There were still a few more days before our Thai visas expired, so we took a slow sail south from Phang Nga bay. Ao Chalong sits on the south-eastern corner of Phuket and is the place where sailors and boats go to check in and out of Thailand.
With stealth-like cunning and Lulu’s voice still ringing in our ears above the sound of our outboard motor, we were up before the sun. As we sped towards Khao Phing Kan, we just lacked black wetsuits and Walther PPKs to make the Bond-esque picture complete. Ten minutes later, we had our reward for missing out on breakfast and coffee: we dragged our dinghy up an empty beach.
Just as we left Langkawi Liz had a call from her brother to say their mum, who was diagnosed with Parkinsons ten years ago, wasn’t doing very well. So Liz helped Jamie take SY Esper a couple of hundred miles north to Ao Chalong before jumping on a plane back to the UK. This could be our last sail together for a long time, so we needed to make it count.
We undertook a complete refit of SY Esper in 2014. We were told it would take three months, BUT we knew it would probably be six months. Pretty soon nine months seemed optimistic, then as we kept adding new jobs we reached a year! In February 2015 we left PSS Shipyard with what was almost a brand new boat. Here’s the whole refit squished down to a couple of minutes.
It took nine months to line up an interview with Steve and Brandy of The Sailing Rode but we got there in the end, and it was great fun chatting on Skype.
The Sailing Rode is a great series of podcasts put together by two cruisers, Steve and Brandy, aboard their boat S/V Wiki Honu. They document their sailing adventures but also broadcast interviews with other yachties, and this week it was our turn.
Wanderlust article: After a few months stuck on land, sailor Liz Cleere hits the water again and heads for the legendary hongs of Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay.
SY Esper sailed herself, and felt steady as a rock. An over-nighter in the shadow of mighty Ko Phetra had us gently rolling, but at anchor next to Ko Tarutao the next afternoon even Millie-the-cat turned green from the relentless swell.
‘Phuket’ conjures different images to different folks. To some it’s a luxurious holiday destination of palm-tree-white-sand clichés. Those with a different perspective might think of ping-pong girls, seedy ex-pats and Patong’s Bangla Road. To yachties it’s a useful destination, a great base from which to start a season sailing around the islands, or to begin the long voyage westwards across the Indian Ocean.
You know when everything is going along really well? And you sit back and enjoy yourself? And the wind is good, and the sky is clear? We discover just how long that feeling lasts in this next episode of our sailing log.
Welcome to the written version of our FTB Extra repowering video, in which we discuss in more detail Esper’s engine issues. After posting our initial issues up on social media we received an overwhelming level of support from around the world, from advice and ideas to links to spare parts and even a couple of engines. We really appreciate it, thank you to everyone who contributed.
We’ve taken on board all your suggestions and carefully considered each option. In this essay we break them down for you and look at repairing the engine, getting a recon engine, consider an electric/hybrid engine alternative and look at new diesel engines.
Wanderlust article: A call for help crackling over the Esper’s VHF radio reminds Liz Cleere how dependent round-the-world sailors are on the help of others
In this clip we show you our Patreon 300 t-shirt, which was designed specifically for all our Patreon supporters when we hit $300. We have another, exclusively designed t-shirt when we hit $800. At $500 YOU get to decide on the prize, and when we hit $1000 you’re in with a chance of sailing with us aboard Esper!
Apart from the deep joy of discovering that our engine has seized, it feels like some kind of nautical episode of ‘Back to the Future’ here on SY Esper
Our regular Sailing Log Diary on YouTube–which out of necessity runs a few months behind real time–shows Jamie sailing alone in Thailand with Liz back in the UK looking after her ailing mum. And yet, right now, Liz has just returned from her >second visit home to tend to Dottie while Jamie has been solo-sailing in Thailand.
In the words of Shirley Bassey and the Propellerheads , “…it’s all just a little bit of history repeating…”
Jamie didn’t like the darkening skies, so he took a look at the forecast to discover some big weather coming in from the west. Fishing vessels, large and small, arrived from deeper water, dropping noisy anchor chain and crowding into the anchorage behind Ko Tarutao’s high hills. He told the others to prepare themselves for some potential big winds.
Sadly, for reasons beyond our control we are both on opposite sides of the globe this year, and can’t enjoy our usual special day. So we thought it would be nice to extend the seasonal tradition of exchanging gifts to include every one of our followtheboat subscribers across the world.
We made our run down the east side of imposing Tarutao, one of Thailand’s largest islands and the country’s first national marine park. Once a penal colony, it was the perfect place to cast away undesirables. With its unforgiving tropical rainforest, strong tidal currents and fierce salt-water crocodiles escape would have been impossible.
We arrived back at beautiful Ko Rok, the same point where we had broken the passage on our way north from Langkawi. It was as serene and scenic as we remembered and this time we were able to quickly find our old mooring buoy and get settled for the night. Within minutes Liz had the fishing line over the side…