Ten years ago this day was the day of Magnus’s birth and we
were given strict instructions by Stella to get up at five in the morning to
hang the Happy Birthday sign she had made for him with paper, tape and pencil,
so that it would be there when he woke up.
She also constructed Happy Birthday table settings on the sly and wanted
us to set those up, and to also make sure we inflated the balloons and sticky
taped them all over the boat. She had purchased
a birthday card for him, bought him a present, and hidden it underneath her
pillow so that he wouldn’t find it. I
feel sorry for any future love interest of Magnus’s, as she is undoubtedly
going to have to gain Stella’s seal of approval before being allowed near
him. She takes such good care of her big
My magical, internal clock woke me up at precisely 5am so I
went out to the back of the boat for a morning pee and, while I was relieving
myself, looked over the starboard pontoon and noticed a strange, large oval
shaped thing in the water, with little phosphorescents flashing around it. I actually rubbed my eyes to make sure I wasn’t
seeing things, but it was still there. I
heard some movement inside the boat so went back in and found Ana awake, so I
called her out to have a look at it. She
came out and we both stood there looking at it, trying to figure out what the
hell it was. Perhaps a big fish or
shark? But because it wasn’t moving
that seemed unlikely. Maybe a
jellyfish? She returned inside to use
the bathroom and I went to grab a flashlight.
I brought it outside, turned it on and shined it at the creature. The moment I did that, it disappeared! What the hell? I turned the light off and it suddenly
reappeared. I was standing there dumbfounded
when I heard Ana say, “I think I know what the creature is, let me know if it
disappears in a second.” So I watched,
and it disappeared.
“It’s gone!” I said.
Then the creature reappeared and I exclaimed, “It’s back!”
Ana appeared on the deck of the boat and said, “It’s a
reflection from the bathroom light coming out the oval shaped window on the
starboard pontoon.” Well, at least it
wasn’t a monster.
Despite our better judgment, we went back to sleep and were
woken out of our grog at 8 am by both the kids.
Magnus was thrilled with his birthday surprise and very, very excited to
be ten years old. After we ate a breakfast
of French toast and scrambled eggs, Magnus opened up his presents. He ripped open Stella’s present first and
immediately loved the Wolverine keychain she had carefully chosen for him. Though he initially wanted to save our present
for after lunch, his curiosity got the best of him and he pulled off the
tinfoil wrapping paper (it’s the best we could come up with) to reveal the foam
nunchuks I bought back in Patong from the weapons vendor. The spirit of Bruce Lee immediately possessed
him, but then I realized it was actually the spirit of Nacho Libre as I watched
him twirl the nunchuks furiously then swing one at high speed directly into his
crotch, doubling him over in glorious birthday pain.
To be honest, we hadn’t planned much for his birthday. We actually had quite a bit of water to cover
this day as we had to be back in the marina in time to gas up the boat. As we sat in the cockpit, drinking coffee and
watching the numerous jellyfish float by, Ana noticed something walking on the
beach. We weren’t sure exactly what it
was, so she grabbed the binoculars and said it was wild monkeys! We each took a turn with the binoculars and
watched at least a dozen monkeys walking around on the rocks, swinging in the trees,
and poking around in the sand. It was
quite exciting seeing monkeys in the wild, and a much different experience than
the stage monkeys we saw through the crowds on Monkey Beach in Phi Phi. We decided to go on a dingy mission to see if
we could get close so hopped in the dingy and paddled over, trying to be as
quiet as possible. We got quite close to
shore, close enough to see there were actually at least 20 or 30 of them,
including babies, but as soon as the kids hurled the bananas they brought along
the monkeys got spooked and climbed into the safety of the trees. We paddled around for a while, hoping they
would come back down for the bananas, but they remained wary of us, so we fired
up the dingy motor and cruised over to the secluded beach.
A secluded beach anywhere in the world has everything you
need for hours of entertainment. We
walked up and down the shoreline watching crabs scurrying around, collecting coral
pieces and rocks, digging in the sand, finding sea glass, throwing rocks into
the ocean, splashing, writing messages in the sand with sticks, finding
circular shells and skipping them across the water. We went for a long swim and floated around in
the ocean. We climbed the nearby rocks
and explored the gaps, cracks, crevices, crannies and fissures, finding all
sorts of creatures and objects of interest.
We snapped dried twigs from the trees and stuck them in the sand for
fun. The grand finale was a dozen rounds
of hermit crab racing with Toddy’s gigantor hermit crab (the largest we’ve
found yet) winning every round. We also
found the tiniest little hermit crab, who didn’t win any races, but sure put in
a good effort.
Really, there was no reason to leave. But since we still had a fair sail ahead of
us we reluctantly got back into the dingy, motored back to Happy Eva, pulled
anchor, said goodbye to our final anchorage and headed south around the island
then northwest towards the island of Koh Naka Yai, which would be our last stop
before the final run to the marina.
We sailed past the small island of Koh Khai Nai, which was
packed full of tourist speedboats, people on beach chairs and had Sea Doos
skimming across the water in every direction.
The island itself was little more than a giant beach with just enough
land for a small grove of trees and a resort, and we read in the pilot guide
that this was a very popular stopover for all the tourist boats doing tours in
the area. At this point in the trip, we
just weren’t into being around a bunch of people again, so we cruised on by and
continued up past another island called Koh Lipi, then turned towards our
target. Ahead we could see a big storm
blowing in, but we sailed on and soon found ourselves in it. It wasn’t as severe as the storm the previous
day, but it did pack a fair bit of wind, rain and we watched the temperature again
drop six degrees in a matter of minutes.
We reached the sheltered anchorage just off the huge beach
on the east side of Koh Khai Nai, and dropped anchor, not far from a majestic
80 foot sailboat which was similarly waiting out the storm. Ana had been working on lunch as we sailed so
we sat down and enjoyed a nice meal of pasta and sandwiches as we waited for
the storm to pass.
Though we had planned to do a bit of snorkeling at this
spot, by the time the storm had cleared, it really didn’t leave us a lot of
time to get back to the marina, and we were not sure exactly how long it would cover
the remaining 13 miles, so we agreed to haul anchor and motor back. The kids weren’t too disappointed as Magnus
was keeping himself very busy swinging his new nunchuks around and Stella was
busy with her books and iPhone. Also,
once we were underway I gave the controls to Toddy and went inside the salon to
play several games of cards with the kids.
Before we knew it we had reached the marina. As this was my first time docking a catamaran
I was decidedly a little nervous, especially as there was a strong breeze and a
slight current. I motored slowly up to
the gas dock, eased up on the engines, and glided in, the only problem being
that we hadn’t lowered one of the fenders enough so we touched the dock a bit,
but there were two staff there to push off the boat so no harm done. The Happy Eva drank up only a hundred bucks
worth of diesel, and the dingy took about twenty bucks worth of gas so we were
pleasantly surprised, as we had done quite a bit of motoring during the previous
One of the marina staff then directed us to follow him in
his dingy to our assigned slip, which was the same one we left from – a difficult
corner slip where you had to squeeze in tightly between two other
catamarans. But I was ready. I felt I had done enough close quarter
motoring to have a pretty good feel for the boat, and I already knew what the
wind and current were doing from the gas dock.
So I motored in through the main channel, which was a bit of a tight
squeeze in itself, and made it to the area where our slip was. I approached slowly, then as we were getting
close, I rotated the boat a bit, then reversed a bit, then when we were twenty
feet from the dock, I cut the engines completely, hoping the wind would slowly
and gently slide us into the slip. And
it did! Ana even complimented me on a
perfect docking, and said it was a sign that we are definitely destined to own
a catamaran one day.
After the marina staff tied us up and we all had a chance to
freshen up a bit, we took the birthday boy to the marina parking lot so he
could do some serious nunchuk training.
He was scared of doing it on the dock as he feared he might accidently
launch them into the lake on a miscalculated move. So the big kids all grabbed a drink and we
followed him out there. I showed him a
couple moves I remembered from the old Bruce Lee movies, including the one
where he slowly removes the nunchuks from the back of his pants, holds them in
front of himself, looks at his opponents, and then strikes a menacing pose,
before proceeding to beat the crap out of everybody in the room (I didn’t show
him how to do that part). Magnus and
Stella took turns striking poses and practicing their moves while we enjoyed a
most memorable happy hour. Toddy even
took a turn with the nunchuks, but deployed such speed and force that one of the
foam handles flew off and landed in the bush.
Magnus re-assembled the weapon and banned Toddy from future training.
We scraped up all the remaining food we had onboard and wound
up with just enough for a delicious, final meal. As for alcohol, we were left with four tall
cans and enough wine for dinner so we had paced ourselves perfectly. Ana even had dessert – three packs of Euro
cakes, which were these delicious sponge cakes with cream filling inside, sort
of like a Twinkie. But I wasn’t quick
enough – by the time I thought to eat one, Toddy had already devoured them and
all that remained were three ripped up foil packages lying in the cockpit. After dessert we sat in the cockpit, talked
about the trip and reminisced about all the other countries where Ana, Todd and
I have met up in over the years, which included England, Canada, Bahamas,
Spain, Netherlands and Portugal (several times!) Stella and Magnus were there and they started
developing a plan to meet up with all the Olson cousins sometime in the
future. Stella even started putting a
budget together and estimated that each of the cousins would need four grand to
ensure a sufficiently lavish adventure.
So I guess they all better start saving.
For the first time, I was the last one up on the boat. The marina was so incredibly quiet on this,
our final night on Happy Eva. The wind
had died completely so when I peered over the side of the boat I could see the reflection
of the marina lights in the water. The temperature
was perfect, there were no bugs and even the stars and moon were out. I sat there enjoying the quiet, which was
broken only once, by a South African sailor (seemingly the only other person in
the marina) who stopped by for a quick chat and told me of some of his
adventures him and his partner had experienced thus far in their voyage around
I called it a night and went to bed, happy in
the knowledge that we had successfully navigated this magnificent vessel around
the stunning waters of Thailand. I hoped
to return here someday.