Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Kata Beach (Phuket) - 07° 49' 01" N 98° 18' 05" E


A post to display a few photos:


This is the last photo with Kate's 'Tour of Alberta' cap, just before it blew off into the Andaman Sea never to be seen again...
Enroute from Ao Chalong to Kata Beach


This is the perfect photo.  Full credit goes to Lynda for the ideal framing and capturing a moment so beautifully.
Girls on the rock and Popeye in the background


And this may be the last photo ever taken of Popeye anchored off Kata Beach as she heads to Australia in late February.
Early morning, Kata Beach

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Monkey Beach (Ko Phi Phi) - 07° 44' 44" N 98° 45' 48" E

The next leg of Plan J, having abandoned Plans A - I, was Monkey Beach on the stunning Ko Phi Phi Don.  Beautifully protected from the wind, we picked up the prime mooring ... bang in the middle of the bay.  The beach certainly lived up to its name with almost as many monkeys as tourists!  Fortunately, the tourists left by mid-afternoon, leaving just the crews of the half-dozen boats anchored alone with the monkeys.

Whoops, forgot to hit start on the route tracker!
We spent two fabulous days snorkeling, kayaking and watching the monkeys on the beach.  We took the dingy across Lohdalum Bay to the beach and explored the streets and shops of the island.  After flooding the outboard, Kate towed then Sean rowed through the rainstorm back to Popeye.  One of the beauties of being in the tropics is the water and the rain is always warm!

Monkey Beach lived up to its name!
Monkey!
Lynda negotiating a ride back to the boat
More monkeys
Duly noted...
Rainstorm
Fun under the rain
Bubbles
Mermaid
Phew, all this fun can be exhausting...

The snorkeling was a blast.  Not much for coral but schools and schools of fish. The water was wonderfully clear and the fish very friendly, particularly the Sergeant Majors.  We do suspect that, despite being a marine park, the fish are often fed!

Keara doing a deep dive
Schools of fish abound (if you know where to look)
Sergeant Majors - common in these waters and very friendly
Keara and Sergeant Majors
Posing for the camera - love, love, love the Go-Pro!
Exploring the caves around the bay
So much fun!
And many an evening was spent playing strategy games (thanks Hilary!).  Elaina is the master of these games and managed to wallop the competition with a high degree of frequency.  I am glad we were not playing for lollies, her teeth would have rotted!

Elaina trouncing everyone yet again!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Ko Dam Khwan - 07° 52' 00" N 98° 43' 00" E

So Plan H was turned into Plan J by the weather, a howling easterly of 25-30kn.  This plan saw us seeking shelter at Ao Nang, a bay well protected from the east, with a lovely beach (a request from Keara) and a village offering restaurants, shopping and massages.  The one little hiccup was the 25nm of bashing into the wind we had to do to get there!

Ao Labu to Ao Nang
Cruising down the west coast of Ko Yao Yai was well protected.  Both girls had a turn at helming.  Elaina did a magnificent job, wonderful concentration and got the hang of the roll of the water.  Once we unfurled the heady, she even noted it was easier to steer.  We will use her as a helmsperson on a more permanent basis!
Captain Keara
Things changed dramatically once we left the protection of the island.  With the wind bang on the nose, we bashed into a big wind chop and were managing only about 4kns - a far cry from the 9kn we were doing in the lee of the island.  Rather than succumbing to seasickness, the girls reveled in it.  Keara was bouncing from one end of the salon to the other, swinging off things, giggling her head off.  She LOVES it when it is bumpy.  For everyone else, we were pleased when the seas flattened and we tucked into the protected bay. 

The next day, it literally rained all day.  We headed into the beach and whilst Sean played with the kids, Kate and Lynda enjoyed coffee, a spot of shopping and Happy Hour - at the local massage joint. Elaina had her hair braided, Keara had a snooze in the restaurant and we headed back to the boat in the dark.  A great way to spend a rainy day!

Rainy day activities - movie night!
Dingy adventures followed the next day as we explored the beaches around the headland. Well equipped with buckets, spades, snorkeling gear, snacks and drinks, we spent the day poking in and out of the beaches and coves between Ao Nang and Phra Nang Beach.  We snorkeled and swam and watch the climbers scale the limestone cliffs and fall into the water.
Exploration by dingy (fully equipped for fun!)
Duly noted...
The Crew at Phra Nang Beach


We explored the rather bizarre Phra Nang (Princess) Cave.  Apparently, since ancient times,  fishermen have made offerings to the symbolic Phallus of Shiva before going to sea to bring them 
success in their fishing and protect them from danger.  The bizarre bit is that it's filled with carved wooden phallic symbols!

On this beach, the beautiful Rayavadee Resort is located.  Accessible only by water, this five-star sanctuary offers pavilion-style accommodation starting at $700 per night up to a princely $6 000 for the really fancy-pants digs.  What the website fails to mention is the beach is jammed-packed with smoking, sunburnt Russian tourists to the soundtrack of the greasy, petrol drone of the long-tails running in and out.  (imagine, ALL your neighbours mowing their lawns at the same time.)  A few of these longtails are restaurants to feed the hoards.  So much for the serenity of a remote, private beach.  We would have been very disappointed if we were staying there.

Longtails on Phra Nang Beach
The Restaurant Longtail...
So we zipped back along the long-tail 'super highway' (so named due to the numbers of boats running backwards and forth from Ao Nang) to the serenity of Popeye.

Such suffering - lazing under the clothes line...
Still working to Plan J, we nipped across to Ko Dam Khwan the next morning and anchored in the bay protected by a sand bar the dries at low tide.  The day was filled with snorkeling, catching poor critters and exploring the beach.

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What is making Keara giggle?
The Sergeant Majors nibbling at her legs!

Beware of the monkeys
Front porch dance party

Ko Dam Khwan sunset

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ao Po Grand Marina - 08° 04' 08" N 98° 26' 43" E


With the tropical storm putting the spanner in the works for Plans A - F, we arrived at Plan G where we picked up Lynda, Elaina and Keara from their hotel at Nai Yang Beach and drove back to Popeye anchored snugly in Ao Chalong.  To great excitement, the girls set themselves up in their cabin before the inaugural swim off the back of the boat.  

We then headed up to the Big Buddah, stopping to feed the elephants on the way.  For good measure, we managed to produce a couple of monkeys along with kittens, baby bunnies and geckos.  All in all, a very successful outing! 

Elephant kisses
A big smooch in return for a banana!
Big Buddah - and little Keara
Macaque monkey - be careful, they bite!

And a relaxing end to the day at our favourite restaurant Kan Eang@Pier for fabulous Thai food under red umbrellas overlooking Ao Chalong and Popeye!

Fresh coconut water, prepackaged...

Plan G was then quashed next morning when Sean went to raise the anchor.  No power to the anchor winch. At. All. Fortunately, we were in shallow water and had only 25m out but there was still a lot of huffing and puffing as the anchor was raised by hand.  A couple of phone calls later and we were on our way to Ao Po Grand Marina where Sombat (our wonderful marine electrician) would meet us next morning.

The Australian Women's Keelboat Regatta 2007 was the last time we sailed together!
Once 'stuck' at Ao Po, the suffering really began with lazing by the pool, practicing snorkeling with new flippers and masks and collecting poor crabs and other sea creatures - a soft landing to overcome jetlag.  Sombat duly arrived and diagnosed the problem as a corroded cable to the hand controller.  With his usual efficiency, the new cable was manufactured and installed the same day. 
We opted for some further suffering next day leaving the marina at 3pm bound for Ao Labu just across the bay.

Suffering
More suffering
Loving the new goggles
The Popeye Crew
Lovin' the Go-Pro
Exploring the depths of the pool
Flippers!