Day 154 – Very Light Winds

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 16 May 2022 07:30
Noon Position: 08 15.0 S 095 37.9 E
Course: SW Speed: 3 knots
Wind: SSE Force 2
Sea: slight Swell: S 2m
Weather: sunny, hot
Day’s Run: 50 nm

The wind, such as it is, continues light and progress has been slow. Indeed, on three occasions the wind has been too light to keep the sails full with Sylph pitching in the short and often quite steep southerly swell and I have had to hand sail to prevent excessive wear and tear.
We first handed sail at 1440 and I took the opportunity to make a new rope ladder, having rather carelessly lost the old one over the side back in the Pacific Ocean. I find a rope ladder so much more convenient than a fixed ladder which needs to be lashed in place. With a rope ladder you just hook it to the rail and then throw it over the side, and being nice and soft it doesn’t mark the topsides at all. Once the new ladder was made I dropped it over and then plunged into the ocean for a refreshing dip and a quick inspection of the hull. I found a few small barnacles growing under the counter and I pulled a few off by hand. I figured there would likely be more calms ahead to deal with the rest of them.
My all purpose wind indicator, the Australian flag lashed to the backstay, is perfect for letting me know when the wind is strong enough to set sail again. If it hangs limp as a swell passes than the sails will surely flog, whereas if it continues to stand out then most likely the sails will remain full. At 1645 the flag was fluttering out to the wind as the swell passed underneath Sylph so it was time to set sail again.
We managed to make another eight miles to the south before the wind faded again at 2150. Once more I had to hand sail. This time, however, I chose not to go for a swim even though the full moon lit up the night bright enough to read by (an old fashioned paper book that is). And again a few hours later, at 2150, the breeze filled in sufficiently to allow us to set sail again.
We managed to keep sailing for the remainder of the night making good another twenty miles before the wind died at 0900 and had the Sylph rolling and the sails slatting in this very annoying swell. Again I handed sail and dropped the rope ladder over the side, following it over with plastic scraper in hand. I managed to scrape a few barnacles off but Sylph was pitching quite badly and threatening to bash me over the head with her counter so I gave it up as too risky and returned on board for a late breakfast.
I am pleased to say that at 1100 the wind has again filled in sufficiently to set sail and we are now making good a course of 220° at a speed of 2.5 knots. Unfortunately we have fallen some thirty miles off to leeward of our lay-line to the Cocos-Keeling Islands and I expect this will only get worse as the winds are not likely to back into the east from here, so I regret that our chances of rounding the islands are not good. But I haven’t given up just yet.
All is well.