Posted by: catamarantwooceans | August 23, 2012

With Gili–part 4

20.8.12 – Monday – Today’s "job" was to go to Koh Rok which is 36 miles from Bulon Le. As per our standard procedure, I set out early. It was a grey day with almost no wind. Each passing towering cumulus created its own wind pattern, having me running around adjusting sails, moving the traveller from left to right and back again. One big bank of clouds gave a southeasterly of 13-18 knots and that’s when "Two Oceans" came alive, reaching 7 knots at times; this lasted only about an hour and a half.

Arriving at destination, we looked for a mooring in the channel between Koh Rok Nok and Koh rok and Koh Rok Nai, selecting one that had us at 3.5 meters. My tide tables showed a range of 3 meters for today and as it was just about high water it meant we will touch bottom at low water! We decided to go snorkeling and decide later. The moment I went into the water I felt the strong current; too strong for having fun. Let’s go to the southwestern reef, where I stayed last time with my friends.

The reef was not bad, considering the overcast skies and the bad light but we could not stay there for the night because the swell, running 90 degrees to the current was rolling us badly. Back to the channel in search of a deeper mooring. We circled one to check it and Gili noticed a sunken boat below us. We took another one and I swam to check the wreck. It was a catamaran that I could not identify, most of the topsides were gone and the single part of a bow had no name on it. Strangely enough the deflated dinghy was also on the bottom.

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                              Mooring of the Doomed

Back to our mooring, 200 meters against the current, I looked with rising doubts at the reef heads so near our hull. Is this what happened to that cat, tide going out and he hit the rocks? Luckily for us a fishing vessel vacated a mooring that was in 7 meters depth. Grabbed it and could relax.

Our provisions running low, Gili wrinkled her nose at the spanish mackerel steaks we planned for dinner. That was an excuse for me to try casting for fresh fish. A lot of bites but only one small snapper caught. We ended up eating the mackerel with Cajun spice and it was excellent.

21.8.12 – Tuesday -  17 miles to Koh Ha Yai; how often do we see a short, simple leg turn into hard work! It was a cloudy morning; we went out of the channel, taking care to stay on the port, deeper side. The wind was going into the pass, accelerating to 22 knots. "Let’s start with second reef" I said. The sea was quite rough but the wind angle was good and we were romping along at good speed, jumping over and into waves. Somebody up or down there saw me enjoying the situation too much and turned the rain volume up and the wind one down. Back to motor-sailing!

Gili was not feeling very well and stayed on the settee in the saloon; I was at the helm, trying to figure out whether the big cumulonimbus with its associated wind and rain will intercept us at or before we reach our mooring. Another important matter was the making of dough for the planned lunch pizza, which I did glancing nervously at the sea out of the front galley window.

Four miles to destination I could see some fishing boats anchored near the island and a strange smudge in the general area of the mooring. Oh, not a yacht! we need this mooring! Two miles away and I saw it was a fishing vessel. At 1 mile we had the sails down and a good thing it was because the cloud came near and the wind blew stronger. But where is the mooring? We couldn’t see it at all even 50 meters from its location. I thought maybe it was covered by the rising tide and continued forward until its rope became visible and I could sigh with relief.

Once tied up Gili prepared the pizza. Delicious!

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22.8.12 – Wednesday – At 0110 we were both awakened by the noise of heavy rain and rolling thunder; small waves were bumping the topsides adding to the fracas. The only positive outcome was that we collected quite a lot of water. The situation made me think about the mooring; how could I be sure it was strong enough? If it breaks we can very quickly find ourselves on the rocks! The first time I tied to it I tried diving down the rope to see the base but it was more than 20 meters and I could see nothing. I’m putting my trust in it, supposing whoever positioned it there did a good job; a bit fatalistic, isn’t it?

When morning came we were glad to leave, heading to Koh Phi Phi; Strong wind on the nose and rough seas convinced me that this was not the day for pure sailing. Tacking all the way was not realistic; it would have been sadistic!

We came into Ton Sai bay, dropping two anchors in tandem to be sure of not dragging in this tight packed anchorage. Frankly, I don’t like this bay. I’ll admit it is beautiful, especially the west side, but the noise of those speed ferries with their three 225 h.p outboards and the waves they make as they vroom along rolling the boats at anchor with no regard whatsoever to their fellow man spoil it for me.

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                                                West Ton Sai bay

A big local work-boat came very close to our stern pulling what looked like a mooring buoy and base, releasing them not more than 3 meters from our swinging circle. All this was done so quickly I didn’t even have time to try and speak to the man.

When we came back from our shopping slash internet expedition there was a Lagoon 400 trying to connect to that mooring. "Is it free?" its skipper asked me. I told him I thought it was private and he decided to vacate it. In the process he somehow dragged it away, base too light I suppose; I was just happy to see it move to a safe distance.

I was looking to buy some diesel fuel and was directed to a small shop east of the main pier where they had barrels with a pump doling out 5 liters at a time. This was a chandlery of sorts with a lot of marine equipment; bilge pumps, paints, epoxy glues etc.

The mayhem in the bay ceased after six p.m; we had a well deserved good and quiet  night.

23.8.12 – Thursday – Last time Gili was with me here we missed the hong of Koh Hong, the one east of Koh Yai islands. I later found out about it, visited it with Shimon and Gideon and now wanted Gili to see it too. The winds were lower than forecasted and we had a leisurely sail to the island. On the horizon we could see some rain clouds and just as we approached it started raining. We took a mooring in the bay on the south and had lunch as the black cloud above us made a light and sound wet show.

During all this I spotted the blurred shape of a boat come in; ever curious, I went out to take a look and saw this huge catamaran, probably 80 feet long; very impressive!

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Once we finished lunch, there was a lull in the rain, so we motored to the northeast part of the island, used the single white mooring there (good enough for a short, no high wind stay) and took the dinghy into the hong. Here I go again with those superlatives… this place is great!

Back at the boat I was looking in the direction of north Koh Yao Yai and saw – nothing! The island hid behind a thick veil of rain. Using the GPS plotter I continued and in just a few minutes the rain hit us, reducing the visibility to about 50 meters. We were passing close to some Pang Nga typical rocky islands, unable to see them. It rained so hard I could not look ahead at all, raindrops blinding me; the only way to counter this was putting on my diving mask, which made a funny picture.

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Once we got to the bay opposite the Paradise resort the rain abated somewhat; I put my two anchors arrangement, remembering the soft mud bottom here. I’m not putting the rain catchment; tomorrow we go into the Ao-Po marina.

24.8.12 – Friday – Today is the last sailing day of this trip with Gili; she will be going home tomorrow. I had the hope it’ll be a sailing – not motoring – day. As we rounded the north tip of Koh Yao Yai and sailed west to go around a shallow area before turning to Ao Po marina, the ominous shape of the big grey cumuli loomed ahead. The moment we turned to Ao Po and sailed a track that was supposed to have a good angle to the wind it just went crazy. Big rain again! The clouds brought strong gusts, above my normal reefing policy for full sail. The sea in that protected area was flat so I waited too long; a gust of 32 knots which made me fear the old jib will tear itself to pieces convinced me this was not the time to play.

Gili helped me reef, getting completely soaked but not losing her good mood. The moment we finished reefing the wind went down to 12 knots… This wind seesaw continued, varying velocity and direction and at 7 miles to the marina I gave up, lowered the sails and motored in. Bad weather is much easier when you are in a marina.

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The two weeks and a day that we sailed here in Thailand turned out to be one of the best cruises we ever did together. The view in the islands is simply great, the tropical flora is a pleasure to watch as is the wildlife. Even the little communication we had with the local people, language being a big problem, was friendly and positive. Last but not least is the Thai food; reasonably priced good restaurants, excellent fruit and veg – a real delight.

We are going to come back in November and sail some more, hopefully visiting Surin and Similan islands, northwest of Phuket.

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Responses

  1. מסע משגע – קראתי כל מילה בשקיקה. פוקסי


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