Around the Corner

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 4 Dec 2017 09:36

1500 Position: 37 54.6 S 150 08.8 E
Course: SW, Speed: 4.5 knots
Wind: SSE, F3 - gentle breeze
Sea: slight; Swell: SW 2 m / SE 1 m
Weather: overcast, mild
Day’s Run (departure to noon): 44 nm

I am pleased to say that ‘The Plan’ has been executed and thus far the weather has cooperated to allow it to unfold as ... well, planned (and hopefully well planned).

We weighed anchor and were under way shortly after midnight with clear skies and a bright full moon to show us the way. Initially winds were light and the going was slow but once past Green Cape, as expected, the wind freshened from the south west. We tightened sheets so as to make as much westing as we could. Come mid-morning, the wind freshened further requiring a reef in the main and a little later a couple of wraps in the jib.

During the punch south a minor problem revealed itself – the cockpit was not draining. Clearly there was something blocking the drains. To access them required moving the life raft a few inches aft (its silly having the life-raft sitting over the cockpit drains I know – its a long story and it’s on my to do list). A long stick revealed that the drains were rather firmly blocked with marine growth. I had borrowed a hookah dive set some weeks before departing Wollongong to give the bottom a scrub but had overlooked checking the drains. I cleared the starboard drain easily enough but the port drain required a few good whacks with a hammer applied to the end of the long stick before the crusty critters would relinquish their grip. That done, the cockpit quickly emptied and I felt a lot more seaworthy without several gallons of water sloshing about.

At 14.50 I awoke from an afternoon snooze to a change in Sylph’s motion. I got up to have a look around and was pleased to discover the wind shift had arrived right on cue. Five minutes later we had shaken the reef out of the main, unrolled the jib, gone about and were settled on the port tack, close reaching to a soldier’s breeze*. The only down side is that the major swell is from right ahead which makes for a strong pitching motion but as long as the breeze remains above ten knots or so we will have enough drive for Sylph to hold her head into it and maintain a reasonable speed. In my experience, Bass Strait seems to always have a westerly swell rolling through it so I am not expecting it to disappear but hopefully it will smooth out and lengthen over the next several hours so that the ride becomes a little less bouncy.

Now we just need to make it around Wilsons Promontory before about midday Wednesday when the wind is due to veer into the west again. I am keen to be able to pull into Melbourne to catch up with brother Mark, niece Isabella and nephew Archer.

All is well.

*soldier’s breeze – a beam reach, so called because sailors reckon that even a soldier can sail a beam reach out to their destination and home again, i.e. it’s an easy point of sail.

PS. There is a good chance, actually make that a certainty, that we will be going incommunicado for a few days as I am relying on my mobile phone to make these posts (the satphone is expensive to run) and we are going to be well off the coast for the next few days so as to make best use of the winds. Do not adjust your sets, stay tuned. We will be back in a couple of days.

Addendum (5 Dec): Bother! Sorry, this post missed the post. I hope I haven’t caused any concern to any of my loyal readers. 

“Er,   hello ....         hello-o-ooh ...        Anybody there?”  Bob, in a rising querulous tone, an anxious frown crossing his brow.  “Bother!  mutter mutter ...  I’ll go and talk to my cat ... oh darn! No cat.” He walks aft to the cockpit, kicks the binnacle (softly), and sits to contemplate the grey horizon.  What’s it all about?, he wonders.  Why am I here?