Koh Ngai - South side and some evening entertainment
Position 07:23.96 N 099:12.28 E
Date 1315 (UTC+7) Wednesday 6 January 2016
Distance run 6.4nm over the ground
Ko Ngai was the third of the main islands of the Koh Muk group and it was another short motor, in the absence of much in the way of wind, to an anchorage in 10 metres, on sand, off the reef fringing the beach on the south side. This was great as it gave us some good snorkelling in the afternoon and our first dive for ages before we left on the 7th.
Looking over the reef at the beach on the south side of Koh Ngai
There we were sitting in the cockpit and reading our way towards sunset when I was aware that a couple of miles away there was a small tug towing a very large barge. At about the mile distant stage it changed course and headed directly towards us and at this stage dusk was imminent. Needless to say there was no answer on VHF Ch16 and flashing the steamer scarer torch at the tug elicited not much of a reaction. Eventually it stopped about 100 metres from us, the tug going alongside the barge and bringing it to a halt just as I was about to expedite either raising the anchor to get out of the way or hang every fender that we had over the side.
Neither was this the end of the story as it became obvious as high water approached at 2000 and in complete darkness, that the tug, or rather the barge was going to attempt an assault beach landing. This involved the tug side towing the barge over the reef and involved a great deal of heave-ho’ing and diesel driven grunt. What conservation and what protected national park I hear you ask. Suffice it to say that after an hour of effort the reef won despite moving the ballast around with the JCB and using the excavator shovel on the front to delve into the water and try to clear the way, like the head and neck of a prehistoric animal. The result Beach 1 - Barge 0 and retire to deeper water for the night.
Come 0800 and another high tide the procedure started again and this time we were able to observe exactly what was going on and what had been happening in the dark the previous night. The result was much the same so now it was Beach 2 - Barge 0. This time the tug took the barge and headed off to find somewhere else to wreck.
The barge cometh complete with truck, JCB and excavator
Excavator at the ready to sort out the reef
After the excitement was over we dived from the dinghy tied to a mooring buoy on the edge of the reef. An ideal dive for the first time since Vanuatu as the reef dropped to just 10 metres with little current. The coral was pretty and there was a mass of smaller fish so lots to look at. Our steel tanks, as per European regulations seemed very heavy to lug around compared with the aluminium tanks that we used in Vanuatu. The steel ones require re-certifying so perhaps we might treat ourselves to some new ‘aluminum’ ones.