The Up’s and Downs of a Cruising Sailor.

25th April 2016.

Anzac Day. Happy Birthay Jen.

Well I reckon I know why my blood pressure is all over the shot, it’s Langkawi. Been back a week and it is bloody hot, beer drinking weather some would say. The poor heart doctor would be shaking in his five hundred dollar prado shoes if he had an inkling at my drinking capabilities at the moment.

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We left Phuket and had a spinacker run for six hours down to Koh Phi Phi Yai and anchored up behind a little island. Pretty busy place with longtails buzzing around all arvo and three big ferrys anchored up to one mooring, no wonder they are all rooted, the moorings that is. Woke to solitude and lapped it up for about a cup of tea, then they come in waves around the corner and as close to the boat possible, wankers.

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We got out of there and headed for Koh Ya, found a really good mooring tucked behind a couple of little islands, more like big rocks, and we went for an excellent snorkel, crystal clear water and fish everywhere, good spot. We stayed the night then headed South, caught two Tuna and kept going for Koh Rawi, for some oysters and believe it or not a cool night, in the morning I had the hatch shut and was wrapped up in me sheet, no idea where that come from but we both enjoyed it.

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Next was Koh Lipe, big night at the Elephant bar with the Banana Band, a couple of Chinese on their honeymoon and my old young mate the barman. Staggered onto walking street and just about got run over by a taxi, perfect timing, I still had to negotiate a dinghy ride back to the boat but it all fell into place, got home 0200, safe and sound.

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Our next port of call was Telaga Harbour Marina, where the lovely Norma had booked us in for a week, got all the big things happening, booze and food and boat parts, had a feast at Teo’s and a hooting fish and chips Friday.

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It was a ripper fish and chips Friday, a good crew rolled up and some laughs were had, plus plenty of Tigers.

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Recovery day was pretty slow, although we ended up at Kumahs for a curry and Tigers, superb food mate.

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We now are members of three gangs, FCF gang, The Marina mob and another group of excellent people who I met around the place, Christy, Paul, Uncle Willy who is a pretty good example of getting old, he is a fit man for his age and he loves his ciggy’s and Tiger’s, Lewis, Ali and family and of course Kumah, one of the first people we met in Langkawi years ago. He is a ripper and pops up all over the show, he once helped me and Brian lose a couple of hundred Ringot playing cards at Drifters.

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Speaking of Brian and Lyn we caught up with them as well, as usual good fun was had. We had a BBQ on the beach for Andrew’s sixtieth, then the next night was a party on Boomerang, good do even if I say so myself, most of all the gangs turned up, Jono and Phil rolled up at 1500 and started me off early, Jono reckoned he would be gone at 1800 when everyone else was rolling up, yeah right, the both of them were in superb form by the end of the night. Keith and Kath, John and Colleen, Brian and Lyn and others were also there getting into it, I have a feeling there were a few people frogged. The boat was pretty trashed next day, just a little bit.

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Wisely I had allowed one more day before we left, spent a fair bit of it on the brush, that will learn me.

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I spent a whole day saying seeya to everyone we had met, Sofea and Theo down in Cenang, Joe and his wife at Joes Farmasi Kuah, Teo, Frederick but sadly not Rosie.

IMG_0772 Old Aunty and the staff at The Shin Mi. It was a good thing to do and although a bit sad it was good to see that at least someone likes me. The hardest goodbye was with the Tiggers, Keith and Kath, what unreal people to get to know, thanks again for everything you guys, you are rippers.

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We left with a passenger, Lewis who decided on coming with us to Phuket and so started a twenty hour passage, we had wind then none, we got caught up in a rope, late night dive in my jocks with the knife, fixed it as far as we were concerned, then sailed again till morning avoiding all boats, pretty hard feat as there are hundreds of them but with the tide in our favour we pulled up in Grand Ao Po Marina just on lunch, Toi teed it up with them and instead of doing it hard on the boat we had A/C going and not really much of a care in the world. Tiger time, although by then half a bottle of Pims had vapourised.

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Toi graciously lent us a car so with transport sorted we went about our chores, Jen got a two houry with Ratree down at the Nada Nada Massage for her birthday, she came out grinning, so did Lewis but I just worked and got dehydrated to the max, got back to the boat a bit white, shaky as and worn out. A quiet one for me, Lewis was still at the bar and Jen was glowing.

Our days were spent in and out of Ao Chalong, down at Nadas, up at Nai Yang and hovering around chandelery’s, AME came up the goods on a new filter bowl, cost 350 baht, yeeha Wewak, saved me 3000 baht on a whole one.

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The usual beverages on the balcony were had and a hooting BBQ with the G&T Team, it was a great night, plenty to eat and drink, the boys were going off dancing away and the hula hoop is back, little Ing has a style all of her own, not three weeks ago she was just learning now she’s running around flat out doing it. I am useless at it, not even a lap before it is on the ground. Young Or has got it though.

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I got an excellent massage from Ratree, the best one yet, it is going to be sad to leave these guys, they have been good mates .

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We invited them and Toi, Gerry and the kids out a spin up into Phang Nga Bay to see James Bond Island, it was a great day but geez it was hot. Once the wind came in it was better but just about melted. The girls went mad taking photo’s and then we went through the hong, pretty good to see.

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Got back on dark and rooted, Nada, Ratree and Youngen went home on the bike, Toi went home to make some dinner, we just collapsed and didn’t make it anywhere. Sorry about that Toi.

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Goodbye you guys, it has been unreal, in fact it rates as horror, hope we see you again. Hey Or, how old are you? You and Ingy have a great life mate.

Thai me up, Thai me down.

14th November 2014.

Motor sailed over into Thailand, I got tell you though, there would not be 10 square metres of ocean without a bit of shit floating around in it. It is shocking, foam, thongs, plastic bags you name it.

We rolled up to Sunset beach and anchored up as all the moorings were gone. The water is so clear, heaps of fish and even a bit refreshing.

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Brian and Lyn headed for Immigration as they were diving first thing, we hung out on the boat to check anchor and get covers all set up. Then a mooring came available so we jumped to it. Good mooring, new rope and fixed to a pretty big lump of rock 10 metres down. By this time it was sunset and we were at sunset beach, nice pink and grey setting. We hit the beach for dinner at the divers bar restaurant, not bad food, a bit tame if you ask me but nice all the same. The Breezies left and we went next door, The Boom Boom Bar, a place that Keith and Cath had told us all about, sadly guys, Mr Mann has passed away from cancer.

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It proved to be our undoing with a pretty hooting hangover next morning, can remember not having any money left but that was no problem, come back tomorrow, good way of getting repeat business. We went into shore around lunch and went to pay the bill, no one knew how much it was, cracked me up, just come back later, OK.

Our first assault on town was done under extreme fire, I started in fine form, trying to get back on the dinghy to tie it off properly I fell backwards off it into the water, in my neat clothes ready to impress Immigration, everyone except Brian and Lyn saw it, Jen pissed herself, so I now had to hope I was dry by the time I got to town. The walk started out OK but soon we were out on a dusty old street, sun blazing down and hungover like bastards, all Jens Joviality had deserted her and she was now walking trancelike behind me, falling further back with every step. Should have in hindsight got a taxi, thought the walk would do us good. Not much harmony around.

Town is really quite nice with a blue concrete road flowing down and fingering off through it. The main drag is called Walking Street and it ends at the beach. Restaurants, bars, shops line this blue road and it has a very nice feel to it.

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The Peace and Love Bar is a good spot for a beer, no food so not so busy, Peter and family are excellent crew and their bar is dog friendly, couple of times more dogs than people. Funny to watch as they muck around with ropes, bits of wood and the occasional dinghy.

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We have been going to the Longtail Bar on Walking Street, has an elephant sign out front and a longtail boat cut in half as the bar, good place. They have live music by The Banana Band, which happens to be The Breezies dive instructor, Brandon on the drum box, a Swiss bloke by the name of Roman on piano which he rests across his knees and a local bloke Yaman on guitar, they are joined by anyone else who can sing or play an instrument and do requests although I haven’t heard them do any. Heard plenty called out from the crowd. They are really good and do a really good version of Hotel California, it is real fast so it is over and done with in the time it takes to finish a Leo, which is an excellent beer, also a pretty good way to listen to that bloody song.

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We have had a few meals at Fino, Thai food done filthy, they love us, as soon as they see you they call out, “come in larb moo come in sticky rice come in coconut”. We have had larb moo four times now, absolutely superb. We also had some tacos at the Mexican that were finger licking good.

We were sitting out the front of The Peace and Love Bar having a beer one arvo when all of a sudden all hell breaks loose, dog fight, and they timed it just as a group of about a dozen Korean or Japs walked past, with nowhere to go the poor buggers all ran into the ocean and in the melee that followed they have just about all got wet, in their going out clothes, some just gave up and wallowed in the shallows, pretty funny, well it was to me and Jen anyway.

Up early today and headed to the island above Koh Lipe, Koh Adang, as the bay in which we were staying, Pattaya Bay, is full and I am pretty sure there will be an exodus today as the weather is going to turn a bit blowy from the NE at 20 knots so Koh Adang looks good.

The Breezies are there and so is Deane and Yanina on Tropical Soul, a Wedding Cake 410, sorry I mean Lagoon 410. We first came across these guys at Rebak Island Marina.

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I went for a snorkel on supposedly the best reef this morning, some specy soft coral and saw a couple of Juvenile Tiger fish, pretty good thing to see live, they just kind of float around a bit like sea horses. Did the usual crushing of sea urchins, that gets some feeding frenzy action happening, lots of them on this reef which is a bad sign according to the not to shabby marine biologist at Datai Bay, their presence shows water quality is on the decline. Geez the fish go hard when they detect a flaw in their protective spines, must taste good. There is some really nice soft coral, purple and mauve that make the place look a bit like a garden.

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Barbie on the beach with six other couples, we had snaggers with sticks in them, just how the Thais do it down Walking Street, potatoes in the coals and onions in alfoil. Good feast, Sailors Meats must be doing a roaring trade with the yachties as nearly everyone had something bought from them.

As it was Deane and Yanina’s second anniversary we had fireworks to go home to, not bad but starting to run low now.

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Getting up was a bit of a mission, especially when you have to mix some fuel, refuel dinghy, get all the shit together, have breakfast, all this before 0730 which was our EDT for the circumnavigation of Koh Rawi, the North Western Island in the Butang Group. I had looked at the map and thought about seven to ten miles, didn’t really pay to much attention, should have, although nothing went wrong, 20nm and six hours later we finally got back to Boomerang.

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We were about fifteen minutes late to get going but The Breezies and Deane and Yanina weren’t too fussed, we then headed for the Northern tip in not real flash conditions, bit bouncy but once there we had a following sea so not to bad, some good waterfalls along this coast, one that spills into the ocean.

One of the many bays we checked out has a river mouth that would be unreal to see in full flood, The area behind the sand bar is quite large, the river would go a mile or so in between pretty big mountains so when it is pissing down there would be a lot of water trying to squeeze out the 15 metre entrance. Not sure what season that is but I would come again to see that happen for sure.

We kept on going and once around about the fouth headland it was smooth sailing all the way to the bay we had set out for in the beginning. Big sand beach, nice clear water, good spot for a swim and a relax after the sometimes bumpy trip there. The top of the beaches is littered with so much crap, found a few balls and a hunk of wood which made a good cricket bat.

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We came through Alert Passage and headed for a diving spot that is on the corner, the current was hongin through, and they have installed ropes that you can pull yourself along as you can’t swim against it. Jen sat this one out but was rewarded with some near death by drowning tourist action. A longtail pulled in and the punters, Japs, proceeded to remove life jackets, put on goggles and snorkel, no flippers, then jump in. Once in the water they all got swept into the corner but luckily they got caught by the rope and Deane and Yanina where it did a Y, The guide then went about rescuing them, swimming over and dragging them out one at a time. Yanina saved the lifebuoy ring as it floated past her, the whole lot of them were shitting themselves and thankfully no one drowned. I am at a loss as to why no flippers.

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The clarity at this spot with that much water flowing was amazing, my favourite dive so far. Heaps of fish and all the coral was opened up and feeding. Colours like you wouldn’t believe, it was great.

Next thing I know Lyn is trying to get my attention as our dinghy has done a runner with Jen in it, so swim over to it with the current, got there in no time, still reckon something dodgy going on as it was a bowline, perhaps it was time to leave, cant get to the bottom of it, Jens lips are zipped.

We continued around past some more bays, one is meant to have the best beach in the Group, not today though. There was a nice big eagle circling over us and gliding up the cliff faces. From here was a bash into the wind back to the Rangers Station where we had Papaya salad, sticky rice and Chang beer. Good tucker.

Got Brian on a swing hanging in one of the trees, check this out.

We had a bit of fun with some thieving monkeys and then headed back to the boats for a last bash across open water to the anchorage at Koh Adang. Big bloody day.

Later on I had a good crash coming home from Frisbee practice, I am so crap at it, stepping off the dinghy I somehow missed the bottom step and just fell onto it, then almost sliding off the back into the drink. Couple of Brufen 600’s and that was enough for one day.

Everyone departed today and left us to it, good to have it by ourselves, we had planned to dinghy to Koh Lipe for email and weather and after bacon and eggs on toast for breakfast we were primed. Trying also to find Jen a new pair of goggles, Brandon has given us tips, low profile skirt, strap should come from the skirt not the frame that holds the glass, when you have a look at them on the shelf you see straight away what he means. The poor girl in the shop, we tried on heaps of them and ended up with them all over the joint, they must be put back where they came from now she said, we bolted.

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A quick larb and rice at Fino’s, couple of beers with Anan and See at the Boom Boom Bar and we were ready for home. Looks like the Boom Boom Bar is closing to make way for more accommodation, I don’t have a problem with expanding the place but losing beach bars like this is a real shame. It will end up like Langkawi with bugger all places on the beach to have a beer and a cheap meal. It is definitely not cheap to eat here anyway. Hows this young fella, playing on the main street of town, pearler.

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Spent the arvo squidding, caught two, need smaller jigs, put it on the list. There is so much squid but they are small and require small 2 gram jigs, we had a few but must have given them to Captain Rss when we left Pulau Banyack, he used to look at and touch them every time he came aboard, without fail.

We even got the flood light out, heaps of squid but they are scared of the jig that is about the same size as them.

Speaking of the devil, Jen found one of the small jigs with squid action straight away so you got to be happy about that. It was right in front of us the whole time.

Had a rough old night with a bit of swell rolling through and we have now moved from neap to spring tides so if there is enough wind to blow us sideways to the tide or vice versa it gets a bit rolly, even in a cat, the mono down the road is rolling like nothing else. Beautiful morning though, bit overcast and a bit of breeze. Looks like bacon and eggs on the barbie again, doing it hard.

Timed the tide right, jumped in and swam about fifty metres to the start of the coral, then with the tide with us we snorkeled south half a mile or so in about two metres and when the tide changed back we came in about five metres which then drops off to ten pretty quick.

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Lots of fish, all the culprits from Indo are here plus many more. Morey Eels are about in numbers, shockin lookin things and we came across the killing of a clam by fish. They were just attacking it, even swimming inside it having a chomp and then escaping, I think the clam was rooted anyway as it wasn’t trying to stop them. We were in the water for a couple of hours and felt great when we got out, good snorkel, Kim Hughes and Wal would be proud.

Rounded up all our rubbish, not too much for a week or so, but worth a fire anyway, anything for a reason to sit on a beach, under a tree, fire roaring and having a beer.

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We have watched the final of the Different Strokes latest series, awesome, the Murder In Paradise latest offerings are as always, excellent. Peter Temple’s Jack Irish shows, Bad Debts and Black Tide are really good Australian movies. Black Flag, a pirate series is pretty good to.

Have been knocking off all the Ian Rankin books I can get my hands on, his latest is a book of short stories called The Beat Goes On is a ripper, just like all his others, getting to be one of my favourite writers.

The Breezies came back from a couple of nights on Lipe to once again join us, chopped up probably a kilo of fillet steak into strips and BBQ’d it on sticks, our new eating implement. They were deluxe and with Lyn’s Greek salad, Jens pickled onions and a few bottles of wine a good night happened. Next day was a bit sluggish with hair of the dog being after dark, we did a dinghy run to go to the closing of the Boom Boom Bar but when we got there they had already closed it up and had been pulling the place to pieces, very sad.

Had a feast at the divers bar, ended up with an extra larb moo, bummer hey, deep fried fish in ginger and peppers would have to be the best thing we have had since we got here.

Set ourselves a good mission getting home, pitch black, rough as but at least it was only 4 or 5 miles. Made it with flying colours, Brian said hang around I will get some wine and came back with a couple of bottles of red, blurrr.

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Departed our mooring of over a week at 1100 and headed out to the Western Islands, Koh Butang being the largest. Found a couple of moorings and went for a dive. Different coral again, hard coral this time but pretty flash and good fish to be seen. Also found treasure but am not telling you what it is, just that in Asia I cant believe there is any left.

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Got back to the boat just in time to get the mooring off and bolt for a more protected anchorage, within ten minutes it was 15 to 20kns and swelly as, the sky went black so we were pretty happy to pick up a couple of moorings on the North side of Koh Butang as it is bloody deep. These moorings were in 35 metres and didn’t have the usual red buoy just some hunks of foam. Our life on the mooring was short lived as the owner in his bloody big fishing boat pulled up and gave us our marching orders. It was at this stage that the storm was at it’s best and we had nowhere to stay so bugger it back to Koh Lipe, bit rough but seen worse, there was shit everywhere out the back but never spilt a drop, lucky to as Jen opened the Cloudy Bay Sav Blanc, more a sitting down sipping wine but it has many qualities and is still really nice with wind and waves all around our outdoor tasting room. Needless to say, it was really good, at first sip or perhaps slosh I knew it was not one of the wines we have been quaffing over the last week or so, very fruity is all I will say as not to sure what it was like on the nose, perhaps a hint of the sea.

The mint plant copped a wave over the side, it was swimming in salt water so I guess that will be the end of that, it was just starting to get going too.

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We motored into the anchorage at Sunset beach, first attempt was a mooring Brian had spotted, as we approached it Jen yells out ,”it has got a name on it”, What is the name? “Max something” Who? Max Ton”, then it spun around some more to show a number 3. Just about pissed myself.

We dropped anchor and kicked back for our second last night. A bit rocky. Jen got the Wahoo out the freezer and we had green mango salad with pan fried hunks of Wahoo, not to bad, in fact finger lickin good, could also be called plate licking good.

This morning we motored around to Pattaya Beach, picked up a mooring and came to town for some breakfast and good WIFI which is a bit iffy here. Ended up in Papaya Mom’s and had Top Man Koong, Pad Thai Omelette, couple of new coconuts and finished off with Larb Moo spicy with sticky rice, what a breakfast.

Sitting now at the Bundhaya Resort with wifi, the weather is balmy, chicks wandering around in the nick, blokes are clothed, on to my second freezing cold Leo and I am chockers, what more could you ask for, how about you? Much the same I reckon.