Wednesday 27 December - S2H Day Two

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 27 Dec 2023 21:51
Noon Position: 34 50.0 S 151 43.9 E
Course: SW Speed: 2.5 knots
Wind: SSE F3
Sea: moderate Swell: E 1.5m
Weather: overcast, warm
Day's Run (from start line): 70 nm

Light baffling winds continued for the first part of the middle watch and we
continued to struggle to make steerage way. By the end of my watch we had
covered about four miles. At the change of watch at 0300 a roll of ominous
looking clouds was closing in from the west. It had a decided frontal look
to it and while the forecast was for light and variable winds we chose to be
cautious, dropped the code zero, unfurled the jib and put a reef in the
main. It proved to be a good call for about five minutes later the wind
shifted into the SSW and freshened to force 5. We rolled up some jib and put
a second reef in the main as Sylph barrelled away to the SE at six knots. A
short while later we passed a yacht heading in the opposite direction with a
lot of sails set, we think it was the NZ yacht Silver Fern. Presumably it
had not anticipated the wind shift and was now running before it attempting
to reduce down to a more appropriate sail plan. They were soon lost in the
dark astern of us and while I would not want to take pleasure in anyone else's
misfortune, it was pleasing to know that at least we weren't dead last at
this point.
During the morning and forenoon watches, the wind has gradually backed into
the SE and eased. At 0900, Chris set all plain sail and tacked. We have now
settled on a SSW heading making good around four knots.
We have come out pretty wide off the coast in the hope of finding a couple
of knots of current which was forecast on the Bureau's website but thus far
we have found none. The water temperature has stayed nearly constant at 21.5
degrees and, if anything, we think we might have encountered a contrary
current which for slow-moving Sylph would be a bit of a disaster. Now that
we have tacked and are closing the coast again, maybe, hopefully, we will
find the elusive meandering East Australia Current and see if we can follow
Nemo with a bit of a free ride.
All is well.