A Cape Turnagain Turn

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 5 Dec 2020 00:15

Noon positions: 39 13.4 S  177 12.0 E
Course: SW  Speed 3 knots
Wind: N F2  Sea: slight  Swell: E 0.5m
Weather: overcast, mild
Day’s run: 120 nm

Our foray down south has proved exactly that, a foray.

Yesterday afternoon we mostly motored down the coast in an uncomfortable short, confused sea, a consistent though gusty breeze not arriving until 1830. By  1930 it was blowing 20-25 knots from the west, the seas short and steep. And another half hour later, with winds forecast to increase during the night and Sylph struggling to hold her heading, I decided that it would be wise to reverse course and abandon our attempt to cross Cook Strait. As the ninth rule of the Norwegian Mountain Climbing Club states, “It is never shameful to turn back.” Thus, at 2020, with Cape Turnagain abeam, named by Captain Cook for where he had turned the Bark Endeavour around on his first voyage of exploration, we followed suit and gybed to retrace our steps. (I hasten to add that Cook did not turn around because of the weather, he just didn’t like the look of the coastline as being not worth the trouble, with “the face of the Country Vissibly altering for the worse”, which was rather prescient of him.)

Conditions improved almost straight away with the wind now slightly abaft the beam and the sea on the quarter. And about an hour later the wind was easing sufficiently to allow the second reef to be shaken out and some jib to be unfurled. And at 2330 we were once more motoring in light winds and a lumpy sea. At 0315 a light steady breeze filled in again and we have been able to sail the remainder of the way back to Hawkes Bay.

The plan for now is to anchor for the night behind Tangoio Bluff just north of Napier. Here we will review our options but most likely we will loiter in this area to wait for a more favourable weather forecast.

All is well.