Category Archives: Circumnavigation
After 3 days in Huhulmale Camomile and Norsa left to explore the north Male atoll. As we had come down the outside of the atoll we hadn’t had a chance to explore inside the atoll so the plan was to spend a week or two doing it together. On 23rd March, after a few last minute jobs, we headed north to Masleggihura island.
We anchored at
in 12metres of water on sand.
The overwater bungalows of the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa were just in front of us. It’s difficult to see in this photo but behind these bungalows are the surfing waves that come across the Indian Ocean hitting the shallows and bringing in a great right hander.
It was good to see our sailing buddies across the way from us.
The next day both yachts continued north for about 2 hours to the Asdhoo reef.
Once again as you can see from our track the charts can’t be relied on here. The anchorage was a bit of a horseshoe in the reef and fitted our 2 boats snugly. We anchored at
We were on about 6 metres sand but you need to look at it on google earth first before you go in. a few bommies around but otherwise good. If you don’t feel brave enough to go in there’s a more open anchorage to our west (little blue pin) but we didn’t look at it.
After lunch we took the dinghies across to Asdhoo island. We found a lovely little holiday village called Asdu Sun Island, a delightfully laid back resort without all the trappings of the luxury resorts you normally find in the Maldive BUT also without the costs. The tiny island has the most gorgeous beach surrounding it with little white painted concrete huts in among the trees. Very yachtie friendly they were quite happy for us to sit and have a beer (US$3.50) at their bar plus they were offering an evening buffet meal for $20 but as they didn’t serve it until 8pm we passed on that one. Our main objective was to check out the dive school to arrange a dive. We booked for the following afternoon.
We went back to the boats for sundowners on Norsa. We had a great view of Camomile in the sunset.
The bommie below the rudder
The next morning there wasn’t a breathe of wind and the water was so clear. This was the view from the bathing platform. It looked as though the reef was just under the surface but it was 3 or 4 metres below us and not a danger to us at all; amazing to see.
You can just about see the rudder at the top of the photo.
That morning Bill and Norman got their dive kits out partly to have a practise as it’s quite a few years since Norman has dived and partly because Norsa’s anchor chain had wrapped a bommie overnight and Bill and Norman thought it would be good chance to try out their kit before the dive in the afternoon. The water was nice and clear, all went well and the chain was freed. Sara also had a practise .
After lunch we went back to Ashdoo island for the dive. It took about an half hour to get everything sorted and loaded onto the dive boat and we were off. It was nice to be in someone else’s boat and not worry about where the reef was. The dive boat went around the back of the island and you can see the accommodation, it isn’t brilliant but good value for anyone that wants a budget holiday in the Maldives. It’s only about 2 hours on a ferry from Male.
After about half an hour we stopped by the Panetone reef. The island has a lot of Italians staying there and the dive master was also Italian. Panetone means cake in Italian and apparently that’s what the reef is like – round with coral all around the edge. Luckily there was only Bill, Norman and Sara diving with 2 dive masters so it was good for their first dive.
I don’t dive but had a bit of a snorkel over the top although it was a bit deep and the visibility wasn’t great. They all enjoyed their dive. After doing a circuit of ‘the cake’ they did a second circuit higher across the top and saw 4 turtles. I’d looked for them while snorkeling but hadn’t seen any. The cost was US$51 for Bill’s dive with his own equipment but Norman and Sara paid nearer $160 because they hired some things as well. When we got back Ken and Eiloo had arrives on Antares II so we all enjoyed a beer together at the bar.
It was such a lovely spot we stayed another day. On Saturday 26th, Easter Saturday, we had a wonderful snorkel. The boats were surrounded by reef on three sides so we were spoilt for choice. Wonderful coral.
This is brain coral because as you can see it looks like a brain! It was about 2 feet high.
Lots of fish around.
Unfortunately these beautiful starfish are the enemy of the reef. They are called Crown of Thorns because they are covered in spiny thorns and are impossible to pick up. They eat the coral and we’ve seen whole areas devastated by them.
There are more crown of thorns in this photo and you can see the white coral in the middle of the picture is being gradually eaten by them. This area is suffering enough with the bleaching of the coral caused by the warm waters of El Nino it doesn’t need these creatures too.
Norman and Sara swam over to join us. We stayed in the water for a long time. The coral was very pretty with lots of fish but nothing big today.
The next day we heard on the net that Tintin and Inspiration Lady were arriving in the North Male atoll and, more importantly, Jacqui had mini easter eggs on board.
Originally we had planned to go to the resort at Helengeli then into the Maa Haa atoll then over to Himmiya but plans are designed to be changed so Camomile and Norsa went across the atoll to Himmiya instead.
As we arrived I stood up on the bow watching the coral under us. The dark patches are coral, the light patches in between is sand. Fortunately nothing less than 6 metres and all good.
We anchored at
It looks as though all of the northern area is open but it isn’t. There was a semi circle of coral right around the top and we crossed the reef just as we turned to port. There was an area there that was deeper than the rest. The chart is out again.
Norsa arrived just ahead of us. Inspiration Lady just behind them. Norman and Sara haven’t seen Jackie and Gary or Jacqui and Kevin in almost 2 years. After the anchors settled we all headed across to a nearby resort for lunch.
Great to have everyone together again. The resort was very nice and allowed yachties in (a lot of them don’t) but it was fairly expensive with beers at US$6 and that was only a can. Jacqui treated herself to a cocktail but we just drank water. We shared a club sandwich and even that was $20++ I can buy a lot of groceries with that sort of money.
The resort was very relaxing though and we sat and chatted for the afternoon.
When we got back to the boats Kevin and Jacqui came round all the boats with Jacqui doing her Easter bunny impression and handing out Cadbury’s creme eggs. As I haven’t had so much as a sniff of an Easter egg this year or even any chocolate, it was very welcome and gone before they got back to Tintin!
Thank you Jacqui.
The next morning we were all going about our jobs when not one but three different pods of dolphins came dancing through the anchorage. I was out there watching for about an hour. So wonderful to see.
Later that afternoon we all went snorkeling and as well as the usual fish darting about we spotted this big sting ray laying on the seabed trying to pretend he wasn’t there. It must have been 2 metres nose to tip. It’s difficult to make out but it’s laying across the picture with his nose and eyes on the left and his tail to the right. It didn’t seem to bother about us swimming around him.
Tuesday 29th March Camomile and Norsa joined Tintin and Inspiration Lady to continue on their journey south to Male but we had one more stop the rasfari reef to see if we could see the Manta rays. Inspiration Lady and Tintin decided to keep going but we wanted to give it a go. We found a tiny patch of sand at
073 21.557E (you can see the size of the sand patch around us)
If anyone is following behind us the weather needs to very calm to stop here because there’s no protection. There was only room for one boat on this patch but there were some more sand patches a bit further south. Once Bill was happy our anchor was holding Norsa came to tie onto us.
The area is a well known ‘cleaning station’. The mantas come into the shallow water so that the little carnivorous wrasse fish can eat the small parasites that live on the surface of the mantas.
We took the dinghies north of our position and got in the water to drift snorkel back towards the boats. We were almost back to the boats when we saw our first one. Among the most dramatic creatures in the ocean, mantas are cartilaginous fish – like flattened sharks.
With a wingspan of about 4 metres these were quite formidable in the water. They are quite harmless although the barb on their tail is what you have to watch out for but you can’t get close enough for it to be a danger.
There were several of them swimming around us.
I managed to get several really good videos but Bill was worried they were getting too close so we got back in the dinghy and they continued to swim around us. We counted 4 altogether, several around us and one by Norsa’s dinghy.
We spent about an hour watching them then headed back to the boats and left.
We carried on down the west side of the Rasfari reef in open water – away from dangers. We gave the southern reef a wide berth because it came out further than charted, and anchored south east of the little Rasfari island at
there were a few bommies around but plenty of sand to anchor in.
The little island is home to the local phone mast. There are an assortment of generators surrounding it and about half a dozen men maintaining it.
What an amazing place to work. The island was tiny but beautiful with a scenic sandspit on the southern end. a great place to take a 360 degree panoramic shot.
We walked back through the middle of the island along the little path the men have created out of plastic containers. They had rabbits and chickens running about although I’m not sure if they were pets or if they were going to eat them – everyone said it was the latter.
Inspiration Lady had headed on into Male but Tintin, Norsa and Camomile stayed one more today. It was a lovely spot.
On the 31st March we arrived back in Male for more shopping, washing and general jobs.
Camomile, Tintin and Inspiration Lady left Kulhuduffushi harbour in the Thiladhunmathee atoll on 14th March. Once into the deep water we put the genny out and sailed south. Makes a change from motoring. I run a net on the SSB radio on 4036 (the old BWR 4A) every morning at 05.00 utc or 10.00 Maldives time and I can hear vessels calling in better with the engine off. We managed to chat to Sara on Norsa this morning. It was good to hear her voice.
At 13.00 Camomile arrived at Farukolhu in the Miladhunmadulu atoll. I had looked at it on google earth and we had waypoints for a passage across the reef. Bill started to manually steer us in while I stood on the bow watching the coral getting closer under the boat. We were down to 2.8 metres of water with .8 under the keel in a half metre swell when Bill decided it was too dangerous. We could see clear water up ahead and the lagoon looked superb but it wasn’t worth putting Camomile on the rocks for it so Bill carefully reversed out. There might have been a way in a bit further north but the swell was more there so the entrance was aborted.
We continued south to Dholhiyadhoo island. There was an extensive reef to the south which we skirted round and then headed north when we could see clear water. You can see by this screenshot that the chart is out because we were anchored south of the island in front of the derelict resort and the screenshot puts us out to the east. You need mark one eyeball to navigate here.
Tintin were in first so they were able to let us know on the vhf what the anchorage was like. Inspiration Lady and Camomile crossed the reef together and anchored either side of Tintin. Then we had a problem. Bill had dropped the anchor but when he tried to reverse the engine to get the anchor to set he had no control of the steering. At first he thought the gearbox had broken!
Bill looked in the engine bay and said the gearbox looked ok and it must be further up. When he opened the side of the binnacle where the throttle and gear cables are this is what he found. The tube on the right is supposed to be straight. It was the gear cable. As this has happened before we carry a spare so Bill set about fixing it. At that moment we had no control of the boat and if the wind picked up overnight or the anchor dragged onto the reef there would be nothing we could do so it needed to be fixed straight away.
Bill and I spent the rest of the afternoon and into the evening trying to route the cable through into the gear box below. Unfortunately as the old one was broken it was really difficult to thread it through. I was trying to poke it through the hole and Bill was trying to catch it coming through into the engine bay. Sounds easy but as you need to be a deformed midget to do anything inside the engine bay it wasn’t. The cable kept going behind the fuel tank and as usual a 0ne hour job became a day and a night job but we managed it eventually.
While Bill was grovelling around the engine he noticed another breakage. This should be around the stern tube and is the only thing stopping the boat flooding and sinking. Fortunately Bill always has 2 jubilee clips on all the external hoses so we weren’t in danger of sinking but it will need to go on the shopping list for Male.
Bill wasn’t happy with our position so with the gear cable fixed we re-anchored the boat our position was
Having spent a day and a half sorting the boat we decided to go for a walk. The beautiful crescent island of Dholhiyadhoo has a half finished resort on it which was probably started about 6 or 7 years ago looking at the timbers on some of the buildings and the dilapidation in general. Tintin and Camomile took their dinghies to the jetty on the west side of the island. This is where the staff quarters are built and it looked fairly finished. The little mosque taking pride of place.
As we walked further into the resort it was obvious it would never open. The buildings were so derelict that a new owner would need to take them to ground level before they could rebuild. The restaurant had gaping holes in the roof. The kitchen, the only building with a metal roof, was just being used for storage.
Even though it looked like everyone was going to have their own pool there was still a big pool that faced north which had a number of buildings surrounding it that were probably intended to be a bar and spa. The rainwater that had collected in it was full of mosquitoes.
The accommodation built on the north side of the island was based on land and not overwater so it was possible to look inside them. They were all derelict except villa No 2. It had been finished to presumably show potential buyers what they could look like. It seemed futile considering the state of the rest of the resort but it was an indication of how the finished buildings could look like. The photo above shows how most of them looked but this is the finished outside bathroom with his and hers basins.
The photo above is looking out across the bedroom. This photo is taken from the corner looking across the room to the bed. The curtains were drawn to prevent the sun getting in. Also behind the wall behind the bed was an amazing dressing room with an enviable set of wardrobes.
Each villa was going to have it’s own pool but most of the pools were full of dirty water but at villa no 2 it was being kept drained and clean. It looked out onto the beach.
All the overwater bungalows were derelict and you couldn’t get any where near them.
The next day we left Dholhiyadhoo island and Inspiration Lady and Tintin. Norsa had reported on the net that they had electrical problems and we decided to head to Male to meet them when they arrived. There wasn’t any wind so we motored for 4 hours to the Viha Faru reef at
The anchorage was good for an overnight stop.
The northern atolls are the least developed regions of the Maldives and are almost unknown to foreigners. The traditional Maldivian life is virtually untouched. The Ihavandhippolhu atoll is generally known as Haa Alifu atoll, possibly because of it’s unpronounceable name. The island of Uligamu, where we checked in, is right at the top of Haa Alifu.
Sunday 6th March was Mother’s day in the UK and I was feeling sad because I couldn’t spend it with our sons so we went for a walk around the island instead. Having walked around the village several times now we knew our way around. This is their lovely mosque on the waterfront that has been recently built. We walked past and through the village to the jungle edge and kept going across the middle of the island to the beach on the other side. It’s only a 20 minute walk. There was quite a small beach but we headed south and started walking around the island.
The beach became rocky and difficult to pass so we walked back into the jungle. Bill discovered this well by the path. Most of the islands have a fresh water table running under them and this well had been dug to access the water. Not sure I would drink from it.
There aren’t any vehicles on the island but we discovered this old truck a bit worse for wear. Needs a new set of tyres to start with.
This crazy hermit crab is using an old aerosol top as a shell.
Eventually we got back onto the beach. The sand was so soft under our feet; our footprints were the only ones on the beach.
The driftwood was amazing. Thinking of you Claire Fox, you would love this beach.
The waves were mesmerising as they crashed over a hard edge of coral all along the beach. Not so good for swimming but wonderful to watch.
Eventually we came to the southern tip which formed a sand bar. Such beauty.
The western side of the island was calmer being away from the swells coming in from the Indian ocean. Bill managed to find a tree to sit under…….
….. while I played in the beautiful warm azure sea.
Monday 7th I did some writing and we stayed on the boats waiting for the grocery delivery from an island further south. I had ordered some bread and wasn’t sure what would turn up but some very nice fresh brown bread arrived in the afternoon. Happy Birthday to my sister Amanda today.
Tuesday 8th was the day we decided to leave Uligamu. After having been there for 5 days it was time to move on.
We didn’t go far just 5 miles south to the island of Govvaafushi.
Our position was
We gradually crept in until it was shallow enough to anchor. It was still inside the Ihavandhippolhu atoll.
The yellow line is our track.
The island belongs to the Waldorf Astoria whose resort, which is the most northerly resort in the Maldives, is on the next island. We went ashore and discovered the most romantic hideaway hidden in the sand dunes. I took a video but failed to take any pictures – how silly of me! Any way there was a little hut with a table and 2 chairs on the patio with an outside shower room behind it. Next to it was a circular outside bed surrounded with mosquito netting. As it’s US$1300 a night on the main island goodness knows how much the ‘Castaway island’ experience would cost but it looked beautiful. I’ll post the video on facebook.
The island was very small and you could walk around it in about half an hour but what an amazing half hour. The beach was stunning.
We spent the morning just relaxing and swimming in the warm waters before going back to the boat.
In the afternoon a resort boat turned up with 2 island workers followed by another boat 10 minutes later with 2 resort guests. After serving them with cold drinks on the beach they were left on the island to enjoy lunch and a swim . They only stayed a couple of hours, I wonder how much it cost them.
After the guests were taken off the island the resort staff returned and cleared everything away, mattress, mosquito netting, picnic, towels, even the shower gel. The spoil sports even turned the water off because I was going to have a shower. We had our sundowners on the beach and watched the sun go down.
Sitting on the bathing platform with my feet in warm, clear, azure blue sea overlooking white sand beach eating my breakfast of fresh sweet pineapple, yoghurt and museli with a pod of at least 40 harbour porpoises (about half the size of dolphins) swimming in the water not 50 metres from the boat with one juvenile who had obviously just learnt to jump and pirouette in the air (wonder if his name is James) with them. We have arrived safely in the Maldives. Can it get any better than this?
Our position on Wednesday 3rd February is
I spent our last day at sea nervously watching the twizzle rig and every squeak and knock made me jump but all was well. We discovered what had broken it’s fall when it came down. If you look at the wooden slat holding the diesel cans in place it’s been pushed right down. That was much higher so the ends of the poles must have hit it first forcing it down to the deck before they too clattered onto the deck, lucky it didn’t puncture the fuel can.
Bill ran the mobile generator for most of the day to charge the batteries while we had the watermaker on (not sure if we’ll be able to make water in the anchorage). It saves having to put the engine on and preserves the batteries. We also gave Hans a rest and had Luke, our other autopilot, running all day. (Why Luke? – think starwars!)
A big container ship passed us in the afternoon. We hadn’t seen a ship for days and suddenly there was one coming straight for us. With the twizzle rig flying and the main held down with a preventer to stop it jibbing we are ‘restricted in our ability to manoeuvre’ an acknowledged nautical term and one Bill used on the vhf radio when speaking to their bridge. Something we rarely do but he was heading towards us. Happily he obliged by changing his course and going behind us. There were also quite a lot of small fishing boats out there as we got closer to land, some wanting to sell us fish, not little fish, huge great big ones! We laughed and waved and said no thank you.
Our last day at sea was spent on whale watch. There are supposed be Blue whales in the waters around Sri Lanka all year round but we didn’t see any – lots of flying fish but no whales. At 11.00 I spotted land on the horizon, always a wonderful sight. By midday we were motoring into the outer entrance of the harbour. We called Port control on vhf 16 and asked for clearance to go to the town jetty which they happily gave. They sent a couple of young naval cadets in a small launch to escort us to the town jetty although for those following on we didn’t require or request a pilot. If you are offered one just say no thank you or you will be charged for it.
We dropped anchor at 13.00 just in front of Tintin who had arrived first thing in the morning. We unwrapped the dinghy and went ashore to the town jetty to meet Ravi our agent who helped us check in with first immigration then customs. All very quick and painless. The customs and immigration are based either side of the town jetty which is also a very safe place to leave your dinghy because the guards walk around with guns so I don’t think anyone would dare take it. Inspiration Lady arrived safely the next day. We have a visa for 30 days and will be based here during that time. Trincomalee is a bit off the beaten tourist track because it’s in the heart of Tamil Tiger land and the war only finished in 2009 but the people are very friendly here. We plan to spend some of our time on some land travel. So watch this space.
I’ve updated the blogs I wrote on the journey with the photos I took so feel free to have a browse of the website.
Our passage of 1039 miles took us 7 days and 6 hours which is an average of just under 6kts an hour; good for Camomile.
Position at 10.00 Tuesday 2nd February
24 hour run from 10.00 1st to 10.00 2nd 147 miles average 6.12 kph 170 miles to go
The wind has been up and down for the last 24 hours. We are quite a bit off course to try and stop the rolling and keep the sails inflated. We still have 2 reefs in the main and both the gennies on the port side. The reefs are in the main so the gennies can draw properly. If the main was right up it castes a wind shadow on them. Harry the Hydrovane doesn’t like this point of sail so that’s been off and Hans the autopilot has been on. (We have nothing to do all day except think up stupid names for the kit!) That draws more current from the batteries so then the engine has to be ran for an hour or so a day which is annoying with this much wind.
The net was a little better last night. Some of the boats can’t hear us so well and we can’t hear different ones. It gets very confusing knowing which radios have the problem. Ours is brand new after the lightening strike but that doesn’t mean it’s infallible. Bill has had the manual out and all we can do is make sure it’s on high power, that seemed to help last night. Nicone is still behind us to the south, Inspiration Lady is about 134 miles behind us, there’s a new boat joined called Rise and Shine but they have only just left. Tintin is still about 28 miles in front of us. We both hope to get in Wednesday. Port control has been informed. We have to have an agent for Sri Lanka so hopefully we’ll have a smooth check in. The night passed without incident.
This morning Bill decided to put the twizzle back up. Now we are more north of the rhumb line we can turn more to port and have the wind behind us. It takes about half an hour to rig it. Bill’s on the deck setting all the lines while I’m in the cockpit winching. If you remember the ‘twizzle’ is the joint which Bill made to take the ends of the poles that are attached to the clews on each of the Genoas (gennies) that are hoisted in twin luff groves on the forestay. (Bit technical) It isn’t attached to the mast but held in position by an uphaul and a downhaul. The gennies look like a butterfly when they are flying, I’ll post some photos when we get in. All was well and we were able to hold a much better course and speed.
I was walking through the cabin down below when BANNNGGGG what the….it sounded like the rig coming down! I rushed up on deck to find Bill looking shocked towards the foredeck where the poles were lying. A quick assessment showed the uphaul had snapped and the poles had crashed onto the deck with the sails flogging. Bill set about winching them in while I controlled the sheets. So far so good.
Then the fun started. The uphaul was flying about in the rigging, Bill was going to have to go up the mast, normally a complete no no at sea. Luckily we have mast steps but I wouldn’t let him go up without a harness. With harness on and me pulling up the safety line he climbs half way up the mast and managed to retrieve it without any damage done. The spliced loop which is attached to the shackle had chaffed right through. Bill regularly checks for chaff but this one escaped him. We’ve used the system for 1000s of miles but it just suddenly went.
Bill cut off the old splice and put some whipping around it to stop it fraying. It’s now tied to the shackle with a bowline. We rerigged it again and all seems ok. Miraculously there doesn’t appear to be any damage, considering the force it came down with we were expecting to see a gauge in the deck but we can’t see anything. Bill’s paintwork is pretty strong. And so we continue.
Position at 10.00 Sunday 31th January
24 hour run from 10.00 30th to 10.00 31st 159 miles average 6.62 kph 465 miles to go
This is our fifth day at sea and still hanging on for dear life, literally. When I’m down below I have to swing from hand hold to hand hold to save me from falling across the boat because Camomile is heeling into a beam reach which she enjoys. I have a galley strap to stop me falling when I’m cooking which brings a whole new meaning to ‘tied to the kitchen sink’! It’s hot down below with all the hatches shut although the little one in the forward heads (bathroom) is open because it’s on the port side and doesn’t get splashed, just the odd trickle off the coach roof. At least the deck is nice and clean. We’re being very careful wearing life jackets when we’re on watch on deck. We also wear Raymarine life tags, which set off an alarm if one of us goes overboard while the other one is sleeping. We take it in turns to sleep and always have someone on watch although there’s only been one container ship on the horizon in the last 24 hours. Also no squalls for 24 hours and nothing showing on the gribs, although that doesn’t mean anything because the gribs aren’t always right. Harry the Hydrovane is steering us beautifully.
Food isn’t very inventive at the moment, we had a ‘slop dinner’ last night which was a bit of pasta with a boli sauce tipped over it. Might break out a homemade frozen dinner from the lovely Sailors shop in Langkawi this evening, beef Rendang I think. Yum yum.
You can see by our stats that we are making good headway. Our speed hasn’t gone below 6kts in the last 24 hours except when a freak wave hits us (bigger than the rest) and there’s quite a few of those. The waves were about 1 1/2 to 2 metres tall yesterday, which sounds big but they don’t break over us but lift us up and go under us. They’ve calmed down a bit today but we’ve also still got at least a knot of current helping us along.
On the net last night Nicone is still behind us to the south, Inspiration Lady is about 140 miles behind us and Tintin is only 35 miles to the north of us but slightly in front so looks like they will be buying the ice creams when we get in.
On my 18.00 log reading I discovered our longitude was 090 degrees east. Longitude are the long lines that go down the globe north to south. The Greenwich meridian line is 0 degrees. The 090 degree west was the Galapagos, one of our favourite spots around the world. 180 degrees was Fiji; another gem among our world travels. Now 090 degrees east is passed which means we are three quarters of the way around the world, although not three quarters of the way home because we’ve got to go to the Caribbean and back yet; but we are on our way home.
Another milestone passed last night was the half way point, it’s always better counting down; the second half always seems to go faster.
BTW I can’t see facebook. The website has an email address (it’s very obscure you won’t guess it) which I send an email to. It gets automatically posted on the website, which is linked to facebook. Our son sends us notes of messages, thank you for all your good wishes. I’ll answer them when we get to port. I’d love to hear from any one if you fancy dropping me an email. Our email address at sea is mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take out the spaces I’ve put in to stop spam)
I like to end on a funny note. I came up on deck yesterday and noticed Bill had tied the new ensign (flag) up. When asked why his reply was ‘Lizzy was tickling Harry on the chin’! Mad as a box of frogs, that’s all I need a skipper going senile!!
Position at 10.00 Saturday 30th January
24 hour run from 10.00 29th to 10.00 30th 144 miles
617 miles to go
Who asked for more wind? It certainly wasn’t me!
We continued to sail gently and slowly through the Sombrero channel yesterday in between the Nicobar islands, the squalls have cleared for now. Once through the islands we changed course for Trincomalee harbour, Sri Lanka. The GPS read 725 miles to the next waypoint. Grooooan, deep joy.
We were doing a good speed because there was a strong current pushing us along the channel but once through our speed dropped again because the islands were taking our wind. The engine went back on for an hour at 16.30 to get us clear of the islands. The day continued as we gradually got back into the routine of passage making. I ran my usual net, I do love to chatter to people. Nicone are a little bit behind us now, not sure how that happened, I must have taken a wrong reading yesterday. Tintin are about 50 miles north of us on almost on the same longitude and have also passed through the Nicobars today. Inspiration Lady are about 130 miles behind us still motor sailing as they didn’t get the nice sail at the beginning to give them the ‘push’ we had. Rise and Shine also checked in and will be leaving Phuket tomorrow.
Bill had a shock in the dark last night, a flying fish flew through the opening in the cockpit cover and landed on his foot shedding it’s scales everywhere, poor thing. It made him jump out of his skin, which I found very amusing. I handed him a plate and he lifted it up and threw it back in the sea then had to get in the shower and wash the smelly scales off his feet.
After Bill had gone to bed I noticed we had more wind. Without the moon (which doesn’t come out until about 11pm at the moment)it’s difficult to see any thing so I put the radar back on. To my horror there was a huge squall rapidly approaching us and the wind was building fast. I got Bill back out of bed because we had full sails up but it was too late to reef down as the wind got stronger. I watched the wind increase to 18 then 20 then 28kts with a full main and both the gennys flying this wasn’t good. Bill changed course to run with it as we started getting lashed with rain. The waves were surging and pushing us along at 7.5 to 8kts; too fast for Camomile. Bill managed to winch the gennys in but there wasn’t anything we could do with the main. Fortunately after about half an hour it started to subside and we gradually came back on course and then the rain stopped and the wind dropped again, phew. Once the moon came out it was possible to see the dark clouds but fortunately they stayed away from us.
I came back on watch at 4.00 Bill had the boat sailing along nicely with the gennies still reefed in. During the night the north east monsoon had started to blow and we were getting a steady 15kts of wind on the starboard beam, where it should be, but we still had a full main up. By 7.00 when Bill got up the wind had increased to 18kts and a full main was too much for the Hydrovane to trim. Camomile is easy to reef with her single line reefing (in the right conditions) and within 15 minutes we had 2 reefs in the main with both the gennies flying on the port side. As we came back on course Camomile picked up her skirts and flew, she loves it, so does Bill; I’m not so sure.
We are so out of practise, we haven’t sailed like this since 2013 across the Gulf of Carpentaria in Australia and this is supposed to be the easy passage of the Indian ocean. Bill says I’m fussing 18 to 20kts on the beam is a lovely sail. As I write this I have to keep clinging to the chart table because we are also getting bounced around by the waves hitting our starboard beam. Every 20th one or so is bigger than the rest so all the hatches are now closed to prevent any water getting in. We’ll pass the half way point this evening. All is well on board.
Position at 10.00 Friday 29th January
24 hour run from 10.00 28th to 10.00 29th 129 miles
758 miles to go
At 11.30 we turned the engine on and took the twizzle down. The wind had been gradually dropping over night and our speed had dropped to 3 – 3.5kts occasionally dipping to 2.7kts when we hit one of the ‘washing machine’ patches. The constant drone of the engine destroys the serene feeling of being at sea – and it’s boring!
As the sun started to dip below the horizon it was replaced with our old adversary – squalls. The radar was on and we tried changing course to avoid them but inevitably we got a soaking. Fortunately the lightening stayed beyond the horizon. The net was difficult last night with squalls overhead it was difficult to hear the transmissions. Nicone had been motoring for longer than us and had pulled ahead but to the south, Tintin have taken the northern route and were about 5o miles away, Inspiration Lady left harbour first thing and had spent the day motor sailing but with a 24 hour gap they won’t catch up with us until we get to Trinco.
Just after sunrise I noticed some islands coming into view on our port bow. They are the Nicobar islands that belong to Indonesia and are off limits to yachts, unfortunately, so we can’t stop for a few nights rest but have to keep going.
While Bill was sleeping this morning I watched the wind start to build again from the ENE, where it’s supposed to come from, and by 10.30 we had the main up as well as the twizzle sailing along at 5.5 to 6.5kts; that’s more like it.
There was a real treat this morning. Just after we’d finished messing about with the sails a pod of dolphins came to play. There were about 6 to 8 of them dancing and darting in and out of our bow wave for about 10 minutes. I sat on my new dolphin seat that Bill made me watching the delightful creatures; always beautiful to see.
Position at 10.00 Thursday 28th January
24 hour run from 10.00 27th to 10.00 28th 116 miles
880 miles to go
We got off to a flying start yesterday morning just before 7am. The Finnish boat Nicone left just before us and Tintin left about an hour later. Sadly Inspiration Lady didn’t leave with us because Gary had a little medical problem and they decided it would be better dealt with at anchor and not at sea.
Bill put the twizzle up and we were flying along at 6 or 7kts. We lost sight of Thailand quite quickly. With the twizzle flying we managed to overtake Nicone but they stayed within our sight all day. All the work Bill had put in on the Hydrovane has paid off, new bearings, new shaft (the old one had been bent 3 times in storms) and a new sail.
Harry looks very smart and was steering the boat well, he also matches our smart new ensign that Bill had for Christmas, thank you Thomas. (picture later)
We’ve come across a completely random phenomenon. Looking ahead we can see what looks like standing waves which, when you are in the midst of, throws the boat around like you’re in a washing machine. Then within 5 or 10 minutes it’s gone again. Been through about a dozen of these patches now. Haven’t seen anything like it before.
I managed to cook pork chops, mashed potatoes, carrots, broccoli (that’s the last of that)and gravy. Bit adventurous but the chops needed eating and, so they didn’t disappear over the side of the plate, I put them in a bowl.
I did the net after dinner and Nicone and Tintin checked in to report they were both sailing well. Inspiration Lady checked in from anchor and thankfully Gary feels much better and they plan to leave in the morning. We also had Rise and Shine and Always Saturday check in although they haven’t left yet either. Everyone welcome. 4036 at 13.00 utc or 20.00 Thailand time.
During the night the wind started dropping, as was forecast, and our speed dropped to 3 to 5 kts. The moon came up about 22.00 which lit our path. Bill did the night watch using his nice new head torch, thank you James.
I was back on watch at 6.00 this morning and saw an amazing sunrise, one of the privileges of sailing our oceans. Sailing slowly today with the twizzle rig at about 4 to 5kts All’s well on board.