01/03/11 Moved the boat again this
morning to another, more suitable mooring. The last was in water
only deep enough during neap tides (which we have at present) so I am
happier with a little more water beneath the keel in the event of not
being back in Chalong before the spring tides kick in. We
caught a taxi at 4pm and made our way to the bus terminal in Phuket for
the 6pm VIP bus to Bangkok and left on time in a very comfortable and
quiet, modern coach, to drive through the night.
02/03/11 The coach arrived in Bangkok at
6am and we again jumped in a taxi to our hotel (The Park Hotel).
After booking in, we then made our way to the main shopping area by way
of the sky-train and then on to 'sight-see' at the Golden Buddha, a five
and a half ton icon of solid gold!
03/03/11 On the list of places to visit
today - the Kings Palace and the Emerald Buddha. We started with a
taxi ride to the ferry which would take us to the Palace, but we
overshot the intended pier and had to take another ferry back one stop!
The palace is certainly ornate and also contains the Emerald Buddha -
much smaller than the huge Golden Buddha - and made of jade. It is
the most respected idol in Thailand. We also took a trip up the
klongs (canals), visiting a snake farm where shows of venom extraction
were given. Travel around the area is relatively easy with taxis,
ferries, the underground and the skytrain - a modern elevated railway
which 'flies' over the congested streets of central Bangkok.
04/03/11 A fairly early
start to the day with a taxi ride (we used the same driver throughout
our stay) of some 150 Km to see the infamous Burma - Thailand railway.
Known as the Death Railway for all the lives lost in it's construction
during 1942 by prisoners of war under Japanese rule. We went to
Kanchanaburi to visit the war cemetery where just under 7,000 allied
troops are buried, the museum and the mock-up p.o.w. camp.
Kanchanaburi is also the site of "The Bridge on the river Kwai" which we
05/03/11 Today it was off to
Samutprakarn and the World's largest crocodile farm/zoo after a morning walk around the Sukhumvit area.
An entertaining afternoon of mad Thai's putting their heads into
crocodile mouths, elephant shows and photo's taken of Leah feeding tiger
cubs. I don't really like zoo's, or rather the concept of them,
and think that all animals should be free. But I do realise that
the human race has removed their natural habitat - not only are we the
animal's worst enemy....we're our own as well. This farm has over
100,000 crocodiles, mostly bred in captivity and including the World's
largest croc, an Estuarine/Siamese hybrid named 'Yai', which is 6 metres
in length and weighs 1114 Kg. The photo on the right is the Erawan
Museum in Samut Prakan - we drove past but didn't have time to visit.
This huge three headed elephant dominates the skyline, standing some 44
metres high and 39 metres long. The museum is inside the elephant
body and is served by lifts and staircases housed inside the rear legs.
There is a window in the belly which gives views over the surrounding
06/03/11 Firstly a visit to the hospital
where Roger arranged an operation for Jordan to have his painful big toe
nails removed - it had been recommended to have the op here in Bangkok
and Roger and Leah will stay a few more days with Jordan whilst he has
it. (Astrid and myself will return to the boats tomorrow as planned).
We spent the morning in Damnoen at the floating market, located on the klongs
and busy with tourists. If you have seen the film 'Bangkok
Dangerous' with Nicholas Cage, you will recognise the klongs from
the longtail chase scene. During the afternoon we went to
Chatuchak on the skytrain, and the shore based 'weekend'
market - a huge covered area packed with stalls and heaving with locals
and tourists alike.
07/03/11 After breakfast it was a case
of packing and checking out of the hotel. In the early afternoon,
we took a taxi to the Bangkok Hospital to drop off Roger, Jordan and
Leah, then on to the airport for our flight back to Phuket.
Boarding had not commenced when take-off time was reached, so we were
already late! We eventually boarded but no sooner was everyone
seated and ready to go ........and we were asked to disembark and return
to the lounge, change boarding gates and board another aircraft.
Our arrival at Phuket airport was in the dark and the middle of a
thunderstorm - the rain coming down in torrents. An hour taxi ride
back to Ao Chalong where we took shelter in our 'local' until the
rains stopped and the tide came in sufficiently for us to reach James
and Sandy's dinghy for a lift back to our boats.
11/03/11 Since returning to Ao Chalong,
the weather has been 'unusual' with daily rains, high winds and a lot of
rolling around which has prevented me from completing the wheel pilot
installation (it's difficult to run wiring or drill holes when you have
to hang on with one hand!). Roger, Jordan and Leah returned last
night and I collected them from the pier around 8pm. Moody Time
have returned to Rebak Marina in Langkawi, ending their cruising as they
return to the UK and the boat up for sale - we all wish Colin and Trish
the very best for the future. Marco and Francesca are in the
bay onboard Easy 'n Free. This afternoon, I
received a phone call from Joy in Turkey and an e-mail from Dhanya in
India, warning me (us) of the earthquake off Japan and the subsequent
tsunami warnings. I am hoping that we will be ok here as the
direct path to Japan is blocked by Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia.
12/03/11 This morning's on-line papers
are full of pictures of the devastation caused by the earthquake and
tsunami off the Japanese coast. Although we had all initially been
a little worried about it here in Phuket, Colonel Somsak of the Thai
Natural Disaster Centre had stated there would be no impact on Thailand
and that no-one should panic. My thanks to Joy in Marmaris for the
constant text updates of the unfolding disaster yesterday.
17/03/11 Several days of frustration
with the wheel pilot wiring! Cutting out the old wiring resulted
in the engine refusing to start, giving me a couple of hours of fault
chasing - discovering that the pratt who called himself an electrician
in Marmaris, had wired the engine ignition relay earth wire into the
earth wire of the wheel pilot. I had to run a new earth cable from
the relay to the ve- bus bar......which is what he should have done in
the first place! With most of the wiring in place, it only
remained to connect the nmea input and outputs to the GPS, and that's
where the real problems started because the old Simrad instruments do
not talk the same nmea language as the new Raymarine pilot - they use
Corus talk converted from nmea0183. However, late this afternoon I
managed to get the control head to display the bearings and distances to
waypoints although I am convinced that the wiring is still wrong because
of the indicated cross-track error.
19/03/11 Because of on-going problems
with my wiring of the nmea leads to and from the new wheel pilot, I was
unable to sail today as planned, so it was with great sorrow that I said
farewell to Storm Dodger as they sailed out of the bay to head
for the Similan Islands. Visa time constraints now make it almost
impossible for me to go there and so I will probably return to Langkawi in
the next few days.
21/03/11 Woo hoo! I now have the
correct cross-track error showing on the wheel pilot control head!
Sandy of Swordfish went home to the UK today for some months, so
I teamed up with James for a run ashore and a few beers after the usual
22/03/11 Assisting James this morning to
move Swordfish to the fuel and water barge was not without
incident - an engine squeal indicated a slipping alternator belt which,
when investigated, showed the alternator to be seized and the belt on
fire. A hurried re-anchoring followed! After the smoke had
cleared and we had filled the water tanks (running the engine on the
second alternator only), James came onboard Rhumb Do and we went
out into the bay to carry out the fluxgate compass calibration (swinging
and aligning), then returned to my mooring.
23/03/11 Feeling a bit trapped onboard
now - my outboard motor will currently not start and is in need of a
service, so I am a bit dependent on James for running me ashore.
He came over late this afternoon with his Scuba gear and went down to
clean my prop of barnacles. Obviously, the lanolin I applied in
Satun did not work as the dreaded barnies had taken a good hold of it.
24/03/11 Sad news that screen legend
Elizabeth Taylor has died aged 79. A blustery, choppy day so I am
unable to strip down the outboard motor for repair today. Cooking
gas is a problem again, one bottle being nearly empty (and I know I
can't get any in Langkawi) but it's too expensive to hire a car and
drive up to Boat Lagoon just for that. I have been uploading some
of the photo's from recent months but there are still more to be sorted
and put in my Photo Album
25/03/11 Went ashore with James to get
some bits for my outboard motor and ran into Roger and Astrid who are
back in the bay having aborted the Similan Island trip and returned from
Patong. We all stayed ashore for the evening and had a few beers.
Happy Birthday to my 'big' Bro. Slipped the mooring
at 1015 with the intention of heading straight out of the bay and on to
Langkawi, but Roger who was anchored across the bay off Panwa Bali
beach, was having trouble with an alternator belt and was not ready to
leave. I motored over and rafted up alongside Storm Dodger
until the problem was fixed. At 1400, with a forecast of westerly
15knt winds throughout the night, we set off under a grey sky and
drizzling rain. (photo right). The winds, as expected were somewhat more
than forecast, but we bowled along nicely on a broad reach under genoa
and engine at a steady six knots until 2130 - then the s**t hit the
fan!! With no moon or stars, it was impossible to see the squall
coming as the seas became very rough and the winds increased to over 30
knots. I was dressed in full oilskins, lifejacket on and harnessed
to the cockpit as I tried to furl or reef the genoa.....but not in time
to prevent the sail ripping across the protective UV strip. I
managed to furl the sail to just beyond the rip and continued on course
into the blackness with minimal headsail flying.
27/03/11 Around midnight, or just
after, we were hit by winds of 55 knots and it became very scary!!
Anyone who has been in a small boat in bad weather and in total darkness
and says they were not scared, is a liar! I prepared two warps to
trail behind to slow the boat down if we had to run with the storm.
The new wheel pilot was working overtime to maintain our course of 140
degrees but was so far managing to do so. The seas were black with
only the reflection of my stern light showing the maelstrom of white
foam as each wave crashed over the boat and into the cockpit to mix with
the torrential rain, the bow navigation lights an eerie red and green
ahead of me. The bimini top was ripped from the sprayhood and hung
port side of the boat until I was able to secure it with
temporary lashings. Wind whipped frothy spume off the top of each
wave, lashing my face like hailstones, and I lost sight of Storm Dodger in the ensuing mayhem.
There was little to do as I sat, strapped into my corner, waist deep in
water, except console myself that I had been in worse weather than this
before and that it would eventually pass. The storm eased a little
around 0200 but the seas remained big and threatening for the rest of
the night. I sure was glad to see daylight at 0600!
Both boats continued to roll badly as we made our way southeast toward
the island of Langkawi, turning into the entrance of Bass Harbour about
1300.....and settling into calmer waters. At 1430, with great
relief, I anchored off Kuah town, a short distance from Storm Dodger,
had a late breakfast and fell into bed for a few hours.
(photo right - my almost new Thai courtesy
flag, shredded in the storm)
28/03/11 I took down the genoa and went
ashore with it to the sailmaker for repair - but she's on holiday for
two weeks and will not be back until the 10th April - that's a big
problem for me now. With constant heavy rain all day, we (Rog &
family) had little to do other than sit in the shelter of various
eateries and coffee shops for the rest of the day, all buying yet more
umbrellas to make the trip back in the dinghy to our boats.
29/03/11 At 1am, along with the never ending
rain, we now had strong winds and a steel boat
(Cockatoo) dragged anchor and almost hit me, it's crew finally
moving the boat to another anchoring area. Once more I had full
party gear on in preparation for moving should the conditions
deteriorate further. On getting up again at daylight, the rains
were still pounding down with no sign of any breaks in the ten tenths of
dark grey skies. Spent the evening onboard Storm Dodger
along with Franz and Sylvia of Moet, watching a film.......and
the rains continue..............
30/03/11 Still raining but we all went
ashore during the evening and visited the night market, wandering around
in yellow capes like a bunch of bananas. Power on the boat is now
a problem. Without sunshine, the solar panels do not produce any
wrigglies and I am having to run the engine for a couple of hours a day
to keep the batteries from becoming completely flat.
31/03/11 Enough is enough! Both
Roger and I weighed anchor at 0930 and moved into the Royal Langkawi
Yacht Club marina. Being 'trapped' onboard in continual rain isn't
much fun. At least when tied up alongside we can get an umbrella
out and walk up to the bar, or taxi into town, which is what Astrid and
I did this afternoon to look for some electrical parts. At least
we are not the only ones getting a soaking - Thailand is suffering as
well with floods and mud slides, tourists are being evacuated by the
Thai navy from some of the islands and at least three airports are
closed because of flooding.
For previous logs,