Visitors and Similan Islands

 



February 19th: Arrived at Nai Yang Bay, the bay closest to Phuket airport for us to pick up Paul and Steven Grace on the 21st. It certainly is close to the airport – the planes are continually flying in and out very low, and close to where we were anchored. It’s a very pretty, quite wide bay with a nice sandy beach and lots of trees. We decided to take the duck ashore and check out the facilities available e.g. car hire and supermarkets. There are quite a few restaurants, hotels and shops, but it was quite quiet compared to the other places we have been to in Thailand. Which is rather nice!

 

 

We had a good walk right up to the end of the beach, where the local kids had drawn a football field in the sand to play their soccer game. It’s very refreshing to see kids playing using their own devices, rather than electronic gadgets! We walked back to the main street and both got a hair cut in one of the salons. 300 baht for Robbie and 400 baht for me, not too bad a price and she did a really good job too.


 We chose a small restaurant right on the beach for lunch and it was really nice food and reasonably priced. The only trouble was that the tide had gone out, and the duck was high and dry! So we had to sit and wait for the tide to come in far enough for us to get back to the boat. At around 500 kilos, the duck is way too heavy to carry. We always have to anchor it out and then swim or walk in (well Robbie does, I get dropped off at the beach like a princess, with minimal wetness!)

 

 

February 20th: Pretty busy day cleaning the boat, in preparation for our visitors tomorrow. Robbie did the outside while I did the inside. Seeing as we are not in a marina and relying on the water maker for water it was a very conservative cleaning, compared to what we would normally do.

 

February 21st: We took the duck in to shore and tried to hire a car but there was none available so had to take a taxi to pick up Paul and Steven from the airport. We were surprised at how small the airport was, for the number of planes that go in and out of that airport. We took another taxi to Tesco to stock up on supplies, which we didn’t need a lot just some fresh fruit and vegetables. No cans of beer so had to go across to Makro Cash & Carry for the beer. Back to the boat to offload the supplies and the boy’s suitcases, and then we headed back to the beach restaurant for lunch. Paul ordered his Chili Crab, which he said was lovely but was a soft shell crab. I went and had a pedicure, manicure and foot massage and the whole time the lady told me how much she wanted to marry a foreign man and did I know anyone? She was 31 years old, and looked about 21, and had 3 children that lived a 2 hour flight away with her parents on their farm. She only sees her children twice a year when she flies home. She sends money and snacks for them occasionally. She told me “I don’t mind how old the man is, I just want to marry a foreigner who will look after me and my children”.

 


February 22nd: Robbie went to bring in the flopper stoppers ready for our departure and the ropes were covered in fish eggs. It was sticky, and beady but quite tough. The fish had had an orgy around our boat! We Departed Nai Yang at 7:30am for the Similan Islands, 50 miles North West of Patong, a group of rocks and islands which is a National Park. The waters are teeming with tropical fish, coral and extremely good visibility. We were able to pick up a mooring at Koh Miang, in Honeymoon Bay. Wow, very beautiful – white sandy beach, crystal clear water but unfortunately, many, many tourist boats. We had a few swims, and sat in the water and enjoyed the bottle of Chandon that Paul had brought over, and had a walk along the beach. The tourist boats all leave around 3 to 4pm to take the tourists back to the mainland and then it is much quieter, calmer and enjoyable.


The landscape is really interesting, mostly huge granite boulders which are in jumbled heaps and look like they have been placed there very carefully! There is beautiful lush green foliage right up to the beach. It really is worth the trip out there.

February 23rd: Departed Koh Miang for Donald Duck Bay – named for one of the great rock formations that looks like a ducks head. As soon as we picked up the mooring the boat was surrounded by fish, a lot of parrot fish and other tropical fish. Steven and I tried feeding them sausage but they were not interested. Again, a stunning white sand beach and crystal clear aqua blue water. We went for a tour around the island in the duck, stopping for a snorkel on the Western side of the bay. A bit disappointing – the coral was very bleached and not much of it. The colourful fish made up for it though, and the turtle we saw! We counted 36 tourist boats, so it was very busy. We made the climb up to the top of the rocks, which was pretty easy with a rope and timber steps in the steep parts. We had to crawl under huge rocks twice, which was a bit daunting, especially as there have been twigs placed which appear to be holding up the rocks! Wow, what a fantastic view over the beach and beyond. Looking down on the beautiful blue water and beach was really stunning and very picturesque.

Ag
ain, we
 waited for all the tourist boats to depart and then we headed back to the beach for another swim and a walk.

Once back at the boat we had a game of 500, which ended up in a draw. Final to be held soon!







February 24th: Departed at 6am for Surin Island group. Stopped at Koh Bon and picked up a mooring. The water was very clear, and very deep around the small island. There is a blow hole cave that runs right through the northern part of the island. There was a beautiful old style wooden sailing ship that is now a dive ship, on a mooring. They told us there was Manta Rays in the bay around the corner.

We quickly got organised with snorkel gear and got the duck off and headed around the corner. Near the blow hole cave there was another fissure in the rocks that the water was gushing through from the other side, it was very picturesque.

 As we came around the corner we could see there were a number of divers diving, with dive floats and also a duck waiting for them. They surfaced just as we were getting ready and told us there was a Manta Ray right below us. We all jumped in and snorkelled and were able to see the Manta Ray, a very graceful creature, he was black and white and just cruising around. At one point he came right close to Steven and I which was very freaky!! The visibility was 15 metres, we could see right to the bottom. Unfortunately the photo did not come out very well, and naturally, the camera was out of memory right then! There were also a lot of fish and at one stage a school of probably 300 fish swam right past me.

We continued onto Koh Surin Nua and took a mooring in the South Eastern Bay. We quickly received a visit from the National Park Rangers with a request for the fees, of 1,700 Baht. We headed over to the Ranger Station where there is a very basic restaurant for dinner. Steven and Robbie ordered a curry which nearly blew their heads off, it definitely wasn’t tourist strength!!


February 25th: We woke up and went for a snorkel on Koh Surin Nua, on the Eastern side of the island. Wow, best snorkelling we have had for a long time. Robbie towed the duck behind him and we all snorkelled. There were a lot of tropical fish, contrary to the cruising guide, we found more fish here than in the Similan Islands. We even saw a few “Nemo’s”!! After breakfast we went exploring in the duck and went between the two islands, Surin Nua, and Surin Tai. The water was amazingly clear and there were patches of different blues from a very pale, through, aqua and then a darker blue, all extremely clear water. It was just lovely. We headed to the ranger station and then walked 200 metres to the other side of the island where there was a lovely beach called Mai Ngam where we all swam and relaxed for a while. There were a few tourists but not many, and of course the famous Long tail boats were roaring around, but only a couple.

Departed Surin Nua at lunch time to head back to the mainland. We headed for Richelieu Rock, a pinnacle rising 40 metres from the sea bed where there are supposed to be Whale Sharks – the largest fish in the world, during the months of March and April. It is also a very popular dive site and as we got closer we could see a lot of dive boats there. We decided not to stop and continued onto Koh Ra, arriving at 5.30pm after a very uneventful passage. No fish – not one bite!


February 26th: Departed Koh Ra West at 6:00am to get further South to Phuket. It was a very uneventful passage. “Southern Star” weather with very little wind and very flat seas. Tracey Grace should have come on this trip with Paul and Steven, she would have loved it. We did see lots and lots of fishing nets though, they were virtually all the way down the coast. The poor fish don’t stand a chance. We had 3 rods out but not a bite. We arrived into Nai Yarn at 5:30pm which is the bay next to the airport. We had jets roaring right over us as we cruised past the airport, which is right next to the beach. So the boys decided to go closer to the beach, right under the flight path to get a good photo! (I was deep breathing!!)

We went into shore for dinner and tried to get more credit & data for our phones (unsuccessfully) as it had expired, we have now been one month in Thailand.

February 27th: Departed Nai Yang bay for kamala Beach to meet Per and Elisabeth. Oh but another beautiful beach and nice clear water! On the way there Robbie had Steven working on some of the electronic gear for us, having an electrician on board was awesome! Robbie was really happy as Steven managed to pair the iPad and the Mac computer with Coastal explorer via Bluetooth, so we can now navigate with the iPad up on the fly bridge with the exact same screen and controls as the laptop in the Pilothouse. We had this Amazing technology on our last boat which Sam had set up for us, and Steven was able to duplicate on Southern Star -thanks Steven!

We went and had a couple of drinks on Oda and then went into the beach and had lunch at a restaurant with Per and Elisabeth. We saw a huge lizard swimming in the not so clean drain which had about 300mm of water in it, and he climbed up the block retaining wall, and disappeared into a crack between the blocks. We moved to a beachfront restaurant and sat and relaxed and watched the world go by, very nice, but lazy day.

 

February 28th: Paul and Stevens last day, they are flying out at 3am tomorrow morning, so they decided to get a Hotel for the last night to save trying to land the duck on the beach at midnight and manage suitcases etc. in the water and sand. We hired a car and drove down to Nai Harn to catch up with Peter & Heidi off Stormvogel. So good to see them after 3 months. They had spent Xmas in Germany and had left Stormvogel in Raffles Marina, Singapore. Their daughter Annika and her twin sons, Mateo and Levi flew into Kuala Lumpur and joined Stormvogel for a month. The twins are just gorgeous, they are 6 years old and very blonde hair. They are full of life and can speak some English. Very cute. We had a lovely lunch at the Yacht club, on the deck overlooking Nai Harn Bay. A very enjoyable afternoon was had by all. We left around 4pm to get Paul and Steven back up to the Northern end of Phuket to their Hotel near the airport. Easier said than done, we had a bit of trouble finding it but eventually got there in the end. We said our farewells, we won’t see Paul again until Turkey, and it will be a bit longer this time – not 3 weeks since his previous visit! They were great to have on board and we had a great time. We made our way back to Kamala Beach just in time before dark.

 

 

March 1st: Spent the whole day cleaning the boat and odd jobs, we were exhausted. All work and no play, today!

 

March 2nd: Departed Kamala Beach for Nai Harn at 10:30am to meet up with Stormvogel and Oda again. Peter and Heidi were out shopping for boat parts so Robbie picked up Annika and the twins from the beach and brought them back to Southern Star. After some treats, ice creams, chocolates and a drink, Robbie took us all for a spin in the Donut. I had to go first. It was a little choppy but was OK. I had previously threatened him not to tip me out like he tried to, the other time with Tony, Janet & Jordan in Lombok. All was good. I was really worried about the twins as Annika had told us they couldn’t swim. They had their own safety vests on and they were fine. They loved it, Robbie started off really slowly but they kept asking for more power, and faster. No one got tipped out thank goodness. We then swam off the back of the duck board and they were actually really quite good in the water, not far off swimming at all.

Peter and Heidi returned, and were attacked by the twins with the water pistols we had given them. We had sundowners on Southern Star, just like old times!

 

March 3rd: Yay –girl’s day out in town!!! Heidi, Annika, Elisabeth and I had a girl’s day out in town. Peter minded the twins, Robbie did jobs on the boat and Per was taking down his sails ready for the shipping to the Med. (Oda and Moonbeam are going on the March sailing, Southern Star, Stormvogel and Diomedea are going on the April sailing.)

We caught a tuk tuk truck into the shopping mall called Central, a big modern mall with really nice shops and supermarket. The mission was to get a present for Peters 50th birthday. This was really difficult, I wanted to get a really nice bottle of Port and tried at the supermarket and the wine shop there but they had not heard of Port. Frustrating, so I ended up getting a really nice bottle of red wine from Italy, not ideal but the best I could do.

Bounty had arrived while we were away, Harry & Lucy from Germany. We decided to have Sundowners rafted up in the ducks near the beach. Onni off Elonnisa, and his two visiting sisters came. Unfortunately poor Elisabeth has food poisoning from eating local seafood and was not well. There were only 5 ducks, Oda, Stormvogel, Elonnisa, Bounty and us. Almacantar had their nephew arrive today and he was sleeping so they stayed on board with him. Was a lovely sunset, yet again. I am thinking that when we return to Australia to live in a house, it will have to somewhere we can see the sun setting on the ocean, it’s so nice to watch.

 

 

March 4th: Late start to the day, we took the duck into the beach – well, we anchored it 30 metres off the beach, and walked 2 laps of the beach, probably about 4 Klm’s, then swam about .5 klm, walked up to the resort and organised a hire car for Friday, for us to pick up Paul and Maree who will arrive from Australia. Had a coffee at a little café and then walked back to the beach to get the duck. Arrrh!!!! I ended up showing by boobs to the whole beach. SO embarrassing! The swell had really picked up and with my knee (no cartlidge in my right knee) I struggle to climb aboard the duck unless it is shallow and my feet are on the bottom. Anyway Robbie brought the duck into the shallow water but as I was trying to get in a wave came through, and pushed the duck, I fell off the duck and my bikini top flipped down and I landed very unladylike in the sand. It would have looked hilarious but I was too embarrassed to look to see who witnessed it, but the beach was packed. The duck nearly ended up beached, but I Jumped up and pushed it out. We ended up that Robbie went further out, I swam out and climbed up the ladder. Next time we will just swim out and climb the ladder! For our walk tomorrow I will change bikinis and wear a hat and hope no one recognises me!!

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