Light and Fickle Winds

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 17 May 2023 03:03

Noon Position: 37 57.2 S 149 02.8 E
Course: NE Speed 6.5 knots
Wind: WNW F3
Sea: slight Swell: SSW 1.5 meters
Weather: mostly sunny, cool
Day's run: 133 nm

Last night we negotiated our way through the Bass Strait oil field, the numerous oil rigs standing out tall and brightly lit making them easy to identify and avoid. We were almost through when at 0200 the wind started to fade and we were left wallowing in a confused sea with two rigs to the north of us and one to the south. Rather than drift around among the rigs, especially as Sylph's motion was rather unpleasant, I furled the jib and started the motor. Forty minutes later a bit of a breeze returned and I once more set the jib and shut down the engine. At 0345 the light breeze again started to fade and I attempted to make the most of what remained of the breeze by setting the code zero. But this proved futile with the wind dying altogether fifteen minutes later and once more I handed sail and resorted to the engine.

This went on for the remainder of the night, with the wind coming and going, and me setting sail then handing it in again and resorting to the engine. Eventually we cleared the last of the oil rigs and at 0740 I was at last able to shut down the engine and continue sailing.

We now have a gentle breeze from the WNW, keeping Sylph's sails mostly full with just the occasional flog of the mainsail as we roll to the southerly swell. If the breeze holds then we should round Gabo Island late this evening and then start heading north along the New South Wales coast. The forecast is for favourable winds for the next several days so the prospect of making Sydney non-stop is looking good. At this stage our ETA is sometime Saturday.

Oli has at last gotten over his seasickness and is eating again. Obviously we spent too long in harbour.

All is well.