Sylph Departs

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 14 Dec 2021 02:53
Noon Position: 34 46.6 S 138 21.0 E
Course: SSE Speed 5.5 knots
Wind: SW F3 Sea: sllight
Swell: negligible
Weather: Sunny and mild

It has been another busy week making last minute preparations for our voyage and, one again, has also included quite a bit of socialising. On Friday the Yacht Squadron made a very nice presentation to me acknowledging Sylph's forthcoming voyage and on Sunday my family held a surprise gathering for me at my sister’s place. I had visited her to drop off my little yellow car which has proved so invaluable in getting Sylph ready for the voyage and I was not aware that Jenny had organised her son and daughter and my brother John and his wife Cathy to visit. Also we had a lovely video conference call with my other brothers , Michael and Mark, who live in Townsville and Melbourne respectively. And the food was magnificent. I reckon Jenny’s husband, Colin, is one of the best chefs on the planet, and Jenny made her contribution with a baked cheese cake which is my favourite dessert.

Unfortunately these wonderful send-offs were marred by an accident I had on Monday morning. Colin and Jenny had dropped me off in the city so I could make my way back to Sylph by public transport. One unanticipated problem I had encountered on Saturday was that the main solar panels did not appear to be charging the battery bank properly. I spent most of Saturday trouble shooting the problem looking for a bad connection or corroded wire and found a couple of potential problems but by the end of the day the panels were still not charging properly. Consequently, on Monday morning I decided to buy a couple of flexible panels from Jaycar on the way back to the boat in the way of a back up plan. I was waiting on the platform to reboard the train with the panels in my possession but when the train pulled in and I boarded, a few moments later I realised I had absent-mindedly left the panels back on the platform. But it was too late! The train had already departed. There was nothing I could do but get off at the next station, make my way to the opposite platform and then catch the next train back in the hope that the panels would still be there.

The next stop was the Port Adelaide station which sits high in the air and one has to descend a series of ramps on one side and climb more on the other to get to the oposite platform. In my anxious state I was in a hurry. I jogged down the ramp and slipped. I fell over, slid down the ramp a few meters, coming to rest with my hand caught in the railing. A narrow bar had slipped in between my second and third finger on my right hand and opened up the flap of skin between the two fingers. Now I was bleeding and a bit distraught. I wrapped my hand in a rag and continued to the other platform. After a ten minute wait I caught the train back to the previous station where I was relieved to find that the panels were still there. The panels now very firmly in the grip of my uninjured hand I returned to Sylph. Once the new panels were safely deposited on board the nexxt priority was to attend to my hand. Julian, a friend at the yacht club, kindly drove me to my GP who cleaned the wound, stitched it up, and prescribed some antibiotics to deal with any possible infection.

It was a silly accident and I am grateful that it has not proved to be a voyage stopper, at least not yet. I am also grateful that the weather over the next few days is forecast to be relatively light so that I will be able to remain on light duties while the wound heals. With the wound sorted, my friend Vicki dropped by and drove me to the shops to purchase last minute fresh vegetables and then we enjoyed a final pleasant last meal together at the local pub.

This morning the big day of our departure arrived. I had my final shower with hand wrapped in a plastic bag and then, after breakfast, motored over to the fuel dock where I squeezed an extra fifteen litres of diesel into Sylph’s tanks. I then motored over to the visitor’s berth to await clearance by the Australian Border Force. Three officers duly arrived and, with all the paperwork completed, we cast off lines at 1015. At 1030 Sylph cleared the Outer Harbour breakwater and I set sail and shut down the engine.

We are now sailing close hauled on the starboard tack down the Gulf of St Vincent. The sun is shining, small white caps dot the sea's deep blue surface as Sylph makes good five to six knots against the moderate SW’ly breeze.

All is well.