North to Port Davey


Thursday 28 February 2019

Spain Bay (Port Davey)

We were finally making our way up the South West coast in the direction of Port Davey

Having enjoyed a diet of perfectly calm anchorages, last night at Louisa Bay was something of a rolly affair.

Ray takes in the rugged coast line
Jacqui checks the next anchorage
Isabel finds a quiet spot to knit out of the wind

It’s generally not too bad when there’s a steady pitching motion – the bow and stern taking it in turns to go up and down – but throw in a roll to the left, then to the right, then to the left, then to the right, and it can have you packing pillows around you just to stay in bed.

Whilst the sea movement might have been a small annoyance, the dramatic phosphorescence in the water at night, plus the brightness of the stars which were also reflected in the still water, more than made up for it.

Ketchem Bay behind Ketchem Island – just not quite big enough for Chimere (although the idea was seriously considered)

There was also the walk along the lonely beach nearby, which we all voted was worthy of special mention.

The morning was misty and damp, and there was barely a zephyr as we made our way out of the bay under power around 8:00am. 

Our first task was to check out nearby anchorages – up the coast in the direction of Port Davey – just to see how they would rate in a blow.  It was also fun to compare our experience with the pictures in the cruising guide.  Cox’s Bay was first, then New Harbour, followed by Ketchem Bay. 

It was Ketchem Bay we were most keen to see, mainly because of the small island that sat maybe 50 metres off the land.  The sheltered side of the island was accessed via a narrow channel to reveal a perfectly formed, crescent-shaped sandy beach.  We initially entertained the idea of parking Chimere in the sheltered bolt-hole, with an anchor out front and a line to the beach; being the image shown in the cruising guide.  But after taking the dinghy in first and sounding the depth the ol’ fashioned way – with lead and line – we thought better of it.  Instead, we anchored out in the main Ketcham Bay, where the remains of the SW swell could still be felt.

Ketchem Bay turned out to be a brief lunch-spot between Louisa Bay and Spain Bay at the entrance to Port Davey

There was just enough time before lunch for us all to venture ashore to marvel at the gorgeous little Gilligan-Island-esque beach, hidden behind the small island’s rocky exterior.  There were even plans to return for a swim later in the day and remain here overnight.  However, after weighing up all the factors and variables it seemed prudent to keep moving on.

A picture-perfect scene – behind Ketchem Island
Behind Ketchem Island – beautiful from an angle

Southwest Cape was just a further 5 miles down the coast in a south-westerly direction.  Once we’d turned this corner it was then only a 20 mile hop up the coast in a north-westerly direction to Port Davey and given the brisk easterly wind was soon to move northerly – and on the nose – we all agree, it was time to go!

Views of the dramatic shore-line and mountainous interior did not diminish once we rounding South West Cape, in fact if anything they increased.  We passed coastal features such as … Mckays Gulch (we’d really wanted to stop in here), Cliff Point, Window Pane Bay, Flying Cloud Point and the East Pyramids (which were really well named).  There were also large sections of the coast marked with a thick purple-dashed line with the words “UNSURVEYED”; also written in purple ink.  It’s hard to think that all rocks and obstacles haven’t already been found in the last 200+ years, but these are certainly areas for extra caution

The wind moved to the southeast as predicted and so our romp up the coast in a northwesterly direction put it right up our tails with the mainsail almost out at right angles.

Judging by the number of other yachts we spied, it seemed we weren’t the only boat with the same idea.  Of the five yachts seen, four were making a dash for Port Davey.

We made good time and by 5:45pm we were dropping anchor in Spain Bay, at the southern end of Port Davey. 

On entering Spain Bay we’d half expected to be sharing the anchorage with a gang of other yachts, but as it turned out we had it all to ourselves.  Except for one other, named Hansel …  that turned up on dusk.  Most other boats presumably heading further up into one of the many Port Davey waterways that extend inland many miles.

Isabel and Jacqui set about implementing their dinner plans, Ray returned to his fishing and John and I dashed ashore in the dinghy to check out if there was evidence of penguin and mutton bird activity.  As it turned out, John and I also went for a walk to the top of a nearby hill after finding a track that led from the beach.

Jacqui gets lunch ready for all
Finally arrived in Spain Bay at the entrance to Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour
Rob and John climb to the top of the hill above Spain Bay
A rare summer’s day

The sea was flat and calm, which pointed to a comfortable night at anchor.  Within a few hours, however, the wind drifted from the south east to the north east, causing the bow of the boat to swing accordingly.  It was all done in whisper stillness, barely noticeable, but clear evidence that the earlier forecast was correct. 

In two days’ time the wind was predicted to blow at 30 knots from the northwest, before turning once more to the southwest – as the high pressure system moved across – but by then we would be long gone, sheltering in one of the many other hidey-holes in this expansive waterway.

Ray waits for the fish to bite and John starts another book from the ship’s library
Isabel and Jacqui know what to do once the fish is caught

For now it was time to soak in the surrounding serenity and the changing colours from pinks through purples as the sun slowly went to bed.  And we were soon to follow.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and north to Port Davey

Rob Latimer 

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