August 21, 2012

Sailing Phuket

There are many, many, many places I'd like to explore.  My exploration bucket list isn't so much a list as a novel - and a novel somewhat larger than War and Peace at that.  But sometimes an excuse is needed, you know?  Thailand - and Phuket, in particular - was on my bucket list, so when my friend, Norris, told me he was getting married in Phuket this summer and asked me to be his best man, it's only natural that the first words out of my mouth were, "Why the heck are you getting married there in the summer?!"

Jade is doing well on the ketogenic diet and remains seizure-free, but the idea of traveling to Thailand while managing her diet was far too daunting.  Fortunately, my kind, kind parents flew to Whitehorse to watch the girls so Fawn and I could spend some time together without kids for the first time in six years.

Even after 20+ hours of flying we were still smiling!

We didn't go just for the wedding, however.  We decided to take some sailing lessons, too.  We've done a whole bunch of sailing with our Macgregor 26M in the Yukon's Southern Lakes, but we haven't sailed in tidewater.  I figured, why not do some exploring and some learning at the same time?

The company that we went with was based out of the Yacht Haven Marina on the north end of Ko Phuket.  The size of the boats in the marina blew me away.  Some of them were floating mansions.  Apparently, because summer is the low season, a lot of the bigger boats weren't there.  Sheesh.

We didn't do a lot of exploring on land, but it goes without saying that there were lots of flowers and they were all pretty.

And the food?  Ohmygoodness!  EVER GOOD!  I thought I'd died and gone to culinary heaven.

Here's a picture of some pop I had to accompany one of my meals.  Recognize it?  No?  Let me run it through a translator...

There we go!

At the end of our first proper day in Phuket, Fawn and I found a great little mom and pop restaurant not too far from the marina.  The open-air restaurant sat over the water.  Here's the view along the shoreline at low tide.  I'm not sure what they're collecting.

And here's the view looking out over the water.

And here's the view when it gets dark.  Geckos eating insects!  Fun!  

We sailed on a Beneteau Oceanis 361.  What a roomy boat!  It's something I could get used to, for sure.

The islands were gorgeous and I found myself writhing in agony at wanting to visit every single one of them and knowing that our schedule would not permit.

Longtails are ubiquitous to the area.  The boats are powered by vehicle engines which are connected to a long shaft with a propellor at the end.  This set-up gives the boats a lot of maneuverability, especially in shallow water but, as you can imagine, is potentially quite dangerous if the operator loses control of the handle (or chooses to attack you with his propellor).

Here's where we stopped to anchor for our first night.

And here's the view the next morning.

The next day we set sail/motored for Ko Phiphi (The Phiphi Islands)

And there's Chicken Island!

The number of tourists in the Phiphi Islands was a bit of a turn-off.  I don't even want to imagine what it's like there during the high season.

On our third day, we started off sailing, but the weather didn't like that.  Far from being a downer, it was a good thing.  We got some good instruction on reading weather and the rain was a pleasant break from the heat and humidity.

Although it was very wet.

On our fourth day, we made our way back to the home marina and got some great instruction on improved performance when sailing into the wind - which I immediately applied when sailing our own boat when we got back to Whitehorse.

Would I go back?  Yes.  But next time I'd like to do it in my own sailboat without a fixed schedule.  Will that happen?  I suspect that someday it shall.


Lindsay said...

I love all of your photos. What a beautiful place. So great that you two got to spend such an amazing time together.

Catherine said...

Wow, wow and wow! It looked like it was such an awesome trip! I hope we will be there in a couple of years (that's the plan!).

Luigi Zanasi said...

I love those Beneteaus- have you ever sailed anything that can get as close to the wind? However, the headroom is not always that great: I do have some scars on top of my head.

Meandering Michael said...

I quite liked it, too! Headroom didn't seem to be a problem. As for sailing close to the wind, we learned a technique that gets us upwind better than I've ever been able to before. It was hard to tell how much of that was the boat and how much was the technique!