After topping off water and fuel, checking out with immigration we departed Langkawi and set sail around noon. Sailing with the current flowing north and favorable NE winds we made good speed of 5 knots (5 nautical miles per hour*)
We set out in the heat of the day, and that coupled with taking the damn meclizine the first day was a bit exhausting. The breeze helps with the heat but it still gets quite hot and drains your energy. We enjoyed snacks of cold papaya, mango and a cold crisp American** apple I had left over (I confess I am feeling a sense of patriotic pride re my apple). Ed had me take the helm fairly early on since he believes that helps ameliorate seasickness. Sade is very responsive to the slightest turn of the wheel.
Ed is a pretty good skipper, He explains things, is patient in instructing me and has a fairly laid back demeanor. I have noticed that he is hard of hearing and this is somewhat of a problem. It seems completely random when he understands me and when he doesn’t. For a while I took to shouting but then I really felt like a loud obnoxious American and I was even annoying myself. So now I try to read him and figure out if he has understood me but it’s hard to tell for sure.
My advice to anyone with hearing loss, it is sooo much better to the people you are with to just ask again what they said and to not pretend to understand them. There is no shame in hearing loss. Trying to talk to Ed or ask questions without ever knowing if he has understood me makes me more hesitant to initiate conversation. I still do of course because it’s necessary however at times I give up trying to explain what I am saying if it isn’t important. Ken on the other hand, has noticed Ed’s hearing loss and mentioned it. Ken is great because he explains things to me more clearly than Ed. It is so nice to have both around with two different teaching styles.
After sailing for about 6 hours, we anchored at Turatao. The plan was to sail north to Ko Muk but the winds were coming from the north and sailing directly into the wind puts Sade in irons, which means no movement. With winds coming from the north we changed our destination and used the motor to maintain a speed of around 4 knots until we dropped anchor at Turatao at around 5:45 Thai time. The first thing we did after dropping anchor was all jump in the water for a swim which was quite refreshing, then opened a cold beer and enjoyed the cool evening and the sunset. We had brought food purchased earlier from a food stand so dinner was easy. At 7:30 I hit the sack and fell asleep in about 30 seconds.
Turatao in the early 1930’s was a penal colony where all kinds of the most savage of criminals were dropped off. They apparently became a ruthless group of pirates and in the 1940’s the British Army was invited to take care of the problem, which they did and the colony was disbanded. Now it’s a beautiful island with some monkeys and a few tourists.
Sometime early in the night the winds picked up quite a bit. The winds were coming at around 40 knot gusts (46 mph). Sade was clanking, banging, turning, rocking all night long. It was quite noisy. Neither Ed nor Ken slept. Thanks to the meclizine I zonked out without a problem and slept soundly until about 2 am. Then was awake off and on until 6:30 when we woke to have coffee and discuss the days sailing plan.
With the anchor holding we decided to wait a couple hours and see if the wind died down. Using the down time Ed and Ken attended to a few boat repairs and I turned my attention to breakfast duty of omelets and used my one and only good ole Florida Orange as a side dish. The Aussies never heard of having orange slices with breakfast. To all of you whom have questioned my cooking skills (and there are many I am sure), I was officially told that I have raised the bar on the boat to that of a 5 star restaurant. I believe there is a photo of the omelets somewhere so you can see for yourself and they actually didn’t taste too bad either.
I couldn’t help shake the feeling that we were at one end of a wind tunnel. After a few hours we decided to set sail and check the conditions further out. Turned out it was much improved away from where we had anchored and we sailed a steady 4-5 knots with the genoa out until the wind died down a bit. Then we put up the main and maintained around 4 knots until we dropped anchor at Ko Talibong. The waters were much calmer here and we all cooled off with a swim as the sun set. Then dinner and sleep. Ed, like all sailors it seems, enjoys his evening beer and the beer space in the fridge takes top priority. I confess, its quite refreshing after long hot days of sailing.
Sailing is not for people who like speed or are in a hurry. It forces you to slow down and above all it forces you to be present in the moment and this is what I love. At all times you must be completely aware of the weather, the direction of the wind, other boats, rocks or obstacles. Not for a moment can you be off guard. There is auto pilot which is nice so you can take your hands off the wheel however you still must always keep watch. With three of us it is quite easy to rotate tasks. We fill the long sailing days with taking turns manning the helm, plotting different courses***, and having conversation. Ed and Ken are trying to determine my boat nickname but haven’t thought of one yet though I am quite fearful it may be Angelina because in some parallel universe they think I look like Angelina Jolie.
By the way, here's a story about a mummified sailor just found.
*Nautical Miles are the measurement used by all nations for sea and air travel. A nautical miles is based on the circumference of the earth being a 360 degree circle. When trying to determine a ship’s speed, a degree into 60 minutes. One minute of the earth’s arc equals one nautical mile, which is 1.15 regular miles (called statute miles).
**Being in contact with so many nationalities one really does identify with their nationality. I am very aware of the fact that I am an American and that the two people I am with are Australian. It is very educational and interesting talking about the cultural differences. More on this later.
*** There are so many islands here that it is easy to change our destination if we get off schedule. With sailing it goes without saying you are at the mercy of the wind. It’s not as simple as going from point A to point B. Sometimes the wind doesn’t favor the direction of point B so alterations must be made.
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