On our second day of sailing north, we started at the crack of dawn from an anchorage about a mile up a river. We had to use screens on our hatches because of a large number of mosquitoes that appeared around sunset the night before. Thankfully, they didn’t bother us when we hoisted anchor and headed out. The breezes were light as the sun started up, but they soon built to a decent breeze and we raised sail. We had 70+ miles to go.
We had a good sail much of the day. It was challenging at times because we had to sail tight to the wind as our course took us a bit east of north and the winds were coming from the ENE. This meant we were very tight to the wind. The winds varied as well. At times we were as much as 60 degrees off course, and had to motor our way back east or tack. Catamarans are notorious for not pointing well into the wind, and these conditions meant a starboard tack actually took us to the southeast – i.e. away from our destination. So, we avoided that as we were still hoping to make it to Ko Phayam – our destination – by dark.
As we got closer, the winds got stronger They were up to 15-17 knots true – or 20-25 apparent – which meant we were getting close to reefing conditions. But, again they were variable. We had a problem with the furling line at one point which caused me to have to go untangle the furling line for a moment. During the process the jib sheet managed to flog around a bit. A few minutes later, I realized a rope we had attached to a plastic bracket at the base of a lifeline had broken loose. This is a special rope that contains our SSB antenna and in the process the wire connecting it to the inside of the boat snapped. So the rope/antenna was hanging free from the top of the mast and blowing around. I got Karen to slow down the boat so I could grab it. When she started the motor again after I caught it, we heard an engine alarm. I ran over to look and saw high temperature. So, we immediately shut it off and used the other engine.
We speculated maybe we caught something in the raw water intake, but that has never happened with our setup. And, I had recently changed the raw water pump impeller, so that seemed unlikely. Meanwhile the winds were getting stronger. I was still thinking we could make it before sundown, but the wind angle was not going to let us make it in a single tack.
I called s/v Totem, who are at Ko Phayam, on the radio as we were only 18 miles away. They answered and were glad to hear we were nearly there. I explained we might not arrive until shortly after sundown. They said the approach is easy, but there might be fish traps on the way in. Ironically, we were seeing a number of fishing boats just then. We said we would try for it, and would call to let them know. Meanwhile, we needed to tack, so we executed what seemed a pretty smooth tack. However, the winds were strong and the sail came over quicker than normal. Apparently, the sail caught on the handle of a rope clutch we rarely use because it is a back-up for our main halyard at the mast. It is almost always open. As a result, the handle broke off. We didn’t realize this until a few minutes later.
During this tack we realized we weren’t going to make it to Ko Phayam so we decided to go to a closer island – about 14 miles south of Ko Phayam. We could make it to the anchorage there before dark. It was when we were approaching the island, and we went to drop our mainsail, that we realized the clutch handle was broken. We told ourselves this was a really bad day for breakages. I can’t remember ever having three things break on the same day.
We motored around the north end of the island against the winds and seas. Normally, we might have started the second engine to help with the speed under this situation, but that wasn’t an option now. Eventually, we got around the corner. I pulled out my phone and saw that our Navionics charts were better than the CMAP charts on the plotter. So, I put the phone up on top of the chart plotter to help guide us in. A number of fishing boats were just heading out of the anchorage to fish for the night. As I was changing course to avoid traffic, I went to adjust the chart. A swell hit just then and the phone flipped off the top of the chart plotter and fell to the cockpit floor as I frantically tried to catch it.
I grabbed it off the floor and the phone screen was nearly blank, and a crack was visible at the top corner. Oh #$&*@! This was my new Samsung Galaxy S4 that I bought last May! I was devastated and very bummed. This was truly the worst day of sailing ever!
We got behind a little island, where the fishing boats had been anchored, and set our hook. The bad engine had cooled off, so I started it and no raw water was coming out the port. It was still breezy at times and a bit of swell came around the island. The next thing I did was make a very quick dive to check our raw water intake. But, nothing found there. The next morning, I checked the raw water pump impeller. But, it was fine – no broken blades. So, we are left with the likelihood that our pump has gone bad. Not good, as we don’t have a spare (other than our other engine) and will have to order one.
We next got ready to sail the final 14 miles to Ko Phayam. The winds were obviously at least as strong as the day before, so we put up a double reed in the sails. The winds got even stronger and we soon had over 30 knots of wind. Rather than put a triple reef in, we decided to just drop the main entirely. We then just put out a bit of jib and motor-sailed the final 4-5 miles to the island. By 11:30 we arrived at the anchorage. It’s a nice anchorage in a well-protected bay. The winds were less than 10 knots in here. Quite a few boats were in here. A nice beach nearby, and several little restaurants are available. We’re going to stay, lick our wounds, and hang out with our friends a while.
As you can see in the map below, we are close to the northwest border of Thailand near Myanmar (most of the islands to the northwest are in Myanmar).