What a Drag

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 9 Jan 2012 05:46
Position: 35 39.2 S 137 38.6 E
Alongside Kingscote
Wind: South-west, F5 Moderate Breeze
Weather: Overcast, mild
Distance sailed: 79 nm

The patch of sandy bottom I dropped Sylph's anchor into on Saturday must
have been made mostly of sandstone, perhaps this is the reason there was no
weed growing on it, and while we remained secure on Saturday night come mid-
morning yesterday we started to drag. No problem, I cranked in the 30 meters
of chain, started the engine and motored back to the sandy spot, this time
with the additional manoeuvrability of the engine I positioned Sylph right
in the middle of the sizable patch and let go the anchor with a bit of extra
chain just to be sure. All was good for most of the rest of the day but late
in the afternoon the wind started to freshen further and once again Sylph
decided she wanted to head back out to sea. Bother! Try again. The process
to recovering the anchor took a little longer the second time round with the
extra chain and the extra wind, but we eventually got back, motoring a
little, cranking the windlass a little, motoring a little, cranking a
little … in all it took about 20 minutes to recover, not so long but a good
work-out nevertheless. I motored around to a small bay to the north of our
previous position to see if it was any better, but it looked just as windy
and to leeward of it was a nasty rock reef, if we dragged here things could
get interesting so rather then take this risk I motored back to our previous
position, looked around for another patch of sand but there were none, it
seemed the only other available patch was taken by Starwave who in all this
time had not budged an inch. So reluctantly we returned to the original
patch and after motoring around in circles a few times to ensure that
Sylph's anchor was positioned with as much precision as I could muster, I
once more let go the anchor and let out even more chain – surely it would
hold this time.

But no! At a little after 5pm we were heading out to sea yet again. By this
time I was starting to feel a touch of frustration. It seemed I was going to
have to do something different, but what? And why on earth was Starwave so
securely attached to the bottom only a few feet away with similar anchor
gear to Sylph? I discussed the matter with Mark over the radio – perhaps a
second anchor laid on separate rodes or together on the one chain, would
work, but after considering options I decided that if Sylph was so
determined to head out to sea then who was I to argue, out we would go. Our
plan for today had been to head back to Kingscote on Kangaroo Island, about
90 miles away, which would be a good distance for an overnight sail, and
while the wind was forecast to be strong, the direction was good, all I
would need to do was to set a bit of jib and run before it. So once the
anchor cable was yet once again all inboard, this time instead of heading
back into the beach, I allowed Sylph's bows to fall off the wind in the
direction she seemed determined to go, unrolled a bit of jib, angled the
wind vane accordingly and settled down to a relaxing night at sea instead of
an anxious night at anchor.

Once clear of the lee of Wedge Island the wind and swell picked up,
particularly the swell which grew to about three meters, but it was well
behaved, only a few small breakers which, despite a more acute angle to the
wind than I had anticipated, Sylph easily rode over. At 9pm we passed
Althorpe Island marking the entrance into Investigator Strait and were able
to bear away to the east which put the wind fine of the starboard quarter
and made for a much smoother and more comfortable ride. I set the “Watch
Commander” to 25 minutes and made myself comfortable on the sea berth to cat
nap for the night in between the regular beeps of the my trusted alarm.

At 5.25am we rounded Marsden Point, marking the northern entrance into
Nepean Bay, which once around the wind and seas abated considerably and the
swell completely. There was still a bit of spray on deck and we needed to
set the mainsail so that Sylph could work her way to windward into the
shelter of the bay. I donned full foul weather gear, something I have not
done for quite a while with the warm weather, and made my way to the mast to
hoist the mainsail, minus one reef slab. By now we were well and truly
behind the shelter of the sand spit which forms the protective arm of
Kingscote Harbour, the sky was lightening in the east, the breeze was cool
and refreshing, the occasional shower of spray broke over Sylph's bow as she
leaned contentedly to the wind, slicing into the small waves – a sailor

Now we are alongside the Kingscote harbour pontoon. I have been into town
with one of the local sailors to talk about sailing type stuff, and back
again. And now we await Mark's arrival. He would have left Wedge Island this
morning and we are planning a pub meal tonight, so expecting him around six
or so.

All is well.