Day 73, Year 5: Early Morning Squall
Date: Thursday, January 7, 2010
Weather: Totally Overcast; Squall with Heavy Rain in Early Morning
Location: Nai Harn Bay, Phuket Island, Thailand

What a surprise we all had this morning. We’ve had some rain the past couple of days, but this morning we had an unexpected all-out squall from the southwest. And of course, this anchorage is open to the southwest. I was writing an email when I realized we were healing at anchor and possibly sliding sideways. It was a powerful gust that hit us and when things settled a little, we did have to re-anchor as we were way too close to one boat. The bay had good sized waves rolling in from the southwest and had all of us rocking and rolling. Ed and Lynne on Constance had headed to Ao Chalong on a motorbike for an early morning dentist appointment and when they returned they found Lynne’s beautiful pots of basil turned upside down on the cockpit floor and things thrown out of unlatched cabinets below. This was Mother Nature’s way of letting us all know that SHE rules.

We spent the rest of the day stowing away massive amounts of food that we have been buying. This requires vacuum packing things like rice and flour and turning the boat upside down to get into obscure cabinets. It was also a granola making day and that process is still going on as I write. We picked up six 5-gallon jugs of drinking water from Jungle Beach and put those into our water tanks to give the watermaker a little help and I did laundry with the buckets of water we caught during the squall. So it was a busy day on Windbird.

Wildcard and Shirena are still making progress, but Shirena’s single-side band radio is just not working right. They used their Sat phone to email us to ask us to contact a boat that has been stuck in Oman since this time last year due to boat problems. The boat’s name is Quo Vadis and they got back to us immediately with information for Shirena. There are no sailmakers in Salalah, but there is a canvas man who can repair sails. And anything and everything that you could ever want is only an overnight from Dubai. So Quo Vadis thinks Shirena will easily get a new radio, if that is needed, when they arrive in Salalah.

Tomorrow we will take the local bus into Phuket town to get charts copied and buy some white flour to supplement the whole wheat we bought yesterday in Ao Chalong. That should be just about it for our provisioning runs except for fresh produce and eggs. We will move around to Patong early next week, buy those things there, and be ready for take-off.

Captain’s Note About Our Wind Generator Problem: When we returned to Windbird from the US we brought an upgrade for the Air-X wind generator, called a “Breeze.”. Ever since it has been installed it has braked itself periodically, sometimes every few seconds and other times there are long periods between braking). Braking is normal in two situations: if the batteries are fully charged it should stop so as not to overcharge them; and if the wind gets too strong it should brake so as to keep from damaging the unit. An indicator light flashes differently depending on which of these situations is causing the braking. Ours appears to be caused by the wind generator sensing a battery voltage that indicates it is fully charged. However, that is not the case. We have written to Southwest Windpower about the problem and they suggested several tests. Having done the tests, the generator passed them all. That left the support person stymied. She could only suggest that I go ahead and use it (it does generate electricity between braking episodes) until we get someplace where there is a service facility. That may be South Africa in about a year, or it may be back in the USA in 18 months! Since braking can be caused intentionally by a switch that disconnects the unit from the batteries and then crosses the positive and negative leads, there is a possibility that this may be happening inside the unit by a loose wire. I now plan to take the unit down again and open it up to see if I can see any suspect connections. More on this later.