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Hello Sisters,

 

I thought you might enjoy this “log” that I wrote while on our trip to the Andaman Islands.  On Sunday morning, Dana and I completed our check-out with the Thai immigration officials, enjoyed lunch with 2 other cruising couples, and did some last minute grocery shopping.  One advantage of living on your boat is that you don’t have to worry about packing….once you have remembered to buy what you want, then you automatically have it with you on your trip. 

 

We departed Boat Lagoon at 10:30 Monday morning, as one needs to wait for the high tide to leave.  The weather was nice with a brisk wind.  We raised the sails just as we left the entrance to the Marina and sailed down the bay that lies to the east of Phuket.   The seas were a bit rough, which gave me a bit of pause there right at the beginning of our trip.  As we rounded the southern tip of Phuket, we were joined by many squid boats all heading the same direction as we were.  Hmmm, it’s going to be crowded out there.  We left the Phuket coast mid-afternoon and headed northwest.  We sailed without the motor for 5 hours, which is a long time for Villa G.  The seas were easy for these hours, very reassuring.

 

To my surprise, we passed most of the squid boats as they turned back towards Phuket and turned on those overwhelmingly bright lights.   Toward late afternoon I made deviled eggs for out supper, from eggs that I had boiled ahead of time.  These were yummy.  We had dinner as the sun set behind Phuket.   The wind died down so we took in the large head sail, and turned on the motor around 9 PM.  I lay down shortly after we turned on the motor.  I must have slept a good bit because it was 1:30 AM when I got up and I did not remember being awake for so many hours.  I then took my turn at watch while Dana got some rest.  The seas were very calm, a smooth surface with some small swells.  At three AM the wind speed was 0.0 knots.  Good thing that we have a motor!

 

I saw a few dive boats and shipping vessels, but no squid boats.  I was surprised, but pleased.  I particularly enjoyed our new anti-vibration binoculars.  I could look at the stars as well as the other boats.  The infra-red monocular was fun to use, but provided no new information.  Its distance vision must be short, as I could not see a large ship that was 1 mile away.  This ship was easy to see with the binoculars.  I also saw a few fish flying toward our bow and lots of phosphorescence in our wake.

 

Dana was up about 6 AM and the sun rose at 6:50.  Spectacular to see it come up out of the ocean.  By now the wind had picked up and the seas were a bit rough.  We hoisted the sails and turned off the motor for a few hours, until we saw some really weird waves.  I will now call these fountain waves, because they look like fountains in a pool.  We believe these waves form where the tide meets the natural current.  These are waves colliding from opposite directions, and when there are white caps on the waves, these collisions form a foam spray.  We had been told that we would see this interesting phenomenon, but the reality was quite different from the description.  We had to cross a row of fountain waves, much as one would ford a river.  The current took the boat in quite a different direction.  We turned on the motor because we wanted the power to maneuver if needed.  We went through several other rivers of fountain waves, but left the motor off until lunch time.  Because the seas were rough and the wind direction not optimal for our course, we turned on the motor but left up the sails, and motor-sailed for the rest of the day…until now.  More later.

 

Late afternoon of the 13th.  Last night I took the 9PM -1 AM watch.  I was tired after dinner but I just wasn’t sleepy, and Dana was ready to sleep.  The rough seas continued through the night, not white caps and wind driven, but swells that were parallel to the boat and were spaced just right to let Villa G rock a lot.  One acclimates to this, but it is uncomfortable.

 

Morning of the 14th.  I was interrupted yesterday, and never returned.  I’ll try again while the Thai chicken and rice is cooking.  

 

The details of the trip are starting to blur together.  Night time is easiest to remember as I can recall being alone on watch.  The night of the 12th, early watch, I saw lots of large fish heading toward our green navigation light on the bow.  I expect they were heading toward the red nav light too, but this light does not cast a bright spot on the water.  The fish swam under the boat and then reappeared about mid-ship swimming away from the boat.  They were so obvious because they set up a fish-shaped phosphorescence.   I also saw a dolphin, chasing the fish.  I was not sure it was a dolphin because he was not much bigger than the fish.  But, I heard him breathe when he jumped out of the sea once.  Fish do not breathe. 

 

On the 13th we sailed for a short time in the morning, but mostly motored.  We were both rather zonked, so we napped a lot.  During the day we had salami sandwiches and chocolate mousse.  For dinner we had store-bought vegie lasagna and a head of fresh cauliflower with butter and parmesan cheese.  A rather varied menu.  It was a hot day and with the engine running, it is even hotter in the galley.  Thus, even making sandwiches is not a pleasant task.  We put up sails and turned off the motor at 5:30.

 

Last night (13 - 14) I took the late watch.  I went to sleep shortly after dinner, in the cockpit.  We have been sleeping in the cockpit because it is cooler and we are then close at hand for anything that requires two people.  Well, with the sails up, Dana was in and out of the cockpit to tighten the sheets or move the traveler, etc.  Not conducive to sleeping.  So I went below to our usual bed.  With the engine off it is both quieter and cooler, so this was quite nice.  I was sound asleep when Dana woke me at 12:30 to ask if I could take the watch, as he was falling asleep in the pilot’s chair.  I am sure this was the case, as I know him well enough to know that he would stay up as long as possible.  It took a while before I was fully awake, but then I was fine.  Importantly, the sails were still up and the motor off.   The wind was not very strong, about 9-11 knots.  I worked really hard to maintain the forward momentum to keep the sails inflated.  This took us a bit off course, but I had plenty of time to think whether this was a big issue.  We were going slowly, 3-4 knots, so we couldn’t get very far off course.  I did some geometry review lessons to determine what course would be the limit where I would need to turn on the engine, but I never passed this limit.  I woke Dana at 6 AM and encouraged him to keep the motor off while I went back to sleep.  He did until 8:30.  Thus, we sailed all night—a first for us.

 

Time to finish the lunch preparations, so we can eat, now on Andaman Island time.  This is 1½ hours behind Thailand time.  

 

Feb 15, 1 PM.  Well, we are here!  We anchored in Port Blair, Andaman Islands at 8:30 this morning.  We are awaiting the opportunity for immigration and customs.  We had not anticipated that it would be such a long wait, but we’ll be patient.  We have each had a short nap, but hope to stay awake this afternoon so we can have a normal night’s sleep tonight.

 

The last 2 days of our trip were calm and pleasant.  We motored during the day when the winds were down, but sailed all night on both the 13th and 14th.  We saw NO other boats from the morning of the 13th until we were about 6 hours from Port Blair.  This gives such a remarkable feeling, both very privileged and a bit uneasy.  Dana saw Dolphins on his watch on the morning of the 14th, and we saw a few other fish and a very few sea birds.  Otherwise, we were the only visible living creatures out on these miles and miles of beautifully-blue ocean. 

 

One is not sure the radar is working when there are no objects on the screen.  Well, not quite so…in the early morning on the 13th I saw lightening in the sky and rain on the radar.  The areas of rain were moving towards us very slowly, about 4 knots.  They formed a line off the starboard side, parallel to our course.  I maintained my composure, telling myself that dawn was only a few hours away and we were unlikely to get into this storm while it was still dark.  As the storm shapes moved, some moving together and some falling apart, I thought maybe we’ll even get through one of the open spaces.  Indeed, my optimistic thoughts were correct; we had a short rain fall just after sunrise.  It was enough to clean the deck, with no lightning and without the heavy winds and waves that usually come with such storms. 

 

I want to summarize, but find this difficult.  I am so pleased that we had such a good trip, but this of course means that it was largely uneventful.  I would certainly do it again, and, of course, I will have to in order to get back to Thailand.  The fun is simple, just being there and living through the days as they come.  We thought that the trip might take only 3 nights.  It quickly became clear that this would be possible only if we motored a lot and paid full attention to our progress.  I did not want to constantly calculate our average speed and time to arrival , and Dana wanted to sail, so we were both pleased to let the trip take 4 nights.  In the end we had to slow down in order not to arrive at Port Blair during the night.  I spent time staring at the sky and time staring at the sea.  I dreamed up means to use our stores to make meals that did not require a hot stove in the hot galley.  I missed my swimming, especially difficult with all this water around, and my ankles are swollen from lack of motion.  I did exercise while on watch, but this was not sufficient to keep the fluid out of my legs.  I read quite a bit, both the Sunday addition of the NY Times that I had downloaded on the 10th, and a mystery novel by PD James.  I spent one afternoon completing all the forms for entry into India, and made the multiple copies needed for the different officers.  I have yet to know whether these are sufficient and OK.  It is good to have a printer, scanner on board.  The printer paper, however, is rather limp after long storage in hot, humid conditions.     

 

I’ll stop now.  If I think of other things, I’ll add them later.  I hope to send this as an email sometime in the next few days.  If we have time, we’ll go to Port Blair to see the town and perhaps find an internet café.  I do hope that you’ll be reading this soon.  Thanks for listening!

 

Love,

Susie

 

PS.  I’m sending this through a modem attached to our HF radio.   No internet café.

 

Travels of the crew of Villa G