Sunday, February 17, 2008

A New Type of Traffic

Indian Ocean coordinates 05.00.379N,081.48.299E
currently slipping past the southern tip of Sri Lanka

We were hoping to write to you this week a bit more about the adventures we had in Bangkok, Vietnam and Cambodia but there is a more pressing matter at hand. We are currently about 6 days into our crossing from Thailand to the Maldive Islands. We have snuck just under the Nicobar Islands and according to our charts are in the middle of the "Great Channel". Great in more ways than one we have discovered. We have left behind the crazy world of scooter traffic only to find ourselves smack in the
middle of giant container ship traffic.
These ships, as you can imagine, are huge and charge across the water like giant metal elephants with a purpose. By the light of day they are fun and amusing to watch as the different types pass by, Evergreen, Hyundai, oil tankers. On the radio their captains speak a variety of languages to each other, Russian, French, Indian. Usually you can hear them call out "port to port" or "starboard to starboard" as they decide which side they would like to pass each other on. They move along at a fairly
good clip too, the "Global Triton" sped past us like she was late for a really important date. Under the cloak of darkness though, it all looks much different.
On our second night out around 2am we hit something in the water. Likely to be a log or something similar, it happens from time to time, you check the bilge, no water coming in means no holes, good news. It frays your nerves a bit none-the-less and sets the tone for the night. From then on I felt like a matador in the ring with a bull and 3 of his best buddies at any given moment. Would they pass right, left or charge us down the center. Only a couple of hours into a shift and I stopped counting
after 2 dozen. Usually they are fairly easy to monitor on the radar and being that we can see up to 16 miles out you can imagine just how many you can spot at one time. Luckily, by sight they are only visible within a 5 mile range or you would go crazy trying to decipher just what was out there. Depth perception is of no help in the dark. The down side to that is considering the speed they are traveling, it doesn't leave you much time to decipher what it's intentions are until the last minute.
Every vessel displays red and green lights visible from the left and rights sides respectively, including us. This aids in determining which side it is you can see. It is surprisingly difficult considering the behemoth size of them. You would think it would be very obvious. Unfortunately sometimes it is not and on three different nights, Bruce, Lisa and the Kelly's on Moorea found themselves far too close for comfort. Within a mile range would be good enough, but nose to nose and under a quarter
of a mile was nearly too much. All's well that ends well, and we have to say that in general we think that they are doing a fantastic job out here. Very professional and keep very good tabs on us. When we shine our flood lights on them the respond right away. Good to know they are watching!
Days 5 and 6 brought lighter winds, which amazingly always do more damage to the boat that the stronger ones. Slapping sails mean tears and repairs for us. What else can one do in the middle of the ocean but fix things anyway.
until next time,
your Ohana Kai crew

~~~~~~~~ Please make sure if you write back to us, "do not" to hit the reply button unless you delete the old email first. Our poor ancient email system cannot handle so much data. Thanks ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Sa wat dii!!!
Greetings from Thailand. It's official, the crazy hectic schedule and excitement of the holiday seasons happen everywhere in the world. It has been quite a while since we have posted a journal entry so we'll give the quick recap here and hope to add the details in to the web page later. First and foremost, we hope the New Year is settling in with all the hope and promise a New Year can bring to you. Last we wrote, we were running out of time on our visa's in Indonesia. We made a quick 2 day stop in Padang for our check out. The officials "liked" us and with some great help from the charter group at Surf Safari, we were let out of their country and on our way. Still sad to see that part of the adventure over and no doubt will make it back there again some day. We spent a bit of time working our way north up through the Telos and Banyak Islands on our way towards Thailand. We crossed the equator for the second and final time during these adventures. A stop in Nias brought some great last bits of surfing and a great chance to see a town rebuilding after their tsunami experiences back in 2004/5. A quick passage up around the northern tip of Banda Aceh and we were flushed out of the country. 20 knots of wind on the nose could not hold us back as the current was with us and we cruised through the pass at 5-6 knots. Surrounded by colorful, little fishing boats that looked like wooden clogs, a few over nights threading the needle between 40+ day glow fishing vessels at night and we found ourselves anchored in Nai Harn, Thailand.

Thailand coordinates 07.46.434N,098.17.946E
We jumped right in to all the Thailand could offer, and that above all includes tuk tuks and scooters. Again, a whole new world when it comes to road travel. Road rules certainly seem to be an option but so are lanes here at times. The more the merrier. You move where you want when you want and remarkably there is no such thing as road rage anywhere to be seen. Everyone works together. And the idea of honking works, it is simply a means to let someone know that you are there. Only the driver need where the helmet and as many people as you can fit on the scooter goes. 5 is the record so far. We enjoyed the beach in Nai Harn for a few days while we became oriented to the lay of the land. The boys enjoyed a natural river that flows to the bay and acts as a perfect water slide when the tide is heading out.

Next stop was the more industrialized town of Chalong. Here we dug in and completed as many projects as quickly as possible. Time to regalvanize the entire 300 feet and 300 lbs. of anchor chain, new covers for the dinghy, fix leaky sinks, clogged heads and repair the sails. We mastered the art of riding the scooters ourselves and discovered that a shopping mall in Phuket, Thailand looks just like home. We still prefer to frequent the night time open air markets where you can find everything from crickets to hand crochet skirts, pigs feet or frog legs to engine parts. Next stop was Phang Nga as we anchored just outside of Yacht Haven Marina. Too rich for our blood, we were happy to be able to utilize their resources just the same. It was the perfect place for s/v Moorea, Luna and Pelikaan to settle and celebrate Christmas Eve with us, complete with a white elephant gift party and our traditional chili for dinner. From here we really spread out our wings and explored the rest of the bays. In these waters are amazing "karst" formations which are spires and caves created out of limestone. Often they look like giant rocks creating their own drip candle effects and mazes of caves to explore in a dinghy or kayak. The big tourist draw here is James Bond Island where "The Man with the Golden Gun" was filmed. Interesting to see but if you search around a bit there are much more fascinating finds to spy. Such as the stilt village where a dear friend of ours picked up a nasty dose of Dungue fever.

On the east side of the bay we anchored just off the little town of Railay. Accessible only by boat, it is a gem of a place to stay and play amongst the rocks. Famous for it's rock climbing routes we took the opportunity and put our harnesses back to their intended use, not just for climbing the mast anymore. It was here that we rung in the New Year with the Kelly's and from our boats. We had the wonderful opportunity to watch hundreds of lanterns be lit and launched from shore up and over our masts all night to a back ground of fireworks displays and a great beat of music that echoed from the shores until 5am.

From there we made a quick stop at the world famous Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley beaches where the movie "The Beach" was filmed. Though not very large of an area you would be amazed how many boats and people can fit onto it. Tourism at it's finest. We have to say though that the sand there was the whitest and softest we had seen in a while, nearly like powdered sugar. A bit too crowded for us so again we were on our way back to our new favorite stop in Ao Chalong.

Lisa's parents then came to visit and took Lisa and the boys on a whirl wind tour of Hanoi & Saigon, Vietnam and a quick stop in Siem Reap, Cambodia to visit one of the wonders of the world, Angkor Wat. Not even a bout of stomach flu for 3 out of the 5 travelers could dampen this adventure. Poor Bruce was left behind to tend to the boat but upon the travelers return we hit all our favorite haunts one more time with our company before preparing to depart Thailand. Which brings us to today. We are packed and ready to roll with the Maldive Islands in our sights. An 11 day crossing or so ahead of us. Best of all, the web page is updated through Indonesia with some new nuggets, such as a couple of YouTube clips of Krakatau's eruption if you hadn't already seen it. That's all for now. With the passage ahead and a lot of night watches, the Thailand web page should be ready to upload as soon as we find some more internet. Take care.
until next time,
your crew on Ohana Kai
Bruce, Lisa, Tristan and Matthew