KOH TAO: Trying to Sail Around a Windless Island

Raul at the helm
Raul at the helm

There is an overt lack of the briny and bracing breeze you’ve grown to associate with beach holidays back in the UK. You also remember how achingly cold the water was, and how you had to wade through seaweed and other marine detritus to get deep enough to swim. Under an iron-grey sky, your windbreaker would catch the wind and hurl you down the promenade along with the poorly-weighted parasols printed with Walls and Magnum adverts, while seagulls screamed their contempt from above.

On Koh Tao, the ocean breeze is too weak to do much more than rustle the topmost fronds of the coconut palms. You didn’t notice the lack of sea smell until a visitor pointed it out to you, and then, amongst the characteristic Koh Tao smells of unburnt petrol and burning plastic and grilled chicken, you began to miss it.

“Lana Lana Lana! We’re learning to sail on Koh Tao! We’ve asked if you can join us for the last day and they’ve said yes!”

Carolyn and Raul did their Open Water certification with you back in December, and they had returned to Koh Tao for a short holiday, much to your delight. In the interim you’d spent hours talking online, about books and travel and relationships and Japanese food, and they had brought with them two gifts to alleviate two of your most frequent complaints: a military-issue heavy duty rain poncho, and a USB stick full of new books and entertainment.

Their end goal is to live on a yacht somewhere tropical; a goal you are very happy to get behind.

Thailand, Sailing, The sky was a flat powder blue, the ocean was calm, and you all huddled in the back of the boat waiting for the wind to pick up. The sails carried you along at drift-speed. So slow, in fact, it was difficult to gauge whether you were moving at all. You round the corner, skirting between Shark Bay and Shark Island, when Frank, the yacht’s owner, switches on the engine.

Frank and Carolyn taking in the sails
Frank and Carolyn taking in the sails
Carolyn taking a nap
Carolyn taking a nap
Raul at the helm
Raul at the helm

You glide into the bay with the sails unfurled and the engine switched off and cooling.

“This is how we want to live in a few years time,” Carolyn said as you stepped onto the beach with flipflops and snorkelling gear in hand. You recall the narrowboat holiday you went on almost exactly a year ago, and shiver at the reminder of what happens when you take for granted the luxury of proper plumbing.

“You could come and live with us for a long as you like, you know.”


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