Archive for December, 2011

STOP PRESS………………………..STOP PRESS……………………..READ THIS.  (link to Update.)


STOP PRESS II……………………..STOP PRESS II…………………..READ THIS.  (link to Update.)

Sad to report that M/V Grey Pearl a Nordhavn 62 that AVA LON was berthed alongside in Admiral Marina, Port Dickson, was lost in a Fire when berthed at Yacht Haven Marina in Phuket in early December 2011.

I had followed the travels of Grey Pearl and her buddy vessel SEABIRD as they made their way west from the USA, and it was interesting to see them also making the trip North from Singapore to Phuket Thailand, in October 2011, and for us to be berthed alongside each other in Port Dickson, as well as stopover in Langkawi at the same time.

Here is a screen shot picture of her from my Video of the trip from Singapore to Port Dickson. On You Tube at http://tinyurl.com/7pyyvqd

Aparently she caught fire when the owners were off the boat and back in the US, with no one onboard. With the Marina staff unable to stop the fire at the berth, they managed to tow the blazing yacht out of the Marina and beach her in a nearby river. She would surely have set many other boats on fire, if left in the Marina.

Here is a photo of what was left of her after she was left to burn out over the following days.

You can read the details as provided by a local Newspaper at the following link.  http://www.phuketgazette.net/archives/articles/2011/article11631.html

Thre is also a first hand account of the events over at http://svcrystalblues.blogspot.com/

Also here is a link to the owners blog.  http://greypearl.talkspot.com/aspx/m/416338

Lastly on the subject of fire, here is a link to another blog with a description and video of a rescue from another yacht fire, this time off the east coast of the US.  http://yachtcaptainblog.com/2011/10/

Fires on boats are one of the worst case scenarios and very scary when they happen. As seen from these two incidents, once on fire, it is hard to save the yacht. Prevention is the best defence. Thankfully there were no serious injuries in either incident.

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When we spent a night at Ao Nang/Rai Lei beach we were unfortunate to have some really unseasonal weather blow through from the South. 

When we anchored there earlier in the day it was obvious that the seas were coming from the West, which was definitely not in the script. Once all the longtails had finally stopped for the day, and the locally induced swell & waves had settled down the boat was still moving around a bit, but it was OK, and we reckoned we could still handle it and catch some sleep.

Part of the reason for that was that it was clear that the Anchor was well and truly set in the sandy bottom, and that we were well anchored.

Later as dusk strangely approached from the South West with an intense black sky, we expected to get a ‘passing’ squall and suspended cooking for an hour. As it turned out we got much more than that !

When the leading edge hit us the wind speed was immediately over 20 knots and gusting to 26 and above. It was at this stage the dinghy was blown off it’s stand, and across the deck. It had not been securely fastened down after using it earlier in the day.

It was an epic struggle to get her secured down again; effectively we had to release all the remaining straps then man-handle her back in into her chocks and lash her down with ropes to the foredeck side rails and get the tie down straps secure again. The dingy with motor must weigh around 180Kg and the boat was rocking at least 15-20 degrees back and forth with 20knots ++ whistling past our ears.

In any event here is a shot of the Anchor track of that night taken as a screen shot some time later that week. 

If you know how to read these tracks it tells it’s own story. Firstly the wind was consistently strong the whole night blowing from the the South/South West round to from the East. We delineated a nice circumference as a track. You can see our track as we came in from the West to anchor, stopped, dropped the anchor, drifted with the wind and seas and then tensioned up on the anchor, going astern with the engines after the snubber line was set on the anchor chain.

After the initial wind front had hit us and then abated to 10 to 14 knots we were then just waiting for everything to calm down and  to get back to normal.

Unfortunately it did not work out that way, and the next front brought winds that gusted to around 29 knots. From there on in we had wind blowing anywhere from around 14 knots up to the mid twenties the whole night, and the boat continued to move around quite a bit.

About dawn the wind had veered round to from the North East and brought sudden and intense gusts peaking at 29.4 knots. It was then with the wind at about 150 degrees off the anchor set that the anchor finally broke free, dragged, and then reset back into the sand.

You can see the track of this in the small excursion to the S West. The N East winds calmed and died away as quickly as they had started. 

Thankfully all onboard managed to get sleep during the night;some more than others, and nobody was the worse for wear, including the Dinghy ! We had an anchor watch till around midnight and then did checks every hour or as “required”. It is amazing how even when subconcious you can sense a change is the boat movement or ‘conditions’.

In any event the storm that passed that night caused a bit of havoc eleswhere. Here is a Photo of Ichi Ban on the beach the next morning. She was anchored at Kata Beach in preparations for the Kings Cup Regatta.


She was refloated later and despite having to drop and fix her rudder whilst afloat in the Marina in a race against time to make the start, she went on to get a creditable placing in her class.

After Ao Nang and Rai Lei we made our way to PhiPhi Islands and had a much more peaceful few nights, there in the protected Ton Sai Bay.

Together with AVA LON we have been underway in worse weather, but this was the most exposed we have been at anchor and it was great to see the anchor system hold up to the punishment it had that night and come through safe and secure.

Also great for my two boys to get their sea legs tested, and to gain a few stories to tell their buddies when back at school.












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Spent a week onboard with my two boys cruising around Phuket & Krabi. Stopped at some very different anchorages including the drying sandy spit at Ko Yao Yai, which was a fun and interesting spot to explore at low tide. The place is covered in a variety of crabs with Ghost crabs being in the majority. Two local guys were out fishing for them with a rod and line when we first arrived at high tide, and it is only at low tide do you realise just how many of them there are and what a huge area of the waterway dries out.

The depths in the channel are different from the charts I had, (1.8m where there should be 8.2m !) but if you stay close to the north shore you should have 6m to 8m at most places apart from 3m to4m close to the entrance. Certainly sufficient to work your way into a nice spot to anchor. I anchored just to the north, off the main channel, and about 1100m to the East of the the light marking the rocks, and had around 6m even at low water.

We had an easy night at anchor there with negligible wind with the boat swinging gently with the tide.

In daylight you can watch speedboats and even some fairly big sized sport cruisers taking the channel as a short cut on the Krabi-Phuket route, but the Andaman Sea Pilot guide book warns against it unless you have someone with good local knowledge onboard.

We took a slow cruise over to Ao Nang and Rai Lei Beach. The weather when we started out was beautiful, sunny and clear. When we were in about 20m water depth, we cranked up the water maker and filled the tanks, with fresh clean and pure H2O (as opposed to what the Marina has to offer !)

On the way we took a quick looksie at Koh Hong – Krabi. Unfortunately it looked busy with a number of yachts there and a host of speedboats coming and going so we deferred stopping there for another day and kept on moving, dodging purse netters when we were out of the ‘deep’ waters and closer to Ao Nang. Pointing the Bow towards the “Phallic” rock we crept into 4-5m at Rai Le beach and dropped anchor in the sandy bottom.

It was a beautiful spot, but it is the equivalent to being anchored in the middle of the motorway or expressway with all manner of longtail boats, speedboats, ferry’s and anything on the water blasting past us at speed with sometimes just metres to spare from our Bow or Stern.

In any case we made it to shore and explored around the shallows and followed the kayak-ers on their paddle around the island. On the beach you could hear just about all 27 languages of the European Union. Seemed everyone was just interested in soaking up the sun’s rays and forgetting about the chilly Northern winter.

Some of the limestone rocks/cliffs there look ready to give way and go for a swim but thankfully none gave way during our snorkeling swims around there. Along the way a stingray got friendly with us but look don’t touch as always is the best policy.

Back on the boat, come the magic hour of around 5pm and the beaches get deserted and the boat traffic thins out to zero. Peace at last.

That is until some dirty black clouds started forming to the South, just around dusk. Why does the sea always pick up around the time I need to ‘cook’

It’s a story for another time but suffice to say we would see just a smidgen under 30knots of wind more than once that night. With wind and seas opposing it made for an ‘interesting’ night on the anchor. When daylight came around we still had occasional gusts over 20 knots, but I’m glad to say still with an anchor well buried in the sand !

We had no regrets picking up the anchor the next morning and heading south to visit the sheltered Ton Sai bay at Phi Phi Don Island.

We chose to drop the anchor at PhiPhi rather than try to pick up a mooring. Why not after the previous night, my Bruce anchor and all 80m of chain  has my absolute undivided trust !

That said it did make it interesting swinging at anchor inside the pattern of moorings. Mostly so after a 30ft boat was replaced by an 80 ft ferry during one of my snorkeling trips. It didn’t stay; just as well as it looked like I could have just about shook hands with it’s captain at one stage.

The water at PhiPhi is beautiful and clear, and it is great fun to take a swim off the stern if you can keep a watch out for the speed boats blasting through the anchorage ! It gets interesting when there are two or three that seem to be ‘racing’ to get to the beach first. Keeping a good lookout and caution is the order of the day.

We could have spent longer at PhiPhi; we never made it over to PhiPhi Lei, but we still enjoyed our time there and explored all we could of Ton Sai Bay and the snorkeling spots along the sheer rock face.

Going on land was a mind blowing experience to see the built up Hotels, Shops & Banks (?) there, if I compare it to my last visit some twenty years ago, with mostly just beach huts and ‘shacks’. Now I feel really old !

We saw the monkey that likes to smell your money, and then give you a hug, but gave that a miss. We went forth on a re-supply mission and found Two Seven Eleven Stores, and there must be more. We got all that we needed with the exception of butter ! Guess Thai people don’t like butter on their sani’s.

After a fun three days we lifted the anchor and took a slow cruise North back to AoPo Grand Marina, through some rain and snotty weather.

Back in the Marina it was time to head off to find a Fuji Japanese Restaurant, get some doughnuts and let the kids try to get their ‘land legs’ after having their sea legs tested with everything that mother nature could throw at us the past week. They both came through with flying colours !

Post Script; Only after being back in the Marina did I find out that our ‘eventful’ stormy night had also made it’s prescence felt across all of Phuket and in particular one Phuket Kings Cup competitor “IchiBan” (from Australia) had been blown onto the beach…. surprisingly for the second year running. Seems these southerly storms that “dont” happen this time of year are now Two for Two.

To IchiBan I can only say; Mate get a BIG Bruce anchor ! I can swear by it !

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