Jomtien and Koh Samae San (Chapter 4) - 13 Jan 2003

Sent: Monday, January 13, 2003 3:57 AM
Subject: Chapter 4 Jom Tien, and Koh Samae San

The Saga continues,
Many thanks for the responses. I will be careful. Just ask Tony when he gets back. I am much more careful than he would like.
I have been meaning to give some props to those generous gift givers at my departure. Of Course my mother gave me lots of money and plenty of good advice as well as a very useful medical encyclopedia, which gives me the confidence to deal with emergencies more effectively.
Lisa Bravo, your head flashlight has been invaluable from repairs to late night inspections of noises and possible dangers. I have worn it into the tightest crevices under the deck of the boat and had the luxury of two hands and a light. Thank you.
Brad Grim, Unfortunately we have not had the opportunity to test out the anti pirate gear on real pirates but we have used it on unsuspecting drunk friends with hilarious results.
Andre, thank you for all the invaluable advice and an enjoyable time on Koh Sri Chang.
Marilyn, Thanks for the extra work and the nice gift.
The Sorensens, Thank you for the great lifejacket. I will feel safer in those seas that make the nerves chatter. Hopefully not too soon though.
I suppose that's enough.
Maybe it is time to continue on with the narative.
So, I had a fabulous time rocking the night away. Pattaya Dance Clubs are quite a scene. Luckily I met up with two friends from earlier on the trip and I didn't get too reckless. . . . . Maybe not so lucky. Ah well.
Mook and Pai our Korean Barbee "Q" friends drove down the coast to go out and spend some time on the town with me.
The next day, bloodshot early in the morning, we arose to find the "good" anchor, which we left further up the beach on a rather rough point. It was glassy and fairly clear so it was easy to spot the anchor buoy (another idea of yours truly). Unfortunately the rope going down to the anchor from the buoy was quite thin, a mistake. Otherwise, we would have been able to just pick it up the day it was cut. Tony volunteered to dive for the anchor at a depth of almost twenty feet at about 7:30 am. Good man! I was still cross-eyed from the night before, so I drove.
Tony was able to pull up the anchor rope and tie another line to it and we lugged the anchor aboard.
We motored back to our previous spot and spent about 2 hours trying to anchor using the second (backup) anchor. Super annoying to throw and pick up an anchor about 10 times. Tony got fed up with it altogether and I continued on for another 4 or 5 tries. We finally got smart and attached the "good" anchor to the backup line and tried it out. The First time it dug in beautifully! So much for our "back-up" anchor. It is good to know though that I will have to get another anchor for backup. One that actually works.
That day we needed transportation for our activities so we went into Pattaya to rent a motorcycle. We wanted a bigger vehicle but not a bloody chopper so we were in dispute for a while which bike to rent until I asked if they had a 250 cc version of the road bikes. They did! It was a beautiful Honda "Phantom". Oh boy. I'm in love. It was a smooth powerful ride but not some huge idiot chopper. Tony and I traded off driving and I worry that I might want to buy something like that when I return to the states.
I had it for the afternoon sunset drive and I took it all the way down the JomTien Boulevard, right along the beach. Palm trees and sand sliding by my field of vision. The sun slowly dropping down to the sea. The breeze was cool and slightly balmy and the motor would roar as I pulled back on the throttle. A good feeling, the power of a well tuned motorcycle. It was, for the most part, a slow, dreamy ride.
At dusk I decided to go see Ocean Marina by bike as it was only a few minutes down the main road and I wanted to see how fast the bike would go. It took 15 minutes at 100 K/H. Oh the joy of riding.
Ocean Marina turned out to be very quiet and I strolled out to the end of a kilometer long jetty sticking out into the ocean. It was fancy and high class but the marina itself was simple and drab. It was a block of cement sticking out into the sea with about 40 boats parked in it. The Marina we were at in Bang Bakong was much more stylish and interesting. Unfortunately it is hard to build a marina on this coast as it is mostly a sandy river delta and either you use a lot of cement or you have locks and lots of dredging to keep the entrance deep.
I was allowed into the marina easily but met few people and left fairly soon. Not as interesting as other places we've been. I drove back to the boat and was happy to be "Home."
That morning we also went to this go cart track. That was a blast. We raced for ten minutes at 50 Miles/hour, sitting two inches off the ground, around a small track. Those little carts go so bloody fast it rattles your heart and lungs. Tony and I had it out most of the time but he went spinning off into the grass and mud too many times. The tires were bald, which made it even more exciting as you try not to spin out around the corners. It was a radical and intense ten minutes and I am glad Tony was there to push the envelope with me. He sort of pushed out of it and had a slightly scary incident. The motor would not stop when he ran the cart into the mud. The engine was running madly at full throttle because the wheels spun in the mud. He jumped out of the cart as one of the cart engineers told him and they pulled it out of the mud and killed the engine.
He jumped back into the cart and proceeded to run me down on the track. It was a riot and more fun than I have had in a while.
Wait? What am I saying? It was intense, reckless, smashup fun which I have not partaken in since this trip began. . . . accept for the cliff jumping. . . . and the gun shooting.
Anyways. We latter went to the shooting range and I had a nice Thai gentleman give me advice on how to shoot a handgun. It is always an intense experience to fire a gun. It is empowering in some ways. But on the whole I think guns should be banned in cities and only licensed in areas for hunting as a means of living. At the same time I think everyone should have the opportunity to shoot to understand what it is all about and the dangers and safeguards involved.
Enough of my philosophy on guns. I enjoyed the shooting quite a bit but was disappointed they didn't have shotguns or assault rifles. Some other time.
We put some effort into non-pleasure oriented things and restocked the boat with water, ice and food.
We awoke the next morning to a stiff northeast wind and after pulling up anchor and motoring for a bit we pulled up sails. We ripped along at about 5 or 6 knots most of the morning and enjoyed the scenery as we passed the major navy and commercial port of Sattahip. A few freighters whipped past us and I realized that 7 knots is not really that fast. Just fast for a 12 ton cement Sailboat.
The sail was intensely enjoyable. That day, I think Tony learned a little about the pleasures of sailing. The breeze was stiff enough to push the boat over about 15 to 20 degrees. In this situation, with the sails full, you can really feel the pulling force of the sails and wind. It is powerful enough to propel 12 tons of cement boat at just under 7 Knots. What a feeling. There were hardly any waves as the wind was coming off the land and it was gusting enough to put the boat to a max of 25 degrees. Many things in the boat fell off their shelves at this point but it was too enjoyable to be out on deck to do anything about it. Whipping along, watching the island studded coast move by.
Sattahip is a beautiful area with many islands and cliffs facing the sea. We ended up on a little known island called Koh Samae San. We found a perfect Catalina-esq cove with a small spit of land between us and the other side of the island. The coral here was quite nice and the cove was gorgeous. Needless to say we had it to ourselves and a few small fishing boats that would cruise up and down the coast in the morning and late afternoon.
I think it was the most beautiful spot we have been to date; beach, coral and all.
We had an incident with a coral head at one point. The tide was dropping out and I felt the boat jar during her usual rocking motion. She hit hard and stopped. Then started rocking. I didn't think much of it accept that it was unusual, until it happened again. Then I remembered seeing a coral head or two that were taller than most and I knew the tide was going down. By the third time I ran up to the front of the boat and pulled in about 25 feet of anchor line to move our position and then we talked about what to do.
When the boat hit the coral head it was a powerful feeling of fear. Understanding that the keel was hitting something like rock and could break up, put a little icicle in my heart. "My baby!"
We decided to move to the other side of the island near a deep sandy spit. We tried double anchoring, front and back, about 100 meters off shore. It worked OK but then the tide dropped some more and we hit sand bottom. I was ready for this as we anchored close to shore to try a Tahitian method. Once we were anchored I inspected the bottom of the keel for any damage from hitting the coral head. There was nothing! I could not find a single scratch! At times I must say, "I am a proud owner of a Ferro-cement boat." After talking with the Dutch ferro-cement boat builder, Andre, and seeing his own work, I still think it is a bloody good way to make boats.
Andre told us an entertaining story at one point, which I would like to relate. He told us many great stories and I could write a book about him but I will try to keep to the point.
Andre was living for a while on Koh Sri Chang. He was out on the pier and noticed some clandestine activity. The perpetrators told him to get the "F" out of there but he didn't. He refused to leave and they were very angry with him but let it go for the time. There were a few witnesses. Later on, one of the men proceeded to get drunk and still in a rage about that "Fucking Farang," jumped into his high-speed 45,000 Baht motorboat (constructed of fiberglass and wood) and decided to ram Andre's Ferro - cement sailboat, which was moored in the bay. He reached proper ramming speed and smashed directly into the side of Andre's boat with a huge explosion. Wood, fiberglass and pilot went flying everywhere and the ferro-cement boat just had an indent a few feet wide and a couple inches deep. The motorboat was completely destroyed and sank immediately at great expense to the owner.
So, I am a proud owner of a ferro-cement boat.
As for Koh Samae San We found out from the Thai Navy on the other side of the island that it was a protected reserve and that they were trying to let the coral grow back. Oops. Boats were actually not allowed to anchor there but we were allowed to stay that night as long as we left early in the morning the next day. At about 3 am the wind shifted around to the northeast. I was aware and had a hard time sleeping as it was blowing hard again and there were substantial waves. At about 5:15 am I could no longer sleep and went on deck. I had to actually put on a sweater. The wind was cool. Five am is the coldest time of day here.
I woke Tony at 6 and we left at 6:30 in the morning with another stiff offshore breeze to propel us on to Koh Samet. We tore across the sea at 6 knots again and had a wonderful trip. Just about on hour from the island the wind stopped and we dropped down to about 1.5 knots. It was so slow I could hardly steer. Tony was sleeping and after about 10 minutes of this he awoke and we kicked on the engine and motored the rest of the way. We arrived and circled the island and decided to anchor on the west side on this stunning bay. The wind was offshore and the water was calm.
I will save Koh Samet for a later installment.
Amanda, Tony's friend, has arrived and she seems pretty stoked on the boat.
I am wondering where my cousin Jeff is. He arrived in Thailand a few days ago and is wandering around Bangkok having a bloody good time on his own apparently. Hopefully he will find us on Koh Samet before we depart for Koh Chang around the 15th or 16th of Jan. If so, we will have a full boat once again.
I think I have written a long enough letter for most, so I will leave it at that.
Much love to those at home,