Position: 34 46.53 S 138
As expected the wind freshened significantly during the afternoon and evening, and by sunset we were down to a double reefed main and 40% jib. When working to windward in a fresh breeze with Sylph, it can be a fine balance to get the right sail configuration. Too much sail and, while Sylph will generally continue to power to windward, for those of us who are not made of steel life can become pretty difficult. One’s world leans over at 45 degrees or more and bounces and crashes around in quite an alarming manner. Too little sail and she will tend to just wallow and fall off to leeward, especially if the seas are up.
We found the balance point and then spent all day and much of the night clawing our way to windward in the strong wind, crossing from one side of the Gulf of St Vincent to the other. At 2200 we were back on the eastern side with only about ten miles to the entrance to the outer harbour when the wind suddenly eased and the sky cleared. I was hopeful that perhaps the worst was over. I waited fifteen minutes to see whether the drop in wind was just a temporary lull but the lighter wind seemed like it was going to stay. So I shook out the reefs and we were back to sailing close hauled on the port tack under full sail enjoying a pleasant ride. I lay in my bunk listening to the water gurgling past, feeling much more relaxed. With only ten miles to go I was looking forward to the remainder of the sail and perhaps getting alongside during the night.
But the wind drop was in fact only a long lull and at 2300 it freshened once more. Sylph heeled over and started to bounce and crash. I crawled out of my warm bunk, climbed into my damp foul weather gear (at least my boots were comfortable and dry), and clambered out on deck to reduce sail again. At midnight we tacked back out towards the middle of the Gulf. I gave up on the idea of getting alongside for the night as I did not fancy trying to berth Sylph by myself in a crowded marina with a fresh breeze and a tired skipper. Rather, I thought it best to jog along outside for the remainder of the night and aim to be at the entrance after sunrise when I could see more clearly and my mind would hopefully be a little less fuzzy.
At 0540 we tacked back towards Adelaide. During this time the breeze had backed into the northwest and eased to a fresh breeze so I was able to set more jib and found that Sylph was easily able to lay the course for the entrance to Port Adelaide.
At 1000 we were approaching the entrance but a ship was scheduled to depart the wharf in the outer harbour at 1030 to proceed to another berth in the inner harbour. At 1018 we were behind the shelter of the outer harbour breakwater. I started the motor and handed sail then did a lap near the entrance while the merchant ship was towed clear of her berth and started her seven mile passage up the Port Adelaide River. At 1100 we secured alongside the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron visitor’s berth.
And now I might have a little rest.
All is well.