Friday, July 15, 2011

Bon Voyage, and back.

So with the boat looking pretty good and most of the work done it was time for a little party. We invited some of our favorite Boat Lagoon yachties, Phon and his crew and Natthakit from Kitchen Cultures over for a little bon voyage party. It was a nice evening and a good send off. Next morning we were outta there into the wilds of the Phang Gha gulf.
Bon Voyage party
Well, at least we went a few miles to Ko Rang Yai island and anchored. Less than five miles around here can make an unbelievable difference in the atmosphere. We were the only yacht at the island as we were the next night in the south bay at Koh Yao Yai which was another  ten miles to the southeast. 
Ko Yang Rai
And from there is was another few miles to the northeast to the Hong group north of Krabi and the south anchorage at Ko Hong. A good cruiser chat can always be had over the most "memorable", most "beautiful" , "best", "favorite", etc, etc, anchorage we've ever experienced. 
Ko Hong from the SW
We have both added Ko Hong to our list. The "Hong Group" is a dozen or so small islands which, like most in the gulf, are karst formations. The island  limestone rock terrain is eroded away into vertical or greater than vertical cliffs hundreds of feet high falling directly into the sea. 
South anchorage, Ko Hong
There are white silica sand beaches tucked away in coves and often lagoons or "hongs" completely or nearly completely enclosed within the island. The vegetation is dense and jungle like. Inside the hongs are more shear cliffs with stalactites hanging from the walls like a giant outdoor cave. 
At anchor, Ko Hong
East beach, Ko Hong

Some hongs are accessible by dinghy at high tides over shallow inlets and some are only reached by low tide cave passages into the completely enclosed lagoon. They are spectacularly beautiful places. This time of year (off season) Ko Hong gets a few tourist boats during mid day but we had the place to ourselves almost entirely. We dinked around and enjoyed the scene for two days.
Janet at east beach, Ko Hong
Being the season of the southwest monsoon it's supposed to be rainy. We had beautiful weather and the winds in the gulf in the lee of the island of Phuket take a direction more from the north. Conditions were good for a little sail twenty miles down to Ko Phi Phi Don which is probably the most famous tourist destination in the gulf. Had a great sail starting out as a deep reach in flat water and fifteen knots and ending up close reaching in twenty knots and a few feet of swell as we got south of the lee of Phuket and the wind backed to the southwest. We knew what was waiting for us in the main bay of Ko Phi Phi Do so we spent the first night off the east side of the island anchored near the Holiday Inn Resort at Hat Laem Thong. 
long tails, the front end
This was a nice, reasonably quiet, spot and we had a good Thai dinner ashore at a beach restaurant. Next day it was into the maul of the beast and we went down to the main bay, Ao Ton Sai,  and anchored along the cliffs on the west side. Ko Phi Phi Don is another karst island and it is a very beautiful place. Ko Phi Phi Lee, just to the SW is even more beautiful but is so rugged it's uninhabited. Ko Phi Phi lee was the setting for the movie "The beach". The two islands have a cult like draw for the back packer tourist and the main village on Ko Phi Phi Don is the epitome of the cheesy, low rent, international tropical tourist scene. 
"Street scene", Ko Phi Phi Don
That said, there is a certain excitement about the place and the people watching can be interesting. I'm sure in the height of the season it must be quite the party place. There's a huge fleet of tourist boats and long tails constantly on the move, day and night. The anchorage is crowded with moored tourist boats and the wake from larger, inter-island ferries is always a factor. It's not a yachtie kind of place but it is a place you kind of have to go just to know you've been there and we did have fun, kind of.
Gibbon and friend, Ko Phi Phi Don
The village was pretty much wiped out in the 2004 tsunami with many, many deaths but despite hopes it might be rebuilt a little more in tune with the surroundings,  it came back just as it was. Oh well. Two nights at Ao Ton Sai was enough and we headed back up to Ko Rang Yai for a night and then caught the morning's big spring tide back into the entrance to Royal Phuket Marina. Only ran aground once. 
Ao Son Tai, Ko Phi Phi Don
So now we're back at Boat Lagoon. It's Bastille Day, better known as Janet's birthday,  and we're relaxing in a real hotel room. The boat projects are few. We'll have a decent dinner with friends tonight. We'll be back at it in a couple days. Next stop, the northwest Phang Gha gulf complete with villages on stilts and James Bond Island. Stay tuned please!

Love to all,
Bill & Janet

4 comments:

Sylviane said...

Happy birthday my lovely friend Janet!!!! Wish I could be with you. Thank you for the pictures and updates.

Wahu said...

Sounds like you're living the dream and living well. Happy Birthday Janet. Great to hear from you and see all of the beautiful pictures.

Nancy said...

I hope you're keeping those pretty new decks dry!
Happy Birthday, Janet!!

s/v Mokisha said...

Happy B'day from Fiji! Looks like wonderful cruising for those of us behind you. We're deep into getting a new Yanmar & paint job here in Vuda. Enjoy! Thanks for the updates.

Colleen & Tom
s/v Mokisha