We are having the most difficult time deciding when to leave Phuket. Like I wrote earlier, it would be so easy for us to get lost here because we like it so much.
Fellow Americans on a couple of boats have invited us to join them on Christmas Day at a nearby anchorage for visiting and appetizers. Each boat has children and they want the kids to frolic on the pretty beaches instead of being berthed in a marina on Christmas. Bill picked up both the TIG welded mixing elbow (now our spare) and the new mixing elbow this morning. The new one is installed and we can now leave the marina free of worries about the engine. We are keeping our fingers crossed that a similar problem does not develop with the mixing elbow on the Onan generator. There is no evidence of rust on it. But now the potential of a problem will nag at the back of our minds for the next 5,000 miles.
This morning a fellow Amel owner who lives in Phuket brought us his copy of the Andaman Sea Pilot and gave us local knowledge of lots of Thai anchorages. He urged us to get out and cruise the many islands of this area before setting off towards India. His advice was to wait until the second or third week of January before crossing to India because the NE monsoon is late this year and won't establish until the barometric pressure in the Himalayan mountains ranges between 1038 and 1042. When the isobars are around 1040 up there, then there should be consistent 20 knot winds across the Bay of Bengal. If we leave too early then there is the possibility of winds switching directions and making our lives unpleasant. Not dangerous; just unpleasant.
On the other hand, we had hoped to arrive in Cochin on the western coast of India around 20 January. The Vasco de Gama Rally will depart Cochin around 22 January, and the Blue Water Rally boats should begin arriving in Cochin around 27January. We wanted to arrive, get into the marina and fill up with diesel before the Blue Water boats crowd us out of the marina and into the anchorage. The new marina will cater to boats participating in these 2 rallies and we must vacate our reserved berth if a rally boat needs it. Can't fault the marina management for that decision. Both rallies will be sailing from Cochin to Salalah, Oman. We figure that is the best time for us also to be out in that part of the Indian Ocean/Arabian Sea. More possible targets for the Somali pirates decreases the chances that we would be targeted. Now, doesn't that sound cold-hearted! Those who know me know that I am usually practical to a fault.
Today I notified the office that we will leave the marina on 25 December. Hopefully, we will meet up with the other American boats for several hours. Then we might sail to some "Ko" and also see the James Bond island where The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed. There is time for us to visit a few islands before clearing out and setting sail to the Andamans. And STILL make it to Cochin by 20 January if the weather cooperates. I see no reason why we can't wait for the good weather in the Andaman Islands just as easily as waiting here in Phuket area. And that should cut the long passage from 1460 NM down to 1210 miles.
Decisions! Decisions!! Why are we vacillating so much with these decisions! Do we go early next week and possibly arrive in Cochin before the rally boats set sail for Oman? Or do we wait here several weeks longer and miss sailing in the pirate waters at the same time as the rally boats? It is almost as bad as when cruisers gather in Tonga and yak back and forth for weeks about setting off on the dreaded passage south to New Zealand. At some point you have to do just do it.
I am voting for going to the Andaman Islands and hoping weather is perfect for setting sail to Cochin by 11 January.
I am also voting for miniature crab cakes as my contribution to the group gathering on Christmas Day. Merry Christmas everyone!