Thursday 20 February 2014

The pylon not to be trifled with

You know the rule about only sailing in favourable winds? Didn’t stop us trying to sail in no wind, at all…. We had to navigate a big loop from Rockingham’s mooring field to round a large shallow, plus a big fish farm. After the 7am start it was a combination of sailing at 2 knots (top speed) down to 1/2 knot then motoring. We hate motoring, the outboard is a noisy damn thing.

2 hours later we had made 3Nm and we're through the Garden Island Causeway bridge and outside Cockburn Sound making our way towards Penguin Island (there actually is a penguin colony there). It wasnt till after 4 hours the wind decided to fill in a little, enough to make 3 to 4 knots, dodging lobster pots all the way till we were able to cross inside the reefs at Warnbro Sound. Now the sou’wester had started up and eventually increased to 20 knots, we were able to sail close enough to the southbound rhumb line to Mandurah another 10Nm to go. For a boat which (some say) doesn't go to windward, we seem to be going to windward all the time. Going hard on the wind, with a healthy amount of weather helm tugging on the tiller (We lash it to one side to take the load), Ashiki generally powers along at 4 to 4.5kts which we are entirely satisfied with.

Windward ho

It was going to be just 2 tacks to get there and as we drew closer to the shore some recognisable landmarks appeared. Like the cardinal marker showing submerged reef 1Nm off the beach, a pylon which is not to be trifled with. I decided to continue, sailing inside the pylon by about 1/4 Nm before tacking, that is, the pylon not to be trifled with, let alone collide with…   Hardly likely that would happen, there’s miles of water surrounding it.  Otherwise it would be like that story about the solitary tree in the middle of a treeless plain in Australia, and a car crashed into it. 

We tacked well past the pylon and started making sea room before the next and final tack to head into Mandurah, another 3 Nm away. I put Ashiki on a course to sail south of the pylon. But there seems to be some sort of drift to leeward, much more than I expected. The pylon, not to be trifled with, is in the middle of nowhere and any fool can avoid it…   loomed closer..

I pushed the tiller to make Ashiki track closer to the wind, but Ashiki then luffs and goes into irons, something which happens when you try to tack without enough boat speed. With tacking out of the question, I’ve no choice but to let her pay off only to head for…  WE’RE GOING TO COLLIDE WITH THE PYLON..  (the one any fool can avoid)!! 

It was as if Ashiki was magnetically attracted to this pylon, she seemed to be inexorably drawn to it from miles away no matter what we did.

At the last moment, with Ashiki’s bow only 30m from collision I pull the tiller to windward, let out some sheet and Ashiki pays off further and passes on the northern side. Fortunately the reef is 1.9m below the surface and we sail over it, missing the pylon by 10m.
Mandurah town dock, convenient to everything.
That was enough excitement for one day, Susie looking at me wondering if I knew what I was doing. Fortunately we made it to the Mandurah channel unscathed, motoring through the heads. Tied up at the town dock and made the post office in time to pick up some mail. It is yet again a relief to make port after a trying day. Sometimes I wonder how we pull it off.

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