All aboard (Part 1)
By Carmel Stewart
LIFE on the ocean waves is probably great fun if you like your own company and love the water. Personally, I quite like my family and friends, suffer from seasickness and am a hopeless, almost suicidally inadequate, swimmer.
But I do love to sail albeit for a few weeks at a time. It takes me several days to get over the motion sickness and I get round the swimming thing by jumping in wearing a life jacket. The problem is compounded slightly by very bad eye sight, but it’s not a deal breaker.
So I sail – usually with my brother, Kevin, and Brian Porter – an excellent sailor with his own boat, which brings me to the first rule of sailing: only sail with people you like and trust.
For the most part sailing is very straightforward. Some prefer to spend that little bit more and charter a boat fully staffed so the only requirement is turning up for meals on time. Others, like me, prefer to crew. It works out a little cheaper and has the added attraction of building up a certain camaraderie between all those on board. The only rule is: do as you are told, when you are told.
Provided you have not elected to sail through the Roaring Forties, the Captain will keep you out of trouble. If he/she reckons bad weather is on the way, there’ll be no sailing but shore visits can be fun too.
My most recent trip was to Thailand. I met Kevin, Brian and three other people at the Makz Marine in Phuket. Brian had chartered a catamaran from a delightfully scruffy Dutchman – Max Jurgens – who has a number of similar crafts which he hires out all year round.
To be fair to Max, nowhere did he describe our Tiki 38 catamaran as luxury or deluxe or any of those words which give you the notion that this is a place of sophistication and refinement – because it ain’t. I went on board with no expectations at all which was probably the best place to start from. A couple of my companions had something grander in mind but got over it very quickly.
The Tiki 38 is more like a floating youth hostel than anything else. There are two single sleeping pods up front and two doubles at the stern. By doubles I mean that they not only sleep two but double up as a kitchen on the port and a bathroom (head) on the starboard.
On deck, the open cabin area offers more sleeping space. Max’s blurb says it is possible to stand up in this area – I am 5ft 8ins and I had to duck. His write up also says there are two showers which is a very flexible description. I would say that there was a hose on deck and a shower head in the bathroom. No one ever used this as it came out of the (wooden) work surface and would have required all wash bags, loo paper etc be removed before use. This is not an unusual set up but it may come as a surprise to those who have not sailed before.
Those slight niggles aside, the Tiki 38 proved to be a truly excellent sailing boat and one to which we adapted to very quickly. Whether it was the vessel, the conditions or the captaincy I’m not sure but the few weeks we were on board were delightfully relaxed. The on-deck fridge was enormous and there was plenty of storage space all round. Access to the slim galley, head and bedrooms was via steep steps so a degree of agility is required. The swim ladder at the stern was a real bonus. We dropped this when we anchored for a swim. It made getting back on board that much easier.