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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
And finally, spotted in Yacht Haven marina. This pretty organism is only about 10cm long, but identification is proving a challenge.
Answers on a postcard please!