Thursday, March 05, 2009

March 4, 2009 - Koh Miang, Similan Islands, Phang Nga Province, Thailand

On Monday we left mainland Thailand and headed northwest towards the Similan Islands, our first stop enroute to the Andamans. The 50 mile run turned out to be a little more exciting than we anticipated. We had nice breeze to start and did several hours at 8+ knots before the mainland started to heat up and an afternoon sea breeze canceled out the prevailing northeast wind. We were having such a good time sailing that we stayed with the dying wind a little too long before going to the motor.

As the afternoon wore on, we could see clouds building up over the mainland, and hear thunder in the distance. So we checked the track and speed of the coming squall with the radar, before switching off power to the electronics (a halfhearted attempt to protect them in case we were struck by lightening). The weather was moving towards us slowly, which gave us plenty of time to take down sails and close the hatches, but that also meant that we would spend a long time traveling in the midst of the squall once it reached us.

When the squall hit us the wind clocked around 360 degrees twice. At one point it was blowing 30 knots. We had heavy rain and lightening all around us for a few hours. I was tempted to turn us around and sail back out of it, but we were trying to get to the anchorage at the closest of the Similans before dark, so we pressed on. We arrived at Koh Miang (Similan #4) at the close of twilight. We anchored in the dark, with the rain coming down. As we were about to make dinner, we discovered an infestation of small black bugs in our dry goods. All in all, it wasn't our best day.

The next morning we woke to discover that we were surrounded by clear water (for the first time in FOREVER) and that our anchor was wedged under a rock. So with a little luck we upped anchor and moved to a park mooring. We spend the next two days snorkeling in crystal clear water with great visibility.

The Similans have been a national park since the early 80's and the fish life is abundant. We've seen big milkfish, jacks and parrots, and lots of little reef fish that are completely new to us. I snap photos of everything we haven't seen before, just so that we can look them up and identify them when we get back to the boat. The bays fringing the Similans are surround by huge granite boulders, implausibly balanced upon each other, which creates some interesting underwater topography to explore. But my favorite thing about this spot is the turtle who comes swimming around the boat a couple of times a day, looking for a handout. So this hasn't been a bad place to wait for some wind to sail to the Andamans.

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