By Daniel Herron
Time to close the lap-top, put the smart phone on mute and take a time-out from technology, the worries of the world and slip back in time. Here was a great place to CLIC off!
A nice perk of being a foreign correspondent in Thailand is on occasion we are kindly invited by the PRD (public relations department) on a FAM trip to a new destination in Thailand. These are destinations in the country the Tourism Authority is proudly spotlighting to the world. And this trip down to Krabi was exceptional!
A group of five journalists representing France, Canada, China and myself for the US jetted out of Don Mueng Airport on Lion Air for a 2.5 flight down to the southern town of Krabi in the province sharing the same name. Krabi is known for its lush jungles, limestone cliffs and Idyllic islands.
We were meet by our hosts from the Tourism Authority of Thailand and vanned down to a pier with multi-million-dollar yachts in from Singapore and other parts of the world. We hiked out to the end to the Seraph, a beautiful 70-foot, 103-year-old schooner that had sailed down from its original home of Copenhagen and the North Atlantic.
Seraph is the shortened version of Seraphim – one of the Archangels who protected God in Biblical lore. A six-winged angel, the Seraph sat at God’s right hand.
Seraph was built in Denmark, and launched from a shipyard outside Copenhagen in 1906, as a ketch-rigged fishing vessel with no engine. She was as a “buy boat”, meaning she would go out to the fishing trawlers to buy their catch and then sell it at market. She had a wet hull – plugs in her side let the North Sea in keep the fish fresh. In the early 20s, she was fitted with an engine; in a fishing town in northern Denmark.
She fished the North Sea for 70 years, and then in the late 1970s, she was bought by a Dutch couple, who took her to Holland, and converted her into a liveaboard schooner, with a schooner rig. She sailed the Med and the Indian Ocean before ending up in Phuket in the late 80s. On New Year’s Eve 1991, while Seraph was moored off of on Island 1 in the Similans, a squall hit, and the ship dragged anchor, as she headed towards a reef. The captain tried to pull off, but the steering broke, he lost reverse gear, and he couldn’t go backwards, moving forwards instead, landing Seraph on a reef. The skipper was inexperienced and Seraph should never have been moored in that location in the first place.
Seraph is a “no compromise” schooner whose sailing systems are based on those developed and perfected by the North Atlantic fishing schooners of the mid-nineteenth century. All sails are hoisted, trimmed and dropped manually by the crew and numbers of very willing volunteer guests who enjoy this unusual type of exercise known as “sweating the lines”. Her decks are large and uncluttered with an awning covering approximately 25% of the area of the deck, providing cover from the elements for 30 people or more. The only compromise to modern times can be found below decks where a well-equipped galley is able to provide excellent catering and two electric heads have been installed. Plus, there are air-conditioned cabins.
Once aboard Captain Tony, a portly Australian with years of experience on the sea, introduced us to the Thai crew, gave us brief history of the Seraph and orientation us on where we were going for our leisurely day of sailing. We freed from the pier and slowly powered out through a canal, shrouded by a dense jungle on both sides to the emerald waters on the Gulf of Thailand.
Once out on the open waters, the sails were hoisted to make this beauty really stand out from the modern yachts racing around us.
We were navigating with the only high tech used for ship operations, an iPad with an app detailing winds, direction, currents, depths, all that was needed. It was pretty slick!
We spent the day sailing to 3 tiny islands, dropped anchor, took in some amazing snorkeling and had a delicious catered lunch on board of fresh fruit and Thai dishes.
Sailing back in by the towering limestone cliffs at sunset was extraordinary way to end a great day on a great lady, the Seraph. For rental information, see the link below.
Daniel Herron – Copyright 2020