Happy Australia Day

Position: 34 45.97 S  137 51.77 E
Alongside Port Vincent Marina
Wind: South to South-east, F6 Strong Breeze
Weather: Sunny, warm
Distance sailed: 72 nm

My brother John, nephew Jason and I have been looking for an opportunity to go for a sail together for sometime and yesterday things came together for us to do so. John and Jason joined Sylph on Tuesday night so we would be ready to go early Wednesday. We enjoyed a pub meal together and a few drinks back on board then turned in later than was sensible but nonetheless managed to arise at 6.30, have breakfast and get underway at 7.40 am. Our planned destination was Edithburgh, the forecast was for strong winds and as the day progressed the winds freshened to about 30 knots or so. This made for a brisk crossing of the Gulf of St Vincent and we were approaching Edithburgh jetty just after 3pm. My succinct, or perhaps all too brief, cruising guide for South Australian waters said that Edithburgh was sheltered from the southeast, the direction the strong winds were coming from but looking at the chart I had my doubts and as we approached my fears were confirmed, there was short steep sea running and it was obvious there was no way we were going to find adequate shelter for the night. Not to worry, I had a contingency plan, to turn right and head another 20 miles north to Port Vincent where there was a nice secure marina tucked in behind a sand spit.

By the time we rounded the spit we were reduced down to a partially furled headsail, but at least Jason was by this time recovering from a severe bout of seasickness. In fact he had spent the best part of 10 hours lying in the back of the cockpit, arm round a bucket, the odd wave sending a shower of spray cascading over him, and the sun trying to burn him to a crisp,. Fortunately a towel and cap kept the worst of the sun off but we later found a few bright pink welts on his stomach and arms which we had failed to cover. At least when we turned north and ran downwind Sylph's motion improved sufficiently for him to be able to gain shelter below for an hour or two.

Once around Middle Spit, marking the eastern boundary of Port Vincent, I furled the jib (noting a foot long rent in one of the seams as I did so – bother!) started the motor and proceeded to punch our way resolutely (ie slowly) into the strong wind and steep seas, Sylph's full bows needing quite a bit of force to keep it pointing into the wind. Meanwhile another yacht was coming into view from the west, obviously coming direct from Adelaide, rounded the beacon marking the north-eastern extremity of the sand spit (at this time well submerged beneath two meters of tide), a little ways behind us and then also handed sail and started to motor at which point she quickly started to overtake Sylph and disappear into the marina well ahead of us. After crawling along at not much better then a knot, crabbing sideways as much as forward, we eventually found sanctuary between the rocky arms of the marinas entrance. We were too late for a meal ashore but enjoyed a vegie stir fry and a relatively early night.

Today is still very windy, tomorrow will only be a bit better and as John has to be back in Adelaide on Saturday to umpire a cricket match, Jason and he are going to catch a bus back to Adelaide. Tomorrow morning I will assess conditions and see if I can get there before them.

The jib is repaired and now it is time to go and catch up with my short term crew at the pub – John's shout.

All is well.