Life at Boat Lagoon - We have settled into the cruiser's routine at Boat Lagoon: chatting with new and old friends, eating out at the many little restaurants around the marina, discussing the merits of the various boat repair companies, and perspiring in the heat. Last week a new activity crept into our repertoire: Bocce! We braved the 90° heat to make the big balls chase the small ball round the lawn: the women beat the men soundly!
FantaSea - One of the big tourist attractions on Phuket is an amusement park named FantaSea, and we decided to go last week with Peter and Jeanette from Voyager. This is a 5-star extravaganza with dancers, acrobats, comedians, and a finale with 10 performing elephants! It was really glitzy and a lot of fun. The venue is a theater so large you almost feel like you are outdoors under the stars. Around the theater are scores of restaurants, pubs, and entertainment areas for people of all ages. Despite the so-called downturn in tourism, there must have been 5000-6000 people at the show, and they perform every night!
Refit Fever - When we arrived in the San Blas islands in Panama, cruisers were hit with 'Mola Fever', a frenzy to buy these beautiful appliqué artworks pieces designed and made by the Kuna Indians, as if there were no tomorrow. In Phuket, upon arrival, we have been bombarded by stories from friends about the beautiful work done by their woodworkers, or upholsterers, or boat painters - the list goes on! So we, who had planned to do a few minor things and then go sailing suddenly find ourselves with big list of potential projects to take advantage of Thai prices and workmanship. Here is our list of 'maybe's'; next week we will narrow it down to the final 'to-do' list
Preparations for work aboard - This week was somewhat quiet. We dealt with a small parade of trades-people supplying quotes for the potential projects for the upcoming Long Passages refit. A jeep was rented and we spent 3 days in the hot weather offloading gear so that we and workmen could get to all corners of the yacht, particularly the toe-rail. We rented a shared storage locker and filled our half with jerry cans, sails, booms, and boxes of assorted stuff - one wanders how we accumulate all of these 'necessities'.
Songkhran - All meaningful work stops in Thailand over the weekend for the Thai New Year's celebration. The prime event: throwing water and smearing talcum-powder on others, particularly Westerners. Within the marina the talcum-powder was gently rubbed on our cheeks and we were invited to return the favor; on the streets the approach was more forceful with buckets, hoses, and high pressure water-guns used with gusto.
Moving ashore - At the end of the week we moved off Long Passages for the first time in a few years, as the preparations made her increasingly difficult to live aboard. The marina maintains a set of apartments for just this occasion, and they are very convenient - and the air-conditioning is quite welcome. When we move back aboard in about 2 months, LP should be shiny and happy again!
Some refit decisions made - We have made some tentative decisions of things to do now and others to be put off until another day - check it out.
Larger quarters - We decided our small hotel room would not hold the contents of the boat so we moved into a larger room (roughly twice as large). We now are trying to fill up all the empty space with "stuff", with some modicum of success.
Making room for improvements - In order to speed the refit process (and perhaps limit the collateral damage) we have begun to remove some of the joinery to make room for the new. Bob's make-shift bookshelf installed in Annapolis came out easily with nary a tear. The original Pilot Berth leeboard from Shannon was more difficult, and psychologically wrenching since it was a beautiful piece of work and part of her original glory. We hope the famed Thai workmanship can match the original quality.
Haul Long Passages for a refit and rigging change, a chronology:
Let the demolition begin - Well, the refit is underway! The hull painting crew attacked first, and by the end of the week, they had stripped off 20 years of dings and scratches plus a lot of gelcoat and paint. Under the slightly cracking paint they found some water-logged filler, and remnants of the original hull layup. The painters, an outfit by the name of Pro-Yachting, rightfully came to us and said "now what"? Fortunately we had the weekend to think about it.
Visa Run! - One of the mysteries of life is the Thai Immigration policy. Yachts may come into the country for 6 months; skippers may not leave without the yacht but can only stay 28 days, passengers (i.e. everyone else of the yacht) can also stay only 28 days, despite assurance from Thai Immigration elsewhere that they could remain 90 days. The upshot of all of this is that generally everyone must leave Thailand every 27 days to renew their Visas - thus the Visa Run! Several companies have set up Visa runs, where they drive you to the nearest border, you check out of Thailand, into the other country, and back into Thailand in the shortest possible time, and get back to work. For us, Myanmar (aka Burma) was the closest, so Thursday went like:
We actually left the country, although briefly. Often the process consists of giving your passport to an Immigration official who takes care of all of the niceties - for a fee. This is known as a 'Virtual Visa Run', and is illegal, but practiced by those who do not wish to waste a day with the real thing.
Party Hearty - There are lots of cruisers in Boat lagoon, and we seldom get together as a group, so Judi decided to fix that - with a party. She invited 15-20 new and old friends, and we all spent a wonderful evening stuffing ourselves on appetizers, burgers, sausages, and various drinks. Talk stretched late into the night, and a good time was had by all.