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Friday, February 26, 2010

February 26, 2010-Unusual Weather

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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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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Feb. 18, 2010-Friends Make Decision

Randy & Laura

Pollen Path

Randy & Laura are really good friends of ours who we met cruising in New Zealand in 2000. We've sailed with them and visited together in many places since then. Now they have decided to put Pollen Path up for sale.

Here is what Randy has to say:
"Liveaboards on Pollen Path since 1992, Laura and I have traveled in the Caribbean, the Pacific, New Zealand, Australia and Southeast Asia. We now find ourselves at a bittersweet crossroads as we realise that we have somewhat outgrown the simplicity of Pollen Path and it is time for us to find a new path. Anyone who is interested in carrying on the tradition of Pollen Path please contact us at" Randy Durban

Click here to see another photo of Randy & Laura and also our friends Sandi & Jack from Zorana

Click here to search our blog for images labled "Randy & Laura"

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Langkawi

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Feb. 10, 2010-Reaching to Rebak

Wings stood out from Tanjung Heads into a fresh NE breeze on a crisp Thursday morning and spread full sail to the following wind.

Shortly after the main filled they hoisted the asymmetrical kite which opened with a crack and they bore off to the west on a blue ocean under a clear sky leaving a straight white wake to the east behind them.

The port jibe would take them into the north shore of Langkawi so they sailed on starboard toward Thailand’s Taratao Island, watching over their left shoulder for the proper time to jibe on a good line back to clear Chinchin, the NW cape of Langkawi.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Reaching for Rebak

When they drew close to Taratao and were a mile off and it appeared that they would soon be calling unannounced into Thailand they jibed the kite and turned back toward Malaysia and still needing to sail lower they set and pulled back the pole.

The wind built and a swell rolled in from behind. A puff hit and the boat threatened to round up. The helmsman pulled hard on the tiller and the boat slid down the face of the wave and surged forward.

The knotmeter showed low nines; it was fun.

They sailed around the leeward side of Langkawi, staying off by 2 and a half miles, and kept their wind while boats in closer to the island would have been stalled, if there were any, which there were not; they were sailing alone.

As expected the wind then came around the island from the other side of the mountain and it went forward. Dropping the kite and setting the #2 they sheeted in on port tack for Rebak Island and sailed close to the wind.

At the Rebak harbor entrance they dropped the sails and motored into the channel. Wings had sped over the 24 miles from Tanjung Ruh to Rebak in a short time and pulled into port before lunch; a good run.

Click here to see the other shots of our sail back to Rebak.

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

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Langkawai

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Feb 09, 2010-Bird Watching

We went up the river from Tanjung Ruh to see the eagles; brown eagles and white bellied eagles, which are both very common in the Langkawi area.

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Sea Eagle

Click here to see more eagle shots.

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

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Langkawi

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Feb. 08, 2010-Tanjung Ruh

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The Sentinels, Tanjung Ruh

Once in a while you stumble into an out-of-the way place which stuns you with its enchanting beauty, protection, and peace. Maybe that is why we often venture off the beaten path; to search for that treasure of a place that maybe nobody knows about.

Tanjung Ruh on Langkawi Island is not exactly a secret; tourists come here by the boatload, but it is not in the guide book and there is no chart of it. However Trevor from Been a Long told us about it and said it was good. His wife Joan gave us a bit of a mud map that they’d made. On that basis we decided to take a look but neither of us were convinced we would either find a way into Tanjung Ruh or that we’d find anything we liked once we got inside.

We did both.

Arriving in the afternoon in a light westerly we anchored Wings in the deep water at the entrance to Tanjung Ruh, a beautiful spot in its own right and we’d have been happy to spend the night there, but, being adventurous, we piled into the Zodiac, took the hand-held GPS, a lead line and a notebook and set out to find a channel. After an hour of tossing the lead and yelling “Mark Twain” over and over we finally found a path which thought we could follow with the big boat. It zigged and zagged across the flats and the depths went from 40ft to 11ft and back a few times but it seemed passable. We entered it into the charting system on Wings’ navigation computer and weighed anchor.

The adventure began: motoring slowly we dared to enter into Tanjung Ruh. Judy was on the charting system calling the turns and I was on the helm nosing Wings ever forward. It was touch and go (however we did not actually touch, but it was close and we did go). Once we got inside and passed between a sand spit on the right and the rock on the left with the words “SLOW” painted on it in white block letters, we were in. A new world opened up for us.

Tanjung Ruh, is a perfect shelter and even with a number of tour boats going too and fro it is a quiet basin of peace and protection; a calm lake surrounded by a protecting ring of mountains which in the day are simply green hills but at night the tall escarpments stand up against the starry sky like dark sentinels. As we sat in our deck chairs that night and looked at the stars and the silhouettes of those nearby mountains we felt safe and protected here; nothing can reach us.

Here we can sleep in peace.

Click here to see more photos of Tanjung Ruh

Click here to see the chart we made.

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

SV Wings, Tanjung Ruh, Langkawi, Malaysia

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Feb. 05, 2010-Hermit Crab Beach

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Going Exploring

The seashells were walking!

We explored an isolated beach near Datai Bay in the Zodiac and we were surprised to see that all the seashells on the sands ahead of us were scurrying away from us; hundreds of them.

When we got close to one it simply plopped down on the sand and remained motionless, looking like any ordinary seashell.

I picked one up and it looked like a snail. I dropped it back onto the sand, perplexed. It just lay there.

Then another one caught my eye as it moved with surprising speed and then just as suddenly stopped.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

I picked it up too and saw legs tucked in on the bottom side. I saw that it was not a snail but a crab inside a snail’s shell. A Hermit Crab! This whole place was overrun by Hermit Crabs.

We named this place Hermit Crab Beach, and we had fun looking at these creatures. One got so flustered that I had picked him up that he crawled right out of his house and jumped off my hand into the water and ran away abandoning his home. Judy picked up two others with pretty houses and introduced them to each other. She though she would like to keep at least one of the shells and maybe she could entice these two to move in together but instead they got into a bit if a scuffle and neither was rash enough to flee without his house.

Both were returned to the beach.

Watching the Hermit Crabs made this little day trip in the dingy into a real treat, and a surprising one at that but we should not have been too surprised; You never know what to expect when you land on an empty beach in a remote place.

Click here for more shots from Hermit Crab Beach

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Langkawi

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 2, 2010-Five Stars for Datai Bay

By Febuary 2 we were ready to go sailing and departed Rebak Marina in a nice morning breeze. It was really good to get the sails up.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Dropping the Anchor

Click here to see sailing pictures from this trip.

We stopped at Datai Bay on the northern side of Langkawi. It is a gorgeous spot with calm waters for anchoring a boat (in the right season, in settled weather) surrounded by high mountains carpeted in virgin timber and with a mile long beach of white sand for walking or sunbathing. Datai Bay is on the edge of a Malaysian National Forest.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Andaman Hotel

There are two 5-star resorts at Datai Bay, the Datai and the Andaman. We went ashore and walked through both and thought it would be nice to stay there, but at $500 to $900 a night for the cheapest rooms, we decided not to make a booking.

But we did have a few meals ashore while at Datai Bay and drank some fine wine and we took a walk through the National Forest on which they border and on the beach. We saw tracks of wild boar, large otters, Monitor Lizards, and other wild life. From our boat we saw dolphins and many eagles but mostly what we saw in Datai Bay were pampered hotel guests enjoying some peace and quiet in a very nice location.

So we pampered ourselves and stayed three days. We liked it. We give the whole place 5 stars.

Click here for more photos from Datai Bay

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Langkawi

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