Beyond your expectations!
By Gerd Roysland
Have you ever been on a trip that leaves you speechless? Ever been on a trip that exceeds your every expectation? If not, I’d like to tell you about our splendid (or SPLENDED, as the Thais like to spell it) trip in Phuket waters.
My friend Dot – really Dorothy, but she prefers Dot, in spite of being regularly mixed up with a well-known UK toilet cleaner liquid called Dot, in the fifties! -, and I are both blessed with very inventive and generous husbands indeed. They had been planning a surprise trip for us for months, of which we knew was going to take place, but we did not know what to expect at all. So, some weeks ago we all went to Phuket, stayed in a nice hotel for a couple of days first, and were then told we should go on a bus tour. A bit taken aback, Dot and I weren’t overly excited by the information, as we didn’t think a bus tour sounded that spectacular.
The bus tour ended in the huge bay south-east on Phuket, Ao Chalong – Ao means bay in Thai. Here we were met by a very friendly South-African guy, Gareth, and his Thai colleague En at the beachfront. They had a little dinghy, and by now we ladies were starting to get the gist of it – yes, I know we’re a bit slow, but so what? They were to take us and our luggage out to one of the boats anchored in the bay. Dot and I still didn’t know what kind of boat, or the size or anything else. When we finally saw our home for the next 5 days, we were in total aw! The “Cataleya” is a huge 58 foot sailing catamaran, and it can sleep up to 14 people. As for our party, we were only 4 guests, and we had the same amount of people as crew! Our lovely South African Gareth as captain, En as engineer, a master Thai sea gypsy cook, Chern, and an extra crewmember, a masseuse called Rai. In other words, we could see they were about to take very good care of us.
Originally over 20 years old, the “Cataleya” is an UK-built catamaran, but her age was not seen at all, as she was in immaculate condition. Totally renovated and refurbished only last year at a yard in Phuket, the boat was a sheer delight. The cockpit in the aft had two big tables under a huge sunroof (on top of the sunroof solar panels were installed), and all the cabins and the indoor saloon with the galley were incredible spacious and light and airy. The same can be said about the whole boat inside and out: Incredibly spacious, light and airy. We loved the décor on the boat; it was so bright, light and happy.
Before we took off, our captain Gareth discussed the trip with us; we looked at the chart and were asked where we would like to go, and whether we would like to go by sail as much as possible. We really did want to sail as much as we could, which means you have to follow the wind and will not necessarily be able to reach specific destinations at specific times. The peace you feel when you move by sail only cannot be compared to anything else; it’s just about the most tranquil feeling ever.
One might ask oneself, what on earth did we do for five days and four nights on a catamaran? The answer is, literally nothing. Such bliss! We lazed, relaxed, read our books, we sunbathed, had excellent foot massages and Thai body massages, we swam in the wonderfully clean water, did some snorkeling, and we anchored by beautiful islands whenever we were so inclined. We took the dinghy out and saw some wonderful grottos and a lush mangrove lagoon. We kayaked; we saw hundreds of spectacular fungi-shaped limestone islands, we had GT’s every day at gin o’clock time (5pm sharp that is, according to Dots husband, Keith), we drank wine. But first and foremost, we ATE! We did nothing but stuff our faces, all the time.
Oh, the food, but the food. Oh, the food !
Our skilled and wonderful chef Chern cooked us food all day, and since their website claims it is “luxurious” food, at least the boys had very high expectations upfront. Sadly, anybody can claim that on their website, and half of the time the claims are SO not true. Here they are true indeed, as this food was the best food we’ve ever had in our life! She cooked us different Thai dishes galore, but with less spices than usual, so we were actually able to eat it. All of us that is, not only my husband Alf to whom spice is God, and who is on another planet from the rest of us by simply claiming the spicier, the better…. She also cooked some European food, if we wanted that, and she even made scrumptious desserts. All the flavours were totally awesome! She made the effort of cooking an extra bowl for me whenever she served dishes with prawns. Being allergic, my bowl was then without prawns. I celebrated my birthday onboard, and then she made us lobster Thermidor. Lobster Thermidor with champagne accompaniment can not be overrated, I tell you. She even made a birthday cake for me, wow. She served us wonderful breakfast every day, with eggs cooked in different ways, fruit, bacon, sausages, cereals, and yogurt, freshly squeezed orange juice, her own homemade jam. One breakfast she made us was the most delicious tuna sandwiches and also banana frittatas, boy, was it good? They even have an espresso machine onboard, how great is that? One day Keith caught a Spanish mackerel on a fishing rod, and she prepared that for us. Another day we bought some tiger prawns from a passing fisherman, and she prepared those too in the most delicious way. Our masseuse was also brilliant, because when not doing any massages, she helped the chef out all the time. Since also captain Gareth and the very friendly engineer En helped out with serving and clearing, we were basically treated as kings and queens!
Our captain Gareth was a good sailor indeed, but his most significant trait was his superior people skills. We enjoyed his company very much and had the best time with him; he had a great sense of humour, but was also extremely knowledgeable, serious and all in all very nice and entertaining. Being only 31 years of age, he was probably bored stiff with us old buggers, though. We are seriously boring people, really, as you can understand when I tell you about our bedtimes: embarrassing as it is, we have to admit that we actually went to bed every night before 9pm…. Very sad state of affairs, isn’t it? Gareth was kind enough to ensure us about our almost normality, as whole days at sea can be very tiring, he told us. He said! Our cabins were very comfortable, with lovely en suite bathrooms, and with both fans and air condition. Gareth ran the air condition for us about one hour each night around EBT (=estimated bed time. As you already know, pitifully early), and that was wonderful.
We were also lucky to meet the owner of the boat, Wolfgang. He’s Austrian, apparently a former chef, and with partners he owns two charter catamarans running out of Phuket, the “Cataleya” and the slightly smaller “Mozart” – the only one missing in the fleet is a boat called Amadeus, of course! He captained the “Mozart” himself, and anchored up one evening close to us. It was very interesting to hear his stories about buying the boats and setting up shop in Phuket. Wolfgang and his Dutch wife Margriet handle all the bookings, etc., etc.
It’s safe to say that we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. Everybody did just what they wanted, really. Both Alf and Keith were allowed to steer the boat whenever they wanted, and help out with the sails and anchoring if they so wished. Dot and I on the other hand did nothing, nada, zip, zilch whatsoever, but that was our inclination and by the way, we deserved it…..
58 foot sailing catamaran, with 2x90 HP marine diesel engines.
Cabins: 2 double cabins with queen size beds plus additional single bed and private bathroom, 2 double cabins with queen size bed and private bathroom. 1 twin bed cabin with private bathroom, 1 twin bed cabin without a private bathroom
6 bathrooms/showers, one of which is in the saloon
Booking: You can rent it bareboat or with a crew
Tel/Fax: +66 (0) 76 289 656. H/p: +66 (0) 81 895 1826 (Wolfgang), +66 (0) 89 909 6959 (Margriet)
Such a break from a standard holiday in Phuket.
We were able to treat our friends ( British,French,Dutch) to two unforgettable days.
Good Luck to Gareth on his new “ship”.Thanks also to Enn, the ever-present, lithesome engineer, to K. Chern, an amazing cook,
Not forgetting K. Lai for relaxing everyone through her pressure massages.
Bon vent a tous
Many thanks guys.
A great short charter, very professional crew, good food, yacht in good condition.
Much appreciated. Next year again maybe.
All the best and fair winds Gareth!
Many thanks to Gareth, Enn and Chern for four wonderful days of calm, relaxation, beautiful scenery,
terrific food and comfortable accommodation.
We feel very fortunate to have spent these days in your skilled and hospitable care.
Our very best to you all as the Cataleya sails off for new adventures.
Ba Win, Judith, Emily, John, Jeanette, Art, Leslie and Rob.
Chern’s delicious food, varied, fresh and beautifully presented, was a privilege to eat.
I would have loved to have known more about how she so magically did it.
Swimming in the Andaman Sea, experiencing the quiet of this region, the exploration of lime stone lagoons, the awesomeness of gigantic islands made this so very special.
Thank you for the warm, caring smiles and the thoughtful attention to all the details that make the operation run so brilliantly.
Thank you so much for a wonderful world of Phi Phi island that you discovered to us and of course for
many more things, like magnificent food, magical underworld of sea and unforgettable sand beaches…
We will carry our memories with us back to Europe with a great desire that we will be back again one day.
Adriana Igor, Fabiene Maria, Rosana Torua, Sarya Daniel and Atilio
3 amazing days on Cataleya,
Thanks to the crew, the beautiful boat and the wonderful environment.
Thank you for treating us so well, for the great food and showing us the best of Phuket.
Thank you for ever organizing the dolphins!
Both kids and grown-ups can’t forget these most wonderful holidays.
We will be back….!
Costantino and Carline Sambuy with Pietro, Giovanni and Isabella
Ghislain and Gaëlle with Hugo, Lyna and Anaë
Dear Cataleya family,
Thank you for an amazing and perfect vacation!!!
We were truly lucky to be on the boat with such a great crew.
During our stay we felt completely taken care of and safe!
The food was SPECTACULAR and every one of our needs was taken care of.
It really – COULDN’T BE BETTER!
So again, thank you, kapon ka ( sorry for the wrong spelling?)
Toda Raba ( that is Thank you in Hebrew) and we hope to see you again on this perfect boat with
The crew that made it all even better than could be imagined.
See you soon !
Our party of 10 Swiss boys & girls had a fantastic sailing trip to “ Racha”, although pretty choppy!
We made a constant 6 ½ -7 ½ knots…….and even enjoyed the “slashing, rocking and rolling”!
Next year we’ll try again…..
Our sincere thanks to the crew, from cook to Captain : all was super!
Heinz & Therese Schmed & 8 ½