23 Apr The Move
The move Northeast after rounding Southeast Cape, Tasmania might have left some of you scratching your heads. Why go Northeast when Southeast is obviously the shorter, more direct and likely shorter route? Why indeed! You can see it on the left hand side of the plotting sheet.
Moving so slowly and the weather coming at you so quickly means that you have to make the most out of the miles you make. At first glance perhaps the Tasmanian land mass could offer shelter. Seeking shelter from Tasmania, while possible was unlikely, and it did make sense to move in that general direction. But not enough sense enough for such a big move.
It’s all about the gradients, man. Gradients are rates of change with respect to distance and in our context, it is the rate of change in wind strength and wave height with latitude and longitude that drove the move north.
During this last blow, the wind and waves decreased dramatically going north. Going east, there was virtually no change. The few miles I travelled north maximized the decrease in wind strength and wave height. Had I stayed at the latitude of Southeast Cape, I would have been in sustained 50 knot winds with gusts to 65 and significant wave heights of 10-11 meters. The latitude I managed to get to resulted in sustained 35 knot winds with gusts to 55 and wave heights of 7-8 meters. On paper, those differences may seem academic. I can assure you they are not. There is no way I would have been able to continue under sail in the former. In the latter, I managed to keep going, make some easting and save at least a day waiting for the weather to moderate enough to recover the Drogue I would have had to use to keep us safe.
In this instance the gradients were especially steep and a little move went a long way. It isn’t always so and I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. That and I’ve got rocket scientist and meteorologist John Bullas looking over my shoulder as well as sailing mastermind Tony Gooch. We should all be in such good hands.
Follow my tracks in real-time: