Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Febrary 15, 2009 - Koh Hong, Krabi Province, Thailand

Koh Hong (Krabi)

I want to start by apologizing to all of our readers. We know that you all come here for entertainment, to check in on us, or because you are thinking about going cruising one day. Nobody comes here to be marketed to. We made a conscious decision not to run google ads on this blog or to put a "please donate" button up (because that's just tacky). If we mention vendors or suppliers that we have received good service from, we do so to thank them and to let other yachties know who the good guys are. We don't receive compensation from anyone for our recommendations (however, if the fine folks at Crocs would like to send us a two year supply of Athena flip flops, the best jandals ever, we wouldn't turn them down - I take a W7 and Sten is an M11).

Last week our blog was hacked or hijacked, and advertisements posted on it. If it was through some fault of our own, we apologize. With the assistance of Sten's sister, as we were no where near an internet cafe or wifi signal at the time we learned of the hijacking, the offending post has been deleted and passwords changed. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming . . .

The lagoon in the big hong at Koh Phanak

With the full moon just past, we are still experiencing spring tides, which cause big changes in water level twice a day. With so much water moving in and out of the fluvial river system that feeds upper Phang Nga Bay, the water is really silty. This wouldn't be a concern, except these waters are shallow and our charts aren't all that accurate. Two nights ago we had only 2 feet of water under the keel as we snuck our way into a protected anchorage behind Koh Yang to escape unseasonably strong westerly winds. That wouldn't be a problem if the water was clear and we could see the bottom. But when we can't, it is nervewracking. So leaving Koh Yang, rather than taking the direct route east to our next overnight anchorage, which would have taken us over many shoal areas at low tide, we took a circuitous route back south, following our track from the day before, which worked out just fine, as it gave us a chance to check out some of the hongs on Koh Phanak that we had bypassed the day before.

From Koh Phanak, we headed southeast to Koh Pak Bia (and hopefully clearer waters) to swim and snorkel. But the anchorage was untenable, as there was too much chop from wind blowing against the current, creating little standing waves. So we pulled up the anchor for the third time that day, and headed south looking for a better place to spend the night. It was getting towards nightfall and we were despairing of finding a place to anchor that was protected from the wind and current. Then we came around the northeast corner of Koh Hong and found a perfectly calm bay, fringed by a white sand beach and backed by steep limestone cliffs. We put down the anchor and settled down for another shrimp feast (we'd been hailed by another fisherman during our meanderings around Phang Nga Bay).

A sea gypsy living in one of the caves that dot the perimeter of Koh Hong

Sten's view from the cave he climbed up to during our exploration of the island

A tour boat entering the largest hong at Koh Hong

The next day, after we explored the island a bit, the rest of the day was devoted to projects. Sten spent part of the day working on whittling a wooden plug to fit the underwater thruhull to which the faulty ball valve connects. Once the plug is in place, he should be able to change the ball valve, with Mata'irea in the water, with minimal chance of sinkage - at least so he has assured me the past two mornings as I've woken up from nightmares about floods and losing the boat.

Mid-afternoon, taking advantage of the calm anchorage, Sten hauled me up the mast to take down the old wire running backstays, one of which was sprung. I installed the new ones that Rigging Only in New Bedford, Massachusetts made for us out of V-100 hightech line. As Sten lowered me back down I spent some time at the lower spreaders, working with a file and rigging tape to make sure that there were no sharp edges to catch our new lines. Afterwards I worked on restitching a few more sections of the failing thread on the dodger and bimini. As we worked on our projects there was a charter boat on a mooring near us watching our activities. If they were on one of those "let's go charter for a week to see if we want to go cruising" trips, then we certainly gave them a good show. Cruising is nothing if not working on your boat in beautiful places.

This guy and his relatives (who are all the diameter of a large dinner plate) have done an excellent job of keeping me out of the water here. Can you blame me?

Just before I went up the mast a catamaran came sniffing around us, looking for a place to drop anchor. Taking a page out of our friends on Makanai Kai's book of tricks, we told them that we had 150 feet of chain out and pointed out a mooring at the other end of the bay, telling them that a big cat had spent the prior night on it. Unfortunately, they dismissed the mooring as being "too far away." Too far away from what - us?

Last weekend in Phi Phi Don we had to move when another boat anchored too close to us and their crew immediately hopped into the dinghy and went into town, missing the excitement of their boat nearly swinging into ours. So today, when the catamaran set themselves up to drop anchor right on top of ours I called out "Don't even think about it. You're a catamaran. We're a monohull. If the wind shifts or the current sets up, we're going to be bumping into each other." They promptly moved about 50 feet further away and dropped there. I turned to Sten and said, "that was a firm yet polite way to deal with that, don't you think?" He pulled a face and said "polite?"

So dear readers, I ask you to settle a debate for us. My response was:
  1. firm yet polite, or
  2. the reason why half the western men in Thailand have shacked up with local women, figuring that buying her family a water buffalo in exchange for her company is a better price to pay than having to put up with an assertive bitch like me for the rest of their lives

1 comment:

sailorjo said...

I vote #1. Jim L. Falconer, NY