A lot has happened since our last “normal” blog lastfall. Time has just gotten away from usand I have been severely negligent in my writing. I have received some emails from people whowondered if we were even cruising anymore!! YIKES, that is REALLY bad!
We are alive and well and cruising Thailand, althoughwithout our good friends Braun and Tina because of the terrible loss of theirboat, Grey Pearl, in December. Our hopeis that they jump back into the saddle again, get a boat and ship it to Phuketso that we can cruise together again!
After we arrived in Thailand, we checked in at the mostsouthern point (Ao Chalong), which was fairly easy compared to other places wehave done this. We stayed there for afew days, and then set off to our winter home at Yacht Haven Marina, innorthern Phuket.
On the way to Yacht Haven, we stopped at a few islands alongthe way, the most notable being Phi Phi Island (pronounced Pee Pee). It is a beautiful island, but simply loadedwith tour boats and we had a hard time finding an anchorage.
The biggest problem was that all day and part of the night,the tour boats blasted by you at a distance of about 50 feet at full throttle,summoning up huge waves and we rocked until the wee hours of the evening.
Ashore on Phi Phi, it was crowded and busy with tourists,shops and restaurants, not to mention the “Fish Spas”. What are they, you ask? You probably have not seen this before……
It’s a “spa”, but what they specialize in is feet. They first clean your feet several times,then, as you can see in the pictures, you sit on a bench with your feet in atank full of small fish that proceed to eat whatever ails you feet (dead skin,calluses, etc). I personally find itkind of gross but as you can see, Carol, Tina and Michelle sure enjoyedit!! I heard they do complete body dipsalso but I shudder to think of what that would entail…..
Yacht Haven Marina
Yacht Haven Marina is at the northern end of Phuket up along river of shallow water, which is typical of all Phuket. Once we arrived, we were warmly welcomed byNick and Zara, the managers of the marina. YH is a cruisers marina. What Imean by that is that unlike some of the places we have docked, most of theboats there are cruisers like us from all around the globe. Nick and Zara do a great job running thisplace. They really do care about theircustomers and their boats.
This is the only marina in Phuket that is both protectedfrom weather and boat wake as well as being deep enough for megayachts and deepdraft boats like Seabird. Theelectricity is great and reliable and (most importantly and unique to thismarina), the dock water is potable.
The docks and facilities here are first rate. We chose the right home for our boat!
Carol and I got a good laugh on this one. Here is a sign wewere greeted with in the parking lot…..perhaps it should have been posted onPhi Phi Island also ……….
Although we rented aslip for six months, we planned on leaving the marina for most of December tohave the hull on Seabird painted with Awlgrip, which is a super hard aircrafttype paint. Our boat is in good shape,but the hull was getting VERY dull, mostly from overzealous polishing!
Getting into Boat Lagoon was a challenge. You have to do it at high tide, and even atthat, you need to have a guy from the marina to guide you in. Here is the channel at low tide (about 1 footof water at center channel!)
We contracted withYacht Solutions and one of the owners, Gareth Twist, who made the process govery smoothly and for a fraction of the price of painting in the US. Carol and I rented an apartment at BoatLagoon Marina, where the work was being done so that we could monitor theprogress on a daily basis.
Normally, in the US, at a great expense, they bring your boat into a specialized “clean room” shed to paint the boat, eliminating any chance of contaminants touching the wet paint. Below is Seabird in a Thai “clean room”, which is basically some tarps wrapped around the area to be painted. The amazing thing about it is that it works just fine. As with everything here, they make do with what they have.
One funny glitch is that they misspelled the port Mystic onthe back of the boat, putting Mystio instead. That was an easy fix. They simplycut out a portion of the O, making it a C!
To make a long story short, the boat came out justSPECTACULAR!!! While the boat was beingpainted, we had all the stainless steel removed and completely ground andpolished like new, including our 300 lb anchor
While the boat was out of the water, we needed some othermechanical work done, such as new dry exhaust insulation. While talking to the mechanic who does this,I mentioned to him, almost in passing, that one of the reasons I needed newwrapping was that my exhaust temperature was running several hundred degreeshotter than it should be, but I had all but given up after spending upwards of$15000 for various mechanics from the US, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore withno results. He thought it had to be asimple problem and told me that it had to be the fuel injection pumptiming. After telling him the pump hadbeen rebuilt twice and timed at least 4 times, he still had not changed hismind so I let him have a go at it. Anhour later, he proved that the timing was off. The other mechanics had simply lined up the marks on the engine and thepump without actually looking to see if the pump was doing what it should. It was a simple adjustment and now, theengine is running perfectly and there is positively NO SOOT coming from mystack to attack the boats around me (as in the past). Thank you C and C Marine!!
I would also like to thank Bob Senter, a consultant atLugger Marine. He has maintained allalong that it had to be the timing and they needed to “spill test “the pump,not simply line up the marks like theParts Changer mechanics did.
Phuket is a virtual Treasure Trove of marine parts andservices. There are more marine storesand services just at Boat Lagoon Marina than we have seen in Japan, Taiwan,Hong Kong, the Philippines and Malaysia COMBINED! The prices are not cheap, but you can findvirtually any wax, cleaner, solvent, paint or electronics that you want here.
One of thegreat pleasures of Thailand is the Thai Massage. There are a few types and the businesses arevirtually everywhere. Walking down anystreet, it is not unusual to see 10 competing massage businesses with thegirls, all in uniform of sorts, sitting out front. I don’t particularly care for the classic “ThaiMassage” because it is very aggressive and can hurt. I prefer the “oil” or “aromatic” massagewhich is sort of like a Swedish massage. An hour costs about 300 THB, which translates into about $9 US!! There are two types of places: The regular massage places and then “theother” type which offer “extended services” if you want. It is easy to tell thedifference by the “uniforms” they are wearing!!!
I wasrelaxing at one massage place, lying on my stomach and the masseuse left theroom for a moment, coming back and rolling on these rubber gloves, the typethat a urologist would use. Sheimmediately noted the look of panic on my face and then smiled and told me thatshe used them only because she was allergic to something in the oil that I hadchosen!! Whew……
Thailand in General
We really love cruising in Thailand. The views are spectacular and the people arewonderful. Language is not much of anissue because there are so many foreigners here that almost everyone speaks atleast a little English.
Driving, however, is a bit of a challenge. Because of the remote location of the marina,we really did need to rent a car long term. Aside from driving on the “other side of the road”, the drivers here, manyof whom do not have a valid driver’s license, take lots of liberties on theroad. Passing in both lanes (includingthe pedestrian lane), going the wrong way down a one way street, speeding (andI mean REALLY speeding!) and cutting you off are commonplace. Most traffic laws are merely a “suggestion”,including traffic lights! One day, we werestopped at a red light and a police officer came to the driver’s window and shouted“don’t stop, GO!!”. Well, Ok……
The other issue is perceived liability on trafficaccidents. If I am in an accident, it isMY fault, regardless of the facts involved. A judge here would be the first to tell you that if you had not been inThailand, the accident would not have happened!! Needless to say, I drive very carefully here.
I hope that we can accomplish all we have planned whilebeing here such a short time. Cruisingthe islands and doing some scuba diving is on the top of our list. Stay tuned…..