Contingencies at Sea (Our Departure from Aussie Pipe)

Forecast at Jervis Bay; Moderate NE wind (~20 knots) with a Southerly Change of about 30 knots to come through at about midnight.

  • Plan; Wait until the Southerly is about to hit then head into it until the Northerly slop has subsided then run North to Cronulla overnight.
  • Reality; Montague Island observations have the Southerly coming in at 40+ knot gusts and not  backing off as far as we could see.  The rain radar on BOM is showing that the change hasn't passed Ulladulla however we can see it already.  A towering wall of clouds slowly rolling towards us.  Now 40 knots isn't really a problem, the issue we did have was that the Southerly change was filled with more lightning than I have seen in the rest of my life.  We had to send the borrowed jib back from Moruya, so with just motors the risk of getting struck by lightning on a lee shore in Wreck Bay was too much.
  • Plan; Leave early (before dark) punch the 20 knot northerly and shelter in Jervis Bay until the front has passed then continue to Cronulla overnight.
  • Reality; Geographical wind acceleration around the Northern tip of Wreck bay had the Northerly at a steady 35 knots, this in conjunction with the chasing Southerly was causing more lightning, which, on a boat, unless you snag a lucky frame is nearly impossible to photograph.  You will have to make do with some film in episode 4 (will be out when we get our mainsail).  The stronger than expected Northerly had pushed up a fair swell and ROAM was jumping out of a few, to reduce this we slowed 4 knots.  All going reasonably well we made it into the Jervis Bay heads just as the Southerly hit, around midnight.
  • Plan; Cut laps of Jervis Bay until the strength of the front had passed then still continue to Cronulla.
  • Reality; As we steered West into Jervis Bay past Bowen Island we lost all heading on our autopilot. A deviation error of 188 degrees in our heading.  No real problem here we have Navionics on our phones, decent mobile reception and can steer by hand.  But also sheltering in Jervis Bay was what seemed like the entire Australian Navy, about 10 ships of various sizes and a submarine, all of which look far closer and more intimidating in the dark.  Also a couple of other cruising yachts heading to the Southern side for a more comfortable anchorage and a large flying fish decided to try and jump the boat unsuccessfully, ended up in the cockpit.  We followed these in to Hole In The Wall grabbed a mooring and crashed out, deciding to continue on at dawn when we could have a good look at the autopilot.

The next morning was back to smooth sailing, up at 5 and after a better look at the Navy we made between 9 and 12 knots without sails all the way to Cronulla.  We anchored in behind the mooring field at Gunnamatta Bay and went into the town centre for dinner and a well deserved beer.

Liss, Mick and I got through our first stressful night at sea without too many arguments, being able to assess the situation and allow for a change in plans seems to be an incredibly important part of ocean travel.  Looking forward to getting a full set of sails and being able to enjoy a bit of breeze!!