Departed Myanouri Ko, but . . .

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 22 Feb 2014 11:27
Position: 30 25.57 N 130 51.42 E
At anchor off Tanegashima
Wind: North F1 light air
Sea: calm
Swell: negligible
Weather: clear, cool
Day's run: 21 nm sailed, 0 miles made good

This morning dawned bright and clear, with a light breeze from the north west. Should I stay or should I go, was my immediate question. The forecast was for light winds but Sylph's flag was standing out straight, not exactly flapping vigorously, but certainly waving sufficiently to suggest that there was a nice sailing breeze to be had outside the harbour. My mind flipped several times between staying alongside and using the sunshine to get some painting done, or getting going and enjoying the light breeze. Unsure of what to do, and feeling that there was no need to get away in a hurry, as if I did leave it was going to be a relatively slow sail, I put off the decision by going to the tourist information centre and getting an update on the weather.from the internet. The Japanese Meteorological Bureau was forecasting ten knots from the north-east, other websites were indicating light winds from the north, and my shore support team had suggested that if I left today than I would probably be motoring.

I wandered out to the breakwater and looked out to sea. The seas were flat, the light breeze was still blowing, the sun was shining. What the hell I thought, its a nice day, the worst that can happen is that we will end up drifting around for a bit. So I decided to leave.

At a little after 13.00 we were clear of the harbour entrance and had the sails set. Sylph was close hauled to a northerly breeze, making good about three knots. It was clearly going to be a slow trip but I was hopeful that we might keep a useful breeze and enjoy a pleasant sail. We ended up only making good a little bit north of east and at 16.00, as we approached the island of Tanegashima, I put a tack in so as to remain out in open water. I was disappointed to see however, that on the opposite tack we were making good a course of south-west, going the wrong way almost entirely. I tacked back but now we were losing the wind. Despite the fact that we were drifting, the GPS was showing that we were heading south at three knots. Looking at the chart I realised that we were caught in the ebb stream, pushing us out of the strait between Yakishima and Tanegashima. Not to worry, I thought, the tide will soon turn and push us back the other way. But, as the evening wore on, I started to get the suspicion that perhaps the Kurushio Current was contributing to our southwards push. The chart showed a shallow patch of water that extended off the coast about half a mile about a mile away from where we were drifting. In the calm conditions I thought this might be a good spot to anchor while we waited for the current to change, or for some wind to pick up.

At 18.25 I started the engine, handed sail and slowly approached the coast to where the shoal patch should be. Half an hour later the echo sounder shoaled to ten meters, pretty much where the chart said it would. I let the anchor go with thirty meters of cable, that should be more than enough in the light conditions. Now I wonder what to do. Shall we stay here for the night or, if the breeze looks like it is picking up, get underway. I suspect that my shore support was right about the wind, it is going to remain too light for any useful sailing until Tuesday. So I reckon I will stay put for the night, get some sleep, and perhaps try to make a few miles during daylight hours tomorrow.

All is well.