May 17, 2008-Return from Ratanachai (updated)
Ten days later we flew back to Phuket and took the late night taxi to Ratanchai shipyard where Wings was still hauled out. In the morning we settled the bill and after the yard relaunched the boat we left for Yacht Haven.
There was a good sailing breeze even before we got out of the river but, worried about the ebbing tide, we motored out the channel and across Phuket Bay, safely crossing the shallow spot, and reached deeper water at Koh Tapha Noi before setting sail. We went between the islands and then turned into the fresh SW wind and raised the main. A bear away and a quick jibe around, then a jib hoist, and we settled onto a direct course north to Yacht Haven.
Like the trip down the island with Garth & Wendy two weeks before this was an excellent sail; we had sunny skies, nice wind, and the sailing was fast; 6's and 7's.
We've been hearing horror stories from people about how bad the weather is during the Southwest Monsoon but so far we've found it to be just fine. In fact the westerly winds have made the sailing superb. This is a perfect example: it was a beam reach in winds of 12-20 knots; perfect for the #4 jib. We had lunch underway, played music on the stereo, and generally had a nice time enjoying each other's company alone on the water on a great sailing day.
wingssail image-judy jensen
Against the tide
When we closed with the point at Laem Phat, at the north-east end of Phuket, our course turned left and the beam reach became tighter. There was a cruising cat messing around in the lee of the island, it looked like a Wharram, and they turned onto our course for a while not too far astern. I thought they might have a go at overhauling us but as we came up onto into the wind they turned away.
We hardened up and sheeted on until we were close hauled rounding the point. Then we came into the open slot and right into the face of the wind. We started the beat up to Yacht Haven. The tacks were short due to the narrow channel and we made them a little shorter by our reluctance to get close to the reefs and risk our new keel repair, but with the small jib tacks were no problem.
We saw a large yacht, maybe a Swan, motoring down wind with their main up and flagging and I wondered in what conditions they would sail, if not these, and I also wondered they must be thinking as they watched us beating to windward, tack on tack.
But we were having fun; Judy and I traded jobs a couple of times, first I steered and she winched, then she steered and I winched. Either way we had a good time working the boat to windward. The tide was running out of the channel, against us, so our angles weren't as good as they could be but it didn't matter; we'd calculated that we would arrive in Yacht Haven just about slack water, or maybe just a bit early, so we didn't care. If we sailed faster or tacked higher we'd just have to wait longer before we could go in.
By 16:00 we were safely tied to the dock at Yacht Haven, having covered the 29 miles against the wind and tide in 5.5 hours.
wingssail image-judy jensen
We could not have been more pleased by our experience at Ratanachai boat yard in Phuket. On our return from Bangkok we found the bottom job finished and I was satisfied the work. The bill was less than their estimate so we went away with some money left over. How good is that?
So, its back to work for me, while Judy goes to Hong Kong for a visa run.
I'm not sure when we'll get back to the boat for another sail, but this one will live in our memories for a while anyhow.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Phuket, Thailand