Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 16 Feb 2021 23:39
Noon Position: 44 08.6 S 167 29.6 E
Course: N Speed 3 knots
Wind: SE F3 Sea: slight Swell: SW 2.5 meters
Weather: sunny, mild
Day’s run: 114 nm

My hopes were exceeded. Not only did the wind ease a little, by 2100 it faded away to a barely perceptible air. I tried running before what was left of the breeze by poling the jib out to port and setting the drifter to starboard, leading its sheet through a block on the end of the boom held out by its vang-preventer to maximise our sail area, but to no avail. With the large swells passing under Sylph, she wallowed. The sails filled as the swell lifted Sylph up and then collapsed as she fell down its far side. We were going nowhere, just wearing sails out as they slatted and chafed against the rigging. Oh well, I tried. On with the BRM.

But wait, just as I have the jib furled, the main sheeted amidships, the engine up to speed and the tiller pilot steering, I feel a light breeze from ahead. It freshens a little ... unexpected. Ok, reduce revs, roll out the jib, enable windvane steering, shut down tiller pilot, shut down engine – we are sailing again. Indeed, at 2245 I put a reef in the mainsail. But not for long. At midnight the wind fades again and Sylph once more rolls to the swell, sails slatting.

Down jib, on engine.

And this continued during the night, a bit of motoring and a bit of sailing. But we make progress.

On the plus side, the high pressure system that steals our wind, provides for a crystal clear night sky in which the stars shine brilliantly; the Milky Way arching overhead, the crab nebula clear in its soft glow, and off to one side of our galaxy’s disc, the Magellanic Clouds, two nearby galaxies, stand out clearly like balls of cotton wool. And in the daylight, out to starboard is the magnificent view of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. I was tempted to close the coast and enter one the fiords for an explore but we would have arrived at the entrance in the middle of the night, and the hassle of finding an anchorage (fiords with their steep sides and deep water invariably have very limited options in the way of anchoring) and the thought of trying to deal with all the blood-sucking sand flies that are notorious in the fiords, ended up putting me off the idea. For now we keep on sailing.

Meanwhile, Oli and I do battle over who gets what part of the pillow. Not sure who is winning. Probably the cat.

All is well.