So, the stay in Langkawi was coming to an end and I was wrapping up our business in this end. On the 13th I took leave of John Orr and I moved alongside the bunker barge Tuba VII to fuel up and potter onwards to Thailand.
We fueled up with a few hiccups but managed to depart in the evening. We sailed on and the sea was wonderful, the swell was almost non-existent. In the morning we passed Ko Lanta and pressed forward towards Patong beach. In the afternoon 14th I dropped anchor in Patong beach and picked up Gordon to give him our papers. The weather was a bit windy but it did not make our anchorage uncomfortable, furthermore we were so much off the beach that the noise did not reach us. In the evening the guys off duty went ashore to enjoy the smiles of Thailand. In the morning 15th we got up early and hoisted anchor to sunrise and headed off towards the Surin Islands.
Weather was great and swell was just minimal. Sun was shining and abt 2pm we arrived Ko Bon and dived on the NE side of the Island. Kalizma was drifting and we jumped in from the swim platform. Fish was plentiful and some corals too. The visibility in the water was great and we saw plenty of fish, nothing too big but the normal coral reef fish. I also saw plenty of sea anemones and fan corals as well as the brain coral and other soft corals. The dive was ok but not spectacular if you have seen places like Maldives or Borneo. We got to the western point of the Island that according to our divebook was a manta ray cleaning station, unfortunately the mantas were not queueing up as we saw none of them. Maybe one reason might be the time of season and the other that there were already 5 diveboats around the Island as we arrived there. We tried to find the pinnacle the guidebook mentions but with Kalizma's slow maneuvarability we could not manage to locate it. At abt 1530hrs we headed off north towards Surin and by this time the weather was getting really windy and the seas choppy.
When we were passing Ko Tachai the waves were getting high enough to cause us to pitch in the usual rodeo horse fashion Kalizma does, it lasted only abt an hour and we got shelter from Surin Islands, we arrived in the south Bay around 1930hrs and dropped anchor in front of the sea Gypsy village. After this we set up the table aft and had a crew dinner and discussed our future plans among other topics.
Morning 16th we got up early and headed for Richelieau Rock that is touted as the best dive spot in Thailand. We went with tender boat as it was only 8,5' off Surin Is and weather was good. We arrived after 30min to the Rock and at 7am there was already 5-6 boats at the site. Unperturbed we (me, Saini and Dubey) also geared up and plopped in the drink deciding to go around from S to N on the E side and coming around back on the W side. The Rock was not that impressive in my opinion, plenty of fish again but nothing big. Our guidebook mentioned sharkwhales frequent this Rock but I guess they've decided to move on as there was more people in the water than girls on Bangla Road on a friday night. Anyway, we got around the rock in 30 minutes and got on the tender and headed back to Kalizma to pick up more gear and give Kalpana and Rajaram a first dive under the tutelage of Saini.
On our way back the wind started to pick up again despite it was hardly 9am, we arrived back to Kalizma without any incidents and loaded the boat again and after awhile headed off to Ko Chi. Whilst underway we realized the seas were getting way too choppy so we abandoned the idea of diving off Ko Chi and tied up to a dive buoy (Surin Is are littered with divebuoys along the coast) that seemed like a good spot. We all geared up and Saini dived with Rajaram and Kalpu, while I headed a bit deeper with Dubey. This area was more colorful and corals were more plentiful that Richelieau Rock or Ko Bon, it looked more like Maldives. Fish was again plenty, but small and I saw one Moray eel and one big grouper (I think) sleeping under some coral heads. Once up on the surface again we headed back to Kalizma and started maintaining our gear and filling up tanks. In the afternoon some crew went snorkeling and some crew stowed away our dive gear. We decided not to visit the sea Gypsy village as it did not look too inviting and nobody came to offer rides there as well either (as another guide book promised), so I assumed the tourist trade had not started or had ceased altogether.
At 1600hrs we fired up the engines of Kalizma and headed back for Yacht Haven. The seas were abt 1.5m high with swell rolling in from the Indian Ocean, Kalizma took them quite well but my stewardesses did not. The bad seas lasted until Promthep cape where we rounded into the shelter of Phuket at early wee hours of the night. Eventually we arrived in front of yacht haven at 0800hrs in the morning of 17th and I anchored to wait for the high tide at noon. Nick and Zara wanted me to tie up inside the pontoons this time and I backed inside, making sb side fast to Dock A, outer end, without any big difficulties. Nick complemented my maneuvering but I discounted it for the good weather we had and this brought our trip to an end. Now we are busy doing maintenance and getting Kalizma ship shape for the Owners visit plannned in December.