Tropic of Capricorn - Almost

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 7 Jul 2019 03:08

Position: 23 40.4 S  151 24.2 E
Course: NNW  Speed: 7 knots
Wind: SE;  F5,  strong breeze
Sea: moderate   Swell: E 2.5 meters
Weather: cloudy, mild
Day’s run: 27 nm


This morning I woke up to the sound of …. nothing. It was quiet.  The wind was not whistling through the rigging. And the sun was starting to stream in through the windows. I jumped out of the bunk and got Sylph ready for sea and at 0740 the anchor was aweigh and we were heading out to sea.

While the wind was not whistling there was still plenty of it to push Sylph along, so once the anchor was free I set the mainsail with one reef and continued out of the narrow confines of Seven Mile Creek.  By 0830 we had cleared the shoals of Rodd Harbour and were able to set course for Great Keppel Island, our next intended stop-over. We are now running wing-on-wing once again, the swell is back now that we are clear of Rodd Peninsular so we are rolling a bit, but there is sufficient pressure in the sails to keep the motion manageable.

Outside of Rodd Harbour there is an anchorage for ships waiting to berth in Gladstone. Business must be booming for we counted twenty-two ships on our AIS, not counting one that had weighed and was heading into port.  According to Gladstone Port Corporation, some seventy per cent of the cargo coming out of Gladstone is coal, mostly bound for Japan and South Korea to manufacture steel. That has got to be a lot of coal!

We wended our way through the anchored vessels and are now well clear of them.  Our next milestone will be crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, which we should do at about 1430, officially placing us in the tropics.  We are heading for Great Keppel Island, arriving this evening. We are not sure whether we will anchor there or not as it seems likely that the still considerable swell will invade the anchorage and make it very uncomfortable.  So, the plan is to enter the bay on the north side of Great Keppel Island and assess the conditions once there. If comfortable we will stay but, if not, we will continue on to Middle Percy Island.  I figure that the Percy Group is sufficiently north to be within the shelter of the Great Barrier Reef, reducing the swell sufficiently so that it doesn’t dominate all our navigational deliberations.

On the plus side, the swell has caused us to push on past places we would normally have spent some time exploring. Consequently, thus far we have made a relatively fast passage north and expect to make Townsville in plenty of time to be able to rendezvous with big brother, John, in early August.

All is well.