IN SAUDI ARABIA

I am in Saudi Arabia for a short job, inspecting a couple of ships.  Its quite warm and everything is covered in sand, not really my type of place but I should be able to top up the boat fund and carry on preparing for next summer.

Anyway, I went offshore yesterday and got marooned on a ship overnight.  With not much to do I started flicking back on the laptop through old photos.  I was surprised to see that I was in Pelican, Alaska on this date – TWO years ago!

Main Street Pelican. Photo Ray Penson. Sailing Yacht Truce
Main Street Pelican. Photo Ray Penson. Sailing Yacht Truce

Pelican was an interesting place, the sort of place not many people get to as it’s off the beaten track.  I remember interesting and friendly people, a library with good WiFi, fresh salmon and good beer.  Very enjoyable.

Fresh Salmon. Photo Ray Penson. Sailing Yacht Truce
Fresh Salmon. Photo Ray Penson. Sailing Yacht Truce

Flicking forward in time to one year ago I found a photo of the underside of the mast where it exits the coach roof, with bits of wood smashed up to make makeshift mast wedges.  At the time I was on my way from San Francisco to Hawaii, it was a bit disconcerting when some mast wedges dropped out and creaks started emanating from the mast.  I think the change of climate may have caused the wooden wedges to shrink a bit as we headed south.  I was happy to have fixed the problem and arrived in Hawaii where I made a more permanent fix once in port.

Makeshift Mast Wedge. Sailing Yacht Truce.
Makeshift Mast Wedge. Sailing Yacht Truce.

This year I find myself offshore Saudi Arabia.  I haven’t been in these waters since I was a young man working on a pioneering SBM project to service the super-tankers of the day.  We managed to achieve amazing things with very little equipment – maybe because we didn’t understand we could fail.  There are far more platforms, barges, rigs and workboats around than the old days – it’s a very busy place now.

Work Barge Offshore Saudi Arabia. Photo Ray Penson. Sailing Yacht Truce.
Work Barge Offshore Saudi Arabia. Photo Ray Penson. Sailing Yacht Truce.

By this evening I should be back onshore and writing up my reports.  Then its back on the plane in a couple of days, back to New Zealand and the winter weather.

CREAKING WOODEN MAST

Another one of those funny night day experiences.  At eleven in the evening I reduced sail as there was too much wind.  At three in the morning there was no wind.  Truce just wallowed in very light airs and a confused sea.

At five I heard a creaking sound coming from the mast, right where it passes through the coach roof.  On most wooden boats there are all sorts of groans, creaks and squeaks.  But Truce is so well built none of the woodwork makes a sound.  So, a creak on Truce is an indication something is not right.  I dropped all sail, set the staysail to lie quietly and went to investigate.

I found that the mast wedges on the starboard side had slipped.  I fashioned a couple of additional wedges then hammered them home.  Voila, no more creaks.  It’s not a permanent fix but will get me Hawaii I expect.  There I can take my time and do the job in peace and tranquillity.

Apart from the drama this morning the day has been perfect.  A light following breeze pushing us along at nearly five knots without any stress.  I have been lounging around, cat napping, reading listening to music and generally enjoying good weather.

Last night I was reading ‘Shackleton’s Boat Journey’ by Frank Worsley.  Sir Edmund Hillary wrote the introduction.  Worsley was the Captain of Shackleton’s ship ‘Endurance’.  It was his skill as a seaman and navigator that played a major part of the successful rescue of the whole expedition party.  Well worth a read, only a small book and probably almost free on Kindle.

Rum and coke on the drinks menu at beer o’clock this afternoon.  Must go sparingly on my last lemon.  Voyage distance 929 miles.