Part Two – Beyond Backstairs Passage

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 18 Jan 2018 02:33

Noon Position: 35 54.2 S 138 17.9 E
Course: SE; Speed: 5 knots
Wind: NW - F3 (gentle breeze)
Sea: 3
Swell: NW 0.5m
Weather: sunny and warm
Day’s Run: 98nm

Light winds dominated yesterday’s sailing; however, within the sheltered waters of Gulf of St. Vincent seas were almost mirror smooth. Consequently, what little wind we had Sylph was able to make the most of and she glided along at an average of about four knots for most of the night. A clear moonless sky paraded the Milky Way’s ribbon of stars overhead and even the Magellanic Clouds, two of our nearby galaxies were easy to make out. The loom of Adelaide’s lights glowed astern, a suffused white dome reaching into the sky, and shore lights from either side of the Gulf speckled the horizon. I slept in twenty minute snatches but did not mind the interrupted sleep when on each arising I could enjoy the spectacle and the cool evening breeze afresh. ( I regret that I lack a poet’s originality but I do my best to describe my environment.)

This morning we approached Backstairs Passage and I felt very lucky that the tide was with us. Despite losing the wind completely for short periods, the ebb stream carried us along at two to three knots and when we did have a breeze we touched on seven to eight knots. By 11.00 we had cleared the strait and were once more out into the Southern Ocean with a gentle steady breeze filling in from the northwest, allowing us to pole the jib out and run square before it. Initially Sylph rolled to the south-westerly beam swell causing her sails to slat heavily in the light winds but now the wind has freshened just enough to make the effects of the swell barely noticeable.  Sylph rolls smooth and gentle, her sails quiet with only the creak of the vang-preventer working its block and the shooshing of her wake falling astern audible.

We have a hundred miles to run to Robe. Winds are expected to be light overnight and fresh headwinds are forecast to kick in tomorrow afternoon, so I expect that we will have to do a bit of flogging to windward before making the shelter of Guichen Bay. That will likely flush out any residual haul-out grime.

Its good to be sailing and writing my blog.

All is well.