June 8, 2002, Arrival In Yamba
The open ocean, the deep blue sea. WINGS is back at sea and we're sure in the middle of it now. Blowin' forty out here. Wasn't supposed to, more like twenty the forecast said. Well, the wind is 40 and over, we're doing 9.5 knots on a broad reach with just a reefed main. We're rockin' and rollin'. What can I say? Here we are, like it or lump it.
We cleared Sydney Heads at 8:20, course 038 true, northeast towards Yamba. A nice, clear day, blue sky, blue ocean, but the wind was sort of strong, and we expected it to drop. It didn't drop, it got stronger. Then we got a revised weather forecast. They announced a gale warning. That explained it. Too bad they couldn't have done that about two hours previously, before we got 15 miles north. No way to beat back to Sydney then, or even into Pittwater easily. We just carried on.
It blew all day and we stormed north. Then the sun went down and it got dark, really dark, no moon, and the wind picked up. We saw 48 knots several times and the boat surfed up into the 10's pretty often. I recorded 10.66. That's fast for just a reefed sail.
We ran off a little. This took us offshore, into the East Coast Current. It runs south, against us. We averaged 9 knots through the water but we were only going 7.5 over the bottom. Still fast though. We were making time, if not having fun.
Even in these conditions the boat took care of itself, we just sort of rode along, watching for ships, waiting for the wind to go down. Wishing for the wind to go down. We weren't having any problems, but going 9 and 10 knots wasn't relaxing. The noise is what gets you. First it is the wind. The wind howls. Then there is the sound of the water. At 10 knots this boat digs a big hole and throws a huge wave out either side. All that water moving around makes a sound like a waterfall. Constantly. Also you can hear the breakers coming, They roar and they hit the side of the boat with a thump and a cloud of spray envelops you. When you hear that roar, and then the thump, you duck.
By daylight the wind was down to 20 and our speed was off to 7.8. That's OK. Life is a lot better at 7.8. I made some coffee and watched the sun come up.
By noon the wind was just about gone, and what there was came in from the north, right against us. Not enough to sail on either. So we dropped the sails and started motoring. A school of dolphins came alongside and escorted us for a while. We motored in by the shore to get out of the current.
Can't say I think much of the weather forecasting around here. Yesterday they said 20-30 and it blew 48. Today they are still saying 20-30, and it is only 6. The forecast for tomorrow is 20-30. I wonder what we'll get tomorrow?
With dawn the second day came a new wind. It was a sudden gust which heeled the boat as I was making coffee. I went on deck to investigate and I found a cold, damp, 15 knot breeze blowing from the land. Most offshore breezes you get in the morning are warm, earthy. I wondered where this wind originated. It chilled me, like it came from a graveyard, but with it we could sail. When we trimmed in our speed went back to seven knots from our motoring rate of six, and we thought we might make the tide at Yamba.
We did make the tide and we came over the Clarence River bar at 9:00 on Monday and motored into Yamba, though not without a little drama. The chart showed a channel, which after some discussion, we followed. It was wrong. Too shallow. We ran into the mud and were lucky to get off since the falling tide would have left us there for the day had we not freed ourselves right away. I guess the chart makers and the weather forecasters have something in common. Then we took the alternate path, which Judy had endorsed from the beginning. This one worked, and soon we were tied up at berth C11 in the Yamba Marina.
This is nice. It is warmer than Sydney, and a lot quieter. The boat doesn't move at the dock. Now we'll organize a haul-out and prepare to go overseas.
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Fred & Judy, SV WINGS, Yamba