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  january 2011


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01/01/11  HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYBODY.........family, friends, fellow sailors and my website reader!  Here in Thailand, the year is now 2554......don't ask me why, I haven't looked it up yet, obviously they use a different calendar to the western world.  In 2010, Rhumb Do covered some 5,720 nautical miles - more than most UK leisure sailors cover in 10 years!  Last night's firework display was all that everyone had told us about, and more.  A really spectacular night time show and all for free!   The town of Patong is typically touristy, full of souvenir shops selling the usual t-shirts and assorted 'tat'.  The night life is something else!!  The main bar street is heaving with barely dressed girls, men who've had a little too much to drink and the renown 'lady-boys' of Thailand, all swirling about the streets to the accompaniment of throbbing, loud music.  Whilst it would not be my preferred destination, I am enjoying the change of pace and can understand why it is so popular with the thousands of visitors each year.

04/01/11  This large bay has now been deserted by many yachts and both Roger and I have moved closer inshore and re-anchored.  Because internet connection is slow and by mobile phone....the map is proving too difficult to update fully, so I have only added the present position for now (you will probably have to zoom out to see that!)

08/01/11  Strong winds have kept us here at anchor for a few days (33 knots) but it's OK although I am more and more concerned with the ingress of water from the stern tube.  Yesterday, two jet-ski's collided and sank.....fortunately both riders were unharmed.  Today, as a longtail (silenced this time!) went by my boat, his propeller shaft fell off!!  He was rescued by another longtail before drifting onto the rocks to the south.

09/01/11  Said our farewells to Patong and weighed anchor at 1100 to head south around the headland to Ao Chalong, where we re-anchored at 1520.

10/01/11  Although I still need my gas bottles filled, the amount of water coming into the boat is steadily increasing and I am unable to leave her for the two or three hours needed to inflate my dinghy, get ashore and get a taxi to Boat Lagoon.  The cost of lifting out at Boat Lagoon is too high, so my options have been reduced to just the one......I have to return to Satun.

11/01/11  With Colin of Moody Time loaning me a full gas bottle, and Roger agreeing to accompany me to Satun (which would allow me to go in 'one hit'), we weighed anchor at 0815 and motored out of the bay.  As I will not be seeing Storm Dodger or her crew again for the foreseeable future, it was sad that only Leah was visible on deck to wave us off.  The first three or four hours were good and we constantly made six to seven knots with all sail up and the engine running.  Later in the day, the winds dropped and so did our speed - but we never dropped below 5 knots.  By nightfall, there was no wind at all and we motored through the maze of fishing boats, nets and marker flags.

12/01/11  Our estimated time of arrival at the mouth of the river to Satun would be too early, and previous experience of the surrounding area (so many fishing pots) made us decide to anchor for a few hours behind Ko Laen to wait for daylight.  We dropped the hook there just before 3am, had some food and slept for a few hours.  I should perhaps say that the fishing pots and nets that I mention are everywhere in these relatively shallow waters - and  there are literally hundreds of them, often little more than a boat length apart and consist of a polystyrene float with a one metre high un-lit stick topped with a black flag - difficult enough to see in daylight, and impossible at night! The danger is of course the rope or net attached to each marker.  Weighed anchor again at 0745 and motor sailed the last 20 miles or so, then up the river on the rising tide to Satun.  At 1130, we anchored off PSS yard to await lift out.  Although there are cradles available, the railway tracks have been strengthened to take the launching of Silver Lining, and I need to wait for the concrete to dry.  Some familiar faces around - Doug and Pam of Helly, Tony and Pat of Full Flight, Chris of Silver Lining, Tom and Jocelyn of Sonic, Mike and Gaye of Whim 'O Way, etc.....so it won't be too bad.  Said cheerio to Roger who now had to take an eight hour bus ride back to Phuket.

13/01/11  Happy Birthday Babs!  Heavy rain all afternoon......so much for the 'dry' season!   Main saloon hatch still leaking, will have to reseat it again.

14/01/11  Hauled out of the water at 5pm - too late to do anything today about the leak.  Had a meal and a couple of beers with all the lads and lasses still here, then downloaded e-mails.  Very sad to hear from my son David that his Mother died last weekend, and my thoughts go out to him and my other two children, Michael and Kim.

15/01/11  Took off the propeller, the cutless bearing gland and withdrew the stern tube.   The yard seem to think that the threads on the stern tube are U/S.......but that doesn't happen overnight - it must have been when they removed the cutless bearing last month.  Anyway, the safest option is to replace the tube altogether but the snag is that bronze is hard to source in Thailand - I can possibly get some from Bangkok - at a price!  Today was party time in the yard and despite it being a working yard, the place was full of kids from 8am onwards.  Balloons and bouncy castle thingies took over.  After 6pm it was the adults time - a stage was built, lighting and sound systems installed, tables and BBQ's were set up and we were off for a 'bit of a do.'  The evening was great, all the shipyard workers were there, all the yachties were there, free food for all, Mr Pithak made his speech, raffles were drawn, various 'turns' took their 15 minutes of glory on the stage......and everyone enjoyed themselves!

16/01/11  And this morning my head is fuzzy!  Another party is looming - to celebrate the completion of fitting out of Chris's Silver Lining, which is scheduled to launch at midnight on Thursday (the highest tide).  She was shipped to Malaysia from China as a  bare hull, then towed 200 miles to PSS where she was re-welded and the interior fitted out over two years.  A shed was purpose built for her and is now having the wall taken out so that she can be launched.  An S & S design at 104 feet in length, she is a lovely looking boat!  She will be going off to Langkawi to have her mast stepped and the rigging fitted, before continuing to Phuket for the remainder of her internal fit out.

17/01/11  The plan of getting bronze from Bangkok has now gone out of the window - it's available for 13,000 baht but the workshop is not equipped to ream it out to the required internal diameter for it's length of 500mm.   So, plan B....weld up the original thread end of  the tube, then cut a new thread so that the inboard end of the stern tube and the stuffing box gland fit more snugly together.   Second bit of bad news is that the Raymarine wheel pilot that I was to order is out of stock yet again!  Whilst waiting for the stern tube, I have decided that another anode is required on Rhumb Do - much closer to the propeller than the existing one, which may have been an OK design for 1977, but which is now considered too distant from the metal it is meant to protect.

18/01/11  Website route map updated.  If you are wondering why the same route is followed each time when going into and out of this shipyard, it's because of the very shallow waters of the bay and it's the only channel deep enough to allow safe passage.  Even then, some yachts touch bottom!  By late afternoon, I had the stern tube and cutless bearing fitted.  Also I fitted the new anode and wired it in to the earth loom.

19/01/11  Last night saw the pre-launch party for Silver Lining, and I'm guessing there are some very sore heads this morning!  Chris (the owner) was generous to a fault and laid on food and drink for the entire team involved in the build, and all the yachties present in the yard.   It was a great night!  See photo's.  At 10am, as promised by Oh, I moved down the rail track and into the murky waters of the river - I was afloat again!  I anchored just up river from the yard and left the after cabin open to watch for any signs of leakage.  However, the anchor wasn't holding too well and I was unhappy with the closeness of the shore, so I re-anchored (twice) until I felt a little more at ease.  No ingress of water as of 10pm.

20/01/11  Strong spring tides had me up in the early hours on anchor watch!  The ebb flows at about 5 knots and it is somewhat nerve wracking when the anchor chain turns through 180 degrees and rattles and groans as the anchor takes up the pull in the opposite direction.  The river bed is sloppy, soft mud and the anchor is easily dislodged!  Astrid arrived at the yard around 7pm, as promised, to assist me taking the boat back to Phuket in one hit - as Roger did on the way here.  We both joined the other yachties and yard staff to witness (and assist) in the launching of Silver Lining just after midnight.

21/01/11  Silver Lining's launch wasn't without problems!  The last minute loading of anchors and chain (due to the late arrival of a crane) delayed the launch a little and it was just after 0030 hrs that she hit the water......well, the back end did!  She was stuck in the cradle and no amount of bow lifting and snatching by the crane would free her off.  Finally, a 'C' Class fishing boat was deployed to tow her off the cradle to great cheers from the wellwishers on shore.  We all wish her and her crew, safe journeys for the future.  Astrid and I returned to Rhumb Do but again I was up for most of the night as the extra high tide rushed out at some 6 - 7 knots.  This morning, we had to wait until the tide rose to give us sufficient water to navigate the river, weighing anchor at 0915 and making our way downstream.   A rather alarming site outside PSS yard.......the fishing boat used to tow Silver Lining off had sunk overnight and lay with her bows and port side underwater.  I must find out what happened there!  Silver Lining herself lay at anchor in the lagoon at the end of the creek, awaiting the next high tide to get out of the bay.  Astrid and I made slow progress against strong currents and headwinds to the north of Taratao.

22/01/11  Shortly after midnight, the winds picked up - and so did the sea!  We now had 14 to 18 knots of wind and a beam sea.  Rhumb Do rolled a little uncomfortably as we maintained a constant 6 knots plus, under full sail throughout the night, dodging the usual fleets of fishing boats and numerous marker flags.  By daybreak we were in sight of Phuket, and by 10am were in the anchorage of Ao Chalong.  However, the night's swell was still very much in evidence and the hundreds of boats there at anchor were all rolling badly.  Couple this with the difficulty of getting ashore here ....... and I decided to seek another spot to park up!  We again went to sea and motored up the coast to Ao Po Grand Marina, finally berthing there (after searching for the marina) at 3pm.  Moody Time is here in the marina, Storm Dodger is in Boat Lagoon Marina, some eight miles south of here.  Astrid left to return to her boat, and I thank both she and Roger for helping me out in getting my boat to and from Satun without too many hiccups.

24/01/11  After a couple of 'lazy' sort of evenings (and one day), it was time to go again.  I moved the boat onto the fuel dock and filled up, then slipped in company with Moody Time to motor a huge distance (4 miles!) to the anchorage on the west side of Koh Wa Yai, where we would wait for Storm Dodger to come up from Boat Lagoon.  At 1600, we weighed anchor and the three boats headed another four miles north to anchor on the west side of Koh Phanak for the night.  After a relaxing calm day......a thunderstorm blew up as we anchored!

25/01/11  During the morning, we dinghied inshore to explore the caves (known as 'hongs' which means 'room' in Thai) and although we were able to get in and paddle through the caves to the other side of the island, we were unable to exit on the other side because of the state of the tide and the low roof.  Bats were hanging in several places inside the caves.  All three boats weighed anchor at 1320 for another long journey (well ......it was 5 miles this time!) to our next anchorage at Koh Lang.  Colin, Roger, Leah and myself went ashore to the small beach to 'explore' but the island is uninhabited save for a fisherman's shelter with a raised bed and evidence of a cooking fire.

26/01/11  We all piled into the dinghies and crossed the half mile channel to Koh Phing Kan, otherwise known as James Bond Island - made famous in the movie 'The Man With The Golden Gun.'  It has now become a major tourist attraction but we went early - before the tripper boats arrived, to avoid the crowds on what is a very small island.  Returning to the boats, we had lunch and to our surprise, another VdG boat arrived in the anchorage - Jean-Claude and Marlene onboard Anthea, so it was great to see them again and catch up with their news.  We weighed anchor again and headed north to Koh Pan Yi (Sea Gypsy Village) where we anchored at 1430.  This turned out to be one of the best anchorages - secure and well sheltered.  We had a wander around the village, selling just tourist trinkets to the thousands of visitors who are brought here for lunch before going on to other islands.   During the evening, we saw thousands of low flying fruit bats (one metre wing span) flying in a loose formation across the anchorage in a north-easterly direction.

27/01/11  9am and we boarded a longtail for a trip up river and into the narrow mangrove creeks, seeing the spectacular Lot Cave to the northern end of Phang Nga Bay, some wildlife and the cliff/cave drawings which are allegedly 3000 years old (I think they were drawn last week by the local kids!).  Over lunch in one of the village restaurants, we all decided to stay here for another night before heading south again.  Anthea arrived in the anchorage!  Of the boats involved in the VdG rally, four are here, one (Slammat) is in Yacht Haven and one (Easy 'n Free) in Ao Po Marina - that's almost half the fleet within a few miles!

28/01/11  Under way again at 0800, heading back southward under engine and genoa.  After a short passage, we anchored between Koh Kudu Noi and Koh Kudu Yai - two islands with a short narrow gap between.  Exploring in the dinghy, we found a very secluded and sheltered lagoon with an entrance on either side of a pillar of rock.  Dipping the bottom to see if it was possible to get a yacht in there showed that it was less than a metre deep!   An English speaking couple were camping on the beach and had arrived there by canoe some four days earlier.

29/01/11  Around 0200, the wind picked up and started to funnel between the islands at 29 knots, all three boat crews were awake and watching for any signs of dragging.  It was Colin and Trish onboard Moody Time who were the unlucky ones, their anchor giving way a half hour later.  They moved outside the channel and re-anchored.  At 0830, we all weighed anchor and made our way further south under sail alone to the Thai mainland, anchoring again at 1315 off Rai Lai Beach, close to Krabi.   My reason for going there was the hope of internet connection - but there was none.  Shortly after anchoring, we again had strong winds (max 39 knots) that had us all watching for dragging once more.  The wind was accompanied by very heavy rain despite this supposedly being the 'dry' season.  Frankly, I've had enough of Thailand, it's lousy anchorages and bad weather!

30/01/11  I weighed anchor at 0715...and when I did so, it was clear that I would have gone nowhere even if the wind had blown 60 knots!  The hook came up with a shovel full of thick hard mud (the pilot book says 'sandy bottom!') and it took some time to knock it off so that the anchor could be stowed.  As both Storm Dodger and Moody Time would be cruising some of the other islands, including Koh Phi Phi which I have no desire to visit, it was with somewhat of a heavy heart that I turned southwest to sail alone to Ao Po Marina.  Hopefully, I will bump into them again somewhere south of here.  The thirty odd mile crossing, first south west to the bottom end of Koh Yau Yoi, then north west was made under engine and genoa and I arrived in the marina at 1415.

31/01/11  The weather I mostly avoided yesterday as I came around the southern tip of Koh Yau Yoi has caught up and it's blowing hard.  The boat is snatching at it's moorings but there are things I need to do....so it's car hire time and a drive down the island to Phuket town and the LPG filling station for gas.  Yes, I know, I've needed gas for some time and now I've got it!  Visited Tesco's and spent a fortune more than I needed to, then drove back and struggled down the mile long pontoon with a trolley load of food I probably won't need, and stowed it on the boat.  Had a few beers in the bar before turning in for the night.

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