Retreat to Passage Bay

Saturday 2 February 2019

Passage Bay

Once more the sun’s rays lit up the craggy cliffs overlooking the bay, this time from the east, as the morning light signaled the start of a glorious new day.

The pancakes were eaten as quick as Rosie could make them

And how much more glorious can it be than when plate after plate of perfectly cooked pancakes get passed up into the cockpit by Rosie.  As soon as they were cooked, they were appreciatively knocked back by Alistair, Bill and me.

Communications were improving, as we got closer to towns and built-up areas,  so there were lots of texts, emails and social networking to attend to… as you do.

It was then away by 7:00am before a 20kt northerly, south towards the tip of the Freycinet Peninsular and the Schouten Passage… the narrow stretch of water that separates the mainland from Schouten island 

Making good time from Wineglass Bay to Coles Bay
Approach to Coles Bay doing 5 knots into a strong northerly wind

Once through Schouten Passage we headed north, now INTO the northerly wind, with Chimere’s clean propeller and hull enabled her to overcome at a rate of 5 knots; despite the conditions

Our primary task of course was to pick up our three land-based team members in Coles Bay and in theory, the easiest way to do this would be to tie up alongside a jetty, pass everything over the handrail, park the car nearby, then step aboard for a smooth and trouble-free exit.

Alternatively, we could drop anchor out in the bay, then use the dinghy to ferry everyone, plus their gear, from shore.

In the end, I chose the “tie-up-alongside-the-jetty” option, but words like, smooth and trouble-free, in all honesty, couldn’t be used to describe the experience.     

In my defence, the shallowness of the water, the close confines of the harbour and the strong northerly that blew onto the public facility, could be submitted as mitigating circumstances. In aviation terminology, any landing you can walk away from is seen as a success. And whilst our arrival and departure from the Coles Bay jetty could be improved upon, in the end no one was injured and Bill was later able to partly straighten the bent stanchion on the starboard side.

Pick-up from Coles Bay – being able to easily pass bags, supplies and people across from the wharf was a distinct benefit, even if the strong wind and conditions acted against us getting in and out easily.
Rob, Rosie, Alistair and Bill celebrate their arrival at Coles Bay
Murray parks the car before stepping aboard Chimere for a few days of exploring

All aboard, and finally clear of the jetty, it was off again.  South, this time with the wind back on our stern with lunch prepared and eaten as we sailed on in glorious sunshine; Chimere stable as a putting green

Liz assumes pole position at the bow – the land team now joining us for a few days of adventure afloat

Reaching the tip of the Freycinet Peninsular in less than two hours, with the hope of making it back around to Wineglass Bay, we briefly poked our way through Schouten Passage to assess the conditions “outside”.  As expected, the strong northerly had whipped up the seas into a very lumpy, wet and decidedly on-the-nose affair.  Definitely NOT the conditions to inflict, voluntarily, upon our three new crew-adventure-seekers, Liz, Murray and Linda.

Our final anchorage for the night, Passage Bay – something out of a travel brochure

We all quickly agreed … Wineglass Bay is for later !  For now, it was time to retreat in order to fight another day.  Our alternative anchorage being just 15 minutes away in nearby Passage Bay.  This was a secluded cove which provided all we were looking for – shelter, white sand, turquoise water and serenity. It may not have had the iconic label of Wineglass Bay, but it had almost everything else. Once anchored it was time to frolic ashore, even swim, on the part of Linda, Rosie and me.

Linda and Rob (and Chimere) at Passage Bay
“Beach-as bro” … a small yacht high on the sand at Passage Bay – possibly the result of an earlier storm or dragged anchor
Bill attending to some more repairs aboard … complements of the Coles Bay public wharf
Rosie in charge of the galley serving pancakes to Liz … “yes please”
Rob and Bill attend to the anchor

Back aboard, Rosie took command of dinner once more and after watching a couple of Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarn episodes together in the saloon, it was time to start the going-to-bed routines.  Made more interesting with the addition of three extra bodies aboard 

Linda’s exclusive “Princess Boudoir” was created on the cockpit settee (portside), complete with fold-out bed base and new foam mattress.  All designed to create a level, generously-sized bunk, with a feeling of space and openness, not to mention privacy.

Linda’s custom-bunk in the cockpit

Inside, comfortable sleeping-nests were prepared for Murray and Liz.  All the while, the steady 20 knot northerly wind made its presence felt by whistling in the rigging.

Liz reclines in her saloon cabin

With most lights off, and bodies settling down to sleep, much laughter could be heard coming out of Bill and Alistair’s cabin. The source of which turned out to be a wayward Linda, mistaking my cabin door, along with me too, it must be said, for Bill !  Linda claimed all the fumbling and groping, of a semi-sleeping Bill, were in search of her iPhone. Bill could only take her word for it, and after being restored to fully awake rather quickly, responded in a gentlemanly-like manner with the words … “Madam, I think you’re in the wrong room”.

Reflecting later on the experience, Bill commented that Linda had all the hallmarks of a dreamy apparition, dressed as she was in her flowing white nightie. Whether the stuff or dreams or nightmares it was hard to tell.

There was a blessed stillness to the anchorage, despite the strong wind, with tomorrow holding the promise of a voyage further south to Maria Island, given the strength and direction of the wind.

With all lights out, Chimere soon fell into a sleepy silence

Smooth seas, fair winds and retreat to Passage Bay 

Rob Latimer

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