Thursday, February 19, 2015

From sleepy Surins to cruisy Koh Phra Thong

We had some urgent paperwork to attend to concerning both Diana's visa and boat clearance so it was time to leave the tranquil idyll of the Surins and head for Nai Yang on the Phuket west coast. We left with a 15-20 kt easterly blowing and so it was beam reach bliss all the way and The Doctor proving what a fine sailing vessel she really is. Miraculously we sorted all bureaucracy in under an hour, did 3 big shops at Villa, Tesco and Makro, found a beautiful gift for Megs special birthday and got it posted off and had all provisions on board and cold beer in hand by 9 pm. What a day!!!!!

Now that's a flat anchorage

We thought we should spend some time on the inland waterway just north of Ban Thap Lamu, the navy base anchorage north of Nai Yang. Flat anchorages without the incessant roll that plagues the west coast of Thailand in the dry season  were calling  like some siren call in the early and sleepless hours of morning. The bar crossing at the southern entrance was pathetic compared to the Ballina crossing we did a few years back (refer to the now best seller Tell Tales) . Once inside, the sea flattened out and it was still, flat and roll free. Some of you might not fully understand what roll is so here's a quick explanation. Wind out at sea creates swell which moves to shore and then breaks. We try and anchor out of the swell but on this coast it's not easy as it comes from the west. Swell is roll and when you lie side on, it rocks the boat from side to side as you would a baby in a bassinet. We have a ship's bell at the navigation table and when it's bad the bell striker actually hits the bell and we hear a loud ring. That is our signal to abandon ship and we pack up personal items, Motley and phones and sleep ashore on the sand. Not really but it's a thought. The inland waterway, thanks to the sand bar, has no swell and it's like being in a marina, ahhhhh bring it on.
Wilson's new buddy

Wilson is an old soccer ball we found lying on a beach somewhere and it lived in the dinghy. You may remember the fine movie with Tom Hanks called Castaway where he has a Wilson brand soccer ball which  he paints a face on and he grows to see it as his one and only friend. Tragically, it floats off and he swims out to save it but to no avail. Well, we found it it in Thailand and it was chucked into the dinghy where it became a nuisance. Everywhere you put your feet, there was Wilson asking to be moved or thrown back in the sea. Well, we pulled up outside a small village on the mainland side of the water way, went ashore, had dinner and wandered back to the dinghy. On the way back a vegie truck pulled up and as I was sourcing fresh produce Diana headed back to the dinghy. Some school kids had seen Wilson in the dingy and had taken him and were playing soccer on the concrete pad near the jetty. Diana joined in and the game switched to keep it off. There were squeals of fun and all the local mamas and papas watched on with smiles all round. These kids lived on an island and got to school each day via long tail. As they climbed aboard to head home one of then walked towards Diana to return the ball. But Wilson had found a new home and she promptly offered it back. It was flat and slightly perished but it was a ball that worked like balls do. Their grins say it all.

School's done ........going home with Wilson

On the seaward side of the water way is an island called Koh Prah Thong and its unique in a topographical sense. Its composed of grey sand and is mostly savannah. Paper barks are everywhere and the island is covered in sand tracks.

savannah complete with sand tracks look close and you'll see a herd of elephants just below that far hill

 We took a half day tour on the back of a Toyota ute and as the photos will suggest, it was like being back in Oz or maybe the open plains of Africa.. Dry, sandy, treeless and flat. The only thing missing were a herd of elephants, or a giraffe loping along. I suggested they make up some models and place them here and there but it was seriously lost in translation. There is a big bird that is native to the island and it's some type of crane. They float around on the thermals and look like a small plane looking for a landing site.

early morning magic in Thailand

 We loved this anchorage and stayed nearly a week. There are low key resorts with great home cooked food and the time seemed to slide easily away. The Thai massage we had on the beach was quite special. The lady is an instructor and she is busy, especially since she charges 500 bht and the flash Golden Buddah  resort wants 900. We booked for 8am and I went first, Diana decided to go for a walk along the beach. Early morning on these islands is magical. There is the soft wash of waves on shore, the sweet sea air, the swish of the casuarinas that line the shore and before you know it you are gone. There was something very soothing about this island, something gentle and unhurried. Something  that makes Thailand a hard place to leave. Till next time. Rob.

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