Phuket Let's Go Sailing! Adventure In The Andaman Sea - Thailand
Beyond creating durable, high-quality American-made skis and accessories, Icelantic is a brand devoted to community, experience and nature. Each fall members of our team head off to a remote part of the globe to keep up with our team building and overall synergy by adventuring together on a sailboat. This opportunity to connect with nature, different cultures and each other is one of the many ways we keep our souls energized to continue doing what we do with a high level of positive, creative vibrations.
Let me take you on the journey!...
After twenty some hours of traveling, sleeping upright and sideways in multiple airplanes and airports in various Asian countries we all found ourself in the humid region of Phuket Thailand.
After a little exploring around Phuket and taking a dip in the Indian Ocean on the west side of the island we restlessly tried to fend off the jet lag and get some sleep the night before boarding our Moorings vessel. The Moorings is the world's premier yacht chartering company and has been our gateway to the seas for many years. They have bases in all the best sailing destinations around the world. This time we head to explore Southeast Asia.
The Phuket base at Ao Po Grand Marina was a great place to begin the journey. The excitement built as we loaded up the boat and Oli the base manager briefed us on our cruising zone around the Andaman Sea to the east of Phuket.
Allow me to show you what this adventure looked like through the lenses of our trusty photographer and crew member extraordinaire Ian Fohrman. @iandavidf
Our journey followed a clockwise route exploring the islands and coastal regions around the Andaman Sea between Phuket and Krabi. We began by heading north to Ko Hong which is part of the Thanbok Khoranee National Park. We quickly found ourselves surrounded by astonishing topography made up of scattered islands, tight passages and tiny islets all made of limestone, cliffs and towers that stick straight up out of the water covered with lush green vegetation.
In this area there are lots of small islands with caves and Hongs to explore. Hong is the Thai word for room. These Hongs are hidden pools and lagoons surrended by steep cliffs found in the center of islands which can be accessed via tight passages or sometimes tunnels. Yes it is as incredible as it sounds!
The Hongs can only be accessed when the tide level is just right. You can swim in or paddle in. This had to be our best dinghy mission ever!
We followed our friends ahead of us into this tunnel which led to another smaller Hong.
Upon return to the boat we lucked out and were able to purchase fresh dinner fixin's from some fisherman passing by. Pretty epic first day!
The next morning we woke up at sunrise to make way to an island called Ko Ta Pu otherwise known as James Bond Island, where they filmed the 1974 classic 'The Man With The Golden Gun' starring Roger Moore (NOT Sean Connery).
There was a powerful energy in the air as we sailed straight into a morning squall navigating our way through the tiny islands around the Phang Nga Bay.
This place is magical!
Dinghy tour around James Bond Island.
Our time in the north sea was epic and we were hungry for more so started heading south. When the weather is mellow the passages are a nice time to relax and hang out while under way. Cruising in a place like this was unique and fun because our pace was often changing. It's a blessing to experience such freedom.
Next stop Rai Leh Beach for some climbing, cultural immersion, and a perhaps a little tourism...
Rai Le is a hot spot for adventure travel and tourism, known for it's beaches, night life, and world class rock climbing. We decided to stick around for a couple days and get amongst it.
The rock formations around the islands and coastal regions of the Andaman Sea are magnificent. Rai Le had such amazing caves and overhangs littered with stalactites sheltering some of the beaches and crags. Great for climbing, even in the rain!
Our guide showing us how it's done in Rai Leh.
Rai Leh is a small peninsula between the city of Krabi and Ao Nan, a quaint, yet energetic and vibrant little town which can only be accessed by boat due to the drastic limestone cliffs cutting off mainland access. The common way for visitors to come to this area is by way of Longtail Boat.
The longtail boat is an iconic aspect of Thai culture and common mode of transportation around the waterways of Southeast Asia. These flat bottom, canoe shaped boats designed for fishing and carrying passengers have evolved over time to be driven using recycled diesel truck and tractor engines mounted on the stern with long prop shafts which call for a unique type of operating and maneuvering where the operator may swivel the motor and shaft as well as lift the prop out of the water with surprising precision.
The bowsprit of these boats are considered sacred and are traditionally adorned with silks and lotus flowers for good fortune and paying respect to Buddha and the water spirits. These wooden boats are built and painted by their captains and handed down through generations. There is a lot of pride within ownership and seamanship.
After two big days in Rai Leh we pulled up our anchor and set sail due south at a course of 180 degrees headed for the tropical blue waters of the Phi Phi Archipelago. We had no adornments on our Moorings 4800, however on this day the spirits were with us as we had a perfect 20 knot breeze from the West allowing us to have the best sail of the trip. The crew was all smiles.
A few hours felt like a few minutes and we had already made it to Phi Phi Don. We doused our sails and nestled into an anchorage on the quiet side of the island in time for sunset and dinner on the beach.
Those green lights in the distance (above) are Squid Fishing boats. The neon lights shine down on the water and draw in the squid.
This beach zone was hard to leave so we stayed..
Just hangin' out.
Romantic walks on the beach.
Thai massage.. Hurts so good!
..And a great place for Ian to fly the drone.
The next day we took our first ride on a longtail boat over to Ko Phi Phi Leh, the second largest island in the Phi Phi's. Phi Phi Leh is known for being the island where the movie 'The Beach' was filmed starring good old Leo DiCaprio.
We were greeted at sunrise by two longtails. Our morning began with a scenic and bumpy boat ride as we cruised south and around the west side of the island to Maya Bay.
Maya Bay (above) was stunning, however Pileh Lagoon on the other side of the island was truly one of the scenic highlights of the trip.
We were pleasantly surprised on our way out of Maya as our captain turned and took us into this astonishingly beautiful turquoise lagoon surrounded by cliffs and jungle.
What's crazy is then seeing the drone shots showing the topography of this island.
Hard to leave such a place but there was more to discover. Morale was high leaving the Phi Phi islands as we headed west towards a little island just south of Phuket called Ko Racha Yai.
Sea time in between stopping points gives time to be quiet and reflective and also time for action and shenanigans.
We just had to wave hello to the ferry full of fellow tourists passing by.
We finally hit Ko Racha and discovered another tiny island paradise. We pulled into our anchorage during magic hour just before sunset.
The next day we went to shore for a nice hike, some body surfing on a perfect turquoise wave, Thai pancakes and a nice long resort shower. That afternoon it was time to push on.
Where to next ladies?..
First to Ko Mai Thom to see if we can spot some dolphins.
There they are!
And onward North we go for our last stop off on the trip.
Hoist the sails.
Coil the lines.
And away we go.
Quite a backdrop for our final night on the boat in Ko Nakha Yai.
Any member of this sturdy crew will tell you that sailing in Thailand is a dream. We suggest you try it! Huge thanks to The Moorings for making this incredible experience possible.
Written by: Captain Scott Charles Vermerris - @scottyvermerris
For years the Icelantic team has had the pleasure of exploring the world by sail with The Moorings, and after the recent hurricanes severely impacted the Caribbean destinations of St. Martin, Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands, we thought it was only right to give back. Join us in contributing to the #CaribbeanComeback campaign to rebuild these islands that have become a home away from home for all of us. Please click the link below to support the cause, many people need our help. Thank you.
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Bringing pediatric specialist care to places where access to advanced medical care for children otherwise doesn’t exist is the core of World Pediatric Project’s humanitarian outreach to its 12 partner countries in the Caribbean and Central America. WPP’s International Teams program mobilizes dozens of pediatric diagnostic and surgery specialist teams each year covering most every pediatric sub-specialty need in these countries. Annually, more than 2,000 children receive diagnostic or surgical care in this highly efficient program, reaching children in their home countries or regions.