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  February 2011


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01/02/11  Although I intended to sail today, continuing high winds made me decide to stay another night in the safety of the marina.  I was not the only one, as several other crews I talked to had made the same decision.

02/02/11  Slipped and made out to sea.  Worrying news of cyclone in Australia which according the the BBC World News Service is expected to affect the Phuket area with big wave surges?  Headed south-east toward the tip of Koh Yao Yai where I had seen an anchorage when passing the other day.  The wind was ESE force 4-5 so I made good progress, but as I neared the southern end of the island, it increased to F6 and the wave height was around 2 metres.  I could see a mast over the top of the western arm of the bay and it was swaying through quite an arc.  This made me wonder if I had made a wrong choice, but it was too late now - it would soon be dark.  Entering the bay quietened down the sea somewhat but on anchoring the boat started to roll through about sixty degrees, taking water over each toerail on almost every roll.  Hey ho, it would have to do!

03/02/11  What a night!  The rolling didn't stop and the winds gusted 30 knots but the anchor held firm.  I should perhaps explain for the uninitiated .....when a boat is at anchor, ie pivoted by the bows, it lies to either the wind or the current/tide, whichever is the stronger element.  In this bay, the wind is the stronger of the two and is at right angles to the swell, so the boat weathercocks to windward and lies across the swell - hence the rolling.  For lack of something better to do, I defrosted the fridge this morning and did some washing - only to lose my favourite t-shirt overboard.  Did the wind blow off any of my crap shirts?  No!  Only my favourite one!   Then I couldn't open a tin of beans for breakfast because the tin-opener has gone walkabout......and the rolling continued throughout the day, finally abating around 5pm.  I was now part of the furniture in the bay and recognised various fishing boats as they came in for rest and shelter.

04/02/11  A relatively peaceful night despite the gusting winds.  Around 11am, I spotted Storm Dodger and Moody Time passing by the entrance to the bay and heading up to Ao Po Marina.  I weighed anchor around midday and once more turned northward, anchoring again in Ao Labu bay for lunch.  About 4pm, I again pulled up the hook and headed west to re-anchor with the other two boats off Koh Nakha Yai for the night.  Strong winds and a brief thunderstorm at 11pm.

05/02/11  At 0900, all three boats moved into the marina.  I took out the saloon hatch, cleaned all the sealant off and re-seated it.   Lo and behold, another bout of heavy rain during the evening......and the bloody hatch leaks!  I am at a loss as to what to do with it now.  A quiet beer in the bar turned into an all night bash with Charlie, Craig, Danielle, Nicholas from the motor yacht Here Comes the Sun, and Adam the bar manager pouring a bottle of Bacardi, Tequila and Vodka into the slush puppy machine! 

06/02/11  A little ragged around the edges this morning following last night's episode (arrived back onboard about 5am)......but there has been no sign of the crew of Here Comes the Sun throughout the day!   I have been putting more photo pages into the site but because of slow internet connection, have as yet been unable to upload to the web - perhaps it will have to wait until I get back to Langkawi, where I will soon have to go to collect my new wheelpilot which is being shipped from the USA.

08/02/11  The plan to sail for Ao Chalong was changed due to the lateness of leaving Ao Po Marina and we all three boats just went out (not without tide and wind problems) to the anchorage off Koh Nakh Yai.

09/02/11   A brief trip in Roger's dinghy to the nearby island of Koh Nakha Noi, known as Pearl Island for it's pearl farms.  Although the pilot book says there are educational shows twice a day and discounted pearls for sale, it was clear that although pearl farming was obviously still going on, the tourist part had for some time been in decline and the buildings were dilapidated.   We weighed anchor at noon and made our way south toward Ao Chalong, skirting a US warship at anchor - with very skittish launches protecting her from any yachts venturing too close.   Who would think that three small yachts, flying British flags, could be considered a 'threat?'   Are we not supposed to be allies?   Anyway, we all anchored, not in Ao Chalong itself, but across the bay, off the beach at Panwa Bali which was infinitely preferable to the dump of Ao Chalong, around 4pm.

10/02/11  Pulled up the anchor just after mid-day to motor across the bay to Haemorrhoid  Harbour - otherwise known as Ao Chalong!   Re-anchored (twice) at 1pm.  This harbour is a minefield of mooring buoys, they are everywhere and trying to find an anchoring spot between them and the hundred and fifty (or so) other vessels of varying types which are also anchored here, is a nightmare.  My worry is that when it comes time to leave, the anchor picks up one of the mooring chains which must obviously criss-cross the seabed.

11/02/11  Still no news of my wheel pilot delivery!  The track and trace facility shows it as having been delivered in Malaysia on the 7th but I have no idea where it is at present.

13/02/11  Moody Time sailed this morning for Patong, and Slammat arrived in the anchorage.

14/02/11  After a two consecutive late nights on the town (5am finish!), we decided last night to have an early night and just go ashore for dinner in Captain Hook's - which turned out to be closed as it's Sunday.  We went instead to The Anchor, a German restaurant which served excellent food and masses of it!   Met Armin and Monica (Slammat) there and joined them for dinner.  Returned onboard at 11.30pm.  The wind started to pick up around 2am this morning and increased throughout the night, blowing at 25 knots by 5am.  Storm Dodger sailed for Patong around mid-day whilst I was helping James and Sandy with an engine problem onboard Swordfish.  My wheel pilot has arrived in Langkawi and James & Sandy, who need a visa run, have agreed to crew for me tomorrow evening back to Langkawi.  Late afternoon......... and this unfortunate yacht owner moored alongside me with a very expensive rigging failure.

15/02/11  A similar night to last night, with the wind picking up around 2am - now it's 8am and the anchorage is rolly!  The plan to sail around 4pm direct to Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, with James & Sandy crewing, pick up my wheel pilot and make the return trip to Phuket (about 260 miles) was delayed by four hours whilst engineers visited Swordfish but we finally weighed anchor at 8pm and made out to sea.  The first eight hours were against 25 knot headwinds and rough seas and we made slow progress through the night.

16/02/11  Continued southward all day, the weather moderating and allowing us at times to reach 7 knots.  We passed the northern end of Tarutao as darkness fell, turning into the mouth of Bass Harbour just after midnight.

17/02/11  No response to VHF calls to Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, so we entered the marina anyway and picked our own berth, tying up at 0300 local time.  At 9am, I booked in and we arranged ferry tickets to Penang for James and Sandy to renew their visa's.  On reaching Penang, they found out that tomorrow (Fri) is a public holiday and that they would be unable to renew their visa's until Monday - meaning they would not be able to return to Langkawi until Tuesday.   So what was intended to be a quick turn around is now looking like a four day stay!  Picked up my wheel pilot and started to figure out how to install all the different components and what I would have to modify.

20/02/11  Began the long process of installing the wheel pilot.   I fixed the course computer inside the box which houses the radar screen, the fluxgate compass above the forward cabin door and the control head adjacent to the other instruments in the cockpit.   The actual wheel motor will not fit my wooden steering wheel because Raymarine only make brackets suitable for 12mm and 16mm spokes, so I am having to get stainless steel brackets made to suit my much larger spokes.  A second problem is the pedestal mounting bracket........it's bent!  Because there is no visible damage to the packaging in which it arrived, it can only have been packed that way - obviously Raymarine's quality control department was having an 'off day'.  By 4pm it was too hot to carry on and time to get a cold beer in Charlie's Place, where I met Steve, a Queenslander trapped here in Langkawi until he can sort out his visa for Vietnam.

21/02/11  Had a day off from wheel pilots while I wait for the steering wheel to be returned and went with Steve to the Bird Sanctuary again.  Then we went to Cenang Beach and relaxed with a beer or two before making our way back to Kuah and The Shore Cafe.

22/02/11  Sandy and James returned from Penang as I readied the boat for leaving.   Then it turned out the marina would have no fuel until late afternoon/early evening, so the planned sailing time of 3pm on top of the tide would have to be delayed.   We eventually got away at 7.15pm, motoring out of Bass Harbour before putting up sail.  We made good progress in the north easterly winds throughout the night.

23/02/11  Because of the speeds we were maintaining, it became apparent that we would make it to Ao Chalong in under 24hrs (not the 30hrs expected) and we did indeed drop the anchor there at 5pm local time......135 miles in 23 hrs wasn't bad!   Whilst underway, we received the bad news that the four Americans onboard S/Y Quest had been killed by the Somali pirates.  I am sure that the present rallies heading that way will now be re-considering their course of action.

31/02/11  Over the past week, I've had a bit of a clear up on the boat, continued to install the various bits of wheel pilot, had the bent pedestal bracket straightened and moved from anchor to a permanent mooring in anticipation of leaving the boat for a week and travelling inland to Bangkok.  With the latter ......today we (Storm Dodger crew and self) booked our bus tickets to Bangkok for tomorrow evening along with a hotel for five nights and the luxury of air tickets back to Phuket - it's a twelve hour bus ride!

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