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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

August 12, 2008-Sailing with Marco & Tessa

wingssail image-fredrick roswold
Happy Sailing

On Sunday Marco and Tessa came for a sail.

It was a pretty day with blue skies and bright sun but the wind was light when we left the dock and we hoped to see more breeze later. There was reason to hope for that since the forecast called for winds of about 10 knots in the afternoon and already at noon we had 4-5 knots, enough to start sailing right out of the marina, which we did, setting the main and #1 cruising jib. In the end there was only a very short period of the day when the wind got up to 12 knots and mostly it was under 10 knots. Nevertheless, we had a fine day on the water.

Two other boats left the marina slight ahead of us, Lionheart, a MacGregor 65, and Nudaeng, an Amel ketch. All the crews must have been pretty keen to go sailing because sails went up on the other two boats right away also and soon we all headed down the channel in a light beam reach towards the open waters of Phang Nga Bay, each boat surging ahead in the puffs and coasting in the lulls. The MacGregor had got out ahead under power before setting sail so they were well in front but we were side by side with the Amel, who was slightly ahead but we had the weather gauge. I saw their skipper looking over his shoulder at us more than once and we both took a measure of the other. Wings was easily faster in the puffy conditions and we were satisfied.

Just as we were about to overtake Nudaeng we saw Lionheart had tacked around and was coming back towards us on a reciprocal course. Marco, who was at the helm on Wings, asked what he should do to miss the 65 footer which was right on our bow and Nudaeng, which was just to leeward. I saw the MacGregor heading up sharply and I said, "Go to leeward of him". Of course then the MacGregor came down and there was barely room between him and the Amel for us, but we were committed so the three boats passed all together in one spot of the sea and were overlapped for a moment. As we cleared the MacGregor’s transom we came up a bit and by then were ahead of the Amel. From that point on we sailed our own course down the channel. Tessa was trimming the jib, Marco was steering, and it was good sailing.

wingssail image-tessa b

Sadly the wind only got lighter not stronger and at the opening to Phang Nga Bay it died altogether. It seemed like a convergence zone had developed with a westerly behind us in the channel and an easterly outside. In the dead air of the convergence zone we slowed down until we were nearly stopped and Nudaeng, still back in the westerly, was sailing wing on wing and quickly catching up to us. We looked at the water outside and I thought I could see the dark line retreating, meaning that the easterly would not hold and the westerly would either win out or the convergence zone would simply get bigger. We decided to go anchor behind Koh Payu to have lunch and wait for the wind to decide what it was going to do.

While we had lunch at anchor the westerly built to 12 knots and the easterly disappeared. I looked to the west at the whitecaps and wondered if this stronger wind would hold all afternoon. We hoped it would. After lunch Judy and Tessa wanted to go for a swim so while they were in the water Marco and I folded the genoa, and rigged the used 3A kite I bought off another cruiser in Singapore last year. It was a good time to test the sail again and I planned to sail down wind in the stronger breeze, jibe around the next island and then set the smaller jib for the beat back up to Yacht Haven. At least that was the plan. As soon as Judy and Tessa were on board and showered we weighed and set sail.

The short run downwind with the asymmetrical spinnaker was the best sailing we had all day; the boat was fully powered up and slipping quickly through the water. Judy steered and Tessa trimmed and Marco and I just enjoying the sail. I looked at the trim and the set of the sail and I was happy. For $60 this was a good investment. We could have gone on for an hour like this and the island ahead was only half that but I judged the distance around it and the wind strength and decided that we didn’t have time to go all the way. We’d do our jibe and takedown on this side of the island and head back home.

I started to hook up the small jib on the other side of the foredeck but stopped while we jibed. We still don’t have that evolution down perfectly but it worked in the end and we scooted off just as fast on port jibe while I finished hooking up and hoisting the jib.

Tessa dropped while Marco and I gathered in the sail. Immediately Judy started to holler that we were getting into shallower water but I couldn’t leave the foredeck or even look up properly to see where we were as my arms were still full of spinnaker and it was wrapped around the jib sheet and wouldn’t go down the hatch. If I let go of it we’d surely see it snaking over the side in an instant so I was stuck. I told Judy to tack and the three of them got it onto the other board and sorted out and back into deeper water while I cleaned up the foredeck and got the kite below.

From then on it was the standard beat back toward Yacht Haven in a dying breeze; short tacks up the channel taking it in on each side until the depth hit 20ft then tacking back out and over to the other side. The one spot near the beach at Laem Sam where we found deeper water than the chart showed last time was still there and we explored it as far as we dared. Tessa said there was a man in a red shirt was standing on the beach yelling and waving his arms so we finally tacked away.

That was it. Everyone steered, practiced tacking, and had some lessons on the charting system. In the end we turned on the motor to get Marco and Tessa back in time and altogether it was a good day.

Later Judy and I had a light meal of Brie and sliced ham on sourdough bread and a cold bottle of white wine to wash it down with and we rested nicely that night.

wingssail image-fredrick roswold

Until next time,

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Phuket.

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