Monday 8th April 2019
Distance run: 47 nmiles
The first thing we did this morning was to check for water in the engine bilge. Last night it was as dry as a bone. This morning… there was a great big puddle. Ok, so now we knew we had a passive leak from somewhere, rather than thermostat or heat exchanger problems. Once again we got on our knees and searched around the engine for evidence of the leak. I thought about what my Dad told me donkey’s years ago about my car engine problems – if it’s losing water look first at the hoses, they are the weak points. We had checked them already, but Dad was always right, so we did it again. Sure enough, Steve found some moisture around the hoses from the engine to the hot water tank, almost hidden where they disappeared through the bulkhead into the next bilge. On pressing the hose, he found that water squeezed out. It seemed we had found our problem – the hose had denatured and was basically now a sponge which, under pressure and now also passively, was leaking water.
It was a great relief to find the problem, and an even greater relief to be able to solve it simply by turning off the valves that allow the water to flow between the engine and the hot water tank. Now it was an easy decision to continue our trip north, so we mopped up the puddle, made ready for sea, lifted the anchor and set off for Koh Rok, about 45 nmiles away.
Skipper happily at the helm, exploring the new MFD. Approaching Koh Rok in calm seas and no wind.
There was no wind to sail by, so we motored the whole way, arriving at the anchorage in the channel between the two small islands of Ko Rok Nok and Ko Rok Nai mid-afternoon. Around the same time, the afternoon onshore breeze picked up and was whistling through the channel. We initially picked up a National Parks buoy about halfway through the channel, but with the tide whooshing through one way and the wind whistling though the other, the boat could not hang on the buoy, but kept settling over it. With the huge wings on our keel, the concern was that the buoy’s tether line could wrap itself around our keel. As we watched whether she would settle properly on the buoy, the trip boats began leaving, and we spotted an empty orange buoy on the eastern end of the channel where the wind and current would be weaker.
We decided to move to that buoy, and the boat at once settled happily away from the tethering line. We tidied up and thought about going for a snorkel over on the reef, but by now we had lost the best of the light, so instead we settled in the cockpit with an anchoring beer. We watched a couple of yachts move to different buoys and settle for the night, and then another yacht, clearly a charter from the lack of equipment on deck, appeared and started to make straight for a buoy in the middle of the reef. By now the light had faded so that there was no difference in the colour of the water to show where the reef was, and they seemed totally unaware that there was even a reef there. And the tide was falling.
Before we had a chance to call out a warning, there was a loud bang and the yacht stopped dead. It was aground on the reef. They tried driving off but just ended up with a lot of black smoke coming from the engine, then one of them got into the water and started to give instructions. The guys on board rocked the boat from side to side and it changed direction, but stayed put.
Steve was considering taking over a long line to attach to a halyard as they really needed a line attached to the top of the mast to pull them over at an angle, so that they could float off, but on looking through the binoculars he could see there was no spare halyard at the mast so no way to rig one up. Charter boats, eh?
During this time, the National Park Rangers appeared in their RIB and approached us for their fee. We pointed out to them that there was a boat in trouble that might need their help, but they told us “No English”. They clearly did understand what we were saying, but had no interest at all in anything other than money and sped off back to their base.
Eventually they did manage to get the boat afloat again and made it safely to another buoy. We wondered if they would tell the charter company about the grounding, but were sure they would have a story to tell over a beer when they got home!