Gold Coast - Heading South Day 2 - 31 25.218S 153 10.928E

Mike and Liz Downing
Sun 25 Nov 2012 07:05
It's been quite a 24 hour period. The wind came up yesterday late afternoon and with a significant current in our favour, we were making 8kts over the ground. As the evening progressed the forecast of 25 to 30kts of wind arrived bringing quite big seas, horizon to horizon white horses and some serious breaking waves. Being about 12 - 17 miles out to sea, we took the increased winds in very deep water, close inshore in the shallower water the waves would have been very sheer. Even in the deep we got sequences of big waves that rocked, twisted and rolled the boat during the night. A couple of waves found their way into the cockpit. Not in a serious way, but bouncing up and along the aft deck and flopping over into the cockpit. Our wind gauge measured the maximum gust of 35.8kts, but don't forget that we were going dead down wind and were never making less than 6kts, and most of the time around 9kts, so the highest gust must have been at least 42kts. At times during the evening, with a combination of the current and strong winds we were making over 10kts over the ground. With a lovely moon up and no clouds, we felt more confident about keeping a reasonable amount of sail up to make the most of the conditions. But by early morning the moon had gone and it was pitch black, the wind and seas were at their worst and we had just a handkerchief of genoa up and no main, but still making 6-7kts.

So with all this speed our noon to noon passage was one of our best ever at 187.4 sea miles, averaging just under 8kts. The winds are now down to 20-25kts and the seas have eased a bit. With just the two headsails up, the outer genoa being poled out to windward we're still making between 8 and 9kts. At these speeds, the miles just roll by and rather than getting in on Tuesday morning, it now seems possible that we may get there by early afternoon tomorrow (Monday). Our destination is Pittwater, just north of Sydney, but we had checked out a number of ports down the coast if the weather changed. These ports are not always easy to get into due to their bars that can be dangerous and which constantly change with the changing sands. However, the forecasts suggest another day of northerlies tomorrow (3 in a row - unheard of so far this season!) and if that happens we do stand a real chance of arriving tomorrow.

There's a lot of shipping down this coast and the AIS is regularly showing 7 or 8 big commercial ships - some going north and some south. There are no traffic lanes here, but the current is always a southerly current and it can be up to 4kts, so the ships going south follow it and the ships going north keep out of it and this creates shipping lanes. We're glad we both receive and transmit AIS - we can see them on it and hopefully they can see us!

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