12-28-12 Busy Days

We've been driving around trying to find a place to live during our refit. Sue's getting back in the groove of driving on the left with steering on the right. (If it could all be country roads we'd be in good shape!) Unfortunately, the rental units at Boat Lagoon were booked so we were scrambling. We then received a surprise call...our friends on sv Gromit had just arrived; we hadn't seen them since NZ! We arranged to visit them in Bang Tao Beach, where they were staying at a house our friends from sv Rhythm had rented for the holidays. We missed our friends from Rhythm, as they were out sailing with family for a few days, but it was great reconnecting with Gromit! We snacked a bit, played a game of farkle (Maia won) and, of course, talked about boats! It's always great fun with those guys.
Picture: M, Maia and Liam trying different hairstyles.

Dec. 25, 2012 Phuket, Thailand

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
We wish all our family and friends a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2013. May you find contentment, joy in simple pleasures, and experience 'fair winds and smooth seas' wherever you are!

Dec 22 - A day on the road..Thai style

We picked up our rental car here at Yacht Haven Marina and Sue got into "chaffeur" mode. Realize, she (nor I) have driven since this past April in New Zealand when touring the North & South Islands, so getting in the car, hitting the roads, checking out the signage in Thai, and trying to avoid the many motorbikes (going past you on both sides, as well as coming at you on your side of the road!) took a few minutes....The many tourist maps we had weren't that good, and most side streets didn't have any signage at all, so it was kind of like guess work! At any rate, we thought we'd go to Boat Lagoon Marina but ended up next door at the Royal Phuket Yacht Club and Marina. Well, close enough, really, and we needed to check it out anyway and get haul out and storage prices from them. They told us how to make the u-turns to get into Boat Lagoon Resort and Marina, and we found it without drama. This is a huge complex, of boatyard, hardstand area, service providers, hotel, apartment and condos, restaurants...we were lost within minutes. Eventually we found the contractor we were looking for and had a nice discussion. Leaving, we decided to go to Patong Beach for lunch and check out the hotel we had booked for New Year's eve. Traffic got busier in this top tourist beach destination, but I must say, Sue did a quite admirable job and we eventually found the hotel, directly across from the beach. As expected, the front desk personnel told us they didn't have a reservation for us, but, in anticipation, I showed her the email confirmation on our iPad, and we were quickly put right. In fact, for just a few more dollars, we upgraded to a larger room; we're good with that. After lunch, where we spotted Mike & Juanita from sv Keris, we went to the heart of Patong Beach, as I wanted to see where we were going to hang out for New Year's before returning to the beach to see the fireworks. We ended up at the Jungceylon Mall, where we literally bumped into our friends Steve & Liz from sv Liberte; amazing to run into people in the midst of a crowd of thousands. We had a great iced coffee (free wifi) and compared notes before it was late afternoon and time for us to get on down (or in this case, up) the road back to Yacht Haven before dark. Again, the signage is pretty much non-existent, so we drove about 5 km out of our way and had to backtrack to find our way back to the marina. There, Bruce & Clark of sv Two Amigos were just leaving The Haven (one of the local bar/restaurants), and we had a nice visit with them before returning to Infini. A busy day; we felt we had accomplished a lot (also, no dents or traffic accidents....)

Dec 19 - Yacht Haven Marina, Phuket, Thailand

Position: N08deg10.221min/ E098deg20.432min. Berth C-37. We departed the east anchorage at Ao Chalong and motor sailed the 30 miles here to Yacht Haven Marina. We're getting bids on having a major refit done on Infini, and this is the place the contractors wanted to see the boat. The other major marina nearby is Boat Lagoon Marina, but they were full as this is peak season. Yacht Haven is a mega-yacht marina, and many of the 300 wet berths are filled with mega's and charter yachts of all descriptions. We're a bit out of the mainstream here, so are planning on renting a car to get around.
Pic: Yacht Haven Marina, Phuket

Dec 18 - Warning about mooring at Ao Chalong on Noonsite

This morning I just read the following article on the Noonsite website:
Thailand, Phuket, Chalong Bay: Warning about Unsafe Mooring Buoys
By Bob Mott — last modified Dec 17, 2012 10:15 PM
Published: 2012-12-17 00:00:00
Countries: Thailand
This is a warning for yachts taking up on moorings in Chalong Bay and elsewhere in Phuket and surrounds.
Please note that the local Thailand marine department has dropped dozens of moorings in Chalong and other areas surrounding Phuket. They are concrete blocks with a rope tied to them and an orange GRP buoy with a dark blue marking on it. They are not safe as the rope chafes away where it goes through the concrete block or where it is tied on to a metal ring on the concrete block. One yacht, a 40 footer, has already broken free within 5 days of being tied to one of these moorings. Use you own anchor or seek the services at either yacht club in Chalong Bay to have a mooring put down using the correct equipment.
The marina department advise that you use these buoys "at your own risk".
See this Phuket Gazette article for more details.
The older moorings in National parks, such as the Similan Island, are OK and have to be used by visiting yachts and large dive boats, so are well tested. But in any areas other than the Similan Island National park, including other national parks areas, the mooring should be dived on to check for suitability. The dangerous moorings are the ones recently deployed, most of which are in Chalong Bay.
Bob Mott
Well...we can personally attest to the above!

Dec 17 - Ao Chalong, Phuket, Thailand

Position: N07deg49.064min/ E098deg21.699min We arrived in Phuket around 1300 hours and took one of the many hundred mooring buoys, then went ashore to check in with Immigration, Customs and Port Captain personnel. Lots of paperwork, but things went smoothly. After, we ate a great lunch at the Anchor Bar & Restaurant, walked to where Stuart's new dinghy was sitting waiting for pick-up, then stopped at the Lighthouse Bar for a beer before returning to the boat at about 1700 hours. About 10 minutes later I noticed we were heading differently from the surrounding boats, and immediately realized our mooring buoy had parted! If we hadn't been aboard, I shudder to think what could have happened....As it was, we were quickly anchored (I've said many times I don't trust moorings...whodathunk our mooring would have parted in little to no wind?!) and all's well. Another little adventure and another reason to give thanks for all our blessings....and lady luck.
Pic: The pier where we park the dinghy is a long walk to shore. The big Budda on the hill is a landmark. It's even lit at night.

Dec 15 - Ao Lohdalum, Ko Phiphi Don

Position: N07deg40.486min/ E098deg46.070min We had a wonderful sail, close reaching in 16-18 knots of ENE breeze at 6.5-7.4 knots, and reached Ko Phiphi Don by early afternoon. In Ton Sai Bay it was mayhem, with tour boats, dive boats, long tail boats, fishing boats, speed boats, and jet skis all going at high speed thru out the harbor. We soon gave up on finding a spot to anchor, and motored around the island to the other side of the isthmus, the northwest area of Ao Lohdalum. We could motor quite close to the cliffs, where the depth was still about 80' and you could just about reach out and touch the stalagtites. It was a lot calmer in Ao Lohdalum, and we found 40' easy enough to drop the hook. There are still boats buzzing around, just a lot less of them. In the late afternoon, we picked up Stuart and Sheila (sv Imagine) and dinghied into shore. First was the ATM; then came a SIM card. After, we had a few beers and then found the Papaya Restaurant and had a delicious Thai meal. The tidal range here is only about 2-3 meters, but our dinghy was high and dry amongst the rocks, and we carried it on its wheels out to knee deep water. A bit after we returned to our boats, the music started on shore. It was like being in hell; really loud music blaring from multiple speakers simultaneously; like an audible Hieronymus Bosch musical. Well, the music finally stopped at 3:45 AM, so I managed to get about 20 minutes of sleep. It's still a nice place, though; kind of a warren of dive shops, bars and restaurants, tourist places, small hotels, markets, a pharmacy, food stalls, a few banks and ATM's, tattoo and massage parlors, laundromats...and we haven't even walked the place yet. More tomorrow.
Pic: Looking back as we head to shore in our dinghy.

Dec 14 - Ko Rok Nok, Thailand

Position: N07deg12.830min/ E099deg04.108min Chris and Ann (sv Silver Girl) cast off our lines and we departed Rebak Marina with fond memories of a wonderful stop. We had gone into Kuah yesterday and did a final provisioning. A friend had told of us of a food vendor that supplied the resort trade, and we stocked up, amongst many foods, with a 4.8 kg turkey and lots of different cheeses. There was a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the resort last evening, along with food, drinks and a band. Lots of activities are planned at Rebak for the Holidays, but we decided to go to Phuket and celebrate there. The morning was overcast with winds from the ENE at 12-15 knots, what I call diesel-friendly weather (we don't have to motor!), so we made good time to our destination about 45 miles away. There are two islands here at Ko Rok Nok, part of a National Park. We'll explore another time, as we're about half way to Phuket. We had sailed across the border into Thailand about 1000 this morning; yep...this is a long way from Florida!
Pic: More changing weather...our anchorage here was nice.

Dec 10 - The Sail Malaysia Rally ends

The last few days have been busy. Saturday, we had the official closing ceremony dinner at the Burau Bay Resort. This is a beautiful venue, and we ended up seated at the VIP table and were served by smiling resort staff, enjoying another delicious meal. Yesterday, a tour was arranged of Langkawi Island, and we had the chance to take the Cable Car ride to the second highest peak of the island. The vertical rise of the system is about 700 meters, and the views are amazing. We also visited the Seven Wells Waterfall, had a fast visit to the Perdana Gallery, and ended the day with a late afternoon lunch. Each tour bus had its own tour guide, and ours related facts and figures of the island as we went along. In the evening, we had a gathering aboard Infini and enjoyed the company and stories of our Aussie friends. Today there was a swap meet and a relaxing lunch. That's it - the Sail Malaysia Rally is officially over. It's been a really good run. We've experienced new places, people and cultures, and have made new friends along the way. We've enjoyed the experience, and applaud the organizers. For any of you following in our footsteps, we'd highly recommend the Rally.
Pic: Photo op with our entertainers

Dec 4 - Rebak Marina

Position: N06deg17.64min/ E099deg41.83min Yesterday we walked from the dinghy dock at Bass Harbor to the jetty terminal. I checked in with the Port Captain, but the Customs and Immigration folks told me to return when we checked out going to Thailand. Easy! We walked the town of Kuah, taking in the duty free shops (Tiger or Carlsberg beer is 45 ringitts/24 cans...about 1.88 ringitts/beer!). There's a nearby hardware/chandlery store called Multiquip Trading (phone 04-966 6953) that has a tremendous stock of yacht supplies and paints. Imagine's dinghy is on its last legs, so we picked up Stuart and Sheila and dinghied to the nearby Royal Langkawi Yacht Club for happy hour. Dinner was chicken satay, pizza and fish and chips (all for about $12USD!) at the 'western restaurant' back at the cruisers dinghy dock area; the food was outstanding. This morning, we departed the Bass Harbor anchorage (good holding in mud) and motorsailed to Rebak Marina, running the watermaker and taking in the sights along the way. The entrance to the marina is a bit hard to spot until you're just about on top of the markers, but we docked with no drama and checked in with Rizal and Abby at the office. We bought a plug adapter for the A/C unit and the boat is cool once again. The food here is good also, and we joined Chris and Ann of Silvergirl for happy hour at the beach bar of the resort and dinner at the cruisers restaurant, called the Hard Dock Cafe. Here are a series of four entry GPS coordinates to get into Rebak Marina: N06deg17.4813min/E099deg41.6909min; N06deg17.4898min/E099deg41.6884min; N06deg17.5077min/E099deg41.6876min; N06deg17.5393min/E099deg41.7015min. It's hard to see the red (up on a small hill of rocks) and green (blends into the shoreline) markers until you're quite close in. The marina office answers on VHF 69 and requests you call when you're just about in the channel.
Pic: The view from the cable car going up. Telaga Harbor anchorage seen.

Dec 2 - Bass Harbor, Langkawi

Position: N06deg18.77min/ E099deg50.63min We anchored at Kuah at 1330 hours after a wonderful morning sail. Hitting speeds up to 7.8 knots, we had full main and genoa up in flat seas, and the miles went by fast. The sky was overcast, but no rain appeared. Kuah is one of the port of entries in Langkawi, a duty free island. We'll go exploring tomorrow; the really good news is that Sue's feeling a lot better.
Pic: Eagle Square by the main ferry terminal is a waterfront landmark. We see many of these eagles fishing the waters around here.

Dec 1 - Song Song Island

Position: N05deg48.66min/ E100deg17.91min We departed Penang using the boost from the ebb tide which flows northerly. Although I've recuperated from the "yachtie flu," unfortunately, Sue's been down with it for the last few days and hasn't been able to do any sightseeing. Penang and surrounds is home to about 2.3 million people, mostly Chinese, Indian and Malay. The colonial homes in Georgetown, as well as the newer mansions of the wealthy, are really impressive. Along with some friends, we toured a few museums and ate some of the wonderful food Penang is known for. This area rivals many other great cities, and there's lots to do and see. And, for those interested, there's lots of shopping and eating! Since the Rally functions here take place over the next few days and with Sue being not quite full strength, we thought we'd just get on down the road a bit early. We anchored at Song Song Island at 1300, and have about 40 miles to get to Langkawi tomorrow.
Pic: We shared the anchorage with Imagine. Weather was unsettled, but the major cells missed us.