Flopping off Cape Ommaney

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 4 May 2015 21:40
Noon Position: 56 03.8 N 13502.4 W
Course: South East. Speed: 1 knots
Wind: North East, F2 gentle air
Sea: moderate. Swell: South West, 1 metre
Weather: sunny, mild
Day's run: 74 nm

Once again, for the conditions, we have made quite reasonable progress over the last 24 hours. We enjoyed a very pleasant sail overnight with a light following breeze, slight seas, a full moon, and clear skies. But now we are flopping around off Cape Ommaney, which marks the northern entrance into Chatham Strait. The Strait is one of many along this section of coastline leading into a complex labyrinth of channels and waterways for several hundred miles, and consequently the tidal streams around the headlands are pronounced. At the moment the tide is flooding which, combined with the light wind flowing in the opposite direction, is causing a short steep little sea which Sylph is bobbing around in like a cork in a washing machine. Not to worry, the tide has turned and my tidal calculator tells me that the stream will be with us in about an hour. And things could always be worse. A guide to these waters, “Exploring Alaska and British Columbia”, tells of the HM Ships Discovery and Chatham being becalmed off Cape Ommaney back in August 1794, and having to use their boats to keep them from being pushed onto the rocks due to the tides and swell. Their crews rowed and towed the two ships for the night, until a light north westerly breeze sprung up in the morning of the 24th and allowed them to sail clear of the dangers, but not before losing a sailor, one Isaac Wooden, over the side while recovering the boats. Isaac, who could not swim, hit his head as he fell, sank, and drowned. The island just to the east of Cape Ommaney is named in memory of him, Wooden Island.

Quite a bit of flotsam also washes out of the Straits and Sounds, in particular wooden logs. Yesterday afternoon we bumped into a few of them. They of course lay low in the water and are hard to see until Sylph is right on top of them. I am not too concerned about damaging the hull, as thus far the logs we have encountered have only been several feet long and no more than about eight inches in diameter. My greater concern is one getting fouled in the Hydrovane rudder, but watching one log that slid under the keel led me to conclude that the risk to the wind vane is pretty low. It submerged but popped up to one side about half way down the hull, so I think it is unlikely that a buoyant log will be able work its way under Sylph's counter. I would be just a tad upset if we were to do any more damage to the wind vane system, having spent so much on repairing it over the last year or so.
The winds are forecast to pick up from the north west later this afternoon, so hopefully we will soon be on our way.

All is well.