Andaman Sunrises

by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

June 29th, 2009

Just back from a six day practical examination out at sea, taking out a 34footer and cruising around a number of Thailand’s outlying islands, including Phi Phi, featured in the popular film “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The weather was fairly benign given this is the monsoon season, with low winds and only a couple of squalls to navigate – winds rising from 11 knots to about 35 with gusts of 45 just offshore from Ko Yai. Otherwise, a succession of navigation exercises and tests – such as finding the safe water mark to the channel at Krabi, without GPS but armed with good old fashioned charts, a compass rose and points, using calculated bearing points and transit lines, is technical, and additionally requires a close watch on transit points, such as islands passing each other at a precise timed rendezvous and so on. However, I was bang on in my calculations and the water mark was (nearly) where it was supposed to be. So I got a bullseye in over 100 sq. miles of Andaman Sea, but the mark was actually half a mile further north than positioned on the charts!  Such is navigation in non-commercial waters.


As usual, sleeping on the yacht makes for a life more in tune with nature – early morning sunlight streaming through the cabin tends to wake one up, and most days followed a 6am start and bed at 11pm latest. But that does gives the opportunity to view some spectacular evolving sunrises and sunsets, and being out at sea permits a good study of weather patterns, the build up of potentially rain producing cumulus clouds and the potential for foul weather – before it actually starts to arrive. Much of good sailing is planning ahead, and my meteorological recognition has certainly improved.

This baby developed over Phuket’s landmass for about 45 minutes, topped out, barreled towards us as a south westerly and then dumped thousands of gallons of rain of us during dusk one evening.

Tomorrow I sit final exams on theory for most of the day, then I’ll find out if I’ve qualified as an Ocean going skipper. My ocean hours are in place, as is much of the practical experience…now comes the technical aspect and explaining or solving problems set on paper.

More Cumulus build up, over the Holiday Inn eco-resort at Phi Phi Island.    


Rayli Beach at Krabi, South-Westerlies at this time of year make it unsuitable as an anchorage, but it is popular during the winter sun season when the winds change, the bay fills up with yachts to view spectacular sunsets.


05.45 this morning off our anchorage at Ko Yai. Sunrise was bang on at 06.00.