The voyage begins in earnest

Tuesday (AM), 29 January 2019

Bass Strait Crossing

Dawn of the first day at sea is always a welcome sight, along with the distant mountains of the Furneaux Group; our first landfall.

After the confused and lumpy seas at the entrance to Westernport we were able to maintain our course with the aid of the ever-reliable Perkins motor and a mixture of light breezes; which turned out to be mostly on the nose… why is that?!

We were joined from time to time by  pods of dolphin which played at the bow occasionally looking up as if to say … “look at me, look at me, I’m a flipping dolphin” … to borrow a line from Finding Nemo.

We all played a part in keeping watch through the day, as some slept in an effort to find their sea legs

As the wind picked up briefly, sufficient to turn the motor off, Rosie made a remarkable recovery, sufficient to rival Lazarus.  This was demonstrated by an hour in the gallery chopping vegetables to be then baked in the oven… something of a first aboard Chimere – baked vegetables I mean.  The tasty veggies were accompanied by even more delectable rissoles which even though they fell apart somewhat still earned the time honoured response… “what do ya call these darl?”  … “but it’s what you do to it …”

Catering officer Rosie serves it up …

Alistair was less interested in eating than he was in sleeping and as the sun made its way to the horizon, Bill and Rosie took first “official” watch till around 11:30pm with me catching some sleep 

The wind remained light, (just off the bow) and the sea flattened off completely, enabling us to still make around 6-7 knots, thanks to our trusty motor and a very clean hull and propeller 

Good use for the dinghy …
Bill, Alistair and Rosie
Bill and Alistair out on the Big Blue and able to smile

The blackness of the night revealed an awesome sky of stars above and a light-show of phosphorescence below.  The bow wake rippling out either side of us with a clearly defined leading edge and following trail that glowed a radioactive green. Added to this were the continuing dolphin visit… when do those guys sleep… which resembled glowing torpedoes with their phosphorescent trails defining their every movement.

I took over the watch from around midnight as Bill retired for a well earned sleep; Rosie having gone to bed some time earlier 

The moon crept above the horizon off the port bow around 1:00am, first as an orange crescent, then whitish yellow with a reflective trail rippling on the sea all the way to the horizon

An attempt to catch a sublime moon with an iPhone

Around 3:30am the wind returned, this time from the south, enabling me to set the jib once more. After cutting the engine revs back we were easily making 7 knots and more over a flat sea.  Just 50 miles and this first hop to Flinders Island will be complete 

It’s amazing how phone and internet communications have been maintained most of the way, just by means of the iPhone.  It’s a far cry from just a few years back when you were lucky to have VHF radio coverage to a coastal operator and certainly no phone coverage.

It’s funny the cravings that come over you. At lunch it was a can of spaghetti, at 2:00am it was ice cream and frozen mud cake with chocolate sauce.  It came to mind because I saw it being packed into the freezer on Sunday.  In a way it was for the benefit of all because there was a lingering concern that the freezer wasn’t turned down cold enough. And there’s nothing worse than soft ice cream?!  I’m sure there is, but you know what I mean. 

Anyway, I can now safely report that the freezer is working satisfactorily   I can also report that coffee helps keep you awake while on watch 

Our destination at the southern end of the Furneaux Group is Presentation Island. As the name suggests, it’s a place with an amazing and intriguing history, certainly of “preservation” but also of courage and endurance involving a ship wreck and a rescue saga that involved a 600km walk from the Ninety Mile Beach in Gippsland, where the ship’s longboat ran aground, all the way to Sydney, in 1797!  It’s well worth Googling to discover more.

The journey so far
Approaching Finders Island after 24 hours at sea
Rosie rises to greet the morn
Bill adds notes to the log
Remarkably cold for summer !

Smooth seas, fair breeze and the voyage begins in earnest 

Rob Latimer


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