Thursday 31 January 2019

January Newsletter 2019

News from the Crew of Matilda
January 2019
Entering Ban Thap Lamu anchorage we were greeted with warships 455, 857 & 533 fully dressed and looking splendid.
Ships log: 
  • January 1: 46.5nm's to Ko Phra Thong (north). Anchored at 09 03.42n, 98 19.59e in 9mtrs.
  • January 2, 35.1nm's to Ban Thap Lamu (Navy Base). Anchored at 08 33.79n, 98 13.25e in 6.5mts of water at low tide.
  • January 7: 48.7nm's to Koh Phra Thong (North). Anchored at 09 03.75n, 98 19.16e in 9.5mtrs at low tide.
  • January 8: 35.2nm's to Koh Phyam. Anchored at 09 45.63n, 98 24.21e in 5.4mtrs.
  • January 14: 39.5nm's to The Surins. Picked up a mooring (right beside a reef on the eastern corner) at 09 25.30n, 97 53.95e in 20mtrs of water.
  • January 15: moved to a mooring in closer to bay but away from the corner at 09 25.54n, 97 53.78e in 27.6mtrs.
  • January 16: moved to the next bay (15minutes of dawdling to watch for bommies) and picked up a mooring at 09 24 78n, 97 52.51e in approx. 30mtrs.
  • January 17: 37.9nm's to Koh Phra Thong (southern end). Anchored at 09 01.60n, 98 16.09e in 10.1mtrs.
  • January 18: 30.5nm's to Ban Thap Lamu (Navy base). Anchored at 08 34.19n, 98 13.02e in 11.6mtrs at low tide.
  • January 20: 39.6nm's to Ao Bang Thao. Anchored in 8.2mtrs at 08 01.51n, 98 16.97e.
  • January 21: 16.7nm's to Nai Harn, Phuket. Dropped anchor at 07 46.48n, 98 17.92e in 13.8mtrs at high tide.
  • January 24: we moved as we were rolling. Anchored at 07 46.15n, 98 18.03e in 14.6mtrs at low tide.
  • January 28: 8.7nm's to Panwi Bali (Chalong Bay). Anchored at 07 49.08n, 98 22.76e in 6.9mtrs at high tide.

Crew log:

The start of the new year wasn't spent as planned due to Typhoon Pubak. We had been watching the unseasonal low approach Thailand from the South China Sea and it continued on its projected path to Thailand's southern shores. Basically straight for us - ohh goodie. 

Just after 5pm the skies went from blue to very overcast - she's coming.
Bruce has been in a handful of typhoons due to his working on boats for 20+years predominately in Asian waters and he said he didn't want to sit in an unprotected bay such as Koh Phyam and I certainly wasn't about to argue with him. So January 1st we hauled our anchor and went back to Koh Phra Thong. This is a river system with a substantial town and Navy base. Bruce's biggest concern was that typhoons (exactly like cyclones but they swirl anti clockwise because we are in the northern hemisphere) are unpredictable. He said he has seen them randomly change direction and have the capability to increase their predicted wind speed astronomically. Again I wasn't arguing this point, so after much discussion we decided Phra Thong offered very good protection and if we needed assistance there was a massive fishing fleets to ask and of course the Navy if need be. 

Bruce getting the Fortress ready with our spare chain and rode (rope).

Our 55 Fortress.

Everything is ready to deploy if needed.
There was an official media release to all vessels in certain parts of Thailand to go to their nearest port and to remain in port for 3 days. In the river system with us we normally would see about 10 boats to our stern and about that forward of our bow. The night before the storm we counted over 40 boats to our stern and more than that to our bow. It was a packed house.

2 of many that came in. These boats have anchors that are not designed to withstand high winds, they have small anchors. We were surprised to see so many raft up.
We sat out the typhoon (which naturally had its highest winds around midnight with no moon - so dark and scary) and woke to an overcast day with light drizzle. Matilda sat on her anchor well and winds did not exceed 37knots. Of course the only opening to the river system is due north, and what did it predominately blow - yep ...north! It was meant to blow from the north east and move to south east as the eye moved over us, but it didn't.

This is what we woke to - quite the view.

This shot was taken 2 days after the typhoon has passed. Note the sky colour. And of course this is Bruce holding our Fortress 55 - she's one heck of a spare anchor.
I was glad I was with Bruce, he is the most sensible, logical and calm person in a potentially disturbing situation. I still believe that even though a few boats remained at Koh Phyam deciding to hedge their bets (and won - little winds there) I fully trusted Bruce's thoughts, instinct and wisdom. Also, Matilda is one strong girl with a kick arse anchor and she didn't move an inch, our drag alarm never even beeped. We have sat in much stronger winds but the uncertainty of the wind and it's direction was our main concern. Typhoon over, we headed back up north to Koh Phyam!

2 days after the typhoon left and we decided to head out, the sunrise was magnificent over the mountains.
On the way to Koh Phyam we like to stop off at Koh Phra Thong - a massive protected waterway behind two the islands of Koh Ra and Koh Phra Thong. As you enter and cross the bar entrance from the south you actually go in behind a long line of reef. Its an amazing view and hard to capture what we see.

One of the many lines of breakers over the reef as you head towards Koh Phra Thong.

The water ways in Phra Thong are so still.........

As we came into Phra Thong the fleet was rushing out to get back to business. This huge boat is so laden with her net she is listing to her port (left) side.
What a magic time of day this is. It's sunrise over the township of Phra Thong (city lights to the left) and Bruce is picking up the anchor. Off to Koh Phyam we go!
We used the days at the Navy Base during and after the typhoon to do some much needed sewing repairs to our dodger. Its moments like this we are glad we lashed out all those years ago and bought our Sailrite. Its one heck of a heavy sewing machine but gee it does a great job with all those layers. The main issue for us is space. You don't realise just how big these pieces on your boat are until you have to lay them on a table and turn them to sew. Great job Captain!

And back to Koh Phyam. In
total we ended up spending 18 days in this bay over two stops and would have loved to of stayed even longer if not for the typhoon. Our first night back on the second stop visit, the evening went like this:

Our days at Phyam where idyllic. Swimming everyday, walking on pristine beaches, a calm anchorage, killer sunsets, loads of cafes to choose from and great friends to spend it all with. The day prior to us heading out to the Surin islands we rented a scooter to have a look around the island and grab some supplies. Here are some happy snaps...........

Our first stop was Long Beach and aptly named for the beach is 1.3 miles long.
One of the many bungalows you can stay in on Long Beach.

The owner must be related to the owner of the Hippie Bar!

Miles of beach.

One of the many cafes on Long Beach.
One of the many rubber plantations on the island.

This photo shows the scoring of the tree so the rubber (like sap) dribbles down and into the catching pot.

Sensational street art on this cafe.

This was outside the kitchen.

The loo.

And a very creative way to use a retired fishing boat.
This was incredible - this is the home and work shop of one of many local artists who work leather.

The famed Cha Chai Home Cafe - very groovy babe!

Cha Chai's board of goodies to choose from. The cafe covers both sides of the street and the owner or one of the workers actually draws local scene's for sale as postcards, very neat.
Bruce on our hired scooter.
The pier leading to a Buddhist temple.

The temple looking back towards the mainland.

Inside the shrine/temple.

A grand statue of the recently deceased King of Thailand.

This cute little sailor guy looks like the brother statue to the lady out the front of the massage place on Muk.
Buddha sitting proud up a hill in the trees.

Buddha up the steps being protected by the 3 headed snake like creature - guardians.

I was certain Buddha was looking down, smiling on me.

Funny statues on the stand on the side of the road.

A very intricate fountain.

Our last stop, a local mini mart. We loaded up with very good supplies here.

At the cafe back where Matilda was in the bay we enjoyed a last lunch ashore with this guy for company.
Then off to the Surins we went. On the way over we had to dodge many flags indicating pots - nothing unusual there, but we did see a huge fishing boat with dogs on the bow who barked at us as we passed, most unusual - never seen that before.

Fisherman with all his flags.

2 Dogs on the bow,,,,barking at us!
The Surins themselves are fabulous but I didn't take a lot of photos here (mainly trees and magnificent waters). If we had a good drone it would have made for spectacular images. 

These local fisherman came in every night and anchored in close to shore.

This is typical of the water we picked up moorings in. Magnificent.
Warship 512 sat in the bay the entire time we were there.

Local lad in his 'slipper', very fast little boats.
Our and Matilda's tickets for our stay.
But what makes the Surins so special its is the snorkeling and diving grounds. 

We always love looking at the clams. They are incredible.

This was the first time I had ever seen a crown of thorn's star fish.

Like being in a fish bowl.

And here is Bruce's Nemo find.

Its very clear.

And another Nemo. They are so bright.
Can you spot Dory?

We think the black and white fish are related to Nemo, as they never stopped dropping by.

This is a very hard fish to photograph. He has 4 little fins out on his tale and was very beautiful.

Mrs and Mrs, they were never apart.

Guess who,,,,,,,,,

Nice bright yellow fish.
The 17th of the month saw Bruce see another year in. A friend has affectionately called Bruce: 'Captain Whiskers', I think we are going to take it on.

For his own birthday Bruce whipped up these sticky fruit buns - omg they where delicious.

Captain Whiskers at the helm - Happy Birthday darling xxx
After we celebrated Captain Whiskers 61st year at Phra Thong with too many beers washed down a bottle of Jacobs Creek Chardonnay (that's a real treat for us), we headed south down to Ban Thap Lamu. 

Even the Thai fisherman need sun protection. We loved this guys set up.
We spent the day at Ban Thap Lamu. Spent more money at the hardware and enjoyed another meal at our favourite cafe there. Neither had names we could read (as in, not in English). 

On our walk to the hardware we saw this motor bike - note the baby seat.

Whiskers is back at the hardware buying more goodies. He loved this place and the couple seemed genuinely happy to see us again.
At our favourite cafe. This lady cooks out in the open, her ingredients are all out to see and her shop and toilets were exceptionally clean and tidy.

Some of the seating is cute.

These here are tarp (to keep the sun out) weights.

The drinks menu was interesting, we think something got lost in translation here.
Once down at Ao Bang Thao we enjoyed the company of the large motor yacht 'Indiana'. 132 feet long. He not only forced his way into the anchorage by making a local fisherman move (who had children in their boat and most likely fishing for their dinner) but of all the 4 miles of bay to anchor in he had to anchor right over our anchor chain - incredible. We figured at least he would of had good insurance! 

I'll just move these pesky fishermen out of the way.

He is right over our anchor chain.

Chase boat #1 came in looking for a good spot for the mother ship to drop anchor.

Not satisfied they had chase boat #2 come in. OMG look at the size of this tender - it has day beds on the bow and stern (as you do).

Indiana did however look pretty cool in the sunset.
Something that never fails to surprise us is the sheer generosity of fellow cruisers. Friends where upgrading their tender before heading west across the Indian Ocean to Sri Lanka. After a very casual discussion they offered their tender to us 'no charge'. Incredible generosity. We in turn were then able to offer our tender to another cruiser. As it turned out Allan, a solo sailor off MoonTide took ours off our hands as his tender had died a while ago. Everyone had a win win. 

Our little tender fleet. New to us Caribe on the left and Bruce removing our bits off our old Quicksilver.

Bruce putting on our lines and getting our new Caribe ready so we can haul her up when passage making.

And off goes our Quicksilver tender with her very happy new owner Allan off MoonTide. Doesn't Quicksilver look happy!!!

Our tender exchange was all done in Nai Harn, the most southerly point of Phuket. We spent a week here catching up with friends and enjoying the bay. Its a very popular anchorage amongst cruisers. Plus the sunsets seem to make our sundowners taste all that little bit sweeter.

A lone fisherman passing by the anchorage.

Site in the sunset.
One of the reasons Nai Harn is so popular is that it offers some great walking. We were glad to be able to leave our tender secure each day and out of the way of the throng of tourists. 

The tender dock. We did have to navigate the rocks each time, but its a fantastic safe place for our tenders.

One of the places we enjoyed walking around was the local man made lake. It offers a good flat surface with a footpath keeping you off the road. 

A view of the entire lake.

There is a little island on the lake which seemed to be a function area of sorts.

Now this ladies bbq smelt so good, couldnt believe we had left the wallet behind.

Love the sun making the tips sparkle.

Good paths,,,,

On the way back there are loads of street stalls.

We often bought off this lady as she had very good produce at good prices.

If you needed anything for the beach it could be found here.

The beach.

The bay is very large here at Nai Harn.
A very popular walk and drive is up to the lookout which faces west. The view offers height and an uninterrupted view of the sunset. A very popular place to photograph brides and grooms. Every single night we saw loads and loads of people at the look out. So we went up ourselves one morning to see what all the fuss was about,,,,it was gorgeous.

From Matilda looking up to the lookout. The people swarm the hillside at sunset.

One of 100's of brides we see every day from Matilda.
The small island at the mouth of the bay offers incredible protection from the swell.

And there is our Matilda, all the way out the back.

Looking to the right, you can see some of the beach and the beautiful Nai Harn Resort.

To the left is the reef and another very popular small beach.
Then along came Australia Day,,,,,,,,its very special spending it with friends.

And in good Aussie style Bruce went out to resuce 4 stranded paddlers heading for Sri Lanka!

Our day was spent enjoying the glorious anchorage with friends and finished with drinks ashore. We had roughly 15 boats represented with some ring ins which we loved. We made quite the sight for the Russian tourists. And the food everyone bought along to share was fabulous - we baked some Anzac biscuits which were all eaten!!!
The sheilas.

The blokes.

The whole gang.

Last drinks for the day at sunset - sensational.

Matilda looked grand dressed in all her flags.
We finished off the month in style with Bruce polishing off a bottle of Kraken rum.

Good to the last drop.

What did we cook/bake this month?

Some delicious banana bread.
A new section to our blog will now feature any blogs we have written during the month. To kick off here are two articles by Bruce this month.

  • Setting up layers in OpenCPN / OpenPlotter, click here
  • Transferring file to OpenCPN / OpenPlotter, click here

No comments:

Post a Comment