Saturday, March 3, 2012

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Mauritius

Not even close to Mauritius. It's the 2nd of March and I'm with the boat at Rebak Marina in Langkawi, Malaysia. John, Booth and Danny left from here a few days ago and today I believe they departed Singapore for the USA. We had a good time together but we didn't do the voyage we planned.
Departing Phuket

So what the hell happened, as in "stuff" happens? No wind is what happened.  Before departure we got a final forecast from Commanders Weather and it looked pretty light across the Andaman Sea and the NE Indian Ocean but there was no reason not to give it a try and see what progress could be made. Maybe something would fill in and we'd be able to sail. So we departed with the tide about 1100 on the 22nd. We did a sea trial commissioning of the new auto pilot course computer and it went perfectly. We met up with Shilling who was heading north into the gulf and tossed them a can opener as a parting gift. It will be too long till we see them again.
Nice catch Dennis! Dennis and Janet, Shilling of Hamble.
 We had a nice little onshore breeze and sailed down the Phang Nga Gulf until bearing off to the SW into the Andaman Sea. And the wind died and never came back. So we motored two hundred miles out to the SW. At the end of the second day I got ahold of Commander's by SAT phone and got an updated forecast. The gist of it being there was no wind and no wind was forecast for at least the next week into our voyage. We were carrying twice as much fuel as I've ever carried before but that still gave us only about nine hundred miles range and it looked like that would not get us close to where any wind might come up, or might not, over the next couple weeks. Bummer. We wouldn't have enough fuel to get to the Chagos (and there's no fuel in the Chagos)  much less anywhere else. I know it's a sailboat but that little Yanmar diesel is pretty handy sometimes, like when there's no wind and the current is taking you somewhere you really don't want to go. 
TRW over the Andaman Sea. Flat calm.
So after a long hard think it seemed the only reasonable thing to do was to turn back. And since IMHO Langkawi is a much nicer place than Phuket for anything but boat work and massage we headed for Rebak Marina in Langkawi which was two hundred and forty eight miles to the SE when we made the turn. With the exception of a few hours of light wind from the NE we motored the entire way back in very, very flat calm conditions. Never before have I seen so little wind and sea over such a broad area. Arrival in Rebak was uneventful except that Glenn and Marilyn  from Tin Soldier were there to take our lines. They had arrived a few hours earlier from up in the gulf.
Cooling off at sea.

The decision has proved to be the right one over the past several days. The various forms of weather info available all show there's still no wind out there until the final couple hundred miles to the Mauritius and even that is fluky. The weather here has been nearly calm winds with thunderstorms in the late afternoon and night. It seems the transition to the SW monsoon is early this year and that's what caught us. A couple boats that headed for Sri Lanka a few days ago are bobbing around out there whining about no wind.
Steve, toughing it out at Rebak

So now the question is what to do next.

Heading SW across the Andaman Sea isn't going to be possible now. The next way to go west would be to go back down through the Straits of Malacca to Singapore and then back into Indonesia along the east side of Sumatra. Then we could exit the Java Sea through the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java and head west in the SE trades to Cocos Keeling Island and then on to Mauritius. We wouldn't want to exit the strait until May or June. And September might be best.

We could stay in SE Asia another year and do the Similans and Surins and some other islands we haven't seen yet. We could do some land travel in Myanmar. Then we could head west next year.

We could head east up into the Gulf of Thailand and the east coast of the Malay Peninsula.

Maybe our pirate friends will out of business by the time another year has passed  and it would again be feasible to go up into the Med as we had originally planned.
The Hard Dock Cafe, Rebak

For now I'm hauling the boat and putting it on the hard here at Rebak on the 5th. I'll catch a flight to Singapore on the 6th and should be home on the 7th of March. It's been a very nice time here at Rebak. Good friends from Baraka, Tin Soldier, Scarlet O'Hara, Tamoure and others are here and the socializing has been excellent. Rebak itself is the nicest of places. But it is lonely here without Janet and I'm heading home for  a few months at least. Please stay tuned. We'll let you know how the "plan" evolves.

Love to all,

No comments: