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Friday, February 26, 2010

February 26, 2010-Unusual Weather

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sailing North in Nice Weather

Wings left Telaga Harbor, Malaysia, heading north, on Feb. 23, bound for Thailand.

A bay on Taratao Island’s West Coast was planned to be the first stop and we had good sailing on the way, beating north in a light wind with a full main and the #2 jib. We even engaged the windvane.

The weather, as it often does, changed our plans.

By mid afternoon there was a solid westerly wind blowing which turned the beat into a reach and the planned Taratao landfall had become a lee shore. It was just an afternoon sea breeze, but it seemed strong and the waves were crashing against Taratao’s beaches and rocky headlands.

We didn’t like the idea of anchoring on a wide open lee shore so we diverted to Koh Bulon which afforded some protection from the west as well as the east. There are virtually no all-weather anchorages in this part of Thailand and the bay at Bulon is too shallow for Wings; we couldn’t get very far in. We anchored as best we could under the lee of the point but the wind driven waves came around the point and it was choppy in the anchorage. We were glad to leave the next morning.

Our next day’s leg was 44 miles up to the west side of Koh Muk. The weather was calm in the morning but we arrived at Koh Muk in the afternoon under kite in another stiff north westerly wind and the anchorage was again rough. This time we decided to stick it out; Koh Muk was highly regarded by friends of ours and after all, the wind should die off by dark, right? It didn’t. Two other boats in the lumpy anchorage weighed just before dark and motored off towards the next island to the west, Koh Kradan. We stayed, as did Big A, Horst Lakit’s red C&C and it was not a peaceful night for either yacht. The wind blew until after midnight and the waves were still there in the morning. I wondered how the boats fared at Koh Kradan, which was exposed to the NW. Probably not much better.

The local weather forecasts showed more of the same: strong Westerly or Northerly winds every afternoon for several days and not much in the way of a North Easterly. We moved Wings around to the east side of Koh Muk seeking shelter from these unusual winds.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sheltering from the Westerlies

I wondered what was going on with the weather.

I got on the Internet and did some checking: A look at the overall Asian weather maps revealed that the Asian High, which usually gives us the cool NE winds in February, was not clearly defined in its usual position over Beijing and the flow of cool air down the China coast and across the Gulf of Siam was weak or missing. Hong Kong even has Southerlies; it’s a bit early for that.

So now we know: the NE winds in Asia have been cut off; the westerly sea breeze can flow unimpeded. The situation does not look to change much for the next week or even longer.

At the moment we are sheltered from these unwelcome winds and making the best of it; we went ashore to the resort last night and had a nice dinner and a bottle of good Chilean wine and today it is clear and bright outside, but blowing. We are protected from the west and don’t expect anything from the east. However, there are Northerlies coming and we are exposed to them, plus we need a new strategy and some new anchorages for the remaining passage back to Phuket. The SW Monsoon is not here yet but with the current weather pattern the usual West Coast anchorages are no longer advantageous.

We’ll pour over the charts and see what we can find; I’m sure we’ll figure out something.

Click here to see more images

Click here to see how we spent our last day in Malaysia

Click here to see the log book pages of our sailing trips in Febuary 2010

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Thailand

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