December 21st, 2006 – by: bede17
I canâ€™t believe itâ€™s December! Crazy! We had a nice couple days in the Phi Phi islands. Phi Phi Don is really really touristy, like only a handful of Thai people for every one hundred tourists. And the tourists number in the thousands or at least multiple hundreds. We only spent the day anchored at Phi Phi Le because the anchorage wasnâ€™t the best, but that was enough for us. There were even more tourists there on that one beach! For anyone that has seen the movie â€śThe Beach,â€ť which I havenâ€™t, the main site on Phi Phi Le is the beach they filmed the movie at. So the tourists go there in hordes. I didnâ€™t even go ashore there, but it was very pretty. We spent another afternoon on a longboat tour around the island, and that was pretty too.
It really is a striking place, all those cliffs rising out of the water straight up hundreds of feet. Next it was onwards to Phuket, where we are now. I went provisioning the day we arrived, and luckily as it was a weekday the Tesco wasnâ€™t as crowded as before. But there sure were lots of Christmas decorations and music! Yesterday was a really relaxing day. I spent the morning on the boat with just a couple other people, cleaning and doing some odd little jobs. I went ashore briefly to check my email and then was back onboard at two. Then I spent THREE HOURS scrubbing the hull of the boat! I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve ever spent that much time straight in the water, except for the three hours I spent scrubbing the hull last week.
Thanksgiving on the beach in the Similan Islands
But now it looks really nice and I am proud. After dinner we had a race meeting and discussed strategy, positions, etiquette, etc. and all got t-shirts and hats. This afternoon was the practice race for the event, so we started sailing at 9 and had a great morning with some decent wind and got our tacking and jibing down. It was really fun. Slowly the rest of the boats joined us and at about two the race started, except the wind also diedâ€¦ so they ended up calling the race at three and we headed back to shore. Oh well, it was still good to get out there and practice and maybe there will be more wind tomorrow morning.
dinner area at the ranger station
Holy crap I havenâ€™t written in a whileâ€¦ itâ€™s now Dec. 21st. I will do my best to recreate the events of the past couple weeks, but it will be a little hard because so much has happened.
The Kingâ€™s Cup race week was awesome. There were five race days total, and we placed either first or second in all of them (in our class). Our class was the Classics class and there were just four boats, so it wasnâ€™t that hard to get a trophy I guess. The other class that was always with us was the Ocean Rover class, basically any sort of normal cruising (non-racing) boat that people sail themselves around in. Unfortunately we had pretty light to nonexistent winds the whole time. Several of the races we didnâ€™t even finish, the committee shortened our course to a closer mark because it was clear no one was going to cross the line, or even just called the race in the middle. Our persistence paid off though when we waited for several hours drifting under the hot sun and watched our competitors quit the race and therefore disqualify them, whereas we stuck it out to the race was cancelled and therefore earned a place.
One race though we never even made it across the start line. The wind died just before the start and we drifted away from the line for several hours before the race was called. So we got pretty good at light wind tactics. One of the most anxious moments though was the second to last race, in which we got stuck behind an island with another boat in our class with no wind. Both boats sat with no wind for a while, but then the other one seemed to get some wind and pulled away from us and disappeared around the corner of the island. We didnâ€™t give up hope though, and after finally getting our own wind we saw that that boat had made a tactical error and had been pushed downwind literally past the mark to be crossed, so they would have to sail upwind (nearly impossible in these conditions), while we would be sailing downwind to it.
here come the tourists to Phi Phi Don
We saw how the current had carried them and changed our course so as not to let the same thing happen to us, and at a speed of about 1 and a half knots both boats approached the finish line from two directions. It was so tense, seeing who would make it to the line first, but we did! We got a big cheer from the other boat and the committee boat and were awarded second place. Good thing we stuck it out! The best race however was our last one. We had some pretty good wind at the start but were behind the other boats. Soon though the wind died totally and we spent the next couple of hours drifting around thinking not again, we canâ€™t do this again for the whole day. Two things happened next all at once- the wind came back, and the committee cancelled the race.
They werenâ€™t near our boats and couldnâ€™t tell that we had just gotten wind about thirty seconds earlier, but a few other boats and us got on the radio and said no we have wind, lets continue the race. Two boats in our class had turned on their engines in the meantime and one had started to motor away, but we hadnâ€™t done anything and we decided we were going to finish the race no matter what. So the committee said fine, continue the race. The boat with the motor on moved to one end of the course and put themselves almost right in the way of another boatâ€™s wind, but we didnâ€™t care because that was our main competitor and their wind was being stolen. So we watched four boats take each otherâ€™s wind and sort of stall, all line up perfectly next to each other, while we pulled ahead and sailed triumphantly to the finish line, much to the cheering of the committee boat and the Ocean Rover class that was nearby.
It really was an amazing moment, sort of like a cheesy movie where the underdog boat of American students beats the racers (even though they werenâ€™t really). We really sailed a great race. That night all of the shipmates got to go into shore to the party (Eliot and I stayed onboard to watch the boat) and accept our first place trophy for the race and second in our class overall. We got a lot of attention from everyone (we were the biggest boat racing) and even had some film crews and reporters onboard during some of the racing. So go to sail.tv sometime in the next couple of months and look for a clip about the Kingâ€™s Cup. All the programs will air in a bunch of different countries, donâ€™t know about the U.S. though. And we all had matching shirts for all the races, it was very bonding, I guess you could say.
Boomer feeding a monkey
Everyone really learned a lot about sailing. I think that pretty much covers the Kingâ€™s Cup. It really was a great end to the program, Iâ€™m so glad we did it. Oh another highlight was on the Kingâ€™s birthday, Dec. 5th, when all the boats formed a like procession under sail and sailed between a navy boat and Gipsy Moth IV, a famous sailboat. As each boat went by the navy boat standing on the rail, the navy gave a salute. It really was special. We spent the last two days or so at an island nearby that was uninhabited, so it was peaceful and good to be away from the crowds. We ended on the dock at Yacht Haven Marina and had a nice group dinner before everyone left. It was definitely sad to see everyone leave, and they were really sad so we knew we had done something right I guess.
monkeys eating watermelon on a powerboat
The staff started trickling away too, and soon it was just me, Kevin, and Jim onboard. We spent a couple days at the dock, doing random boat stuff and errands. I met a nice couple on one of the boats who had a cocker spaniel puppy named Tom. He came over to our boat on one of his walks and I played with him and took pictures. He was so cute! That night when we all got back from dinner we ran into the couple who were searching the docks with flashlights because the dog had gone missing. It was so sad. Kevin and I walked around for a while with a light, but no luck. They were hoping heâ€™d just run off into the woods and would be back in the morning, but I was afraid he had fallen overboard. He was still new to boat life and had been in a few times, but only with his owners there.
mother and child
There was no way for him to climb back up onto the boat or dock and the water was really rough. It was really sad. That was a week ago, and still no Tom L The next day Jim and Ket, who had flown in for the week, decided to go to the temple and I thought it might be a nice field trip so I went along too. It ended up being quite a day. First we stopped at the Royal Phuket Marina, which is brand new and just opening. We had an amazing lunch at their â€śboutique cafĂ©,â€ť I had a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich! It was soooooooo good. Then we went to the temple for a little while, and Ket (who used to be a monk) explained some of the sort of traditions to me. We lit incense sticks and candles and put gold leaf squares on the Buddha statues.
lots o' boats
Ket handed me a tube that had a bunch of sticks in it and told me I had to shake it until one fell on the ground, which isnâ€™t as easy as it sounds, and I had to watch someone else do it before I figured it out. Ket read off the number of the stick that fell on the ground and found the corresponding piece of paper which would sort of be like the answer to the wish I hade made or whatever, but he read it for a while and then said, â€śitâ€™s not good.â€ť Turns out you can have bad luck at a temple! It was funny. I guess some of the numbers are good, and some are bad. Maybe Iâ€™ll try it again in three months when he said they change the papers. We also set off some fireworks, or actually gave a box of fireworks to this dude who manned a small hut that you light off firecrackers in to scare away the bad spirits or something.
they are really close together
And then we walked around a temple three times, and saw these super life-like mannequins of old monks in a museum that I was convinced were real for a while. It was fun. Then we stopped at the mall for a little bit to get some books at the bookstore, so I got a few magazines- woohoo! Then on the way back we had coffee and sodas at the Boat Lagoon Marina, so now I can say Iâ€™ve been to all the marinas on Phuket. It was a nice outing, but much longer than I expected! The next day or so we left the dock, which was an experience in itself because the wind was blowing twenty knots against the dock, so it took us a while and lots of help to get the boat through the wind and off the dock, but we made it. We were on our way to Kata Beach, where the Kingâ€™s Cup was, when we saw our friends on Cordelia and arranged to meet them at a nearby bay for dinner.
I really like this picture for some reason
Kevin and I went out to dinner with some of the crew and it was really fun. I got to see the inside of the boat for the first time, it was really cool. They have a cat that has itâ€™s own hammock for when they are sailing! And the skipper, who is from New Zealand, said to us after a little bit- oh I have this great video you might be interested in- itâ€™s called Around Cape Horn, have you seen it? And I like well, I guess I haveâ€¦it was funny. The next day we motored to the bay off the Amanpuri Hotel, host of the event that this whole trip was sort of based around. As a background note, we were going to the â€śPhuket Invitational Superyacht Rallyâ€ť an annual invite- only race and party for super yachts. That afternoon I went ashore with Jim and Ket to check our email at the hotel, which is said to be one of the nicest in Thailand.
getting ready to go by the navy ship
The cheapest you can get a room for (in the off season) is $525, right now itâ€™s $700. And I think the top end range was somewhere in the tens of thousands. It certainly was beautiful, or at least part of the lobby and library and pool that I saw. Very traditional architecture, all wood, lots of open spaces and windows out to the sea. One of the most peaceful places ever. That night Kevin, Jim, and Ket went ashore to the party. Each crew there was given some basic supplies, paper, string, etc., and given half an hour to build a small boat. Someone from each team had to blow the boat down the swimming pool, drink a beer, and then blow the boat back. It sounded like a good time. The next morning was the race, and we spent time getting the boat ready for the guests onboard.
The crew itself was myself, Kevin, Ket, and a guy Andy and his girlfriend Katie that we had met on the dock and invited onboard. The guests were the head of Feadship Holland, a representative from Bombardier (planes), and a reporter from a local magazine. So not exactly our usual crew of 24! Kevin, Ket, Andy and I worked our butts off all day sailing the boat with all sails but one, quite an amazing feat if you ask me. Jim was on the helm most of the time. I still canâ€™t believe we sailed at all with that many people, let alone race! We came in third I think, behind an actual racing boat (no contest there) and Cordelia, who has been our rival this whole time. We were ahead of them the whole time until the last leg, when they managed to squeeze by us at the last minute.
Boomer being interviewed for tv
We were so close to beating them! They really appreciated how well we sailed though, as they and many many others told us at the party later. Everyone complemented us on our sailing, and Iâ€™m so glad that we did. The party that night was amazing. The hotel had tables set up on the beach, but like wedding style, with white tablecloths and white rose and candle centerpieces. There was an amazing buffet, and I had some sushi, pesto pasta, shrimp, roast beef, and of course chocolate cake for dessert. First there were traditional Thai dancers, than a band that was pretty good. They gave out leis at the entrance, so all the guests were wearing white orchid? jasmine? flower garlands or bracelets. Oh I almost forgot!! Before the big party on the beach there was a cocktail party held on one of the boats.
great sailing, we actually had wind!
We had seen this boat, Silolona, all throughout the Kingâ€™s Cup and hadnâ€™t paid it much attention. It was quite big and built as a traditional Indonesian sailing boat, so it was pretty, but we didnâ€™t think much of it. So I was shocked when I got onboard and saw it- it was like a five star hotel! It costs $10,000 a night to charter! The whole thing is made of wood, and all the cabins (staterooms?) are designed differently with traditional patterns and accessories. It was built in Burma by an American woman who was fed up with being crew on another boat and wanted her own. It was a beautiful boat and I had fun wandering around it. So the parties were really cool and we crashed that night after such a long day. The next day, which I guess was yesterday, was nice and relaxing- a bit of a sleep in (finally!) and then we moved to Kata Beach.
we are just about to win the race (well, 2nd) by getting to this mark first
Jim and Ket went ashore to go to the temple again (today is Ketâ€™s 25th birthday, a big one for Thai people, and you go to the temple the day before, the day of, and the day after). Kevin and I alternated some shore time and I picked up some movies for later. We spent the evening on the boat watching the new Bond movie, which I really enjoyed. Jim and Ket are off at the temple now and then doing some errands on shore, and later some more people will come and then tomorrow we will leave for Krabi. I donâ€™t know if Iâ€™ll be able to get on the computer there, so if not, Merry Christmas and I hope everyone is doing well!
leaving the four boats in the dust