Farewell Thailand, more visitors, the worst anchor problem and a flying visit home!

We spent the last few days in Boat Lagoon Marina completing maintenance and cleaning the duck from top to bottom, which badly needed doing. We met the loveliest couple off another motor boat, Eric and Anna, whom took us out to dinner at a local Thai Restaurant where Anna, (a very stunning Thai woman from Bangkok) chose the meals for us, which were absolutely beautiful. They own a lovely 60’ motor boat and have travelled extensively around the world. It was really nice to share experiences with another motor boat couple. Most of the people we met are sailors. We were sad to depart Boat Lagoon after meeting such a lovely couple that we both really liked and had a lot in common. We will keep in touch and Eric and Anna will be in the med later this year and we hope to catch up with them then.







We departed Boat Lagoon and with Anna’s help sourced a local fuel barge to fuel up with diesel. Anna was able to speak in Thai with them and organise the meeting point at a nearby island, Ko taphao Noi. All went well, we took 1,754 litres at a cost of 27.80 Baht (this is around .85 cents Australian) per litre, and we headed around to Nai Yang, right around the top of the other side of Phuket ready to pick up Sam from the airport. Very exciting to see Sam, who works on the coal seam gas line in Queensland as an I. T. Supervisor, he works 12 days on, 9 days off and so flew over on his days off to see us. The first day he arrived Sam had a great day touring round on motorbikes with Peter and Heidi’s kids Ole, Lisa and her boyfriend Florian who were visiting from Germany. The week went really fast, and Sam was trying hard to buy some hardware to install on the boat to improve our movie situation. Currently we just use a 2 terabyte hard drive with lots of movies stored on it. He wanted to buy a network system which I didn’t really understand, and we spent a lot of time looking for one but were unsuccessful. After a lot of shopping around and no luck we decided to leave it. We spent another night anchored in Ao Yon and with another long lunch in the girl/boy bar Sam decided to come back on his next shift off, and managed to get return flights for $540 which is so cheap. Robbie spent some time towing the kids on the biscuit behind the duck. Not sure who had the most fun!

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outhern Star and Stormvogel left Ao Yon the next morning and stopped off at Ko Naka Noi, which will be our last anchorage before we get loaded on the big ship to go to Turkey. It’s a gorgeous little island with a lovely beach for swimming. We all had a quick swim and then headed into Ao Po marina where Sam departed and flew back to Australia.
We had 3 nights in the marina which was extremely hot. We had the pleasure of a surprise visit from friends from Australia, John and Jenny which was lovely to see them and catch up with all their news. We may see Jenny again in the Med where she will be skippering her and Johns Yacht “Far Away II” for the cruising season.

We departed Ao Po Marina with Stormvogel and headed back up to Koh Hong and anchored for a night. Florian and Lisa borrowed our kayak to go cave exploring and we had a quiet night. We left the next morning to go and meet David and Andrea on “Diomedea”, we have not seen them since the rally in Indonesia in October last year so it was great to meet up again and catch up. Diomedea is also travelling on a big ship to the Mediterranean. We agreed to meet at the island of Ko Dam Hok. As the season is now at an end, and the monsoon is changing from North East to South West, it is no longer viable to cruise on the Western side of Phuket, where all the lovely clear water is. Already a Yacht was blown onto the beach on Kata beach (thanks to Jenny for the photo!). So we now will stay on the Eastern side of Phuket for protection from the monsoon winds. The scenery is stunning but the water is not as nice as the Western side.

We arrived at Koh Dam Hok at 1.45pm on the 7th April. It was really lovely to catch up with David and Andrea and we had a great night on Southern Star. First of all we walked on the beach and then had a swim, the water was very clear. David and Andrea provided a lamb roast which we cooked on Southern Star, and we had a lovely night…..until….. Around 11:00pm the generator hiccupped and the air conditioning faltered. Robbie sprinted up to the pilothouse and saw that the power was erratically jumping from nothing to 320 volts, so he quickly shut everything down and went and checked the generator. Sure enough there was a fault somewhere. He rang the infamous “Lugger Bob” from Northern Lights in the USA for some advice. As always, Bob has an amazing knowledge and was able to direct Robbie in the direction of where to look. He gave him a few options, and the first thing Robbie checked he found a broken wire. So at 1.30am we got to bed.

Overnight the wind changed direction and we woke up facing the opposite direction. We had anchored in around 12 metres of water and the wind was now pushing us towards the beach. It was quite choppy and uncomfortable, so we decided to move to the other side of the island for some protection from the wind. Diomedea were going to follow us a bit later.

I was on the bow ready to wash down the chain and anchor with the deck hose. Quite often the chain and anchor can be very muddy and messy, so if I rinse the chain and anchor as it comes up over the roller it saves a lot of mess. Robbie was on the fly bridge ready to go. The chain started to come up but then stopped and was actually being pulled out of the winch again! Oh no, this means we are hooked on something. Normally it would be reef and there was some reef at the end of the island. We tried without success, a few times but it was not budging. Of course -the wind was picking up and conditions were deteriorating! So the decision was made that Robbie would dive with scuba gear, down the anchor chain to see what we were hooked up on. I was concerned because there were a lot of the local long boats zipping around the island bringing tourists in and out. Anyway we got him kitted up in his scuba gear and in he went. I was watching for his bubbles. He came up after about 10 minutes. Not good news, we were stuck on a large piece of metal from a ship wreck, There was lots of large metal pieces down there and we were wrapped around one of them. (Normally shipwrecks are shown on the charts, but this one wasn’t) Because the wind had changed in the night, we had become wrapped around it when we moved. Robbie had untangled us and tried as best as he could to leave the chain away from the metal pieces. Again, we tried to bring the anchor up, again we got stuck, good and fast.

Time to call in the troops! We asked David and Andrea for their assistance, Robbie picked them up in our duck, which we tied alongside Southern Star as we did not want the complication of the duck behind the boat if we needed to manoeuvre backwards. We discussed the strategy, which was for Robbie to dive again, with a long cord attached to which he would signal David One pull for stop, two pulls to bring the boat over the chain and three pulls to winch the chain up. I was driving the boat under instructions from David when he got the signals on the rope and Andrea was also assisting on the bow. We needed to drive the boat to release the pressure on the chain so he could untangle it. Eventually Robbie resurfaced and thumbs up signal was given. It was very stressful as the wind was blowing us onto the beach and we were getting shallower and shallower. We were finally able to successfully lift the anchor – with everyone holding their breath. David and Andrea jumped in the duck to go and retrieve Robbie and I drove Southern Star out into deeper water and waited for Robbie to be picked up and then drop David and Andrea back to Diomedea, and then return to Southern Star. We waited to ensure that they were able to lift their anchor, which they did. By this time a few hours had elapsed and thankfully conditions had improved, and it was a majority decision that a debrief session was required. So we all headed over to the famous Rai Le Beach for lunch and a beverage. (There goes my no alcohol April! Oh well I did 11 days, not so bad!! Congratulations to Heidi who has done the whole month!)

This was definitely our most difficult anchor situation, way beating us pulling up the long tail engine and shaft that we encountered in Koh Lipe a couple of months ago!

We anchored at Rai Le Beach a very pretty and very popular bay with the tourists. There were lots of long tails on the beach and we found a space for our duck and made our way to a restaurant. We had a lovely lunch and a bottle of champagne and the boys had a few large Changs and eventually we de-stressed! We left the beach and had a little tour past the limestone cliffs, where amazingly there were 4 climbers climbing up the cliff and one of them was a female! I felt sick just watching them, so high up and only a rope to cling to – definitely not my idea of a fun time. They must have stayed the night up there, it was a sheer round cliff arising up on the corner of the island. It would have taken them most of the day to climb up it, and the next day to get down. You can scroll in and see the climbers in the photo. So brave! Crossing an ocean is nothing to what these guys are doing!

As we were ticking along in the duck we saw a column of black smoke (see photo) a couple of miles away on the water. Very sadly we heard a couple of days later it was a ferry that had caught fire, and a 12 year old girl lost her life as she was in the toilet. Over 100 other passengers were rescued. I felt so sad, this had happened only a short distance from us and we were unaware. As reported in the newspaper: A 12-YEAR-OLD girl has died as more than 100 passengers were rescued after a ferry burst into flames and sank in Thailand.The girl, identified by local media as Israeli tourist Shani Maril, went to the bathroom just before the fire broke out at the stern of the vessel about 3.30pm Wednesday local time, Phuketwan reported.Shani’s parents and siblings, in Thailand to celebrate Passover, were rescued.The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed the death, adding that it was trying to arrange for the body to be repatriated to Israel,Haaretz reported.Up to 117 people were on board the Ao Nang Princess 5, travelling from Krabi to the island of Phuket. Passenger Panupon Rattanakornpanya, 44, said crew members told him and his family to gather at the bow as the boat burned.“The fire then grew stronger. Everyone was in a panic, some were crying. Many grabbed jackets and passed them on to others before we jumped into the water,” he said, according to Bangkok Post.

 We farewelled David and Andrea on the 8th as we had decided to return to Australia for surgery on my wrist, which had started to give me a bit of trouble recently. I had a metal plate inserted last year when I broke my wrist. I had emailed my GP and the surgeon and I was booked in for an appointment on Monday 13th with the surgeon.

We headed into Yacht Haven Marina and secured Southern Star for our absence of 10 days. Unfortunately this clashed with Sam’s return visit but he was happy to still come and stay on the boat which he did.

 

So we flew home to the Gold Coast arriving late on Saturday the 11th. We had a whirlwind 10 days, saw the surgeon on the 13th, he operated on the 14th, removing the metal plate and also fixing my Carpel Tunnel which was causing some problems also. We had such a lovely time catching up with all the family, especially Robbie’s Mum and of course our two Grandchildren Ethan and Charlotte. We had the bonus of seeing Kristie as she had flown in for her childhood friends Emma and Matt’s engagement. We surprised her as she didn’t know we were home. We were able to have a few hours with her and then dinner with her and Mez and Pete and family. Luckily Jessie was on school holidays so we saw lots of her and Natalie took some time off her work and we had some real quality time with them all. We had a big family Bar B Q at a park which nearly everyone attended which was great.

We also caught up with some friends, and managed to squeeze a night in with Paul & Tracey before they flew off to NZ, Paul & Maree in their beautiful new home on the water in Riverlinks and Barb and Jeff on their farm at Ilinbah Valley which is a slice of heaven! They are coming to visit us in the Med in July so we are really looking forward to that. Jessie and I were able to have lunch with my good friend and work colleague Sheryl and her daughter Angela and an extremely quick hug and few minutes with my absolutely best friend ever, Kim, which was way too quick and next time will be my priority. We had a quick coffee with my globe trotting friend Marion, and saw her lovely new cottage in Paradise Point, before she took off on another adventure, this time to Europe. I also had a quick visit into work and caught up with a number of my work friends, and Mark the Principal which was great.

I so enjoyed this time and it was very sad to have to say goodbye again. But we flew out on the 22nd, arriving back in Phuket airport on the 23rd, where Sam met us with Peter and Heidi and we were able to have lunch and a couple of drinks before we dropped him back at the airport! Whilst at lunch a storm blew in with very loud thunder, lightning and a huge downpour of rain. The first of the season. It blew through pretty quickly but the restaurant at Nai Yang Beach had quite a bit of water through it.

The last month we have really been marking time in Thailand, waiting for Southern Star to be loaded on a big ship, to be freighted to Marmaris, in Turkey. Some weeks ago we were informed that our ship would be the M.V. Wiebke and we have been tracking her via AIS for a while now. The dates have changed slightly, but as I write, we are to be loaded on the 29th April around 7:00am.

Today, the 27th of April we have come into Ao Po Marina which is very close to the loading point of the ship. We will spend the night here and then tomorrow head over to Ko Nakha Yai, where we will meet Stormvogel who will also anchor there. Sadly, Stormvogel and Diomedea are not travelling on the same ship as Southern Star they will be on the M.V. Lena, which will not arrive until the 29th and they will be loaded sometime after that, maybe 2 or 3 days’ time.

So now we play the waiting game! We cannot book flights until the boat is actually loaded and on the ship. As so many things can go wrong, (delays in loading the other 9 boats, weather, etc.) They sternly stipulate that we do not book flights. So as soon as we are loaded, or maybe even loading, I will be on the laptop booking our flights to London, where we will spend a few days sightseeing. Then we will catch the train from Euston to Liverpool – where Robbie grew up. We will stay with our good friends Tony and Janet and Jordan and Robbie will show me all the things I have been hearing about for the last 10 years – Aintree, the Grand National Race Course (this is where Tony works), the Bootle Arms, the Ashton family farm, Melling, hopefully a Liverpool football game, and lots of other Liverpool highlights. If time permits, we will shoot across to Ireland, this depends on how long the shipping takes and they can’t really give us an answer unfortunately. We want to fly to Istanbul and have a few days there before we fly to Marmaris to unload Southern Star when she arrives in Turkey.

Southern Star is ready to go, we have been advised to prepare her as though we were undertaking a rough ocean passage. We really didn’t have to do too much, Robbie has stacked away the fishing rods (which haven’t seen a fish for many months anyway!), he has sealed the air vents on the bow, and we will remove the Bimini covers tomorrow and pack away the Bar B Q and deck chairs in the Lazarette. All the port holes, hatches and windows will be securely locked and tightened and a few things inside that will need to be put away. The fridges and freezers will be emptied and turned off as the batteries will not last for up to 4 weeks without the Generator to top them up. Southern Star will be locked up tight and secure – “Ship Shape”!

My next post will be from Turkey in around 4 weeks’ time!

 

 

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