30 Days in Thailand
Posted by yachtcamomile
This is our blog for Thailand but it takes quite a while to load so I’ve broken it into two parts.
After our land travel and Bill doing more boat jobs, it was finally time to leave Pangkor marina on 15th February, Camomile having spent the best part of 4 months there.
We sailed gently up the coast stopping in anchorages overnight and then had a few nights in Rebak marina. Here we caught up with our sailing friends Tim and Rebekah, fellow Westerly owners on their Ocean 49, and their lovely twin daughters Ophelia and Willow. We enjoyed some baby squeezing time between lovely languid swims in the resort pool.
After stocking up the boat on the duty free island of Langkawi we checked out of Malaysia on 28th February but will be back here for the start of the Sail Malaysia East rally on 2nd April giving us 30 days for a whistle stop cruise around the Andaman coast of Thailand.
Our first anchorage was off Ko Adang in the Ko Tarutao national park. As is our tradition Bill hoisted the Thailand courtesy flag on arrival.
The island was uninhabited and a great place for picnics on the beach and snorkelling. This was what we had imagined Thailand to be. As I’d bought a new waterproof camera in Langkawi I was anxious to try it out. It felt strange putting it under the water but I managed to get some interesting shots.
This starfish, beautiful as it is, is a member of the crown of thorns variety, which destroys the coral. Luckily this was the only one we saw, but it reminded us of reefs visited on our voyage that have been devastated by these creatures. It was a striking specimen.
There were lots of lovely clams, which draw themselves in as you swim near them; the colours were stunning. Difficult to photograph though so I probably need to play around with the cameras settings.
We took pleasure in spending a couple of days there while enjoying sundowners and watching the stunning sunsets before stopping off at Ko Rok Nai for 24 hours to do some more snorkelling. By this point we were getting pressed for time as we needed to get to Phuket to meet James again.
The official port of entry for Phuket is Chalong bay. We only stopped there long enough to check in, do some shopping and washing and pick up James. Chalong is full of bars with white men of the age 60+ being entertained by girls of between 16 and 25. Some people think it’s ok but I think it’s awful. Some of the older women offer ‘masssssaggge’ but they all looked like Ping Pong from the TV programme ‘Little Britain.’ You had to run the gauntlet trying to get past them walking to and from the boat jetty.
We left Chalong and sailed to a bay on the south west corner of Phuket island called Hat Nai Han and anchored off of the Royal Phuket yacht club only to discover it wasn’t a club but an upmarket hotel and they didn’t have any yacht facilities.
Sailing on up the west coast of Phuket we anchored in Karon bay. Within 10 minutes Camomile became victim to the jet ski brigade. As there wasn’t anyone else anchored in the bay the jet skiers thought it would be good fun to come and have a look at us. After about the 10th jet ski that came whizzing passed us in half an hour it was time to move on again! We continued past Patong bay and Surin bay because through the binoculars all that could be seen were rows and rows of deck chairs literally right across the beach and yet more jet skiers.
Refuge was finally found at the northern end of Ao Bang Thao, the deckchairs being at the southern end. With only half a dozen boats anchored in the bay we got a peaceful night. At the northern end of the bay a channel led to a very interesting waterway, which was great fun to explore in the dinghy.
It was very calm with lots of local ‘long tail’ boats up on the side; some wouldn’t be going anywhere any time soon. We all went ashore for a nice beach side meal that evening and watched the sun setting again.
The 10th and 11th March found us doing a couple of long hops up the coast to Ngan Yong so that James could spend the day ashore renewing his visa. It’s possible to get a 30 day visa-on-arrival but it can’t be renewed inside the country so then it’s necessary to do a ‘visa run’ to Myanmar (Burma) or Langkawi. If you want to stay longer it’s best to get a 60 day visa before you arrive but James hadn’t and he’d already been in the country 3 weeks. Bill dropped him off at the fishing port where he managed to catch a bus to the border town of Ranong then he took a boat to Kawthoung in Myanmar to get his passport re-stamped.
Thursday 13th was a lovely sail out to the Surin islands, a group of islands with pockets of white sand beaches and rocky granite headlands creating some nice little anchorages. The water was really clear enabling us to see the wonderful marine life. We picked up a buoy under a headland on the northern island of Ko Surin Neua and joined a group of cruisers on the beach for sundowners.
The next day started with a dinghy ride around to the Park Headquarters where there’s a café with basic but nicely cooked food.
After lunch we walked around the bay while looking out at some stunning views; more real Thailand.
We got in the water for a snorkel and found lots and lots of fish including a 2 metre long Moray Eel.
That night the wind got up and was licking round the headland making us roll really badly. As none of us could sleep Bill decided to drop the buoy and make a night sail to the Similian islands some 55 miles south. It was a slow sail through the night under main and genoa and once everyone was up in the morning the cruising chute went up. Camomile made good time and by midday had picked up another buoy this time off of island No 4 Ko Miang. It was packed with tourists but fortunately by 3 or 4pm most of them have gone leaving just a handful of campers and the yachties.
The island has a very good trail to follow to the top of the hill that afforded stunning views. Camomile looks very comfortable on her buoy in the beautiful blue water.
Looking to the north you could see the little group of islands that we snorkelled that afternoon.
That evening a very unseasonable storm blew up from the east with lashing rain and high winds putting us on a lee shore on a very bouncy buoy giving us a nervous night. Fortunately everything held ok but the next morning we decided to leave and motor sailed back to Ao Bang Thao, some 51 miles; not pleasant with wind on the nose most of the way but it felt more secure back at anchor with an off shore wind.
Tuesday 18th we were back in Chalong for more shopping and washing again before leaving to tour Phang Na bay between Phuket island and the mainland but that’s for the next blog.