Arrived Narooma

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 17 May 2024 05:25

Noon Position: 35 12.80 S 150 07.76 E
At anchor Wagonga River, Narooma
Wind: NE, F2 - light breeze
Sea: calm Swell: nil
Weather: sunny, mild
Days Run: 67 nm

Last night things went a little better than I expected. A gentle N'ly breeze arrived just on dusk (as forecast) to which, after my usual procrastination, I decided to set the spinnaker. The breeze freshened slightly as dusk turned to night and we were soon making good six knots towards Narooma, well above the average two knots I had calculated we needed before leaving Jervis Bay.

I was well pleased with the way Sylph behaved running before twelve knots of wind, spinnaker flying. I set the windvane to its lowest gain level and she sailed straight and true, keeping the big balloon sail steady and full. At 1900 the wind had backed a little into the NNW so we had to gybe. Gybing is a bit of a convoluted process at the best of times but more so with a spinnaker up, especially when it is one's first time solo. Fortunately all went well, the process made relatively simple with the sock. I eased the brace and sheet a little, adjusted course so as to blanket the spinnaker with the mainsail, then doused the spinnaker by pulling down the sock. After that, I gybed the mainsail, swapped the pole to the other side, clipped the brace into its parrot beak, hoisted the pole, adjusted sheet and brace, then pulled the sock up allowing the spinnaker to pop open like a parachute. Then it was simply a matter of trimming the sheet and brace to fine tune the settings for the new course.

Once settled we held the new course for another couple of hours, until 2200, when the wind had backed further into the west and we could no longer hold our course for Narooma with the spinnaker set. I doused the spinnaker, set the jib and came more onto the wind. However, from here the wind backed quite quickly into the west and we found ourselves close hauled on starboard and, with the wind fading, struggling to make good our course for the entrance to Wagonga River. By now we only had some twenty miles to go and if we could maintain a speed of four knots would be able to make harbour on the morning tide at 0330. The thought of getting to anchor early for a more restful night rather than waiting for another sixteen hours or so for the next high tide, and also the reduced risk of getting caught out if the S'ly change (forecast for gale force winds) came through early, outweighed my desire to minimise my carbon emissions. So, at 2300 I flashed up the BRM, rolled up the headsail and set the autohelm course for Narooma.

We duly arrived off the entrance at 0230. Conditions were calm, which I had confirmed by the local webcam earlier in the night while the half moon was still high in the sky, so I was confident that we could enter the well lit narrow channel with minimal risk. I backed off the revs on the engine so as to maintain steerage way in the flooding stream. We negotiated the several sharp bends in the river with the aid of the purple lit leads, the flashing red and green buoys and beacons, and a spotlight to keep clear of the steep shoreline, thus finding our way to Sylph's usual spot just upstream of the wharf. I turned Sylph around to stem the stream, allowing her speed over the ground to wash off to zero, shone the spotlight around to make sure we were clear of any obstructions, then made my way forward, letting go the anchor at 0247 in five meters of water. Then, once I was satisfied all was secure, I turned in for what remained of the night.

I arose late, at about 1030, just on slack low water. Now the distance between the oyster encrusted rock training walls is only about eighty meters which does not leave a lot of room to swing safely at anchor, especially if one does not want to obstruct the channel. Also the narrow channel does not allow for any margin of error should the anchor drag at all. With this in mind and the thought of the S'ly gale approaching later in the day, I decided to make good use of the weakened stream. I got the dinghy in the water, loaded the fisherman anchor and a nylon rode into it, then rowed across to the southern training wall immediately adjacent Sylph. I clambered carefully over the sharp oysters, lodged the fisherman on the far side of the wall with rode attached, then rowed back to Sylph, paying out the rode out as I did so. Once back on board I attached the line to the bow so that when the wind picks up I can feel confident that we well be held securely in place well to one side of the channel.

And now we wait.

All is well.