Saturday, 30 July 2016

The Mergui Archipelago (day 5)

Events of Wednesday, 27th April, 2016

Following breakfast, the guests readied themselves for a landing by dinghy on Oh Way Island for more swimming and snorkelling. As we approached the island, we passed close to a motor boat towing three or four dugout canoes. The motor boat had a wooden, framed hull and the usual long-tail arrangement driving a 2-blade propellor.

Passing local fishermen on our way from 'Meta IV' (moored in the
background) to the beach on Oh Way Island.

I'm confused as to the total number of canoes as they appeared to be at the point of 'parting the tow' so that the dugouts could operate independently but nobody seemed very interested in actually doing anything and the boats were slowly drifting into a tangle in front of us. I clearly hadn't quite adjusted to the slower pace of life in this area. I knew from earlier observations that, when action to manoeuvre the dugouts became essential, this would be achieved by rowing whilst standing, using the T-handled oars 'crossed', left hand working the right oar and right hand the left one.

Detail of the dugout canoes, showing how the T-handled oars are tied to the posts serving as 'rowlocks'.

We left the local 'fishing fleet' to disentangle itself and they passed out of view as we rounded a small, rocky headland to make our landing. Each beach we visited seemed to be trying to exceed the tranquility and pristine beauty of the previous one.

The shore at Oh Way Island with 'Meta IV' at anchor and our dinghy beached.

In an attempt to emulate the local 'pace', I neither swam, went beachcombing nor took photographs but 'enjoyed the moment', merely managing a couple of pictures of flotsam. In addition to the usual broken coral and pieces of wood, there was a well-preserved fishing 'creel' and, disappointingly, lumps of expanded polystyrene and a plastic bottle.

Beach visit: Flotsam.

I'm not sure how long we were on the island before Aung announced that it was time to return to our yacht for lunch. It's amazing how doing nothing stimulates the appetite. Our exploration of Lampi Marine National Park had come to an end. In the afternoon, we sailed back to where we'd spent our first night at sea, Ba Wel Island.

The crew 'set sail', literally, and to the accompaniment of only slight splashing noises from the sea against the hull and occasional flapping sounds from the sails as the wind altered, we made out majestic progress back to Ba Wel Island.

Under sail back to Ba Wel Island

The guests spent the next few hours mainly relaxing on deck whilst the captain and crew took turns at the helm.

Under sail back to Ba Wel with our Thai lady cook at the helm.

From time to time we passed fishing vessels of the types with which we'd become familiar - smaller wooden craft with 'long-tail' propulsion, larger vessels with inboard engines similar to the one we'd visited earlier in the trip (see The Mergui Archipelago (day 3)) and, finally, squid fishers with ungainly-looking booms deployed sideways, supported by a complex array of ropes.

One of the smaller fishing vessels we passed as we were under sail back to Ba Wel Island.

We anchored off Ba Wel Island in early evening as other fishing vessels returned for the night, clustering around us in a number of friendly groups.

Fishing boats clustered in an overnight group at Ba Wel.

The dinghy took us ashore for what was our very last beach visit. Although the landing beach was deserted, a child's swing, comprising two ropes suspending a wooden seat from the branch of a tree, suggested that children came here to play. Having tested the soundness of the construction (I wouldn't have wanted to damage their play equipment or myself), I couldn't resist trying it out, to the amusement of my fellow guests. A short walk led us to a second beach, with views in a different direction. Here, there was a broad, white sand beach, shelving very gently into a flat, calm sea.

Return to Ba Wel: A gently-shelving white beach and a flat-calm sea.

Since this was my last opportunity, I had a very gentle swim in the wonderfully warm water. As I emerged from the sea, I noticed that, further out, a number of squid fishing boats appeared to be preparing for a night fishing. As I walked back up the beach, I was attracted by the leaf-pattern formed by sand excavated by an unseen sand-dweller.

Return to Ba Wel: The leaf-pattern of sand excavated by an unseen sand-dweller.

As usual, I couldn't resist an attempt at an 'arty' shot of the sunset.

Sunset on Ba Wel Island.

As one of the last 'day' fishing vessels returned for the night, there was just time for a last picture of 'Meta IV' at anchor in the sheltered bay before boarding the dinghy for the short trip back to 'Meta IV', our final dinner and our final night aboard.

Return to Ba Wel: 'Meta IV' at anchor.

After it was fully dark, I was fascinated by a line of eerie green/blue lights stretching across our horizon. Of course, this was the fleet of squid fishing boats I'd noticed earlier. I was quite content to leave them to fish whilst I slept.

Return to Ba Wel: The eerie green/blue lights of a number of squid fishing boats working at night.

Related posts

Next post in this series.

All my posts on my trip to Myanmar in 2016 can be found here.

My pictures

If necessary, pictures in this article can be viewed uncropped by clicking on the image. To view in other resolutions or download, select from the albums below:-

Beach visit (60) and local fishermen.
Under sail back to Ba Wel.
Return to Ba Wel Island.