Quickly . . . , now slowly
Course: West nor’ west Speed: 1 knots
Wind: North F1 light air
Sea: smooth Swell: southeast 1 meters
Weather: sunny, mild
Day’s run: 110 Nm
At two in the afternoon we were close hauled on the starboard tack, just north of Cape Hawke. The clouds were gathering in the west, and I could feel puffs of cooler air around me. The outriders of the westerly change had arrived, the main force would not be far behind. I got rid of most of the jib and reduced down to two reefs in the main and waited to see what would come. Sure enough, a few minutes later, Sylph heeled over to a blast of wind, then shook as if to recover and reached away to the north, her forefoot alive with cascading foam. I let out a little more jib for balance and settled down to enjoy the ride. Being close in to the coast, the seas were relatively flat, and over the course of the next few hours we worked our way in even closer for a smooth fast ride. Conditions were rather gusty for several hours so I had some anxious moments when the stronger gusts came through. Sylph would reach hull speed and the rig would strain. With the new rig and furler gear I have not yet gained full confidence in it, but so far so good.
Overnight the wind veered into the southwest and eased from a near gale down to a nice fresh breeze, so for most of the night we were running wing on wing, main to starboard and jib poled to port. This morning the wind eased further and backed into the west again until just before noon we found ourselves drifting aimlessly, wallowing in the southerly swell. But not for long. The wind has now backed right round to the east and we are beam reaching at a steady three knots. Coffs Harbour is nineteen miles ahead, six hours if we maintain this speed, which I doubt, but with luck we might spend most of tonight at anchor. Northerlies are forecast for tomorrow with another south-westerly due on Thursday, so my plan is to have a rest day in harbour and leave early Thursday to make the most of the fair wind.
All is well.