Some of the severest damage was at Ao Yon, the quiet bay at the southern edge of Cape Panwa, home to Mike Downard’s Sail in Asia sail training school.
Mr Downard owned – past tense – two of the island’s best known racing boats, Switchblade and Tag.
Surveying the carnage on the beach he explained this morning (November 25), “I checked the weather forecast around 4 am on Saturday morning (November 23) and it said [winds of ] 20 knots, which the boats can normally bear.
“But the wind was not as strong as the waves. The waves were the main thing that brought it all down.
“I got a phone call at about 8:30 am saying that the waves were huge.
“When I got here Switchblade had just washed ashore. Then within the next five minutes Tag and every boat along the beach was washed ashore or turned upside down,” he told The Phuket News.
“It all happened within that 10 minutes between 9:30 and 9:40 am. Some boats that had anchored a bit further out got dragged on top of the pearl farm (just off the beach). The waves piled up as they reached the shallow water and crashed onto the beach.”
On the beach was impressive yachts were heaped in tangled piles, some half buried in the sand.
Switchblade is most likely a write-off, a large gaping hole where the keel should be. Tag does not look much healthier, nor do Sail in Asia’s other four boats, Venture, Tuay Lek, Tornado and Typhoon.
At the far end of the beach sits The Frog, a locally-built Firefly catamaran, and another well-known competitor in island racing. Owned by Dutchman Chris Jongerius, at first glance it looks okay – until one sees the gaping hole in one of the hulls.
Another catamaran, Samba, also has huge chunks ripped out of one hull by the engine of a long-tail that has been all but demolished, its ribs looking like the remains of a dead animal in a desert.
Anke Balb from Germany, who owns the Samakki Resort on Sai Yuan Rd and also a motor catamaran by the same name, surveyed the ruins of her boat, the sides stove in by constant bashing against another boat.
“It took only 10 minutes from the waves getting up to all the boats washing ashore.” said Kittipong Dontri, skipper of Samakki. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
A handful of other people came down to survey the damage to their boats. “Its upsetting,” said one owner, a Briton, who asked not to be named. “We build the boat back home and sailed her all the way here. It all happened so suddenly. It was shocking,” she said.
It wasn’t just boats that were damaged or destroyed. Tangled in among them are the hefty anchors they were tied to and a previously sturdy wall at the back of the beach has collapsed onto the sand, along with a coconut tree.