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Sunday, July 19, 2009

July 19, 2009-Sailing Past Koh Phanak

At 300 meters Koh Phanak casts a sizable wind shadow and our course took us to leeward of it. We stood off but still the edge of that wind shadow reached out to us and we had to keep sailing away. Despite our efforts the wind got light and Wings stood upright and we slowed. We considered dropping the sails and starting the motor but we waited, hoping for some breeze to climb over Phanak’s crest and drop down to our small boat sailing up its east coast; wishing for just enough to keep us moving.

The long tail with two men in it was converging and one of them held up something pink which could have been prawns and I motioned them over thinking they could come alongside as we sailed but their small air cooled engine couldn’t keep pace with us. I cast off the main and jib sheets and in the light breeze the sails waved gently off to leeward undulating like giant flags and without the drive of the sails Wings coasted to a stop.

They came up to our starboard side and I grabbed their short painter and tied it off forward on a stanchion then I sat down on deck to fend with my feet as they showed me their catch. The man in the blue shirt holding us off aft had a stub of cigarette hanging out the corner of his mouth and I noticed that the paper was brown and that it wasn’t lit. The skipper wore a checkered blue head scarf but I didn’t know it that meant he was a Muslim man, or just needed protection from the sun. They had a few fish and some small crabs and a few hundred grams of fresh prawns over which we bargained briefly and then I bought them all for THB 200 and I might have gotten them down but I didn’t have the stomach for grinding these poor fishermen down to their last satang. They seemed happy and anyhow it was a good price.

When they shoved off and restarted their engine I looked aloft and saw that there was a bit more breeze. I sheeted in and Wings started to move.

Now the breeze was coming around the north end of Koh Phanak in light puffs and shifts and we came up onto a close reach and started to heel over in the puffs. The next island was Koh Nok Khuan and I asked Judy which side we had to pass it on. She dropped down the main hatch to check the chart.

“Either side of this one but we need to go to weather of the next one”, she said.

Our course was taking us to leeward of them both.

I headed up and we wound in the sheets.

Now we were closed hauled and the puffs came stronger and the breeze lifted us. Judy watched to leeward and she said we might clear Koh Nok Khuan and the other island if I could just stay high. I wondered if I might have to tack. But the puffs continued lift us and some were strong enough to make us heel sharply and accelerate. I let the boat carve to weather and it felt good to be alive.

I saw the long tail off to the side and watching us. Maybe they didn’t see too many boats sailing to windward around here.

We easily cleared both islands and then the wind freed enough for me to put the autopilot on and we started to think about the anchorage we had picked out just up ahead.

An hour later we were anchored at Koh Hong and were cleaning prawns.

Oh, we had a cold beer too; it was good.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Koh Hong

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July 19, 2009-Four Days in Phang Nga Bay

wingssail image-fredrick roswold
Phang Nga Bay

Just did a four day cruise in Phang Nga and the first stop was right outside the marina where we anchored so I could dive on Wings’ hull and clean the prop. With blue and yellow leather garden gloves on my hands and a sharp metal scraper on a leash, at 35-45 seconds at a time, it took me nearly an hour to clean the barnacles off the prop, shaft and strut. All the metal was covered in big barnacles, at least an inch across and an inch high. You have to expect it though; it’s been six months and the rest of the hull was clean except one patch on the keel and one on the bottom of the rudder, so that was good. And now it’s all done which will hold us until we can haul out in September.

Anyhow after an hour it was done and then the boat moved normally under power so we headed on out towards Phang Nga and set the main in a nice southwesterly.

We had a destination in mind for the first night and in meant turning left into Phang Nga Bay so the next question was which sail should we put up. Going north we might be able to use the kite, jib, or genoa but it was hard to tell while still heading east in the narrow channel. I used the Tactician program I’ve written for Wings and after plugging in the wind speed and direction, plus the expected headings on the next two legs, it predicted that we’d have about 12 knots over the deck ahead of the beam so we set the #4 jib and as we came up onto the new course it proved to be the right choice. It was the easy sail combination and we had a nice bit of sailing. It’s nice when something works out and really nice when a computer program actually proves useful while sailing.

wingssail image-fredrick roswold
Buying Prawns

Halfway to Koh Hong two guys came up in a long tail just as we hoped they would and we luffed the sails so they could come alongside and sell us some fresh prawns. Nice, 400 grams for THB200, about $5/lb; fair enough. Then we sheeted in and had some fun sailing in the shifts and puffs around the islands. Flat water, nice breeze, no reefs; it was great. We did a short video at one point, which I posted last week. YouTube Video taken aboard Wings sailing

It turned out that we probably could have gone all the way to James Bond Island that day but the chart showed us crossing some shallow areas and with the tide on an ebb we decided to wait until Sunday, so we anchored at Koh Hong, a beautiful favorite of ours which we first went to with Candace last year. It was 4th of July but nobody around here celebrates the colonies’ independence from England and we had nothing onboard to set off so no fireworks this 4th. It’s OK, we celebrated with cold white wine and had fresh BBQ’s prawns and pork and went to bed early.

Sunday we motored across the flats in some light rain, never saw less than 20 feet so we could have done it on Saturday, waited out one squall, and anchored near James Bond Island surrounded by stunning scenery. If not for the abysmally flat light we could have gotten some nice photos. As it was the shots were only fair, but I’ve posted a bunch anyhow.

Click here and here to go to the photos (same as linked in the previous posting.)

We read and took naps and relaxed. We didn’t even put the dingy together, and motored home on Tuesday; it was one of the best trips we’ve had on Wings in a long time.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Phang Nga Bay

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

July 5, 2009-Cruise to James Bond Island

wingssail image-fredrick roswold
Under sail

We were sailing yesterday and now are anchored near James bond Island in Phang Nga Bay and we've just been posting some photos of yesterday's sail on the wingssail images site from our anchorage.

We'll post a story about this trip soon. Meanwhile you can click here for some photos and here for some more photos.

Our YouTube Video of Wings sailing in Phang Nga Bay:

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Phang Nga Bay, Phuket

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