And On and On etc.

Noon Position: 07 59.4 S 151 44.6 E
Course: North nor’ east Speed: 3 knots
Wind: West (for the moment), F3 - gentle breeze
Sea: slight Swell: negligible
Weather: overcast, showers, warm, and humid
Days run: 65 nm sailed (and drifted), 58 nm made good.

Over the past twenty four hours the wind has boxed the compass. Yesterday afternoon it was mostly light from the south east, so we had the drifter set to it and ghosted along at one to two knots. In the evening the wind veered and strengthened a little, to which we set the main and jib, handing the drifter for the night – a light weight sail that I prefer not to use in the dark, especially with rain squalls in the offing. Come sunrise the wind faded so I rolled up the jib and set the drifter again, but by eight rain squalls were approaching and the wind suddenly shifted into the north west. I handed the drifter and once again set the jib. Forty five minutes later another wind shift had the sails all aback. I started the engine and motored back onto course, gybing as we did so. At eleven thirty, what little wind there was veered further into the north east and then around to the south east, fading even further as it did so. But at least the light air was behind us, so, rather optimistically, I poled the jib out and attempted to run wing on wing before it. But by now there was just not enough wind. The mainsail slatted noisily, and the jib hung limp, chafing against the rigging. I handed the jib and main and once more set the drifter.

A short while ago another rain shower was approaching, the wind shifted into the south west and freshened significantly as it approached. With perhaps fresher winds inside the rain squall there was likely to be too much wind for the drifter, so I set the jib to create a wind shadow for the drifter and dropped the light weight sail in the jib’s lee, then raised the mainsail. The rain squall has now passed and once more we are . . . drifting.

In between all this setting and handing of sail I have been repairing the series drogue which was damaged in a gale off the east coast of New South Wales early this year. A series drogue is a drag device which consists of numerous nylon cones spaced about three feet apart on a long nylon line. Sylph’s drogue was hand made by myself and a long time friend who has since gone her separate way. I had been meaning to add about twenty more cones to the existing ninety, but just never got around to it. However, after the experience with the gale I decided it actually was a very handy device to have so have renewed my enthusiasm for getting it fully operational again, especially with the possibility of heavy weather in the North Pacific ahead. While conditions are light and the seas smooth, it seemed an ideal opportunity to tackle the job. Oh, and while I had the antique hand cranked Singer sewing machine out I also made a courtesy flag for Japan. At least Japan’s national flag is nice and simple.

The going has been slow, but we are not in a hurry. In fact it would be a good idea for us to dawdle for a while as the best time for crossing the western North Pacific as far as avoiding typhoons is concerned is February. My routing information tells me that in December there are on average 13 cyclones in a ten year period in the western North Pacific, where as in January and February there are only four. In March the number start to gradually increase again. Hence my juggling act in leaving Cairns when I did, balancing South Pacific cyclones against North Pacific typhoons.

We have just had another wind shift! Excuse me, time to go back on deck.

Gybe Ho!

All is well.