Headwinds and the East Australia Current

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 3 Jan 2020 02:20

Noon Position: 34 53.0 S  152 39.8 E
Course: SE   Speed: 6 knots
Wind: ENE, F5 fresh breeze
Sea: moderate.  Swell: E 1.5 m
Weather: mostly sunny, warm
Day’s run: 135 nm

We left Sydney Heads with a light easterly and sailed north east waiting for the wind to back a little into the north before tacking. Unfortunately, thus far it has backed very little, merely freshening requiring a reef in the mainsail. Instead, around 2000 we ran into the East Australia Current about forty miles offshore. I watched our GPS track change from northeast, the direction Sylph was pointing in, to southeast. The current was flowing so strongly, I calculated about 2.5 to 3 knots in a sou’ sou’ west direction, that it was effectively pushing Sylph sideways and slowing her down to three knots over the ground. At midnight we threw in a tack as we need to make some ground to the south to get around the high pressure systems that dominate the Tasman during the summer months. On the new course Sylph’s heading was south sou’ east but with the current we were making good a course of south sou’ west at eight plus knots. So, while we were heading at right angles to the direction in which we wanted to go, we were doing it at quite a rapid rate.

During the forenoon the wind has in fact backed into the ENE and the current has also shifted in a more favourable direction, so we are now at least heading more or less roughly in the direction of New Zealand.

All is well.