Monday, 27 January 2014

North towards the Burmese border

All restocked and ready to go we headed south out of Ao Chalong to the bottom of Phuket and up the other side into Nai Harn for our first overnight stop. A pretty bay, though still a smaller version of the Russian riviera. Deck lounges and umbrellas from one end of the beach to the other - you could hardly see the sand in between. A short dingy ride ashore and tether up to a floating dingy dock, then a clamber over some large rocks to the little restaurant where you paid 100 Thai bart (AUS$3.50) for the stay. Apparently if you buy a drink at their bar, they refund the money. Then a walk along the promenade through myriads of restaurants all vying for your business, as well as the usual mobile street vendors. Our favourite desert vendor amongst them - pancakes with chocolate and banana cooked while you wait. Yum !!
Always a good nights sleep when the bay is sheltered from swell, and it was off early next morning catching up with Totem as they came out of Ao Chalong. That day we managed a full day of pure sailing, without the aid of engine - something we had not done in a while. So good to know you were conserving diesel.

                                     So good to be sailing with our dear friends Totem again

Next stop was a lovely bay just short of the airport - Nai Yang and a great view of planes coming in to land at Phuket airport. Again a multitude of restaurants ashore but most of these seem to be filled with Aussies - what a pleasant change. We headed ashore for dinner meeting up with many boats that have cruised this area for years and happily listened to all their stories. This was a place we will return to again but for now is only an overnight stop until we get to our main destination of Ko Phayam, the most northern stop for us in Thailand. Our fleet of 2 was growing as we joined with Utopia 2 and Honey and made our way north the following day. Our anchorage that evening was  tucked inside an estuary, home to Thai naval vessels as well as many power boats taking tourists for day trips to the Surin and Similan islands. Very busy with comings and goings at the start and end of the day but it settled down after those times. The following evening saw us all again tucked inside the headland of Ko Ra, after opting to head inland further south and meandering north for a couple of hours through waterways past villages and mangroves before dropping the anchor for the night. We past an old (what turned out to be) navy craft moored in the waterways, a strange kind of place to find something like that. With some investigating, Niall (Totem) - a 14 year old history buff discovered it was an LCT named 'Dodd County' and gave us a lesson on its history. He put us both to shame with his knowledge.

Sundowners on our first evening at Ko Phayam

Can't resist yet another sunset shot from the bar

Ko Phayam was a little slice of paradise. We had been told it was what Phuket was like 30 years ago - still untouched by tourism. Anchoring in 4 meters in Buffalo Bay on the NW side of the island, we tucked inside the most northerly part of the bay and decided that this would do us for at least a week if not more. Heading ashore, the resorts were basic thatched huts as were the bars and restaurants. No cars on the island, motorcycle, bicycle or foot being the only modes of transport. The beach wrapped right around the bay, scattered here and there with outcrops of rocks and great for long walks - it soon became our daily exercise. The first evening ashore for sundowners, we could see the islands of Burma silhouetted again the setting sun. Out of bounds to sailing yachts at present, though there is talk that next year the government may ease up regulations and open them to cruisers. More sunset photos!!!! A few other evenings were at a bar which can only be described as a cross between 'Pirates of the Caribbean' and 'Lord of the Flies'. It was made out of timbers that looked like they have been floating the oceans for years, finally washed ashore and the structure was adorned with flotsam and jetsam accumulated over time. This was definitely a bar with character !! We have since been advised by a local that the boat bar was entirely build from timbers and debris washed ashore after the tsunami - now a monument to the disaster.

                           Our 'Pirates of the Caribbean' Bar - locally known as the 'Hippy Bar'

                Made from driftwood found after the Tsunami

The days rolled into the next and the time was spent relaxing with books, doing odd jobs aboard here and there or conferring on boat issues and how best to manage or fix them. One day Pete had to make an unexpected trip to Ranong on the mainland, located on the south side of a river - the river being
the border of Burma (it was only 30 mins by speed boat). We were running the generator one evening to charge the batteries when it made a strange sound and started smoking. The small alternator had seized and the fan belt got very hot!  That is never a pleasant experience. That night we ran the main engine to charge the batteries. What were the chances that at this point we blew a fan belt and smoke again filled the engine room. At this point I was thinking I would rather be living anywhere than on a boat. The next day, bearing obtained and fitted along with the fan belt - things were looking good again.

We hired a motorcycle one day and my second only ever ride saw me clutching on for dear life as we made our way down to the pier along the concrete road. Our goal that day was to buy a top-up card and replenish our internet coverage. This is never an easy task when English is not the first language - thank goodness for 'Help Desks' on the phone. We could walk along the only road on the island into 'town' in 30 minutes or only as far as the 'crossroads' for a minimart with fresh fruit and veggies - nothing is very far. Most days would bring a new boat into the anchorage - is it someone we know from our rallies? We are really newcomers to this cruising life, many of the boats around us having been doing this for years and therefore crossing paths time and again with each other. Gemini and Kailani arrived a couple of days ago but opted to anchor in Long Bay on the other side of the headland. Its the closest we have come to knowing another boat.

                                                                The view at Long Beach - Does this look like a kangaroo? 

Jamie and Behan (Totem) with Pete

                                   Yet another glorious sunset with Kittani in the foreground
The days here are coming to an end and after 2 plus weeks, we have decided to head off tomorrow to the Surin islands - 30nms so only a days sail. Some boats have been here in the anchorage for a month and I can see why that would be possible. We have had up to 17 anchored at one point, the locals say the most they have ever seen. We have eaten ashore nearly every night, our favourite restaurants being Papaya (best Penang curry), Mr Gao (great Pad Thai) and Baan Klong Kleng for overall ambience. We will miss our daily walks along the beach, though the Surin islands are reported to have the best waters for swimming and snorkelling so shall have to that for exercise. So its lunch ashore today with Gemini before heading off on the morning to our next destination.



  1. This is very nice one and gives indepth information. thanks for this nice article.


    1. Hi Cindy, nice to receive comments. Glad you enjoyed it. Hopefully you can visit the area soon. All the best, Peter and Cathy