March 4th: Additional to last post: Tonight as I was getting ready to go into the restaurant for Peters 50th birthday dinner I took a call on the radio from Onni off the Yacht “Elonnisa” – “please can Robbie come and help there is a yacht drifting onto the rocks”. Robbie was actually having a snooze so I woke him up and we jumped in the duck and raced over to the Northern side of the bay ( Nai Harn), where there was indeed a Yacht, a Catamaran, actually now hitting the rocks. Per from “Oda” and Steve from “Almacantar” had also heard the call and come to help. Per was already there when we got there and the boat was hitting the rocks, we quickly started pushing on the stern end and got her off the rocks. There was nobody aboard, and she had broken her mooring. There were still mooring ropes hanging off her bow. Steve and Onni actually tied their ducks to the stern and hopped aboard, trying to get her anchor sorted out. They could not initially find the anchor winch but eventually found it and once we got her into a positon suitable to anchor they dropped the anchor.
It was so lucky, another 30 seconds and we believed she would have been smashed on the rocks with substantial damage. As it was, she sustained a few scratches along one side and that was all.
By now we were running late for dinner so we quickly went and saw the yacht now anchored behind them and advised them (this was difficult as they only spoke French) to keep an eye on the yacht as we didn’t know how well the anchor would hold. They misunderstood us and thought we wanted to borrow their spare anchor!!
March 5th: We spent the day cleaning the boat and preparing for our next lot of visitors, Paul and Maree from the Gold Coast, Australia who arrive on the 6th. They are both very good friends of Robbie’s for the last 27 years.
March 6th: We picked up the hire car at 8:00am and first of all Robbie did a petrol run with Per, who now have been notified they will load on the ship on the 10th. Then we did a run up the island to Boat Lagoon to buy some boat spares and parts we needed. We met Peter and Heidi there for lunch, they had just dropped Annika and the twins at the airport to fly back to Germany, and then made our way to Makro to stock up on food and beer. There was a good selection of food but it’s a bit like Campbell’s Cash and Carry, (or Costco) you have to buy in bulk but it wasn’t too bad. For example you can’t buy 1 lettuce, you have to buy a pack of 3. Back to boat to quickly offload it all and back in the car to the airport. It was only 47 Klm’s to the airport but it took 1 hour and 40 minutes to get there. We parked up and as we walked towards the terminal entrance we spotted Maree, they had arrived early. We headed back to Nai Harn, the traffic was horrendous and it took us an hour and a half to get back. We had organised to meet Peter, Heidi, Per, Elisabeth and Harry and Lucy for dinner at the Yacht club. We had Pizzas, very nice they were too.
March 7th: We departed Nai Harn at 9:00am for Ao Yon, a bay not far around the bottom and Eastern side of Phuket Island. Here, we met Chris, from seven star for lunch. Seven star is the company whom we have arranged to ship our boats with to Marmaris, in Turkey. There were 8 of us and Chris and we met at his girlfriend Jeb’s restaurant. Wow, Jeb really looked after us and the food was absolutely gorgeous. Real Thai cuisine there was Green chicken curry, fried rice, prawns, vegetable dishes, and more, and it was all really beautiful. We had a number of drinks and it was a very long lunch. We went back to another bar at the other end of the beach where we had a drink before heading back to the boats. The bar was run by two boy/girls – definitely boys but dressed and acted and tried to speak like girls! Long story, but my phone went for a swim and is now Kaput! I have lost everyone’s numbers so please, email me your numbers.
March 8th: Very slow morning as no one apart from Maree, was feeling too well! We headed off for an anchorage further North called Ko Yao Yai, which was where we thought we were going to meet Oda and Stormvogel. Turns out we had the wrong anchorage, but we had a nice walk on the beach and then we headed over to Ko Nakha Noi. This is the anchorage Chris from Seven star recommends for anchoring prior to being loaded on the big ships. Wow, it is a very beautiful, small island with white sandy beach, swaying palm trees and is really very pretty.
Oda will be lifted at 7:00am tomorrow morning.
We headed back to the anchorage and Peter and Heidi had suggested a beach Bar-B-Q, which we all did and had a great night. We took over our Gas and Bar-B-Q and a couple of packets of sausages and a coleslaw and Heidi made delicious Potatoes with tszaki which was lovely and anyway there was lots of food and we all had a great time. Sad to be saying farewell to Oda they have been our travelling buddies for almost a year now, and Moonbeam too but we will more than likely see them in the Med but not sure we will catch up with Oda in the Med as they are heading home to Norway.
March 10th: We departed the anchorage at 10:00am and radioed Oda and Moonbeam to say farewell. Unfortunately the wind had picked up overnight and loading has been delayed until the wind and chop dies down. Very frustrating but nothing you can do about it. Poor Ken from Moonbeam had fallen overboard and lost his wallet which would have sunk, but with the amount of current running through there it would have hopeless to dive and look for it. Very annoying for poor Ken. Hope he didn’t have too much cash in it.
We had a good trip and arrived at Koh Hong around 12:30, wow what stunning scenery. Although the water is very green and silty, it is still a beautiful area with lots of sheer sided mountains that rise vertically out of the water. The cliffs on a number of islands have fully enclosed lagoons or Hongs, some of which are only accessible by caves at low or mid tide. There is some stunning foliage, even jungle growing out of the sheer rock cliffs – it really is spectacular!
We set off in the duck with Robbie in the Kayak and went exploring. There were lots of tourist boats and tourists on Kayaks paddling around. We ticked along very slowly and were actually able to enter the Hong after a guide motioned us to enter. (We were reluctant to take the duck in, in case it disturbed the bats etc., but the guide said it was OK) there are some caves that you can only Kayak or swim into. Maree and I both decided we weren’t swimming or kayaking in any caves, the water wasn’t clear enough for us! Robbie, being the adventurer he is, explored every cave, nook and cranny he could find along the way. We ended up circumnavigating the small island, and we were all mesmerised by the beautiful scenery.
Paul brought a kilo of huge prawns off a local fisherman in a small longboat. They were massive. Maree and I marinated them in garlic and honey and the boys cooked them on the Bar-B-Q. They were beautiful.
We decided to head back towards Boat Lagoon and go into the marina tomorrow, rather than the 13th which is my birthday. We had a pleasant trip and anchored just after 6:00pm on the Eastern Side of Ko Rang Yai, a small island not far from the entrance to the channel to Boat Lagoon. It was a bit roly, but not too bad. Unfortunately the wind picked up and conditions deteriorated, with the wind and swell making it rather uncomfortable, and so at 9:30pm Robbie made the decision to move around to the other side of the island. Not an exciting prospect in this area with all the fishing nets everywhere. Anyway thank goodness for our super-duper Xantrex spot light, we were able to locate the fishing nets and the other yachts already anchored on the other side and we safely dropped anchor at 10:00pm.
March 12th: We had to wait for the high tide to be able to enter the channel into Boat Lagoon. Maree and I did some cleaning and made a quiche while we were waiting. Finally the tide was right and we headed in, following another small yacht. It was very shallow, at one point the depth gauge showing 1.8m – this literally means we should be touching the bottom, but thankfully we didn’t. As we came into the marina we heard someone shouting “Southern Star – Robbie, Jo” but couldn’t see where they were. Turns out it was Michael, an Australian skipper who delivers Nordhavns. He lives in one of the Marina units facing the water and had seen us on AIS. He came and introduced himself and was very friendly and helpful with a lot of local information.
We got into our berth, got organised and jumped in a hire car and hit the shops. There is a large Western style shopping centre not far away called, Central Festival. Paul and Robbie went off on the mission for my birthday present and Maree and I wandered round having a good look. We had dinner in a Japanese restaurant in the shopping Centre and then headed home.
March 13th: My birthday and I was very spoilt. Didn’t do a thing, Robbie Maree and Paul did all the breakfast, dishes and didn’t let me do a thing, it was just lovely! We jumped in the car and headed over to Patong where we met Peter, Heidi and their son Ole’ who had arrived from Germany for a visit, for a couple of beers, in the very aptly named Pirate Bar in the large shopping centre. We then walked over to a local restaurant in the street and had a gorgeous Thai meal, very nice. It was also a great people watching spot, with a number of the boy/girls sauntering past. We had a quick walk down to the beach. Patong is the hive of tourist activity in Phuket with lots of shopping, night life, gender mystery dancing and massage shops everywhere. It was very hot and busy. We headed back to Boat Lagoon and were too full and tired to go out for dinner. I had a real lovely day and was thrilled to be able to have the company of Paul and Maree on board, and as always, to enjoy the company of Peter and Heidi.
March 14: Today we drove through Old Phuket Town and up the hill where we spotted monkeys on the road side which was cool for Paul and Maree to see. Then we headed up the Coast Road which is very scenic, and we saw Elephants, including a baby, very cute. We stopped and had lunch in one of the resorts, it was so hot it was actually too hot to walk too far. The air conditioning in the car was the best choice!
Once we are off the boat it is a hive of activity with people everywhere, they power wash the hull and then we are moved to our location on the hardstand. Here they install the chocks and stands that will support Southern Star while she is high and dry. Then there is an army of Thai workmen scraping, and cleaning the hull in preparation for the sanding and painting of antifoul. The propellers, stern and bow thrusters all come off to be cleaned, sanded and painted with prop speed.
Oh what a night! Absolutely sweltering heat it was almost unbearable. As we cannot run the generator for the air conditioning while we are not in the water, Robbie had thought he had the air conditioning jacked up with hoses running and water in the bilge but it didn’t work. Neither of us got much sleep. Work is continuing albeit very slowly on the sanding and anti-fouling of the hull. Robbie is doing odd jobs like replacing all the anodes ( metal devices to stop corrosion, placed at different spots all over the hull) I am doing other odd jobs paperwork for the shipping and anything I can do to stay out of the sun, it is so hot.
The week passed uneventfully and the heat continued. Robbie did manage to get our bedroom air con working by running the hose directly to the air con unit so we could get some sleep.
We were doing odd jobs on the boat and I started polishing the stainless steel, we had Samran Marine wax and polish the hull, the price was good and they did a great job. Then the owner offered Robbie a price to polish the rest of the boat, which is an awful lot of Gel Coat and Stainless Steel. So we agreed and they began doing the waterline and the difficult parts that they won’t be able to complete once we are back in the water.
We met another Kiwi boat on the hard stand, named Kiwi Coyote, Simon is from Auckland and Robyn an American who lives in NZ. Their boat is a very beautiful large Yacht. They had a bit of drama when they were lifted back into the water and had to be lifted straight out again as a skin fitting was leaking. Very disappointing for them.
March 21st to March 26th: We were successfully lifted back into the water today with no problem. What a relief, now we can run the air con! Samran workers are still working polishing the boat. The week has flown by, we have had the two Stidd chairs in the fly bridge recovered, removed the Perspex around the fly bridge and sourced and found a business to copy the pattern in new Perspex – no easy feat – firstly locating the business premises and then communicating what we need done. As the Perspex bends around the stainless steel frame it has to be cut exactly the same as the previous ones and they are curved, not straight. Fingers crossed we got through what we require! We had the carpets and the lounge chairs cleaned by Chemdry. We also had Mr Furuno out to the boat to reprogram our A.I.S. and our two ICOM radios with our correct MMSI number.
The MMSI number is a bit like a phone number for your boat and some important instruments including AIS (automatic identification system) units, associated with the specific vessel. This MMSI number serves to identify the vessel rather than the equipment. (we only just realised we were allocated a new MMSI number when we brought the boat, and you have to update certain instruments with this number. We could not do it ourselves as they had already been changed once and you only get one change)
We did a run to the immigration office in Old Phuket Town, to extend our Visa’s which expire on the 27th, hmmm the first day we arrived just after 4pm and they close at 4:00pm, typical. The next day was an absolute disaster!
We needed to draw cash out to pay the contractors. Robbie used his card, and a message came up “Invalid Pin”. So I used my card and drew out the maximum which was 20,000 baht (about $825) But we needed at least 60,000 baht to pay the contractors, plus we have ordered diesel from the diesel barge when we leave and we need about 75,000 baht cash, for that.
Long story – short. After numerous, very frustrating phone calls to the Bank in Australia, Robbie’s card still does not work. So luckily, (we thought) we have two new cards that just need to be activated. So we make more lengthy calls to the card centre and activate the new cards. They will work they said, and your PIN numbers will be the same. Fantastic! NOT!!! Now Robbie’s card still does not work, and neither does my new card, AND because we have activated the new cards, my old card no longer works!!!! Oh boy, so, they tell us we can organise you a cash advance through your Visa credit – but of course you have to pay fees for this. Plus we have to nominate a Western Union office to go and collect the money. We decided to go and try going into a bank and draw the cash out. So off we go, and believe it or not the first bank we went into, the Bangkok Bank, had a lovely girl who could speak some English, and she apologised, she could not help us as their machines only have PIN access, but if we went to the Cash exchange place just around the corner, they have a manual “zip zap” machine and that she would ring them and tell them we are coming and explain what we required. This was brilliant and worked a treat. Phew, a big relief to have that cash in our hands. How embarrassing would it be to not be able to pay all the contractors! So now the bank has issued new PIN’s and sent to our PO Box where Jessie will collect and open and call us with the new PIN numbers. Fingers crossed!!! After a phone call to our friendly, local branch the BOQ at Oxenford, one of the fantastic staff there, Cheryl, has sorted the fees out for us and checked everything and sorted it for us.
We then made the 2nd run to the Immigration Office, arriving at 10 minutes to 4:00pm, hurriedly scribbled out the forms and then the (unfriendly) guy tells us we need a copy of our passports, so we run next door and grab those, then run back into him. By now, he is reading the newspaper and totally ignores us when we rushed back in, so we politely plonked the passports and copies on his desk. Then he slowly looks up with a total look of disdain and very slowly processes our paperwork. There is one very noticeable difference in the customer service charter here, very often the staff are casually sitting down in chairs, or asleep e.g. in a café they will be lounging around in the customers chairs playing on their phones. Quite often, in shops, we have actually had to say “excuse me” to get their attention to be served. It is a very noticeable difference to the service we receive in Australia or NZ.