After the bad finish to our second day of sailing up to Ko Phayam, things got much happier. For one thing, the problem we thought we had with the engine probably was simply a plastic bag or something that got caught on our raw water intake. The problem was gone the next time we tested the engine.
We arrived in Ko Phayam to find a beautiful bay with nearly 20 cruisers at anchor! This was the largest number of cruisers we have seen in quite a while. And there was still plenty of room. The bay has a nice beach and there are no problems with coral between the boats and the beach. The beach has plenty of sand even at high tide, and is not too steep, so pulling up a dinghy is not an issue.
There are several little restaurants up above the beach so plenty of variety if you choose to eat out every night. The island has no cars, and just a small paved road from the bay side to the other side of the island where a small town is located. The other side is where most of the little resorts and the ferry dock is located.
This is a nice place to hang out for cruisers where its not crowded with lots of tourists and tourist boats, and yet there are services not far away. Also, there was good 3G Internet service available.
Our friends on s/v Totem were here and organized a Chicago Rummy card game night which we hosted on Tahina with crews from four boats. It was a lot of fun as usual although neither Karen or I won this time.
There’s this cool “hippy bar” on the beach as well. It is a building that looks like a shipwreck is coming out of it. It’s actually built out of tsunami driftwood and is an artistically interesting structure. They have a bar inside and sell the usual drinks and play music at night (but, not too loudly). I met a Canadian construction worker who comes here during his winter months to escape the cold, he’s been coming here for years. I wouldn’t be surprised to find some Rastafarians living there.
We had a delightful downwind spinnaker sail from Ko Phayam to the Surin Islands. It was 36 miles and we sailed the whole way. We executed a perfect spinnaker retrieval in front of the anchorage we had chosen, and only had to motor .5 miles to anchor.
This island is a national park. They only allow a couple of tent-camp-bungalow “resorts” on the island. We visited one of them and had planned to sample their little restaurant, but worries about a low tide stranding our dinghy made us return to our boat to eat.
I did some snorkeling on the bay only to find out that the coral had some problems. The larger coral heads are mostly dead and its quite apparent it is due to physical damage from wave action (I’ve seen it before in the Carribean from hurricane damage). Obviously, the tsunami from 10 years ago did some serious damage. But, the good news is that I found plenty of signs of new life growing on some of these coral heads, and there was plenty of lively coral to be found in the nooks and crannies. I also found a good variety of coral fish as well.
We left Surin yesterday and had a mixed day of sailing and motoring. We had just started sailing the final 10 miles when we got a call on the radio from our friends on s/v Sea Mist who saw us on their AIS. They were in company with s/v Jackster and s/v Kilkea headed to the same anchorage we were on their way north to Ko Phayam. We arrived at the bay at the same time, and we all went out to dinner at a nice restaurant called the Navy Wives Club (run by wives from the Navy Base that is located here). It was great to get to catch up with them all again, and the food was quite good.