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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pirates of the Adaman Sea

My Happy Sailing Crew
Well after two weeks of dealing with Tigers, Elephants and an assortment of standing, sitting, lying, laughing, crying and squatting Buddhas  I decide I need a break and a four day three night sailing tour seems like the perfect choice.  I nickname this part of my itinerary as Forget the Buddhas – I’d rather Be Sailing.

My only problem is getting to the starting site, which is on Phi Phi Island (Pronounced Pee Pee). That means a one hour flight from Bangkok to Phuket then a 45 minute taxi ride to the Ferry terminal and then a two hour ferry ride to Phi Phi.

The Ferry has definitely seen better days and is packed.  Our luggage is taken from us and piled in a huge pile at the back of the cabin.  When we finally reach Phi Phi there is a huge scramble as people climbed over each other tossing luggage to one side as they scramble to recover their bags.   I sit back and wait and eventually my two bags are the only ones left.

The next problem is finding the embarkation point which is described as the Beachfront Restaurant and Pub at the end of the dock.  As soon as I set foot off the boat I am besieged by a horde of Thai entrepreneurs trying to sell me a boat tour, diving tour, fishing tour, Hotels.  I plow my way through them but immediately get lost.  I search high and low but can’t find the Restaurant Pub.  Asking for directions only gets me more solicitations and unhelpful suggestions.  I am already half an hour late and getting more and more frustrated and angry.  I am about to call it a day and get back on the boat, when I remember I have a phone number.  I step into the Tourist booth and have them call the number and hear the phone ringing next door.  The Restaurant Bar turns out to be more like three tables and a road side bar under a thatched roof – not what I envisioned for a “Restaurant and Pub.”

Our Cat
Captain Mike is summoned to fetch me and take me out to the boat – 38 foot Ketch where I meet my five other fellow sailors.  This group is considerably older than the Generation Y group of 15  I just left, and consists of  one American, one Swiss, one German, and a newly married couple from Australia.  The newlyweds met on a tour a year ago and decided to start off their Honeymoon on this  one.  Besides Captain Mike we have Pearne who is combination cook and first mate.   As soon as I arrive we hoist anchor and set sail.

Stateroom for two!
I was lucky I had my own cabin – which was  a good thing as the cabin was more than adequate for one person, or a couple, but would have been tight quarters for a couple of guys.  There were two heads (bathrooms) on either side of the boat and I had to share with only one other person.  All in all a pretty good situation.

The next few days are idyllic, sailing from one scenic site to another, dropping anchor, swimming, snorkeling and just generally chilling out.  The first night we anchor off a picturesque island and are treated to a fantastic night lightning show.  Three of the group decided to sleep on the deck and enjoy the show.

Dinner on hore
The second night is even more exciting   We anchor in a small bay on Phuket.  There are two other sailboats anchored nearby.   After dinner at a restaurant on shore we retire back to the boat and go to sleep.

I am suddenly awakened at 3:00am by loud banging on the hull outside my little cabin!
“Get up!  Get up!  Emergency!  Emergency!
“Wake up!’  Wake Up!”

I sit bolt upright in my berth.  My mind instantly awake.  In a nano second I assess the situation.
We are on a boat in a harbour near Phuket where the Tidal Wave occurred in 2004.  This could mean only one thing:
“Tsunami!”  I scream.  “Everyone on Deck!”  We have to hoist anchor and get out of here!”
I leap out of my berth onto to the deck to be greeted by a disheveled bleeding naked man!
“Pirates!”  He shouts!   I’ve been robbed!”
“Forget the Tsunami!” I shout. “Pirates!   Prepare to repel boarders!”

At that moment Captain Mike appears and takes control.

Captain Mike
The guy who lives alone in the sailboat next to us has indeed been  boarded by three guys in a boat who proceeded to rob him of cash, a laptop and his phone”  They also beat him up a bit. It appears they also sole his clothes.  He admits they didn’t steal his clothes - he just sleeps in the nude.

Pearne when she's not fighting Pirates
Captain Mike lends him a pair of his shorts and takes him ashore in the dinghy to report the event.  The rest of the group goes back to bed, but the cook and I keep watch over the boat lest the pirates return  while Mike is a away.
“Do you have a gun on board?” I ask the cook. 
“No,” She replies, “ I have something better.”
“Knife, Cutlass?” I ask.

She reaches into the galley and pulls out a heavy Wok.
“This!”  She says.  “If anyone tries to come on board I’ll brain them.”
And she would have too.  

So now I’m still known as “Tsunami Jeff” to the group.  I was hoping for Captain Jeff Sparrow  - it would be a bit more dignified.

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