Approaching Banks Strait

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 5 Dec 2018 04:16

Noon Position: 41 17.3 S  148 26.7 E
Course:  N  Speed: 4 knots
Wind: ENE,  F3 - gentle breeze
Sea: slight     Swell: SE 1m
Weather: mostly cloudy, mild
Day’s Run: 92 nm

Yesterday afternoon, as I was looking over the chart (electronic I confess, there is a gap in my paper coverage along this bit of the coast) I noticed that we were passing over ‘Sloppy Weather Bank’.  What a funny name, I thought with a giggle (hmm, yes, I occasionally giggle).  But by late evening I was no longer amused and while sloppy might not be the most nautical of expressions the epitaph in this instance was only too appropriate. The wind was light to non-existent but the seas were indeed sloppy in the extreme. Sylph was jumping around all over the place, the motion very uncomfortable, particularly as we approached Cape Sonnerat, the south-eastern point of Schouten Island. I suspected the short steep seas were the consequence of two or more currents meeting at this headland, so I attempted to motor clear to find some smoother water and perhaps a little wind. A promising puff of wind on several occasions had me stopping the engine and trying to sail but each time, after teasing me for maybe fifteen minutes, it would die and leave old Sylph wallowing and pitching with a sharp jerky motion, sails slamming, and me holding on as best I could. At least when motoring the motion was not so bad, and the precipitous cliffs and bold rust-red rocky headlands of Schouten Island gave me something to look at while stuck to the helm.

Around sunset, sufficient breeze arrived at last to set sail and shut down the engine, and by midnight as we passed another appropriately name feature, Sleepy Bay, the seas settled and I enjoyed a peaceful night snug in my bunk (and getting up every twenty odd minutes for a look around of course).

The wind is forecast to back into the north later this evening and it has already swung from south and right astern to just north of east, which has us close reaching on the starboard tack.  With a bit of luck we should be through Banks Strait and past the north-east corner of Tasmania later this evening. Once around the wind will follow the coast and provide more of a north-east wind which will be favourable for our desired heading towards Adelaide.  Meanwhile, by tomorrow afternoon the reason for our coming to Tasmania in the first place, one Mark Sinclair, Commander, Royal Australian Navy Retired, and single-handed round the world racer, not retired, will have arrived in Adelaide.  I wonder whether we will get there before he departs again.  Regardless, we shall enjoy the excuse for a nice sail.

All is well.