Well On Our Way

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 7 May 2021 01:46
Noon Position: 34 03.4 S 171 04.9 E
Course W Speed 7 knots
Wind: NE F6 Sea: moderate Swell: NE 2 meters
Weather: overcast, mild
Day’s Run: 154 nm

We have made excellent progress over the last twenty-four hours, posting a day’s run of 154 nm, an average speed of 6.4 knots. For most of the time we have been running wing-on-wing, having to drop the pole for a short period last night to get around Three King Islands. And I will confess that I turned the GPS back on in order to make sure that we passed them safely in a dark gloomy night with the steep rocky islands barely visible in the murk. Once clear of them, however, I turned the plotter off again, resolved to refresh my celestial navigation skills.

And how rusty they are. I managed to get one sun sight this morning, but the sky is overcast so I was forced to use the centre of a fuzzy ball of light rather than the usual sharp edge of the sun’s circumference, dimmed to tolerable brightness through the sextant’s filters, bringing it down to a rough horizon made more difficult by Sylph’s sharp rolls in the heavy seas. Trying to swing a sextant, bringing a fuzzy image to a irregular horizon while at the same time trying to avoid being pitched out of the cockpit, not to mention reading the time to the nearest second off my phone come chronometer is, to say the least, a challenge. And this is before I get to go below and try to crunch the numbers.

Meridian passage, a special sight when the sun is directly overhead (local noon time) which allows for a relatively simple calculation of one’s latitude, was a failure. I caught a glimpse of the sun through a veil of cloud and tried to take a lower limb (the bottom of the sun’s circumference touching the horizon), but the resulting position line came out too far removed from my estimated position to be considered useable. Since then the sun has remained hidden behind the clouds. Still, we have plenty of sea room and plenty of time before we get near any other navigational hazards, so I am confident I will have plenty of opportunity to bring my celestial skills back up to speed.

Blue skies and calm seas will return.

All is well.