Saturday, 25 June 2011

LANGKAWI TO PHUKET June 2011

Aside from the debacle with the water in the Diesel Langkawi was a good stopover. Great fun to catch up with Brian and Dawn on Ten Large again. Rebak is still a lovely marina despite a severely unreliable internet service and the fact that neither of our phones (Digi) work there at all. There are lovely walking trails and the pool is great.
Having restored the Volvo and the Yanmar to their original condition we headed to Kuah to get some fuel and clear out for Thailand.
On Friday 10th we motored out of the anchorage and put  the way points on the 3 navigation instruments..!!!! .(Garmin, Furuno Navnet 3D (useless) and Netbook) for Taratao. Hmm triple redundancy !!

Walking train on Taratao.
Taratao is a Thai Island National Park just north of Langkawi.  It was a prison island built around 1938 and disbanded in 1947. It had something of a reputation as a haven for Pirates and guards and prisoners colluded to pirate many ships in the area. Around 3000 prisoners were detained here at its peak. There are several pretty walk trails to take you through the historical sites. The anchorage is excellent and there is water available at the long concrete pier.
Concrete pier at Taratao

We saw some large squirrel type critters in the tree tops. About the size of a cat and very black.
We sailed on to Petra to anchor on the east side opposite the lone hut owned by Kan. Ashore for a swim and walk again and we gave Kam a throw net we have been carting around unused for 6 years. Figured he'd get a lot more use out of it than us. He is a Bird Nest watcher we think and his little camp was immaculate with lovely orchids and ferns.
12th is raining and squally so we upped the anchor and sailed up to Kantang river entrance.
The plan was to check in at Kantang. Its a tricky place to get to and quite a long way. We motored up the river...wrong river...turn round ...different river.....went aground twice on banks. Arrived at 007 24.14N 009 30.34E and anchored on a mud bank. Aground for a couple of hours. Went ashore to look for Immigration Customs etc and found a very clean and tidy town with a pleasant market but absolutely no sign of any Officials!. Did buy some nice veg.
Dingy dock at Kantang.
Back to Taipan ....still aground....waited for some more water so we could leave to anchor downriver. The town must make fish fertilizer or something. The smell was atrocious!!!. Not long before dark we got off the bottom and raced downriver to anchor just before dark between a couple of big fish traps opposite a large barge loader. Mosquito's had a good feed overnight.
We decided that the depth log is faulty. The reading when we went aground said 1.4m under the Keel. It is supposed to go aground at 0!! Hopefully now we can keep off the mud.
Tuesday 14th Kradan. many years coming and going between Thailand and Langkawi and we have never stopped at Kradan. The anchorage is beautiful. Very close to the beach and its still 10m. The wind is quite strong so we decided to spend a few days here to wait out the strong weather warning. Its full moon though and so most of the Thai fishing fleet seem to have decided to wait our the weather and the moon here too. Over the next two days we had up to 50 large crewed trawlers and squid boats in the anchorage. Too many people!!
A barge tow outside Lanta. The tug is not visible in the pic.

Thursday 16th gave up our position to some fishing boats and headed out to somewhere peaceful. The wind was howling and from the west north west so it was a boisterous sail in up to 30+ kn. Its only 16nm up to Talat Lanta and after abandoning the southern anchorage we headed up there to drop the pick. Talat Lanta is the original town in the area and on a very nice open water way with good protection at this time of year. There is a big concrete pier with a small floating dock at the end for dingy allowing all tide access.
Sunday 19th with the wind warning still active we headed to Koh Ph for shelter. David was busy trying to convince me we could get round the top of the island and short cut to Krabi just as we grounded at 6 kn on a mud bank which was sticking out of the water!!. Mark 1 eyeballs...no way!
We spent the next five hours watching the bank appear and disappear before enough water returned for us to pull off and anchor for the night. At least it was sheltered.
Taipan anchored at Hen n Chicken.
My tolerance for rivers and shallow banks at an all time low as we motored out to the south again avoiding the possibility of a rounding  the north of the island but the likely hood of grounding for hours again was also diverted! Our next stop was Hen and Chicken opposite Krabi. Something was muttered about attempting an upriver passage to clear in at Krabi but it was deemed inappropriate and struck from the record!!.
The north end of Phang Nga Bay is spectacular and not lessened by the strong winds we experienced. In fact, without a serious deadline for a change, we were able to sail the most efficient route to make use of the excellent breeze and enjoy some lovely sailing in this beautiful cruising ground. Ko Hong provided a great lunch stop and swim and the overnight anchorage on the eastern side of Koh Noi could be considered any time during the SW monsoon season.
Wednesday 22nd. Eventually we had to get to Phuket to clear into Thailand . The  officials take a dim view of cruisers taking longer than a fortnight to travel from Langkawi to Phuket. (130Nm) We did have a particularly long period of adverse weather and we were not harassed too much.
All round it was a great couple of weeks and the nearest to "cruising" we've been for many a long day!
Now we are in Yacht Haven Marina looking forward to the arrival of Tim (Davids son) and his partner Vanessa.