Fickle

Noon Position: 49 45.4 S 067 26.8 W
Course: drifting northeast at 2 knots
Wind: East, F! light air
Weather: overcast mild

I turned in last night at about 10.30 after a tiring but productive and interesting day. The wind was still blowing strongly out of the northeast and I had pretty much resigned myself to staying alongside for another tide to await calmer conditions to depart. At a little after midnight however I awoke, I could hear some children's voices outside but otherwise nothing, it sounded very calm. I dragged my consciousness back out from depths of where it hides when deeply asleep, put o my boots and went on deck to have a look around. Sure enough the tide was in and had started to ebb, we were being pushed firmly onto the jetty, but the wind was calm. I pondered, go back to sleep and see what tomorrow brings or leave now while conditions looked favourable. Obviously I chose the latter option.

It didn't take too long to get everything sorted out, mainsail cover off, anchor secured, loose items put away below, lines tidied on deck, engine started and lines connecting us to the jetty recovered. The tide was still pressing us firmly against the wharf, I put the engine into slow astern and we backed out and pivoted around the corner pylon, Sylph's topsides seemed to come away unscathed though they are in serious need of a coat of paint in any event, and we slid out into the stream. As we drifted out along the town reach I stowed fenders and berthing lines, checked the navigation and turned our bows north towards the sea. With the tide behind us at times we were doing 10 knots over the ground so it did not take us too long to reach the narrow entrance to San Julian. Here we met a lot of turbulence as the large body of water tired to exit a very narrow channel but the worse part was just outside the entrance where the fast moving stream met head on with a northeasterly swell. There were some large steep waves, rminded me of a departure I made one time formt he Clarence River in North Queensland. The river had been in flood for several days and we had waited for some time for the conditions to improve, nonetheless when we did leave we still managed toe end up in breaking surf which would have done Bondi Beach proud. I gained a lot of confidence in Sylph that day. So these condition were not too alarming, we tackled them head on, jumped up and down a bit, water sluiced the decks, but with the tide behind us we were soon through.

Once clear of the entrance and into unencumbered water I tried setting sail in the light breeze but conditions were still too lumpy for Sylph's sails to hold the light air and I had to resort to the engine to clear the coast into safe water. It was not until 5 a.m. that I felt we ere sufficiently clear that could allow

Sylph to drift while I caught up on a little sleep. As I shut down the engine however aI realized a usable breeze had established itself so instead of drifting we hoisted sail and set a course to the southeast to open the coast a little more and give an extra margin of safety for a tired crew.

Much of today has been more of the same, fickle winds, nothing for an hour then a freshening breeze that no sooner have <I set sail to it then it dies away leaving us rolling, sails slatting loudly in the disturbed seas - the tidal stream is quite strong off the coast as well, running at a about to knots and we are in springs at the moment so they run strong, in fact when I dropped sail and drifted we were making good a course of north nor'east (the wrong way) at two knots, frustrating!.

Still, as <peter Pye used to say, some wind will come, probably a gale.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

The unfamiliar solidity of my habitation has returned to its usual cantankerous bouncing antics. Children's voices outside (where they belong I hasten to add), I could have been in different world there for a while. I was even enjoying a few Bookstore dreams there for a while. Oh well, ket us see what else we can come up with . (don't think I have forgotten Adrian, I am patient) .. Zzzzzzz.

?

Late breaking news; At 20.00 we have crossed the 50th parallel of longitude.