Thailand to Langkawi, 2008-2009
November 15th we pulled the anchor up and departed the Yacht Haven Marina.  We had anchored off the marina for several days and were able to rent a car and re-stock Blue Sky with fresh food.  Two days before leaving we received a phone call from Rachel and Russ.  Rachel went to high school with our neice Rebecca, from Steamboat Springs, CO.  They were in Africa working as Dive Masters and decided to give Thailand a try.  Offering them a berth and lift to Phi Phi Don they promptly hopped on board.   The first stop was Phi Phi Lei, with s/v Blue Sky   pictured above  and the family on t/t Grey Sky, our dinghy tender, to the right.  This island was made famous from the movie  "The Beach". The snorkeling was great and the water clear.  The next day we made the short hop up to Phi Phi Don and picked up a mooring at Monkey beach. This island is the center of tourist activity.  During the day this bay is busy with tourists,  but by late afternoon the cove was quiet and we could play with the macaque monkeys by ourselves.  Having some very ripe bananas on board we brought them ashore, much to the monkey's delight.   Rachel and Russ took every opportunity to jump off the boat and snorkel and dive amongst the reefs.  They decided the island was too hectic, and ended up taking a ferry to Koh Lanta, a much quieter island, to search for work.
At Phi Phi Don we did a little swimming & hiking.   Russ and Rachel are a wealth of sealife knowledge.  They were able to give us all lessons on the undersea environment.  Emma's un-schooling approach of taking every opportunity to learn works for us!  We really enjoyed swimming with the cuttle fish they are very gentle and inquisitive, a local even caught one by hand, much to our dismay. They will swim right up to your mask and look you straight in the eye. 
The picture above left is just after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.  The devastation is amazing to see, the wave came from both sides of this hourglass shaped island.   The rebuilding commenced immediately and with no zoning or building codes, this island has become overwhelmed with tourists, and locals competing for their business.  The view of both bays from the top of the hill is spectacular, you can see s/v Blue Sky peacefully at anchor on the right. 
On our own again and with the NE Monsoon season fully established we ventured to the west coast of Phuket.  Our first stop was Nai Harn bay, located on the southwestern tip of Phuket Island. It was the begining of the season and we were the only boat anchored in this sheltered bay.  When we returned just before Christmas, there were over 60 boats in the anchorage.  Above and to the right are the before and after photos.
While at Nai Harn the local life guards were putting on a "surf day camp" for all children.  The lifeguards work their way around Phuket's various beaches teaching children about water safety while participating in various competitions.   Phoebe and Drake were allowed to participate and they both had a fantastic time.  Something they do not get to experience is sport competition, and it was a great PE day for them.  They both came in second in the Boogey Boarding race, and won medals, which they still display proudly in the room.  Phoebe made an instant friend, Trinity,  who is from England and lives with her family now in Nai Harn.   prictured below in the side-car with one of her dogs.  Trinity is pictured with Phoebe, Drake and her two dogs, in the side car to her mom's scooter.  Our children thought it was a treat to ride in it.  Phoebe had a sleep over and was excited to stay in a house! 
It was time to move on so we cove hopped up the West Coast.  The day before Drake's birthday we anchored off Le Meridien Hotel.  The bay is dominated by this 400 room resort with swimming pools, mini-golf, archery, rock climbing etc.  What more could a nine year old want!  Mom and Dad even had a good time as well. After a fun day we headed to the bustling city of Patong, where Drake enjoyed a donut with a candle in it. His birthday fell on Thanksgiving this year, unfortunately we could not find a Turkey to roast, plus my oven is not big enough, so we settled for McDonald's. Needless to say he was a great sport not having a big party.  The only picture we have of Patong is of Phoebe and Drake above, sporting their new hair cuts.  In fact we all got hair cuts, Jim was first and had this talented man cut his hair.  After I saw the neck and head message he received during the cut, which took an hour, I wanted my hair cut too. Unfortunately I was not the man's type so I just got the cut!  The reason we don't have more pictures of Patong is imagine New Orleans on steroids.  Way too much food and fun. After a reprovision run it was time to go to the Similan Islands. One of the top ten dive sites in the world. 
s/v Blue Sky resting on a mooring ball at Koh Similan.  The water is so clear you can see the bottom 10 metres below the boat and up to 30 metres in the bay.  t/t Grey Sky is on the white silica beach below the granite rock formations that these islands are known for.
The photographs to the left are of the resident Green Turtle,.  It would swim by the boat everyday.  We could not resist snorkeling with it & the turtle would swim right up to us, have a look, then dive below us.  The abundance and variety of fish was incredible.  I even saw a white tip reef shark, but of course would not tell the children about it!
The Mather family poses on top of the Granite Rock, below we watched a Hammer Head shark investigating something in the clear water.   Phoebe and I stand on the top, while Jim shuffles through the crowded beach.  We went to the Similans during the Kings Cup Regatta, so there were no other sail boats.  However, in true Thail style, the beaches were full during the day with tourists brave enough to venture the 30 miles across the Andaman Sea in fast boats.  Thankfully, the evenings were peaceful, except for all the dive boats running their compressors.  Which we did not mind, because they would fill our tanks for free. 
After ten wonderful days in the Similans, it was time to work our way back down the coast to check out.    We stopped at Laem Sing, the description in our guide book mentioned "A favorite spot for paradise seekers and ageing hippies" sounded right up our alley.  Jim gave The Relax restaurant a
Lattitudes and Attitudes flag to hang with all the others flags they have collected from other yachties.  While Phoebe and Drake enjoy a popcicle as they relax after playing cricket and soccer on the beach.
Friend's of ours were anchored off Ao Bang Tao, together we enjoyed a beach BBQ and finally broke in our jaffle iron (see on the fire.)  We put bread, cheese and baked beans in it, yummy.  It is Australian, but I found ours in Tucson.  To the left is Bella and Arlee from s/v Indigo and Natasha from s/v Blue Moon.
Prior to our visa's expiring we received a phone call from Rachel and Russ.  Because of the situation at the Bangkok airport and the state of the economy, they were having a hard time finding jobs and did not know what to do.  Once again, we offered them a berth and told them it would take us three weeks to get to Langkawi.  They met us in Patong so we could add them to our crew list.  On the way South we stopped by Nai Harn again and had a fabulous dinner with our new friends pictured above, Debra, Marcus and their daughter Trinity (who is in the photo with Phoebe.)  Phoebe and Drake had a sleep over the night prior and Debra picked us up in her scooter and side car.  It was a sight to see, Jim, Rachel and Russ in the side car and me riding behind Debra (just like the locals.)  Our plan was to go to Koh Kraden for Christmas, where an ex-cruiser has a feast for approximately fifty people.  When we arrived we were surprised to see our friends off s/v Gwendolyn and two other boats.  The restaurant was completely booked, so we cancelled our reservation and arranged to have a beach BBQ with the other kid boats. This year Phoebe figured out the Santa thing, but you can tell by Drake's face that leaving out the cookies and beer for Santa and cabbage for the reindeer was still important.
Topless women and surfers are what you might expect to see on the beach in Thailand.  To the right is a lovely couple in matching swimsuits, I wonder if they purchased them in the women or men's department?
Happy children with loads of presents to open!  Their main gift was a Nintendo DS each, and a disk with 100 games on it.  Gotta love bootlegs.
The Christmas gang, which included six children.  Fun was had by all.
More to tell on the next log.  Stay tuned...
Drake throwing his new boomerang!

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