n 30 June 2011 at about 9am my friend Jouke and I left Ocean Marina in Jomtien on Voodoo Doll, a Corsair 28R trimaran. The first day we covered about 65nm and got across the Gulf of Thailand. We arrived near Pranburi and anchored in the dark. On the way we had light winds of only 7-10 knots. Next day we continued south along the coast and made about 70nm in 10 hours. We stayed over night in the middle of nowhere...somewhere south and past Prachuap Kiri Khan. Next morning we encountered two dolphins which were swimming only about 10 meters away from our boat. How lovely...unfortunately, they didn't stay with us for long.
Due to the constant light southerly winds (except when we got hit by massive thunderstorms with gusts of 35 - 40 knots) our progress was rather slow. However, next day we made it almost to Chumphon. We were running under engine to get into a bay where there was a fishing village when suddenly the engine started screaming and we lost all propeller drive. Not a good place to be without wind and without engine power either! We decided to leave at 4am to sail across to Koh Tao which was about 80nm offshore from where we were. When we lifted the anchor it was so dark that we could not see more than 3-4 metres in front of the boat. Jouke was standing on the foredeck to give me directions. Quite spooky...the wind was very light so we didn't sail very fast. Luck was on our side and later a nice 7 - 10 knot breeze set in and lasted all day long.
After being on one tack for 13 hours we arrived at Koh Tao at about 5 pm and sailed into the bay just on our jib. The sun was out and it was spectacular, 10m deep very clear blue water with lots of coral surrounding the bay. To top up on our luck we ran into an interesting man who had built an apartment block at the cliff of our bay. He claimed to have 6 wives and 23 children! He invited us for dinner at his place which has a stunning view of the bay. His latest wife cooked some very delicious Indian food and we had a few drinks.
We stayed for two nights at this bay and we left early on the 6th July for Koh Phangan.
The wind was light however, we made good progress so we decided to sail non stop to Koh Samui. How wrong we were...when we came to the south side of Koh Phangan the wind started to die and change direction. We rigged our huge spinnaker and tried to catch any little pressure. First we thought to keep trying to reach Samui, but it started to get dark and with no engine we didn't want to end up in between the islands. What a wise decision! Later, we saw a huge cruise ship passing exactly where we might have been drifting had we gone for Samui. This could have ended in tragedy as it was a pitch black night and I do not think our little Voodoo Doll would have made a big impression on their radar screen. We just managed to reach the south beach of Koh Phangan and dropped anchor, about 10 metres away from a reef.
We didn't like this spot at all as it was a lee shore, but no other place to go without engine. Hoping for the best we managed to put in a few hours of sleep. I woke up at about 2am and saw a huge thunderstorm building up in the southwest heading towards us. By 4am the storm was pretty close and we took all possible precautions: putting on our wet suits and rain jackets and preparing a back-up anchor in case we needed it. As soon as we felt the first little breeze we lifted our anchor. This was exciting stuff. We had 2 options: trying to sail around to the lee side of the island, or trying to get behind the storm. We opted for the latter and were very relieved when our predictions turned out to be right. There was heavy rain and blinding lightning in front and at the side of us, but we did not even get wet, except for our own sweat. The storm hammered Samui for about an hour and we were nicely dragged along. Then the sun started to rise and we could see Samui's north shore.
We sailed into Big Buddha Bay and dropped anchor in about 1.5m of water, 50m from the beach. It didn't take us long to find a nice little resort right on the beach. We booked a room and crashed out for a couple of hours. In the afternoon we finally got our engine fixed, the propeller was worn out and had no more grip and the carburettor was dirty. We stayed for 2 nights (most of the time sleeping) and lifted anchor again on the 8th July to head back to Koh Tao. Great wind and with the screecher out we covered the 40nm in no time.
Same bay again, but this time the strong wind created willies which came down the hills at very high speed (30 - 40 knots?) The loud "whooo....whooo" didn't make sleep very easy. Being surrounded by big boulders we were not too comfortable, knowing that a dragging anchor could let us end up like a whiskey on ice).
As good winds were predicted for next day (18 - 23 knots) we left early and got on the way back to the main land. It was quite a bumpy ride at first as the waves had built up over night. However, it was good fun and we hit speeds of up to 15 knots. We covered the 80nm in about 6 1/2 hours.
Despite looking for a restaurant or resort we ended up anchoring in the middle of nowhere again. We could have sailed on, but were tired so we decided to call it a day. Next day we had a quick ride along the coast and sailed into the bay of Prachuap Kiri Khan. We parked our flying machine about 100 metres in front of the hotel where we wanted to stay. What a nice feeling sitting on the balcony with a cold beer, overlooking the bay with its spectacular mountain formations in the back ground - and Voodoo Doll right in the middle of it.
Next day, we wanted to anchor at Dolphin Bay near Pranburi. However, the wind direction changed and we didn't like the idea to anchor on a lee shore again. Hua Hin was just around the corner so we sailed on for a short time and parked our beloved boat right behind "Hua Hin" (the Head Rock ) where a big standing Buddha guarded us. As it was the last night of our trip we decided to spend the night at shore.
Next morning, when we wanted to leave we were in for a surprise: even though Voodoo Doll was still surrounded by water, she sat with her belly firmly on the sand. We tried to push, but she didn't want to move an inch. We had almost accepted the fact that we had to wait 2 hours for the flood to come in when suddenly 20 + fishermen came from all over the place to give us a push. This was so nice!! A most welcome 5 - 6 knot breeze set in and we sailed along on a beam reach with speed of 7- 8 knots. Later the wind picked up and so did our speed. With over 16 knots of boat speed we sailed into the bay of Na Jomtien towards Ocean Marina. It took us only 7 hours for 60 nm and all on one tack! What a great trip and all my thanks go out to my friend and sailing buddy Jouke to have joined me for this adventure.
Would I do it again? Yes, but only if I had a lot more time!!!