In a Trough

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 13 Dec 2012 04:18
Noon Position: 38 22.1 S 140.33.1 E
Course: North-west Speed: 4 knots
Wind: South-west F3 gentle breeze
Weather: overcast, passing showers
Day's Run: 96 Nm

This morning we crossed the imaginary line into South Australian waters. As
we cleared the western approaches to Bass Strait we now have the great
expanses of the Southern Ocean once more before us, its massive presence,
like the mythical Kraken, indirectly reveals itself through the energy it
emanates, in this case the long undulating two meter swell that continually
rolls along its way.

A trough has now passed over the region. For much of the night we have been
rolling around in the Southern Ocean swell, with very little wind. I fell
asleep for a few hours this morning, leaving Sylph drawing along under the
headsail at a steady and somnolent three knots. I had set an alarm but
conditions were obviously a bit too relaxing. I slept through the alarm and
only woke up to Sylph's heeling to a light breeze. I went on deck and found
us heading south, the wind vane having dutifully followed the wind round as
it backed into the north-east. Consequently we have managed to end up a bit
further off the coast than intended.

A trough is such an appropriate name for the conditions we are now
experiencing. We are in a trough. What images does that conjure up? Perhaps
a damp claustrophobic drain, because that is what a trough feels like to me.
Grey leaden skies overhead, dull grey sloppy seas beneath, a damp drizzle
falling, the air heavy and breathless. But as I stick my head up out of the
companionway for a quick look around, I spot a solitary albatross soaring
and wheeling magnificently across the swells. This part of the world belongs
to her. I wonder what species she is, perhaps the great wanderer, but I
doubt it. They are getting close to extinction, the victim of our long liner
fishing vessels.

For the moment we drift, with just a little bit of jib out, to help keep
Sylph steady and her bows pointing roughly in the right direction. But wait,
a little wind has arrived.

All is well.