Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It was a dark and stormy night (Snoopy fans should recognize that one,I feel like I should be sitting on top of the dodger with the computer writing this blog!!) and man oh man was it dark and stormy. We were sailing in a sailor's worst nightmare, a thunderstorm. It was not just from one direction there were storm cells all around with huge towering ugly cumulus clouds. The sheet lightning would light up the sky but the rest of the time it was completely dark. All the stars were obscured and Barry turned off all the instruments so that if we had a lightning strike perhaps it wouldn't fry everything, (I seriously doubt it would have made a difference, if you get hit by lightning your boat electronics are all toast)so it was well and truly dark. Fortunately there was not much wind so I guess it really wasn't that stormy but it was wet as well. We motored most of the day yesterday on a flat calm sea, you could see the reflection of the towering cloud cells in the water. Twice we saw water spouts develop under heavy black clouds, these are the tornadoes of the sea, not something we were particularly happy to witness. I wasn't surprised to get hit with the lightning storms at night, it was inevitable given the weather conditions during the day. 
So far this has been our calmest passage on record. If we don't get some wind soon we will be bobbing out here for quite a while because we don't have enough fuel to motor all the way to Sri Lanka. We have been on passage for almost 72 hours and we have motored 30 hours in total, we have made 250 miles for an average of 3.5 knots, we have been motoring at about 4.8 knot on average so when we have been sailing we are averaging 2.75 knots, at that rate it will take 22 days to get there, YIKES. I think we better make a sacrifice to the wind gods. Sorry to bore you with all the statistics but when you put it down in black and white it looks really BAD! We have almost crossed the Andaman Sea, the body of water between Thailand and the Nicobar Islands, which are claimed by India. Once we have passed the Nicobars, we will be on the Bay of Bengal and there is supposed to be some decent wind there. 
We both seem to getting enough rest and there has only been one shouting match which took place in the middle of the night when Barry reefed and then motored because he was worried about the previously explained storm cells. What madness, we finally get some wind to sail, he reefs and then continues to motor, WHAT WAS HE THINKING!!! Well I should head to bed so I can maintain my usual chipper, optimistic self in the face of another potentially windless day.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Feb. 27th.

Hello all,
They are off on another passage.  I received this email from the boat yesterday and am not sure if it was the blog or not so thought I might as well post it.  I am sure there will be more to come.    Trish  Oh yes and.....
Happy Birthday Sis. 

We motored 8 hours yesterday but have a little wind now. We flew the spinnaker for about 3 hours this morning then the wind shifted to directly behind us so now we are wing on wing with the genoa poled out. The weather reports indicate it is going to be a light wind passage so we may be out here for awhile. There were indications it might pick up the further out we get so I hope so.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We are back in Phuket now, having just returned from the Similan Islands, which are about 40 miles west of Phuket.  The water there was so clear you could see the bottom at 20 meters,it was phenomenal. Every day we were in the water for an hour or two at a time, most days I would take an extra dip.  We would either snorkel off the boat, or take the dinghy around to a prime spot.  Rather than leave the dinghy in one spot we would just tow it with us and get in when we got tired.  Barry has the tow rope with him in this picture

The topography was quite different on the west side of the island.  The rocks were big granite boulders that were stacked on top of each other at weird angles. The beaches were beautiful the sand was as fine a flour and a joy to walk on, Barry even managed a short jog, because he just had to. 
I look so small. This is the same rock, just from the other side.

We will be leaving for Sri Lanka on Saturday, it should be about a 10 day sail, depending on the wind.  We loaded up on groceries stocking the boat up for the next 5 or 6 months.  We spent over 19,000 baht, which looked really impressive on the cash register, that equates to about $600 CDN, a lot of grub in any currency.  I will be posting our position daily and hopefully sending in a few blocks via ham radio.  You can follow our progress by clicking on link to Our Position on the sidebar of the blog.  We would enjoy hearing from you on our winlink address while we are at sea.  We will get our new sail cover tomorrow and go and check out of the country and stock up on last minute fresh fruits and vegetables. 
We did the tourist thing today and had fish eat off our dead skin, it was very weird, they really tickle and they kind of suck away at your legs and feet and even between your toes.  It is supposed to be a real treat but I don't think we will do it again, once is enough.   We are going to experience another part of Thailand's culture tonight and we are going to a lady/boy show.  It looks like it should be interesting.  The fellow that helped us at this store could have been one of them, the only way I figured out he was a man is when he spoke to us with a very deep voice!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Well,Thailand has redeemed itself in my view just by the sheer beauty of the landscape.  We have just spent over a week sailing and exploring among the karst limestone outcrops.  Many of them have caves hewn in the outcrops which lead to circular enclosed spaces called hongs. We have swam through the caves, rowed the dinghy through and walked through a cave at low tide, each one offered us different experiences.  I wish my brother was here so he could explain the geology of these hongs because they are quite amazing.  The cave seems to be a hole warn through solid rock, once you are through the cave you enter a open circular area that is surrounded by sheer cliffs on all sides.  The cliffs are generally straight up, several of the hongs opened up into another one. You had to go through a narrow passageway and another circular area opened up.
It was great fun navigating the dinghy through the narrow pathways.
An attempt to show the high sheer cliffs inside the hongs.
One night at dusk we sat and filled our senses with unbelievable vista around us.  The last of the glimmering twilight was lighting the sheer rock face and you could hear the gentle waves lapping at the jagged cliff edge. I concentrated so I could cement that picture in my memory and hopefully I will be able to recall it when I wish. That night a vicious thunder storm blew through and I will not forget the brilliant flash of the lightning followed by an immediate crash of thunder, it was really close.
We finished off the week by visiting James Bond Island, made famous by the movie The Man With The Golden Gun.  The scenery was spectacular but was spoiled  by the fact that hawker stalls were set up to sell trinkets to the hoards of tourists that were crawling all over the island.  We did manage to get a few pictures with just me in them though, so I guess there weren't that many tourists.
In the movie, this island had a solar collector on it that concentrated power to a weapon that blew up 007's plane.
That is me standing there it gives you an idea of how huge this slab is that just slid off the side of the outcrop.

I am really glad we sailed through this part of the world.  There are just some sights that are so impressive when you can see them with your own eyes. The pictures don't really do justice to their beauty.  

They really are magnificent. 

You had to watch your head when you rowed through this cave.