Day 52, Year 5: Free Ride
Date: Thursday, December 17, 2009
Weather: Mostly Sunny and Hot; Afternoon Thunder; Evening Rain
Location: Ao Chalong, Phuket, Thailand

The number of old, white men with very young, beautiful Thai women here is really shocking. So Mark goes to shore alone today to buy a starting battery. He went back to the little restaurant where we spent the day yesterday to ask if anyone there knew where he could buy a car battery. They discussed the situation and the young waitress that we had yesterday walked Mark down the street to a Michelin tire place to ask where batteries are sold. She found out and told Mark to hop on the back of her motorbike. Too far to walk, so would take him. They drove about 3 kilometers, got the battery, and headed back to the Twin Coconut. Mark had left his hand cart for toting the battery there, but the young woman told him to get it and get back on the bike. She insisted on taking Mark and the battery down to the pier. On the way down the street to the pier, Mark said the other women on the street were smiling and waving to the young waitress and pointing to Mark. The young woman just smiled big and waved back. We are sure this young woman was just being a typical kind and helpful Thai, but now Mark’s a marked man, so I’m not sure I’m going to let him go back into town alone!

The next story started two days ago. On Tuesday morning when we took the dinghy in for repair, I walked to the dinghy shop to make sure they were coming to pick up our dinghy at 9 am while Mark stayed behind at the boat ramp with the dinghy. He also had our 220 amp alternator with him that was not working. We were going to take it to the Boat Lagoon to a shop we are familiar with there. But while standing on the shore, some cruiser brought his dinghy in to shore to drop off a mechanic. Mark could see all of his tools, so he asked the man in the dinghy if the mechanic was good. Excellent, he said, so Mark showed Him (that’s the mechanics name) our alternator. Him shook it and examined it and said he thought he could fix it. Mark wrote his name and phone number on a piece of cardboard and away went Him with our alternator. We didn’t know the name of the cruiser in the dinghy so we were really hoping we had the right phone number written down. Otherwise Him would have been hard to track down. But today he called to explain that Mark needed to come to shore to see the problem. So Mark went in and saw that the cast aluminum frame that holds the diodes has broken in several places. Him wasn’t sure Mark would want him to find a machinist to make a new aluminum frame as it will cost about a hundred dollars US to get it done. But you can’t buy an alternator anywhere near this size in Thailand, so Mark told Him to get the frame made and replace the diodes if needed. We are currently running on a 125 amp alternator and that works fine but takes almost twice as long to run the engine to charge the batteries. So we want our big baby back if possible.

Tonight we went to shore to have dinner with Ed and Lynne of Constance. They knew of a great Mediterranean restaurant about a mile from the dinghy dock, so off we hiked. We had a great dinner and enjoyed cruiser talk. We then walked next door to the supermarket to get a few groceries. Then it was back to the dinghy dock where we found our dinghy bobbing up and down with great gusto. The northeast monsoon has set in for a couple of days with expected heavy winds. This anchorage is totally exposed and we understand it can get quite rowdy. We could move across the bay to the eastern side or go to another anchorage in the southern end of the island or stay here and rock and roll. We’ll make that decision in the morning.