Wonderful Wineglass Bay

Sunday 3 February 2019

Shoal Bay, Maria Island

After an overnight stop at Passage Bay, it was then on to Wineglass Bay, before heading south to Shoal Bay at Maria Island

Passage Bay turned out to be the perfect place to stop and as the sun rose to a new day, it was clear that the northerly wind had abated and that the seas “outside” might well have died down

As a result a new plan was hatched by consensus … travel first up the coast (into the elements) to Wineglass Bay for morning tea, and then head south to Maria Island (with the wind)  before the predicted 180 degree wind shift in the afternoon.

By seven o’clock we were away, along with a few other boats that could be seen out on the water, the heavy dew of the night covering the deck

Anchoring … it’s sometimes considered a Dark Art … 50% good judgement, 50% equipment and the rest just plain good luck … but the process of anchoring and up-anchoring has become a rather solid routine onboard Chimere.  Involving issues of shelter, depth, sea bottom, location of other vessels, potential to swing with wind and tide, potential exit strategies, weather forecast, deploying springy “snubbers” on the chain to absorb the forceful pull of the steel chain on a steel winch and the ever present down-wind consequences in the event of dragging (ie “the exit strategy”) 

In the event of emergency your highly skilled and experienced crew, Rob, Bill and Al, are here to assist you …

In pulling UP the anchor it’s important to ensure the chain is retrieved as “loose” as possible, with hand signals to Alistair on the helm to drive forward, that-way, this-way, stop or reverse, in order to reflect the lay of the chain.  Up on the bow, I use a control switch on an extended cable to drive the anchor winch, enabling me to look over the bow to view the chain.  Bright yellow dobs of paint on the chain indicate how much chain is still to come, with Bill down in the anchor well, armed only with a short stick, spreading (flaking) the fast-returning chain, to each corner of the hold.  This ensures it doesn’t pile up under the chain-pipe, thereby stopping more chain falling into the well.

If resistance is felt on the chain in the course of the process, (eg if the anchor has dug in quite deeply) then a chain-hook (attached to a strong rope) is quickly slipped onto a link in the chain and cleated off.  This immediately takes the pressure off the winch, transferring it instead to the rope.  Loose toes and feet must of course be keep clear at all times !

As a rule of thumb, we generally deploy around 5-7 metres of chain for every metre-depth of water, but sometimes more, bearing in mind that whilst the anchor needs to dig in, it’s the (hopefully horizontal) pull of the chain along the sea floor that provides most of the holding-power.  In all, we have about 120 metres of 13mm chain, weighing 500kg, plus a rather big Rocna anchor weighing 45kg.  The boat weighs approximately 30,000kg, so you can see, it’s certainly NOT the weight of the anchor and chain that keeps us in one place.

It’s a rather labour intensive process but one that’s important to get right every time – if you want to sleep well at night..

The dolphins just seem to be playing …
The wind was brisk at times, enabling us to top 8 knots
Sea mist cleared in Wineglass Bay to reveal a spectacular scene

As the morning progressed, the wind picked up, as did the sea conditions, but the blue sky and sparkling sea made up for any sense of apprehension.  Adding to the joy of the moment was the arrival of dozens of dolphins, big and small, who playfully entertained us at the bow for much of the way.

The ladies lounge …

Sea mist began clearing as we entered Wineglass Bay, just as Rosie’s latest batch of delicious scones came out of the oven … how does she do that.

More scones …

Our sudden arrival drew considerable interest from the group of campers onshore; all loaded up with their packs, presumably ready for the walk out … poor things ?!

Kind of speaks for itself

After first-morning-tea we launched the dinghy off the back davits and made our way ashore in two trips, all the while soaking in the magnificent surroundings … the photos kind of tell it all.

Wineglass Bay at it’s best
Alistair climbed the nearby hill for a better view
You’ve heard of Elephant Rock … here on the beach was Dog Log

Bill felt emboldened enough to strip down to his jocks with every intention of going for a swim, and I’m sure if the water had another 5 degrees on it, he might have succeeded, but on balance it was roughly a 40% swim, based on waterline.

After a couple of hours serenity-soaking, we once more up-anchored and headed out to sea for the voyage  south to Maria Island; a distance of around 35 miles.  How long it would take of course depended largely on the speed we could achieve … at 6 knots it would take around 5.8 hours, 7 knots exactly 5 hours and so on.

Alistair at the helm
“Come on now … be a tiger, work the lense … give us a smile … “

In the end the wind was mostly favourable with some exciting moments requiring reefing of both mainsail and jib as the wind picked up from the south east.  Our speed topped 8 knots at times, with Rosie, Linda, and Liz enjoying their time up on the foredeck looking out for the return of the dolphins and laughing at the occasional burst of spray.

The wind from the easterly quarter was accompanied by thick sea fog which brought with it such moisture in the air that it dripped from the awning, fogged up our glasses and accumulated in beads on the metal surfaces.  This necessitated us to turn on the radar, with Bill standing in the bow, dressed like Mawson, with a fog horn in his hand in the event of a close encounter.  The fog really was thick !! 

Then up goes the cry … “BOAT TO PORT !!” ….  And as we began studying the radar once more and planning possible evasive action strategies, it was followed up (slightly more sheepishly) with … “Oh, sorry, it’s a bird on the water”.  An easy mistake in such conditions?!

Bill on fog-watch … “A boat … no, sorry, it’s a bird”
Hard to know where the sea ended and the sky began

Our anchorage in Shoal Bay, Maria Island was finally reached down Mercury Passage, where the wind seemed to funnel onto the nose.  The calm seas, however, enabled us to maintain our speed and at around 6pm we dropped anchor in 4 metres of water, about 400 metres from the beach.

Lots of other boats had a similar idea, but it is a big bay, enabling everyone to kept a respectful distance.

Mist cleared and Bill was given time off for good behaviour
The easterly wind brought moisture that built up on many surfaces

Distance covered for the day was a respectful 50 miles and with tomorrow declared a relaxation day, the evening routine seemed even more laid back than usual.  Linda revealed her two loaves of fresh bread, baked on the way down, which could not be resisted … resulting in everyone enjoying second-afternoon-tea, or first-dinner, depending on your perspective.

Inside and the return of good communications is evidenced by the appearance of everyone’s SmartPhones

Down below, the stillness of the boat was disconcerting, giving the impression that we were either stuck in mud, or in a marina, with there being minimal evidence of any movement.  There was much chatting, story-telling and laughter as Rosie prepared a late dinner of chicken and mushroom risotto – naturally delayed due to late afternoon tea of bread

In-flight entertainment included a screening of the film, The Dish, as the wind kept up a steady blow outside.

All the beds made up it was not long before heads hit pillows and it was lights out till morning

Smooth seas, fair breeze and wonderful Wineglass Bay

Rob Latimer

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