Reawakening in Krabi

See also our blog ‘And So to Bed …’ posted in July.

We have often been there before … having Pipistrelle lifted out of the water, a period of time on hardstanding in a boat yard and eventual ‘splash’ or relaunch.   Never have we left her for 4 months and never in the climatic conditions experienced from June to October in this part of Thailand – the south west monsoon.  Fortunately all the thorough preparation paid off and we returned to a dry interior – thanks to the deck mounted aircon unit – no nasty creepy-crawlies inside, and plastic tarpaulins that had done their job of protecting the deck well, but two of which were throw away items after 4 months.

Two coats of anti-foul to her bottom, a polish of her topsides and we were ready to have Pipistrelle put in slings for relaunch.  We had had a lot of rain and one tremendous thunderstorm which hampered work progress slightly during our 7 remaining days out of the water.   During that time we had rented a studio apartment (with aircon of course!) in the Cleat Condominium at the marina!

KBL in the wet!

KBL in the wet!

We rented a car instead!

To provision at Tesco and Big-C, we rented a car instead!

Black bottom

Black bottom

After six years of not being able to achieve over 2,500 rpm without the main engine overheating, we finally changed the pitch of the propellor.  Success!  We will provide more details and explanations about this and other information in a new page entitled ‘Technical’ which is currently under construction.

Propellor coated with 'Prop Gold'

Propellor coated with ‘Prop Gold’

But the sun shone at the right time and all went smoothly.  Final preparation and bending on sails was completed alongside.

Nearing the slip

Nearing the slip

Pipistrelle safely afloat again

Pipistrelle safely afloat again

Cleat Condo in sunshine!

Cleat Condo in sunshine!

Posted in Thailand | Tagged , , , ,

Hong Kong Stopover

HK skyline from streetlevel

HK skyline from streetlevel

Inevitably, our departure from the UK and Europe in mid-October after a stay of a very enjoyable four months heralded a series of fond farewells to family and friends, including an invitation to a superb lunch with Elaine’s parents at The Chestnut Horse, Easton near Winchester.  Here’s then to the next time we are in those latitudes, when we will do our utmost to meet up with those who we were unable to fit in!

We decided to break our journey back to Thailand by flying via Hong Kong, which Bob had never visited and Elaine had briefly in 1990 before the handover in 1997.  Much had changed in the intervening 24 years so it was a voyage of discovery for us both to what turned out to be an ultra-modern, vibrant, world class arena.  A fascinating city that never sleeps …

The efficient Airport Express rail link from the airport on Lantau Island to Central district on Hong Kong Island, and the free shuttle bus to the Island Pacific Hotel had us settled in to our 18th floor room with its view over the harbour before lunch, and we spent the rest of the day recovering from the only slight effects of jet lag before going exploring.

Exterior at night

Exterior at night

Room with a view!

Room with a view!

Archaeological findings date the first human settlements to 30,000 years ago, and Hong Kong Island was incorporated into China during the Qin Dynasty.  The island became a British Colony in January 1841, and then Kowloon was ceded to Great Britain in 1860.  The New Territories were subsequently leased in 1898 for a term of 99 years.  There are many Outlying Islands off the New Territories, the largest being Lantau, which is also home to the Hong Kong International Airport.

The population was estimated to be 7.2 million in 2013, of which 95% are Han Chinese, with immigrants of Filipinos, Indonesians and Thais, whilst there are a significant number of Aussies, Europeans, Japanese and N Americans, so creating a truly international metropolis.

We think we made the most of our opportunity to explore Hong Kong – by every conceivable means of public transport and of course …

our own two feet!

… our own two feet!

Busy and loud - the tram experience is a must!

Busy and loud – the tram experience is a must!

We used the pay-on-exit double decker tram or ‘ding ding’ from the hotel to ‘Central’ taking us past dried fish merchants selling anything from sea cucumbers to sharks’ fins and seemingly every conceivable and inconceivable Chinese fish delicacy in between, often found drying by the roadside.  Fragrant Harbour, as Hong Kong is otherwise known, is definitely a misnomer in this area!  Seeing expensive birds’ nest end products for sale, took us right back to last October in Kumai, Indonesia where we witnessed swifts nesting in ‘silos’ thus manufacturing the ‘raw’ material.  See blog post Orangutans in Borneo. 

One of the many wholesalers

One of the many wholesalers

On our first full day we took a shortened tram ride east,  as unfortunately the Protests in Admiralty where the government offices are, prevented our freedom to visit this area. But the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator combination of moving stairs and travelators, which is the longest in the world, provided an alternative and interesting opportunity to get an idea of the sheer scale of the city and harbour.

The only way is UP!  To come down you walk!

The only way is UP! To come down you walk!

We walked back down through the Zoological Gardens, and to our surprise saw ring tailed lemurs, which we hope to see in their natural environment next year in Madagascar.  As we reached the lower levels there was a Spanish festival taking place, all adding to the vibrant atmosphere of the city.

Cute little lemurs

Cute little lemurs

We caught the 973!

We caught the 973!

Day 2 took us by bus to Stanley in the south east of the island, famous for its clothes and handicraft markets.  On the way we saw Aberdeen fishing harbour and Repulse Bay with its residential buildings, one owned by The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd.  The buildings are known for the square “hole” in the centre of this massive block of apartments, purportedly added for feng shui purposes.

Interesting construction

Interesting construction …

...and more engineering feats in Repulse Bay

…and more engineering feats in Repulse Bay

Looking over Stanley Market area from Murray House

Looking over Stanley Market area from Murray House

A new iPhone for Elaine took us to Kowloon by the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), but first we visited Diamond Hill Nan Lian Gardens and the adjoining Chi Lin Nunnery – an oasis of calm surrounded by flyovers, high rises and shopping malls.  Here we chanced upon a charming Exhibition of Chinese Enamel Wares and Japanese Cloisonné Enamels.  Photographs were not allowed, but it was intriguing to see the intricate work on creating enamelware, and the exquisite finished articles, some dating back hundreds of years.

Plan of Garden and Temple

Plan of Garden and Nunnery

Trees in the landscaped garden

Trees in the landscaped garden

Pavilion Bridge

Pavilion Bridge

Chi Lin Nunnery

Chi Lin Nunnery

Ornate golden Buddhas

Ornate golden Buddhas

Then on to Mong Kok, a busy shopping area, known for its electronics and street markets.  This was and still is a major protest area, and it was fascinating to see the major thoroughfares occupied by students who had created very efficient barricades.

Think this is Mong Kok!

Think this is Mong Kok!

Barricades, police, onlookers ... all peaceful

Barricades, police, onlookers, student in protective gear … all peaceful

To finish the day off we enjoyed a prime table at an Italian restaurant with al fresco dining, on Kowloon waterfront, watching the laser show on HK Island, with the city so brilliantly lit with its backdrop of the almost vertical slopes of the hill.  We returned using the Star Ferry, a 10 minute trip across the harbour on one of the two tier green and white ferries plying between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon since 1898.

Son et lumiere with laser show

Son et lumiere with laser show

Eating out in the evenings was always an interesting experience, but the Greek restaurant Santorini in SoHo, just off the Mid levels escalator was excellent, and the area is popular with western tourists.    We also had a couple of very tasty and cheap meals near the hotel in a typical Hong Kong canteen style restaurant.

By night Hong Kong comes alive with its high end fashion and haute couture labels in neon lights and for his fans, George is there too … sadly only as a huge poster.

Nightlife ...

Nightlife …

Who's that boy?

Who’s that boy?

On our penultimate day we took the MTR to Lantau Island, and then the 5.7 km cable car ride to Ngong Ping 360 Village with its temples at Po Lin monastery and the biggest open air bronze Buddha in the world – the Tin Tan Buddha.  Perhaps we are being complacent when we remark on our slight disappointment at the overall vista and what we considered to be a big tourist trap with its fast food outlets and tourist souvenir shops.  Have we been spoiled by our wonderful experiences in Penang and Phuket we wonder?

Looking down from our car

Looking down from our car

The Buddha

The Buddha

Detail of painted roof beams

Detail of painted roof beams

After some last minute shopping we took the world’s steepest funicular railway to Victoria Peak at 1800 ft.  We arrived at sunset on the Look Out at The Peak Tower, and watched as the city lights came on well below us, and further up the hill some of the world’s most expensive properties, owned by billionaire tycoons.  Dinner on our last evening had been booked at ‘The Peak Lookout’, away from the madding crowds visiting the fast food outlets, where we found peace and great views looking NW over the city.

'VIPs' at the Peak

‘VIPs’ at the Peak

Stunning view

Stunning view

Which set of chopsticks to use?

Which set of chopsticks to use?

Beautiful fans on display

Beautiful fans on display

So after six days we can safely say there is something for everyone, we have ‘done’ the main sights and now continue our journey to Thailand.

IMG_1160

Posted in England, Hong Kong | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Finalmente! Summer Sun 3 – Bella Italia

Opportunities that occur simply as a direct result of our deciding to go sailing back in 2008 and possibly crossing oceans are quite amazing.  For the whole of September Bob acted as caretaker, or even Captain (after all, there was nobody else on board!) of a 121 ft. super yacht called Damahwil built by Dufour, which was alongside in Loano Marina on the Italian Riviera!  Another new and unexpected destination for both of us.  This came about as a direct result of meeting the French owner, Christian, in May at Yacht Haven in Phuket, before he shipped his yacht to Turkey.

Damahwil

Damahwil (Bob is small figure on bow!)

Elaine had had planned surgery on her wrist, and after family gatherings we both flew to Nice, and then on by coastal train via Ventimiglia to Loano and Damahwil.  Even on the train journey we could see the Italian Riviera is picturesque, and decided there is much to explore.  After a week during which we had been very well looked after by Christian who had stayed on board to carry out a ‘hand over’ with Bob, Elaine had to return to the UK.  Now on his own, Bob got to grips with the numerous systems that need regular checking.  Looking after the vessel was not as easy as one would think, with the likes of a fire alarm going off at 22.00 and frantic calls to Djibouti (where Christian lives) in the middle of the night to ascertain how to stop it.  All the while klaxons going off both in and outside the boat, Bob just waiting for the local polizia and fire tenders to arrive!

Beach obliterated by umbrellas and sunloungers!

Beach obliterated by umbrellas and sunloungers!

Loano is a small town in the province of Savona in the region of Liguria, located about 60 km south west of Genoa and about 50 km north east of San Remo. The coastline is beautiful, fronted by a busy beach scene but behind the façade are villages, a mass of narrow alleyways steeped in history and atmosphere.  In the evening they come alive, with their fabulous little restaurants, great wine and food, not forgetting the gelateria and most scrumptious ice cream.  To find out more about sailing around Loano, click here.

Clock Tower - Loano

Clock Tower – Loano

Buttressed narrow lanes

Buttressed narrow lanes

Bridge and temple - Loano

Bridge and temple – Loano

Loano Church Square

Loano Church Square

Interspersed with getting through the ‘to-do-list’ Bob took time out to hike in the hills around Finale Ligure and Finalborgo, wandering through olive groves, passing by long disused limestone quarries, and then being rewarded with fabulous views from the hilltops.

The hiking area

The hiking area

Looking to sea

Looking out to sea

Castel San Govani Gate

Castel San Giovanni Gate

Limestone quarrying

Disused Limestone Quarry

Two Castels

Castel Gavone in background; San Benedetto foreground

The square in Finale

The square in Finale

The square - detail of facade and partly exposed mosaic work

The square – detail of facade and partly exposed decorative work

As the fine weather broke at the beginning of October Bob returned to the UK to be reunited with Elaine who had not been idle!  She caught up with some of the ‘Ladies who Lunch and Have Dinner’ fraternity – what bliss to be retired!  And she seized the opportunity to attend ‘Proms in The Park’ (=Hyde Park) with a group of friends to fly the flag and sing those patriotic songs that are quintessentially British – and mid-September 2014 with an historic referendum looming, the audience was in fine voice!

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And Again! Summer Sun 2 – Channel Islands

Guernsey coat of arms

Guernsey coat of arms

Of our travels to the Channel Islands this summer our main visit is covered here - destination Guernsey – on Nightingale a Moody 346 belonging to Bob’s son, which he has been extensively refurbishing since buying it last year.  It was most generous of Andrew to allow us to share the use of his yacht for the summer, and took us back to the days of our own Moody, Azrar III, which we sold to buy Pipistrelle.  Our starting point was Parkstone Yacht Club a very active racing and dinghy sailing club in Poole Bay.  For more about Parkstone see www.parkstoneyachtclub.com and our blog links to sailing clubs.

Parktone YC

Parktone YC

We chose superb weather for the trip which was great for sunbathing but of course no good for sailing – we motored the whole way from Studland Bay where we had anchored the evening before, to Alderney in 12 hours. A breath of wind the following day took us through The Swinge which even on a calm day with currents in our favour was swirling though not boiling and on towards Guernsey.

Braye Harbour

Braye Harbour

Wooshing through The Swinge - clocking 8 kn!

Wooshing through The Swinge – clocking 8 kn!

 Judging the entry time into Beaucette Marina is tricky.  Knowing we would arrive early we took a mooring and waited until escorted by rib through the narrow 15m wide entrance with 3m of tide over the sill.  Beaucette was a granite quarry in the 19th century and blasted by the Royal Engineers in the late 60s to create a marina from about 1970.  The last time we negotiated the entrance was in 2008 on our ‘maiden voyage’ on Pipistrelle when the previous owners Katherine and Stephen (Paine) were sitting on the rocks watching our approach!  Nothing like pressure to get it right!

Launch in narrow entrance

Launch in narrow entrance

Nightingale in Beaucette - 2nd from bottom left

Nightingale in Beaucette – 2nd from bottom left

For more information about the marina visit: www.beaucettemarina.com and www.beaucetterestaurant.com for the restaurant where we were joined for dinner one evening by Katherine and Stephen who we visited at their home just before Christmas last year.  It was at their pre-Christmas drinks party last December that Bob was reacquainted former colleague Karl Symes and his wife Gill with whom we were able to have a very enjoyable lunch at the Guernsey Yacht Club against the backdrop of Castle Cornet.  For the time being Andrew and family are still living on Guernsey so we spent some quality time with them and were very kindly lent his car to get around.

St Peter Port with Castle Cornet in background

St Peter Port with Castle Cornet in background

Thus mobile on land, from Beaucette we explored parts of the island we did not know, driving south to St Martins, visiting Moulin Huet Bay where Elaine spent a holiday with her family as a girl, and buying ‘hedge veg’ on our way.  This is the term for the sale of fresh fruit and veg displayed in stands on the roadside and paid for by means of an honesty box.

Moulin Huet

Moulin Huet

Rural scene

Rural scene

Dilapidated glasshouse - one of many on the island

Dilapidated glasshouse – one of many on the island

We also visited St Peter Port where unknown to us, the annual Guernsey Festival was in full swing with street players entertaining the public at strategic points in town.  Among these were Imaginejack with opera singer duo Imogen and Jack, entertaining appreciative audiences with their music, a little theatre and much humour.  See www.imaginejack.com for more information.

With Jack in fine voice!

With Jack in fine voice!

A day trip by ferry saw us landing on the very pretty island of Sark and hiring bikes to get around.  The only other means of transport is pony and trap.  We cycled to the La Seigneurie Gardens which were showing themselves to their best advantage.  The newly renovated Chapel told us about the history of Sark’s Seigneurs and the Seigneurie itself.

La Seigneurie

La Seigneurie

Outside the Walled Garden

Outside the Walled Garden

The Dovecote

The Dovecote

Hole in the Rock - sheer drop to sealevel

We cycled to Hole in the Rock – sheer drop to sea level

La Sablonnerie on Little Sark was our lunch venue, reached by the narrow causeway that links the two islands.  The welcome was friendly, food eaten al fresco delicious, and garden a riot of colour.  Elizabeth, the owner of the hotel – one of the two last in private ownership on the island – was also around chatting to the guests.  A charming relaxing interlude – we had to peddle hard to be in time for the return ferry to Guernsey.

The Causeway

The Causeway

La Sablonnerie

La Sablonnerie

How this pretty island with its centuries of history has changed since the Barclay brothers built their castle on neighbouring Brecqhou.  Such a shame they are trying to ‘take over’ Sark.  Google on the subject is illuminating!

Braye Alderney

Braye Alderney

On our return trip we again put in to Alderney for the night, not leaving before a walk ashore and dinner at ‘The First and Last’.  An early start the following morning saw us under sail for most of the day and having to reef down the foresail later in winds rising to 25 kn off Swanage late afternoon.  Studland was our sheltered overnight anchorage in the shadow of the Old Harry Rocks and then it was a mere couple of hours back to Parkstone the next day.

Old Harry in evening light

Old Harry in evening light

Nightingale in Parkstone again

Nightingale in Parkstone again

Posted in Channel Islands, Great Britain | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

And Again! Summer Sun 2 – Celebrations …

… A Birthday, A Christening and A Wedding!

Congratulations to…

Edith and Oliver

Edith and Oliver

Swiss friends Edith and Oliver on their double 60th birthdays which Elaine was delighted to celebrate with them in early June at the Drei König Restaurant, Lörrach, Germany just over the border from Basel where they live!

Reuben James Riddell with parents Annie and Andy and sister Florence

Reuben James Riddell with parents Annie and Andy and sister Florence

grandson Reuben on his christening which we both celebrated with the family in late June at Christchurch Priory, Dorset, England.

Christina and Kai

Christina and Kai

daughter Chrissy and son-in-law Kai on their wedding on 9th August at Merton Park, London – again a very family happy day with proud Dad giving Chrissy away!

And the sun shone for all three occasions!

Posted in England, Great Britain, Switzerland | Tagged , , , , ,

It’s Here! Summer Sun 1 – Sweden

Blue and yellow used as Swedish colours for centuries

Blue and yellow – the Swedish colours for centuries

Our summer in Europe was busy, starting at the beginning of July with revisiting the west coast of Sweden, where we met our sailing friends Ingemar and Ann-Britt on their very comfortable Dehler 43, Lady Ann III.  We last sailed in the area on the classic yacht Overlord (www.sailoverlord.org.uk) in 2003, and whilst we had fantastic weather again, this time we sailed to beautiful anchorages and marinas that we did not know existed on our first visit.  All thanks to our hosts, who it has to be said, do know the area like the back of their hand!

Like so many, our friends have a summer house and the blue and yellow Swedish banner flutters in the breeze when they are in residence!  Theirs is at Ulebergshamn, almost 2 hour’s drive north of Goteborg.

We spent a few days there unwinding, enjoying the magnificent local coastal scenery and being entertained by several of their friends which included a really fun 50th birthday party of one of Ingemar’s colleagues.

To prove where we were!

To prove where we were!

Looking down on Ulebergshamn and beyond at dusk

Looking down on Ulebergshamn and beyond at dusk

Udden modern sculpture - a short coastal walk from home

Udden modern sculpture – a short coastal walk from home

If you get caught out, facilities are near!  Cute loo sign ...

If you get caught out, facilities are near! Cute loo sign …

Kungshamn

Kungshamn

Boarding Lady Ann berthed at the marina just down the hill, we sailed north on a south easterly wind to an island about 12 miles offshore called Lyngo, and the small harbour of Lyngohalet, 58 32.35N 11 05.25E (* see postscript below).

Rafted up!

Rafted up in Lyngohalet!

Here we rafted up in the tight ‘marina’.  Pipistrelle would have squeezed onto the end but in the right weather, anchoring outside is also a good option.  Later we walked across the rocky island, enjoying stunning views, stopping to watch a number of yachts moored in a narrow channel between Lyngo and Makrilleskar.  We were struck again by how clean the country is – somehow the air seems more pure here!  People are friendly and welcoming, the lifestyle seemingly laid back and very relaxed.  The scenery on the west coast is spectacular, and summer BBQ’ing ashore a way of life.  Add beautiful weather and sailing conditions to the mix and you have the recipe for a great holiday!

afternoon walk

afternoon walk

Spotted in the undergrowth!

Spotted in the undergrowth!

The wind was forecast to turn to the north, but we had one more day of favourable winds, so headed north the next day to Lindo, 58 46.40N 11 09.08E, with its lovely big anchorage, and only about 20nm to the Norwegian border.

Trosso, Lindo, Kalvo nature reserve

Trosso, Lindo, Kalvo nature reserve and following photos …

Kalvo

… Kalvo …

taking a break after a morning stroll!

… taking a break …

Highland cattle grazing

… Highland cattle grazing …

Lady Ann on mooring

… and Lady Ann on her mooring

As forecast the wind then veered to the NW, and so we slowly headed south, stopping for lunch at Havstensund, 58 45.15N 11 10.38E, and on to Stora Klovskar for an overnight stop at 58 39.18N 11 12.33E.  This enabled us to enjoy a good sail and provided another sheltered anchorage with more stunning scenery.

The long light evenings with sunset at 22.30, and good light until 23.30, enabled us to carry on sailing comfortably long past the time when we would normally be stopping for the night.  The next day, 9th July, was a good example of a long comfortable passage south.  We sailed through the islands in the morning to a lunch break at Fjallbacka, 58 36.00N 11 16.42E, then on a further 6nm to Hamburgsund for a brief stop for provisions, and this entailed a fascinating motor sail along one of the typical narrow channels to be found in the archipelago.

Fjallbacka

Fjallbacka

We anchored close to Heestrand, 58 30.54N 11 15.42E for evening drinks and a prawn supper preceded by our daily swim. Though the Vikings are hardened to the local water temperature and have no problem taking a dip, we Pipistrellians accustomed to the Andaman Sea at about 30C, required some encouragement before taking the plunge and jumping off the stern of Lady Ann into what the water thermometer claimed to be 20C… breath-taking in the truest sense!

Finally, with the skipper on low alcohol beer (limits are the same as on the road), we set sail for Ulebergshamn, enjoyed a superb sunset en route, watching colours change as dusk began, and after a further hour or so tied up on Ingemar’s mooring. What a fabulous day!

under sail at sunset

under sail at sunset

The following week we sailed to Goteborg.  Notable stops were quaint Lilla Korno, Skarhamn where we rafted up and ‘enjoyed’ the crowded marina (a charming wooden boat rally was in port).  There we met up with one of Ingemar’s sisters and her partner for dinner who then joined us next day to sail through Marstrand to Kallo-Knippla at 57 45.01N 11 39.17E.

Lilla Korno map

Lilla Korno map

A tight squeeze for Lady Ann

A tight squeeze for Lady Ann in Lilla Korno

Boats, boats, boats ...

Boats, boats, boats …

Marstrand

Marstrand

Looking back at Kallo-Knippla

Looking back at Kallo-Knippla

Here another of Ingemar’s sisters has a summerhouse and we had been included in an invitation to participate in the annual family get together.  Another delightful island with a lot of history, and a joy to explore.

Sote Kanal

Sote Kanal

Sote Kanal scenery

Sote Kanal scenery

Vrango at 57 34.27N 11 46.35E provided another bows-to mooring in the outer marina where there would be enough room for Pipistrelle. We had a lovely walk through a nature reserve at the north of the island. The facilities are good with shower block, supermarket, restaurant and fresh fish straight from the fisherman.  Only 35nm from the island of Laeso in Denmark, it is a good entry point to Sweden.

Vrango in evening light

Vrango in evening light

Finally we arrived at the marina by the Opera House in Goteborg where it is just a short walk to the airport shuttle bus and a flight back to the UK. Farewells were said to Ingemar and Ann-Britt – we meet again in Thailand in November when they fly out to join us for 2 weeks’ sailing on Pipistrelle in Phang Nga Bay!

Departure from Lady Ann at 'The Lipstick' in Goteborg

Departure from Lady Ann at ‘The Lipstick’ in Goteborg 

*PS. For those interested in using a tablet/mobile device while sailing/travelling, we find the MAPS.ME ‘MapsWithMe’ App extremely useful, providing fast and detailed offline maps.  No need for an internet connection and the GPS in the device shows the lat/long position even though it is offline.  For example we used it to mark our anchorages in Sweden, added explanatory notes and positions for recall later.  Hence the coordinates above!

Look out for the next blog update - Summer Sun 2!

Look out for the next blog update – Summer Sun 2!

 

Posted in Sweden | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Coming Soon … Summer Sun

Other celebrations plus our sailing exploits on Lady Ann III, Nightingale and Damahwil  are still to come – but where were we?

Lady Ann III

Lady Ann III

Nightingale (2nd from left on pontoon)

Nightingale (2nd from left on pontoon)

Damahwil

Damahwil

Answers soon!

Posted in Channel Islands, Italy, Sweden | Tagged , ,

And So To Bed …

After our successful visa run to Kuala Lumpur and completion of refit work at Yacht Haven, extensively described in Refit at Yacht Haven, Phuket and A Grand Day Out we left Phuket and spent two perfect days sailing to Krabi by way of the Koh Dam Group.  Unlike the previous time we stopped here we found a quiet anchorage, away from longtail and speedboat traffic still bringing tourists on day trips to sandy beaches outside the high season.

Koh Dam - anchorage almost to ourselves!

Koh Dam – anchorage almost to ourselves!

The passage from the Koh Dam Group to Krabi takes a couple of hours, and must be timed so that arrival is at high water, preferably towards spring tides.  The passage up the river to the marina is relatively easy with the waypoints supplied by Krabi Boat Lagoon, but care must be taken…

Waypoints to the mangrove entrance provided by the marina are as follows:

WP1: 07 57.9N 098 55.2E

WP2: 07 58.4N 098 55.7E

WP3: 07 59.1N 098 55.9E

WP4: 07 59.7N 098 56.5E

WP5: 08 00.1N 098.57.3E

WP6: 08 00.8N 098 57.4E

Still in river,  steered 90 deg to starboard to negotiate channel!

Still in river, steered 90 deg to starboard to negotiate narrow channel!

The entrance to the marina through the mangroves is narrow; on the approach we spotted this monitor lizard!

A monitor lizard greets us  at the marina entrance!

A monitor lizard greets us at the marina entrance!

The climate in Thailand is so harsh at this time of year that covering Pipistrelle with tarpaulins to protect from the UV rays from the sun, and daily rain we understand in August and September, made a lot of sense.  We also bought and installed a window aircon unit that is sitting on the saloon deck, timed to come on twice a day, and keep the humidity under control.   Added to these precautions we installed “roach hotels” and ant poison, to eradicate these insects, which are prolific.  Thus Pipistrelle has been thoroughly ‘winterised’ while we spend a few months in Europe.

Krabi Boat Lagoon has air conditioned apartments in the marina complex for rent at The Cleat Condominium, which made life far more comfortable than living on board.  The humidity in this season is thoroughly unpleasant!

Under cover!

Under cover!

Second hand aircon unit in place and operational

Second hand aircon unit in place and operational

We were delighted to find that two geckos had climbed on board at some point, probably while we were in Yacht Haven.  Geckos live off insects, and whilst not frequent visitors on yachts, are considered to be lucky to have on board!

Our tame gecko

Our tame gecko

Click here for more information about Krabi Boat Lagoon.

See also our earlier blog article Krabi, Pu, Muk and Phi Phi and the later Reawakening in Krabi post.

Posted in Thailand | Tagged , , , ,

Phuket encore!

Yacht Haven anchorage from 'Haven' restaurant

Yacht Haven anchorage from ‘Haven’ restaurant terrace. Negotiating rickety jetty in darkness, at low tide, after happy hour  = take a torch!

As mentioned in the last blog (Refit at Yacht Haven, Phuket), in December when the teak deck is replaced, we may just let the workers get on with their work and escape!  During five weeks spent on the work berth we did manage to get out from under their feet for outings, hiring a cheap car (or rent a dent) for a day at a time mainly for the purposes of provisioning and scouring DIY stores for boatie bits, but combining those excursions with some sightseeing.  Relaxing in the small swimming pool – just a 10 minute walk away from the marina became almost a daily ritual and reward for our toils on board (hired labour was not the only workforce!).  A bite to eat at the Haven was also very welcome on occasions when it was either too hot or too disorganised in the galley.

Just northwest of Chalong and visible from about half the island sits the Big Buddha which we visited one afternoon. With an outer coating of Burmese alabaster, this 60 million Baht Buddha is after 10 years, still under construction and relies entirely on donations to fund its completion.   The vistas from the top are splendid, with views of the Andaman Sea on one hand and Chalong Bay on the other.

Big Buddha against setting sun - from Chalong anchorage

Big Buddha against setting sun – from Chalong anchorage

Big Buddha, Chalong

Big Buddha in daylight

bell offerings

bell offerings to the Buddha

View to anchorage at Chalong Bay and beyond looking southeest

Picturesque view to anchorage at Chalong Bay and beyond – looking southeest

Chalong Pier dinghy 'park' - rickety and not glamorous

Chalong Pier dinghy ‘park’ – less picturesque, rickety and not user-friendly

Out there the sea looks inviting with its warm temperatures, but it does come with a warning – BEWARE OF THE JELLYFISH.   It turns out they are troublesome on the shores of Phuket and the Andaman Sea – even Box jellyfish that can cause serious stings.   Small jellies, hardly visible in the water can mar a swim or snorkel leaving small irritating stings.  We have found that plentiful application of white vinegar reduces irritation.

Jellyfish harvesting is big business in the area arounnd Phuket where the ‘pink’ jellyfish is abundant.  This variety is used in Chinese cuisine. The main fishing season is between March and May and again between August and November.  This pretty specimen was captured on camera as it glided past in Yacht Haven Marina.  It is about 30 cm in diameter.

Jellyfish Phyllorhiza punctate

Jellyfish watch

Scooping jellyfish on board longtail

Scooping jellyfish on board

Longtail showing a turn of speed - loudly!

Longtail showing a turn of speed – loudly!

...with an engine like this!

…with an engine like this!

Example of longtail structure

Example of longtail structure

The longtail boat is a unique structure native to Southeast Asia and used for fishing, as tourist boats, supply vessels and water taxis.  It is made of teak with fifteen floors bolted to thirty half frames.  Some floors are bolted through to the keel.  There are two longitudinal stringers.  Stem and stern are attached to the keel and bolted through to inner stem and stern posts to which planks are nailed.

It is driven by a 2nd hand car or truck engine with no silencer mounted on frame which is set into bracket so the helm can pivot the motor either vertically or horizontally using the tiller.  Engine mounting bracket pivot places at centre of fore and aft balance of engine prop shaft assembly.

pulling in the net - and with luck some fish!

fishing boat hauling in the net – and with luck some fish!

Pair trawling at sunset

Pair trawling at sunset

Rolly Tasker was mentioned in the last blog.  Surprisingly, what could be called ‘The French Connection’ emerged there.  The rigging side of the business is run by Frenchmen JP who is just about to retire and David, his successor. Chatting to them, it transpired that JP’s neighbour in Brittany is Laurent Bourgnon and his family who we met in New Zealand on their catamaran ‘Jambo’.  Small world.   In the challenging search for a deck mounted air conditioning unit to use while Pipistrelle is on the hard, we finally discovered SCS Marine and Stephane, another Frenchman who owns and runs a highly efficient air conditioning business, constructing custom built units for vessels rather larger than Pipistrelle.  Here we bought our reconditioned second hand unit.  We touched the surface of what must be a thriving French community in Phuket. There is even a monthly publication in French and Thai (interesting language combination!)  called ‘Paris Phuket’.

French - Thai flavour!

French – Thai flavour!

On a different note, as the season progressed and we entered the transitional period between North East and South West Monsoon, watching the weather for signs of change is important because there is more rain and though in April the downpours are predominantly at night, during May and June the frequency increases and daytime deluges are common with accompanying high winds.

...from this ...

…this (Yacht Haven) …

...to this (a different venue) ...

… easily turns to this (a different venue) …

...and finally to this

…and finally to this (Yacht Haven)

April to July is the local pineapple season!   Bought at the roadside, we have never eaten such succulent pineapple. The fruit is juicy and flesh golden yellow – delicious.  They are cultivated in rows between the ‘hevea’ (rubber) trees, rubber cultivation also being an important business for the island.  The main article in the latest edition of ‘Paris Phuket’ (above) describes the ‘tears of white gold’ from the hevea.

Phuket pineapple

Phuket pineapple

Roadside vendor

Roadside vendor and wares

And finally, spotted in Yacht Haven marina.  This pretty organism is only about 10cm long, but identification is proving a challenge.

What is this? a) a nudibranch b) a flatworm c) neither of these

What is it?
a) a nudibranch
b) a flatworm
c) neither of these

Answers on a postcard please!

Posted in Thailand | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

A Grand Day Out

This auspicious day - 27th May – did not mark a birthday or anniversary; it was simply an interesting way to do a ‘visa run’.

While in Penang in February we were able to obtain a 60 day Thai tourist visa at the Consultate there.  Phuket Immigration issued us with a 30 day extension which we found a very straightforward and friendly exercise.  In fact we were through in five minutes.  It did help that we had all photocopies and passport photos required and turned up in reasonable attire.  Thereafter, a trip to another country is required if only for a few hours to obtain an ‘exit’ stamp on departure, entry/exit stamps in the other country and a 30 day renewal at airport Immigration on re-entry.   Sounds simple, but in fact the Thai government seems to move the goalposts rather frequently, causing confusion within the yachting community that generally prefers to spend more than 30 days in one country.

Our original plan was to travel by minibus to Ranong at the Burmese border, about 450 km from Phuket, catch a longtail (see Phuket Encore) for a short trip to Kawthoung in Burma, get the necessary stamps in our passports and return in a day.  This was thwarted by uncertainty as to whether the border would be open even before the military coup of 22nd May put further restrictions in place.

Finally, we opted for ease and a cheapy ‘red eye’ Air Asia flight to take us from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur which we had not yet visited.

From the brand new KLIA2 (Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2) we took the light railway to the central KL station – a journey of just over 30 minutes.  As we knew we would not have too much time in the city we decided to see as many of the sights as possible by using the ‘Hop-on-Hop-Off’ bus service which conveniently stopped just outside the station.

We were not disappointed.  Here are some of the shots taken en route:

National Palace

National Palace

On guard!

On guard!

Guard to horse: 'I think I may faint!'

Guard to horse: ‘I think I may faint!’

The Menara KL or KL Tower

The Menara KL or KL Tower – 276 metres high

Palace of Culture

Palace of Culture

Petronas Towers - HQ of national petroleum company and tallest twin buildings in the world

Petronas Towers – HQ of national petroleum company and tallest twin buildings in the world

Merdeka or 'Independence' Square.  Malaysia became independent in 1957

Merdeka or ‘Independence’ Square. Malaysia became independent in 1957

More attractive colonial  architecture with Moghul influence by  A. C. Norman - late 19C

More attractive colonial architecture with Moghul influence by A. C. Norman – late 19C

Admire the reflection!

Admire the reflection!

Colonial railway station, now used as a commuter line

Colonial railway station, now used as a commuter line

Though we could have shopped till we dropped (Bob loves it!) at many of the high class shopping malls, we stayed put until the Chinatown stop when we alighted and had a late lunch at one of the small restaurants in this vibrant and colourful part of the city.

Chinatown

Chinatown

Fresh papaya (left) and lychees (just in season)

Fresh papaya (left) and lychees (just in season)

To sum up, we are glad we made the effort to venture into the heart of Kuala Lumpur, but are equally pleased we had not chosen to stay longer.  Now rated as a world city, business, cultural and economic centre, KL is a modern, bustling Asian metropolis of nearly 2 million people.   After a day of sightseeing we felt weary and in need of putting our feet up on Pipistrelle (theoretically that is).

Vitally, after a grand day out we could legally re-enter Thailand and stay for a further month!

Posted in Malaysia, Thailand | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,