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A Znack Abroad

Spectacularity Amongst the Seas

THAILAND | Monday, 22 April 2013 | Views [360]

Ahoy all!

So I survived. I made it through the rough and choppy winds of the gulf of Thailand. There were times when I barely thought I could hold on to the hull. It was dangerous and scary and exhilarating.  Ok, well, no. Not really. Not at all, actually. We were lucky to get a 3 knot breeze. And the only time I couldn’t keep vertical was when we were playing pool and my accustomed sea legs got the better of me.  But it was still absolutely wonderful and quite possibly one of the most awesome experiences of my life.

The first day we (we being my friend Martin, who is a local marine videographer, and I) were to meet our captain, Scott (who, at 27, has been teaching sailing since he was 7!!!!!), and his girlfriend Andrea, at 9 am. I had a large breakfast in preparation for what I was assuming was going to be a long voyage to Ang Thong National Marine Park. That large breakfast I had was not such a bright idea and I soon found myself leaning over the edge of our small sloop gazing down into one and a half meter swells. Fortunately (or unfortunately in terms of sailing) the wind died down and we were left relatively motionless about 7 nautical miles from our destination. So we slowly drifted, and did a bit of tacking as Scott used to race yachts, to gain a wee bit of boat speed. We rolled into Ang Thong shortly after sunset, dropped anchor, and made our way to a beach side restaurant where the local rangers eat, and grabbed some much needed food. Food devoured we made our way back to our boat to sit under the gorgeous sky and have a few glasses of boxed wine. That night Martin and I made our beds in the berth, and Scott and Andrea slept on deck. No sooner did everyone fall asleep did I realize that it was way too hot to sleep in the bottom of the boat. I made my way to the cock pit, my sarong and pillow in hand, and tried to sleep. I froze. At least the night was clear and I was able to watch the stars all night, and saw a very amazing sunrise.

The next morning we decided we would go back to the rangers´ restaurant for breakfast. Unfortunately, the last 24 hours had caught up to me, and I felt very out of commission. The group wanted to go for a hike up to a cave, and I didn´t want to be left behind, so I trudged along. The cave was absolutely stunning, and ridiculously huge (and I am wondering if it was limestone too?). Although the vertical ascent up to the cave came relatively easy for me, the descent brought about a very upset stomach and very dead Jen. Scott decided that the day was better spent lounging on a beach, rather then further killing me in the sun.  So we sailed for about a mile before we were in the middle of absolute nowhere. Like I mean out of the 42 islands we were surrounded by about eight. And there was no one there except us (and these two Thai guys that lived in a hut up the hill, but they left early in the morning and came home at sunset, and we are all pretty sure that they worked on the ¨bird sanctuary¨ island, the one that they chase you off with machine guns if you sail to close – don’t worry mom we didn’t, but we heard stories, but I digress). So we put down anchor and found some shade on a beach and lounged around for the better part of the day. And it was absolutely perfect. Later on, after I managed to start to feel human again, Scott made a fire in a dug out pit on the beach and proceeded to cook us a delicious dinner of pork, potatoes, and onions. That night the ocean was calm and the wind was almost nonexistent on the boat. So I decided to make my bed in the cockpit, and had nothing but the ocean breezes for noise, and an endless spectrum of stars in the sky. I finally witnessed the epitome of perfection and complete serenity. I was completely content and for the first time in a very, very long time I slept like a complete baby.

The warm sun woke me up bright and early (early enough in fact I was able to watch the sunrise all four mornings). We were to sail from our place in Ang Thong to Koh Phagnan. After weighing the anchor Andrea made a delicious breakfast of bacon and eggs, and we started our voyage. The morning was for the most part a decent 3 knot wind (to which Scott formed me that one day when I make it onto a boat, that I would make a great helmswoman – I tried to spend as much time as I could behind the helm watching the luff in the sails) and we made a good headway, until about noon when the wind disappeared all together and we had to resort to engine power to get the rest of the way, which was about five more hours in the absolutely ridiculous heat. At first I was a little skeptical of going back to Phagnan after my last experience, but luckily we ended up on the north end of the island, in a small fishing village.  We made our way to shore after anchoring and I had the most spectacular shrimp dish (full freshly caught that day shrimp, with their head still on – which I had to get some assistance with) and then we went for a few rounds of pool and a beer (which proved to be exceptionally difficult with my legs that were finally used to the sea). Getting back to the boat it was time for bed, and once again I made my bed in the cockpit.

 

That night the squid boat lights, the pier lights, the obnoxiously squeaky boom, and out of nowhere waves kept me up. But once again, I at least got to enjoy a rather pleasant sunrise. After a massive breakfast of leftover everything we set our sails back to Koh Tao. Everyone was pretty exhausted, and the wind died down relatively early that day. We ended up setting up a tarp on deck to hide from the relentless sun. Scott decided that we would make use of the lack of sun to practice dinghy-ing, which I found out needs much practice on my part. Before my patience got the best of me, we stopped and agreed that I would try again later (apparently my good helmswomaning only applies to sail boats). Finally we reached Koh Tao and set down our anchor for the night. We went to shore for a drink at the local beach bar, which was about 3 seats and a cranky funny Thai lady behind the bar. We had an early dinner and made our way back to the boat for more drinks, some cards, and a beautiful sleep on the berth squabs on deck.

 

At about five am the sounds of rolling thunder and blinding flashes of lightning waked me. At first disappointed about being woken up, I ended up hoping and wishing that the shitty weather would stay so we would have enough wind to properly practice our gybing and tacking. My overly eager joy was short-lived when the few drops of rain I felt dissipated and I was left to an absolutely epic sunrise, and hotter, windless weather. Not long after Martin woke up, we found ourselves isolated on the sloop without Scott or Andrea, and more importantly the dinghy. We were just about to start a swim to shore to hunt down breakfast and were happily sidetracked by the sounds of Alf, a coworker of Scott, who was making his way to shore. Making our way back to boat after finding Scott and food, the sails were hoisted and we set off to practice. We got in a bit of practice in before the wind died off completely and we were sitting in the middle of a mirror-surfaced ocean. Scott decided it would be a good time to scrape off the bottom of the boat of barnacles and such, so masks were donned and away we went. Barnacle scrubbing is relatively difficult work and the worst part is, is finishing that, I discovered that I had crabs. Tsk, what are you thinking?! I had tiny little crab like things and shrimp like things that had attached themselves to my bikini whilst I was barnacle scrubbing. It freaked me out more then the first time I had a cockroach crawl up my leg in Bangkok. Anyways, after de-crabbing myself, we made our way back to Koh Tao as Scott began our final boat quizzes.  Overly joyous, I managed to remember all the parts of the boat (which the day before Scott was sure I would never remember), and all my knots, and surprisingly all these small little nuances about the boat (I guess I was paying way more attention then I thought I was, which was great, as I was very nervous about this part). So happy to say it, I am now a competent crewmember, which means I can now go join a boat anywhere in the world, and go sailing (which apparently there is a huge demand for). Next job? We got back to Tao and immediately Scott, Martin and I made our way back to the bar for some celebratory drinks, then we took a cab back to Mae Had to try and find accommodation and get my gear from Scott’s office (which turned into having a few more drinks with him).

Today I didn’t get up to too much. I felt like a zombie when I woke up, which is really all in part due to the supreme lack of sleep and too much sun over the last five days. Tomorrow I am going to try to make the most out of my last day in Tao (as I will be heading back to Bangkok on Wednesday), like catching a ladyboy show later on in the evening.

Love to you all and I wish you could have been here for this amazing journey,

Jen

 

 

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