Up before daylight again. We heard the patter of raindrops on the hatch above us. The wind and sea calmed during the night and we slept well. It was cold as I put the kettle on for morning tea and dragged out our weathers/foulies (foul weather jacket and bibs). With so many 40+C days (100+F) days in Adelaide, I'd packed away our heavy socks, gloves and watch caps, but I dug them out this morning.
We were anchor up just after 0600, mainsail luffing, and motoring out of Emu Bay in calm waters with nearly no wind. Once out of the lee of the bay, the wind picked up to a reasonable SW 12-15 and we were sailing west, main and jib full, into the Investigator Straits. The rain cleared, the sun came up and we ate our oatmeal relishing the day.
It was an on again/off again kind of day with the wind: sometimes no wind, then a little wind, just the right amount of wind and way too much wind interspersed with rain squalls. Sometimes wonderful; sometimes uncomfortable. We sailed past Althorpe Island with its stately lighthouse and wondered about the volunteer caretakers that might be living there. Cape Spencer Light on the mainland was too far away to appreciate.
We found the passage between Althorpe and the mainland, a natural channel between several shoal patches just off the mainland and some rugged offshore reefs and rocks which signaled their positions with huge breaking waves. With Kangaroo Island no longer providing protection from the Southern Ocean's southwest swells, the rollers increased in size and the ride became more bumpy. As if to mark the entry into Southern Ocean waters, white, graceful mollymawks and muttonbirds made their welcome entrance, ocean birds we hadn't seen in quite awhile.
We could distinguish West Cape jutting out in the distance, its solitary metallic lighthouse gleaming in the late day sun. We ran a slalom course trying to avoid the mass of craypot floats that were laid out in our path. Though it might have provided dinner, dragging a craypot behind us would have definitely hindered our speed. Sailing in Maine came to mind immediately.
We hauled in the jib, doused the main and made our tumultuous entrance into the West Cape anchorage. Well-protected from the south and east, we were hoping the waters behind the Cape would be free of the southwest swell that prevailed. The entrance, however, is through some rather large rollers, reminding us of entering some South Pacific atolls we've visited.
West Cape is more of a local fisherman's refuge, no facilities, but a reasonable overnight layover in the right winds. The high, golden sandstone walls are heavily eroded from time and weather and there are thousands of tiny caves and crevices which seemed to attract the local swallow population. Sure enough, once we plowed through the rough entrance, the water calmed to near still.
We dropped the hook in 14' of good holding sand, set it well and gave a sigh of fatigue as we tidied lines and prepared for tomorrow morning's repeat performance. We grabbed a drink and sat in the cockpit appreciating our surroundings. It's amazing how tired you can get from not doing much at sea. Tomorrow … on to Port Lincoln.