Thailand to Sri Lanka

3.2.06
Denny, Why is it bluer?  Alvin

     Not sure. The sky color is about the same. Maybe a little more haze in the day. Nights are very clear. Great for stars. Water is unusually clear. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Love, Denny

PS: We had a few days of great 7+ knot sailing. Light wind today and looks lighter next 500 miles to Oman. Thank God for big fuel tanks.

3.1.06
      So, Here is another COOL PLACE report. We are now at 10.47n 60.00e. So, what! That spot puts us in the middle of the Arabian Sea portion of the Indian Ocean We are half way between Male and Salala, Oman, a 1425 mile passage.
     To put it in perspective, that means that Oman is ahead 740 miles, on our stbd fore quarter are Iran and the Strait of Hormuz at 1000 miles, a bit more to Stbd is Ormara Pakistan at 860 miles, Cochin India is on our stbd stern quarter at 650 miles, Male is behind 740 miles, the Seychelles (which I hate ti miss) are 1050 miles on our Port stern quarter, and Somalia at "The Horn" of Africa bears 790 miles on the port fore quarter. How cool is that? We are right in the middle of the pond that the English, Portuguese, Dutch, and Arabs fought over and painfully "discovered" over a period exceeding 1000 years. Here we are. Ain't
technology and information grand?
      Last night we were in the area of a partially sunk fishing vessel which had been abandoned. I was a bit nervous about going BUMP as there was no moon. Figuring drift here is a challenge as the currents shify with monsoon changes and the NE Monsoon is starting to peter out. 250 years ago, those navigators weren't sure about running into AUSTRALIA. Gives me the chills. We have it so easy. Guess I will take a break to run the refrigeration and water maker, check the oil in the engine.
      The sailing has been pretty wimpy on this passage.  We actually hove to for a swim in glassy- calm water two days ago. The water was clear enough to see all the way to Seattle. I have burned 70 gallons of diesel so far, running the engine almost 3 days. Thankfully we picked up pretty nice wind yesterday and we are now reaching at 7.4 knots. The Indian Ocean is great for sailors for a lot of reasons, the lack of ground swell is one of them. The sea is bluer as you have heard. I seem to be the only pirate around.

Love to y'all, Denny

2.25.06
     We left Male, Maldives for Salala, Oman 1440 miles away this morning after posting a bunch of chatter and web site photos to you. Winds are less that 10 knots, often 3 knots, but the Indian Ocean water color makes up for the engine noise. It really is beautiful out here. The new dingy is aboard without blowing it up to test as I just didn't want to risk bad news. Fishing is supposed to be good on this leg. If so, I will report.

Feb. 24, 2006
Aloha Captain Koo,                                                

      Three months since I send a letter and pictures to the log. Serious delinquency! A lot has passed under the keel. There have been a few island groups and four countries to where we are now at anchor in the Maldives Islands and leaving in two days for a long passage.
      I was using Yacht Haven Marina on Phuket Island as a base when I last wrote. Most of December was consumed with catching up on dental work (a bargain there), finishing the usual list of boat projects, and doing some local cruising in Pang Nga Bay and the Krabi Resort areas. Both areas are candy fro the photographer. They offer the classic Thai towering limestone islands. I also got interested in exploring “hongs”, which translates to “room”. These are sunken areas inside the limestone islands making up a seawater pool with surrounding cliffs. Some are accessible  at all tides, some only through sea caves, and some only by cave diving. The inside walls are usually covered with green. Really lovely places.
      On 12-22 Australians Bronwyn Munro and Calder Woodgate , both good divers, arrived to crew with me to the Mediterranean Sea. We scheduled the boat for haul out, did a bit of provisioning and took off for a week of Bay, Krabi and Phi Phi Don cruising. Phi Phi Don is felt one of the world’s most beautiful islands and it is going strong again after being mostly wiped out by the tsunami a year ago. The tourist area was swept by a 30-foot wave, focused by the western bay shape. It is a small place and 2000 were lost. People are very resilient when needed.
     We returned to haul at the Ratanachi Slipway over the New Year Holiday. The price was right and the railway is well run. All employees were off for the holiday, so we did our own work. The facility is located between two fish canneries. When the breeze went calm—oh the smell. We did get a beautiful bottom job done and returned to Yacht Haven for more provisioning, installation of a new autopilot motor, a new dingy cover and an Italian dive Compressor.
      We cleared out of Thailand January 13 and sailed just 70 miles to the Similan Islands where we spent 6 days of great diving. The water here offered the best clarity I had experienced since eastern Fiji. The islands are all Thai national parks, uninhabited except for two harbors where government cabins and tent accommodations can be had.
      The 19th we departed on a 420 mile passage to India’s Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, arriving Port Blair in 2 ½ days of good sailing. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands form a chain of hundreds of islands. Port Blair is on N Andaman Island, about 80 miles long. It is a town of 300,000 where we got experience dealing with Indian bureaucracy. It took a full day to check in to the country, and later to leave. Each time we moved the boat it was necessary to get permission to raise and drop anchor. On balance it was worth it. This is a great cruising ground.
      As a diving area it was weak due to poor visibility, much of which might have been caused by Tsunami damage to the coral. At Havelock Island we got to know the people that operate the Jungle Resort. The friendship, food and scene were very memorable.  Calder was feeding the resort elephant one night when, for some reason, the big male raised his head and threw Calder by catching him in the mouth with a tusk. The result was a lot of blood  and 5 stitches installed at a bush clinic.
      We dove the Button Islands, which were nice cruising but poor diving. Returning to Port Blair we provisioned again and prepared to check out with the officials, first exploring Ross Island, the British headquarters during the last 100 years of the colonial period. It was a great duty station until independence in 1948 when it was abandoned. The fine old buildings are returning to nature while being consumed by giant Fichus trees. The Indian Government is now attempting to restore some of the area in its efforts to stimulate tourism. After an unauthorized 2-day stop at Middle Cinque Island for a quiet time we headed off the Galle, Sri Lanka 820 miles away.
      While at sea I had one of those moments and wrote to pal Wink “We are crossing the Bay of Bengal under the chute doing a down wind 7-8 knots. We left the Andaman Islands ,whose first European visitor was Marco Polo, yesterday morning. We are on the way to Galle Harbor on Sri Lanka, an 820-mile passage =/-. The Bay of Bengal is about 700 miles wide. Hell of a bay. Off our stbd stern quarter is the Ganges Delta and Bangladesh, 680 miles away. Behind, Phuket Thailand is 500 miles away. Madras India is off the stbd bow at 600 miles. Galle is 600 miles ahead. The historian in me is all a-bubble. Way cool!”. To be in these places can be intensely thrilling at times. This was one.
      Galle Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, was first set up by the Portuguese as a trading station in 1505. Later it was taken by the Dutch who built a fort with 300 houses and shops inside the walls, all still standing. The Dutch passed off to the British for the last 100 years of the colonial period, so the French couldn’t get Ceylon. The place oozes with history while it repairs its own very substantial tsunami damage. Sri Lanka lost 40,000 lives, Galle itself lost about5000. The fort is still the administrative center for Galle. We arrived the morning of Feb. 7 and celebrated by over inflating the dingy with an electric pump. The explosion was very cannon-like. It brought me out of my historical daydreams. We cleared in using a local agent and Med. Moored to a temporary pontoon, all the permanent mooring facilities having been lost on Boxing Day.
      For all its problems, political and economic, this is a great country to visit. The coast has beautiful beaches while the mountains and tea plantation highlands offer cool beauty. Most people speak some English making it easy to get around. On a two-day car trip, I spent the night in Kandi, the mountain city that was the British headquarters in Ceylon. It is a great setting having mountain lakes and working elephants. Returning to the boat we scrambled to get another dingy ordered to be delivered at Male, Maldives Islands, and sailed. Another 430-mile trip.
      The winds just seemed to be dying as we passed to the west of the Indian subcontinent. We had the engine loping along the entire trip while wind varied between zero and 12 knots. Did you notice that I said “we passed west of the Indian subcontinent”? It was another of those feelings I get. I sailed past the most populous country in the world. The achievement of Vasco de Gama, who found the first sea route to India. It was the moon landing, and more, of its time.
      We anchored at Male the afternoon of Feb. 18 and were met by Ahamed Naushad, the world’s most helpful agent. We were quickly checked into the Republic of the Maldives and taken out to dinner at a fine Thai restaurant by Ahamed, a new experience. These are lovely low coral islands surrounded by reefs making for the most beautiful ocean watercolors. Male has become a mini Singapore due to a booming tourist business at 84 island resorts offering paradise to tourists, mostly from Europe, at prices from $200 to $1200 per day. The water is very clear and we have done a few dives.
     At Meerufenfushi Island I did my first dive in strong current. Pretty thrilling and I want more. We had a local friend’s boat ready to pick us up, so it all went well. We have returned to Male and expect to pick up the new dingy in the morning so we can sail for Oman the next morning. Being without a dingy has been a particular pain. I look forward to being mobile again.
      It is getting late. More later.  Love, Denny



2.19.06
     We are now in the Maldives awaiting a new dingy from West Marine, being tracked by Bronwyn's Dad from Australia. We should have in by the 24th and then will sail for the Red Sea, maybe with a stop in Oman. I hope to send you a web site update before I leave here. This is a great place for diving, hard to do without a dingy as most are drift dives.


1.18.06
     Hi y'all, I left the Simian Islands of Thailand (diving was spectacular) for India's Andaman Islands this morning with two great crew. Weather is delightful if a bit light winded. Hopefully we will be diving there on the 22nd. I expect we will spend a week or so there. Next sail will be to Galle Sri Lanka.

Love, Denny

1.17.06
Hi Ken,
     Just a quick note on Similan diving. I am with two dive instructors as crew. We were VERY disappointed with dives in the Phi Phi and west Phuket areas. On the other hand, this is better than the cruise guide promised. The moorings are plentiful. The moorings in the lee of islands are pretty comfortable for our size boats in addition to the two bays. most places the vis has exceeded 50 feet. Coral is not the most brilliant, but the swim through rock dives make up for it. Don't miss the Elephant Rock dive. All dives had some current, no problem if you
plan for it.

     I was able to find an Italian compressor with Honda gas engine for 2200 US. It has worked great so far and should adapt to 110V later easily as it is a V belt drive. The Bauer JR was about 8000 US in Phuket on the other hand. So far we have done 14 fills without a glitch. Thursday we will head off to the Andamans for more dives. Wish you were heading west this year. Hope to see you later. Maybe the Med.

Best, Denny Morgan

1.15.06
Capt Koo,
     I have been getting some great pictures, but will not be able to send a web site up date before Sri Lanka in a month or so.

     I and the two dive instructor crew (great Aussie kids) have checked out of Thailand and are in the Similan Islands, about 70 miles to the west. The diving is really great. All I hoped to find in Fiji on Bob Railton's visit and didn't. Common visability over 35 feet. The topography is huge granite rocks, making for lots of swim-throughs. The coral is a bit patchy, but very beautiful in many areas. Lots of fish of the pretty, and spooky, types. We have been doing over two dives per day plus some snorkeling and I am feeling well worn. Today is a needed rest day .
Happy belated New Year wishes.

Love, Denny
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