Trip Reports

What Terry Missed (05-Jan-2002-19-00):
7:00 PM local time, Saturday, January 5 (1200 Jan UTC) 08 12 S 098 20 E. Temp. 87, Humidity 66%, Cloud Cover 0%. In a slip at Yacht Haven, Phuket Island, Thailand.

Warm greetings from the crew of Maverick.

Mary Shrode, Terry's mother, departed this life early on the morning of the 29th of December. I didn't know her well, but one among her many accomplishments was raising, with her devoted Allen, our stalwart first mate, than whom a more steadfast, decent person would be hard to find; and for this alone she has our gratitude. Terry was able to make it home in time to visit with her before she passed away. Our condolences to all of the Shrodes and their extended family of friends and loved ones.

Mr. Shrode has returned from the United States and we have moved the boat to a marina at the top end of Phuket Island, from where we plan to visit the much-photographed Phang Nga (pronounced Pang-ah) Bay, where two of the James Bond movies were filmed. It would be reasonable to think that after so much time spending 24 hours a day together, it would be a welcome respite for the Captain to have the boat to himself, but this is far from the case. Mr. Shrode is as much a part of the voyage as Maverick is, and those things not made more difficult by his absence were made less enjoyable.

Nevertheless, we soldier on, and it is our solemn duty to report on our adventures, whether they include Mr. Shrode or not.

The Captain has long been fond of travel, for the reason that it does quite a good job of providing one with the rather pleasant illusion that he is going somewhere. In my time alone here, when I wasn't employed in the maintenance and repair of Maverick, I undertook to avail myself, incognito, of just the type of tourist excursions a person might indulge in, were he not a distinguished sea captain.

One of these was the popular elephant ride/whitewater rafting adventure. The two go together like a horse and carriage, I must say, and were both accomplished in one fun-packed day. The rafting was on the mainland of Thailand, north of the island of Phuket. The guides said it was a class three, which, if memory serves, is about what the American river in California is, with the exception that in this river, the rapids were continuous. But the crafty guides made the rafting quite a bit more exciting by the breaking of every known rule of whitewater boatmanship. Is it not general practice to avoid going in to holes sideways? To avoid wraps? To avoid being caught sideways to the current between two rocks, filling the raft? No matter, what fun. The people who had not been rafting before seemed to be having the best time, unless you count the guides. It really was amazing we didn't lose somebody. I'm pretty sure the rafts would have done a more seamanlike job of getting down the river, had the guides not been aboard.

The elephant ride had almost all the excitement that you felt when at age six, your father took you to a pony ride at a nearby amusement park. (I realize this is a thing of the past; but it's hard to believe it would be less exciting than a video arcade (Oh, no!, I'm an old man.) Again, recklessness played a part in making the adventure. Half way through, the mahout gets off the elephant and makes the Captain, er, drive. So I sit on the substantial head, or neck, of this fella, and he's got a lot of very course hair sticking into my uncovered legs like ice picks. But that's not his fault. There's a little bit of the mule in him, as he's reluctant to move once the mahout, with his sharp stick, is not aboard. There is little doubt that the elephant could recognize the Captain's rather limited expertise in elephantmanship, and it seemed to me that, if he should get in a frisky mood and try to, like, kill me or something, that the mahout would be too far away for timely remedial action. Yet a faint heart never won a fair lady, and though the Captain has many other clever ways of not winning one making the point moot, it was nonetheless his duty to manfully carry on.

On another outing, I was accompanied by the smart and lovely Nammone Satjarak, "Num" (pronounced noom) for short, the niece of the travel agent who booked the excursion. I think her uncle wanted her to make sure I didn't do anything to reflect poorly on his company, and sent her for guidance. Of course, the very idea that the Captain might do something foolish will strike the reader as absurd; but how could he have known? We were taken on a traditional longtail boat out to the islands of Phang Nga Bay, mentioned above, and then transferred to inflatable canoes for paddling amongst the mangroves and into hollow islands called "hongs." You ducked to go through a small opening and then were inside a large cylindrical rock formation, open to the sky. After a few of these we regained the longtails and headed to "James Bond Island," packed with tourists, and then to another island for lunch and a demonstration of how latex is gotten out of the tree. The rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis, is not indigenous to Thailand, but thousands of acres are cultivated for the seemingly miniscule profit to be earned by two or three daily hours of harvesting. After we were back on the mainland--and by the way, how does Phuket get credit for Phang Nga Bay?-we went to a limestone cave, the largest I've ever visited. It was one kilometer in length, most of which was traversed by splashing through shallow water wearing miners' lamps, but the last two hundred yards or so were too deep and we embarked on rafts. The guides had a wonderful knack of seeing elephants everywhere in the rock formations, an ability I need further work on.

There are, no doubt, those among our readers who hope for a salacious account of the famous fleshpots of Phuket and Bangkok. Nothing pains me more than to give an inadequate report in this vital area, yet the Captain will have to demure. Oddly enough for a man of his worldly years and macho accomplishments, he has never visited a brothel. To this I owe no debt to morality. Indeed, I am persuaded by the arguments of Kant, who is followed in his own fetching, blowhard way by Nietzsche, that a person deserves no moral credit whatever for refraining from things he had no inclination to do in the first place. Given a moment's reflection, it seems this dictum would rule out 95% of all moralizing, which is generally the effort to clothe one's predilections in better-tailored garments that those of personal taste, to the disadvantage of the victim. No, my reticence in this regard has to do with not being able to rid myself of two thoughts: (1) "Does your mother know where you are, young lady?" And, as commanded by my grandmother: (2) "Put that down, you don't know where it's been." Plus, the Captain is still not perfectly comfortable with the level of intimacy necessary for a haircut, and protests like a three-year old whenever it becomes necessary to visit a professional. This is not even to mention, unless that's what I'm about to do, a visit to the doctor. I'm in therapy about this, and other seamanlike problems.

Anyway, that about covers the fun stuff. I did manage to leave the dinghy in a place where it suffered some damage from the surf. I had been working on a dreadful job grinding fiberglass. The reason being, one of Maverick's bulkheads was becoming more and more detached from the hull, and as some finicky sailors feel their boats are better prepared for the sea if this is not so, I thought I'd just touch up the tabbing a bit. In any case, after a day of inhaling fiberglass and rubbing it into my skin, I felt I had earned a night off from working on my new translation of Virgil, so I plunked myself down at a local establishment with a TV to watch a sophisticated comedy entitled "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective." I found the "talking ass" sequence to be quite thought provoking, although many of its subtle nuances surely must be lost on the common man. Anyway, I was so enthralled I didn't check the dinghy as the tide rose and later found it full of water, taking a beating in the waves. Certain things were damaged or lost. I haven't told Mr. Shrode, so don't you.

Back to the Progress Chart | Back to Trip Reports
Progress ChartTrip ReportsPhoto GalleryAbout MaverickThe CrewGlossary & Technical Weather Check