Saturday, 26 November 2011

Sleigh Ride to Phuket

Rebak Retirement Island!
In early November Neil was busy working in India, so Ley filled her days with a typical Rebak Retirement Island lifestyle.  A walk, swim and water aerobics in the early mornings, cooking classes, fruit and vegie ferry runs and then provisioning.
Hard to take......
With Crystal Blues fully loaded with fuel, water & wine, we departed Telaga Harbour around 14.00 hours.  The wind always gusts strongly around the top end of Langkawi as there are many mountains and high cliffs, so we motor-sailed through the gusts and then turned off the engine.  16 hours and 120 nm later we arrived at our destination, Phuket.  Both crew and Crystal Blues had a fabulous overnight sail.  Winds were just forward of the starboard beam, blowing 10 to 23 knots.  For hours on end we were flying at 8.5 knots or more.  As the wind crept up to 23 knots I prepared to furl in the head sail, but the sea state calmed down and we kept flying with full genoa and mainsail.  I had decided to let Neil sleep longer, but he woke up early, as he didn't want to miss the best sailing we have had in years.  Wind at last !
Squid boat - lit up like a Christmas tree.

Very Scary!  Around midnight  I saw a shadow of an unlit yacht sailing off our starboard bow.  I raced down below and switched on all our lights as this ghost ship silently tacked and glided by 100 feet off starboard.  The only navigation light was a stern mounted red fishing light, flashing dimly.  The sailor had a small flashing strobe in his hand.  I tried to make contact with him over VHF radio, but no reply, so I told anyone else who was listening on radio what I thought of his irresponsible sailing.......a very frightening experience!

Up until then all I had to dodge were lines of anchored squid boats, as in this photo, which are lit up like Christmas trees.

Checking in to Phuket.    There are new check-in procedures for Phuket / Ao Chalong One Stop Shop.  If you have Internet access before you arrive in Thailand, it expedites clearance if you register and check in on line.  All your information online is printed out and is chopped with your boat stamp and signature.  Port Captain and Customs also require a lot of paper work still.  The new system is in trial mode and hopefully once the system is fully tested, maybe the paper work mountain will diminish.

A New Home  We had a delightful sail up Phang-Nga Bay toYacht Haven Marina and are now comfortably settled into our berth on A dock, mixing it with many of the Super Yachts that are based here.  Neil has been busy with work - systems design, emails and conference calls each day.  On the weekend we took time out to show friends, Ray and Jan Pitt, Phuket through our eyes.  I think the highlight of their trip was the fun and games we had at the LadyBoy (Kathoey) bar on Saturday night in Patong.  We have also managed to share a few meals with them at our favourite restaurants and cafes here.
Fun and games with Ray and Jan

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