It’s 0920 Sunday 2nd of December, the temperature a mild and comfortable 20 deg C and the peaceful sunny scene outside is picture book perfect.
Far from the turbulent angry scenes of the last week, I sit in this paradise and take stock of where Freespirit and I are at in our travels and experiences.
After coming through the trials and challenges of the journey thus far, I find myself in reflective mood, considering the chances of encountering similar weather and experiences. What are the chances? Where did my preparations let me down and what could be improved.
At this date and time I am still motorless and windlassless (sic) so there is little else to do other than small jobs and large amounts of contemplation. Not a bad thing, though the time I had set myself of reaching point B from A is now slipping past, there are other considerations and benefits not thought of previously that now come into play.
First and foremost though, I must make it clear here that the information given to me by older, wiser and more experienced heads in Perth about the correct time for travel across the Bight is patently wrong.
Yes, the advice I was given was to travel October/November yet these are the times of Easterlies, calms and the last of winter storms. Perhaps early September would work, yet even there it might be a lot of motoring and headwinds.
Quizzing the local sailors, fishermen and residents results in a unity of opinion that this time of the year is not favourable to sailing craft crossing the Bight from West to East. Not surprising in light of my recent experiences, yet disturbing that this myth is given and promoted by sailors from Perth/Freemantle. It is such a dangerous shore that the journey must be taken in one bite, therefore good conditions are the aim to ensure it is as trouble free as possible.
Racing sailors do not demand weather ideals as they seek to beat their competitors in whatever conditions are present and in the shortest time. It is a contest and all who race share the same hardships. They are also monitored and accounted for at all times so there is little possibility of them getting into real trouble without backup close by.
Cruisers are different, we demand the best possible conditions to provide safe and comfortable passages to our intended destinations. Unconcerned by deadlines or competitive advantage we are about enjoyment and relaxation in our chosen environment and so tend to be more careful about the times and conditions we are at sea.
The unity of opinion is that April/May is by far the most advantageous with its lighter Westerly breezes, smaller swells and fewer calms. The summer Easterlies have abated and the first of the winter Westerly winds come through lighter and more consistent. All this makes for easier passages and more comfortable sailing.
My pain is to not have had this knowledge when I was preparing to leave my home port and so find myself having to make a decision on whether to brave the dangers and discomforts of continuing or to relax and enjoy the jewel that is this coastline between Albany and Esperence. Biding my time and exploring a coast that quite a few cruising writers have expounded upon as among the worlds best.
Perhaps it is time for a change of plan.