Jan 28 - Around Phuket

Today we did a bit of touring around Phuket with our friends Kim & Sharon (sv Georgia J). Both of our boats are undergoing refit and the four of us were unable to get onboard our respective yachts without slowing down progress. We first went to see the Big Buddha Phuket located in Chalong. This is one of the most revered landmarks in Phuket, and the statue is entirely covered in white Burmese marble. At 45 meters height, and being 25 meters across, with the sun reflecting on its marble surface it is visible for many miles. The project has been entirely funded by donations, with up to 1000 people a day coming to visit or pray. From the base of the statue, the views of Phuket town, Chalong, and some of the many surrounding beaches (Kata and Karon) is really impressive. On the way down, we stopped to meet a baby elephant, and took many pictures while feeding her (Bebe) bananas. She's two years old, weighs 6 tons, and eats 80 kg of food daily! We then went down to Chalong, did a bit of food shopping, and ate a wonderful lunch at the Anchor Inn Restaurant, which serves Thai and Western food. It's been a fun way to spend a few hours.

Jan 27 - Refit update

The first coat of Awlgrip primer has been applied. There will be a lot of sanding, probably a bit of fill, then another two coats of primer applied. It's strange to see a gray boat.

Jan 25 - Refit Update

The crew at Mr Gig's shop (Boat Work Service Ltd) has been working hard removing deck hardware and sanding and fairing the topsides in preparation for the application of primer. Our main job is to stay out of the way. Sue's finally had a chance to upload a few more picture albums, with more to come. Enjoy!

Jan 19 - Refit update

Our total refit is underway, and progress has been made these last five days. We hauled on the 14th, there's a full boat enclosure (tent) erected, scaffolding is in place, the rubrail has been removed, the bottom has been scraped down to barrier coat, and the topsides has been sanded! Sue and I have taken off about 50% (at least) of everything below decks, and much above decks, and put loads of stuff in our storage area. We have also moved into our small rental house, cleaned and organized, had time to shop in a few of the various stores around town, and have gone out to eat with friends! Small wonder we're a bit tired lately! Sue hopes to finally have time and decent internet to get some more pictures uploaded.
Pic: Sue climbing the scaffold, going up for more 'things' to take off the boat; it's early, before the work crew starts.

Jan 15 - Haul out

Our haul out at Boat Lagoon didn't start out as smoothly as I would have liked. We were originally scheduled for haul out at high tide at 10:00 AM, but that was changed to 08:00. At 08:00 the keel was in the mud and I couldn't move the rudder! At about 08:45 the haul out manager came over to us and impressed upon us how busy they were and more or less directed us to move our ass right now....So...I literally backed Infini up in the mud and eventually made it to the haul out area, where there was a marina dinghy acting as a push boat to help us back into the slip way. Then, the boss man wanted to lift us with only two straps on the travel lift... which I flat out wouldn't allow; we've been lifted many times, always with four straps in consideration of our size and displacement. The travel lift backed up, shut down, and I figured we were really in deep trouble...but they hooked up the heavier duty units and four straps and proceeded to lift us without problems. Whew...We were placed directly in front of our contractor's shop who's doing the total refit of Infini. We unloaded Infini's contents into a storage unit on site...our bodies feel the effects! We still hadn't a place to live, and last night slept on the floor of our buds Kim & Sharon's condo - (Georgia J - they had just returned to Thailand from a visit to the US). College days all over again! Today, we looked at a place our new found friend Peter, the manager of East Marine Chandlery here at Boat Lagoon Marina, had managed to arrange for us to see in his neighborhood. It's a new 2BR, 2B home and the price and particulars suited us fine...though it is truly Thai living with such a different layout/open air effect. So, after a busy day, here we are...unpacking our stuff from the boat and enjoying a cold beer! Lots of work and things to do coming up...best to take it one day at a time.

Jan 11 - Boat Lagoon Marina

We had anchored at Ko Rang Yai the last two nights in front of a beautiful beach and had our friends from Kakadu and Relapse (minus Catherine) over for sundowners. This morning we motored the few miles to the winding channel into Boat Lagoon Marina and are preparing for haul out Monday morning. We'll undergo a major refit here; let the fun and games begin!

Jan 10 - Phang Nga Bay update

We've only had a short time to explore here but look forward to returning. From the areas we've seen, it's spectacular! Phang Nga is about 40 miles square, and has an unbelievable variety of limestone islands of varying shapes and heights, along with caves and stalagtites. It's like exploring in The Forgotten World. The shapes of the islands and sheer cliffs are amazing. Sunrise and sunset colors are especially beautiful. We've taken the dinghy into many of the hongs (rooms), and have explored a river and a Muslim fishing village. Our anchorages have been shallow, and going from one island to another demands only that you make a decision where to explore next...most are only a few miles away, so you can wait for the current to be with you, or just go anyway, albeit slowly! Our stops after Ko (Thai for "island") Phanak have taken us to Ko Hong, Ko Pan Yi, Ko Khai, and Ko Nakha Yai. We didn't anchor at Ko Phing Kan, also known as James Bond Island (where The Man With the Golden Gun was filmed), but went by dinghy to explore in the late afternoon after the tour boats had gone. Water color has been a hazy green, and it's impossible to read depths. The area is well charted, but some of the electronic charts are way off and caution is advised. Many of the islands afford year round protection both in NE and SW monsoon seasons. Provisions and water are hard to come by, and finding an uninhabited island is easy. We've been off the internet for most of the past week, thus this consolidation of places and events. After haul out and major refit, we're planning on exploring more of this unique and beautiful region. You could spend weeks here, slowly going island to island, cave to cave, and enjoy every minute of it!

Jan 5 - Koh Phanak, Phang Nga Bay

Position: N08deg11.36min/ E098deg29.11min. We've departed Yacht Haven Marina and motored to Koh Phanak. It's beautiful, with sea eagles soaring over the hills, and hundreds of limestone stalagtite formations that we dinghied to. There are nearby lagoons and caves, known as hongs, many of which are large enough to explore by dinghy. A lot of tour boats frequent the area, but that's fine by us. It's quite a contrast to Patong Beach!

Dec. 31 - New Year's Eve in Patong Beach

It's hard to describe the scene here in Patong Beach. Tens of thousands of people crowded here to celebrate, and we were two in the sea of humanity. After joining 24 other cruisers for dinner, we finally left the main group of them about 10:00 PM and decided to experience the walk up Bangla Street, famous for all its bars, "massage parlors", and X-rated shows. It was a Herculean task. Picture a narrow street, with thousands of people coming down it in one direction (towards the beach.) Then, picture same street with the minority of us going the opposite direction, like salmon swimming upstream, and attempting to go towards town. What a madhouse. Drinking, canned confetti fights, firecrackers, and (mostly) happy yelling surrounded us. It was a controlled chaotic (very) slow dance, joining masses of people who didn't seem to mind the crowd! After about 30 minutes of this, we jumped on some empty bar stools at an available table right next to the street, ordered a few beers, and watched the stream go past us. Fantastic! At about 11:30 PM, I figured we had better get going to make it to the beach before midnight, and we lucked out by pretty much diving behind two uniformed and helmeted policemen escorting some dignitary and his family down the street! Way to go! The trip back to the beach only took about 10 minutes, with plenty of time to find a spot on the beach for the midnight fun. The custom here, besides fireworks, is to light off Chinese lanterns. These are about 3 feet tall and about 18 inches across, made of paper, with a circular incendiary device in the bottom center that's lit off. The lantern is held down long enough for the inside to get full of heat, enough to drive it skywards to catch the prevailing wind eddies and, in most cases tonight, to go out towards the anchored boats! Some of them lit and flamed out near the beach; no boats that we know of were hit or had close calls with falling flames! Now, picture the sky lit up with hundreds of these lanterns, with a backdrop of fireworks going off, loud music playing, and the aforementioned tens of thousands of people all along the beach...it was an amazing way to spend New Year's eve! We hope everyone reading this also had a memorable New Year's and send along our best wishes for a wonderful 2013!

Pictures: Lighting the Chinese lanterns; the sky filled with lanterns.