A Small Weather Lesson

December 22, 2006

There is not much to tell you at this point, but felt that we wanted to get some photos of the results of seven months on the hard in Phuket to you. As the time grew closer for the project to be finished, we grew more and more eager to be finished with our time in Phuket. We had survived two motorcycle accidents and a grinder wound and felt that we were almost pushing our luck.

Sander set a date in his mind of November 20 to return to the States. With the electronic tickets in hand we set sail for Malaysia arriving on the 10th. Satori and Jane are tucked into a marina on the island of Langkawi on the northern end of Malaysia. With a list of things to shop for in the USA, Sander set off on his trip and Jane pulled out the varnish brushes.

As I write this message to you, Sander has just about two weeks left in the States. The time has gone very quickly for me with the projects inside the boat. Every day I am sanding and prepping more wood to be varnished and hoping that I will get to the end of the areas that I notice need work.

Sander is shivering in his leather jacket (he is so haooy that it has survived the years!) as he travels from one store to another in search of all the little things we can find nowhere else in the world. Already he has made three shipments via Fedex!
The trip across the Indian Ocean must also be planned. The situation is not as simple as setting off and arriving at the destination. Across each of the oceans of the world there is an area close to the equator called the ITCZ, the Intercontinental Convergence Zone. This area used to be called the Doldrums where the big ships would float for days waiting for the winds to return. If only it were that simple… The ITCZ happens because of the convergence of the trade winds from the northern and the southern hemispheres. Contrary to the image of the doldrums, the ITCZ can be and often is an area of thunderstorms and big seas. It is definitely an area to be avoided if possible.

Herein lays the problem. Most cruisers use the NE trade winds to get to the islands of Chagos (5 deg S and 72 deg E, close to the middle of the Indian ocean) and wait out the transition of the ITCZ there…yes, it does wander around with the seasons. In the northern winter the ITCZ wanders south and during the summer it is back up closer to the southern end of India. When the danger of cyclonic activity around Madagascar is finished (April/May) they push on from the Chagos to the SW.

We would like to go to the Seychelles as well on the way to Madagascar; however, we have heard reports of the possibility of difficult weather between the Seychelles and Madagascar. Some folks are planning to go west to Kenya and then south to Madagascar. That would turn a 600 miles trip into a 2000 miles trip.

One way or the other, the trip across the Indian Ocean from Phuket to South Africa will be at least 5000 miles and will take us about 9 months to complete. It is quite a challenging proposition to say the least. We will not know the direct route until we actually are ready to depart. Even then we may need to change the course enroute to avoid or accommodate the weather patterns. We will go armed with the charts and information. Then we will be ready to change our minds if need be.

Before we leave it will be time for a little fun! Sander returns from the States on Jan 7th. After a few days of putting Satori back together again, we will go north again to Phuket where we will have a couple of visitors, our very dear cruising friend Alison and her infant son Toby. We will finally take a few days to see the islands of the Phang Nga area near Phuket, the ones that you see in the photos and where James bond did his thing. After some provisioning we plan to set off early in February for “The Crossing”.

We wish all of you a Merry Christmas season. In our hearts we are there with you. Some day again we may be there with you physically too. After all we will soon be on the downwind side of the trip!

Jane and Sander

 https://anchorageyachtclub.org/1/satori/20061227weather/TN_satori01.jpg.JPG  https://anchorageyachtclub.org/1/satori/20061227weather/TN_satori03.jpg.JPG