Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 23 Feb 2014 04:22

Noon Position: 30 48.9 N 130 21.0 E
Course West Nor' west Speed: 1.3 knots
Wind: North F1 light air
Sea: calm
Swell: North 0.5 meters
Weather: clear, cool
Day's run (since sailing): 55 nm sailed, 22 miles made good

We didn't remain at anchor for very long. An hour after dropping the bower, the tide had turned (I dropped a cork over the side, what is known as a Dutch log, and watched it slowly drift to the north), and the flag was fluttering on the backstay. The breeze was quite likely to be just a land breeze which would die away once we got away from the coast but I knew that I could not sleep peacefully at anchor when there might be some wind with which to sail. Consequently, at 21.00 I weighed anchor, set sail, and we made our way close hauled to the north at about two knots.

My push forward did not take us very far. I think my concern that the breeze was nothing more than an evening land breeze was confirmed when we had cleared the headland of Shimama Sak, a mere three miles north from where we had anchored and the what little breeze there was deserted us. I was very tempted to beat myself up at his point. I castigated myself for being so silly as to leave harbour with such light winds forecast for the next several days. I could have remained in port, got some painting done, and had a good night's sleep instead of drifting around out here going nowhere. But I countered this pointless negativity by telling myself that if I had remained in harbour I would very likely have found myself constantly looking at all the tell tales around me, flags fluttering, bits of paper blowing across the dock, ripples on the water, and have been yearning to be out here sailing. So I calmed myself, and as we drifted away to the north-west with the current, I got a little sleep.

By midnight we ended up drifting back very close to where we had anchored, and the land breeze once more could be felt. I set the jib and Sylph again headed north, though with a little more vigour this time, making good a touch over three knots. This time the breeze was to last for the rest of the night and into the morning. We managed to sail about thirty miles to the north-west and have now ended up drifting amongst the Satsumi Gunto island group (Gunto means islands). One of the islands, Io Shima, is most impressive. It is clearly an active volcano, of classic volcano shape, rising pyramidal from the ocean, its top smoking and its sides venting. We got quite close to the shoals off its northern end, and just after midday I tacked away to the north-east to remain clear of them, but the wind is fickle and we are now retracing our track back to the south-east.

Despite the painfully slow progress, I feel much happier now about my decision to sail. If we had not then I would not have seen the volcano. (Smoking volcano vents also make good wind tell tales.)

All is well.