Banks Strait Dash

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 3 Feb 2013 02:42
Noon Position:  40 59.8 S  146 42.3 E
Course: East Nor' east  Speed: 7 knots
Wind:  West  F4 moderate breeze
Sea: slight   Swell: west 0.5 m
Weather:  Sunny and mild
We got away from the Mersey Yacht Club marina at a respectable time of 8.30, the strong ebb stream flushing us out of the Mersey River like a cork out of a bottle, and it did not take long before Sylph was back out into Bass Strait and running before a fresh westerly breeze, once more wing on wing.
Next stop, all going will, will be Hobart, which I hope to make in time for the Wooden Boat Festival which starts there this Friday.  But our first and most immediate challenge is to negotiate Banks Strait. I was expecting to be able to make the Strait with a favourable weather pattern but checking the forecast this morning it looks like the wind is due to switch into the southeast in the early hours of tomorrow morning, earlier than I had counted on, which is not good.  Not only is it a strong headwind but my cruising guide has this to say about Banks Strait in an easterly wind:
"Probably the worst wind in the Banks Strait/Furneaux Group is from the E or SE.  Almost invariably this brings in mist and tends to build to a strong wind or worse due to the formation of a low pressure area E of flinders Is.  These low pressure gradients occur when least expected and quite often are not forecast."
... which does not sound altogether encouraging.  At the moment we are making excellent progress, at just under seven knots, and if we can keep that up we should be through the strait before the change arrives.  If we do not make it in time we may have to loiter on this side of the Furneaux Group until the wind moves out of the east, probably a period of about 24 hours.  But for now we will give it our best shot to make it before the wind shift. The tide starts to ebb there at about 22.30, which will be perfect if we can keep up our current speed.
All is well.