Friday, February 27, 2009

Bit of a different week this week to say the least.
3 years ago Jeff and Silly Willy from Dartford came to Thailand for a 3 week holiday...........and met two Thai ladies who worked in the Dive Resort where I was based in Karon, west coast of Phuket.
And...just a week ago they were married in Buriram which is a small town to the east of Bangkok and very near the Cambodian border.
Here comes the Mrs Silly Willy
As ever the Thai people made us foreign guests very welcome. They were all up (including the brides) at 3am on the wedding day getting all the cooking prepared. Thai cooking takes place in seconds but the preparation is extremely lengthy...even the spices for the day are freshly ground in a mortise and pestle (if that's what it's called!)
Willy's sons flew over from UK and there were a number of Willy and Jeff's new ex-pat friends who are mainly making their living out of rubber trees (stop laffing; I'm being serious!)

Here the 'Holy Man' is putting bits of string and flowers and other stuff on the bride and bridegroom's head....the string also winds around the various bits of symbolic it binds the couple together in this life, the next and in all dimensions...(hmmm).
Don't they look jolly?
Willy's married into a small family...mostly female...and they all wait on him hand and foot. He spends his days reading in the shade whilst being fanned by a succession of Yen's sisters whilst being offered chilled beer by any sister free at the time.
Retirement, eh? Who'd want to suffer like this. Sadly the ladies won't let Willy do any of the cooking or housework....very strange race, the Thai's.
And here's Jeff (he's the one of the right of the photo) with Om, his new wife. Pretty ain't she?
And now the four of them have arrived here for their honeymoon.
..and they all want to learn diving! Now this should be very entertaining. put your fevered minds at rest...yes, we will also be going fishing sometime next week!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Boat Trip...................Sat 11th Feb

Firstly, the photographs!!!! Not my fault! I wasn't there!! Too many people wanted to go so I bravely stayed on the shore and suffered in a local taverna (ha ha) waiting for the gentleman to return.

So, photographs (or lack of) courtesy of our Alderney reporter, Mr Harding. His excuse? New camera and hadn't had time on the 12 hour flight to Thailand to read the instructions.

Now you know why faces are hidden or are taken showing an impressive face pulling routine...but we gotta show you the fish.....and only a few photo's have managed to get a fish in the frame...arrgggg!!!

Here's Mr Dave Lovelock (above)....EFSA England International, holding up a snapper taken on a Portland rig with squid bait. Good old 'Portland Rig'...caught the bulk of the fish that night and outfished the local skipper's rig!!!

During the evening the skipper decided on a move to another mark. Unfortunately the boat didn't want t leave.....flat batteries. Baring down on our intrepid mariners was a squid boat with a massive net floating ahead of it and light ships everywhere (light 'ships' are small boats with masses of lights everywhere to bring the squid to the surface..ready for the mother ships to haul the next around the shoal). On this occasion the longtail boat the lads was on was also encircled and being dragged towards the 'mother boat'.

Thai people work very well together...they are like a great big family. Once the Captain of the squid boat realised what was happening, all the various crews sprang into action and the situation was sorted. A battery was passed over and the longtail started....such excitement at sea, eh?

This might be Dave Lovelock again hiding behind an estuary cod...Mark had obviously told Dave to cover his face after the photo above....

These cod are wonderful discovered the next day once Jai had filleted and prepared the fish in a number of ways....grilled, baked, fried, curried, stir fried with ginger, spicy fish soup......she's a talented gal, that Jai.

I recall years ago when I used to write the sea angling page for the Dorset Evening Echo. I tried to encourage anglers to send in their fish photo's. This was in the days of pre-digital photography. People didn't know what their photo's looked like until they were developed and the money had been paid. So, I was sent in all sorts of rubbish. As a result of our dear friend Ivan Wellington's (skipper of Weymouth based Topcat and tallest charter skipper in the Universe) efforts at photography, I decided to run a 'spot the fish' competition....yes, it was THAT hard to see the fish that was supposed to be in the photo. Thankfully Ivan has come on a bundle and is now a fine photographer...although many of us now are too frightened to take a photo for a magazine or web site as all that does is attract the wrong sort of attention from the multitude of people who want all angling banned and anyone enjoying an active outdoor life locked up...but I digress.

The point of the above drivel is that despite his years of experience with photography...Mr Harding clearly lost the plot on this trip. Was he drunk or worse? Was it revenge because all the other anglers caught and he did not???? Maybe he was simply overawed by the presence of the International anglers???? Who knows?

Now Mark is determined to show top Poole Skipper Andy Cumming in a shady light...mmmm...does he deserve to be portrayed in a such a way, I hear you ask??

Andy's got a snapper by the way.

So, our conclusion? This trip took place on little tides..........very little movement. And the fishing was slow. The next trip will be on spring tides which I hope may be more productive.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Rocky outcrops with rough seabed bottoms; long sandy beaches; very attractive scenery....and warm water to jump into..................These are 3 of the beaches within 15 minutes of the house.

Titan Trigger Fish...extremely hard fighting and armed with serious teeth!!!!

Chequered Seaperch and Bridled Spinecheck (bottom)

A double shot on a paternoster rig.

Monocle Bream...caught on prawn

Reggie Clough with a pufferfish. These fish fight like crazy and then blow right up when landed. Their spines are sharp....very sharp...and get sharper the more they expand.

Today, Sunday 22nd Feb, Reggie and Dave leave us to return to UK. They have fished...and fished...and fished. Every day they have been out there on different marks that we have investigated and tried on different states of the tide. Mark Harding has leapt into the sea at every and any opportunity with his mask and fins on and done us all proud with his explorations...locating and identifying the fish and giving us an idea of the seabed. We have also donned the scuba gear on several occasions to go deeper and see what's down there at greatr depth.

Our conclusion's much better to cast short and stay in the 6m to 10m depths. As you go deeper the fish get less.

Thanks to the expertise of our International anglers, we have tried a whole range of tackle techniques and methods which have now been logged by me to pass onto our future visiting anglers. Basically, though, it's the cheap and simple paternoster rigs that have worked best...with 40lb or 50lb snoods as everything is armed with savage teeth that will simply obliterate anything too light. The hooks have been mainly size 1 or 2 and they MUST be strong hooks or the fish will simply bite them in half!!

All the tackle is available in the shops here....the only thing that is much more expensive than UK is the bring a reel or two. Rods here are cheap to buy and I have a few now. We can get all the leads and terminal tackle easily.

We still have masses to learn but we are getting there and getting results. Some of the places we are fishing are very attractive places to is also worth bringing strong shoes (trainers) as we are fishing some pretty tricky places to get to. The rocks are lined at the water's edge with very sharp shellfish so, if you wanted to go in and snorkel, you need either to wear your shoes in the water (so you don't cut your feet getting in and out) or bring some diving boots.

Mission...Boat Fishing Trip; Rawai Beach; Phuket, Thailand
Date-time Group 21st...02....2552 BE

Andy Cummings, Captain of Poole based Silver Spray, takes condensed vitamin bar before launch....

Our Captain

After much searching we have found a friendly alien who will co-operate with us and allow us to experiment...and puts the anchor in..

Captain Tan Wan......with his beloved longtail vessel

The team assemble..L to R..Mr Mark Dynamo Harding of Alderney Angling; Mr Andy 'I'm not interested in Totty' Cummings, Captain of Poole based Silver Spray; Mr David Lovelock, EFSA England International and Mr Reginald Harding, true English Gentleman and fellow EFSA England Shore International...the only group who can empty any bar...of everybody....and over here that is HARD!

The tide's we gotta get this buggar out to sea a bit and float it.........................

The boys are off...heading's 5 pm and they are out until they return....that's how boat bookings are like with our excellent skipper.
The boat is best with four maximum so Fiona and I graciously opted out and retired to the nearest beach bar where we are in the process of getting extremely drunk whilst waiting for the boys to return. I am trying to write this blog but Fiona keeps cracking lurid jokes which is making it hard for me to concentrate....I will give a full report on the results of this latest enterprise tomorrow......

Friday, February 20, 2009

Elephants V Fish
Fiona wants all her pals back in Alderney to know that Mark isn't having it all his own way with the fishing!! Today was 'Fiona Day' so while the lads are all off fishing....Mark and Fiona took the elephant trail.
I downloaded these photo's quick as Mark and Fiona and raced off to the next part of her day....which is a Thai Culture show in nearby Phuket Mark's really enjoying that!! I reckon by now they would have settled down to a nice bit of Thai Dancing...!!!
Meanwhile I just had a phone call from one of the lads who had shot back to a nearby shop to get cold beers for the lads on the end of the latest rock mark...but...he's been delayed...tempted by a Thai massage...hmmmmmmmm

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Shore Angling........, now you can see gaps showing in my blog...this is because our days or seriously full on now. We've been joined by Andy (skipper of Poole based Silver Spray) Cumming so now we have Reg Clough and Dave Lovelock of the EFSA International shore team, Mark (I did stop talking once...for nearly 3 seconds), to provide the expert tackle knowledge, Andy to walk about looking important as skippers should, Fiona providing the glamour and catching the best fish and chief taxi driver and bottle washer.

We have fished....and fished...and fished. And we are learning thanks to the dedication and expertise of the team. We are learning the better marks and trying to unravel the tidal/fish feeding patterns. We have much to learn but it is all very good fun.

The conversation (we are a sad bunch of buggars) in the evenings and mornings at the house is all about tackle, techniques, fish I.D., tides, water clarity etc etc etc. And...when we get into a bar full of glamorous hot Thai totty...what are we doing...yes, huddled together and talking about FISHING!!!!! The gals think we are all insane....well, we are!

Our day starts off with Mark taking the shore team to the day's selected mark...and I go ahead to the next selected and previously untried mark and wait for Mark to catch me up. The two of use clamber down the cliffs and rocks (usually in the hottest part of the day!) and assess whether or not it's accessible for lads bringing gear with them.

Once the shore line is reached Mark, the human dynamo, sets off with his snorkel to investigate the species that are available and what the underwater terrain is like for the tackle. If we cannot see down to the deeper areas, we return and get the scuba gear on and dive the 15 meter line. So, it's pretty exciting...coming back with a mental picture of what we've seen and then remembering it all for the evening's discussion with the fishing lads.

Reg and Dave like to fish the dusk, so we return to wait for this period when it does seem a flurry of feeding takes place.......then it's back to the cars and into a bar for a well needed ice cold beer or 12 and we are all starving by now.

The photo's are just a little bit of what I've downloaded off my own camera....the main photo's are on Mr Lovelock's camera...and we are just off to download his camera onto a disc and then I can get to work on them.

Today we are going to look at an area that we hope may hold worms for digging. Then we are going to fish the longest pier in Phuket in the hope of catching stingray.

It's all great fun and we are having a great time together....even we do sound like a load of sad old wotnots....but we are loving it!!!

Little moray eel from Rawai pier

Fioana with a 2.5kg cuttlefish from Rawai pier...see; they're not just in Alderney

A good multiplier that can handle 30lb mainline is required. The rod can be a light beachcaster or strong spinning rod....think wrasse fishing tackle off the rocks...that how we seem to be progressing with 30lb line straight through to 50lb snoods and strong size 1 or size 2 hooks....but more of the tackle at a later date and why we're using such hefty stuff

There are LOADS of different I have also to buy a Fish ID book because every local we asks either shrugs his shoulders or gives a different name for the fish than the last person we asked......
Thanks for reading all of you....the blog is now attracting an AVERAGE of 184 hits per day..a good start! Please email me direct if there's anything you want to know about any aspect of what this is all about...remember, my aim is to give you the opportunity to have a great holiday over here whatever it is that you would like to do...................

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Shore Experts Arrive!!

Sunday....15th already. I know what you're saying...that Whittall..gets the blog going and we're all hanging on his every word and then he doesn't bother for days!! Ha! Well,'s busy here!! Plenty going on....quite amazing how much time I spend each day from the time the earliest riser gets bouncing about until the latest party- goer rings up for a lift home from the favoured place of entertainment that night!

Janine and Bos are up in the North of Thailand now. They've rented a car and a guide for £40 per day and are heading towards Laos for a little trip over the board...well, they always were the adventurous ones.

Reg Clough and Dave Lovelock have arrived and immediately joined forces with Mark Harding of Alderney Angling. Along with Fiona the lads were on Rawai Pier yesterday afternoon and into the evening. The shore angling is going to need some unravelling but with Reg and Dave here it WILL happen.

Yesterday's results were encouraging especially as the locals catch virtually nothing. Reg and Dave are highly experienced shore anglers and have a vast depth of knowledge and experience to apply to any shore situation. The rigs they came up with which worked are not the sort the average angler would think of. I have a lot to learn from them as it is my intention to encourage you to come here for the fishing and I need to learn everything I can to pass on to you guys when you come.

Grauvell, sponsors of my tackle on Offshore Rebel, are sponsoring the tackle to come here to Thailand and next season here will see me bringing lots more gear here for you all to use.

The next 10 days will be all about fishing, fishing and more fishing. Were are going to unl0ck the secrets of Phuket's shore fishing. Eventually what we are up to will appear in the angling magazines back home.

With Mark's knowledge of tackle and his fishing skills combined with Reg and Dave's expertise couple with my amazing charm and driving skills...this should be a fun and productive week.

The next blog won't appear until next Wednesday at the earliest as I have to leave the lads for a few days to go to Silly Willy's wedding in some out of the way place to the east of Bangkok...and I go soon on a 20 hour bus ride to get to him....what I do for your gentlemen, eh????

Enjoy the weather boys...I see that this weekend the winds are calm so maybe you will get a chance for some fishing??? Thanks to everyone for keeping in touch and the kind comments about the bog and I am very happy so many of you are indicating that you'd like to come here!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kayaking with John Gray


Here we are ready for a day's kayaking amongst the amazing Karst formations in Phang Nga
Bay, North-east Phuket. Janine, Bos, Fi, Whirlwind Mark and Jai.

The approach to the Karst scenery is made on a large boat which carries the kayaks. The scenery is amazing. As can be seen from the picture on the right, Kayaking amongst this incredible scenery is not for everyone......the ladies are banned from talking for fear of scaring the wild life. Imagine that gentlemen! No talking allowed...peace and tranquility for the whole day. Bliss! But...question, chaps. Do any of you believe the gals observed this rule????Dream on!

The food on the boat was great. We were extremely well looked after by our Thai crew members throughout the day. Middle photo shows what the scenery is like once you kayak through the caves into the middle of the karst mountains. They open out into a lagoon which is a haven for nature....sea eagles circling above, fish jumping, crabs jumping about on the mud flats, monkeys on the shore really is like entering an untouched world.

The intrepid crew on their way to another set of caves. Don't get the wrong idea...after we were 'shown around' we were free to go off on our own...but no photo's of this as Mark couldn't behave and spent the entire time hurtling all over the place, ramming everyone and soaking anyone within much for the observation of mature and strict rules.....and far too dangerous to get your camera out!!!!

Very good to meet Mark's kindred spirit inside one of the karst lagoons!!
This was a great day. We kayaked into the night and took part in a Thai tradition of launching small flower decorations onto the sea....appeasing the water spirits. The sea is lit up with natural phosporance, the caves sparkle at night with natural crystal formations that look like gigantic diamond's a trip well worth doing when you come!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Arrival of the Whirlwind

KAYAKING...DIVING..FISHING...The Whirlwind has arrived!!

Hi's Sunday 8th Feb...and I haven't written up the blog for a few days. Anyone in Alderney reading this will understand why. Obviously, it's because Mr Mark Harding and Fiona are here. Those of you who know Mark will know it's impossible for him to just sit and 'chill'. The man is a bundle of hyperactivity......since they arrived just three days ago it's been 'full on' and if we ain't zooming around Phuket, he's here on this computer running his Fishing Tackle business back in Alderney!! But now he and Fiona and gone off elephant treking leaving myself and our other guests the opportunity to laze about without fear of being knocked over by the whirlwind called Mark!

So, what have we ('we' also includes Bos and Janine from Weymouth) been up to in the past 3 days??? Yesterday we were out on a full day trip kayaking. We went with a company formed by John Gray who is a very keen ecologist. He runs all sorts of trips from one day to several days and they all revolve around exploring the amazing Karst (limestone formations with caves) scenery in the Phang Gna area which is the very big bay to the north of where we live and on the eastern side of Phuket.

The formations ARE stunning and this is a trip that just has to feature in your holiday itinerary. The caves run for up to 300 yards into the heart of the Karst and then open out into spectacular scenery. You do get the feeling you are the first people to ever see's beautifully unspoilt and very dramatic with sea eagles circling above and monkeys bouncing about below.

Photographs don't do it justice.

More about this in the next blog.


Our skipper comes to get us.

The day before (Friday) saw us (Bos, Mark, Fiona and me) out fishing on a longtail boat. We have much to learn about the fishing here. It's another mystery to unravel and there's no end of discussion about the tactics and what we should be doing to improve our catch rate. The skipper (as do all skippers) always catches the most but it's difficult to fish as he recommends as he is using a handline with 40' trace. The baited hook it hurled away from the boat and then the 1lb lead is thrown away from the boat. Trying to fish with such a long trace on a fishing rod just doesn't work....the traces all get tangled with each other and themselves and it's very hard to feel a bite. If a fish is caught, it has to be pulled in by hand as the trace is so long.

We tried a whole range of tactics... most of which our skipper laughed at...but we did catch a few fish and Mark caught the biggest on a paternoster rig with a short 40lb snood to a 2/0 forged hook (the fish here are very 'toothy'; the traces and hooks need to be strong) whilst Fiona caught the most). So, Alderney won all categories except the important one...'smallest fish section'...which of course went to me. Bos meanwhile, quietly went about his business as the highly trained Weymouth Commercial bass fisherman that he is, and landed a selection of fish for the fish dinner planned for tomorrow night.

Fiona with a yellow snapper

Mark with a bigger yellow snapper

Master and Commander Bos with a red snapper

One of the delights of travelling is the different people you meet. On the Kayaking trip yesterday we befriended an American couple and as they live in Portland (Oregon) they just had to be invited to fish dinner tomorrow......should be a fun evening. Ditrik (yes, that's the chap's name) is a film maker and made a documentary on John Grey a few years ago, so no doubt we will learn much more about what the Kayaking trips offer.

Fiona has started learning to scuba dive and will be spending a couple of hours in the pool this afternoon after the elephant trek finishes. Bos and Janine, who are highly experienced divers, are taking Mark off to the beach to give him a 'Scuba Review' in preparation for tomorrow, Monday. Tomorrow, the three of them are off for a day's diving around Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi which are islands about a 2 hour steam to the south of us. Fiona has the pleasure of another pool learning session with me before we progress to the sea tomorrow for her first confined water dive. It's our aim to gently build her confidence so that she can take the full PADI Open Water course and then join Mark as his buddy on dives later into their holiday.

Fiona patiently waiting to be submerged.

Fiona's first scuba lesson

In between all this...we're at restaurants, in bars, leaping about in the pool and generally trying to avoid being knocked over by Mark!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

SNOWBOUND in UK!!!.......

Today we are waiting the arrival of 5 of our guests for their 3 week holiday with us here in Phuket...but...they ain't gonna make it on time!

I see on the TV that England is hammered by snow and that the travel systems are down. Planes from Heathrow are delayed and connecting flights are being missed. Poor Mark and Fiona (Alderney Angling) can't even escape from Alderney to get to planes, no boats and certainly no trains.

Close to the house is Wat Pra Naga Gert (Birth of the Serpent). It's the site of the world's biggest Buddha which dominates the Phuket skyline and looks across the southernmost part of the island. This is Sonja and John on their final day. We drove up the mountain at 7am when the weather is at its coolest and ideal for sight seeing. It's well worth a trip ....a major piece of Thai Culture just a few minutes away.

Thai people love animals. There's something about the animals here...they seem genuinely 'laid back' and very friendly. Our house has regular visitors of little dogs and kittens. Our Thai neighbours like small pets........and Sonja fell in love with the neighbors kitten.

Khun Jane launches her pet dog (don't ask me what species it is....a dog is a dog) on the lilo on the swimming pool. The dog just accepted that it was going for a ride on problems, no panic...........they're just such easy going pets!

Dog in the pool looking perfectly chilled.
I imagine that most of you are all well hacked off with the weather back home. My fellow charter skippers send me emails of despair and've just GOT to escape next winter and come'll love it..but please be quick to register interest...I'm not joking...if you wait to long all next 'winter season' will be gone because so far everyone who has been has asked to come back..............
email me if you think you may be interested!!!