Clewless in St. Francis Island

“So what would you do”, we asked yesterday? Here's the situation with all the info we had at the time.  

clew and jib


  1.  The clew of the jib has torn out (what?). Anyway … it's out of commission. We're not sure if we can repair the torn sail ourselves. We have an old 120 genoa aboard, but putting it up in 25 knot winds is probably not going to happen. So, no headsail at the moment other than the staysail.
  2. The holding in the anchorage at St. Francis is poor to nil, but we do seem to be holding at the moment. In fact, after three hours, we were still holding. We're protected from the SW swells here and wind from three quarters (E/S/W), but exposed to the north.
  3. The winds continue strong SE 20-25+ knots. Without a headsail, we'd have to motor against the wind in big, churned up seas to get back to Streaky Bay (54nm). Eucla to the northwest is 232 nm away. Without a jib, we'd be moving slowly and not get there in time to beat the W/SW predicted. No yacht services in Eucla.


clewless jib


Our decision. Wait out the night in St. Francis. We set an anchor alarm (in fact two of them). David stayed up late. Marcie went to bed, but there was little sleep to be had. After a couple more hours of staying put, David felt confident enough to crawl into bed, too. We both wore all of our clothes to bed just in case we needed to leave in a hurry. A night exit would be hairy, but doable. We could follow our track out and the charts seemed spot on. We were both up and down the rest of the night, listening to the wind howl, anticipating the anchor alarm, checking our position, imagining we heard the alarm when, in fact, we didn't.

At 0130, the rain started, then stopped and all was still … too still. At 0200, the thunder and lightning began. Big claps of thunder broke the stillness and lightning streaked a pitch black sky. Then came the gusts of wind and pelting rain. We were up and ready to move out, but the anchor held. We looked at the squall cells on the radar. There were several all around us, but the rest seemed to avoid us. At 0400, the radar looked clear. Marcie returned to bed. David, too keyed up to sleep, requested more GRIBs and weather info and started analyzing options.

At 0600, David had more information and a plan. Since we seemed to be holding, he proposed staying another day at St. Francis while the stronger SE winds blew themselves out. More thunderstorms and rain were forecast for today also … a soggy trip if we left. Tomorrow was now calling for light SE before the northerlies and strong W/SW took over. We could motorsail against lighter winds back to Streaky Bay (54nm),  work on the jib there and wait for another weather window. A reasonable plan. He left out more scope, attached the snubber and finally came to bed.

A day in St. Francis with winds too high to launch the dink, even if we did trust the holding enough to leave Cups and go ashore. Wonder what we can see from the boat?

I'm sure I left out some details and I'm already warning you that if you come up with an alternative we didn't and it's a good one, we'll be kicking ourselves. And yes, we haven't missed the fact that in addition to being sleepless in St. Francis … we're also clewless!