Monday, 31 December 2007

Christmas time in the Surins ... Dec 2007

24 - 30 Dec 2007
CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE ***Very good snorkelling in clear water***Christmas Lunch onboard Largo Starwith Alastair and Vivienne***Mark the Red Nosed Reindeer***Even the Thai Fishing boats look to have Xmas decorations on!!!***

Santa Claus arrives in the Surins, but while trying to find a chimney to enter Balvenie it appears he has broken the watermaker. This is really not a good thing, we are embarking on a huge off shore passage across the Indian Ocean, and then onto the Red Sea travelling through deserts, the ability to make our own fresh water is paramount. So Christmas morning is spent by skipper removing the watermaker and pump and setting all the parts out on the table to inspect them. Now there is one thing fundamentally wrong with this situation, that table is earmarked already – it is to seat 4 for Christmas Lunch!!!!! As the hours pass and the watermaker is in even more pieces Vivienne comes to the rescue and instead of her bringing all their lunch goodies to us they offer to host lunch and we take the Roasted Leg of Lamb and vegetables (with roast pumpkin – yummy) to them. We have an excellent, huge lunch, complete with Christmas crackers and silly hats, complemented by several bottles of fine duty free wine. Eating in the tropics is oh so tiring and we all blob about the rest of the afternoon in the heat onboard Largo Star. Pavlova (it’s amazing what you can find at Carrefours in Patong) and liquors are taken as the sun starts to dip and we are joined onboard Largo Star by a young Thai based couple who were on the 3rd mooring buoy in the bay. Besides the watermaker still in pieces it had been another excellent Christmas while cruising, thanks to Viv and Al or coming to the rescue.
The next 3 days are almost spent at leisure, a large part of the time in the crystal clear waters enjoying the best marine life we have seen in a very long while, many varieties of fish and some excellent live coral. Mark has found the faulty part, the teenyist little o ring in the watermaker pump has fallen apart, luckily we have a spare and there is much celebration when the switch is turned on, all the right noises fill the peace and quiet onboard and desalinated water starts coming out again, yippee. It is so nice to be able to put everything back together again and the saloon no longer looks like a workshop. Skipper adds the Surins to his ever growing list of “Maintenance in Exotic Places”!!!!!
It really is lovely here, each day we have a few tour boats arrive. We seem to be on their favourite mooring buoy as they throw us a line and daisy chain onto the back of Balvenie. At one stage we had 4 boats attached to us!!! Then they disgorge their daytrippers overboard, all adorned with lifejackets, snorkels, masks and flippers for their holiday snorkelling experience. The “Oohs and Ahhs” from these novices remind us of how lucky we are to be able to experience these locations for as long as we want. Long after the tourists leave we cherish the peace and tranquillity over a sundowner or two ashore. There is a great little beach with lovely soft white sand and happy hours and bar-b-ques are the order of the days. Sadly we can’t stay in our new found paradise for ever so we move around to the West Coast anchorage to make our trip to the Andamans just a little shorter.
It’s rollier around this side but we tie up to one of the mooring buoys between the two islands and are comfortable enough for a couple of nights. The National Park headquarters are here so we dinghy ashore, pay our park fees, have a passable meal at the boarding school style cafeteria, and go for a long walk through the jungle around to the bay on the north western shores. On the way back Mark and Alastair somehow get invited by the Thai Navy boys, who are lazing under a shady tree, to join them for a couple of rounds of Thai Whiskey shooters, good thing Vivienne and I are on hand to steer them back to the dinghies or we may never have seen them again. Then we spent an hour or two filling our water jugs, even though the watermaker is operational again we always take the opportunity to fill to overflowing our fresh water supply as you just never know!!!!
Back on board, it’s our last night in Thailand, tomorrow Sunday 30 December 2007 we will point the bow westwards again and resume our circumnavigation. Next stop the Indian governed Andaman Islands.

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