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Saturday, April 19, 2008

April 20, 2008-Stand by to Wear Ship

wingssail image-fredrick roswold
Judy: Sailor Girl

“Stand by to wear ship.”

We could have just tacked.

But the re-cut sail needed the spreader patches to be re-adjusted. Better wear around and save the sail.

This was a sail we wanted to protect; it pulled like a bandit from the minute we put it up. I loved it already.

Who would think after 21 years we’d discover something new about sailing this boat, but we did: A high clew, 120% genoa worked magic on Wings. Jeez, Wings came alive in 5 knots of wind with this sail! Of course the #4 never felt like this in light winds but this sail even seemed better than the deck sweeper 150 we cut up to make it; and way less trouble to use.

We’d come out into Phang Nga Bay to get a little sailing in before heading back to Yacht Haven. I needed a sailing fix like an addict needs his needle. What drugs are this? I just need to feel the power of a big sail sheeted in and the boat carving to windward, that’s all. It can be as short as a couple of tacks. Not even an hour. Just get the boat on the wind and I am renewed. Judy knows it. She feels it too but she can keep the need inside. I can’t.

“There’s a nice breeze, let’s weigh early and go sailing before we head back.”

“OK”, instant agreement. I love this woman.

Judy steered and we hoisted the mainsail leaving the anchorage. I went for’ard and rigged the re-cut genoa. It went up quickly.

The sail filled and the boat took off.

wingssail image-fredrick roswold
Wings picks up speed

We grinned.

I trimmed in and checked aloft and saw that the car had to come back, way back. I made the adjustment. It opened up the leech and allowed me to sheet in tighter. Judy came up. I adjusted more, she came up more. We now were sailing 40 degrees off the true wind and holding 5.75 knots of boat speed, in wind less than 10 knots.

It had us grinning more.

I took some shots with the Nikon.

I made an image in my mind of the place where we needed to put the spreader patches.

To try the other tack but still protect the new sail we reached off; the sail pulled well on a beam reach too. Then we wore ship; we jibed around and came up on starboard. On this tack the sail duplicated the performance of the first tack.

I marked the lead positions on the deck.

This is a real success I was thinking, I’m surprised. I’m happy.

wingssail image-fredrick roswold
Spreading Some Canvas

We turned for home. We’d spent only an hour sailing in the open waters of Phang Nga Bay, but it was enough. I knew that this sail had opened up a new chapter for our future cruising experiences: From now on we could make time in the light stuff without the hassle of the #1. In fact unless racing we have avoided the #1 in the past; it trims poorly except when close hauled and in a seaway it bangs into the shrouds and lifelines like it is trying to self destruct. It is. So we rarely used it. Now we don’t need to. We have a choice. So even when this sail falls completely apart, as soon it must, we'll have to have one like it; we'll build a new one.

I know what to tell the sail maker:

“Make me a sail which pulls like a bandit, that we can see under, and stays clear of the rig. Make it 120%, high on the clew, and short on the hoist. Build it out of Dacron for longevity.”

“Make me something which mainlines the sailing power straight into my veins.”

“ I have a habit to feed.”

Actually this is the second sail we’ve added in the last six months which really adds to our inventory. The first was the asymmetrical kite. That one which I bought for $60 from a guy in Singapore opened up the offwind chapter. This one opens up the upwind sailing.

So I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks if he’s interested in listening.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Phuket

Click here to read about the recut of the 150 into this high clew #2.

Click here for more photos from April sailing in Phang Nga Bay

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Monday, April 14, 2008

April 13, 2008-April is the Hot Month

wingssail image-fredrick roswold

April is the hot month in Thailand; that is the common wisdom.

Cruisers who leave their boats here and fly home for the summer have done so by now. Those who stay here are either at the dock with their air conditioners running or they are sweltering.

We are onboard Wings. We would be sweltering too save the cooling effect of our shade awnings and a little breeze here at anchor which blows through the cabin.

Judy & I came down from Bangkok for a long Songkran weekend to spend some time on the boat and to get out of the city. Four days is enough time to go sailing, or at least get out of the marina, so we provisioned a little on Friday night and moved out to Phang Nga Bay. It is hot. It reminds us of the summer we spent in the Sea of Cortez but there the heat was dry; here the humidity is way up; in some ways worse. But like in the Sea, the water here is warm; going for a swim is like getting into a warm bath; it does not cool us much. Even a cold shower afterwards is not cool; all the water in our tanks is warm. But one of the reasons for coming out here was to find a place were we could clean the bottom of the boat, including the bottom of the keel where we damaged it in February, so we will be swimming and we will be taking hot showers afterwards. That’s life.

It’s not all bad.

Last night the sea-breeze came in and it was very nice sitting in the cockpit with a glass of wine.

We had a front row seat for a show the Gods put on for us. Over Krabi and Ao Nang there were some high electrically charged clouds, not exactly towering thunderstorms but storm clouds never the less, and lightning flashed and distant thunder rumbled most of the evening. The lightning crawled along the tops of the clouds like Jupiter drumming his fingertips, another reminder of the Sea of Cortez where in 1997 running from a cyclone we ducked into a small cove called the Kitchens and watched similar lighting every afternoon. In the Kitchens we watched ominously; last night we didn’t feel threatened. I guess by now we’ve seen enough storms to be able to tell when they are moving away or coming on. We could see the show over Krabi was headed southwest; it was moving away from us.

We put on some new music, The Kills , Midnight Boom, a soft sort of punk rock, if those terms aren’t so mutually exclusive that you can’t imagine such a thing. Punk Rock isn’t usually the kind of music we listen to with a glass wine in the cockpit in a remote anchorage in paradise, but last night it worked. It went well with the lightning storm we were watching.

The thunder matched the beat of the Kills’ music. On the backstay the American flag joined the festivities; in the gentle breeze it flapped from side to side keeping the rhythm of the music. We finished the bottle of wine and for the final act of the lightning show we poured some Thai whiskey.

At midnight the curtain fell, the show was over, we went to bed.

We don’t plan on moving much this weekend; sit here, clean the bottom, do some small repair projects, relax, and go back to Yacht Haven early so we can put the boat away before we fly back to Bangkok on Tuesday night.

Click here for a few more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Phuket


April 12, 2008-Songkran Festival

Songkran, the Thai New Year, is celebrated every year on 13 April to 15 April in Thailand as well as Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, by the Dai people in Yunnan, China, Sri Lanka and widely throughout the Indian subcontinent.

The date of the festival was originally set by astrological calculation, but it is now fixed.

Songkran falls in the hottest time of the year in Thailand, at the end of the dry season.

The most obvious celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water. People roam the streets with containers of water or water guns, or post themselves at the side of roads with a garden hose and drench each other and passersby. This, however, was not always the main activity of this festival. Songkran was traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends and neighbors.

Besides the throwing of water, people celebrating Songkran may also go to a wat (Buddhist monastery) to pray and give food to monks. They may also cleanse Buddha images from household shrines as well as Buddha images at monasteries by gently pouring water mixed with a Thai fragrance over them. In many cities, such as Chiang Mai, the Buddha images from all of the city's important monasteries are paraded through the streets so that people can toss water at them, ritually 'bathing' the images, as they pass by on ornately decorated floats. For more information you can search on Google or click here to read more about Songkran

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Phuket


Friday, April 04, 2008

Solitude in Palau, 2004

wingssail image-fredrick roswold

We found a place away from the tourist crowds in Palau.

Under a big sky, and in absolute solitude, we walked on a long sandspit exposed by the slowly falling tide.

Click here to read two stories from February 2004 , which we have just posted, about Palau.

Or just click here to see a few photos from Palau (but not many; we had camera troubles)

Fred & Judy, Bangkok


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