100 Plastic Water Bottles to the Rescue

I’ve dreamed of travelling since I was in primary school. I’ve dreamed of sailing cruises all my adult life.  My Almost Circumnavigation of Phuket Cruise was all I’d ever dreamed of but much much better.

Sailing cruises to die for: Yana de Lys anchored off the Butterfly Bar, Kamala Beach
The stuff dreams are made of: Yana de Lys anchored off the Butterfly Bar, Kamala Beach

December and January are perfect for sailing cruises around Phuket Island, Thailand

Our perfect sailing cruise began with three boats and three fun families anchored off Kamala Beach for Christmas and New Years.
The weather was just right for a leisurely anchorage crawl in Yana de Lys starting at Yacht Haven at the north east tip of Phuket, sailing in company with two more yachts: Sweet Robin and Black Pearl.

The Butterfly Bar was our second home

When we first arrived at the beach in our dinghies the staff at the Butterfly Bar made us feel so at home we made it our second home. 
They watched our tenders (dinghies) when we went out exploring for the day.  More on Yana de Lys’s tender later. 
The bar staff took our laundry, ordered our ice and had them all delivered.  Gave us use of their simple shower.  Cooked fabulous local food, and sold us cold beers. 
Kamala Beach is all eye candy according to the boys.  Plenty of Russian ladies parading in G-string bikinis and high heeled bling sandals.  Even the babies couldn’t have been cuter if they tried.  What’s not to love? 


Sailing cruises highlights: The kids getting ready to launch a lantern on new years eve
The kids getting ready to launch a lantern on New Years Eve

Misfiring fireworks

Of course there were lanterns to launch and lots of fireworks for New Years Eve. That’s how it is in Thailand.
Just before midnight a rogue firecracker travelled horizontally along the beach rather than up into the sky.  Straight into our tender. 
Yep.  Out inflatable dinghy was blown up by fireworks. 
Sailing cruises: oopsie our dinghy was blown up by fireworks
Blown up by fireworks
Fortunately no one was hurt! 

100 plastic water bottles to the rescue

It took a month, but the owner of the bar where the bad firecracker came from compensated us. We ended up with a better tender as a replacement.

In the meantime nothing could stop the most perfect of sailing cruises.

We simply filled the ruined section of the disabled dinghy with over 100 empty plastic water bottles, wrapped up the hole with plastic garbage bags and a whole lot of gaffer tape and continued sailing up the west coast of Phuket and beyond.

Sailing cruises misadventures: Our tender didn't look pretty but it floated in a disabled kind of way
Our tender didn’t look pretty but it floated in a disabled kind of way

An eclectic soundtrack

After our Kamala Beach anchorage we cruised slowly slowly for another month up past Phuket to Khao Lak.  
Along with the lapping of the ocean, the soundtracks we fell asleep to varied vastly.  At Khao Lak there was a weird kind of stereo with Johnny Cash covers from the north and tribal drumming from the south. 
Just the sea was the lullaby at our most peaceful anchorage, Thai Muang. 

We had Fleetwood Mac covers at the chaotic circus that is Patong Beach.  

Sailing cruises: Our anchorage at Khoa Lak
Our anchorage at Khoa Lak

All perfect sailing cruises have to end some time

You can’t really circumnavigate the island of Phuket because there’s a bridge at the north end.  So after Khoa Lak it was time to head back south and around the island to our home mooring at Yacht Haven.  And start getting ready for our cruise to Borneo.

Now I’ve said this before, but it’s still true: If you like my post feel free to share it on all your social media, because sharing is sexy.

And if the sailors reading this blog really want me to include the anchorage points I can. Just let me know in the comments.


Sailing from Phuket to Langkawi (Don’t mention the pork)

Are We Nearly There Yet? Sailing Adventures to Tioman Island, Malaysia



Before I Die…

Yana de Lys anchored in Phang Nga Bay. It only took 20+ years for the first of my sailing trips to happen.
Yana de Lys anchored in Phang Nga Bay. It only took 20+ years to make it happen.

I daydreamed of sailing trips in the tropics for more than 20 years before my dreams finally came true. A lot of life got in the way before I started cruising.

After we bought Yana de Lys  we spent a few years fixing her up in Langkawi, then heading back to Australia to make more money to continue fixing her up, then doing short sailing trips around the 99 islands of Langkawi, then going home to Australia to make more money. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat again. You get the picture Yogi Berra.
Not all of the things we fixed worked out as we would have hoped as we discovered sailing from Langkawi to Phuket.
If you’ve been following my sailing trips in the Stranded in Paradise series, this is the epilogue. If not, you can read the story so far in:

  1. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  2. Stranded in Paradise
  3. Still Stranded in Paradise
  4. I had my eye on a Monet but settled for a Van Gogh instead


Dreaming of a sailing trip when nothing goes wrong

When I first heard of Candy Chang’s Before I Die projects all I wanted to achieve before I shuffled off this mortal coil was sail Yana de Lys to a destination with no significant gear failure.
Well yay. It’s happened. And it feels goooood.

Yacht Haven. The first of our sailing trips from Boat Lagoon to here was trouble free.
Yacht Haven. We had a trouble free sail here from Boat Lagoon. Yay!

Dreams do come true in Yacht Haven

After spending eight months in Boat Lagoon Marina replacing the perished, seriously leaking teak decks and fixing all the things that broke on our way over from Langkawi we sailed up to Yacht Haven on the north east of Phuket.
Yacht Haven is as beautiful as its name make it sound. Perfect for sitting out the wet season and hanging out until we’re ready for our next move. And it’s just round the corner from our new playground: Phang Nga Bay.

We visited Koh Phanak in Phang Nga Bay on one of our sailing trips.
Koh Phanak in Phang Nga Bay.

Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay became famous when they shot scenes for the 1974 James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun. The towering limestone cliffs are breathtaking, other worldly. The sea caves are like weird natural cathedrals with beaches.

The sea caves are like weird natural cathedrals with beaches. Click To Tweet
Sea cave entrance. Sea caves were a highlight of our sailing trips in Thailand
Sea cave entrance. Inside the cave is a sublime spiritual experience.

So far we have stayed at anchorages off Koh Wai Noi, Koh Phanak and Koh Hong. We haven’t covered any vast distances (one day we made a major passage of 3.8 NM LOL) but everything that matters on Yana has worked just fine.

Koh Wai Noi in Phang Nga Bay as seen from Yana de Lys on one of our sailing trips
Koh Wai Noi in Phang Nga Bay

Okay there’s one tick off my bucket list. My next goal before I die is to figure out how to set up my financial feng shui so there is always more money flowing in than out. I’ve learnt you can’t survive on spectacular scenery and seawater. Any ideas?


What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

100 Plastic Water Bottles to the Rescue

Candy Chang: Before I die I want to…

A view from my room – of Minibus Mayhem

Livin in a serviced studio apartment in Boat Lagoon is all good.  My balcony overlooks the meandering mangrove river leading here.  The air is fragrant with tropical blossoms.  And in the mornings and especially the afternoons we have regular Minibus Mayhem when the minivans descend to deliver and collect the tourists who are heading for or have spent the day on Phi Phi Island or wherever.

Sometimes there’s water in the lagoon but during the low spring tides it’s like someone let the plug out…






This week Minibus Mayhem reached giddy heights with minibuses double parked around the circle (roundabout to Australians) just before my apartment  and a double decker coach joined the fray.  The coach had to back up at least 500 metres because it simply couldn’t manoeuvre . What’s it going to look like in high season?

Farangs in Phuket


Farang is what the locals call foreigners.  I think it’s a neutral term, unless it’s being applied to foreigners behaving badly. (Heaven forbid – we’re their guests here!)
It sure is strange and challenging living in a country where they not only speak a different language but use a completely different alphabet. Where the statues at the Buddhist temples carry machine guns.  Where road rules are merely guidelines. (I swear a red light means “proceed with caution”).  Where false advertising is as common as noodles and rice.
Speaking of rice and noodles I love the food here, despite the process of ordering being an entirely hit and miss affair.  The non farang menus are simply indecipherable – sometimes it’s just a case of pointing at what someone else is eating and saying I’ll have one of those.
At our favourite barbeque place over the road here from Boat Lagoon, the waiter very proudly showed me their new “English language” menu the other night. I reckon Google Translate has a lot to answer for. Here are a couple of examples of dishes on offer:

·         Pork falls a morter
·         Papaya penetrate the free and crab
·         Grilled the cow’s milk

I assume they’re machine translations, but I guess I’ll just have to get the guts to order them to find out what they really are.  For now I’m just going to stick with pointing at the delicious looking food they have displayed.

Meanwhile the Yana de Lys deck replacement is going ahead at a rapid pace.  We have stripped the old teak off, and have a small team of locals sanding the old surface ready for the new paint and non slip.



Boat Lagoon is a fantastic place to get work done.  I still can’t get over the lack of water in the marina though.   Before we moved Yana onto the hard stand we spent at least half of our time with 0.0 meters reading on the depth sounder.  We were literally parked in the mud.  And then the hard stand and the board walks flood at spring high tides.  Bizarre.



Still Stranded in Paradise

We were nervous as turkeys at Christmas during our trip from Ko Muk to the very safe anchorage on the east side of Ko Lanta Yai.

Wondering why we were so worried? Check out the story so far: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? and Stranded in Paradise.

Ko Lanta Old Town at high tide, seen from our anchorage
Ko Lanta Old Town at high tide, seen from our anchorage


Wrecking rocks on the way to Ko Lanta

Our trip started with very light wind in the exact direction we were heading, so sailing wasn’t an option. There were yacht wrecking rocks on our lee side. And when we used Perky, our engine, the recently replaced drive shaft was overheating alarmingly on account of the shonky engine mount bolts.  Yep we were nervous sailors.

But we ended up happy sailors when we altered course and the wind picked up. The last two hours turned out to be perfect sailing, averaging around six knots exactly in the direction I wanted to head.

My second road trip to Phuket

We needed to replace the wobbling engine mounts, the root cause of our broken drive shaft.

With Yana de Lys safely anchored on the east side of Ko Lanta, we  hired a car and the Other Captain and I set off on a road trip to Phuket.

How do you do a road trip between islands? Via two car ferries then a bridge.

How do you do a road trip between islands? Via two car ferries then a bridge. Click To Tweet

We needed to find new engine mounts for Perky and to replace Yana Banana, our dinghy.

Yana Banana, an itty bitty inflatable, was taking in water and letting out air at an alarming rate. Her outboard wasn’t working either after going for a swim during one of her low inflation high sea water content moments.

Ko Lanta to Phuket road trip
Road trip from Ko Lanta

What else could possibly go wrong?

I guess this was the point when I started wondering when things would start going right.

I guess this was the point when I started wondering when things would start going right. Click To Tweet
  • I got a miserable brain numbing cold
  • My computer was stolen by sea gypsies. I hadn’t done a back up since Langkawi because we didn’t have enough AC power because of our engine problems.  But I had transferred all my current photos onto the stolen computer and deleted them from the camera
  • We ended up with a monster four stroke outboard, and a dinghy way too big for our needs. We called the outboard Thumper and the tender the Queen Mary. The guys in Phuket delivered the wrong models, but agreed we could change them when we got to Phuket in Yana
  • The monsoon influencing the weather created two weeks of impossible conditions for sailing on to Phuket. (I’d told my employer I was taking a two week break. I ended up losing my job)
  • The engine still wobbled like crazy with the new engine mounts

Stranded in paradise again

But Old Town on the east coast of Ko Lanta is a charming place to stranded.

Old Lanta Town is all character, sensationally delicious honest Thai food and relaxed friendly locals.

Old Town Ko Lanta
Old Town Ko Lanta – the “front side”

The restaurant staff lead you from the street-facing tables and chairs through the kitchen to the restaurant’s “back side” where the rest of the tables and chairs are over the water (at high tide).

Back side restaurant, Old Town, Ko Lanta
“Back side”

I terrorised the locals with my attempts at their language from my Thai phrase book. They would respond by either correcting my pronunciation, staring at me blankly or smiling encouragement.
The community comprises a lot of Chinese and Muslim Thais.  Their calls to prayer were much more musical and less mournful than in Langkawi.  As I was riding past a mosque on our scooter there was a dog howling along with the call to prayer.
The weather was wild for about a week. Even the local fishing boats came into the safe anchorage.

There were two days when it was so rough we couldn’t get to shore, even with Thumper and the Queen Mary.  We got cabin fever and felt like prisoners in paradise until the forecasts improved.

When there was a break in the weather we continued on our way to Phuket. With an unscheduled ten day stay at Ko Phi Phi. Find out why in the next episode of Stranded in Paradise.


What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

I had my eye on a Monet but settled for a Van Gogh

Before I die…