This could be our last sail together for a long time, so we needed to make it count…
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.
After the stormy passage (see episode #30) we left the beautiful beaches and sublime sunsets of Ko Lanta and made our way towards Phi Phi Li. Busy at the quietest times of the year, the island where Leonardo DiCaprio filmed “The Beach”, is now one of the biggest tourist attractions in the bay. We rested for a while until it was late afternoon and the long-tails started heading for home, then we slipped the mooring and headed to Maya Bay where we hoped we would find a spot for the night inside the protection of the anchorage.
By early evening, with only two other boats in the now peaceful anchorage, we watched the sun turn the rocks from grey to orange until only the stars lit the sky.
Maya bay is small, only around 0.2 of a nautical mile wide and half a nautical mile long. There are actually three beaches in the lagoon where the film was set. Leonardo’s beach in the south is obviously number one. On the east side is beach number two, and tucked up under the northern cliffs, right next to SY Esper, was beach number three.
Like the islands of Phang Nga bay Phi Phi Li’s limestone rock has been beaten by the rain and sea over millennia, resulting in stunning overhangs, caves and caverns. There is a coral bank in the middle of the bay where anchoring is forbidden and all yachts must use laid moorings only.
With hundreds of visitors a day, the delicate ecology is struggling to survive, but the bay is home to lots of fish which make a beeline for any new yachts arriving. We were surrounded by troops of sergeant major fish (a species of damselfish) every time we swam near the boat.
After a 6.00am start, we had investigate the whole bay, swam with hundreds of fish and experienced some of the clearest water we had seen for some time. By 9.00am the tourist boats were flooding in, so it was time to go.
We made our way to Ao Chalong on Phuket. The sail across took just under six hours, we had good wind and the weather was kind. By the way, did you know that the collective noun for a flock of terns is ‘cotillion’? Neither did we till Liz read it on a birding website. Whatever you want to call it, a whole load of terns attacking a bait ball wasn’t enough to stir Millie from her comfortable spot on the furling lines.
Before Liz caught her flight, we had just enough time to go dinghy shopping. We had picked up a Tohatsu outboard motor from Langkawi, with the idea that a larger engine would help get us out of trouble should SY Esper need a tow or a nudge in the future. Our Portabote had served us well, but now we needed a dinghy that would accommodate the new outboard. Cholamark on Phuket is the go to destination for dinghies. They make their own, but are also agents for Highfield…
Enjoy the video (above).
All music in this episode is licensed under Creative Commons:
00:06 “Suddenly” (Followtheboat’s theme) by Otis McDonald (https://soundcloud.com/otismacmusic)
00:36 “Waltz of the Flowers” Tchaikovsky
07:38 “I Miss U” by Aussens@iter (c) copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/tobias_weber/54155 Ft: Snowflake
10:54 “Viosin” by WowaMusic
12:58 “Isolated” by Kevin Macleod
17:14 “Undiscovered tribes” by Tatono
20:12 “Sleepy Jake” by Silent Partner
25:39 “Landra’s dream” by Audionautix
(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) Artist: http://audionautix.com/)