Krabi to Phuket THAILAND

Thailand is a remarkable destination for kayakers, the obvious sunshine and warm waters look wonderful, the tropic islands with coconut trees look idyllic, then add some amazing culture and delicious food, compared with the February weather in France and I started planning in ernest.

The first major issue to resolve was sourcing a kayak, I soon exhausted any prospect of hiring a closed cockpit Sea Kayak in Thailand that I could use autonomously. I did not need to look at the cost of cargo for a full size glass boat, but certainly a folding kayak could fit the bill.

The end of a period of research led me to purchasing a Nortik Argo. It has proved to be a very capable kayak, certainly worthy of a separate blog entry.

The kayak weighs in at around 20Kg. My intention was to take this kayak to some exotic destination for warm water paddling, so my next step was to check out the Baggage limits for different airlines. This turned out to be the most difficult bit of the research, from past flights I knew that a 23Kg limit was common. The more limiting factor that changed with different Airlines was the maximum cumulative dimensions. However the. end result was an Airline that offered 30Kg (1 or 2 Bags ). checked, and another 7 Kgs Cabin. I managed to fit boat, and all paddling kit, together with hammock, cooking and bivi kit into checked bag, and in my Cabin bag, 1 spare set walking out clothes, all my navigation kit, and repair kit.

The checkin was no problem, with the boat sent across to the oversize bags, and while it did attract some curiosity there were no delays going through security checks.

My outline plan was to Kayak from Krabi in Southern Thailand across the Phang Nga Bay and end the trip on Phuket island. The next destination was then Rayong to explore the islands there.

Some of these limestone rocks reach up 300 meters from sea level. The limestone is subject to erosion, both from the sea and waves creating stunning overhangs around the base of the rock. Further erosion comes from rainwater penetration into the rock and dissolving the limestone, often forming caves and eventually opening up to the sea.

There are good internal flights to both Krabi and Phuket, making it a very simple journey from Bangkok and the return.

My start was not how I had planned, firstly my flight to Krabi was delayed which and meant shopping for rations would be put off to the following morning. I took a room about 1.5 K from my launch point on the River ‘Pak Nam Krabi’ , I thought a short taxi ride would get me there early allowing a couple of hours to assemble the boat, go shopping and pack.
I just couldn’t get a taxi to come out, So it was a walk in, 30Kg Boat pack and 10 Kg holdall.
In 34° heat it made for a sweaty start.

My first day was already half gone , but I was not overly concerned, I expected to exit the river and planned to stop somewhere along the southern coast. Looking at the chart, I could see there was a deep well defined channel leading out through the estuary, high tide was midday, so I would be exiting on the ebb, I very nearly got left dry on the shallows, the water level dropping much quicker than I expected.

The dog leg in the middle of my GPS trace shows my urgent back paddling to get water underneath me.

I soon came across this shell fisherman in the shallow waters.

In the background behind the fisherman, you can see the coast is mostly rocky with very little beach, It meant landing was not easy, I began searching out somewhere to overnight. Without any warning the skies opened and it rained, it was difficult to see through and the water bouncing off the boat was deafening, happily it lasted just a few minutes.

Ao Nang is quite densely populated, however I did spot a long section of beach with jungle reaching down to the sand.

On my left tucked into the small peninsular was a small fishing port, with a few long tail fishing boats, I landed about 300 meters West.
The high tide mark was at the head of the beach, I only 1 or 2 meters before the jungle got really thick, but I had some good sized trees for my hammock

Landing was a little difficult, with a weight in excess of forty kilos, I was going to have to unload most of the boat, but this was really quite quick. I was soon erecting my hammock, and with another fall of rain predicted during the night I also hung the bivi sheet

I decided not to cook, I had a small brushwood cooker but with so much dry wood and grass the risk of starting a major fire was much too high. for my first day I had lots of fruit and nuts, and lots of cornflakes, milk and coconut milk. I ate well.

I had not anticipated seeing so much wild life, my first visitor was a rather large Monitor lizard, not much short of 2 meters. I heard a loud rustling in the undergrowth, I guessed it was monkeys, but then this enormous lizard came crashing past me then making off across the sand.

KRABI TO PHUKET Day 2

It was a disturbed night, the tide ascended far higher than I expected, in fact it was possible to touch the water from my hammock, but I had taken the precaution to tie everything.
However amongst all the noises keeping me awake were thieving monkeys, my zipped closed holdall which contained my walking out clothes and food had been emptied all around my camp. All my fruit , nuts and cereals were gone and bizarrely my Thai silk walking out shirt, clearly monkeys had been responsible. All they left me was Milk and coconut milk which just about was enough for breakfast.

I was now leaving the estuary and the appearance of the karst was now developing its unique appearance, the limestone shaped into magnificent structures through erosion. At this point beneath the cliffs I had a welcome break from the rising sun. As the day was to progress, I was to suffer a bit from headaches and later the runs, most likely due to dehydration. I was being a bit too conservative with my water.

This day was to be relatively short, it being the route to the start point for the crossing to Ko Yao Yai. It was also going to take me into a more inhabited are, making a bevy harder to establish

I finally settled at a small stretch of beach, it was after a very well groomed beach which I later discovered was maintained by the Sofitel hotel. No chance to sling up a hammock, and it would be a night on the sleeping mat.

The Sunset was great, the temperature dropped to 29°. and a cooling breeze blew across the beach.

KRABI to PHUKET Day 3

I was happy with my progress, my biggest concern was the temperature, I had not any time to acclimatise going from 2° in France to 34° in Thailand. I started my paddling trip just 4 Days after arriving in Thailand. I still was not ready to eat but did get plenty of fluids in with ” Dioralyte ” which left me feeling ok.
Todays trip was the crossing to Ko Yao Yai, via Hong Island

The sea was flat, barely any wind and it was going to be an uneventful crossing. In the photo on the right hand side is Hong Island, the kayak is pointing to Ko Yao Yai over to the left and much fainter in the centre of the photo you can see Phuket mainland in the background. Theres a few beaches exposed on Hong Island at Low tide, but they are covered quite quickly. Certainly no prospect of overnighting.

My interest was in the lagoon, which has just a small entrance. I was hopeful that my early start would get me there before all the tourists arrive

My interest was in the lagoon, which has just a small entrance. I was hopeful that my early start would get me there before all the tourists arrive

Leaving the lagoon, again the undercut limestone revealed many caves, but with tourists arriving it was time for the second leg of the trip to Ko Yao Yai. Another open crossing but on completely flat water. The wind had increased slightly to give a nice comfortable cooling breeze.
The Northern point of this East coast looked idyllic, white sandy beach with many tall coconut trees rising up, but the topography meant at low tide there would be around 1 Km of beach.

Instead I head a little further south, as I got closer I could identify a couple of beach type resorts, It was already going through my mind that a night in a comfortable bed and a shower would be good, I made for the resort.

As I approached it was quite simple timber structures, straw roofs, and in fact looked a bit storm damaged. There was a sea wall along the front so I paddled to the edge just outside, a very rocky beach but also full of rubbish, very sad to see.

I nearly fell over when I was given the price … they wanted 60£ for the night. so it was back to the boat and out to look for tonights bivi.

A few hundred meters along the beach I found a neat clearing and some stout trees for the hammock, at least I ll sleep good.

KRABI to PHUKET Day 4

The night had been terrible on Ko Yao Yai, I had set up camp in an area full of vicious biting red ants. They started as soon as I erected the hammock, fortunately they all disappeared come dusk. But at first sign of daylight they were back again.

happily, there was no lasting effect from the bite, just very painful when they struck

high tide was just after dawn which was good, I needed to make an early start with a trip of around 38 Kms today

Todays route was round the Northern tip of Ko Yao Yai then South to Coconut Island.I decided to do the trip in 2 legs, paddling early morning and evening to avoid the hot afternoon Sun

It was around 18K to Ko Nakha where I planned to sleep over the afternoon which then left around 20K to finish the trip to coconut Island. The first part of the trip went well with the high water allowing me to paddle direct to my various waypoints, the sea was rippled by the wind but really insignificant

Ko Nakha and in the distant background on the right Phuket island, the scenery was always amazing, I often found estimating distance difficult with nothing to reference the size.
After a decent rest on Nakha I pushed on South to coconut island. Navigation was a little more difficult with numerous islands around.

Coconut island is not far from mainland Phuket, and gets many visitors, I’ve found in this situations every inch of habitable space is used, but after 38 k I was going to be happy sleeping anywhere. I soon found a quieter area of beach on the West coast for my last bivi on this trip.

KRABI to PHUKET Day 5

It was in very good spirits I departed from coconut island, not least because I was leaving behind the burrowing hermit crabs that objected to me making my bed on top of them. The navigation was going to be testing with the greater number of islands and care would be needed if I was not going to add more kilometers to my route.

My plan was to leave coconut island South East to round Koh Sirethen to continue South to the East of the Tapao islands, and rounding the point of cape Panwa. From here my final destination on Rawai beach would lie directly behind Ko Lon.

My condo lay across the Southern end of the beach across the road, I was looking forward to the luxury.

This completed my first Navigation on my Trip, this passage being 120 Kms

My planning included venturing round the Southern point of Phuket Isle to venture up to Karon Beach and beyond. However, the weather was going to deteriorate and an attempt at rounding the point later found me facing a 2 meter swell with an increasing Westerly wind speed. Not all was lost, there are a good number of small islands to explore in much better conditions in the lee of Phuket

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