|The Storm of Shock & Tears|
I stood on my balcony forty metres above the crushing disaster below in the normally peaceful bay of Ao Yon. In under an hour more than 20 boats belonging to friends of mine were either sunk at the moorings or scatted like flotsam on the beach and rocks below.
We had been expecting this storm to hit Phuket for a few days. We had prior warning from many sources like windguru.com and posting on the net from Captain Brent of The Phuket Cruising Yacht Club in Ao Chalong. On Friday, it was downgraded to 32 knots and as per usual Mother Nature didn't deliver the storm that night at dusk, but on the next morning at 9am it hit directly from the only real vulnerable direction in Ao Yon, the south. By early afternoon it was a combination of 40 knots of wind and high seas that wrought even more destruction on the damaged boats by grinding them into Ao Yon's stone walls. I first noticed the seas build to three-metre waves, something never seen in my five years here. Next several boats sunk and one-by-one others bounced the moorings from the waves to end up on the beach. Other boats snapped their tethers and were beached and pounded by the waves into each other.
Most of the damage was complete, decimating the hopes and expectations of yachties ready for the tourist season to start in a few weeks. Mike Downard from SailinAsia lost three of five of his boats; Switchblade, Tags and one of his Platus were beyond repair.
Howard Wilson from the Ships Inn Bar moved his 60ft sports fishing boat and it survived, then he relentlessly helped to care of other boats washed ashore in front of his bar.
Sadly, Tom and Eileen Scarff's sail boat Hallema, their home for more than 30 years, snapped its mooring and crashed into the rocks on the point at Ao Yon.
Another new to the bay 75ft sailboat Stella Maris valued at 1.4 mil Euros still lay on its side on the sand—in all more than 20 boats were damaged or sunk in our little bay.
The 90ft luxury boat Laetiza (4 mil Euros) fought the seas and trying to escape was swept into the oyster farm and became entangled in the lines of ropes and floating buoys supporting the oyster bed, saving it from being bashed against the rocks.
The following day, I looked out over the bay to see a few boats that did come back, but they formed a skeleton of what should have been there; a true storm of shock and tears.