Ghosting Along

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 7 Jan 2012 03:06

Noon Position: 34 41.5 S 136 14.0 E
Course: South-east Speed: 2.5 knots
Wind: North, F2-3 Slight to gentle Breeze
Weather: Overcast, warm

Mark and I enjoyed a relaxing day at anchor yesterday, with Mark visiting Sylph in the evening as it was my turn to cook, but not before we shifted anchorage over to the western side of the lagoon off the south-eastern end of Partney Island, this move in response to the evening's weather forecast which had the wind shifting into the north-west and increasing to 20 to 25 knots around dawn. And sure enough at a quarter past five I woke up to the noise of the wind whistling in the rigging. I went on deck to find that Starfire and Sylph were alarmingly close to one another. I was a initially a little disorientated but checking the compass heading and the GPS it was clear that Sylph was once again dragging anchor. We were not in any immediate danger of going aground and as the wind had not settled I continued to monitor the situation to see what would happen. In fact the wind did not follow the previous evening's forecast but after a short burst from the north the wind turned to the west and south-west. I let our a bit more chain and within a few minutes the anchor had found a patch of sand, grabbed hold and arrested our slow slide towards a sand bar a few hundred meters to leeward. Then the wind suddenly subsided as quickly as it had gusted up. As the rosy fingers of dawn were starting to spread over the sky I decided to take the opportunity to get the dinghy inboard so we would be ready to sail when we needed or wanted to. Then I returned to my bunk for another hour's rest.

One rising for the second time to greet the day I spoke with Mark on the VHF to compare notes. It seemed he had also dragged a little in the sudden wind shift and in response had put down a second anchor which he had prepared the night before and which soon had Starfire firmly attached to the seabed again.

Come daylight there was very little wind, nonetheless Mark got underway early as Starfire's batteries were low and he wanted to run the engine to charge them up. Seeing as Sylph does not run a fridge and we have had plenty of sunshine allowing the solar panels to keep them topped up our batteries are going just fine, so I waited until a little wind came along, just on 9am and then sailed from the lagoon without any mechanical assistance. The wind has remained light so far and we have been making slow progress. Our agreed destination for tonight is Wedge Island, now about 30 miles away. At this rate we will not be getting there until well after dark but the wind is forecast to increase, the sky is looking dark out to the west and I have just heard someone on the radio to the south-west of us reporting 20 knots of wind, so I expect we will be getting more than enough very soon.

All is well.