Day 2 Conditions were lively last night with the wind about 40 degrees off the bow and lots of clouds that would give us more wind. Our main was reefed so we were able to furl and unfurl our jib as needed. Miraculously, we seemed to sail between all the big bad black clouds so no true squalls or rain. It's sunset and the wind has backed off. Time to shake out the reef while there's light. Should be easy going the rest of the way and we hope to arrive midday tomorrow.
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Woke up this morning to a SUNNY day (after 5 or more days of continuous squalls!). Trying to decide if we should set sail today or if tomorrow might be less rainy. Discovered that our local internet service had run out so we raised anchor and left! Our wind has been consistently 14-16 knots, about 75 degrees off the bow and we've averaged 6.5 knots in our first 12 hours, with no squalls. If this keeps up, we can do the 285 mile trip to Chagos in 48 hours! Whoo-hoo! Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
After 60 days island hopping through the Maldives, we have arrived at Gan, the southern-most island. On the way, we crossed the equator for the 6th time. Yes, it has been more of a ' meander' than a 'highway' over the past 6 years. Our first equatorial crossing was on the way from Mexico to the Marquesas a lifetime ago in 2013! Bruce shared a tot of good Caribbean rum with Neptune, as is our custom. Our next crossing will be next year in another hemisphere when we sail the southern Atlantic from South Africa to St. John. We must be sure to save some of the good rum for that 7th and perhaps final crossing.
We hope to leave Monday, April 22 for the Chagos. For a month we will be in an uninhabited atoll owned by the British Indian Ocean Territories. We jumped through all kinds of expensive hoops for a permit to stop there on our way south. Then the dreaded 8 day sail to Rodrigues, one of the most challenging passages in the India Ocean. But Rodrigues, said to be like the French Caribbean 50 years ago, will be the reward (also beer and wine which are not available in the Maldives or Chagos). Once we are underway, we will be posting daily progress reports. Cheers!
We are three weeks into our sojourn through the Maldives. The good news is that we are enjoying the sailing, swimming, schools of reef fish, daily dolphin sitings, and the occasional Manta Ray. The bad news is that this world renowned reef system is 90% dead from coral bleaching. We wonder how long before the fish disappear too. Heartbreaking. This country's economy depends on very high end tourism and the attraction is the diving.
The Maldives is a 100% Muslin country which means no bacon and no booze! Anywhere! We've been living in Muslim countries for the past 2 years and typically the Chinese merchants sell non-halal products. But not here. So our beer stash has dwindled to about half a case and we won't have an opportunity to get more until the end of May when we get to Mauritious! Fortunately, Bruce stocked up on rum in Langkawi (it was $10 a bottle for the good stuff so we have a supply of good, Caribbean dark rum). I am experimenting with my first batch of ginger beer! Hopefully the only part of our adventures that will be 'dark and stormy' will be happy hour!
Spent the last few nights anchored inside reefs and not off an island. Beautiful, but not always as calm or secure as we would like. Did some snorkelling but requires towing dinghy as current is running. Today we did a short 11 mile hop to an island with an unfinished, abandoned resort.
We'll dinghy in later to explore this eerie ghost town. This should be a calm anchorage so we will stay here for a few days. Bruce has a few projects he wants to do and I would like to take down and reinforce our 7 year old bimini (that I made in Morro Bay, CA before we left on tbis adventure!). The scenery here still amazes us and we've had perfect weather so far so life is good!
Lovely 23 mile sail to our next destination, an uninhabited island in the next atoll to the south of Uligan. Uligan was an amazing experience.
It is a small island of about 350 (about 77 school-age kids). Our agent and the immigration officer threw a fish BBQ on the beach for the four visiting boats the day after we arrived. We were asking about the various Maldivian dishes, which were all delicious, and the immigration officer, Niyaz, volunteered his wife, Nisaha, to give us a cooking lesson! Their 'weedend' is Friday and Saturday with Friday being like our "sabath". So, on Saturday we went to his house in the morning and his wife taught us to make roti.
Hers were perfectly round and transparent-thin. Ours looked like Australia, Africa, and Spain, befitting our international status! Then we sat around the kitchen table and mostly watched as they prepared a feast and treated us all to a wonderful lunch. Later in the afternoon Niyaz took us in his golf-cart/truck (no cars on the island) to the local farm where we were able to get eggplant, pumpkin, cucumber, greens, and chilis, cut directly off the vine and still warm from the sun. We were overwhelmed by the hospitality we experienced in Uligan. Oh, and did I mention that it is drop-dead gorgeous here and we snorkeled off the boat every day? What an incredible first impression of the Maldives!
We arrived in Uligan, Maldives around 3:00 pm yesterday. Officials, all young men in nice uniforms and big welcoming smiles, came to the boat and swiftly and efficiently cleared us in. Our agent, Assad, invited us to join them for a quick dinner on a neighboring island. We declined as we were too tired, so he brought it to us as he didn't want us to have to cook on our first night.
Our surroundings are stunningly beautiful and I'm so happy we chose to come here! It's like Anegada or the Bahamas, but better, if that's possible. After we dropped the hook, which we can clearly see on the bottom, we were greeted by a large school of dolphins doing giant, joyful leaps out of the water. Schools of small fish went skip-stoning across the water, pursued by some unseen larger fish. I saw a huge splash in the distance that must have been a large Ray leaping out of the water. We haven't been in water we could swim in since Raja Ampat, almost 2 years ago! I feel like I'm 'home' in this beautiful water-world. After such an easy passage (1600 miles in 10 days) I feel like I'm getting my mojo back and might actually have the fortitude I need for the long trip back to St. John. But for now, I want to rejuvenate in these islands for the next few months. Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
We are motor sailing at 7 knots with about 9 knots apparent wind. Yesterday it looked like we were way south of our course line and would have to claw our way north against waves and current, putting us at the entrance to the atoll around midnight tonight (and we would never attempt going in at night). But in the past 12 hours our wind angle and boat speed improved, we honed in on an exact course rather than approximate, and now it looks like we can make it to our anchorage before sunset today! That means a good night's sleep tonight before meeting officials and clearing into the Maldives tomorrow. 1540 miles and two time zones behind us and 60 miles to go,! Appreciate Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
We are on our final leg and have been motoring with the main up since yesterday afternoon. Winds are light and, unfortunately on the nose. We are trying to go NW but there has been an unfavorable current so we are going below our rhum-bline. Our 24hr mileage was 120 and we will be adding distance by not being able to steer our direct route. So ETA is now February 20. The good news is that February 19 is the full moon and we will be able to enjoy it. Other than complaining about wind direction, our weather has been amazing the entire trip.
And speaking of complaining, allow me to indulge. I am very tired and cranky this morning. Our new engine, while quieter than the old one, produces a very loud and high pitched harmonic when run above 1500 RPM (recommended RPM is 1600-1800). As I was turning in for some shut-eye, Bruce cranked up the engine. Well in our aft stateroom, it was like an air-raid siren. I tried ear plugs, pillow over head, to know avail. Ended up in the main cabin to escape brain damage, but we don't have a bunk in our main cabin. So no sleep. We ended up reducing RPM to make it tolerable. Bruce slept like the dead when it was his turn to catch some sleep And......speaking of dead. In the middle of my watch, noticed a bit of gore on the deck that appeared to be a fish eye! How does that happen? When Bruce got up, he found a dead, one-eyed flying fish in the galley, almost in the frying pan on the stove! Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
Dropped sails yesterday and motored across traffic separation zone. Non-stop line of empty tankers headed back to middle east to load up (fuel for China and Australia, etc). Fuel seems rather cheap when you consider the miles they go to deliver and return. Everywhere we go it seems we pay about $4/gal. for both gasoline (petrol) and diesel. The wind picked back up so once we were safely across the traffic lanes, we raised sail and headed SW, away from the traffic. At 0200 we jibed and set course NW for Maldives (YAY!). We are on a beam reach with 11 kts of apparent wind and traveling at 8 kts with benefit of current! The wind is supposed to die later today and we will most likely motor the rest of the trip so we are enjoying the breeze while we can. We just finished another 24 hours logging 166 nm. So much better than we expected. All is well! Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
Dang! I've been composing my daily entry in the wee hours of my night watch, and then finishing it at 0830 when I have our 24 mileage. But the post I wrote last night has disappeared and I don't have anyway of knowing if it sent itself or deleted itself (I take no responsibility for either action). Sensei Jim Cole, any suggestions? Just after the sun came up we were hit by our first squall of the trip (pretty good considering this stretch of ocean). Laura's watch but no problem as the jib was already furled, we got a 50 degree favorable wind shift, and wind didn't exceed 20-22 knots (downwind so apparently wind was less). For you non-sailors, imagine bicycling against 20 mph wind as opposed to having that wind on your back). The rain wasn't very hard and, anyway, the old girl needed a fresh water rinse. The boat could use one too! We did 164 nm our 6th day, and we are grateful for the current assist as winds were light. Now we are approaching the 'highway' of commercial traffic that runs east-west below Sri Lanka. Some are bound for the Suez, Africa, or India, and others to points east. I did see the name of one ship on AIS, COSTCO UNIVERSE! Scary or progress? By the end of the day, before the sun sets, we should be safely across. Signing off for now.
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Logged another 178 nm between 0800 yesterday and 0800 today, for a total of 800 nm in 5 days. Not to shabby!Now our winds are diminishing and will continue to do so for the rest of the trip. Peaceful, starry night as wind lightened. When the sun rose, we jibed and shook out the reef in the Mainsail. This takes about 30 minutes and involves more lines than we have hands or winches, plus moving the Spinnaker pole is much more complicated now that Bruce can no longer 'dip' it, but the two of us must disconnect it and carry it aft to clear the new inner stay. (I see some sort of quick-release hardware in our future.) We also had many un-fair leads to sort out as we weren't sufficiently caffeinated. So we begin day 6. Bruce is already talking about more fun and games with our Spinnaker as the latest weather report shows less wind than before. We have 5 days to go and fuel to motor 3-4.
BTW, on this side of the dateline it is February 14. So Happy Valentine's Day everyone and a special shout out to Dwight Long who is getting the gift of knee replacement surgery! Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
We continue westward toward Sri Lanka with 16-21 knots of wind from ENE. Wing and wing with a reefer main and full (90%) jib. We've had a favorable current and achieved a remarkable 190 nm in the last 24 hours. The wind should come down later today and continue to dwindle so we are happy to make the most of the weather we've had. We'll most likely be motoring with no wind the last three days which will give us a chance to run the water maker and hand-wash some clothes! Also, I'll save my more ambitious meals for flatter seas. I must have 6 mos. of food stashed all over the boat and haven't even put a dent in the loaded refrigerator. All is well on board.
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End of day three Enjoying our wing and wing downwind run with winds from the East around 17 knots.Jibed over to port tack after sunrise and coffee. Sailed through pass in Nickobar Islands by mid-day. Decided to jibe back to starboard tack before sunset as wind will eventually click north of east. Roller furling had fouled on the drum plus our newly installed inner stay makes moving the Spinnaker pole more difficult so it was dark by the time we had everything in order. Now enjoying a quiet, very dark night cruising at 7 knots. The wind is supposed to die around February 16 so we want to sail as many miles as possible before that happens. ETA still looking like February 19. Looking forward to more moonlight as February 19 is the full moon.
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our first night underway was calm and gorgeous. Crew was well fed and well rested. No moon so a zillion stars. North Star and Big Dipper on the right and Southern Cross on our left as we sail towards Orion. Our first 24 hours yielded a measly 114 miles. But today the wind picked up and we were close reaching at 7+ knots. By 1300 we decided to reef the main. So more wind means lumpier seas and we are acclimating! The winds should stay with us for another 5 or 6 days which will get us around the southern tip of Sri Lanka. Mick on Zoa is within 8-10 miles of us so we are in regular radio contact. All is well.
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Raised anchor at 0800. Heading west with light winds behind us. Motor sailed all day with fickle winds. Turned off engine at 2230. Currently sailing at 4 knots with 7 knots from the NW. A gentle way to ease into sailing! Spent most of the day charging batteries, topping off water tanks with watermaker, practicing ukulele, crocheting yet another beer coozie from (recycled) grocery bags, enjoying fresh food while it lasts, tweaking sails and enjoying being away from the stifling heat in the anchorage.
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Happy Lunar New Year (year of the pig!). We are planning to check out of Thailand on Friday and depart on Saturday (Friday is considered unlucky for a nautical departure although we have done that many times). We will probably have no wind for the first 12-24 hours which will give us a chance to run the engine, charge the batteries, and top off our water tanks with the water maker. After that we should be able to sail. It seems like FOREVER since we've been offshore so I am hoping for a gentle re-entry! We plan to post daily while offshore and hope to make landfall in the Maldives February 19 (full moon!). If you need to contact us while we are offshore, you can email us at email@example.com.
Spent a few days cruising the hongs of Phang Nga Bay.
Spectacularly beautiful and peaceful once you get away from day boats. Now we are at Krabi with a million noisy longtails ferrying tourists to and from the beach. Tomorrow we head back to civilization to make final preparations for our Indian Ocean crossing. I'm out of food after a week of cruising - how will I provision for 4 months. Yikes! Plus permits, visas, insurance, taxes... Ugh! Hope to be out of here first week of February.
Looking forward to having all the prep behind us and hopefully enjoy the ride.
Finally official! Checked in yesterday afternoon and took a walk to check out local supermarket. OK, but disappointing after Malaysia. Will have to figure out how to get 3-4 months provisions before we leave. Wind is still blowing and anchorage is very lumpy. Long dinghy ride to shore. Looking for a more favorable option.
Perfect sailing conditions for 35 nm sail to Phi Phi Don.
Recounted plot of The Beach to Bruce as we sailed past the island where it was filmed. Picked up a mooring in gorgeous spot which we should have to ourselves once day trippers leave. Tomorrow we expect similar conditions for the 25 nm sail to Ao Chalong, Phuket to (finally!) clear in to Thailand and get some Thai food!
Well, we expected to beat our way from Langkawi to Phuket - sailing NW with NE winds. But the winds have been from the north! Yesterday we clawed our way from Koh Lipe to Rok Nok into 16 kts on the nose. 43 miles turned into 50 with tacking (even motoring we needed to be off the wind with the main up to make any kind of speed). Left at sun-up and arrived at sun-down. Made a bee line for an available mooring and a charter cat came around the corner, saw we were heading for the mooring, and closed the gap when we were about 3 boat lengths away and snagged it out from under us. (Visions of Tawanda and the parking scene in Fried Green Tomatoes). It was the last available mooring so we anchored with the big boys in 120 ft! A record for us but very light breeze so no problem.
We realized early on that we can't make Phuket in these winds and a typhoon is expected to impact the area on Friday. So we did an easy jog today to Ko Lanta off the mainland and we will stay here until the weather straightens out on Sunday. Then, hopefully two easy day -hops will get us to Phuket where we can finally check into Thailand!
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