This blog is in “real time” as I’m taking a break from uploading the last few updates on our trip to India’s captivating and far flung Andaman Islands.
So – we are on the move again, sailing south from Thailand to Indonesia via Malaysia with the intention of joining the month-long West Kalimantan Rally starting on 2 July in Sintete Port, Sambas.
We left Ao Chalong Bay, Phuket on 20 May where we had been anchored for just about two weeks while we had new covers made for our seats down below, together with new cockpit cushions (for the first time on Bali Hai we have fitted cushions), sunshades for each side of the cockpit and new canvas work making the cockpit more sheltered from rain, wind and sun.
The company who did the work came highly recommended from various yachtie friends and did a fantastic job. We also can highly recommend them. Aod (pronounced Odd) was delightful to work with and although his English was limited was very quick to catch on to our exact requirements.
While we were waiting we caught up with a lot of cleaning and maintenance jobs, provisioning and planning. It was really good to have the time to take stock, have a few meals out and generally get back into boat life at anchor after three weeks in Australia with family and friends, a week at Yacht Haven Marina, where we had left Bali Hai and a few days at Ao Po Marina on our return from the Andaman Islands.
Much as I like the occasional stay in a marina I much prefer to be at anchor with cooling breezes, big skies and the action of the waves.
Ao Po Marina was astonishing as it was crammed full of super yachts- one sailing yacht even had a sea plane in its cockpit!! It made us feel very small.
The yacht next door looked very swish but the skipper told us that it was a mess inside and was being refurbished. Apparently the vessel had been on a container ship which had been hijacked off the coast of Somalia by pirates. It had stood on the deck of the ship waiting for rescue or ransom for three years. It then spent some time as a floating meth lab (this sounds like an episode from an episode of Breaking Bad!) and its beautiful and stylish interior completely wrecked.
Work was also going on aboard the motor yacht the other side of us too and it was quite disconcerting to be looking out of the window down below to see the workers staring down at us as we went about our daily life.
That said, Ao Po marina has a very pleasant bar that has a buy one, get one free, offer during Happy Hour. The restaurant is also delightful and there is a smallish pool to cool down in.
While we were there we made the decision to make a flying visit to Brisbane, Australia to spend a little time with our son and his partner and catch up with friends.
Having been caught before when trying to leave the country by air, we knew the drill about placing a bond before leaving which is retrievable on your return.
We raided the nearby ATMs and raised the 20,000 Thai Baht (around Aus $780 or £450) we had to pay and Capt’n Birdseye hired a motorbike and drove into town to the Immigration office to pay.
After an hour driving in the heat and waiting patiently for his turn at the office, he was told that he could not place the bond without a plane ticket. We had held off purchasing a ticket until we had everything sorted with Thai Immigration.
Nothing would budge them – strange, as who in their right mind would walk into the office, and pay a bond if they weren’t definitely intending to leave the country?
To make matters worse, the following day was a public holiday and the office was closed. We were planning to leave the day after that.
Minutes after he had arrived back I had booked his flight and he was on his way again with a print out of his ticket, managing to arrive at the immigration office in the nick of time.
After a great break in Australia we got back to Yacht Haven Marina which is very close to the airport and a quiet and well run marina to find everything totally fine with Bali Hai. Unlike a previous time, at another marina, when someone had inadvertently turned our our power off, everything was thankfully working as it should.