The Inevitable

So the inevitable happened and the wind died. 6 hours of very light winds and slow progress. On our next watch fortunately the wind gradually increased again from 8 to 18 knots in the end. Time will tell how much of our gains may be lost but we are still well within contact.
Our idea is to take an inshore route out of the current and a shorter distance while others have gone wide and long.
On a positive note the weather is warm ,the water is warm a balmy 27 degrees.Of course downstairs is now hot.

Just a Nice Day

8 Jan
Our 0400 to 0800 watch starts with a nice breeze 18 to 20 knots and us making good ground to windward and nice stars to steer by.Just the odd set of short annoying waves to knock you off course. After an hour or so the wind drops back to 15 knots and knocks us and we’re heading 080 over ground nearly east.I inform the skipper and we tack and are now heading more towards north and parallel with the coast.
I wake mid way through my 8 hour sleep,have my first glass of water( we are now rationed to 5 cups a day), and go up on deck. It is just a nice day.Warm tropical temperatures cooled by a light breeze of 8 to 12 knots sun shining and no cloud.If we were cruising in the med or the whitsundays it would just be perfect. We could break out the beers get out the guitar and throw in a line. But we’re racing and trying to keep contact with the the fleet , some are fast and some are slow and only time will tell if our strategies are working.
And our watch continued with a pleasant day’s sailing and everyone rotated through the helm and sailed a good course and hopefully learnt something from mine and Dave’s supervision .
Now just 15 miles off the coast at Yamba where I have some friends. Heading toward Cape Byron the most Easterly point of Australia. After we have cooked and eaten dinner ,at the start of my 4 hour off period I pop up on deck to see the lights and get a taste of the sub tropical night air ( and get seconded into helping with a tack ).
The scheds put us within reach of everyone but much from here could be won or lost.

Cape Byron

8 to 9 Jan
On our 1600( pre dawn) watch we start with a nice breeze and it looks like one tack ,tack back and we will clear the Cape.But it is like the spirit of Lord Byron has cast his net around us from the top of the lighthouse and thou shalt not escape from it. We make good progress and the Cape cast it’s shadow and knocks us and we tack. But what should now be a lift has disappeared and becomes a knock again and tacking angle goes from 90 to 180 degrees and we go nowhere ,and we tack and we tack back,and still are in the net.
Mr Lucky, a yacht returning from the Sydney Hobart to Southport ,whom we passed near Tasmania ,come motor sailing past us inshore ,and bring us some breeze.So two watches after mine we are finally escaping the net and clear the Cape. I go up on deck to get fresh air and finally see the Cape Byron lighthouse astern. Our next watch is blessed with a good breeze and we mostly make ground to the north with one tack out to clear the headland at the Tweed River mouth near Coolongatta. But even with a good breeze we can only make 6 and a bit knots .The inshore currents are playing havoc with us. UNICEF has made ground on the outside and this puts us at the rear of the fleet. This and water rationing in the tropics,as our water maker has failed, makes the mood a bit sombre compared to previously. We are left to chase our friends Punta up the coast who are now only 20 or so miles away having once been 200. Que sera sera ,still a bit of sailing left. There’s always a dolphin or two to cheer one up.
At least we hadn’t gone backwards overnight like Punta and Zhuhai,yet

Finally Cape Byron astern

Accepting Defeat

We had now fallen so far behind the fleet that our chances of getting to Airlie in any reasonable time were very much diminished. The inshore currents and fickle winds of the NSW/Queensland cost had done us in. When this news was broken to the crew the yacht was pointing north but going south. Clearly we shouldn’t have come here and chosen this route.The retrospectoscope is a dangerous and wonderful instrument and in this case says had we stayed on the outside route we likely would have won this race. Always easier to make decisions after the facts are known. So we accept 11th place and turn our motor on and escape the southern Queensland coast and will set sail again somewhere closer to Fraser Island when conditions improve. A bitter pill to swallow, especially for those competitive types that never give in, that will only be cured by the beer in Airlie.

Sail tie hammock ,trolling for fish while motor sailing
Approaching the Whitsundays
Chilling out after accepting our fate

Sleeping in the ‘Hammock ‘ in the heat .

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