I am not superstitious and I've never found four-leaf clover or rabbit's feet to have any benefit. But I do know many intelligent, aware people who sail the way we do who refuse to leave on a passage on a Friday, the old sailor's superstition that goes along with prohibiting bananas or whistling on board. The same superstition also bans women from ships and yet I know women sailors who won't leave port on a Friday. We left Ban Thap Lamu in Thailand yesterday, a Friday, full of excitement to have a 1,000+ blue water passage ahead of us, with a good forecast issued by nearly a dozen different weathermen.
But it seemed like Thailand wasn't quite ready to let go of us.
Things started to go wrong almost immediately. As I was pulling up the anchor, the windlass was laboring much more than usual and I soon found out why: A huge tree stump had gotten caught on our anchor chain and I had no idea how to free it. That problem was temporarily exempted when the chain filling the anchor locker got too high, jamming the chain into the wild cat. After fumbling for the right sized Allen wrench, I was able to get the windlass apart, clear the jam and concentrate on getting the tree stump removed. Something smiled on me though and the anchor came up clean, the tree stump having left of its own accord. We were finally underway.
It is a tradition in Thailand that when a boat has completed a big repair or is departing on a major journey, to light off a string of firecrackers. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to light off 1,000 firecrackers, I had bought the 2-meter long string, all coiled up in its bright red box with the Chinese dragons. Dangling the string of firecrackers from our boathook, I lit the fuse and quickly swung them over the side. Unfortunately, the quality control is lacking where those firecrackers were assembled - someone missed tying a critical knot - and the whole string dropped unceremoniously into the water. A few of the firecrackers went off anyway but just a small fraction of the total. I don't know if we were able to scare away the evil spirits or please the gods with our puny display but it doesn't matter because I'm not superstitious.
We motored out of the bay and before we raised the main, I needed to thread a new 3rd reef line for our new mainsail, the old one being too short by just a few centimeters. Mark and I fished the line through the boom, tied it off and I went to raise the sail - only to find that the new reef line was too short also. I said many bad words. But that wasn't all. After the new main was fully hoisted, Mark noticed that the luff was too slack. He was right and I went back to add some tension to the halyard but the halyard was already tight. Looking up at the top of the mast with binoculars, we could see that the main was all the way to the top - in fact, the thimble on the end was already up against the sheave, leaving us no way to get it any tighter. Having a main with a loose luff before you begin a 1,000 mile journey is like leaving San Diego for Denver knowing that your tires are under inflated.
Regardless, the day was beautiful and the seas were absolutely flat - flat because there was no wind. We motored until the late afternoon and on one of my forays down below, I stepped on the floorboard that covers our refrigeration compressors. The sole was hot. With a sigh, I lifted up the floorboard, felt the condensor coils and confirmed what I had suspected - no raw water circulation. I dove head first into the task of cleaning out the sea strainer and mopping up the bilge, not one of my favorite chores, especially while underway.
Not was all bad, though, towards late afternoon, a light wind filled in, we cut the engine and soon had every sail flying except the bed sheets. We were making good time towards our first waypoint, just south of the Nicobar Islands, where we'll veer to the right and head for Sri Lanka. All is well on board.
At 1/24/2015 3:06 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 07°36.17'N 096°05.37'E
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