Thursday, 3 July 2014

Lakes to Eden, rolling madness

Never leave on a warning was something we were told before we left Adelaide.  But it's more of a guideline.  It's the "vibe" really more than a rule :-)

Warnings are for forecast areas which are big stretches of coast including way offshore.  If the wind is expected to go greater than 30 kts in any part of that area, the BOM issue a strong wind warning (rightly so..).

In this case, on Tuesday night there was a strong wind warning for the East Gippsland coast (Lakes to Gabo Islan).  More detailed info (like MetEye) was showing the strong winds were going to be more than 30 miles off shore.  Closer in to the coast, it was going to be a balmy 10 to 20 kts calming down in the afternoon.  Thursday was going to be almost dead calm 5 to 10 kts but building on Friday and Saturday as the next low pressure comes through.

Wednesday morning came and the BOM had declared a strong wind warning for Thursday as well!   However, the more detailed info still suggested we had good winds over our track to Eden on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning so we decided to go.  The fact that there was another low pressure moving in from the west clinched the deal as if we didn't leave then, we'd probably be Lakes for another week at least.

When we left Lakes, it was blowing about 15 kts and most of that afternoon and night, we had between 10 and 15 kts (exactly what we expected) but it was blowing from the West, directly behind us as we headed East.

With the wind directly from behind, there is no sideways pressure on the sails to counteract the way the boat tilts when a wave passes under you, so the boat rolls.  You can reduce the rolling by changing direction to put the wind on one side or the other.  Of course that means you are not heading where you want to go anymore so every now and then, you change direction to put the wind on the other side and end up zig-zagging (tacking) towards your destination.  The trick is to find a happy medium where rolling is reduced but you are still making good time.

Unfortunately, Terry got sick very early (I was feeling queasy myself) and she never recovered.  I think I was ok because I was busy tweaking the sails trying to stop us rolling quite so much.

Things got a lot better after we turned the corner by Gabo Island and we could move into a broad reach (with the wind about 130 degrees from our heading).  That heeled the boat enough to stop the rolling but that was in the early hours of Thursday morning.

So we got to Eden at about 14:00 on Thursday, almost exactly 28 hours after we left Lakes Entrance, with Terry recovering and me completely knackered after going right through the night.

And we met another couple there on a Beneteu First 41 who had got in the day before from Port Welshpool.  They had it considerably worse than us with 40 kt + winds and big seas and they were in the process of drying everything out as they found leaks they never knew they had.  They did Port Welshpool to Eden (230 miles or so) in 30 hours!  Dave (yep another one) said that they had a very nasty ride broaching a few times, surfing sideways down waves with the boat tipped over so far that he could see dolphins underwater through one of the port holes.  In comparison, we had it very easy.

In retrospect, we should have realised that the wind just going to give us some shit and prepared ourselves better for a bumpy ride.

We've still got a lot to learn but we're surviving and getting stronger all the time :-)

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