A Fair Wind At Last
Position (8 p.m)44 35.0 S 075 57.0 W
Course Northeast, speed 5 knots
Wind: South sou’ east F4 moderate breeze
Weather: partly cloudy, occasional showers, cool
Day’s Run 40 nm (52 nm sailed and drifted)
For most of the day we have been working what little breeze there has been, the swells are very large, one from the south of about 2.5 meters and one from the northeast of about 2 meters, and have made the last 24 hours very trying. The light north-easterly wind didn’t have enough strength in it to allow Sylph to sail a proper course, the windvane could not cope. During the night when the sails were slatting badly I would drop them and drift and try to get some sleep while poor old Sylph rolled her heart out in the confused seas. Every so often I would stick my head out the companionway for a look around and to see if there was any wind. If there was I would hoist the sails and try to get Sylph to hold a course for a while. But each time the sails would soon be slatting again and I would have to lower them so as not to damage the sails, the rig and my nerves. At about 1 a.m. I decided to give up, get some sleep and wait until a decent wind arrived. At 5 a.m. this seemed to be the case so up went the sails again. We held the breeze from the east for awhile before it headed us again and grew lighter. Midmorning I resorted to hand steering to at least make some ground to the north but by midafternoon the wind became impossibly light and the swells were still as big. At times the combination of the two swells would form a very steep wave and Sylph would pitch over it like a roller coaster ride. Water regularly sluiced the decks and when we did have some wind we would roll heavily far beyond what was normal.
Towards late afternoon I could see a line of dark cloud approaching from the southwest. The barometer had started to rise during the day. Surely, I thought, there might be a favourable wind behind these slowly approaching clouds. They seemed to take forever to arrive, not like a good honest southerly buster off the New South Wales coast, but eventually they did, and the wind started to puff fitfully from the south. About half an hour later the breeze had steadied from the east sou’ east at about 12 - 15 knots and we were beam reaching to it at 5 to 6 knots. Hooray, at last we are heading in the right direction.
All is well.
Today has been a marginal improvement, the motion for most of it has been the usual intolerable disruption to true quality sleep, but I make do the best I can … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.