Day 185 – Land Ho!

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 16 Jun 2022 05:52
Noon Position: 35 20.1 S 116 44.5 E
Course: ENE Speed: 9 knots
Wind: NNW Force 6
Sea: moderate Swell: W 2m
Weather: sunny, mild,
Day’s Run: 148 nm

My carefully considered strategy of sticking with Plan A and hoping for the best has, much to my surprise, started to pay dividends. The weather overnight was milder than forecast and despite a few squalls we managed to make good a course of ENE at an average speed of six knots allowing us to continue closing the coast as originally planned.
I will confess that yesterday afternoon was a bit of a low point for me. Days of rough weather and an ominous forecast was taking its toll. The waves were erratic, triangular, saw-toothed, causing Sylph to roll sharply, throwing me about and making the simplest of tasks a major challenge. A day or so of this one can deal with but after several days, despite lots of positive self-talk, the stress adds up and late yesterday while doing the dishes after dinner I threw a bit of a wobbly, throwing the dish washing bucket into the cockpit in disgust and then methodically smashing it to pieces. Well, that felt a little better. A good thing I am single handing, I thought, no need to apologise to anyone. And a good thing I have a spare bucket.
My mood improved as the night wore on. I stuck my head up out of the companionway for a look around at 1910 and was greeted with a moon-bow, a shimmering nacreous rainbow in the clouds towards the western horizon with the bright near full moon rising opposite in the east. I have never seen such a thing before. Maybe it was the moon smiling at me.
Then I tried to get some sleep but my mind kept turning to a problem with the main halyard shackle. I had been for a climb in the rigging earlier in the day to check on the masthead fore-stay split pin (which looked okay) and while checking the rig noticed that the halyard shackle was distorted. After completing the rig check I had forgotten it with other things taking precedence but now that I was lying in my bunk it started to bother me. The wind was relatively light and we had only one reef in the main. With the forecast for the morrow on my mind I thought the time to replace it is now. So I got up, got back into my foul weather gear, found a suitable shackle, went on deck, dropped the main and replaced the shackle. Then I put the full main up to make sure the halyard had not fouled on the mast steps as it often does when the main is fully lowered. I was now able to return below with greater peace of mind.
And while the forecast was for strong winds the wind in fact remained at about force three to four and despite the saw-tooth waves we had a relatively pleasant night under full sail including the staysail.
This morning dawned clear and sunny. We had made good progress and getting in the lee of the land before the frontal system overtook us still looked doable. The wind gradually increased during the forenoon. At 0830 I put a reef in the main and rolled up some jib. At 1025 I put a second reef in the main with the wind blowing force six from the NNW but the seas were relatively smooth and Sylph was romping along. In fact, according to the GPS she was doing a steady 9.2 knots. The log showed six which felt about right. We had obviously fallen in with the Leeuwin Current which was giving us an additional push of three knots and smoothing out the seas to boot. I had expected a bit of a boost from the Leeuwin Current of about a knot so getting three was a real bonus.
With the extra push we closed the coast rapidly. We passed through the coastal shipping lane crossing the paths of two ships going about their lawful business. And a little while ago, at 1245, we raised land visual. Australia!
“Three cheers for Sylph”, I shouted. “Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray!”
All is well.