Hitting the Wall

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 5 Dec 2013 08:21
Noon Position (5 Dec 13): 11 45.7 S 150 22.3 E
Course: North east (ish) Speed: ?
Wind: Light and variable
Sea: slight Swell: SE 1 meters
Weather: overcast, passing rain squalls.
Days run: 124 nm

(This is out of order - will sort it out later.)

We have continued to make excellent progress across the Coral Sea, but now
that we are almost to the other side it seems we have hit the doldrums, or
at least doldrum like conditions, with light and variable winds and regular
rain squalls passing through. It happened quite suddenly. At six this
morning the wind was easing, but we were still close reaching to full sail,
making good five knots. At nine the wind shifted into the north and dropped
down to a light air such that we could no longer maintain steerage way. I
have had the sails up and down several times since then and even done a
little bit of motoring, and will probably do some more before the day is

We had a heavy rain squall pass over us mid-forenoon, which I made good use
of. The sails were down at the time. I washed myself, some clothes, and
collected a couple of buckets of water which have since been poured into one
of the water tanks.

Now we are actually running square to a zephyr from the south west, with the
jib poled out to starboard. I am not totally comfortable with this as if a
squall sneaks up on us things could get rather untidy very quickly. Still,
squalls are hard to miss, especially during daylight hours.

Light winds are forecast for several days from here, so unfortunately Sylph’s
daily runs are going to fall dramatically. In fact we have been going
around in circles since ten this morning and have made absolutely zero
distance in the direction I would like to go. I am keen to get in behind
the reefs that guard the south eastern approaches to Papua New Guinea,
because once behind them I figure the swell should drop off and we will be
able to make better use of the light winds. With the current conditions we
need ten knots or more to overcome the disturbing effects of the unsettled
seas. Normally I do not mind drifting around the place for few days (though
I do not like rolling around in swells with no wind), but this is not a part
of the world I wish to dawdle in with the cyclone season coming on. It
might be time to give the new engine a bit of a work out.

All is well.