Tail Winds Instead

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 13 Mar 2024 02:26

Noon Position: 37 56.7 S 149 07.7 E
Course: ENE Speed: 4.5 knots
Wind: W, F4 - moderate breeze
Sea: slight Swell: ESE 2.5 m
Weather: overcast, mild
Day's Run: 86nm (59nm made good)

I was expecting to be punching into some fresh headwinds about now; however, the local conditions are at odds with the Bureau's forecast.

We did experience fresh E'ly winds but not until 0400 this morning. Overnight, prior to 0400, we had light and variable conditions which had me sometimes sailing, sometimes drifting, and sometimes motoring. When the wind did pick up from the east, I initially settled Sylph onto a N'ly heading to close the coast where I expected the winds to be a bit lighter. At 0535 we were five miles off the coast so I tacked back out to sea on a SE'ly heading. A little after nine, the wind freshened to a near gale, stronger than forecast, and we reduced from one reef down to two reefs and 30% jib, then tacked back to the north so as to not get too far off the coast. On tacking, I was disappointed to see that Sylph was only making good a heading of NNW, almost backtracking over her previous course. Still, I knew the wind would shift into a favourable quadrant later in the day so settled down and resigned myself for a long day of punching to windward.

However, as mentioned, this is not what has transpired. As we closed the coast the wind did in fact ease as I was hoping, but a lot more than I was expecting and we were soon back to full sail. Indeed, just on midday we went aback with the wind suddenly shifting into the west and freshening to a moderate breeze. So now we are running before it, wing-on-wing, jib poled to port. On the downside, there is a short two and a half meter swell running out of the ESE, putting it on the nose and is causing Sylph to pitch and bounce around uncomfortably. I have rigged a preventer off the boom to help quieten the mainsail so at least the main is a little bit quieter.

Looking at the various forecast models (I have been able to keep an internet connection much further off the coast than I was expecting) it seems a trough line has formed just south of the Gippsland coast, to the south of which are fresh E'ly winds and to the north light to moderate W'lies. At this stage I would have to say that the 'Predict Wind' forecast are closest to the mark and I hope their forecast proves accurate. If it is correct then if we stay within about ten miles of the coast we can expect W'ly winds to continue until around 0400 tomorrow before the trough dissipates and fresh E'ly winds return. With a little luck, by that time we will be around the corner of the Victorian/NSW coast, past Gabo Island and be heading north.

Once around the corner the plan is now to pull into Eden where a friend is waiting to join Sylph to crew for the rest of the leg to Sydney.

All is well.