Posted by: catamarantwooceans | June 25, 2012

Back in Thailand

21.6.12 – Thursday – Last night Gili and I came back to the boat. Although this is the southwest monsoon season which is not the best time to be here, the weather can be really good with showers from time to time but also clear days with a lot of sunshine. We found a small shop where we bought some stuff for breakfast, had dinner in the Haven restaurant and went to bed.

This morning we woke up and immediately started operating as if we were short in time. We wanted to get closer to Phuket city, where we planned to do some shopping and retrieve my 20000 baht bond from immigrations. Starboard engine’s battery was flat so I started with the house bank. After refueling we left the marina to go to Au Chalong. Gili says:” how far is it?” A quick look at the chart confirms that it is close to 30 miles away, between 5 and six hours. ETA around 5 pm. “So what are we going to have for lunch?” Good question! We have rice, beans and corned beef tins but those are below Gili’s standards. “We must find a place and do some shopping”

So we stopped at a bay south of Ao Po Grand marina, put the dinghy in the water to go ashore but the outboard refused to start. We rowed ashore, had lunch in a standard Thai restaurant and shopped at the local 7-11. They will not sell you beer before 5 pm! Another shop did not follow this rule and we took two big, cool Singahs for happy hour. Tomorrow we’ll to find a mechanic to fix the outboard.
The anchorage is close to a long jetty which local boats use take tourists to the Pang Nga area. A of noise initially but peaceful in the evening.

22.6.12 – Friday – So where can we find a mechanic? There are many marine related businesses in the Boat Lagoon area, but the entrance to it is shallow, the marina expensive and most of all, being encircled by buildings, is extremely hot. Calling one of those marine companies we found out that there are mechanics in Au Chalong, giving us the phone number of “Marine Engineering”. This is also a good place for provisioning so we decided to go there.
We entered the bay, looking for a place that will be close enough for rowing ashore. Not easy finding suitable space among the huge number of vessels either anchored or on a mooring, but after one unsuccessful try we found a tight spot and anchored in 3.2 meters.

                                                                                          A small section of Au Chalong

A few minutes later a guy came by on his dinghy, with his dog standing watch on the bow. His name was Brad and he told us about the Phuket Cruising Yacht Club or PCYC which he was operating. His place seems to be in competition with the veteran Au Chalong Yacht Club which is further to the north. We have to check that one too.
Hearing about our outboard problem and the mechanic we found he said that that guy was unreliable and suggested another mechanic near the Chalong boatyard which I wanted to visit anyway.

This is the place I plan to lift the boat out in August and do some work in. The Hacking family on their catamaran “Ocelot”, whose blog I’ve been following for years, are doing a big refit over there and I wanted to talk to them. The mechanic, whose name is Billy, is nowhere to be seen. In the boatyard office they tell me he has gone fishing and will only be back on Sunday. “There is another one in town but he is bad man” says Ma Noon, one of the boatyard’s chiefs. The Hackings are also absent. One of the workmen, in an answer to my query, signals airplane flight with his hand.
We cannot waste time and go to Marine Engineering. Manot, the boss and reputedly the bad man, takes the outboard on his pick-up. “Come tomorrow at 1100, this is the time I will work on it”. We’ll have to watch what he does.
Right by his place there is a big, modern supermarket called Villa Market. We did our shopping there and went back to the boat. Dinner ashore.

23.6.12 – Saturday – At 1100 we show up at Manot’s shop. “Come back at 1400” he says and after some negotiations we agree to meet at 1300. Burning time, we browse the nearby “Home Center” and passing by his shop at 1200 I cannot resist the urge to see what was already done. Surprise! The motor is ready! It only needed new spark plugs. Manot, who did not allow me to take his picture, brought the repaired outboard to a ramp on shore, where I reconnected it to the dinghy.
In the evening we went to Phuket city to sample the town’s commercial aspects. Our taxi driver brought us to an area of big malls which we did not like too much. We finally found what we were looking for in the Night Market, where in great many stalls a variety of products, origins and fakes, was displayed. A pair of designer sunglasses cost 100 baht, two for 150. (30 baht = 1 U.S $) .
Mediocre meal in a restaurant nearby and, after having to bargain with taxi drivers to get down to the price indicated on the taxi station, got back to Au Chalong and the boat.

24.6.12 – Sunday – We felt we needed a quiet place after the action and noise of Phuket and found it in Racha Yai, 12 miles to the south. But first we located the new water facility south of the pier, a concrete structure with tyres all around to protect the vessels topsides.

                                                                                          Au Chalong water facility

We filled about 200 liters and paid 32 baht. The approach to this water tower is quit shallow. We went in a little after low water and saw depth of 1.7 meters for a while.
We first tried the western bay of Racha Yai but the wind, although not more than 10 knots, was blowing right into it, raising a bit of an unpleasant swell. So, after lunch we motored to the north east bay, where a lot of dive, tourist and fishing boats were on mooring or at anchor. Luckily we found a big boat mooring and tied to it.

                                                                                                           Racha Yai east bay

Snorkeling was O.K and the main point was that we saw many edible fish all around. Come evening I sacrificed a few shrimps but the local fish were wiser, got away with the bait without being caught and finally taking the line, hook and sinker altogether.

25.6.12 – Monday – After a long morning swim we were on our way to Koh Phi Phi. Gili has never been there, and although very touristic it is still one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Getting closer the flow of speedboats going in and out of the anchorage was incredible and this is the low season! We went in and found a place to anchor. The island is beautiful and hopefully the noise will disappear later in the evening.

                                                                                               Gili with Phi Phi rocks

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