Day 98, Year 4: Getting Ready to Leave Ao Po

Day 98, Year 4: Getting Ready to Leave Ao Po
Date: Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Weather: Another Beautiful, Sunny Day in Thailand
Location: Ao Po Grand Marina, Phuket Island

This morning we took a taxi to Boat Lagoon with Tom of Glass Slipper. We went to the bank first thing to get the money for the down payment on our “home renovations” and then started inquiring about places to we might rent. We got one lead and then another, and started walking the streets outside the Boat Lagoon. We were told to walk and just look for rental signs in windows, so that is what we did. We saw a “For Sale or Rent” sign in a pharmacy. We went in and inquired and this led to a tour
of a 4,000 Baht per month rental ($114 US) with no kitchen facilities. The price was right, but it would be like camping for two months. The other rental is two-story townhouse right across the highway from the Boat Lagoon, where our boat will be. The townhouse has three bedrooms upstairs and a living room and huge kitchen and dining room downstairs. It is brand new, air-conditioned, furnished, and lovely-much larger than we need-but we can rent it for 12,000 Baht per month ($344 US) and we think
that is what we are going to do. The cost of having internet installed is more than the monthly cost of rental, so we will use the internet at Boat Lagoon and a little shop on the main road just around the corner from the townhouses. It is a bummer not to have internet at home, but you can’t have everything.

I am already having withdrawal issues about not staying on Windbird during the next two months of work, but everyone we talk to tells us that it is just too hot to try and stay onboard on land, plus the issues with sanding dust and paint fumes. We will go over every day and oversee the work. We can use the hotel pool and facilities during the day so that should work out just fine for us. There is also a pool at the townhouse. There are many restaurant options at Boat Lagoon from the most expensive
in Phuket to the cheapest. So we will have the option of cooking at home or eating out. It really sounds like a perfect situation for us, so once I get used to the idea that I will not be living on Windbird for a couple of months, I think I can get excited about the alternative. By renting a place across the highway from the Boat Lagoon we will at least be able to get away from the hype and resort to our townhouse in a local neighborhood.

Tomorrow morning we leave Ao Po. We have loved our time here and will probably return here next season before leaving Thailand. But then . . . I have been looking at teaching possibilities at the International School here in Phuket and in Bangkok. We love it here and could possibly spend a year or two here before continuing on. So who knows? We will return to the US for the births of our two grandchildren and then decide what we will do. Today we saw Kathy and Pete of Wave Runner from New Zealand.
They were supposed to leave Boat Lagoon yesterday and be on their way to Oman. But they have made a last minute decision to take the boat back to Rebak Marina in Langkawi, fly home for a few months, and then return and continue on next year. Just a couple of days ago, they were definitely headed to the Red Sea. So things happen and world cruisers sometimes seem a bit fickle. We think we are doing “this”, but we end up doing “that.” So stay tuned for Windbird’s next decisions.

Day 97, Year 4: Images and Contacts

Day 97, Year 4: Images and Contacts
Date: Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Weather: Another Beautiful, Sunny Day
Location: Ao Po Grand Marina, Phuket Island

Another interesting day in the life. The fifty-some boats that arrived here yesterday were all out of the marina and out of sight by 8:30 am this morning. The race start was a bit north of here and it was absolutely amazing how all of the boats left here so quietly. So the first image is to imagine all the racing boats slithering out of Ao Po without making a sound. At 9:15 we were aboard Renaissance 2000 leaving for the Boat Lagoon. We could see the white sails of the racing boats to our north
as we left, but not much else. Renaissance is an Amel 52′ and Jean graciously gave us a tour of the boat. It is a boat with a lot of very nice features–the nicest being that you can easily raise the floor of the cockpit and be in the engine room. What a luxury! We arrived at the outer channel to the Boat Lagoon around 11 am and a man named Doucette came out to greet us and pilot us in. He tied his dinghy to our side, jumped aboard, and then took over the wheel of Renaissance to guide us in through
the very shallow water. So picture that as the next image you need to store.

The path into the Lagoon is long and winding one. It took us almost an hour. We spent some time celebrating our arrival, and then Mark and I went to the marina office while Ken and Jean waited for their 1:00 pm lift out of the water and onto the hard. Mark and I met with Oh, our painter. We had expected to sign our contract with him and pay him the required 40 per cent deposit. We thought he took a credit card, but that was not true. That meant that we will have to get the 40 per cent down payment from the bank. BUT we need our passports to do this and we didn’t have them with us today. So we drank the very cold orange juice Oh had brought as a kind of champagne toast. This is the next image you need to store-the celebration of a coming event. We will have to return tomorrow to the bank at Boat Lagoon to get the money, but the deal has been set with an orange juice toast. The next thing we did was try and make some important contacts. We looked into apartment rentals and car rentals. There are no apartments or cars available until February 1, so we are going to have to arrive on Thursday and live aboard Windbird on the hard until Sunday when we can find out what is available. So the next image you need to store is Mark and I in dismay when we find out that there is no way to book an apartment ahead of time. If everything is full, it is full. Return later when it is not full to see if you can get a room.

After having lunch and going to visit with Eric on Scorpido who is on the hard, we left in search of the car rental. We walked past the hotel as directed and look for anything that could be a car rental place. Nothing. So I walked back to a little shop that I had read about that sells second hand books and charts. My logic being that if you sell books then you probably have information. When I approached the shop, a young man came out to greet me. I asked him where I could find the car rental office and he replied, “Right here.” There are no signs to indicate that this was our place, but once inside, Morn, the shop manager, had the price sheets that we were seeking. As with apartments, there are no cars available right now, but there will be on February 1. But Morn does have a taxi service and he arranged for our trip back to Ao Po.

So we made lots of contacts but we won’t know for sure what the availability will be for a few days. But if all else fails, we will find a way to live aboard Windbird on the hard while the work is being done. At least there is a swimming pool to which we can escape when things get too hot.

Another interesting contact that was made today was with Victor, the young man from Spain that served as crew for us as we transited the Panama Canal. We haven’t heard from him since the transit, but two days ago he emailed that he is in Singapore and is looking for another sailboat adventure. Tom on Glass Slipper, that is here at Ao Po, is looking for crew to go with him from here to Turkey, so we returned Victor’s email to see if he is interested. We received an email from him this morning saying
that he is, so we have connected him with Tom and hope that works out for both of them.

Final image-sorting shells and eating snow. Our grandson Sam is back home on Cape Cod where there is lots of snow right now. This is a very different landscape from Thailand, so he is combining the two by sitting in the kitchen eating snow and sorting the shell collection his daddy gathered while here.

090127 Day 97 Phuket Island, Thailand–Ao Po to Boat Lagoon with Renassiance 2000

Day 96, Year 4: Happy Chinese New Year from Windbird

Day 96, Year 4: Happy Chinese New Year from Windbird
Date: Monday, January 26, 2009
Weather: Another Beautiful, Sunny Day
Location: Ao Po Grand Marina, Phuket Island

“According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2009 is the Year of the Ox. The Ox, or the Buffalo sign symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. Those born under the influence of the Ox or Buffalo are fortunate to be stable and persevering. The typical Ox is a tolerant person with strong character. Not many people could equal the resolution and fearlessness that the Ox exhibits when deciding to accomplish a task. Ox people work hard without complaints at work or at home. They know
that they will succeed through hard work and sustained efforts, and do not believe in get-rich-quick schemes.”

So it appears that our grandchildren born this year will be of strong character. We already have one grandchild of definite strong character, so I guess they will just keep on coming. For those of you looking for photos, we have uploaded the photos for all the days that Heather, Jed, and Sam were with us. So to see those photos, all you have to do is go back to the daily blog and double click on the photo at then end of the blog.

Boats streamed in here all day, but it was late in the afternoon when Wings arrived. We went over right away to meet Fred and Judy. They graciously invited us aboard to have a beer and tour their boat. Since we are going to be here in Thailand for the next two months, we prearranged a time to meet when Fred and Judy are not focused on racing. We look forward to that.

We attended the race dinner this evening and had a great time talking with Jean and Ken of Renaissance 2000. We are going to go with them in the morning when they leave here headed for the Boat Lagoon. We will help them get in and then check out the rental possibilities for apartments and cars. Hopefully we will find our way home to here and then ready ourselves for the sail south to Boat Lagoon.

We talked to Heather, Jed, and Sam last night and they are settling in. Heather has been a little sick since returning home and Sam hasn’t been sleeping well. But we can still hope that all soon be well.

090126 Day 96 Phuket Island, Thailand–Phang Nga Bay Regatta Gathers at Ao Po Marina

Day 95, Year 4: Calm Before the Storm

Day 95, Year 4: Calm Before the Storm
Date: Sunday, January 25, 2009
Weather: Beautiful, Sunny Day
Location: Ao Po Grand Marina, Phuket Island, Thailand

It was a quiet day here at the Ao Po Grand Marina, but tomorrow the 50-60 racing boats that are in the Phang Nga Regatta should arrive and things will liven up a bit. The tents have been set up on the marina grounds and a few boats have arrived, but things are still quiet here. But by this time tomorrow night, things should be in full swing here. In the meantime, today we had the guys from Precision Shipwright come out to give us an estimate on building an arch on the back of Windbird to hold
the solar panels and wind generator plus install stainless handrails from the gates to the back of the boat. They will let us know on Tuesday what that might cost. Otherwise, Mark and I spent a quiet day working on our computers. Mark is searching for the ultimate low-cost tickets to get us home in April and I am working on getting photos edited and organized so they can be posted on the website. We have started the uploading process, but it is very slow. We’re hoping to have all the photos
from Heather, Jed, and Sam’s visit on the website by the end of the day tomorrow, but that could be a little optimistic. We shall see.

We took a break in the late afternoon and went up to the Chandara Resort to have sundowners with Jean and Ken of Renaissance 2000. They are headed to South Africa this year but will return to Langkawi in Malaysia to do the final provisioning before taking off in late February or early March. They have done their food provisioning here, but the trip to Langkawi is for the duty-free alcohol. A case of beer here in Thailand costs $20 US but is half that in Langkawi. The same is true for wine. The
cheapest bottle of wine here costs $20-$35 US whereas in Langkawi you can get some good wines for $10 a bottle. So it is worth the trip, especially since there is no chance for reprovisioning in the Indian Ocean except for the Maldives and the Seychelles. Renaissance 2000 will spend two months in the Chagos and there are absolutely no supplies of any kind there. So stocking up here is a must. On Windbird, however, we are thinking in the opposite direction. We will try to use up all our stores
in the next two months while living on land so that when we leave Windbird in April she will be empty.

We’re going to try a Skype call to Heather, Jed, and Sam tonight. It will be their Sunday morning and we’re anxious to hear how they are doing. And then we will try to call Justin and Jo tomorrow morning, which will be their Sunday evening. Otherwise, things here on Windbird seem very quiet-a little too quiet. We got used to having a two year-old onboard and without Sam life seems just a little too settled.

Day 94, Year 4: Windbird’s Getting a Face Lift

Day 94, Year 4: Windbird’s Getting a Face Lift
Date: Saturday, January 24, 2009
Weather: Sunny with Clouds; Late Afternoon Sprinkles
Location: Ao Po Grand Marina, Phuket Island, Thailand

Heather, Jed, and Sam made it back to Boston faster than I could get the sheets and towels washed and dried. Heather called on her cell phone to tell us they arrived. It was not a restful trip home as Sam chose not to sleep much of the time, but they did make it. They arrived late Friday night and were spending the night in Boston before driving down to the Cape. They said there was snow everywhere and that they desperately missed Thailand’s beautiful weather.

We have gotten ourselves into gear after our wonderful vacation with Heather, Jed, and Sam, and we have actually found that we can get Windbird painted here in Thailand cheaper than in Langkawi in Malaysia. The painter came this morning to give us an estimate and we liked what we heard. So we called the Boat Lagoon to see if we can come in there this week and get the work started. As far as we can tell from the phone conversation, the Boat Lagoon has room for us starting on this Thursday. We
will have to double check on this, but it sounds like we will leave here on Tuesday and sail down toward the Boat Lagoon. We will position ourselves to enter the lagoon at high tide on Thursday morning. The painter, whose name is Oh, will then build a tent around Windbird and start the work within a week after our arrival. Windbird is a twenty-seven year-old fiberglass boat that has never been painted, so she is in desperate need of this face lift. Judy and David of Freebird were out here looking
at the marina today, and they had all sorts of information for us. Evidently we can get an air-conditioned condo apartment at Boat Lagoon for under $300 per month, so we will probably do that rather than try to live on a boat that is being sanded and painted over and over. The boat will get two undercoats of epoxy and then be sanded, then two more coats of epoxy and sanded, and then three coats of Awlgrip with sanding between each coat. In order to keep the sanding dust out of the boat, everything
has to be taped shut, so living aboard would be really difficult. According to Judy and David, Eric of Scorpido has been renting an apartment and finding it to be a great arrangement while working on a boat. It is REALLY hot here, so an air conditioned apartment with a swimming pool sounds great for the short term. It can take up to two months to get the painting done, depending on the weather, so we might become land-bound for quite some time. Once our work here is done, we will return to Langkawi
in Malaysia where we will leave the boat while we return home, but it looks like mid-April is the earliest we will be able to leave. That will get us to Santa Fe just in time for the arrival of the New Mexico grand child, so the timing is good.

In the meantime, things are gearing up here at the Ao Po Marina for the Phang Nga Regatta. The boats should start arriving tomorrow, with the bulk of them coming in on Monday. Now that the laundry is done, I am spending my time working on getting photos ready to post on the website. So for those of you who are asking, “Where are the photos?”-They should be coming your way soon.

Day 93, Year 4: Windbird’s Empty Nest

Day 93, Year 4: Windbird’s Empty Nest
Date: Friday, January 23, 2009
Weather: Sunshine and Blue Skies; Becalmed Winds
Location: Ao Po Grand Marina, Phuket Island, Thailand

Windbird feels so empty today and Oma and Granddad are having a very hard time getting used to life without an excited and bubbly two year-old sailor man. Heather, Jed, and Sam flew out of the Phuket International Airport at 2 am headed for Seoul, Korea. They had a seven hour lay-over there, but should now be on their way to San Francisco and then on to Boston. I know they will be exhausted when they get home, but I’m hoping the wonderful memories of sailing in warm and beautiful Thailand will make it all worth the effort. Our heads are certainly filled with beautiful moments that we all shared together. The cruising life is a good one, but it is so much better when you can share it with family and close friends. And we have certainly had three unbelievably fantastic visits in the past few months, first with our son Justin and our daughter (in-law) Jo in Indonesia, then with our friends Kevin and Claire for our first foray into Thailand, and then with H, J, and S. I know in my logs I have talked so much about Sam, but it was equally as wonderful to spend quality time with our children and their spouses. Our family is expanding. There used to be four of us, now there are seven, and soon there will be nine, but there is certainly enough love for all.

So this morning as sad as we were about the empty nest, we knew we must forge on. We went about the day a little like zombies–too sad to say much, but going on auto-pilot. We took advantage of the rental car and went to Boat Lagoon to check on the progress of the piece of toe rail we are having “fashioned” and to check on possibilities of getting Windbird painted here in Thailand. The folks at the Boat Lagoon are totally booked for the next two months, but they gave us the name of an independent painter who will come out to give us an estimate. While at Boat Lagoon we saw Kathy and Pete of Wave Runner, friends from New Zealand, who are getting ready to head to the Red Sea. We went food shopping and then back to Ao Po where I launched into a laundry frenzy. There is no laundry service or laundromat here, so sheets, mattress pads, and towels must all be done by hand. I got about half the load done and will finish that job tomorrow. But I need to hurry up as Ao Po Marina is gearing up for the 12th Annual Phang Nga Bay Regatta and we can’t have Windbird looking like a Chinese laundry when all the boats arrive this weekend. Through a friend we met on our website, we have been in touch with Fred and Judy Roswold of Wings. They left Seattle in 1996 and have made it this far around the world. They are currently working in Bangkok, but they keep their boat at the Yacht Haven in the Phang Nga Bay. I checked their website today and found out that they have been here in Phuket for the past couple of days. I’m hoping they are coming to Ao Po on Sunday or Monday before the race starts and that we will get to meet them. The race “opening ceremonies” and party coincide with Chinese New Year on Monday, so that should be a good time here at Ao Po.

One last note . . . We have heard from family and friends that the Obama Inauguration was truly moving. It sounds like there were tears of joy shed all over the United States as Obama gave a message of hope and determination that we can really change things. All we have to do is work together to do it. I tried to watch the inaugural address on YouTube but it took so long so load each segment that I think part of the feeling of the message was lost. But I got the basic idea and will try again tomorrow to listen to more of the speech. But from here it sounds like America is moving into a new era. Certainly people in this part of the world are excited about that.

090123 Day 93 Thailand–Farewell to Heather, Jed, and Sam