The Ever Elusive and the Ten Minute Squall- 19 May 2003

Sent: Monday, May 19, 2003 9:04 AM
Subject: The ever elusive, and the 10-minute squall

We'll, I must say the responses I get from my letters are always entertaining.
I previously realized that I missed the opportunity for a powerful dialogue with a good friend. I shied away from it as I would shy away from the conflict it might create between us. I think that was a mistake.
I am now not going to shy away. I was questioned and judged a bit as to the state of my own happiness. I must admit that I have never been one of those lucky people whose eyes shine with happiness and contentment. I don't know too many people like that. It is an elusive mystery to most I think.
A few years back I realized that I am the type of person who looks at his own cup and sees it "half empty". At that time I puzzle for months and months at how I could go about changing that. How does one change something so fundamental? I couldn't find any easy answer but did decide that I would try and remind myself as frequently as possible that I am bloody lucky to have the life I lead and I should remember to enjoy every sunrise and sunset and try not to bitch too much.
Sometimes I think it is possible that a sadness infects my letters. I don't see it myself. I always try to write about the love, the laughter and the adventure but life is also filled with sadness and heartache. I suppose these letters wouldn't be as interesting without them. I don't try to deny them, as I don't try to deny the sadness in my own heart. There is something I would like to make clear though. I am not searching for some ever-elusive happiness. I don't think I will find what I am looking for on some perfect, secluded beach. I won't find it at sea, as peaceful and stunning as she is. I won't find it on arriving at some distant destination, a port that will bring me true joy. I am not running away from something that I will eventually find I cannot escape. I am not looking for happiness.
I am looking for adventure.
I am enjoying my life and that is all I need.
I have learned that happiness comes to you when you are not looking. It sneaks up behind you and then when you see it face to face it vanishes like the autumn wind. As soon as you realize you are happy it then dawns on you that there are still some problems to be dealt with before you can definitely be happy.
No, I'm not really that skeptical, but I think I have communicated what I wanted to.


Now lets move on to the "Ten Minute Squall."
I mentioned a Dutch guy in my last letter titled "Quick Note." His name is Ari. He has been keeping his boat in the same klong as I have been habituating. His is a local boat though. He purchased it in Koh Tao and later drove it here.
The klong we are parked in has about 25 small fishing boats. Most are squid fishing boats and are not much longer than 25 feet. They sit low in the water and draw very little depth. There are about 8 small piers with two to four boats tied up to each other. To get off the outer most boat one has to clamber over two other boats and then climb up onto the pier. Usually the boats are well tied to each other but on occasion accidents do happen.
The boats at the pier I was parked at were pulling out and they wanted me to park up against the pier as I moved the least. This posed a problem as the area next to the pier was not that deep. I decided to put the prow of the boat up to the pier. To do this I had to turn the boat around.
Ari's boat was tied up to mine so we moved his by rope down to the next set of boats and tied it there. I then managed to pull the boat out into the tiny klong and spin her around and pull back in nose first. I coasted in and felt mighty proud that I had managed that little spin in such a tight space. Ari caught the ropes I threw and helped me tie her off. I ran a few extra lines because we had been having evening squalls the last few days. I wanted to make sure she was not pulled or pushed around so I ran two normal lines to the large wood stakes and then two spring lines to keep her from shifting forward and backward too much.
While were were doing that we got to tying knots and I wanted to teach Ari a bowline. We spent some time on that and then he taught me a hangman's nose. Cool! It was starting to get a little dark and Ari and I were not paying much attention. We thought it was just getting late. What we missed was that it was getting ready to rain and blow really hard.
We rowed my little dingy over to the other boats and we were going to pull Ari's boat back by rope. This is usually a much easier process but in this case it was catastrophic.
Ari untied the front of his boat from the back of the second boat out. There were only two boats besides Ari's at the time. The wind then started to blow. Quickly it grew very strong and then before I even got the back rope off it started to pour. Then a strange thing happened. Both Ari's boat and the second boat started to swing out into the klong. The wind was blowing directly into the klong and was pushing Ari's boat, along with a shouting Ari, around in a big semicircle. I was on the second boat and it started to swing around as well but about two feet from Ari's boat.
"What the hell is going on?" I asked myself.
I then realized that the second boat was not tied off at the back. So, Ari's boat and someone else boat were spinning out into the clong. They were all heading for a smaller long-tail boat parked on the next pier down. It was horrible to watch. I could do very little. The lines on Ari's boat were way too short. I have told him to get more line three times now.
The lines on the other two boats were wrapped up and tied to anchors so they were too troublesome to use in a tight situation. The wind increased and the rain came pouring down. I was getting really scared because I did not want to be held responsible for the damage caused to the other fishing boat. At that time I did not realize why their boat was also spinning in a big arc.
What I could do, I did. I jumped off the spinning boat and ran to the front of the inner most boat. I pushed and shoved to keep poles from breaking and ropes from tangling as the boats spun around. Ari's boat then smacked into the long-tail. He was also using his wits and cushioned the shock. He did it again when the second boat came around. The wind was blowing really hard by this time, around 20 to 25 knots, and the rain was pounding down so hard it was hurting my brain.
I shouted to Ari that I would be back in a second with a rope. I dashed madly off the inner boat onto the pier and around to my boat. I leaped onto the deck. I knew I had two fairly long docking lines laying out and I grabbed them both. They were rolled in the fire-man's fashion which was extremely helpful because they would not tangle. I must thank my pops for teaching me that one. I dashed back to the inner boat on the second pier and tied the ropes together with two bowlines. As I was tying I told Ari to get ready to take the rope to the back of the second fishing boat and tie it off. He came close enough to throw the rope just as I was done with the second bowline.
Both boats were bashing against the long-tail at this point but the wind was slowing down. The rain was beginning to ease up also. I tossed Ari the line and then ran to the back of my boat as he ran to the back of the boat he was on. I told him to tie off the line and return to the front of the boat to make sure nothing was torn or smashed. I pulled the boats back around. The wind started to die off and I was able to pull the second boat back with Ari's help at the front.
I then realized that Ari's boat was not tied to the second boat and his was left to smack against the long-tail.
I pulled the second fishing boat all the way around and used another line to tie it off as quickly as possible. I then untied my long line and looked out to see Ari floating into the middle of the klong on his boat.
I quickly wound up part of the line and threw it as far as I could. He just managed to get the end. I told him to tie it off and then threw the rest of my line, which was still very long, onto my boat. My boat was only about 8 feet behind me but I still had to run around both piers to get there. I scrambled and dashed and made it with plenty of time. I grabbed the line and pulled and tugged his boat up the klong to my boat.
By this time the squall was over. It was sprinkling and the wind was blowing soft out of the southwest.
We laughed.
We laughed and laughed with relief and joy that nothing was smashed to pieces. We laughed about the fact that the squall lasted only 10 minutes. Had it blown for it's usual 30 minutes, we probably would have been in serious shit. We laughed some more about the complete mayhem that was thrown upon us when we just wanted to move Ari's boat back to mine.
At that moment Ari's face shone with a little fear but mostly concern. He was worried that he would be blamed for what happened if there was any damage. I know he felt he was looked down upon around the fishing community because he has made many mistakes and has had to be rescued a number if times. I think he is learning quickly but I know he feels the shame of his mistakes.
So he was worried.
We got to discussing what happened and it became clear that the back end of the second fishing boat out was never tied off. It was left untied well before the squall came and then just at the time we decided to move Ari's vessel the untied line became a hazard. Had we moved Ari's boat earlier that second boat out would still have swung around and smashed into the long-tail. We were simply there at the wrong time. I asked him if he had untied anything on the second boat and he said "most definitely not." I trust him and also I know he would have had to cross the back end of the second boat and untie a line on the opposite side from his boat. It is clear that he would not do such a thing.
So how did the boat get untied?
As we talked about it some more I remembered that the innermost boat in the set had left to go fishing 2 hours earlier. They had moved their boat to the outer position, tied the other boats back into place and then when they were stocked they took off. It is a complex process to switch boats around like this and usually it requires at least two people. The innermost boat had only two people and there were no others around to help. After some more discussion we decided that they must have forgotten to tie that back line.
We then decided to tell our stories to our respective Thai friends because this sort of stuff always gets around. It is better to get your story out first since it would be very easy for people to assume that Ari was to blame.
It has been a few days now and I have heard nothing more about it so I think it has blown over. Just like the ten-minute squall.
I would like to take a second to let my mum know that I am safe and sound, still docked on Koh Pangan. I am doing major repairs and overhaul work in preparation to head down to Singapore. I still have another month in this area and will likely take a trip to Koh Tao in the next week.
The engine is running well and I am replacing all cushions. I am putting in two new Dorads and redoing the gear cable system as it has caused continual problems throughout our journeys.
Alexis Orsini, my cousin has been staying with me on the boat and has been helping me out. Her company is a pleasure and she has given me a lot of input on the new boom vang I plan to install. Hers is a true sailing family and hopefully we will have the time to do some more of the wind in the canvas business.
Much love to my family and friends, (especially Tara and Kirk)
Captain Andy