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Friday, February 22, 2013

February 11 – 21, 2012 – Guests Aboard and Finally Cruising Around Phuket

Jo Van Os and Lex Silvester had sailed to Thailand from Darwin on their yacht a few years ago and had since returned home to Darwin. They had loved sailing through Indonesia, Malaysia and around Phuket and were a fantastic resource for us throughout our journey to Thailand. We were thrilled when they at last decided to join us here in mid-February. Their impending arrival gave us plenty of fuel to light a fire under our canvas maker, imploring him to get our dodger and bimini completed so that we could take them sailing.
Our friends arrived early morning, February 11th. We had dinner plans that first night with several of Jo and Lex's old friends from the marina, at our very favorite local restaurant called Coconut, owned and operated by a beautiful Thai woman named Pen. Her food is out of this world and very inexpensive. It is so good in fact, that I ordered several meals from her to take with us so we would not have to cook in this heat.

Muzza, our canvas maker had promised us the work would be completed and everything installed by the morning of Feb 12. Morning came and went – we got a call…delayed but still coming. We dined again with Nick, Zara and Roger for lunch at the Living Room here at Yacht Haven, while waiting for the tide change and for our canvas. Somehow it turned out to be a good thing that Muzza was running late because we had a little problem with a stay sail at the last minute causing Frank, Lex and Roger to scramble for a shackle. The canvas arrived in its dress-rehearsal form to get us going but would have to be returned for final touches. Everything was ready and looked great! But, Uh-oh! Something didn't look right. The zip out mid portion of the front windshield was made upside down. After all this time, we just could not believe this. We didn't have time to fool with it and, therefore, decided to just get going and deal with that after Jo and Lex's departure, so off we sailed for the south end of Phuket.

We caught terrific winds that nearly got us to our destination, but with the late start we barely made it to an anchorage a few miles shy of our target of Au Chalong before dark. We anchored, warmed up Pen's delicious prawn red curry and feasted on the back deck, watching the swell rock the boats about.

Up and at'em at dawn the next morning we made a stretch for the Similan islands, directly west of Phuket, in the Andaman Sea.  We arrived at Koh Miang's eastern side, managing to grab a spot in the swelly but stunningly beautiful anchorage that was teeming with tourists and loud powerful speed boats. The next morning we crept around to the western side where the waters were much calmer and the bay was very large but again, brimming with tourists; day-trippers from all over. The massive speed boats carrying 3 to 4 large outboards come roaring in, disgorge dozens of tourists who pour out onto the beach like army ants and set up shop for a couple of hours of swimming and roasting in the searing hot sun. This tiny island must see around 500+ tourists per day. It is unbelievable! We went to shore for lunch at the little beach café that serves a delicious fried noodle with chicken dish, and while the boys were enjoying an after lunch ale we noticed that the majority of the tourists are Russians, Chinese and Koreans. They loved posing with and on our dinghy for photo-ops. I'll bet "t/t Destiny" is in a lot of Facebook pictures. The anchorage quieted down around 4 PM when the tourists departed, leaving us to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Swimming here is like diving into an aqua blue pool with a limestone bottom. The sand is so fine and soft it feels like flour between our toes. We are enjoying this so much after being tied to a dock for 2 months. For dinner we enjoyed Pen's aromatic and absolutely yummy green chicken curry by starlight with a little Jimmy Buffet playing in the background.

Next stop was Koh Similan where there are no cafes but plenty of tourists. The anchorage is even more beautiful than the one at Koh Miang. We stayed two days swimming and enjoying the beach. There is a popular hike to the top of the hill where many wander to watch the sunset. Surprisingly Frank's knee had done quite well on the cortisone, and he actually made the hike with no problem. We had feasted on our final meal from Pen – her outstanding seafood penang curry the previous night so tonight Lex treated us to his own special green chicken curry. True to his word it was wonderful!

We made for Phuket's Nai Yang beach on the 18th for Jo and Lex's final night with us, we were delighted to find many of our friends anchored there and happily introduced everyone, reintroducing some of them who had met Jo and Lex in Darwin. The best surprise of the night and a sweet way to end their trip was a visit from Mark and Laura of s/v Sabbatical III. They drove over from the Royal Phuket Marina to meet us for a very nice farewell dinner on the beach. Early the next morning Jo and Lex left. Unfortunately our generator had quit on us (again, argh!!!), so we made a quick two-day trip back around the island to our favorite berth back at Yacht Haven Marina.

Below:Mark, Jo, Laura, Frank, Lex, Barb - our last night together in Phuket

Jo, Barb, Lex Frank having lunch at the beach

Frank and Lex "reading"!
 Koh Similan

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