FTB Sailing Log #09 | Culture shocks and sliced fishing lines – Ko Rok to Phi Phi

Ko Rok had been such an enchanting and unexpectedly stunning anchorage that it was hard to leave. But the storm was subsiding and we needed to get to Phuket to officially enter Thailand. After an uneventful and windless passage north, we made it to the southern entrance of Ko Phi Phi Don where we found this once peaceful anchorage packed with dive boats, long tails, day trippers, super yachts, hundreds of private mooring buoys and mini booze cruises.

Heading towards Phi Phi

Heading towards Phi Phi

This is the inevitable result of successful tourism in most places. But it’s an important source of revenue for Thailand, so we shrugged our shoulders and joined the crowd. We attempted to anchor in about four different places before settling for a spot some few hundred metres from the shore. It was a little bit calmer out here.

At anchor in Ton Sai Bay, Phi Phi, looking north

At anchor in Ton Sai Bay, Phi Phi, looking north

Jamie took a quick dinghy ride to make a recce of this popular holiday destination, but was soon back to the peace of Esper and another sunset.

The next morning we upped anchor in the rain and motored away from the grey bay. Even with the overcast weather, the natural beauty of the Phi Phi islands shone through. It was easy to see why holiday-makers from urban landscapes love to come here.

A frame from this week's video, demonstrating how close the speed boats come (close enough to slice your lines)

A frame from this week’s video, demonstrating how close the speed boats come (close enough to slice your lines)

Eventually the rain and clouds cleared and even a little wind came to help (albeit in the wrong direction) and we managed a partial sail towards Phuket. Liz threw out some fishing lines, but with all the motor boats heading out from the hotels it was a dodgy exercise. When one came so close it crossed the lines and sliced off a lure, she brought them back.

Just over halfway along our path, an unknown object appeared in the water directly in front of us. It looked like a marker buoy of some kind, but nothing was showing on any of our charts. We crept as close as we dared and watched it through the binoculars. It’s funny how you need to see things from the right angle sometimes to recognise them. It was an upturned longtail boat, and yet another reason for eschewing night-sailng in this area whenever possible.

Not wanting to end this blissful couplr of weeks sailing around on Esper, we decided to make one more stop before Phuket. Ko Mai Ton is a quiet, calm anchorage. It looked inviting.

As the sun set behind a speckling of clouds, we breathed in another spectacular Thai sunset from the deck. Over here there is a rapid change from bright to dark, and in the transitional period you can guarantee some colourful sunsets. Tonight the light turned from pink to purple as dark shadows slid towards us. Within half an hour everything was black, the horizon lit by a single squid fishing boat.

Catch the video above or click here to watch on youtube.

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