Thailand - The country of elephants and smile
Done with the New Year celebration, Heidi’s brother and wife returned to Norway. Heidi’s parents Vigdis and Tore enjoyed one more week on board Empire. We headed north in the Phangna Bay, the bay between Phuket and the mainland. Phangna Bay is shallow with many beautiful islands. The characteristic Thai earth-formations with arrow sharpe islands and islands like bautas were worth a closer look. Many days we were also lucky to eat self cooked fresh prawns - bought over the railing from local fishermen. Eirik had great days with the grandparents on board. GrandMa and GrandPa had not seen Eirik since their visit on board in Australia when Eirik was three months old. They seemed to enjoy each other’s company. No one knew when next time would be...
Peder on a quick visit
When Heidi’s parents travelled back home to Norway, it was time to put new antifouling on Empire. When Empire was on the hard in Boat Lagoon marina, Eivind’s son Peder signed on for one week. With the ship on the hard Peder didn’t experience much sailing during his stay. Instead we acted like “regular tourists” on land. Peder experienced a bit of boat work, a lot of swimming and elephant riding. You can read more about Peder’s week in Phuket here >>>
A few planned days to get the boat ready after being on the hard, turned into ten days – but then we had gone through the hole ship, from bow to aft. It is incredible what gathers on board after almost 5 years on tour. Some things were thrown away, and the ship was cleaned all over the inside.
When we were back in the water, we were assigned a berth with what showed up to be 70 centimetres’ of depth at low tide. That the keel is in the mud when visiting Boat Lagoon, is something everybody that have been there know. That almost the whole yacht should be in the mud was something that did NOT please the Captain! After telling the staff what he meant, we were assigned a berth where we did not even touch the mud at low tide. We were happy when we left, finally done with the mud hole Boat Lagoon Marina.
From Boat Lagoon we sailed south to Nai Harn. We hoped to do some more maintenance while anchored there, waiting for Anne-Britt and Bjørnar to sign on. For a long time the SikaFlex in the notes on the teak deck was looking more like chewing gum. With a nice breeze and dry weather the Captain just managed to clear the notes and fill them again before our friends arrived. Sanding the new notes that this time was done in blackened epoxy was still to be done, but that was no rush. After the many hard working days on deck, one of the Captain’s arms said that enough was enough. And it was not from beer drinking. After the first night with our guests on board the Captain had to visit the hospital – but the doctor found nothing but an overworked arm.
Anne-Britt and Bjørnar stayed on board for 14 days. After a few days of acclimatising, we headed of for relaxed cruising with our friends and a “visa-run” to Lankawi islands for ourselves.
We had a beautiful trip south to Malaysia, even though some of the crew would characterise it as very windy. Light wind does not give much waves as the wind was off the shore, but for landcrabs to adjust to sea life take time, whether the swell is small or huge.
After a trip out of Thailand, we would be allowed back in for another month, and we assumed that would be enough before we headed off for South Africa. That was at least where we thought we were sailing after Thailand.
Together with Anne-Britt and Bjørnar we explored some of Langkawi, with Telaga Harbour as our base. In “the mountains” Heidi had seen a bridge we had to take a look at. From the anchorage it was a long walk toward the peak. We cheated a bit and took the cable car up to the top. The view was magnificent.
After an ”interesting” tour in a hired car that was about to fall into pieces, we had seen enough of Langkawi for this time, and Empire was stocked up on nice price Malay brewed Carlsberg beer.
Island jumping in Thailand
On our way back to Phuket we anchored at a couple of smaller islands. Smaller in the meaning of physical size and in the meaning of fewer tourists – than further north in Phuket. Anchored at Ko Muk Bjørnar’s friend Carl-Petter arrived, after an interesting journey from Phuket via Ko Mok’s neighboring island, from where he arrived in a local “long tail.
The little island Ko Muk is hiding a big cave. We visited the cave on low tide. A recognizing expedition was first sent out to check the condition through the tunnel which we had to swim through to get in to the cave itself. Then the rest of our group including Eirik took the tour in the dark, but in the rubber dinghy.
Paddling/swimming through the tunnel we spotted light in the end and found a beautiful sandy beach and steep cliffs that opened to the sky. Many of the islands in Phanang Bay have similar ”secret rooms” – and if you don’t know where to look they can be hard to find. Previously these “hong’s” were hiding places for pirates...
From Ko Muk we sailed to the island Ko Lanta. Carl-Petter told us about Norwegian Juni and Time for Lime on Ko Lanta, that we just had to visit. Juni is running the small hostel, bar and schooling kitchen “Time for Lime”. In addition she is also the driving force behind the new animal hospital at Ko Lanta.
We enjoyed Juni’s concept. The girls learned how to cook different Thai dishes and the boys watched from the bar with a beer…
This was Bjørnar’s 11th visit on board since we sailed from Norway in 2005. During this stay Eirik and Godfather Bjørnars became good friends. This was also their first meeting. Bjørnar was probably a bit concerned about Eirik’s crying noises in the beginning, but mostly got to see Eirik as the happy boy he is.
Eirik 1 year
Back in Nai Harn, Phuket, Eirik celebrated his first birthday. Chokolate cake and swimming and playing on the beach with Lisbeth and Vegard from Pomona and Finish Lasse from Satumaa, was great. It was a bit unreal that one year had already passed since Eirik was born – in Grafon, New South Wales, Australia. By the way – we met Lasse and Pauli on Satumaa first time when we were in Buenos Aires, Argentina…
We had planned to be on our way to Maldives at this stage, but Eirik caught a cold that turned in to diarrhoea and we wanted him to be back in good health before we headed off. Therefore we postponed the departure for going west... Better have all crew members in good condition before sailing across the Indian Ocean.
While waiting for Eirik to be back in business, Anders visited. He combined a work trip to Bangkok with visiting Empire. Last Anders and the Captain were able to raise their glasses was in Caribbean, when Anders sailed together with Elisabeth in his own yacht “Don’t Worry”.
We also spent the time stocking up for the long trip. We planned to be in South Africa some time before Christmas (2010), with stops at Andaman Islands, Maldives, Chagos, Mauritius and Reunion before arriving in Durban. Then plans changed...
It was only a few days left before heading off for Maldives, when Heidi one night could not fall back to sleep. Then she remembered that it was more than one week since she should have had her period…
Even though the Mate was only a few weeks pregnant, we had to review our plans. Looking at weather patterns October/November is the preferred time of the year to sail south of Madagascar across the Aguilla Current towards South Africa – which was about Heidi’s due date. The Captain would prefer not to do the delivery on board...
After the rest of the night thinking of alternative plans, the morning came and a new plan was agreed upon. We decided to head back to Australia, via Malaysia and Indonesia – It is a good thing that a plan is made to be adjusted!!!