Similan Islands, diving galore, a near wreck and a visit from a Princess

We made the easy 35 miles crossing to the northern most island in the chain and found a mooring in a quiet cove. We landed on the pure white sandy beach and waded in through the surf from the anchored dinghy. Ashore we purchased our park permits, the cost for five people, five days was about seventy dollars, money well spent as the islands are meticulously preserved and maintained including abundant moorings. We hiked to the top peak, took copious photos—what else would you do with a crew like this?

Back on board we prepared for the first dive. As Jess had just completed her open water course I wanted to take her on an easy dive along to check her out. She did fantastic and was ready for real diving.

After dark the girls and I jumped in the dink for some recon work as we headed to the big livaboard dive boat next to us. The English dive master welcomed us aboard and was a fountain of information. Armed with local knowledge we were ready and excited.

With Chris to drive the dinghy we had the luxury of a live boat and dropped into the eighty-five degree water donning only swimmers and t shirts-oh so good. The visibility was superb as we descended into the crystal blue water. This area has been a no fishing zone for some time and the fish numbers and species were the best I have seen in SE Asia. We were the only private boat amongst a score of livaboards and fast day boats. The day boats all leave a three and the beaches are secluded. We went ashore for a late afternoon picnic and were invited to join the park staff and friends for a game of beach football (soccer to you yanks). Double anyone else’s age I dashed about, took a few falls and made the first goal!!! Then my beloved crew member, Wendi, kicked the ball at close range with a direct hit to my groin. I fell howling in pain as her panicked face turned to laughter as she saw I was OK and laughing. We all had fun over this.

After dark we donned the gear for Jess’s first night dive and Wendi’s second. Night dives are always a bit spooky but the girls did great and could not wait to do it again.

The third day we moved to the next island south and found another bay busy at day and quiet at night. This place had several dive sights and we watched the livaboards to see where to go. We did an afternoon dive or two and retreated back to Furthur to decorate for Christmas. It is a bit hard to get Christmassy in the tropics but the crew gave it their all. Furthur is now all lit up and ready for the celebrations.

As I did my late night boat check and most of the crew were headed for their bunks I saw the huge wooden livaboard boat ahead of us getting close fast! the current was strong and they had apparently pulled their mooring. The Thai crew was scurrying about and I yelled to my crew. They all came quickly and I instructed them to get the fenders out, fast. The crew acted fast, safe and thoughtfully as we fended off the oncoming boat. My bow rail took a hit and is a bit askew but no real damage. We did take out two large port holes on the other boat. A testimony to the Selene strength as nothing was hurt as the tons of boat crashed against us. I must commend the crew, the responded very well and moved fast but always kept safety first.

Jess woke to a tropical cold and decided to take a day off of diving so Wendi and I loaded up the boat and Chris drove. We did two excellent dives, saw turtles and much more. That night she gave me the little whine and blinked as she inquisitively asked, “night dive?” who could resist so we did a dive under the boats, all of which had under water lights. The current in the anchorage is bizarre and unpredictable and it started to pick up so we stayed close and hid behind several large bommies.

Earlier that day Jess and Nok went ashore and did some hiking and exploring. We went to pick them up and looked around. Nok explained that the Princess of Thailand, the youngest of the three Princesses, was coming to the island to do some diving herself and we would all have to leave. Normally this would irk me but I have grown so fond of the Thai Royal Family through my Thai friends that I eagerly prepared to leave. I hope her Royal Highness enjoys the diving as much as we did. We saw two fast large Thai Navy gun boats heading out on our way to Khao, we were sure we saw the Princess on one of them. Nok was visibly thrilled. Again the love of the Royal Family here is genuinely impressive.

Nok had a family issue that demanded she return early and we were low on supplies so we went back to Khao. On the way the fan belts on my Balmar alternator broke. Of course I have spares but thought I could get another set here, I found replacements for less than two bucks a piece, wow. The four of us had a great meal, for five bucks total and I flagged down the ice cream wagon for a treat.