November 2016 (Departure from Ko Miang, on to Ko Racha)

Before leaving the terrific paradise isle of Ko Miang, we enjoyed a leisurely Sunday on the small beach near our mooring. While Paul spent ages snorkelling (wishing he had the necessary equipment to photograph the fascinating marine life visible in the shallow water), I was thrilled to spot some wildlife of my own just a few feet from the shore.  Walking the length of the beach where trees line the edge of the sand, I looked up when movement above made a rustling sound, and found myself looking into the wide, black eyes of a batfox, hanging upside down from a branch.  We had seen pics of these creatures on an information board about the island’s wildlife, but I never expected to see one so close. We stared at each other for ages, and my neck began to ache from looking up and trying to remain still. As I slowly began to move, its eyes followed my every movement until with a swift leap, it jumped higher into the branches, unfolding its rubbery wings for balance as it did so. My attempts to photograph it failed miserably but the picture below is exactly what it looked like. Walking further along, I spotted squirrels, and blue parrots, as well as more of the beautiful batfoxes.

Before heading back to the boat we walked the path to the larger beach and had dinner in the beach cafe there. The stir fry vegetables I had thought I ordered arrived with huge juicy prawns on top so Paul had those added to his meal and I made do with some rice seasoned with chilli and soy sauce and a few untarnished veg, but it was tasty and filling nevertheless.  It was full dark when we were ready to walk back through the wood to the small beach, and the path was unlit, so the 10 minute walk would have to be in total darkness. Luckily we had our phones and made use of the torch apps, otherwise we would have had no idea which way to go. Torchlight, with thick woodland on either side of us created an eerie atmosphere which I found quite romantic in the Gothic sense, and just for the thrill of it we turned the lights off sometimes to experience the feeling of complete darkness and total silence all around us.

The path between the beaches in daylight

Monday 28th November/Tuesday 29th November-Koh Racha

The morning was spent preparing for what would be our first night passage on Sister Midnight. Paul fixed the self steering while I made a pan of soup (easy to heat up in case of rocky sea states). There had been a short but fairly strong squall during the night, which had made the sea a bit choppy and it was a bit bouncy on the mooring – and extremely hot! We left at 12pm, relieved to get underway and feel the refreshing sea breeze. The breeze enabled us to use the sails on their own up for a while, which was wonderfully peaceful but for most of the way we had to use the engine. We took it in turns to do a four hour watch, something we are used to doing on other passages. I enjoy taking the 4am to 8am watch because it takes in the sunrise. There were lots of fishing boats to be aware of, some of which were stationary. The radar helps to judge whether any action is needed to avoid collisions and just before sunrise I had to take over the steering from the autohelm to avoid two fishing boats that were heading straight for us. Paul thought the crew were probably asleep below when I told him about it!

Conditions got quite rough by mid morning, with huge waves bouncing us about a bit, but as Paul pointed out, (and not to sound blase) we have experienced worse – and in considerably colder temperatures :). Still having had no luck catching a fish, I was surprised to see Paul appear in the cockpit around midday holding a rather small, stiff-looking fish. Apparently it must have jumped out of the water and then landed on our bow instead of back in the water, so he finally got to have freshly ‘caught’ fish for dinner that evening.  We reached our destination of Ko Racha early in the afternoon, by which time it had become very hot again. There were lots of crafts in the bay vying for mooring buoys, including dive boats, speed boats, cruisers, and various boats from Koh Racha’s resort hotels. It was difficult to know which ones were for visiting yachts but we waited for one to become free and secured ourselves to it while we had lunch – only to be turfed off it a short time later by a guy on a boat from the diving company it turned out to be reserved for.  We ended up trying two more before finally settling on one that became free after the day visitors had departed. At least all that ‘hooking’ on and off the buoys was good practice using the boating hook – I feel very confident doing it now.

Paul pumped up the dinghy and we rowed ashore to have a look around. There was a long floating jetty handily positioned on the beach where we could tie up to and which saved me the embarrassment of repeating an ungainly exit from the dinghy on to the beach.  Tying up to that, we set off to check out what Koh Racha had to offer (details to follow in next post)

The floating jetty, Koh Racha

Sunrise and Furler woes

The weekend is here and we are going to test the new dinghy out today with a little motor around the bay.
I was up early for another coat of varnish, but as it was still dark I setup the webcam to catch the sunrise, I’m not sure this is the best I can do, but it was an interesting experiment. The GoPro is set to take a pic every 5 seconds.

On Thursday I put the two new headsails back on the furlers, I noticed the yankee was sticking as it turned, not a lot, but it indicated a problem, and experience has shown me that a small niggling ‘indication of a problem’ generally turns into a major headache at just the wrong time. Anyway, investigate I did, I climbed the mast and found the top part of the furling gear to be chafing on the halyard, so much so, that maybe a quarter of the halyard was damaged. Dropping the sail, trimming the halyard and then fitting a ‘pendant’ I think it’s called, a short line at the Tack/bottom of the sail, meant I could hoist the sail 6 inches higher, this made the halyard leave the top furling bearing at a better angle, wouldn’t chafe or snag and I was able to grease the bearing while it was down.  With the sail back up, the furler was working much better. I have to say that I don’t think I would like to have to manhandle anything bigger than these sails, I’m getting too old.
The staysail inner stay was too loose, I couldn’t get to the turnbuckle as it’s inside the furling case and this wouldn’t come apart, I spent an age drilling out the screw that had corroded, but to no avail, it was seized on solid. I guessed the rigger must have had ‘a cunning plan’ when he changed the stay, as I couldn’t see that he had had it off either. Anyway after a lot of flapping, I was back up the mast to remove a halyard guide, that allowed me to slide the whole kit up the stay in order to reach the turnbuckle below. (Twice up the mast in fact, the second time with Allen keys instead of screwdrivers! Duh). This worked, and now I feel much happier that I have the correct tension in the mast stays and halyards. The mast also has a slight but pleasant curve to it.
More tidying up and little chores like replacing the blown panel light bulbs on the electric supply panel with new led lights, not really needed but a very nice feeling that they all work like new now. Also I have managed to get a bread starter going, the trick seemed to be water related, or just luck, but I suspected the water here tap or bottled is heavily treated, so I used some rain water I collected, and Voila, instant starter. So today is also bread baking day so we can have nice toast with our ‘Jamie Oliver style’ poached eggs tomorrow. Wish me luck on that one!.

Above is our favourite local restaurant, Papa Mama, just around the corner, you can see the marina in the background across the water.

 

Hi-res pic of the marina lit by the setting sun

Paul Collister.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump upsets my planning

I’m cooling on the idea of going up to Japan this year, there are several reasons, the main reason is that I like it so much here, and if we are to make it in time, we would have to skip all of the gulf of Thailand, Borneo and quite a few other enticing areas. however the prospect of tensions between the USA and China are becoming more real, especially over the disputed islands in the South China Sea. The BBC have some information on the disputes here if you are unaware. Trump has stated he will act against China over their claims to territory which is in International waters, which a recent international court decision has found. At the least I expect there to be increased military presence from both sides in the region. We would have to pass through this area on our way north, and the chances of being intercepted, questioned, and possibly detained are too high for my liking. So perhaps it might become clearer over time. I expect Mr Trump will be very busy with all his other schemes, so this may come to nothing anyway. But with our route to the west hampered by the Red Sea pirates, we might have to stay here in the tropics for some time, of course there is always Austrailia and new Zealand to the SW to escape to, if we have to. Life can be tough at times eh 😉

Bowsprit Update
Nada, it’s all done, one last picture and I won’t mention it again, promise.

I will continue to apply varnish every morning I can get up early enough, 5 coats so far, but it’s all back together now. Need to put the sails on, I have a problem with the staysail stay being too slack, I can’t adjust the turnbuckle to tighten it, as the case that covers it is seized on and the grub screw that holds it in place is knackered. Not sure how the rigger managed it. But I need to drill out the grub screw. I filled a few tiny holes in the foredeck, where the PO had changed the windlass foot-switch and left the screw holes from the previous bigger switch open. I also did a great job sealing the windlass to the sprit and now we are 100% watertight on the bow. I took the opportunity to add the 60m of nylon rope to the main anchor rode, and gave the chain locker a good scrubbing and repaired the dividing wall in there.
Our sail repairs wont be ready until Saturday, and I think the harbour master is closed at weekends, so it looks like we will checkout of Phuket on Monday.
Tomorrow our new dinghy arrives,  after a lot of umming and ahhing, we settled on a 2.6m Aluminium base hypalon dinghy. We tried lifting a few of the 2.9m fiberglass bottomed dinghies, and it was a strain, that was without the 30kg a 5hp outboard would add. This dinghy is very light in comparison, so light that our existing 2.5hp motor should push it along, not very fast admittedly, but enough for a couple of old codgers like us. I can always pick up the bigger outboard in Langkawi if needed.
The deciding factor was that I put my back out trying to lift these dinghies, not badly, but I had to accept that most of the time we plan to be hauling the dinghy up exotic beaches in remote places 😉 so weight is a big factor, also as we don’t have dinghy davits ( a crane system for lifting the boat out of the sea onto the mothership) I will be manhandling the boat onto the foredeck most of the time. We shall see how it works out, the biggest problem by far was opening my wallet for this one. The dinghy cost more than my first yacht did to buy. I had no idea, it’s not just here, they are expensive in the UK and America, I was used to paying £500 back home, for something similar in PVC with a soft bottom, but you can multiply that by 5 for Aluminium and Hypalon.  I’m also paying a lot to have custom covers that go on top of the tubes to provide extra UV protection.

This is the kind of dinghy (above) without the covers.

So the list of jobs is dwindling fast. yesterday we stripped all the cushion covers off (12) and sent them away for cleaning, that means I can’t do any more messy jobs without being extra careful (ha, fat chance of that). The new mainsail is waiting collection, the engine has been spun up and is working well, I’m going to give it a major service when I get to Malaysia in April.

Paul Collister.

Here (featuring sea otters!) and There (Koh Miang)

‘We are unable to serve you with petrol at the moment because we are on a 15-minute break’…well that was the gist of what the petrol station attendant informed us anyway!  We’d driven in at about 11 pm to fill up the hire car as required, and after finding that some had closed for the night we were pleased to find one open.  As usual, staff were positioned at the pumps ready to assist and Paul wound the window down to tell the guy the quantity and type of petrol he wanted.  He was interrupted by the statement about their being on a break, and when we looked around we saw that all of the staff were indeed eating, having set up plates and cups on top of their work stations. Thanking him, and smiling our goodbyes, we drove off to find another one. It’s good that things continue to surprise and bemuse us on our travels I think 🙂

Our day out in the car turned out to be a very long one and we packed a lot in to it. After the spectacular storm from the previous evening, Wednesday (18th) was sunny and very hot.  I spent the time while Paul was browsing in toolshops and looking for his mislaid sails in Rolly Tasker, reading in the cool of the air conditioned car. In between visits to shops and chandlers, we decided to take a look at Phuket’s bays, to view them from the eastern coastal road. This proved to be a great idea: we saw some beautiful beaches from high up on the narrow, verdant ‘B’ roads, and hardly passed another car during the entire drive.  Some pics from the trip below.

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We had a very entertaining time in a marine shop called ‘Waynes World’, with Wayne(!) who hails from London and has a delightful east end accent. He was keen to sell us his dinghy and he had a very persuasive, loud and amusing selling technique. So much so that I was ready to pay for it there and then! We tried it for size in the water by his shop and I found it was pretty impressive compared to ours, but Paul told him we’d think about it and get back to him. We ended the day with a visit to Yanui beach so Paul could have a swim before the sun went down, and had a meal at a beach bar to fortify ourselves before doing the big supermarket shop.

We saw this dog having fun on the beach chasing the sticks his owner threw for him
A beach post-wedding photo shoot
View from Yanui Beach
Twilight swim

Other days in the week have been fairly leisurely. We’ve got on with our own particular tasks and chores, had walks to the village, a drink at The Deck Bar each evening while the sun sets, and enjoyed meals at a couple of local restaurants.  Both of us have suffered muscular aches and pains, largely thanks to squeezing into the cramped space of the anchor locker to affix nuts and bolts in extremely awkward places.  I had a mishap while making a chilli (without) carne the other day. I managed to get juice from the pepper on the skin between my upper lip and nose which began to burn, so I splashed my face with cold water, not realising that by doing so it spread the burn instead of diluting it, so my whole face (including my right eye) felt like it was on fire.  Paul googled what to do and the advice was to use dairy products!! We have no dairy on board apart from cheese so I had to sit with a soap-lathered face until it faded away. The chilli was delicious, despite Paul declaring that he was reluctant to eat anything that produced such a drastic reaction. Photos were taken (without my knowledge) but I’ll include one as a warning to others ;).

A soapy moustache to alleviate the chilli burn 🙂

The highlight of the week, probably of the whole trip so far actually, happened on Saturday evening when returning from The Deck. Movement under one of the marina’s people carriers caught my eye and at first I thought I was looking at ferrets (my daughter had one as a pet years ago and their ‘darting and slithering’ runs looked familiar).  These were fatter though and as we got closer it was clear that they were otters! Assuming they belonged to one of the staff I asked the driver if they were his but he didn’t understand. I was delighted when they came up to me, let me stroke them and began running round my legs in fast circles, giving my ankles an occasional playful lick and nip. An Australian guy, a regular at the bar  who was passing by told us he’s seen them before and they always go for the legs. They moved on to the bank of grass nearby which had just been mowed and rolled around in the cut grass, chasing each other and showing alarmingly sharp teeth. Another member of staff told us that they swim in from the sea sometimes and run up to the forecourt. I could have stood and watched them all night, and needless to say I’m constantly on the lookout for them now. Pity we didn’t get video but here’s a pic of the beautiful creatures (labelled as ‘badgers’ on Paul’s picture album :)).

Playful otters

Koh Miang Saturday 26th November 2016                                                                                                                                                                                                 So delighted were we with this gorgeous island we decided to stay another night. This gave us an opportunity to explore the other side of the island, the one with the larger beach. We walked through a pathway cut straight through the island’s middle to reach it and came upon a modest-sized resort with a cafe, toilets, showers and more camouflage tents. Excited by signs warning us not to touch any wildlife, I was disappointed  that the only creatures we saw were mosquitoes.  The noises we could hear from the thick jungle, however, informed us there were birds and animals in there somewhere.  The larger beach was crowded with day visitors and several boats were on the shore either picking groups of people up or dropping them off. A tradition is in operation whereby some ‘Hi-di-Hi type cheers are shouted out whenever a boat departs. We didn’t stay long on that beach.  Back at ‘our’ beach, we set up a base, took some photos, swam, snorkelled and sat on the sand admiring Sister Midnight sitting pretty on her mooring. Later, on the bow we spent ages watching the fish swimming around us until it got too dark to see them.

Holiday resort, Koh Miang
Sister Midnight on her mooring buoy
Walkway through the middle of Koh Miang
Day tripper boats preparing to leave

A more secluded beach

Sunday 27th November 2016

During the night there was a mild storm with a fair bit of rain and Paul had to reset the mooring. It actually sounded worse than it was but I was awake for quite a while and read for a while in the cabin. We had a lazy morning watching the boats come and go, and because it was cooler after the storm, we dinghied ashore at lunchtime to check out the beach buffet that had been set up. Nothing appealed to me and Paul wasn’t hungry so we took a walk to the top of the island. Following the signs, we ascended a fairly steep path through the jungle, feeling the humidity as we went further in, but it was fun and I was thrilled to see a huge lizard lumbering through the foliage at one point. The view from the top didn’t disappoint and was made all the more lovely by a cool breeze after our hot, sweaty walk. We took some pictures and rested before beginning the descent which was hard on the legs at the steeper places. Halfway down, I grabbed one of the steadying ropes as I felt myself falling but couldn’t stop an ungainly stumble onto my back in the mud, apparently looking like a tortoise on its back when I tried to get up according to Paul :).

Jungle walk, Koh Miang

View from the top of Koh Miang

Kathy

 

 

 

 

More rain & varnish

I gather there is a deep low in the Andaman Sea between us and India causing very unseasonal rainfall. More flooding is happening across southern Thailand, and the local forecast is for rain every day (80%+ chance most days) for another week. Then we are into February and an improvement is forecast, I will believe it when it happens. Saying that, it’s very pleasant regardless, the temperatures are lower, and today we have had a very refreshing breeze making work on the boat more pleasant. However the bowsprit varnish has slipped a day as it rained for most of yesterday.
Still all is going to plan. I’m going to order the dinghy tomorrow, more rope, and some tools I need, then aim to leave next weekend.

The bowsprit replacement is going well, I have the forestay and the staysail stay fitted now, the windlass is on and bolted down, but not wired up, I will do this at the same time as I wire up the pulpit lights.

You can tell it’s high season now, lots of people are arriving daily and heading off on their charter boats, the bar area is full of new groups of smartly dressed, excited and happy looking people arriving every few hours from the airport. They don’t have to worry about rotting bowsprits, or leaking heads.
Talking of which, I decided to fix the drip on the head that has got worse over the last few weeks. I only needed to show it my array of screwdrivers and pliers and that seemed to be enough to cure it, I can’t get it to drip at all now. If only the rest of the boat was so easy. In a similar manner, the SSB radio, which we will use a lot when offshore in the Pacific has been playing up; basically it doesn’t turn on when you press the ‘on’ button, even though it makes a reassuring click. I took it all apart to investigate, and without the case on, it started working. Once re-assembled it was good for a day then the problem came back. I took it apart again and it started working again, I kept it in bits for a week and it worked every time. It’s now re-assembled and continues to work just fine. I don’t think I have seen the end of this problem, but at least I can now get into learning how to use it. It’s channelised for marine frequencies, and the PO has all the channels programmed I might need, like Herb’s net, so I need to find out what the others all do. I haven’t spoke to anyone on it yet, so that’s something to try out soon.

We have a deck wash system on this boat, it’s basically like a garden hose, I can select the source of the water to be either fresh water from the tanks, or sea water from an inlet in the hull. The main use is for cleaning the anchor chain as we pull it up out of a muddy bottom, when it’s muddy it can be very messy, and all the mud will end up in the chain locker, then onto the bilge then the pump & filters that drain the bilge, so best not to take it onboard. Anyway, the pump burnt out, I threw it overboard, just before I realised the parts could be replaced quite cheaply, dam. I wondered about the ‘green-ness’ of throwing it overboard, but we were off an island, and I figured it would be like the ships they sink to create a coral feature to attract growths and subsequent feeding fish, also it was only iron, so it will decay in time. Anyway, to get to the point, I replaced the pump with a more powerful one yesterday, wow, that works really well, it came with a smart springy coiled hose and I can assure you, no more mud is coming onto this boat!

Some bowsprit pictures below. Tomorrow I will put the 4th coat of varnish on, then the platform and pulpit, and maybe put the spade anchor back in place.

Above  you can see the bracket that the staysail attaches to, without going into detail, this was leaking on the old sprit, and may do again, the design is crap, the sail is constantly trying to pull upwards and break the seal around the bolts. Also the bolts are right in the front of the anchor chain locker, which is too small for me to get in. Kathy managed to squirm in most of the way, but strained some muscles resulting in her ending up in some pain later. I fabricated a long spanner from two small spanner for the re-assembly as shown below, it worked remarkably well. I need a decent socket set, will get one in Malaysia when we get there.

So nothing exciting to report, Kathy has more interesting stuff on the way, including a couple of otters that tried to eat her legs.

 

Paul Collister

25th/26thNovember 2016-Koh Similan and on to Koh Miang

Despite the fact that it was a bit rolly during the night at our anchorage and Paul had to get up to reset the mooring rope, I had a long and undisturbed sleep at Koh Similan; the rocking actually helps me to sleep. We had our morning coffee in the cockpit enjoying the warmth of the sun and musing on the cause of all the activity on the rocks opposite. People were busy setting up tables and chairs to look like a cafe on the tiny beach below them. Looking through the binoculars, Paul concluded it was a movie set for a film of some kind judging by the cameras, microphones and a megaphone he could see. Later in the day, we watched what were probably stuntmen affecting some clumsy dives and jumps off the top of a high boulder while the director shouted instructions. Since we weren’t too far from the location of the island ‘The Beach’ was filmed on, I couldn’t help searching for famous faces when I looked through the binoculars. We found out later, however, that it was going to be nothing more than a commercial for a national bank.

The film crew viewed from Sister Midnight

The crew had relocated to the main beach by the time we dinghied over in the afternoon, and I was mortified to receive another soaking from a wave after my (admittedly) clumsy and ungainly exit as we reached the shallow water. It was in full view of the cameramen and extras on the shore so maybe I’ll be edited into the final cut if the camera was running. The water was so clear and calm, it was a perfect opportunity to test the new snorkels we’d bought in Patong. It had been some time since I had done any snorkelling and as I’m not a natural ‘water baby’, I was a bit apprehensive but it was definitely worth worth it. The water was warm but refreshingly cool after being in the hot sun and there were scores of beautiful fish swimming in and out of the rocks and coral. The coral was stunning in itself and it’s gratifying to know that it is all protected by law. The Similans were one of the first group of islands to be given a national park status. It’s prohibited to fish within a designated area around the islands, and boats are only permitted to anchor well away from the corralled parts. Furthermore, signs on the island inform visitors that it’s forbidden to take plants, wildlife, cuttings, rocks, broken coral or even leaves away from the island. During our second walk up to the clifftop, which we now knew was called ‘Sail Rock’, we noticed several varieties of plants and some gorgeous-looking colourful blossoms and flowers which had once undoubtedly tempted people to pluck for souvenirs.

Koh Similan Beach

The sun was about to set when we got to the top and Sister Midnight looked exquisite in the amber glow on the water. Other people up there were taking pictures so she will feature in quite a few holiday snaps I imagine. The only disadvantage of being out in this environment at twilight is the prevalence of mosquitoes. I get bitten a lot by these pesky insects, and judging by the distinctive smell of deet emanating from some of the other walkers we passed, I’m not alone in having delicious blood! We’d neglected to bring any repellent with us so we beat a hasty retreat back down the trail and dinghied back to the boat just as darkness fell. A couple of pics of the walk to Sail Rock and the view of Sister Midnight at her anchorage are below.

26th November 2016

Paul slept in the cockpit for most of the night. It was a dark, clear and starry night and it’s very cool and comfy up there, with the added benefit that he can react quickly to anything that needs sorting out, such as the mooring buoy banging against the bobstay. Waking at 3am I couldn’t resist walking out to the bow to sit and stare at the stars for a while before going back to the V-berth to be rocked back to sleep by the waves. Paul was up and about before me in the morning and told me he had been chatting to some Australian guys who had recommended a visit to Koh Miang because it was such a charming place. They also told him that none of the other Similan Islands matched up to Similan and Miang. After a coffee and a look at the route, we weighed anchor and set off for the two hour trip to Koh Miang. I wouldn’t have thought it possible after the sea at Similan, but the nearer we got to Koh Miang, the clearer the water became. I spotted some pretty blue fish, so close to the surface they looked as if they were swimming right underneath clear glass. The side of the island we approached had a lovely beach but there was already quite a crowd on it and several daytripper boats were taking up the moorings so we decided to check out the other side. I stood at the bow to check for obstacles and swimmers in the shallow water as we motored slowly round until we arrived on the other side. This side was even more appealing; it was smaller and less crowded, with a more secluded beach. We picked up a mooring buoy with no trouble and as it was very hot by then we both had a swim to cool off. After that it was time for a spot of lunch, and a bit of a rest before setting out to explore this new and inviting island.

Approaching Koh Miang

 

Day out

Wednesday, and up early to get some varnish on the new sprit. Below you can see just what a difference a primer and one coat makes, I want to get at least 5 more coats on before we leave.

Soon after this I headed over to another carpenter who has his shop down the road from here, he was cutting a few strips of teak for me that I can use to fix up the cockpit seating area. It’s a small repair, but I thought I would get the teak onboard now while it’s easy to find. The price was about half of what I would pay in the UK, I had expected a better saving, more importantly, I had hoped to work in a ‘doesn’t grow on trees’ kind of joke at this point but had to give up, as it kept turning out too crass.

We had a hire car today, so we headed off on a long provisioning trip, but first we took a coast road we hadn’t been down before and it was very pleasing, lots of foliage on the road and trees that had almost blown down, but some amazing views.

Phang Nga, our cruising destination in the distance

 

We looked at more dinghies, and after lifting a few, whilst imagining dragging said beast up the beach at Bora Bora or Fiji… (add other exotic destinations here ..), decided the one we had chosen would be way to heavy. In fact I tried to lift a 3m rib to look underneath and now I have a very sore back. A big dinghy is great for provisioning, but in reality a smaller one is more practical for most of our needs. So I’m now looking at aluminium floored 2.5m dinghies. I was also humbled by a local fisherman I watched with his home made canoe, he probably spent less on this than I spend on a diet coke each night at the bar, it’s about 6ft long. It even has a storage compartment for his fish. I have ordered a new yacht from him 😉

Off to Rolly Tasker next to hurry up my sail repairs, I spent 20 minutes there helping them find my sails, which were still not repaired. Hopefully they will be fixed by next week when the mainsail should be ready. I picked up 60 metres of 16mm 3 strand nylon rope to use to extend my anchor rode. I can now easily anchor in 20m of water.
Off to Yanui Beach for a swim, then dinner at a beach bar before heading to the supermarket and home.

Kathy checking out the rice

It was 1AM before we wheeled the last of our goods back to the boat.

Thursday morning and another early get up to put a coat of varnish on and get the rigging attached to the bowsprit. This took forever, the boat must have stretched as the forestay wouldn’t reach by just releasing the tension on the backstay. All sorted in the end and at last I can sleep knowing the mast is fully supported now.

It’s raining now, more flooding is reported for southern Thailand, Varnishing has come to a halt, inside jobs for me today.
Kathy’s posts have been delayed due to her getting a virus on her new windows laptop, I have been on  virus free mac for so many years now I had forgotten how horrible these things are. Still a system restore seems to have fixed it, for now, and she will finish her post shortly I hope.

Paul Collister.

Guess who’s got a new bowsprit

Yes, I got a phone call at 7:30 this morning to say the bowsprit was on its way to me. A week earlier than I expected, I was quite worried that it might have been rushed, but on the contrary, it turned up looking wonderful. None of the holes for the windlass had been drilled as they wanted to make sure they had it right here, which was good I suppose.

So at 8 AM the guys arrived with the sprit on a trolley.The first fitting required a sliver of teak removing from the mortice/tenon joint but looked good. 

It only took about 4 hours to finish the job, most of the work was in drilling the holes for the windlass mounts which pass through the bowsprit to pass through the existing holes in the deck.

 

The cross supports, I have no idea what if any their nautical name is, were replaced, just to match the colour of the new teak. I believe the teak was grown in Thailand, and was fashioned into a sprit by one of the two guys installing it.

You can see below the lamination, 7 pieces of teak were used, I think the original might have had 5 teak and 4 of cedar or similar in between.

The reason I had to do this work was because of the rot and termite damage to the old sprit. I now feel 100% confident in the new sprit, with it off, I was able to check the samson post, that’s the vertical pole of wood behind the sprit that is firmly secured to the deck and hull, and everything else around the area, and all is great.
The teak is in perfect condition without a single blemish, so I think it’s going to look fantastic when it’s varnished. I’m going to take my time building up the layers, I have already sanded it to a very smooth finish, and when the rain came down earlier, I could see it looking a lovely colour. So be warned, there may be more bowsprit pictures on the way.

Tomorrow we have a car and will be out getting more bits, picking up the repaired sails from Rolly Taskers and doing the weekly shop, but I will be up early sanding then getting the primer coat on the sprit, before it can even think about going grey.

Tonight we had a torrential downpour while we sat in the deck bar, but just before then, the light was amazing, I have attached another hi res picture, click to see it in its full glory.

Paul Collister

 

Now and Then

We’re still busy doing nothing…or, that is, Paul is busier than me at doing it ;).  It was hot and sultry last week, and despite a weather forecast promising rain and cooler conditions, it seems set to continue into this week.  Anything involving strenuous activity, therefore, needs to be done before midday. Paul has been getting up early to do preparatory work for varnishing and other outside tasks before coming back down below to ponder on existentialism for a while (really – we have some stimulating in-depth discussions about it until I conclude that I’m a little out of my depth and sidle away with my book :)). I now have my own laptop so I’ve been busy learning how to use that (bonding with it, I call it) and if I need help Paul is pleased to assist, if only because it confirms how much he hates Microsoft: it provides him with great opportunities to scoff at the various ‘stupid’ commands that come up. Apparently, Apple devices are much more user-friendly, to put it politely (his vitriol knows no bounds when it comes to describing Microsoft’s many faults ;)).

We’ve spent a bit of time looking at various types and models of dinghies before making a firm decision on any particular one.  They are very expensive brand new, and that’s without the added cost of an outboard engine, so it’s definitely not a purchase to rush into.  The only other thing of note to occur last week was that we almost got hit by a yacht leaving the marina. We were in the cabin having breakfast when we heard an alarmingly loud scraping noise followed by some shouts from the workers on the boat next to us on our port side. Paul dashed up to the cockpit and I saw him jump across to the boat on our starboard side. The yacht trying to leave was being pushed onto it by the wind and strong current and the guy at the helm was having trouble trying to steer away. Luckily it had missed our stern but was colliding with our neighbour’s and Paul was using a fender to prevent any serious damage.  Other people soon came to help and someone called the marina office to send a dinghy to help the poor guy. If anyone else was onboard with him they were all hiding below so he must have felt terribly embarrassed. I know what it’s like when an incident occurs and people come out to watch the drama unfold.

Below are a few pictures from last week, followed by a continuation of my description of our trip to the Similan Islands last November.

Inside Cholamark looking at dinghies

Preventing a collision

 

November 24th 2016 – Arrival at Donald Duck Bay                                           After a trouble-free departure from the busy anchorage at Ban Thrap Lamu we motored away at 7am on a sea as calm as a millpond.  The sun was hot by 9am, and for the rest of the way we saw several day-tripper boats carrying passengers (we guessed) to the islands we were heading for. We hoped they would be heading back by the time we got there. Meanwhile, Paul tried various tempting-looking baits on his line in an attempt to bag a fish for dinner – the area we were in being ‘one of the richest fishing grounds in The Indian Ocean’ – but as it didn’t happen for him he had pasta and pesto to look forward to instead!

Sunrise at Ban Thap Lamu
Still no fish for dinner

I spent most of the afternoon on the starboard beam reading, keeping watch and looking for marine life. We watched Koh Similan get nearer and nearer and by 3:30 we arrived at the beautiful bay known as Donald Duck, due to the rock formation’s striking resemblance to that character at the entrance to the bay. Paul thought we might be approached by a ranger to show us to a mooring buoy and we motored around for a while, checking out likely-looking spots.  The beach looked very inviting, and wasn’t as crowded as we’d feared. There were a few dozen passengers sunbathing from the day-tripper boats that were moored in the bay; others were swimming or snorkelling in the crystal clear water. We also spotted people at the summit of the huge boulder-like cliffs on the island’s western side and I resolved to get up there too if it was at all possible. Since no ranger approached us, we decided to moor ourselves to a buoy, and I was extremely chuffed to pick up the loop with the boat hook fairly quickly after shouting instructions to Paul such as ‘bit more to the right’, ‘slower’, ‘now to the left’ until it was within reach.

Mooring buoy successfully secured to Sister Midnight

We had a swim straight away to cool off from the searing heat, and then Paul pumped up the dinghy so that we could visit the beach before it got dark. It was a wet ride across, with water splashing inside, covering the floor (which doesn’t inflate) and just as we got to the shore a big wave broke and soaked us-thus cementing my ongoing mistrust and dislike of this particular dinghy. It didn’t take long to dry off! The beach consisted of warm, white, powdery sand and the water was so clear it was possible to see all kinds of colourful fish. There was a holiday resort in the wooded area behind the beach, complete with camping facilities, a cafe, barbecue area and play-park.  Various signs were pointing to recommended walks and viewpoints so we chose the path leading to the clifftop we’d seen from the boat. It was marvellous – not too arduous or insect-laden and the views from the top were stunning.

Our 2.3m. inadequate dinghy
The beach at Koh Similan

View from the clifftop

Sewing made easy

I bought a thing called the speedy stitcher, I expect “other stitchers are available” (BBC joke), as it has become apparent that here in the tropics stitching is going to be a big part of keeping the boat shipshape.The sun is brutal on canvas, and it seems that it’s the stitching that is failing first, so lots of canvas in good nick is falling apart as the stitching dissolves in the UV light. This handy little device is brilliant, I managed to repair the mainsail cover and it actually looks the part now. I had considered getting a new one made, but that would cost about £500, I think my repairs should be good for a few years. Anyway this device allows you to sew lock stitches, just like a real sewing machine, just a lot slower. I recommend it as an essential item for any offshore sailor. I included a link below, which seems to have embedded itself as a video.

The sun has stayed out and it’s blazing hot here everyday. I have decided to buy a new dinghy/RIB this week, it’s very expensive, but they don’t seem that much worse than in the UK, we are getting a 2.9m fiberglass bottom dinghy made out of a tough material called Hypalon, it’s much better with the UV than a normal PVC dinghy that would be fine in Europe. We will also need to buy a new Outboard motor for it as our 2.5hp one won’t cut it. I’m also going to buy a kayak just as soon as I can find one for a decent price. So once I have paid for the Bowsprit, Mainsail, Dinghy, liferaft & OB plus the Kayak the cheque book will be closed, if not permanently broken.
The plan now is still to head off from Phuket at the end of this month, February will be spent exploring Phang Na bay, the Hongs in particular, March will see us head down to Singapore. I still haven’t worked out what to do there yet, but I’m leaning towards another year in this region, perhaps exploring Vietnam, Cambodia and  Borneo during the SW monsoon season (May – Oct), then popping back here for the NW Monsoon in September and checking out Indonesia and more of Malaysia/Thailand.

Another mega yacht turned up yesterday, MV Titania, a massive big charter motor boat, available to hire at a mere €600,000 / week!

Here’s a hi res picture of the posh end of the marina now, to give it some perspective, there is a yacht in the foreground with a couple of people on it, much the same size as sister midnight. Click on the image (and wait) for a hi res image to download, click again to zoom in (assuming your browser works like mine).

I bet those super-yachts probably have their own sewing machine.

Paul Collister