Friday 8 February 2019
Prince of Wales Bay Marina (Hobart)
We woke to the sights and sounds of Hobart. Well, at least the Prince of Wales Bay Marina part of Hobart, perched as it is on the edge of the Derwent River, ten miles out of town, next to the aluminium ship builder Incat with Mt Wellington in clear view.
We were surrounded by boats, as you’d expect, so a marina is a bit like the caravan park of the sea. Some caravans fully appointed with all facilities aboard, others not so. Meaning it’s a bit of a walk to the “facilities” ashore when is comes time for a shower, the toilet, or to do some washing.
With my brother Andrew ready, willing and available with a car – and keen to show us the property he purchased some years ago in the Huon Valley, plus the places of significance in the Tasmanian-based parts of his life – Linda and I, plus Alistair, did some sightseeing. Alistair was particularly keen to get some Huon pine to make custom tools for his pottery work.
In our travels, we also met Mark and Denise Stephenson at their Lymington home. Mark was a Vanuatu volunteer from 2017 and someone I’d met coincidentally at the Mersey YC when we stopped in there in 2014; where he was the Commodore at the time
Rosie on the other hand spent a portion of the day with Murray and Liz travelling to the Mona art centre.
Later in the afternoon, we all met up at the Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart-central to walk around, gawk at the boats and again soak up the vibe of this well-attended festival.
It was around this time that we said our sad good-byes to Rosie and Alistair, with Murray kindly driving them out to the airport for their evening flight back to Melbourne … so as to resume their normal lives.
In parting, what can we say about Rosie and Alistair. The dynamic brother and sister team, each special and valuable team members in their own way. Of course, Rosie was primarily in charge of the catering and “team-care” departments whose super-powers included – cooking and baking, smiling, drawing, dolphin-whispering, cleaning, overcoming seasickness, standing on the foredeck in all weather, indomitability and enjoying rough weather
In Alistair we possessed a dependable-crew member whose super-powers included – holding a straight course, optimism, shell-finding, long distance boat spotting, wind gust alarming, reliability and endurance.
It was a great joy to sail with both Alistair and Rosie. And to think that they only heard about the Freedom Sail a couple of weeks before we set out – from their sister Isobel, who will be joining us on the return leg up the west coast from 23 February – was in itself an amazing blessing for me.
As things worked out, an old school friend of Andrew’s, Phil Jones and his partner Corryn, very kindly invited us to their home in the heart of Hobart (Salamanca Place) … well at least Phil did, I suspect Corryn found out about it some time later.
It was a wonderful evening, meeting their other friends and in such beautiful surroundings – and a very generous gesture, given that whilst they knew Andrew … me, Linda, Bill, Murray and Liz, were totally unknown “randoms”
Late that night, Andrew kindly returned us out to Chimere (before then driving back to Hobart where he was staying) and with our ground crew Murray and Liz, we all quickly retreated to our respective cabins and fell asleep
Smooth seas, fair breeze and first day in Hobart
POSTCARD FROM ALISTAIR
(Now safety home in Warburton, VIC, crew member Alistair reflects on his time aboard.)
An adventure at sea
My first experiences with boats began with building a mirror dingy with my father as a child. I learnt to sail in a sabot on an inland lake in Victoria and progressed to the mirror. Then for quite a few years in the summer I attended Cooinda, a summer camp in the Gippsland lakes where I did a lot of small boat sailing and even graduated to teaching the sailing at the camp.
For a while my brother and I had an A class Catamaran which was quite a different sailing experience, and my last boat was a mirror 14 which required a trapeze and required a lot of diligence.
However, while this all left me with quite a good basic understanding of sailing principles, it was soon evident when I crewed on the Chimere, that I still had a steep learning curve, and an ocean going yacht requires some different skills. For starters I never got any seasickness in small dingy sailing, but then I had never been confronted with deep sea swell and the need to constantly adjust your balance. My first day at sea left me with a very empty stomach, though thankfully that was largely the end of it, though there were times when I was very grateful to take the odd seasickness tablet that did wonders for motion sickness.
Now this was also in the middle of the summer and while I made sure I took a jumper and woolen hat, I soon found out that the weather at sea can be quite bracing and at times my fingers were quite numb with the cold after standing at the helm for some hours holding a course. It was always reassuring that Rob was there to take over when seas were really rough or visibility down to zero.
Sleeping on a top bunk that hardly had more room than a coffin was also a new experience, though I adjusted to rolling in and out after many days at sea and slept well.
Moving round below deck when at sea can be tricky when the swell is up and you cannot see the waves coming. You quickly learn to hang on tight and be ready for unseen movement. It is always a relief to get back on deck and see the horizon and wedge oneself in where an unsuspecting wave cannot knock you off balance. I only flew across the deck once and landed painfully on my tail which certainly increased my care in hanging on tight.
There were many great delights while on the water. The many dolphins that came to play. Having rest days near beautiful islands where we could have been the only people around but for the odd sail or two. Seeing the tall ships in their natural element and leaving them in our wake. At times it felt like stepping back in time realizing that what we saw hadn’t change much from when the first white men in ships passed that way, and reading up on past shipwrecks when we visited Preservation Island and walking in the footsteps of those sailors who spent months on the Island waiting for rescue, not knowing of the hardships of those sent off to get to Port Jackson.
In all it can only be described as a lifetime experience I would not have wanted to miss. By the time we reached Hobart the boat felt like home and we all knew much of it very well, even to the extent of climbing up half the mast to get better phone reception at times.
I can see there is still a great deal to learn and experience, especially in the area of navigation and finding suitable anchorage, but we had a seasoned sea dog on board to guide us as we went and were all suitably grateful for that.
My sister Rosie was an invaluable crewmember too, sometimes strapped into the galley preparing good food. We all survived in considerable comfort!