Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 4 May 2011 23:22
Noon Position: 17 43.8 S 151 46.2 W
Course: West sou' west, Speed: 6 knots
Wind: North, F5 Fresh breeze
Weather: Overcast, warm, moderate swell
Day's run: 143 miles

The wind has remained fresh overnight and we have gradually had to reduce sail, first one reef in the main, then two, and now we have the mainsail down altogether and are just sailing with about 70% of the jib. Not that it is especially windy, but with the steep sea and swell running and the mainsail up when a larger sea passes by, especially if it breaks as they are inclined to do from time to time, the wind vane struggles to keep Sylph on course. With only the headsail up this helps to keep the bow off the wind and we tend not to yaw so much.

And I almost ran into a small island, Maioa, which was a little careless. I had calculated that we were going to pass well to the south of it but when I checked as we were getting closer we had veered further to the north then I had expected and were heading straight for it. It was a dark and gloomy and with the big sea was running, as I peered into the gloom I wasn't sure whether I was seeing the island or a bigger then usual swell poking its head up. Not at all happy with the situation, I gybed Sylph around to a northerly course and passed to leeward of it. Thoughts of piling up onto a coral reef in the middle of the night with a two to three meter swell running did not appeal to my imagination one bit. Eventually I shifted our course back to the west and we passed just under two miles from the island, the flashing red and green lights of what I presume were buoys marking a small channel came into view as we gained its western aspect.
With Moorea behind us, I breathed a sigh of relief and Sylph bounced bravely along pushing the big seas aside before her. I felt I could hear her gurgling wake laughing at me, with perhaps a touch of anxiety in it, telling me, “Take a care you silly bugger.”

All is well.