Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 12 Apr 2023 12:46

Position: 38 26.84 S 145 15.35 E
At anchor off Cowes, Phillip Island
Wind: NE F3
Sea: slight Swell: nil
Weather: partly cloudy, mild
Day's run: 67 nm

Yesterday's suspicions were realised. As suspected, the shallows surrounding Mud Island provided very poor protection from the seas generated by the NE winds. In the late hours of yesterday evening, contemplating Sylph's motion and the prospect of increasing winds, I came to the conclusion that it would be better to leave Port Phillip for Westernport sooner than later. In particular, the prospect of weighing anchor in a rising sea and strong wind did not appeal one bit. Consequently, with a slack water at the Rip due at 0050, I weighed anchor a little before midnight. Apart from keeping out of the way of a large merchantman coming in to harbour, the sail out of Port Phillip Heads was uneventful and the sea state once again proved benign.

Once clear of the Heads, we altered course to the SE, keeping close to the coast so as to gain shelter from the seas if they built along with the increasing winds forecast for the morning. This tactic ended up working well, though it did not allow for much sleep. We remained within one mile of the coast while further offshore, about nine miles out, I noted numerous merchant ships plying along the coast.

We rounded Cape Schanck at 0338 (so my log book notes). By this time the sky was dark, the wind was fresh out of the NE, Sylph was plunging into a short sea under reduced sail, and it was raining, not heavy, just a steady drizzle. Nonetheless, strangely I thought, I was enjoying myself.

We tacked at 0740, to the SE of the entrance to Westernport, and an hour and a half later were close in behind West Head, nostalgically listening to a broadcast over VHF channel 16 notifying a live firing about to take place out of the Navy's West Head Gunnery Range. I trained there as a young naive warfare officer in 1985, thirty eight years ago. I shook the moment off along with the rain and continued tacking into Westernport.

We arrived off Cowes at midday where I was hoping to rendezvous with my brother, but the coastline was steep to and the limited space available to anchor in was congested with unused moorings. Also, the fresh NE wind made for a lee shore, something I have a strong aversion to. I decided to continue on and investigate plan B, Rhyll's inlet, some three miles to the east of Cowes.

At 1315 I handed sail and flashed up the BRM and we motored into the narrow confines of the inlet. The shelter here was much better than the north coast of the island but once again what little space there was that was suitable for a deep-keeled yacht to anchor in was entirely taken up with moorings. At least, I consoled myself, they were mostly occupied.

The forecast for latter part of the day was for winds to ease, so, with this in mind, I decided not to attempt to anchor among the tightly squeezed moorings of Rhyll's inlet but to head back to Cowes to see if I could find a satisfactory anchorage there. This involved pushing against the now strongly flooding tide but, on the plus side, the delay allowed the wind to ease and by the time we were back off the foreshore of Cowes, conditions were much calmer.

We subsequently came to anchor in between two vacant moorings in seven meters of water and, as it turned out, immediately off the grounds that my brother was staying in. So, once I was satisfied that Sylph had her cable, I got the dinghy in the water, grabbed a few essentials and headed ashore to meet up with brother Mark, niece Issabella, and nephew Archer.

(And now I need some sleep.)

All is well.