Slow and Easy (Not Rolling)

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 12 May 2011 02:18
Noon Position: 17 02.2 S 163 46.5 W
Course: West sou' west Speed: 4 knots
Wind: South, F2 slight breeze
Weather: Partly cloudy, warm, slight seas
Day's run: 57 miles (76 sailed)

It would seem that despite my Cook Island flag wanting to be flown, its wants and desires were simply not meant to be met with. Yesterday afternoon while the wind had indeed moderated substantially it was still from the west and the seas were clearly going to take quite a while to settle before the Palmerston Island anchorage would be remotely comfortable. So I called Palmerston Radio and advised them of my intentions to continue on our way, disappointed to have missed out on their world famous hospitality.

Conditions moderated to the extent that late yesterday afternoon I was able to take a spanner and a small crowbar to the wind vane self steering system and realign it, which is a relief. For a single hander this truly is a critical piece of equipment. Initially we had a headwind and I needed to decide whether to go right or left, if we went left, ie south, we would head back into the stationary front which had provided for such unpleasant condition since leaving Papeete, albeit with strong favourable winds. To the right, ie north, conditions were a lot lighter but I thought there was a good chance we might get a bit of sunshine in that general direction, and the deciding factor as night was closing was that turning right would put us on the port tack (the wind coming from the port side), which would have Sylph leaning to starboard and me being rolled into the sea berth rather than out of it. I definitely felt the need for a little comfort more than speed.

And as it turned out we enjoyed a very pleasant night, I slept very soundly, getting up every so often to check our position and heading and to have a general look around to make sure all was well. The AIS (automatic identification system) has not picked anything up since leaving Papeete so that is probably reassuring. It certainly is a nice piece of safety equipment to have on board and while it does not replace the age old requirement to keep a good lookout, a requirement which unfortunately no single hander can fulfil adequately, at least it significantly reduces the risk of collision with something big and nasty in the middle of the night. It all helps.

This morning we have been mostly becalmed, sails down to save unnecessary wear and tear from slatting in the lumpish swell, which has still to sort itself out, the residual northerly swell left over from the short gale is still dying off while the near continuous south easterly swell is reasserting itself.

And the sun is out, hooray! so I have wiped the sextant's mirrors clean and taken a couple of sights. Maybe this evening we will be able to take some star sights.

And now a breeze has returned, with just enough oomph to keep the sails full and Sylph moving smoothly.

All is well.