A minor panic...


d'Albora's Action Project: AUS 360 Blog Update

Presented by Pivotel

Afternoon All,  

Well I can honestly say that I am now starting to get really frustrated with all these light winds.  It wasn’t too bad before because at least it was from a stable direction and even though the boat was traveling slowly the B and G Auto Pilot was still able to keep up.  Now however it is a different beast all together.  I am still sailing in 5 knots of wind but it is so variable that the Auto Pilot is struggling to keep up with its 2 knots of boat speed.  As soon as I get on course the winds shift again causing me to constantly chase my tail...  It is extremely frustrating and made all the more so because every day I am stuck in the Doldrums, is another day lost to the record causing me to chomp at the bit.

Last night was a total mixed bag as I had a massive thunder storm develop on the horizon over Darwin, I was just far enough away that I didn’t get any of the winds but instead managed to have all the calm that follows a storm cell like that.  I was also trying very hard to clear Bathurst Island as there was this point sticking out that had a very nasty rocky reef sticking out off it.  I was doing my best to just keep moving forward but the currents and winds just wanted to make it really tricky so I ended up within 5nm of this point.

Finally at 5am I was able to clear it however not 10 minutes later I noticed a rather large splodge on the B and G radar.  I was half asleep in bed when I looked at it and it took me a second to realise that it might be the headland that I was trying to clear and that the electronic charts could be out in this region.  If that was true I was about to sail directly into that reef that extended 6nm out from the land.  I shot up out of bed and got on deck quick smart but it was still too dark for me to see anything and the headland doesn’t have a light.  I was squinting into the darkness wondering if I could have been so wrong.  After a few minutes I still couldn’t see anything and looked again at the radar and noticed that the splodge was keeping track with me not stationary so I hoped it was something else.  I then looked at the depth and knew that if the depth dropped to 20 meters I would need to tack away and it was a chart error.

I sat there on deck for 30 minutes just watching it all and finally realised it much be picking up a cloud or something as the shape changed quite a bit and it ended up moving past me.  When I looked at the sky again I could just make out a darker cloud that would likely hold rain.  Sure enough within another 10 minutes it was all gone like it had never happened and only my still lingering adrenalin reminded me of the scare.  Crisis over I went below for another nap and was able to nap until 9am when the winds started to play funny buggers and test my patience.

Now I am in 5 knots of wind blowing anywhere from the NW to the SW and I am still somehow making a speed of 3.8 knots.  My boat speed is showing up as 2 knots so I can only assume that I have picked up a helpful current.  The underwater landscape is quite different here with lots of shoals up to 10 meters in depth so I would expect the difference in depths from 50m to 10m to create all sorts of funky currents through this section and I will no doubt have some with me and some against me.

Well aside from my lack of movement the boat is doing well and the temp was just slightly cooler today with all the thunder storms around and I am expecting a 10 knot northerly wind for a few hours tonight so hopefully that will help with the miles.

Thanks to the following Sponsors for all their continued support: d’Albora Marinas, Pivotel  B&G, Australian Geographic, Zhik , Park Fuels, Karver, 3M, White Bay 6 Marine Park, and Great Circle Life Raft