The relationship deepens with “Mystic Voyager”.
By Julie Geldard and Phil Macqueen
January came around so quickly, and it was already time for us to fly back to Thailand to our Privilege 43, “Mystic Voyager”, who is waiting for us at Chalong Bay, Phuket to be taken on her yearly visa run. The last year has been constant preparation for Phil (the skipper was in squirrel mode) however this time we had planned a lovely six weeks in Thailand and Malaysia, instead of the rushed three weeks of last January 2012. Each year is now becoming more of an adventure than a duty as semi retirement looms.
Thailand law allows foreign flagged boats to stay in Thailand for six months at time; with an extension for another six months allowed if you are having work completed. However, once you reach twelve months the boat must leave the country and return with completed visa papers. The anniversary of us purchasing Mystic Voyager is January 2010, hence the now yearly event.
In this short time we had in paradise, we had to prepare Mystic Voyager for her first launching after waiting on the hard on Chalong Bay for the last 11 months. From a women’s point of view it is truly amazing at how many things can go wrong with a boat that is just “sitting there” ? Phil took both our 40kg suitcases with “boat things” in preparation for repairs and replacements. No room for clothes for Julie. In the suitcases a set of 3 toilet parts, 2 inverter replacements, tools, solar panel regulators, AIS VHF radio, ”spare” chart plotter, angle grinder, jigsaw, a collections of Australian leads and adapters, man what a collection. The loyal partner, “Me” didn’t say a word at risk of diminishing the sparkle of pride in the skipper’s eye while carrying his booty!
Luckily I had some idea of what was waiting for us as I visited Mystic Voyager 3 weeks earlier while running a photographic shoot to Thailand and a visit to Al and June Carwadine to photograph the Kings Cup. I fortuitously had dropped in to the boat yard to check on Mystic Voyager, to find the mould seriously taking over our elegant internals and quickly set the cleaners into action. Sadly, the boat yard hadn’t been doing their regular cleaning or opening hatches. Such is life in Thailand we have found. I also discovered the port alternator was nothing but a rusted block of iron, culminating in our wonderful local mechanic doing an emergency “fix it job” to allow the engine to work but not charge the batteries, causing an ongoing hassle of low voltage to endure during our venture. Not good for a photographer charging her tools of trade!
Two days of frantic organisation with our stainless steel man, boat cleaners, cleaning sheets and rigging sails, stocking food and water. Within two days we were being launched, requiring a tide of 2.8m which always seems to happen around 11pm. We are now casual about the once feared launching and had dinner with our neighbours, Bill and Ju, to return to our boat on the water’s edge waiting our venture to begin. The boat yard crew were scampering over the boat, muttering in Thai to each other as they guided our Mystic Voyager into her natural home, the sea. No more difficult than us launching our RL 28 here in Aus. Amazing! We hung around Chalong Bay for a few days then joined Al Carwardine and family on Hurricane (built by Asia Catamarans) for News Years at Patong. That night the skies were filled with so many fireworks and lanterns, it was truly sensational.
With the help of Al and June Carwardine local expertise, Phil and I then discovered little bays up north and south of Patong from Surin Beach down to the most popular Nai Harn which was predominantly filled with 4 Grainger’s like last year. Tony Grainger’s new back yard! We anchored next to the most amazing motor tri called “Adastra”. Link if you have time (www.mcconaghyboats.com/luxury/Adastra Superyacht.asp) Out of this world, it was built in China by Mcconaghy’s.
Finally after a week of meandering cruising around through the Phuket bays, we felt confident to hoist the sails for Langkawi, Malaysia. All going smoothly we stopped at Monkey Bay at Phi Phi not to be daunted by the noise of the teenagers, we took the Zodiac ashore to join in the fun.
Next stop after a full days sailing with 20 knot winds was Nok Rok, our half way stopover, a spectacular location with anchorages between two islets. Luckily we picked up a mooring, and stayed for two days as the water was like silk after the wind dropped to 4-5 knots. There is always one boat that has to anchor next to you on a mooring as we sat happily sitting have a wine at sunset, knowing full well they would swing too close to us when the tide changes. We sadly dropped our mooring to anchor. Both agreeing, that next time we agreed to yell at them. “Charter boats” we said to each other! Diving around Nok Rok is great with so many clown fish. It was our first experience of our anchor chain tying itself around a coral bombie which meant Phil had to dive down ten metres to unravel it as I tried to slowly steer Mystic Voyager backwards around in a circle to unravel us.
Lesson learned! The bombie wasn’t any worse for wear luckily. Next stop was Koh Lipe in the Butang island group, a long day as one engine played up, with Phil having to change a fuel filter, while I steered. Our new auto pilot is still not working. (We have had it replaced and still can’t complete its commissioning with rudder tests only this time due to the pump seals failing! Patience Julie as Phil talks to the Simrad agents). I am so brown hand steering in the sun, understanding with comments like: “only for a ten minutes” says the skipper, which turned into three hours! I reassured myself thinking I would be rather steering than down the black hole of the engine room!
We arrived in Langkawi just in time for the last day of the Langkawi Race week with the duelling between Mojo, Schionning GForce 1500 (skipper Peter Wilcox) and Fantasea, Seven Seas design (Skipper Andrew Stransky) exciting as we circled the fleet photographing the multihulls. These two Australian Catamarans were certainly making us proud. You will be able to read more about Mojo racing in SE Asia in next month’s MHW with an article also from Andrew Stranksy on the stunning Phang Nga Regatta.
After checking in to Langkawi and completing Custom formalities, we share the fantastic presentation night party with all the Australian winners. Phil and I were thinking the Aussie Regatta organisers should visit the Regattas around Phuket for ideas in party nights! Before returning to Thailand, we had time to discover anchorages that felt like they were straight out of heaven, like Princess Lakes Island 15km south for diving off Pulau Pulau, famous hole in the wall before returning to Thai Waters. The “Hole in the Wall” anchorage has been famous for pirates hide away with a tiny opening between huge cliffs once entered into the most expansive protected bay with floating villages and many long term moorings only $100 per month unless the mooring drags. Many owners taking this option while returning home with their boats sadly looking unloved.
Boats at anchorage in Hole in the Wall
Hole in the Wall entrance
The hospitality of the Malaysian people is outstanding, sadly the rubbish and litter you see floating by is rather chilling to the spine!
Our sail back this time was along the coast of Thailand stopping at our favourite locations of Koh Muk and Koh Krang with stunning white beaches, small resorts offering delicious Thai food for a few dollars, fresh coconuts and great snorkelling.
We were back in Thai waters in time for the famous Phang Nga Bay Regatta where we can without a doubt suggest this Regatta to offer the most stunning scenery to race around than any regatta in the world. We were joined by Steve Cross and his lovely girlfriend Somo who made great crew for Mystic Voyager for our first full Regatta since owning her.
Koy Man Why Would That Be
At the end of the fleet we witnessed an amazing duel taking place between Schionning designed Mojo GForce, skippered by Peter Wilcox, Fantasea, Seven Seas design by Andrew Stransky and Hurricane designed and built by Australian Alan Cardwadine and Roger Diggelmann of Asia Catamarans. All Australian designed, they were loving the 20 to 30 knots winds as they passed us on the home run as we were still going around the second mark. The experience of sailing around the fickle winds of the limestone pinnacles, gave Andrew and his family the winning edge to claim the prize for the race. Andrew returns now to Qld waters for the ABRW race with his collection of trophies over the last two years.
Sadly we had to prepare Mystic Voyager for storage on the hardstand, with price increasing 30% from $250 per month to now $400 per month from last year due to the back up of boats in Phuket not able to proceed to the Mediterranean (what is the Med?).
After spending 6 days with Steve Cross and his fiancé Som, we say good bye and make plans for the 2014 “visa run”, maybe we will to sail to the Andaman islands. Hopefully with our new Auto Pilot!