Excitement was in the air and we were all set to go!

First a road trip from Bangkok down to Phuket and then on for a week’s cruising across Phang Nga Bay into the Andaman Sea and back.  All on a Sunsail 344 catamaran.

Six of us, three couples from the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, had spent weeks in planning, even down to the selection of the 42 bottles of wine that would accompany us down (but not back), we also squeezed in a passage plan.  Then … a day before we were due to leave, we received a charming email for Sunsail Corporate HQ …. “Your charter is cancelled due to COVID”!  Surely there was a mistake, we had been in constant conversation with the elite Sunsail customer service team.  Long story short, Sunsails left hand had not been speaking to Sunsails right hand … Luckily, in this instance, we knew the Sunsail manager in Thailand, and he managed to switch our charter locally with Simpson Marine and the trip was back on!

We arrived at Au Po Grand Marina to see all the Sunsail boats in mothballs, apparently the centre hadn’t been open for months, whilst we tutted to ourselves, we were taken to our new Simpson Charter, a beautiful Lagoon 42 – Cloud Dancer, pristine and ready for boarding!  Thank you Olly and Craig for getting this done!

Desperate to get out of the dock and have some water beneath us we loaded the stores.  The boat was fantastic with two fridges, also a (ahem) small ice cooler on the deck, which had the capacity for the wine and a bottle of water.  Cloud Dancer really was well designed, and had some great cruising features with four double cabins with ensuite heads and showers, aircon, I say again “aircon” and what was to be critical, a water maker. Also, a great set of Navionics charts to keep us going in the right direction and avoid the rocks.  We headed straight out for an anchored overnight at Koh Phanak, East Bay, (8° 11.213N, 98° 29.626E).  Easy anchorage for the first night with spectacular views north and south for sundowners, like a postcard or image of the trip ahead.  Time to take a breath and soak it all up.  We were expecting Southwest Monsoon weather so had planned anchorages using the SE Asia Pilot, a most excellent and essential sailing guidebook for these waters.