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ADDITIONS TO THE BLOG as of April 2017: Shamal and her Crew being Mum and Dad are in the Cayman Islands * Should you want to contact us, you can do so by clicking on the Contact Us tab below. * PLEASE subscribe to the Blog, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox.



26 February 2010

Phuket to Galle - Sri Lanka

Hello again,

Well our week to ten days at the ‘Yacht Haven Marina’ turned into three weeks while the work progressed slowly and we waited on parts to arrive. So SHAMAL was washed and polished and the list in Alec’s ‘jobs to do’ book were nearly all crossed off which was great. We kept doing outings and visiting different stores etc to replenish supplies which other boaties tell you about. We were becoming familiar faces with the local restaurant owners and quickly becoming part of the local scene which really hit home when the Marina manager asked one morning if she could find us a permanent berth for the season. Help it’s time to move on when those sort of questions come at you.
So on the 10th February we untied our mooring lines after farewells had been said and cards swapped and motored on out and up into Phang Nga Bay north east of where we were. It is just beautiful with over 40 Islands and Islets dotted all over the bay. At the head of the Bay are huge mangrove forests – quite different from the type we get at home – where fisherman live. We did not have time to explore the top end of the Bay. The Islands are quite spectacular, some tall limestone pinnacles covered in jungle and rising straight out of the sea. Others more low lying and covered with jungle. We anchored in a lovely spot between two Islands and while doing so a local fisherman came along side and sold us some fresh prawns so that took care of dinner for us that night. We swam in the slightly murky waters which is a result of silt from the rivers which feed into the Bay but apart from that the water is quite safe and clean and the water temperature is just perfect. Next morning we took the tender to explore the Islands at close hand. Some of them in this area have “hongs” - which is Thai for room – You enter into a cave in your tender or sea kayak, [think we will have to add that to the list of 'got to get'] mostly at low tide, and paddle through coming out into an open to the sky lagoon. Was a bit claustrophobic for me in some of the caves and we had to return to SHAMAL and get a torch, but once through it was well worth it. Again because of the beauty of the area you are joined by a million other people doing the same thing as you, but one advantage of having your own boat is that you visit these places before the hordes arrive.

From there we moved on up to Ko Phing Kan, or James Bond Island as it is called as it was here that the movie ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’ was partly filmed. Being a little late getting away we joined the tourists ashore to have a quick look around. Yes another very pretty Islet but there are other Islands in the area just as good. We then headed back down the Bay and spent a night anchored in the lee of Kho Rang Yai. Yes another gorgeous spot to watch the sun set and all the tour boats return to Phuket for another day.

Next morning it was back to Ao Chalong. Alec will tell you about our little incident as we passed by a couple of American warships at anchor!! We were back in the Bay before mid day and decided to check out with customs as the following day was Saturday and it was time to move on. Once that was complete we visited the supermarket deciding to leave the last of the fruit and vege shop for the morning, and went on out for a our last dinner. Saturday morning we picked up the last of our fuel and were returning to SHAMAL when my phone rang and it was Brigitte saying she was in town. Plans change and we were able to spend Saturday and Sunday morning with her. Her company had put her in a lovely Hotel at the top of the Island and after she had visited us in the morning we hired a car and went to the Hotel to spend the night with her. So that saw us returning to the ‘Yacht Haven Marina’ for dinner that evening. Sunday she had to return to Abu Dhabi and we needed to leave Phuket as we had checked out. They do give boaties 24hours grace in most of these places. So with the last of the supplies on board we motored around to the south western side of Phuket and dropped anchor once more in Nai Harn where we went ashore for one last walk on dry land as it was going to be some time before we would do that for a while.

While at the ‘Yacht Haven Marina’ we were talking to people who said we should make a slight diversion on our way out and head North West of Phuket and offshore about 60nm where lie the Similan Islands which is one of the top dive sites in the world. So we upped anchor from Nai Harn at 2.20am and dodging all the other anchored boats we motored on out and made a heading for the Similan Islands. Winds were light and we did not arrive till 3.00pm but what another beautiful place. The Islands are covered in lush rainforest with exposed smooth granite boulders, white sandy beaches and coral reefs. It is a National Park so not many people live there, but at this time of the year it is visited by dive boats from the mainland. We picked up a mooring and spent two wonderful nights here. I spent most of the time in the water which was as clean and clear as one could imagine, not to say how wonderful and warm it was. The fish and coral life was fantastic and for those who dive you get to see about everything you would want to. There are even whale sharks here. I did not come across one. Alec used our powersnorkel to go deeper but I was quite happy just snorkelling about.

That little adventure had to end and on Wednesday 17th February saw us dropping our mooring buoy and moving on from the Similan Islands on a heading for Sir Lanka. So today is day four of our trip out across the Andaman Sea passing through the Nichobar Islands and now we are in the Bay of Bengal 406nm out with about 680mn to go surrounded by lots and lots of blue blue sea!!! We were thinking of spending a night at the Nicobar Islands but were strongly recommended against doing so. They are administered by India, but unlike the Andamans further to the North the Nicobar Islands are not open to Yachts. You are told it is to protect the native peoples [the Nicobarese were said to practice cannibalism so who is kidding who here?] but it will be something to do with the fact the Russian military installations on the Islands which are now in the hands of the Indian military are there. Anyway yesterday we sailed through the Sombrero Channel and said hi and bye as we went.

I have also had my fishing line out but so far nothing. The day we left the Similan Islands we had pods of dolphins follow us throughout the whole day and into the night.

Day 7. We have now covered over 1000nm and are only about 85nm out from Galle on the south west corner of Sri Lanka. It has been a wonderful run with no storms, seas never more than 2mts and a downwind run so we have been able to use the M.P.S. nearly the whole way. I caught a skipjack tuna Day 5. Line still out. We have had numerous flying fish landing on the boat and one night around 12.30 Alec was asleep up here in the saloon while I was on watch and he woke with one flapping about on his chest. It had come in through the saloon window – slapped with a wet fish!! Yesterday saw the start of the local fishing trawlers pulling up alongside to do some bartering. We were still nearly 200nm out from Galle. The first had a lovely yellow fin tuna and they wanted cigarettes which we handed over in a net along with biscuits and fishing hooks. The second gave us coconuts and a beautiful big papaya and was given the same in return. This off shore supermarket is not a bad one at all. More have come along side and we are now just having a friendly chat and off they go. Sadly it is cigarettes and alcohol they are after. They have all been very friendly and we fly the NZ Silver fern flag which we are sure helps. They all know about our New Zealand cricket team!!

Well as I finish this off this morning we are berthed in the Galle Harbour which is still under high Navel security surveillance . Trip 8 days and covering 1,125nm. We arrived yesterday morning having slowed down so as to time our arrival in daylight. It is prohibited to enter the harbour at night and in any case one does not want to be mistaken for a Tamil Tiger boat making a surprise night attack on the harbour which the Tamils did in 2006 – hence all the Navel security here, even though the war is supposed to be over . The procedure was quite straightforward with us radioing ahead to the harbourmaster who then sends a Navy gun boat out to meet you. We anchored outside along with an Italian yacht who had also just arrived from Indonesia, and we were boarded filled in paper work and a quick visual inspection was done. In other words they just wanted a look. Don’t think we look like the type to be a threat. Two of the Navy guys stayed onboard and we then entered the harbour and tied up to a plastic pontoon which looks like plastic bottles tied together hence it snakes about with the current. Both yachts have tied up what is known as ‘Mediterranean style’ where you drop anchor then back into the pontoon and tie up to it. We were met by our agent and then continued the clearing in procedures with a visit from port health, customs and immigration. A one off fee was paid to our clearing in agent to cover everything and the only person who wanted a ‘little gift’ was the Dr. From health. He got the usual cigarettes and biscuits. So all the horror stories one hears about Sri Lanka being all too difficult to do are not true in our case. Alec went ashore with the agent and was given two shore passes from the Port Authority to get us in and out of the port. There are manned gun emplacements both side of the harbour and in the evening two booms were pulled across the Harbour entrance to close it off for the night. Even the local fishing fleet have to check in and out of the Harbour. We then spent the extremely hot afternoon catching up on sleep. Today we are doing the usual pre-trip checks and refuelling then will go into town and see about a trip inland to do some sightseeing for a few days.

Now to find somewhere to send this off to you all. Anyway don’t think that will be a problem with internet these days so will sign out once again.

Thanks to all who have sent us mail. Terry a big thank you for all the information you sent through. I will see what I can find out.

Lots of love from

The Admiral and The Captain.

Hi From Alec

After riding around on Motorbikes, an Elephant and the odd hire car I purchased a copy of the Phuket Gazette and read about the following. Living on land can be more dangerous that sailing. Except when one sails too close to American warships. More about that later.

Maimed pilot: “ I will fly again “ Cathay Pacific Airline Pilot Scott McDonald is trying to put his life back together after his lower calf and foot were sliced off by a speeding motorbike.

As he lay bleeding by the side of the road, a passerby who witnessed the accident used the American’s cell phone to call for help before pocketing the device and fleeing the scene.

When his phone rang he parked his Harley Davidson Fatboy by the side of the road turning the parking light on and still straddling the bike, he answered the cell phone. What hit the American was the foot pedal of a speeding Honda Dream ridden by two Thai men.

Rampaging Elephant : Two Swedish tourists were riding Captain, a 20 year old bull elephant which went berserk . The raging bull grabbed a tree, pulling it down onto a car. The mahout jumped off and the elephant continued to smash more trees. The two tourists managed to get off Captain’s back by grabbing an overhead cable and jumping onto a car below. We jumped off the car. Suddenly the elephant rolled the car over before stepping through its window. One tourist with a bone protruding out of his left leg managed to hop on one leg into a nearby hut. The owner said Captain is a nice elephant, but he had the wrong Mahout. “ It is like a car being driven by someone other than its owner “ she said. Will how about that.

Road rage claimed the life of an elderly German expat. Aged 66. The 32 year old Thai arrested for the killing confessed to cutting of the German’s pickup truck outside the Chalong Police Station. Shamal was moored in Chalong Bay half the time we were in Phuket. The German lived in Thailand for more than 30 years and spoke fluent Thai and I never saw him stick his finger up at anyone a friend said.

We were cut off when riding around several times but we just went with the flow.

When we were sailing from “ James Bond Island “ back to Chalong Bay to check out (so called after filming “ The Man with the Golden Gun “ ) two American warships were anchored outside the Phuket Port. We noticed large orange buoys place at intervals around these two ships with aerials attached. To mark a no go zone for any boats after what happened to the USS Cole in Aden harbour a few years back. So we changed course to sail pass the bottom two but infringed their no go zone by a few metres. Must of been that cross current !!! Well a siren went off and three sailors with rifles came out on the flight deck on the stern of their ship. Then a small Thai patrol boat came towards us but turned away when we made a positive change of course. Just before we turned into Chalong Bay the Thai patrol boat was shepherding another yacht away. In the future we will stay away from motor bikes, elephants and American warships.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there,

    great article and I was laughing about the USAmerican Warships in Phuket.
    I was searching the internet for an article like yours. I am living in Phuket since 12 years and havent sailed since 10. I would like to visit Sri Lanka again, one of my favourate places in this world where I spend lots of beautiful holidays.

    Anyway, if you ever visit Phuket again give me a mail 24moskito AT gmail.com I hope to hear more of your storys of your adventures.

    May there always be enough water beneath your keel and not more wind as needed, Sail safe

    Uwe Moskito

    ReplyDelete