We’ve just uploaded a video of our trip onto YouTube (below). It is not advisable to try an open water trip like this without building up your journey times first and having a good working knowledge of local tides, wind, waves and weather. You need to also have the technical ability to cope with waves if the wind increases. One can easily find out the tides on the internet. You really must understand the ‘Rule of twelfths’ (with caution) – good video below. Wind and wave direction can be checked on windguru (see previous blog post). It goes without saying that one should not go out in the ocean with an offshore wind – SUP boards, especially the inflatable type, like the ones we have can be affected by strong winds. It would be exhausting to have to paddle any significant distance against a wind of more than about 5 knots, although a light breeze feels good in the heat of Thailand.
We were originally going to take a taxi from the Marriot to Ban Phe Pier, cross to the island via ferry and then paddle back, but when we woke up on Saturday January 6th 2018, we saw that the conditions were right for a paddle out from the Marriot. It was cool and overcast and the sea-state was calm. The weather forecast was good and the tide was in the right direction. When we set off, at 0930, the tide was rising, meaning that the flow between the mainland and Koh Samet was from East to West. We also consulted a good friend, who is a very experienced sailor, Alfie Rowson (http://phuketcruisingyachtclub.org/), about this. He advised us that he had sailed through there the previous day and at peak flow the tidal current between Koh Samet and the mainland can reach 3 knots, so it is powerful, and an important factor in planning this trip. You will notice in the video that we decided to paddle hard in the second half of the journey as it was approaching ‘slackwater’ and we did not want the tide to turn against us. From a safety perspective, we could have factored in a bit more margin to allow for this (left a bit earlier), but I was not too concerned as wind and wave direction would have always been pushing us back to the mainland. We had plenty of water and there were a lot of small fishing and tourist craft about. Note that it would be inadvisable to paddle though the hottest part of the day (11am – 2pm), so factor this in to your trips.
Once we reached Koh Samet, we landed at a lovely restaurant, Baan Ploy Samed a few hundred metres to the West of the main ferry terminal (Na Dan Pier), where most of the tourists from the mainland disembark. You can see on the video that they have a nice big hammock to relax on and the food is good, though their ‘smoothie blender’ was broken 🙁 Anyway, the food and comfort was a godsend as we were both pretty tired after the three hour paddle. Once we had a couple of hours rest, we did another one hour paddle, assisted by the now falling aforementioned tide back across to the mainland to Ban Phe Pier (about 5 km). From there we took a taxi back to the Marriot (around 20 km by road), which cost ฿1000.
It was an amazing paddle and you will see in the video the weird school of flatfish that appeared curious about our boards and the brief appearance of three small sharks that you’ll catch a glimpse of. We used our Red Paddle Co. boards as we trust their durability and they won’t let you down. Check them out in our Facebook shop. You can try first in our hire shop (link above) or if you are in Phuket, you can drop into Freedom Boardsports, who we work closely with.