Day 184 – Squally

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 15 Jun 2022 05:56
Noon Position: 36 04.2 S 113 50.3 E
Course: ENE Speed: 5.5 knots
Wind: WNW Force 5-7
Sea: moderate Swell: NW 3m
Weather: overcast. squalls, mild,
Day’s Run: 133 nm

The wind has been strong to near gale force from the NW to WNW for the last 24 hours. We have been mostly broad reaching with two to three reefs in the main, depending on the wind strength, with staysail and varying amounts of jib between 0 to 30%. The seas have been mostly short and steep causing Sylph at times to roll heavily and making sail adjustments difficult. If we are under-canvassed Sylph rolls and wallows, if she is over-canvassed then things just get plain hairy. So I have been changing between second and third reefs on the main on a regular basis. It feels like no sooner have I set a bit more sail and five minutes later the wind picks up. I wait awhile then take in the third reef again, and five minutes later the wind drops again. If I leave things alone waiting for the wind to change again, then perversely it stays steady. At least that is what it feels like.
At the moment we have two reefs in the main, the staysail set, and 30% jib poled out to port with the wind off the port quarter. The wind would appear to be freshening again and I probably need to go and put the third reef back in. We have rain clouds in sight off to port and starboard so no doubt they are causing the wind to pick up. Maybe they will pass us by and the wind will ease again.
With the overcast conditions and short days the batteries have been slowly going flat again. With the easing of conditions this morning, I tried to running the genset for a while; however, it is running intermittently. I suspect the fuel is contaminated with water which is hardly surprising after all this time at sea and the rough conditions. I will need to drain the carburettor but it is too rough to contemplate doing that just now. So I am just going to have to conserve energy use as best I can.
The port lazy jacks chafed through late yesterday but fortunately they were relatively easy to repair. With the strong winds and frequent reef adjustments, they have actually held out well.
As for the forecast, it would appear Plan A is out the window. The front that I was expecting to pass over on Friday is now forecast to pass over late tomorrow, so there is no way we will be able to get within the lee of Point D’Entrecasteaux before then. On the plus side, apparently the winds are not going to be quite as strong as I was expecting, 40 knots instead of 45 knots plus. Looking at the weather faxes, I remain somewhat sceptical of the revised forecast and will of course remain prepared for stronger winds. Also 40 knots will be the forecast mean wind speed, not the maximum, which will of course be significantly stronger than the mean speed (40% etc, etc).
So the plan for now is to keep on heading for the WA coast and see what happens.
We crossed into time zone -8 last night and have advanced clocks one hour.
All is well.