March 11, 2010-Night Moves, v3
It started out small but by 6:30 you could surf on it; long, dark, rollers sweeping in from the North. We had no idea where they came from (other than the north) since the wind was from the east but they were here, they were big, and it was the last straw for the anchorage we were in on the north end of Koh Yao Yai.
Damn! We had to move, no question about that.
It was disappointing. Earlier in the day, while sailing past, we’d scoped out this place and in a settled easterly wind it was a gorgeous: 20 feet of clear water, complete protection from the East and a nice white sand beach to look at while sipping our 5:00 glass of white wine. We came back and anchored that afternoon with high expectations.
We didn’t ask for too much: Just give us the predicted easterly wind, the wind we had all day, the wind in the forecast, some flat water, and let this place be as nice in the night as it was when we saw it in the daytime.
Nature laughs at us.
First there was the tide against the wind. We had the easterly wind alright, and some northerly, and also some southerly, but no matter which way the wind blew we faced south into the flood tide. Bummer! When the boat does not swing to the wind direction the motion is not comfortable and the ventilation below doesn’t work. But we can live with it.
Then the squalls came. First out of the south, then the west, finally the north. Rain, wind, waves. Ugly! But squalls blow over, we can wait these out.
But when the swell arrived…We’re moving, NOW!
Not much light at 6:30 PM but we decided to go to Ao Labu, a big bay to the south of us about 5 miles which we rejected earlier because it was shallow and you couldn’t get in very far, plus we knew the easterly winds would fairly whistle through the bay due to the low isthmus on its east side. We knew all this; we’d been there before.
wingssail images-judy jensen
Planning a night move
And what choice did we have? We couldn't stay where we were and on this part of Phang Nga Bay there are damn few anchorages and none which are very good. Ao Labu it is. Besides, we knew the place and we felt we could go in after dark. Night moves are sometimes required.
In the growing darkness we weighed anchor and began motoring rapidly south along the Yao Yai shoreline not taking time to set the sails or even to switch off the gas barbeque but comforted at the fact that we were taking action rather than sitting in the heaving swells all night and hating every minute of it, unable to relax for a moment; we had regained control of our own destiny. The move itself was uneventful; Wings did her job, engine running smoothly, autopilot working, navigation and steaming lights on. The distant headland guarding Ao Labu was still visible when we got underway but in the gathering gloom it soon turned into a black shape and I watched it as we drew nearer, Judy frequently ducking below to track the position and progress on the electronic chart displayed on the computer in the nav station. She gave heading changes to me which guided us down the coast and finally around the corner into Ao Labu where, thankfully, the swells were blocked and the wind was gentle and steady out of the east.
So that is how we came to anchor at Ao Labu in the pitch black night, navigating by electronic chart and the depth sounder, creeping our way in until we got to 18 feet and there were anchor lights around us. We dropped the hook.
After that things got better; it was calm and we could rest the night.
Tomorrow morning we’ll see where exactly we are.
Click here for another image of the Ao Labu chart
Click here to see the log book pages of our sailing trips in March 2010
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Thailand