Cruising to Ao Chalong, Phuket
The day we left Malaysia we sailed for a few hours, entered into Thailand waters and stopped at Koh Chuku. The water was crystal clear and, having been unable to have a good snorkel since somewhere before Batam (Indonesia) in March of this year, we both grabbed our gear and plunged into the inviting water.
The fish life was prolific. We swam amongst multicoloured reef fish, large pelagic fish, and had vast schools of bait fish encircle us – often stretched as far as the eye could see. Before long however, our exuberance was tempered as Thorfinn came in to view and we were reminded of the unwanted garden she had growing on her hull. We reigned in our child-like glee and set to work cleaning the hull of the boat.
We finished our day in this little paradise with a delightfully refreshing Pina Colada thrown together in Thorfinn’s galley/bar!
A few other stops on the way to Phuket included Koh Kradan, Koh Lanta Yai and Koh Phi Phi Don. After reaching Phuket and clearing into Thailand at Ao Chalong, we sailed up into Phang Nga Bay and explored some of the ‘Hongs’ (sea caves) at islands such as Koh Phanak and Koh Ku Do Yai all of which I will write about at a later date. However, here is a few photos to whet your appetite! For more about the hongs click here.
Being the monsoon season here in Thailand we are expecting to hit a little undesirable weather, therefore we were not surprised to see a large front rapidly develop before our very eyes. The front in the picture below brought copious rain and 40 knot winds. It looked nasty but we put a reef in the main and had a cracking sail!
On our arrival at Ao Chalong – Ao means bay – we dropped anchor and went ashore to check in. We missed the harbour office by 5 mins (they close at 1500). We went back the next day, which was a Saturday, and were told custom and immigration will cost more on the weekend. By that time it was too late to turn around and go back to the boat and pretend we hadn’t arrived!
Phuket has an e-check system whereby you register on-line (once) and then enter in the boat, captain’s and travel details, after which the paperwork is printed in the next three offices and only signatures are required. It makes for a very easy and painless clearance process. However, as mentioned the whole thing cost more because it was a weekend. Check the notes below for procedure, cost and location of Phuket Yacht Control Centre
What next? Umm… we went to the closest bar for a drink… no we didn’t it was only 9:30 in the morning! We hired a scooter and set off to explore our surroundings.
We have since spent most of our time in Ao Chalong getting work done… or trying to. We have put some plans into an engineer and ordered a frame for a canopy to go over our cockpit, and we have had a shade-cover made for the front of the boat. However, we have, as yet, been unable to find the paint we want to paint our deck with. We have spent hours visiting all the paint shops on the island of Phuket with little luck. The language barrier – we cannot speak much Thai at all – is defiantly hampering our search. Such is life… on a happy note all this travelling around Phuket has invariably led us to the discovery of many mouth-watering Thai delights! Check out some of these novel, flavoursome and, more often than not, piquant treats.
Its obvious that it hasn’t all been work… we have got bugger all done… no the deck is not painted! We have however visited Patong Beach, the Big Buddha, Kata and Karon Beaches, Yacht Haven and the Phuket Cruising Yacht Club (PCYC). The PCYC is quaint little bar right on the beach at Ao Chalong. It’s a casual no-fuss place to relax with other cruisers and sailors, and has a veritable cache of information which all cruisers are looking for when they arrive in port i.e. where to find fuel, a mechanic or a sailmaker. They also have free tide tables and the Phuket Marine Guide.
It is not unusual that a gathering of sailors will invariably spill over from the Cruising Yacht Club and into the nearby bars as we did the night the ‘Bull Ship Bar” opened! Fun night as a group of us ‘yachties’ partied on… large fish bowls of red wine, music and karaoke… the guys did a deplorable rendition of “what can you do with a drunken sailor”…. What can I say… not much work was done the next day!
…and before I move onto the travel notes, I just wanted to show you all one of the better wiring jobs I have seen here in Thailand! Ha ha ha, anyone need an electrician, I’ll send one over!
Travel notes (July 2015)
THB – Thai Baht written here as ฿
Ao Chalong (check-in) – The Phuket Yacht Control Centre (PYCC) is at the end of the Chalong Pier. The office closes at 1500 (3pm). It is open on weekends and public holidays but it will cost you more. Check in on the ground floor first at the registration office, then make your way to the Immigration office, then Customs and lastly Harbour master (all on the first floor).
Monday to Friday
Weekend and public holidays:
Registration – none
Immigration – ฿310 (for the two of us)
Customs – ฿ 800
Harbour Master – none
Hours – 0900 – 1500. Check in office closes between 1200- 1300 for lunch.
Scooter Hire – ฿150/day from Rosi’s Cafe. At the beginning of the pier turn right and a couple of hundred metres on you find Rosi’s Cafe and a motorbike hire sign. Can also hire from the Phuket Cruising Yacht Club – ฿150/day (automatic) or ฿100/day (manual .
Phuket Cruising Yacht Club – Phuket Cruising Yacht Club
Directions to PCYC – the club is 300 metres north from the Jetty (for the navigationally impaired, such as myself, you turn right a the beginning of the jetty and walk along the beach until you find it!)
Good priced meals and drinks, scooter hire, free wifi and if needed you can charge your computers or phones and have a shower.
Ao Chalong pier area – This area has an abundance of bars, restaurants, dive shops, massage parlour, tour information and there is a 7 Eleven not far from the pier. You can also get dive tanks filled, organise water (Soi Sunrise) for your boat or buy ice.
Shopping – Where Soi Sunrise meets Phonon Wiset (1/2km from the pier) turn left. Two large supermarkets (Tesco & Makro) are less than 1km away. At least 500 metres before the Tesco you will come to a supermarket called Supercheap. This is also a large supermarket (walk through what appears to be a minimart and you will find fruit, veg, tools, kitchenware, stationary – everything!)
Laundry – At the end of the pier turn right and walk along the beach front road until you need to make a left turn (where the building is being built). Follow the road to the left. Maybe around 1/2 a km up the road is a laundromat with machine that range in size and cost from ฿20 to ฿50. Put clothes in and detergent and then close lid but do not press any buttons, just wait and the washing machine should start up. (I have found you don’t press any buttons at any of the laundromats, if you do you will loose your coins!)
Fuel – petrol stations nearby to fill jerry cans. Fuel dock at the end of the pier. There is also a fuel boat in the bay. Just diesel I think.
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