Fair Winds and Fickle

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 25 May 2024 02:54
Noon Position: 38 58.8 S 148 38.0 E
Course: W Speed: 4.5 knots
Wind: SE, F3 - gentle breeze
Sea: moderate Swell: SE 1.5 meters
Weather: mostly cloudy clearing, mild
Days Run: 102 nm

With the assistance of the BRM, we crossed through the trough and into the favourable E'ly winds at 2045 and, with a sigh of relief, I was able to set full sail and shut down the noisy but incredibly useful machine. Fifteen minutes later the jib was poled out to starboard and we were running before a gentle breeze from the ENE. We carried the breeze for the rest of the night though a short swell from the SE at times made for an unpleasant roll that was not conducive to a good night's rest (sleep was perhaps a bit too much to ask for).
This morning has been frustrating and disappointing. I thought we had worked our way sufficiently to the south of the trough to be able to remain in the steady E'ly air stream, however, around 0900, we found ourselves under an overcast sky with numerous dark rain clouds around us. The winds turned light and fickle, shifting first into the south then fading and then shifting into the north, then back again, as dark rain clouds passed over us. I have spent the morning working our sails as best I could, including motoring at times, trying to work our way a bit further south to get out of the trough line, which, fingers crossed, I hope we have now done, but I am afraid only just. We have patches of blue sky between streets of puffy white cumulus clouds, with the sun occasionally shining down upon us, drying things out.
For now we are on a broad reach on the port tack with the light wind out of the SE. I am hoping that it will freshen again and swing back into the east, but I am not optimistic. The winds are expected to go light and variable later tonight as the high pressure system moves off and gives way to a low approaching from the Great Australian Bight. As this pattern starts to dominate the Strait, we can expect fresh headwinds before we are likely to make Port Phillip Heads. While we could pull into Refuge Cove for shelter and a rest, I am concerned that at this time of year we could end up stuck there for a week or longer, waiting for another favourable weather pattern - not that this weather system has proved particularly favourable, but we are approaching winter and have to make the most of these short fair winds while we can.
We press on. There will be no quarter given for missing my sister's birthday party.
All is well.