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RTW Day 168 - struggling to get round SE Cape of Tasmania in fickle, light winds

Sunday 7th April 2013

With a Cold Front passing by yesterday and overnight, wind was quite good and we made progress nicely for a time but slowly the wind has died down - it was forecast to back slowly and die with yet another High pressure system extending over as I try to round the SE Cape of Tasmania.

Around dawn, the wind was still a light northerly, but two hours later, it had backed to SSW and dropped even more. I had to gybe the sails and we've been struggling since then to keep heading due E towards a point S of the Cape, where we'll be able to turn to port and head NE up the Tasman Sea ... in the Pacific!

Spending a lot of time either checking our course ad adjusting Fred to keep heading E in the fickle wind or trying to persuade the computer to make bluetooth contact with radio via modem and then downloading weatherfaxes and emails. Having to set an alarm frequently so as not to miss either a radio 'sched' or the timing for a real-time weatherfax download!

Sun began to get through cloud layer soon after 9 o'clock.... mass of dark grey cloud in direction of Tasmania to the NE.

2pm Feeling oh-so-frustrated! We're managing to amble E at ~2 knots in not much wind (Fred is coping really well) which would be fine but for the fact that we're less than 70mls SW of Tasmania, with 150 ml to go before we can safely turn to port, with some rocky islands not so far off. By tomorrow morning (Mon), light wind is forecast to come from SE, slowly backing to E, meaning we'll be headed just at the critical time well BEFORE we can make the turn..... grrrr!! If only we were making 4kt, rather than 2kt, we'd be fine.... Seems winds won't be favourable until late Tuesday, with things being very difficult up to then.

I'll need to make sure I've caught up on sleep, since I'll need to be up frequently to check on our situation as the wind stays very light and changes direction overnight both tonight and tomorrow...

4.30pm We're moving!! Nearty 5kt... big, grey raincloud to S - possibly reason for wind... Maximum sails .... spent quite a time 'tweaking', trying to get a bit more speed..
Two albatross - one definitely a Black-browed and the other either a Shy or Salvin's - fine black edge to white on underwings was distinctive but also had grey wash on head.. Also a prion and a sooty shearwater, with several visits from Cape petrel - jazzy black & white markings!

5.20PM Light beginning to fade. .... and we're making.6.4kt!! The wind is up nicely... I've even furled in some genoa now... I'm feeling far happier, even though I don't know how long this wind will last - it certainly wasn't expected! SOG down to 5.9kt, as light faded after 6pm ... Long may this wind continue! I just hope it doesn't back too soon and cause a problem...

White-headed petrel was flying nearby as I worked on the genoa... Each time I took my camera on deck, having seen the Cape petrel and, later, the two albatrosses coming close - they disappeared off to the far horizon...!!

9pm Downloaded a current weatherfax a while ago - we've a Cold Front passing over - giving the present good wind.. If only it lasts long enough for us to pass the SE Cape of Tasmania, at which time we'll be changing course to the NE, things will be fine - but if the wind drops and backs too soon - that will be bad news ... My fingers are tightly crossed just now!! We're as close-hauled as we can be, while still maintaining speed.... We're totally dependent on the wind direction staying OK...

D.M.G. over 24hr to 1100GMT: 82 n.ml. (3-4 hrs of good wind) ; Tasmania S.E.Cape : 70 n.ml. (089T) ;

For my positions and track, see:
www.svnereida.com - 'Travels' - "Where is 'Nereida'?"

Written by : Mike

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