The Traps and The Snares

Day 128/5

Noon Position: 46 39S 163 36E

Course/Speed: SE5

Wind: S15

Bar: 1023

Sea: S4

Sky: Broken, sometimes squally

Cabin Temperature: 56

Water Temperature: 54

Sail: Working jib, full; main, one reef, close hauled on starboard

Noon to Noon Miles Made Good: 138

Miles this leg: 709

Avg. Miles this leg: 142

Miles since departure: 17,964

Viewed from space or, more likely, from my small scale chart in the pilot house, New Zealand’s South Island looks nothing imposing, a long, smooth shape resembling a dog bone and absent the hooks and daggers of its kin to the west, Cape Horn.

But zoom in a bit and a dragon’s tooth, Steward Island, becomes visible at the southeastern corner; and another zoom shows a collection of rocks, many submerged, hung just far enough off her eastern flank to catch the unwary mariner as he makes an otherwise conservative rounding. This has apparently occurred because the rocks are named in warning. These are The Traps.

Now follow a line south and west some fifty miles and you will find a ragged, three-pointed island surrounded by rocks, again, innocently placed well out and in a location one would otherwise presume to be nothing but open ocean. These are aptly named The Snares.

Add to this Aukland Island one hundred and fifty miles further south, and suddenly a rounding of New Zealand’s southern-most promontory looks more challenging.

Especially if one is making his final approach in winds that have turned South Island into a lee shore.

Overnight our southwesterly slowly shifted south until our couse was east and then a bit northeast. I let Mo go. Sleep the previous night had been largely non existent, and now that we were close hauled, my berth on the lee side pulled me into its comfort.

At dawn I adjusted sails and found I could eke a bit of southing into our course. Now we were well above my rhumb line from Hobart to midway between Stewart Island and The Snares, but all day the wind tempted me with now a bit of southing, now a bit of easting. So, I hung on and hoped.

Until now. The sun has just set. Winds have finally and decidedly moved into the southeast and are driving us right at New Zealand. So, I’ve tacked around…and away from our goal.

I hesitated because “helms alee!” is nothing trivial. Mo is set up for long distance, not short-tacking. The removable inner forestay is permanently in place and the storm jib is hanked-on and ready. To come about means rolling up the headsail, shifting the running backs, and gybing (or should I say, wearing ship) onto the other tack.

But done.

Now we head due south and toward a windless, high pressure area. I’ve reefed in. There’s no point in rushing. Westerlies don’t return till day after tomorrow.

2 Comments on “The Traps and The Snares

  1. I’m puzzled by the necessity of gybing instead of tacking. If the headsail is already in, and the running backs moved, why can’t you tack?? Or, if you can, why would it be preferable to gybe? Can somenoe help me with this?

    • Mary – Randall doesn’t have the ability to read comments while he’s at sea. We (Team F8) passes messages along but we can’t guarantee responses. Just wanted you to know.

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