, got to a bar and asked again, oh no no no money changer here, went to next shop, same, we are thirsty as and starving by now, then a Pommy bloke comes up and points up the road, so off we go, ATM that will do, then we walk up the street and the first thing we see is a big yellow sign saying Currency Exchange, the girl at the beginning knew but the ten other local people just had no idea, kind of like we have just travelled back in time or something, perhaps they are all on the gear, stuffed if we could work it out. Shared a feed and a coconut with the fly’s and headed back to the boat along a track with open drains heading for the coast, got to the water and the stink is horror, the breeze had changed and being low tide all the filth was oozing out of the sand into the sea, we got back to the boat and had to shift as a dive boat had moored next to us and just taken off, this was really my fault, I saw the lines in the water but thought whatever boat comes along will pull up on them or just use some others, not these guys, they just put the eyes over the cleats and left with about ten metres floating in the drink. Ended up being better, as further out you only got sniffs of the stink. We call anchorage B, Stink Lanta. Probably couldn’t recommend it for anything. Sorry, there was a wedding on the beach and they had an excellent fireworks display once it got dark, it went for about half an hour and to top it off one of the canister boxes fell over a bit and started shooting them low over the water, it looked superb, they were pretty bloody good.
Couldn’t get out of there fast enough though and not long after sun up we were gone, heading north for the next possie, Anchorage A, Had Khlong Dao, this time though it has a big asterix next to it, Alex off of Sonnet who we met at Nai Yang has recommended it, big sigh of relief. It is a pretty big bay but quite shallow so you need to stay out a bit with the tides we are experiencing at the moment, couple of metres movement, but we landed at pretty much the top of the tide, dragged the dinghy up and headed for the first restaurant bar in sight, The Easy Bar, check the menu, they sell larb moo and other moo things, they have as many coconuts as you want, cold beer, no flies, everyone is smiling, feels like we are back in Thailand again. Since leaving Koh Rok Nok it all seems to have been a bit hard, so hooray, if not it was the frog. I even double checked it wasn’t a Friday a couple of times.
We had a great feast, followed by a foot massage and then beers all arvo, occasionally dragging the dinghy down the beach to the new water line as the tide dropped, two vertical metres equates to about fifty metres horizontally, but no hardship when you do it in bits.
Molly turned on the charm, got to know the owners little girl, ended up getting a facial and a foot massage from the girls who were just happy to have something to do, they all loved having her there to pretty much play with. Later on we were sitting up in the bar under the big tree that shades the place, Molly was down at the waters edge just yacking to some woman, they got very friendly and when they said their goodbyes Molly just continued to play on the waters edge by herself. Later on, after another ten metre dinghy shift, we came across the woman and Molly pointed her out to Em so we got talking, she reckoned she was a bit worried about Molly being on her own, we all cracked up because we were wondering what questions Molly was shooting at her, like how come your bikinis don’t match? Why have you got black hair? Why do you speak funny? The lady, from Turkey, laughed and was relieved that we were watching her like hawks. Single child children are good at amusing themselves and need a bit of latitude. Our Mo turned out good and this little kid is a beauty too. She has got the whole boat sussed, if you say there is none left she will take a step left or right and point out a box of what you just said is all gone and say “no they are in there” and boy can she eat. I made a deal with her that she could have the last 7UP but I don’t want to see her blanky, scaly old rug, again, she has not removed it from her room since, we may have cracked a big one there.
We hit town for brunch, internet top up, phone top up, cholesterol pills and found a bookshop and bought ten of their twelve Ian Rankin books. She was stoked. We moved on up the street, Chris had a horror toilet moment, I just held on, and ended up having beers at the Easy Bar. The Alisons had massages and I went out the boat and had the most excellent time listening to the poms get done and dusted, go Bangladesh you beauties. Stick that up your arse Jeffery Boycott, have a long lonely flight home. Went in to pick the guys up but ended up in a flash hotel, The Chung, which has a pool and a happy hour. Two for the price of one, but you get them at the same time, bit of a pain but makes you knock them back a bit quicker than normal. Really good pub with no problems using the pool or bar, surprised us all.
Got going mid morning heading for Koh Phi Phi Don, no idea what to expect but a few people have tuned us on how busy it gets.
Horror, it is way beyond your wildest dreams, boats, boats and more boats, what a spin out. 1600 and we are just about to go ashore and have a look around, when we first arrived it looked like we wouldn’t be here to long but the place has settled and might be ok, we are on a mooring so fingers crossed.
Bedlam is a word that could be used to describe this place, the north side is the doof area, all day and all night by the seems, Chris was grooving, I was amazed, DJ’s going during the day, a pool full of tattooed, pissed young people all going off, oh well whatever rocks your boat. This is tattoo land. Some of the tats just looked like they had been rolling in mud. We had some tacos, average but the beers were cold, then cruised on down the lanes and tracks that criss cross the joint, dodging carts full of beer, food and baggage, pretty busy place, found a seafood restaurant that also had duck, so stuffed ourselves full then off we go again. It is not real hard to go through 3000thb and have not much to show for it, found that out as had to wait for a few hours for the tide to come back. Had a foot massage that was more like a shin massage, very lazy woman, poor old Em had a facial done by some bloke, he had just been doing a foot massage and hadn’t washed his hands so she was keen as to get out of there, nothing like a massage to relax you. Chris got his nails done, that’s weird, can’t see what’s wrong with using your teeth.
Finally got back to the boat, good breeze so good sleep. The mooring we chose ended up being a beauty, in pretty close with all the speedboats, but they all go to bed early and the water stayed nice and calm even with 15 knots coming at you.
Up early and out of there, rounded the southern tip and set the jib and starboard motor up, to make some water, and sitting on 6 to 7 knots in quite breezy conditions, put it this way I was glad to be going with it, we have found this stretch of water can be a bit of a slog, real washing machine job.
Made it into Naiharn Bay at 1300 and anchored up, sat back and had a beer. Another lap down, this one was approximately 260nm and a pleasant little jaunt.
I reckon the Alison’s have had a ball, little Molly can just about do padder-kick now and is not scared of the water at all, just zings around the boat without a worry and didn’t even come close to falling in, she is a funny little moosetekeer, which is the new way it is spelt according to Molly. We left her with a mate of theirs wife and Paul took us to Patong, Bangalore Road, excellent, we cracked up, ass whipping fun was a classic and then Chris had a go at smacking the nail into the lump of wood. I had been hanging out to see him do this as I have witnessed him using a hammer cack handed and back to front at the same time and not miss once, he proved me right.
First hit he sunk it in past half way, his opposition, an ex barmaid or dancer you would think, had a very surprised look on her head, she only hit hers in about half an inch, Chris picks up the hammer and eyes it up and smack, bye bye nail. It was unreal, I just about knocked some old bag over in celebration, Winner winner chicken dinner. That does not happen often.
Watched a magician and some dancing in the street but it gets a bit boring pretty quick so we bolted, checked all the ladyboys, lined up along the road at Kata, waiting to pounce on some poor pissed sucker on his way home. Beware.
Had an excellent lunch the next day up on Kata Hill, local place with awesome food and an amazing view. Back to the boat, which meant a few beers, vodkas and saying our goodbyes. Ended up a waste of time as we ended up in Pier 93 for a few hours before Captain Rod had to go home, Blurrrr. It was excellent having The Alisons on tour, I asked Molly what her favourite bit was and she said without a pause, the pool at Koh Lantra, there you go, life through a little kids eyes, she has now been promoted from swab, didn’t like that much, to first mate. Chris and Em, the same as normal, as you would expect, excellent partners in crime.
They flew out at 0600, Paul gave them a lift at 0300, he’s a good bloke too.
Hired a car to go and say goodbye to the Persians up at G&T Boatyard, Toi had cooked up a storm, roast chicken with beer cans shoved up them and a roast lamb, veges and gravy. Pigged out and had a few beers, not to many as it is a fair old hike back to Naiharn from Ao Poh. Sad to say seeya to Pete and Pen, will see you in Sumatra guys, The Kokomos also made it and it was good to see those guys as well.
Seen a hooting car crash on the way back, horror, but the way they drive is conducive to having them.
We haul out next week and then the fun starts, big list of jobs, Gerry was joking about how long we were staying at G&T, reckons always have an open mind, I have the perfect incentive to get it all done on time, Bay of Plenty, Sumatra is calling.