Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Mauritius Command

Kudos to Patrick O'Brien. 

The planning and preparation for our own Mauritius trip is in the final stage. The guys arrived as scheduled yesterday. Steve Bott, Dan Strehlow and Booth Devitt will be a great crew and we are all looking forward to a fun trip. The boat has been watered and fueled. More fuel than we have ever carried before is on board. We should be able to motor at least eight hundred miles if necessary. Airstream is probably heavier than it has ever been and sits lower than ever. The excellent light air performance of this boat will get a test in the initial stages of the voyage. Commander's Weather gives us a decent forecast and will act as forecasting and routing throughout the trip. We've got most of the provisioning done. Sufficient Oreos, Ritz Crackers and popcorn have been stowed away. We'll survive somehow. Only bread is left to come on board tomorrow.

Bill, Booth, Steve and Dan

It's three thousand nautical miles on the rhumb line from Phuket to Mauritius. We average one hundred and fifty miles a day so the voyage should take twenty days, right? The Chagos Archipelago lies almost midway so if we have time, I have a permit for the Chagos, we'll stop for a day or two. Supposed to be a fantastic place.

We can expect light to moderate NE winds from the NE monsoon until nearing the equator. Then there should be a narrow band of westerlies and then, hopefully  at around five degrees south, the SE trades will fill in and we bear away for Mauritius. My big concerns are not enough wind north of the equator and too much wind, in the form of tropical storms, south of the line.

Nellie, Dave 'the rigger's African Gray
I'll be able to update the blog via sailmail emails using HF radio. If you are interested in tracking our position go to the Pangolin website at: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/
On the left of the home page you'll see a link for "reporting boats". Scroll down the list to our call sign "KI6IKE" and you should see "Airstream". A click on the "track" info on the right should yield our position display.
Cruiser Camaraderie
We've said goodbye to some dear friends over the past couple weeks. People are heading out on their own cruises. We have had one more night of socializing and  we're off tomorrow, the 22nd  Phuket date, on the tide at about 1100 local time.

Love to all,
Bill, Booth, Dan and Steve

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Deja vu, All Over Again

 Rebak redux, unforgotten Phuket,  back in the saddle again. We're  in SE Asia. Or at least I am, Janet has been here the two weeks we planned and has already returned home. 
Langkawi Sunrise
The trip in was your basic long haul.  Arcata to San Francisco to Narita (Tokyo) to Singapore to Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi. Nice business class on Delta from SFO-NRT-SIN. We spent a night in Narita since I wanted to see any old friends who might be at the Radisson, our layover hotel since forever. Low and behold Janet and I walked into the sports bar and there was the "Anchorage table" with Drew Grimes, Greg Berry, Chris Armstrong, Greg Zerwis and a few other good guys. The main things I miss about flying are one, the flying and two, and much more so, the people. It was good to feel a part of this group for a night.
The pool at Rebak
It was a sweet return to Rebak Marina at Langkawi, Malaysia. Rebak is quiet, secure, well managed and beautiful. The pool/beach scene is about the most enjoyable we've ever found. We spent a hectic two days getting the boat ready to travel but a couple hours in the evening at the pool with an icy Tiger beer in hand made the days labors kind of fade into insignificance. 

The boat was in reasonable shape after sitting for five months in the tropics. The starting battery and battery charger had died. Luckily the same charger we had was available to purchase locally. We had planned on replacing all the batteries in Phuket so we figured we could make it there without a starting battery. We did a little provisioning, visited with John and Rena of "Scarlet O'Hara"  and shoved off for Phuket on the third day after we arrived.
Thai trawler

Ko Roc Beach
The plan was to take four days to do the hundred and twenty five nautical miles up to Boat Lagoon and Royal Phuket Marina in Phuket. We motored up to the Ko Rok island group, about sixty five miles, and spent the next day there snorkeling and wandering the beaches. It's a lovely place with clear waters, decent coral, lots of sea life and the usual penis shrine on one of the beaches erected, heh, heh, by the local fishermen to bring good luck.
Ok, Ok, A guy can fantasize.
Day three we made it into Maya Bay at Ko Phi Phi Le, the setting for much of the movie, "The Beach" and picked up a good mooring. Maya Bay is one of the most beautiful places on earth. From about six in the evening until about eight in the morning it's quiet with only a few cruising yachts present. During the 'day' the zoo of tourist boats is incredible and provides a little different form of amusement. This wears thin pretty fast and we left fairly early and had a nice sail up to Ko Yang Rai where we anchored out to wait for high tide the next day to get into the marina.
Maya Bay, it's still early!
Under sail at last.

So now the boat is hauled out at Royal Phuket Marina and work is in progress. The battery banks have been replaced with Trojan AGMs. The auto pilot, which functioned for one day after reinstalling the control head, is being worked on by Octopus Marine who seem pretty competent. The sails are being gone over by Rolly Tasker Sails, which I believe is the largest loft in the world. The keel damage from our encounter last year with 'the rock' is repaired. The boat will be back in the water in a couple days. Then I'll get started on final preparations for the voyage across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius.
Haul out at Royal Phuket. Very professional.
In the meantime I have an "apartment", really just a room, in a Phuket residential neighborhood. It's small but clean and comfortable with good tv and internet. I've got a car and Janet and I have run around the island in comfort and comparative security compared to  motor bike travel. We have some good friends here, Dave and Jan of "Baraka" and Glen, Marilyn and Jaryd of "Tin Soldier" are here as well as others and I hope to see Shilling and Tamoure before we shove off.
Janet at Maya Bay
Buy 'we' I mean Booth Devitt, Steve Bott and Dan Strehlow who will be helping me get the boat to Mauritius. The tentative departure date is February 22nd. It's a three thousand mile passage and should take about three weeks. Please stay tuned, the fun is just beginning.