All aboard (Part 2)
By Carmel Stewart
Being by ourselves meant we could chart our own course. Brian had talked through possible routes with Max so he had an idea of what we could expect. The unusual thing about this trip was ready access to charts. I have sailed with Brian before and he likes to keep his charts under lock and key – as the crew, you have a certain input but basically you do as you are told which I like. Brian makes the decisions and takes responsibly, which is very reassuring.
On this trip, however, decisions were collective. We’d study the charts every evening, backing up our information with guide books and sailing guides to work out where we should go next. Everyone had a say and it worked very well.
But this was where having a professional, experienced captain came to the fore. On board we had no electronic guidance. We had a radio and Max texted every day with a weather report and that would have been it but for Brian’s portable GPS system. It ensured we not only knew exactly where we were at all times but also where we had been so we would know if, for example, we had drifted overnight.
The early part for me is something of a blur. I flew from the UK to Los Angles and spent a few days with Kathy before flying from there to Bangkok. I was jet-lagged and seasick – but far less than I expected. Catamarans are very stable vessels which helped but I also had a new toy to help reduce the queasiness. Anyone who suffers from seasickness will know what a debilitating thing it is. There is no where you can sit or stand on the boat that will make you feel better but – if you can – opt for somewhere in the centre and keep your eyes focused on the horizon. For me it only lasts a few days but it knocks out the beginning of any trip.
This time the combination of the catamarans, calm seas and my new Lapponia ear plug reduced the usual trauma to something quite bearable. I still couldn’t eat for the first few days and didn’t drink alcohol the entire time I was on board but this was the least stressful start I have had to a sailing holiday.
The ear plug comes in a lipstick sized container and is set up for medium pressure. It can be changed to strong or light but, from my point of view, looking down for the length of time it would have taken to change it was too risky. The various sections are quite fiddly and my eye sight is not the sparkiest, so I used it as it was and it worked. Brian has had any number of passengers on board who suffer from sea sickness. Some take tablets but these are inclined to knock you out; some use patches which, he says, work well. His recommendation is to arrive on board having rested as much as possible beforehand. Stress and tiredness make it worse.
The only real drawback from my point of view was that the others on board tended to talk to me in a strange way. One man in particular almost shouted at me. I eventually asked him why he was doing this. He said: “I thought you were deaf. You have a hearing aid sticking out of your ear.” Moving on…
If, like me, you like to travel but are not that keen on tourists, sailing is perfect. You visit only the places you want to visit at a time which suits you. Nights are peaceful, mornings glorious. There can be a bit of work in between times but that just adds to the fun. Sailing also carries with it a sense of freedom which you just don’t get elsewhere.
If you are tempted, look up Max at Siam Sailing. He’ll arrange a taxi to pick you up at the airport and another to take you back at the end. If Thailand is not for you, Brian can be reached at [email protected]. He sails his own boat in the Great Lakes and the Caribbean but can advise about chartering elsewhere.