Friday, February 24, 2017

Ko Rok - 07° 13' 40" N 99° 04' 28" E

Leaving Thailand....

Our last night in Thai waters. And what a magical evening Thailand put on for us, enticing us to stay just a little longer.

Leaving Phuket Yacht Haven
The new Bimini
Leaving Phuket Yacht Haven
We picked up a Parks mooring just off the reef at Ko Rok Nai.  In dead calm conditions, we snorkeled among some of the best coral yet seen.  Huge brain corals with colourful fish and nudibraches, aenomies with their dancing clown fish and great towering coral heads with schools of fish weaving in and out.  All our old friends. We were stalked by schools of Sargent Majors - methinks the tourists may feed the fish.


Enjoying the Bimini
Sunset over Ko Rok

As the sun went down behind the island, the rukus jungle noises died down leaving us in silence.  Teh stars filled the skies and the squid boats just over the horizon marked where the sea met the sky.

And so ends our three months in Thailand with a very faded courtesy flag as evidence.  In all, Popeye has been our home for five months.  We feel we know her well and are prepared for the grand adventure upon which we have just embarked.  We can sail her comfortably two-handed and love being under sail so we sail whenever we can.  The new Bimini is a dream. We no longer need the suncover up which obscures your vision.  We tend to create a little nest for ourselves behind the helm in glorious shade.

And so, farewell Thailand!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Phuket Yacht Haven - 08° 10' 09" N 98° 20' 20" E

After two and a half weeks in Krabi Boat Lagoon, despite a few frustrations and delays, Popeye is finally back in the water, free from leaks and still afloat!  Phew!

Heading out of KBL for the last time was a little odd.  It has been Popeye's home base for the last three years and ours since this adventure began five months ago. Now, Popeye is leaving with no plans to ever return.

"Riding the load" - Popeye heads across
the boatyard and back to the sea

Popeye leaves Krabi Boat Lagoon for the last time

The journey back to Australia has not yet begun, though.  We have come across to Phuket Yacht Haven to have the last few jobs done - having the canvas on the bimini created and installed and having the fridge and freezer serviced.  It seems there is always a few last details to take care of.  The home of our   Snuggled up amongst the super yachts and wooden sailing boats, there is much suffering to be endured.

'The Deck' - Phuket Yacht Haven

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cooking classes at 'The Captain's Galley' - 08° 00' 42" N 98° 57' 40" E

After a couple of weeks of enjoying Garn's cooking, we decided to learn how to do it ourselves.  Garn, very generously, opened her kitchen and ran a Master Class in our favourite dishes.

... and now we share her secrets!

Yellow Chicken Curry
Kaeng Kari Kai (Yellow curry) - Truly yummo
This recipe is for one portion

Garn's favourite brand
of curry paste
250g chicken - this can be any cut but if using a cut with a bone, it is best to pre-cook it in water and salt for about 30 minutes.
1 big tablespoon of yellow curry paste.  Garn's favorite brand is Lobo.
1/2 onion, diced
1 potato, diced
1/2 carrot, chopped
Handful of raisins
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken stock (or water plus teaspoon chicken stock powder)
1/2 tablespoon palm sugar
2 teaspoons fish sauce

 In oil, fry the paste until it smells divine.  Add the onions, then the coconut milk, potatoes, carrots and raisins followed by the (cooked) chicken.  Add the stock (or water with stock cube) and slow cook for 15 minutes.

Finally, add the fish sauce and palm sugar.  Garnish with coconut milk and serve with rice.

The ingredients
Sean, the master chef

Gang Panang Kai (Panang Curry)
This recipe is also for one portion

Traditionally, Panang Curry is made with just meat and no vegetables. This recipe is not traditional!

Garn's favourite coconut milk
200g chicken breast sliced thinly
1/2 carrot, chopped
1/4 cup peas
Kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon panang curry paste
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon palm sugar
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder

Fry the curry paste in oil until fragrant. Add the chicken then the coconut milk, water, fish sauce, palm sugar and chicken stock.  Cook for a bit and add kaffir lime leaves and vegetables.

Cook for a further 5 minutes.  Serve with rice and garnish with kaffir limes leaves and coconut milk.

Sean ready to eat
Lesley and Sean with our Master Chef Garn

And then we ate!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Krabi Boat Lagoon - 08° 00' 42" N 98° 57' 40" E

We are back in Krabi Boat Lagoon for two weeks.  Popeye is out of the water and undergoing some maintenance prior to our heading SE....
Popeye being lifted out

Popeye on the travel lift (don't drop her!)

We have a list of jobs to be done.  Some are regular maintenance such as anti-fouling and changing the anodes.  Others are improvements such as the installation of a bimini.  Some are repairs such as the replacement of all the thru-hull seacocks.  And some are due to Popeye heading to Australia such as cleaning out the storeroom.

The towering Popeye

Due to her deep draft (2.85m), Popeye's deck towers five metres above the hardstand.  Her mast is by far the tallest.  A special set of extra tall stairs has had to be made.

Engineering drawings - nothing on the back of a napkin here!
We have rented a studio apartment for the time Popeye is out of the water.  The lure of air-conditioning, endless hot water and unlimited power with a lagoon view was irresistible considering the alternative - living aboard Popeye, all the while sitting on the hot, baking hardstand without power and water.  Having the condo has allowed us to get all sorts of things washed, sorted, dried, charged, packed and chilled.
Our condo - shared with lots of 'boat bits'

It has not been all work!  We caught up with Sheri and Henri (friends from Calgary who have a habit of stalking us across the world) for a couple of evenings in Ao Nang in between their high energy tours of cycling and kayaking.  We met many of the other boat owners in the Lagoon.  Including a video games designer living in Shanghai with the interesting name of American McGee.  His mum was a bit of a hippie is his reasoning for his name!  Armed with a drone, he made a video promoting  Garn's restaurant.   Click here to watch!

Buckets of rum and coke,
but definitely not drunk...

Sean has been missing the BBQ.  One evening he attached it to the rail outside the condo to cook our dinner.  Just as the charcoal was perfect, the skies opened and rain began to pour down.  Then Garn offered up her gas range!  No longer having to attach the BBQ, lighting the coals, hoping it doesn't rain, Sean just nips next door and returns with beautifully charred feasts of fish, pork kebabs and chicken satays.  (and Garn gets her staff to wash up - things are pretty perfect!)

Sean cooking dinner in Garn's kitchen

The name of Popeye Boat (as she is called here to distinguish her from Popeye Marine) came about when Craig (the actual owner of Popeye - for those who thought we did!) was searching for an improvement on Sailplane, the name of the yacht he had just bought.  Since Popeye Marine was carrying out the refurb, he landed on Popeye!  Popeye is a great radio name ('this is Popeye' - Papa Oscar Papa Echo Yankee Echo), easily pronounced in most languages and the cartoon character is well recognized.  We often hear the locals humming Popeye the Sailor Man when they see us. 

The team from Popeye Marine has been fabulous.  Des has regaled us with his stories of his six-year circumnavigation, his years spent on tugs off British Columbia and his time in the Arctic.  He published a book by 26, met Farley Mowat (a legendary Canadian author) and Pierre Trudeau (the Canadian Prime Minister at the time and father of the current one).  

An extract from Des' book, World Wanderer.... and it had a 'bucket and chuck it' head!

Sombat is our superb marine electrician.  We nicknamed him 'Cup, Cup'.  Cup in Thai means 'okay'.  In all our conversations with him, he would nod and say 'Cup, cup, cup '.  His company is Yacht Electrical Services, or YES.  A perfect name!  And, unlike many 'yeses', Sombat's yeses yield results.

Wit and Lek head up Popeye Engineering.  They manufactured the Bimini frame, fixed the leak in the propeller shaft, installed a manual bilge pump and replaced all the seacocks.  Wit can manufacture any kind of thingamabob from any kind of whatchamacallit that is required.  Both are always happy, always smiling and also get things done.

Flip flops (or thongs for the Aussies - Canadians, wipe away that smirk) are the safety boot of choice.  At the bottom of the stairs towering up to Popeye, there is always a collection of footwear.  Thai custom is to take your shoes off before you go indoors, or onto yachts.  We find the deck gets so hot, we have to wear shoes.  But not the locals - they are tough!

Popeye Engineering Shop

Outside Popeye Engineering

KBL Hardstand - see why we opted for the condo!

In the photo below, you will see Lek wearing what looks like a balaclava.  This is very common to ward off sunburn.  There have been incidences where 'balaclava'-clad fishermen have approached yachts (to say g'day and sell fish) and the yachties have been terrified that they were being attacked by pirates, reacted poorly and things went sideways.  Understanding the local culture is always a great advantage.

Wit (in plaid) and Lek (masked!)
measuring up for the Bimini

Remarking the anchor chain

Loading sails from the storage locker

With air-conditioning in the condo and a swimming pool. life has not been all suffering whilst Popeye was on the hard.  The pool did turn a rather disconcerting shade of green for several days but with a top up and a good dose of chlorine, it was soon sparkling again.

Working hard...

The view from the condo

Fixing the dinghy

A load of sails from the storage locker

This region of Krabi is quite Muslim.  The adhan or Muslim call to prayer, rings out over the lagoon five times a day.  It is wonderfully melodic and exotic.  There are also many Buddists here.  This is evident in the frequent shrines with offerings such as flowers, purified water, food and incense.  Garlands of flowers or ribbons, usually in yellows and whites, are hung from the bow of a boat or a car mirror asking for safe travels. 

Out of laziness, we tend to shop mostly in the supermarkets but the local markets are superb.  Here are some photos from the market at Khlong Khamot - on the way to KBL from the airport.

Wonderful, 'prepackaged' curry vegetables

Fish, and oh so hygienic

Not just fresh, but fabulous colours too!