Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 9 May 2011 22:40
Noon Position: 18 26.1 S 162 25.4 W
Course: West nor' west, Speed: 6 knots
Wind: East sou' east, F5-6 fresh to strong breeze
Weather: Overcast, occasional rain squalls, warm, moderate seas
Day's run: 126 miles

One of my daily rituals is to download a weather fax via Sylph's trusty little FM/MW/LW/SW synthesized receiver which I purchased many years ago after being blown over on our beam ends by an unexpected front in the vicinity of Kangaroo Island. Don't leave home without one! Currently we are getting our weather faxes from Honolulu which provides a couple of useful products for this part of the world; one is a streamline analysis of the wind direction and the other is a wind and wave prediction. The streamline analysis for early yesterday showed the winds converging in a spiral pattern on a position a little west of here, a low pressure system, with the ominous glyphs “DVLPG GALE” in a box just to their right, directly over our current position. Oh bother! I then looked for some confirmation of this prediction and downloaded a couple of weather products via ye olde Iridium satellite phone (ah technology!), namely a grib file for our area and an old fashioned text version weather forecast, both confirmed the boxed text in the weather fax. Triple bother! The grib files indicated strong winds of 30 to 35 knots from the north west later today, the text forecast said something similar but had the winds from the east to south east, just a minor discrepancy, though I will put my money on the grib files as having a higher resolution of detail per unit of area than the text forecast. At least I was able to spend last night in relative mental ease if not physical comfort, the motion has if anything gotten worse. While the wind has eased slightly the swell remains and is if anything steeper and shorter, so Sylph has taken up a continuous sharp and jerky roll. Trying to sleep in my narrow sea berth was at times impossible despite having an extra pillow stuffed in the lee cloth to wedge myself in and cushion my body as it rolled from side to side. And now as I sit at the settee and write my torso muscles tense, first one side then the other, I press my back into the settee so as to reduce the tendency to be thrown onto the cabin sole. No wonder I feel tired. And as for preparing the evening repast! Maybe I will leave a description of the interesting acrobatics required in these conditions to perform this mundane task, which my land lubber brothers and sisters do almost unconsciously, for a slow news day.

Palmerston is srill 45 miles away so we won't get there until just after dark. Now if the wind is from the east then Palmerston atoll will provide good shelter as the anchorage and moorings are on its western side, but they are open to the vast expanses of the Pacific ocean to their north, west and south, so if the wind is from the north west as the gribs predict then it will be the last place we will want to be; with the frenzied froth of waves breaking on the jagged gnashing teeth of a coral reef, like a slobbering rabid dog, only a few hundred meters to leeward of us. Odysseus v Charybdis meets Bob v Palmerston. No thank you. For now we will continue towards Palmerston and see how the weather unfolds. This mornings weather fax made no mention of a gale, I will check the gribs and text forecasts this afternoon. Maybe they have changed their collective meteorological mind. I live in hope.

I forgot to mention night before last in the dark I managed to kick a winch handle over the side. It was old and the locking mechanism no longer worked, Now I am down to two, when I get down to one then I will think about panicking. I should have bought one in Papeete. I wonder whether they have any in Nuku'alofa?

All is well.