Summer came on a Saturday

Saturday 2 March 2019

Forest Lagoon (Port Davey)

After feeling the warmth of the land since entering Port Davey, as opposed to the coolness of the sea, things cranked up a notch today with the temperature rising significantly. 

We heard indirectly, through one of the Melaleuca volunteers, that it was going to get to 35 degrees and it certainly felt like it, when combined with the predicted 30 knot wind from the North West.

Admittedly, we still had the cooling effect of the sea while aboard Chimere, but the short dinghy ride across to the small wharf at Clayton’s Corner, along with the walk to the historical home and old garden, plus the short trek up the nearby hill, really brought home the fact that the sun was really baking.  Pity the poor walkers and kayakers who couldn’t escape it all.

” Now I’d like you to lie on the couch, relax and tell me what this diagram represents to you…?” … nothing mysterious here, just two night’s track at anchor, as the wind and tide had their way with us
A useful schedule of automated weather broadcasts, once John had our HF radio back and working again
Smoke from bushfires does brighten up the sunsets

That said, the changeable nature of the wind and weather down hear means that you don’t have long to wait before things are turned on their head – even blizzards in February we were informed.

Amongst the various boaties in the region, a recurring topic of discussion has been the lack of reliable communications and the craving for accurate weather forecasts.  It’s brought many, otherwise independent, folk together in order to share what each of us has been able to glean from the airwaves and those onshore

The catamaran K’gari, (mentioned a couple of days ago in this blog) is currently anchored off our stern and they called up on the VHF radio, inviting me over to listen to the recent forecast they had recorded via HF radio.  In doing this I was able to learn that tomorrow (Sunday 3/3) will be a bit calmer, with variable winds, followed by a return of the north westerlies on Monday and Tuesday.   

Since returning from Vanuatu in 2017, we haven’t had much need of our onboard HF radio.  In fact, the backstay-aerial-wire had broken off at deck level six months ago and had simply been tied up out of the way.  Now that the HF radio was our only form of communication, it was a strong incentive to get out the electrical repair kit and solder it all up again.  Which we did.  And after a brief re-familiarisation with its various knobs and dials I soon had my own forecasts crackling through on the designated channels.

Lots of boats in the one bay made it look a bit like Sydney Harbour

Another yacht we got to “know”, anchored in the bay, was Kelbec II.  I’d known this yacht as our neighbour on Row A at the Westernport Marina Hastings.  It’s previous owner, affectionately known as “Johno” even came sailing with us on Chimere in early 2017 with a view to possibly volunteering as a skipper in Vanuatu.  I was aware that Johno had sold the boat so as we motored to shore in the dinghy we met the new owner, Alex and his crew, Terrence.  Alex had actually hailed us as we passed by and after chatting about the boat’s history and his plans for the future, it transpired that Alex had broken his anchor snubber (which absorbs the strain and forces exerted by the wind and tide on the anchor chain) and was in need of some assistance.  So, after dropping John, Isabel, Ray and Jacqui ashore it was then a simple thing to return to Chimere for a suitable, old, stretchy rope that would do the trick – and show Alex how to do a rolling hitch that would enable the rope to grip the chain and still be easy to undo when it came time to up-anchor.

Back at the Clayton’s Corner wharf we chatted with a couple off the Melbourne-based yacht, Aquaholic, which I’d seen at the wooden boat festival a few weeks earlier.  The woman was from the northern part of New Zealand and when John Land returned, they had a long chat about all the places and people they knew in common.

The sun was still baking down and so our gang was keen to get back to Chimere for a cool drink … and second afternoon tea – with talk continuing about the weather over the next few days and what our plans might be.

Peter off K’Gari called up again on VHF Channel 16 inviting me to come over and record a copy of the latest forecast.  Having heard the call, Jackie off another yacht called Hansel, (whom we very briefly chatted with in Spain Bay as we departed on Friday morning – was that really just five days ago?) called up and asked if I might pass the forecast onto her; which I was happy to do after my brief visit to K’Gari.  Whilst our Smartphones are absolutely useless in Port Davey for making calls, sending emails or searching the web, they ARE very useful for taking photos AND recording radio messages and weather forecasts.  Maybe it’s my brain getting slower with age, or an inability to write quickly enough, but being able to playback a recording of the forecast several times really helps in fully understanding the message and making suitable plans.

Isabel with everyone’s friends … Tim and Tam

Around mid afternoon a general “All Ships … All Ships … All Ships” … message came over the airwaves and we were half expecting it to be an important message for mariners … and in a way it was … but it was then followed up with, “… this is Patriot X, anchored near King’s Point and around 5:30 this evening we are planning a cheeky little game of Jenga on the deck, plus a gin and tonic … and everyone is invited”

We were familiar with this vessel because we’d sailed near her on the coast coming up to Port Davey.  She was handsome motor “yacht” of about 65 feet and at the time we saw her she was humming along at around 10 knots.

Several boats responded positively to the invitation and it seemed another boat was planning a party centred around a “raft-up” of dinghies – all in keeping with the warm, balmy, and extremely still, summer  evening. 

Being in a different bay, we chose to ignore the kind invitation, not because we wouldn’t, or couldn’t, have gone, we were just content to see the evening in with our usual routines and the culinary adventures dished up by Isabel and Jacqui.

We were amused by the radio traffic, which to everyone’s credit was quickly transferred from Channel 16 across to Channel 10.  Then out of the blue, Patriot X, who had obviously heard us chatting earlier with the other vessels on the radio about the weather, put out a call, (in a rather slurred voice and with the distinct sound of a party in the background) … “Chimere, Chimere … why aren’t you over here … explain yourselves?” 

Feeling compelled to answer, I responded in a similarly slurred voice … “Beecos wees got ouwwr ooowwn pardee over ‘ere, hic!  But thank yoos for da kind invitation all da same ”

In the end it turned out to be a very lazy day aboard Chimere, befitting the hot temperature and strong north westerly, which died off to almost nothing by late afternoon.

The forecast talked of light conditions tomorrow, with a strong North Westerlies establishing itself on Monday and Tuesday, followed by a change from the south west. 

It was the south westerly that grabbed our attention because it was going our way.  This was something we could catch to our next major destination, Port Macquarie and the town of Strahan 100 miles up the coast.

For now we would just enjoy the remote isolation and beauty of the amazing Port Davey

Smooth seas, fair breeze and

Rob Latimer


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