Saturday, February 21, 2009

February 20, 2009 - Railay Beach, Krabi Province, Thailand

We've spent the past few days anchored in front of a truly beautiful beach. Craggy limestone cliffs bookmark either end of a curve of fine white sand. The surrounding cliffs mean that all access to this area is done by boat (oh goody, more longtails). Between the silty water, crowds, constant wakes from passing boats and the noise, well, we're of the opinion that Phang Nga Bay is a region that is better explored by land (with a few sea kayaking and diving trips mixed in) than by cruising boat. As a funnier guy than we said: Cruising Thailand - Phuket!

We are so excited about the places that we are headed to this year, several of which are places that can only be visited on a yacht, that we are both itching to move on. Receiving our permit to visit Chagos (an uninhabited archipelago) from the British Indian Overseas Territory this week only served to intensify the desire to get out of dodge. But we're still waiting on our India Visas, so we've spent the past few days getting the boat ready for a long season between good repair facilities.

Our problem with the discharge thruhull in the forward head almost necessitated an overnight haul out to repair (for one night we even considered turning the room into a closet until we reached South Africa), but my husband, who shall henceforth be known as the Genius, managed to repair a balky underwater thruhull without sinking the boat out from under us. It was a multi-day project that involved converting the aft deck and cockpit into a workshop and machining several tools (out of scrap aluminum and driftwood) and new parts (out of the old), with only a jig saw, hacksaw, power drill and a dremel. I'm regularly impressed by his mechanical skills, but the Genius took his game to whole new level this week.

I occasionally lent a hand and flipper to the thruhull project, but the bulk of my time was spent preparing to make it snow in the Andamans. The bureaucracy in the Andamans is so off the charts compared to most cruising grounds that most yachts skip it all together. But the lure of incredible fishing, unparalleled snorkeling and a frontier surfing destination convinced us that it would be worth jumping through a few hoops. The process of checking in can take up to three days (which is quite a big percentage of the 30 days we are allowed there), but supposedly it can be sped up quite a bit by preparing a lot of documents in advance. Using the samples provided by s/v Crystal Blues on their website, I prepared our pre-arrival and arrival faxes, letters and forms. I was a regular old document monkey! Finally, a boat job for which 6 years of law firm life had prepared me! So far, my favorite thing about the Andamans is that the officials there refer to yacht captains as "Master." As I signed form after form as the Master of s/v Mata'irea, I tried to figure out how I could convince the Genius to start referring to me as Master.

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