Stranded at sea

By | May 11, 2010

4 island snorkling tour, sounds like fun!

Water, a snack, and an authentic Thai lunch for 500Baht($17CAD) seems like a pretty good deal. Sign us up!

We leave Railay beach at around 945am heading to Poda Island. It’s technically a private island, but the beach is public domain. Our guide gives us an hour to lounge around before we head off to the next stop.

40minutes into the lounging, I decide to practice some snorkling with the small gathering of fish beside the boat. That small gathering turns into a large one as soon as our guide hands me a bunch of pineapple skinti feed them. The fish are all around, they nibble the pineapple with a force not expected from a small 2inch fish, it’s a feeding frienzy. What was 30, is now 200. They appear out of no where and are gone in a flash. My fingers, arms, and legs are being tested with small bites from every angle. A very unique experience.

The boat leaves for the 2nd island, Chicken Island, but something isn’t right. The captain, a less than stellar looking local, does not look like he knows what’s going on. He shakes the water intake hose, as if it may be blocked, but that solves nothing. The engine is heating up, we are still going full throttle while he tries to figure this out. The engine stops, we are now adrift. Somewhere between Poda and Chicken Island, great! Not how I want to spend my day, stranded at sea :(

The operator of the boat is clueless. He’s taking bottled water and pooring it down into the overflow spout of the water cooling system, then using his mouth to attempt to push this liquid through the system. Hmmm.

To my father and myself the issue is clear. Some how (we never did figure it out), the fan belt which operates both the alternator and the cooling system had disappeared. It was there on the way to Poda, yet when we left it was gone. Not broken and hanging there, not taken off by accident, just gone!

As we sit there, patiently trying to allow this guy to figure it out, another boat pulls up from the same tour company. Maybe this guy knows how to fix it? Hahaha, ya right. 2 guys who can’t find their own assess with both hands, tinkering with an engine to which they have no clue how to fix because they don’t know what’s wrong. They didn’t even know the bloody fan belt was gone. WTF.

Thankfully, there happened to be a spare fan belt onboard. I have no idea why, but I noticed it when we first got on the boat and I thought to myself ‘that’s rather cautious of them to carry a spare, not the norm around here, so it’s good to see they are prepared’.

After allowing them to waste a solid 10minutes of my day together, along with the 5-10 our driver personally wasted prior to the other boat arriving, I decided to jump into action (with a little encouragement from my father). I hand the guys, neither of which spoke a stitch of english, the fan belt. Our driver looks at it, looks at the engine, and then the guide, and proceeds to bust out in histrical laugher as if he forgot some minor ingredient while making dinner. Everyone on the boat got a little chuckle out of it, myself included. He nods, and pulls out a paint can with tools in it. I think to myself ‘ok, they got it now’. Ooops. You know what they say, when you assume it makes an ASS of U and ME.

After a little banter with my fellow patrons of the cruise, I look back to see that they are about to remove the entire alternator.

For those of you who don’t know what all this looks like, imagine 3 wheels in a triangle. One of them is spun around by the engine, this is used to spin the other 2 (alternator and water pump) by use of the…. You guessed it! The fan belt. The alternators attachment is on a moveable track, for reasons such as this. Loosen one bolt, make the triangle smaller using the track, put the new belt on, slide the track back to it’s original position, tighten and go. It’s that simple.

Common sense isn’t always common. Next thing you know, I got engine grease all over my hands, a wrench in one, and I’m attempting to show them what they need to do. After replacing the 2 bolts they removed, I showed them the bolt they needed to undo, and voilĂ ! 5minutes later we were under way.

Chicken Island was amazing. We never went to shore, but when I jumped in the water for some snorkling there were more fish then on Poda. Tiger fish central. These little guys that range from 1-4inches knew what was up. They all hungout by the boat waiting for a quick and easy snack. I toured around the area for 15minutes. It was like I was in an aquarium. Warm water, coral sea bed with fish in every colour of a rainbow. Little fish, big fish, red fish, blue fish!

Needless to say, it was amazing!!

The rest of the day was blah compared to that. We sat on a beach and had some lunch, toured 2 more islands then landed back on Railay beach. All in all, just another day in the adventures of Keith and Keith.