Shall we wait or go?

Cruising in the off-season in southern waters has led us to make adjustments to our “wait or go” rules.

Having had yet another day of brisk sailing conditions from Greenwell Point to Jibbon Beach, Port Hacking, with gusty westerlies on our beam, we have decided we don’t need to do this anymore!


It’s gusty out there!

Gusty conditions are difficult. For example on our last passage the wind varied from 18 to 33 knots. So having the right amount of sails out and in a configuration that allows you to reduce or increase them easily was a challenge. With the wind on our tail it is relatively simple: we just go on the jib and can roll it in or out. But with the true wind on our beam, we use the reefed main and either the jib or the staysail. In these conditions, the apparent wind, as felt by the boat, moves forward of the beam in the gusts and increases. So a 20 knot true wind will feel more like a 28 knot wind and the ride will be wet and wild: spray flying and the boat pitching and rolling.

Winds can be 40% stronger than forecast, as the warning goes. We will go in 20 to 25 knots on the stern, knowing that even if we find ourselves in 35 knots we can manage and the ride is fast and smooth.

But we have now decided to bring in a new max for a beam run: from now on we will only go in 10 to 15 knots… unless we are really desperate! When would you be desperate, you ask? When we have been spinning around at anchor for days in gale force winds, when we are sick of being stuck in the one spot for a week, when the two are combined! But we have learnt our lesson. It is not worth the tension on us and the boat.


The cliffs along the Royal National Park, South of Sydney, with an agitated sea!

So with this last rough ride fresh in our mind, we stayed put at Jibbon Beach for a couple of days instead of pushing on to Broken Bay, because we didn’t need the stress of a demanding passage. The good thing was that it was sunny and the water was warmer at 19 degrees. And we did reach Broken Bay, just a day later than planned, and picked up our friend Sue at Patonga! More about this in our next post!

We must admit that the scenery for the nine hours it took us to sail the last 56 mile passage from Greenwell Point was breathtaking.  And so was the passage from Port Hacking to Broken Bay. Here is a gallery showing this spectacular coast with its tall escarpments and cliffs; and the white caps and waves actually show for once! So often the sea looks disappointingly flat in photos when in fact it is not!

16 thoughts on “Shall we wait or go?

  1. Day by day that passes is a new experience that makes your minds wiser. Also your natural gut instinct. I’m glad that you’re doing fine and getting closer to your destination. Here in USA we’re dealing with hurricanes, there’s one that weather projections indicate it will reach our area in Georgia. Let’s see what comes out of it. It will reach us on Tuesday evening. (Our time). Catch you later friends. 🙂

    • Oh HJ we will follow the news with concern for you and others in the path of this monster. We are doing well – have now picked up our friend and met up with yachties we met a few years back. Celebrations were in order! Take care and stay safe.

  2. Great pics Chris.
    But just let me know when its 28 degrees and flat water so I can come up. 😊

    • Hi Trev- today we are in the Hawkesbury with Sue for a few days. Warm, sunny, flat… however yesterday we came up from Port Hacking in 4m swell. You would have loved it… not!

  3. Chris and Wade,’ wait or go’ is always the question when cruising on a yacht ! As to ‘the off season’, for the NSW coast, I do not know when the ‘on season’ is, because my last three voyages Lakes or Melb to Hammo have had firstly gale force southerlies, first time, then a reasonable ride, and two years ago we had calms and light northerlies all the way! These voyages were all in sept.
    Summertime southerly busters seem to becoming more frequent in December.- Jan. too !

    • Hi Doug, we have had the most problems with the gusty wind in between gales we have hidden from, but locals tell us that the westerlies are always like this in Aug/Sept. Pretty hard to set sails effectively for winds from 8 to 36 knots within minutes!

  4. Hi Chris. Photos are great – as usual. We are very conscious of our stay or go scenarios – although sometimes you can get stuck out there with unplanned weather… We too usually look at wind speed on the nose versus behind us BUT we also add to that predicted swell height…. the wind might look perfect but if there is a 2 plus meter swell (or maybe slightly less) after a few bad days we stay put! (that 4 meter swell photo is SCARY!).

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