Day 183 – Near Gale Near Australia

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 14 Jun 2022 05:55
Noon Position: 36 39.1 S 111 13.6 E
Course: ENE Speed: 6.5 knots
Wind: NW Force 7
Sea: rough Swell: W 2m
Weather: sunny, mild
Day’s Run: 161 nm

It gave me a great deal of satisfaction yesterday morning at 0410 to plot Sylph’s position in the extreme bottom left hand corner of chart AUS417, the first Australian chart I have used since departing Australian waters last December. And another milestone marker of our progress on this voyage is that yesterday was 182 days at sea, so I reckon at 182.5 days we have been at sea for precisely six months. We have 1,350 miles to go to Adelaide and if all goes well our ETA should be inside of two weeks. However, we still have a big challenge coming up as we approach Cape Leeuwin, and likely a few more beyond that.
As mentioned in previous posts, there is an intense low approaching, converging on Cape Leeuwin on the 17th, about the same time as Sylph. It has a strong frontal system embedded in it extending to the north and the isobars ahead of the front are tighter than a supermarket bar code. We have been experiencing near gale force winds for the last several hours, broad reaching under triple reefed main and staysail, and in the last 24 hours have made excellent progress, averaging 6.7 knots for a day’s run of 161 miles. It is a near gale now and the isobars for our current conditions are half as tight as the next low coming up, so this next low’s winds will easily exceed 45 knots.
My current plan is to try maintain as much speed as we can to close the West Australian coast and there to tuck into its lee to the east of Point D’Entrecasteaux, some 275 miles ahead. I am not expecting to get any significant protection from the NW winds ahead of the front there, but if I can get close enough to the land we should obtain significant protection from the seas. Then the idea would be to work our way east so that by the time the front passes through we will have sea room to bear off before the SW change and into the Great Australian Bight.
If we do not make it to Point D’Entrecasteaux in time then Plan B is the open ocean plan, namely to run off before the gale using our usual heavy weather tactics, in particular streaming the drogue to keep Sylph’s stern into the sea and swell.
All is well.