Phuket, Thailand to Langkawi, Malaysia
Fri 24 Mar 2017 10:19
Friday, 17th March we checked out of Thailand at the amazing one-stop check in/check out facility at Ao Chalong. It was all handled very efficiently with no waiting and by midday we were back on Gaviota and ready to leave. First stop was to be The Racha Islands 14 miles South of Ao Chalong, we managed to sail the first half of the trip then the wind died and the motor went on. We arrived at Racha Yai Bay late afternoon and found a bay full of tripper boats. There were mooring balls everywhere so we picked one up. Unfortunately the anchorage was not protected from the South West swell and as the wind picked up became very uncomfortable. Racha Yai Bay was a pretty bay with a lovely white sand beach and clear water and a large very expensive resort – it was also full of Chinese tourists! We dinghyed over to snorkel an area which allegedly had coral and fish life to find it was full of concrete blocks (a failed attempt to create an artificial reef) – we dutifully snorkelled all around the concrete jungle and found it rather sad and vaguely amusing to see people diving on the concrete blocks (ask for your money back!!!!). During the evening the wind picked up (this seems a nasty common occurrence here) so by midnight we were rolling and pitching as the wind howled spinning us round on the mooring ball (quick prayer that it was attached???).
After a night of this it was an early start to escape and after a battle with the ropes which had tangled around each other during our night manoeuvres we got away and there was still wind so up went the mainsail and increasingly fragile spinnaker. Next stop was to be Koh Rok Nok (56 miles from Ao Chalong). We managed to sail the whole way and anchored in the deep channel between Koh Rok Nok and Koh Rok Nai, now this was pretty close to paradise pure white sand beaches and a crystal clear sea which housed the best coral and fish life we have found. We had arrived after the tourist boats had left and apart from a few other yachts had the anchorage to ourselves. Of course paradise comes at a price and soon we had a visit from the local park rangers, the stay was to cost £20 but was valid for 1-4 nights – pretty good value and no objections to paying for such a lovely spot. We ended up 3 nights at Koh Rok Nok and spent most of the days enjoying the sea and fish life. Syd had an interesting encounter with a very persistent Remora (cleaner fish) which attached itself to him and despite an interesting display of acrobatic underwater thrashing on Syd’s part it would not leave. When he got out of the water our over-diligent little friend attached itself to me then when I got out it latched onto Gaviota. The fish life was fascinating with sightings of a turtle, an eagle ray and a large grouper. During the days the tourist speedboats arrived packed full of people but soon left for their next stop. After a perfect first day with the wind picking up to do it’s nightly blow with thunderstorms and rain deluge (lots of fresh water to collect) day 2 was cloudy but we still managed to investigate the reef further and after the wind started blowing straight through the channel we decided to move through to the Southern end of the Channel then had fun watching the yachts further out rolling in the horrible Westerly swell which was building up.
We left lovely Koh Rok Nok for our last stop Koh Chuku, a tiny little perfect uninhabited island 12 miles North of Langkawi. After a slow spinnaker sail we arrived late afternoon and picked up a national park mooring ball.
The wind did it’s usual and started blowing hard as soon as it got dark so it was another night of listening to the wind generator whizzing round and the boat bouncing (a strange motion when you are attached to a mooring ball you hope is attached to something???). By morning it was back to perfect tranquillity and we swam ashore and swam/walked around the beautiful little island of Koh Chuku before it was covered in tourists again.
We left Koh Chuku and spinnaker sailed painfully slowly the last 12 miles into Langkawi arriving with the sunset and anchored in Telaga Harbour.
23rd March we checked back into Malaysia, another simple efficient process but this time Gaviota can stay as long as she likes and we get 90 days which can be extended. It was good not having the language problems as most people in Malaysia speak some English. First stop after check in was internet which involved a taxi ride to the nearest town. Once sorted Syd contacted a boatyard nearby who immediately called and is to give quotes for work – hopefully this time it will be sorted.
The heat and humidity has gone up with our journey South and every night mother nature puts on a pyrotechnic show complete with hefty downpours of rain (all our water bottles and tanks are now full again).