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                               BOAT LAGOON & AROUND, THAILAND

March 19

We had booked a spot at the Boat Lagoon to haul out and do our routine annual maintenance. We needed to time the entrance to the channel just right. So we set sail south heading down the east coast of Phuket and after an overnight stay at the island of Ko Rang Yai we arrived at the channel to the Boat Lagoon. Within moments a pilot had jumped onboard to direct Ascension through the tight shallow waterway into the Marina. We had chosen the day of the highest tide of the month, but we still saw points where there was very little water under our 8 foot keel and we slid through the mud on one occasion.

We were directed to tie up at the end of a busy dock to await our turn with the travel lift as we had planned to haul out directly. We took the opportunity to unload the boat and move our belongings into the tiny apartment we had arranged to stay in while on the hard.

We were loaded onto the travel lift and hauled out with plenty of depth, so much water in fact that the parking lot looked like a lake as it flooded over the slip.

A fork lift was provided as our means to descend from the cockpit. So much for safety issues!

Home Away from Home

The building housing our room consisted of a labyrinth of stairways, each leading to the apartments via a rabbit warren of turns and passageways. Our apartment was on the second floor right above the boat yard and overlooking the marina. During the early morning hours the dock got very busy with daytrippers pouring into tour boats headed to the islands for sightseeing.

The evenings offered a peaceful respite as the sun set over the lighthouse.

Our apartment was across from Bob & Becky's so we were able to share a hotplate to cook meals as there were no cooking facilities in the rooms. However, there was a hot shower, air conditioning and internet! What more could I ask for!!!

 
Since the purpose of us being at the Boat Lagoon was for repairs and maintenance, we had a busy time ahead. A priority on the list was to rebed the keel. There had never been any problems with the keel bolts but Gord felt that for peace of mind he needed to check on their condition after sailing half way around the world.

Dismasted!

So firstly, the mast had to come down. It was quite an operation to remove the shrouds and stays so the crane could lift the mast.

With the mast lying horizontal in the lot we were able to complete a close inspection and found that we needed to change the electrical wiring up the mast but worse, we discovered that the spreaders were cracked and required replacement.

We hired Kevin of Solidair who, along with an engineering company, directed the removal of the keel.

Becoming a Power Boat!

The interior of the boat had to be torn apart, table removed, floor lifted, cupboard doors taken off, to accommodate the removal of the keel bolts.

As it turned out, the old bolts were in pristine condition but we ordered new ones from the US anyway just for absolute peace of mind.

Without a mast and minus the keel Ascension looked like a power boat sitting in her cradle in the boat yard.

As the days went by Gord worked on Ascension in the blazing heat, his clothing constantly soaking wet from the extreme humidity. Meanwhile I sat happy as a clam in the air conditioned room updating my webpages!

Hi-Lite of the Day!

Everyday a group of cruisers walked across the parking lot to Rosie's for lunch. Rosie was a little local gal that operated a hole in the wall eatery. She offered an array of authentic Thai cuisine all cooked in ONE wok in a tiny windowless kitchen. Somehow she cheerfully managed to serve 20 or so patrons in the course of an hour, and all the meals were delicious! Our preference was the Fried Rice with Cashew Chicken, our main meal of the day for 50 baht each ($1.50!). Then for dinner in our room we would have soup or salad and perhaps a sandwich.

Once in a while a group of us would venture out for dinner and the meals were always inexpensive. Thai food is the most consistently delicious food I have ever had and I will miss the cuisine very much when we leave Thailand.


 

Ol' Country Fair

March 24  A large group of us piled in the truck and headed to the Phuket Fair. It is an annual event comprising of entertainment, the usual carnival rides, and colorful stalls providing everything from food, to souvenirs, to games. It had been raining all day so the grounds were muddy but that didn't curtail the festivities.

Becky throws the darts to win a prize!

Although there was a huge selection of food available, the hanging rows of dried squid, kabobs teaming with flies, and compressed fish by-products did not appeal.

But the delicacies of snack foods were the assortment of fried leaches, roaches, scorpions, larvae, grasshoppers and the like that you could buy by the kg. to much on.

 

We wandered what safety inspection certificates the rides might have. NOT

 

Soon bored with the endless maze of shopping stalls, Gord and Bob go on the search for a drink and find a very unique "liquor store" amidst the activities.

April 13  

We partook in the activities of SONGKRAN, the Thai New Year, better known as Water Festival, the biggest water fight in the world and a holiday far surpassing Christmas or the 1st of July in Canada.  more.....


April 18

It was  the start of the rainy season. Spectacular lightning and thunder storms attacked the marina  like clockwork around 5 pm illuminating the boats and threatening to strike a lightning-rod mast. 

And then the monsoon brought torrential rain all night long. In the morning the walkways, sidewalks, roads and parking lots were flooded.  Boats on the hard in the boatyard looked like they were anchored in the water! The hallway outside our unit was covered with water threatening to seep under the door as the rain ran like a waterfall down the stairs.

The rain did not diminish the heat during the day, only added to the humidity. Thank goodness for our A/C in our little room.

The boardwalk and entrance to our apartment complex was underwater as the sea water reached the same level as the headwall.

Jo's B-Day Supper

April 30

A large group of us (including "Rosie" who closed her diner for the evening) went out to dinner to help Jo celebrate her birthday in true traditional Thai style. A large tent-style eatery was noisy with hundreds of exultant locals crammed along long wooden tables.

Lengthy tables offered various foods and you filled your plate with salad ingredients, raw veggies, soy, raw meat and fish and various other unfamiliar items.

Back at the table you cooked your selections in community hot pots, much like a fondue, with 6 or so sharing a pot. The drippings were collected for soup.

Jo opened her presents then we all had some of her birthday cake...an unforgettable experience.

Since the boat work was not going as fast as anticipated (it never does), It appeared that we would not make our deadline of April 18 to leave Boat Lagoon on a high enough tide. We therefore committed to remain in our apartment for another month before moving the boat to Yacht Haven where we would leave it while we returned to Canada for a visit.

In the meantime, I enjoyed shopping trips to Central Mall, various outings and a glorious massage at an exclusive Spa. Pictured right is Annie and myself sipping herb tea before our grand massage treatment.

Finally, the bottom of the hull was painted, the keel was ground, re-epoxied and painted, the cutlass bearing replaced, the transmission shaft reground and replaced, the topside polished, and the new bolts arrived by Fed Ex. Ready to put the keel back on. It took a lot longer to line the keel up and bolt it back on than it did to remove it!

A fork lift was used to nudge the keel into place under the hull so the holes for the bolts lined up just perfect.

Then it was a matter of fitting and tightening the bolts, a job that took tremendous effort in the cramped quarters and sweltering heat inside the boat

Next the mast! With the spreaders replaces and the rigging checked, the mast was ready to be lifted back on. Ah...back to being a sailboat at last!


An uninvited house guest..... We continued to enjoy the sanctity of our little home away from home and splurged by leaving the air conditioning on almost all the time. It continued to rain everyday and that is what perhaps initiated the arrival of an unwanted visitor in the apartment complex.

I was quietly working on my computer one day when I heard horrifying screams coming from Becky's room. I opened the door to see Becky bolt from her room, Bob flailing a large handled broom madly around the premises. Seems that Becky reached into her underwear drawer and discovered a snake, contently coiled in her bra. Understand that Becky has always had an overwhelming fear of snakes. The hotel concierges reluctantly came to the rescue and cautiously searched the room and closet, at more than arms length, but the culprit had slithered away. We gave the local boys a description and they said that the little snake was likely poisonous and perhaps just a baby. So where was Mamma and the nest??!!

Later we heard that there was another snake sighting in the room just above ours. Can't blame them for wanting a cool dry place to hang out!


May 15

Our last opportunity to leave the Boat Lagoon with enough water to get out the channel. We timed the tide just right but the weather was not on our side. Just as we were untying the dock lines the black angry sky opened up and a torrential downpour cut our visibility to zero. Our pilot was trying to get to Ascension but the wind was forcing a salt water barrier that cut into all our bodies.

We headed into the driving rain, sheets of water cascading off the bimini and filling the cockpit. Somehow our pilot managed to weave his way through the channel markers despite the blustery conditions.

We continued sailing up the coast toward Yacht Haven which is at the northern tip of Phuket, the conditions improving somewhat by the time we arrived at Ko Wa Yai, an island at the mouth of the river where we spent the night.

Early next morn we pulled into our slip at Yacht Haven Marina, Ascension's home for the next 3 months while we flew back to Canada for the first time since we left to go cruising almost 4 years ago.

Yacht Haven Marina

We found Yacht Haven to have a friendly welcoming atmosphere compared with the Boat Lagoon who seemed to be always looking for a way to extract more money from the cruisers.

We prepaid for 6 months and got a great discount on moorage. The marina is very protected and the water clean enough to run the watermaker.

We had the peace of mind in knowing that our boat would be looked after by fellow yachties while we boarded our plane bound for Bangkok. We planned to do a bit of touring around Northern Thailand before heading to Canada.

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