Thursday, 31 January 2019
The weather remained foul and given our situation it was important to maintain an anchor watch. When we talk about an “anchor watch”, we don’t mean literally … you understand. That’d be impractical and a bit silly given the anchor is under several metres of water and it was dark. But what we do constantly “watch” is the depth of the water, our location on the chart plotter, the wind direction, the anchor chain and the snubbers for signs of chafing (this involves a walk to the bow) plus any other significant change in conditions that might necessitate a response.
Given the smallness of the bay, any adverse change … like for example a dragging anchor, or major wind change … would need swift action.
Around 1:00 am Bill and Rosie came on deck all bright and sparky to be briefed on the situation at hand … depth down to 2.8m (on account of the outgoing tide) … anchor holding steady and massive amounts of lightening in the direction of Tasmania which is NOT heading our way.
Alistair and I then took our leave for a welcomed break.
Sleep came easily, but the mind remained very much awake, as possible scenarios, past, present and future were played and re-played in a form of dozy stupor. The urgent, high pitched blare of the Anchor Drift Alarm broke through on a couple of occasion, indicating we had moved at least 30m from our original location. But there was nothing to fear. Bill was in charge and he knew his stuff.
By now it was 3:00am, the wind was still howling, slightly less, mercifully, but soon it was Bill’s footsteps I could hear crossing the saloon floor with the words into my cabin, “Rob, the wind has shifted to the west, we’ve swung on our anchor and the depth is down to around 2.1 m”
No more dozy stupor … this was fully awake stuff as we all gathered in the cockpit to assess the situation and decide on a response.
Chimere’s stern was now facing the beach, with the wind blowing steady from Key Island at the entrance to the bay. “Let’s start by bringing in 10-15m of chain, that should bring us out into deeper water” … “we’ll still have plenty of chain out for the depth of the water. We can up-anchor at first light in about 2-3 hours”
Well, that was the “starting-plan”, but after seeing the depth drop below 2m, despite having wound in the chain, and considering whether we might re-anchor in deeper water, we finally made the decision around 4:00am to “get out of here”!
Fortunately, we had the chart plotter trail, or “bread crumbs”, to follow, with Bill on the bow again with the light … this time yelling … “ROCKS TO STARBOARD, VEER TO PORT” … which was quickly relayed to the ever-steady Alistair at the helm.
Once out of the bay, a small jib was set and with the westerly howling in across the starboard beam and then the stern quarter, it was a fantastic romp to Banks Strait, keeping Preservation and Clarke Islands on our port beam.
The engine was kept ticking over in the background with the morning sun on the bow revealing the remote beauty of the surrounds … deep blue sea, breaking waves, albatross and mutton birds out on the glide and the red sky giving way to a pale blue.
As if by divine providence, it was all going our way … the wind, the waves, even the impressive 3 knot tidal flow … helping to keep Chimere’s movement stable and calm, or as Captain Jack Aubrey or Master And Commander fame might have put it … “a right Christian state of affairs” … as our speed regularly topped 9 and 10 knots
Meanwhile, on shore, my darling wife Linda and our friends Liz and Murray had arrived in Tassie with a car and camping gear and once communications were once more restored – we found 2 bars once out at sea – we arranged to rendezvous down the east coast at Eddystone Point (lighthouse) where there was a tolerable anchorage.
Our fast speed meant that we got there ahead of time, around 10:30am, covering the 40 miles at an average speed of approximately 7.5 knots.
The lumpy seas, whipped up by the westerly wind, lessened as we made our way down the coast, with the final 30 minutes to Eddystone Point seeing the arrival of a southerly wind, right on the nose. This wasn’t enough to lessen our speed greatly, but it did create a sense of relief that the previous wind had carried us so far, for so long.
The anchorage on the north side of Eddystone Point was a bit “rolly”, resulting in both Rosie and Alistair feeling a bit off colour, but not for long. The dinghy was launched and I motored ashore a couple of times in the hope of meeting up with Linda, Liz and Murray. This sounded simple enough, after all, there’s only one bay to anchor when the wind is blowing from the south, there’s only one road to the lighthouse and Chimere was one of only two boats there.
In the end it took nearly two hours to find each other, on account of poor or non-existent communications, no road access to the beach and every track that did come off the main dirt road looking like it was a private driveway.
During this waiting-time onshore I got to know a family who were packing up their 4WD after a week’s holiday in a nearby shack overlooking the bay. Here the “home” is one of very few private residences located in a National Park, up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches it would probably sell for $10 million given its commanding sea views.
The husband of the family kindly drove me down to the lighthouse in the hope of finding our “land-based team”, and the wife took me inside the hut to a window overlooking the sea – apparently the only place in the region where it was possible to secure 2 bars on your smart phone – so that I could make a call ?!
Oh, I also managed to fall asleep on a rock – sleep deprivation can do that too you – and sometime later I felt compelled to start walking along the dirt roads in the direction of the lighthouse in the hope of coming across their car, in passing, literally so to speak. It was around this time that Murray, Liz and Linda finally found the side-road that led to the dinghy and access to the water, apparently, just after I’d walked in the opposite direction, over the hill towards the lighthouse! My attempt at making renewed contact via my iPhone being cut short on account of a flat battery. Welcome back to the olden-days !
So it was a joyful sight to behold when I returned from my 30 minute “road trek” to find Linda, Murray and Liz, starting to explore the nearby rock pools and cove, the car parked on the secluded grassy knoll nearby.
Given the rolly action of Chimere at anchor – clearly visible from our vantage point – plus my desire, and need, to fall asleep for a few hours, we agreed that Murray, Liz and Linda would find accommodation onshore and I would return aboard. The plan being for us to continue the sail south tomorrow in order to meet at Coles Bay as originally planned.
Back on board, I followed through with the sleep, with the generator started to both charge the batteries and warm the water for Rosie to have a shower … her Travel Calm pills were starting to kick in. Bill fixed the broken “stop-cable” for the main engine, and I have no idea what Alistair was doing – I’m guessing he was also sleeping.
Rosie prepared a wonderful dinner once again, after which we watched a DVD together in the saloon … the title of the film, selected by Bill it must be said, was the aptly named “Bass Strait Fury”. This was produced in 2006 by Evan Minogue, chronicling the Latimer family’s 2-week sail around Wilsons Prom, Deal Island, Flinders Island and northern Tasmania. Despite being essentially a “home movie”, the hour-long film is professional and thoughtful in its production, along with informative, thereby commanding broader appeal than you might expect. One amusing, not to mention spooky, aspect was the simple act of watching a movie depicting a boat rocking around on the high seas, while simultaneously sitting on a settee in the saloon of a boat being rocked around on the high seas – talk about authentic !
As we each drifted off to our respective cabins and bunks it was with a sense of relief – despite the boats current roll – that this would be a far more relaxed evening than last night, and a sleep we had each truly deserved.
Smooth seas, fair breeze and time to get out of here