Where’s the Fleurieu Group ?

Sunday 10 March 2019

Shepherds Bay, Hunter Island

Being largely forgotten and out of the way are the key reasons for these island’s attraction and charm

Some people can place the Furneaux Group on the map at the eastern gateway to Bass Strait, with Flinders Island at its centre. 

But how many can point to the Fleuieu Group ? 

It’s not likely to come up in a game of Trivial Pursuit, unless I’m writing the questions of course, so in case you don’t know, its off the north WEST corner of Tassie.  Just above Cape Grim and south of King Island. It’s major islands being Three Hummock and Hunter; named after the second Governor of Australia, John Hunter

Anchored off the southern end of Shepherd’s Bay, Hunter Island
Another lovely sunset, this time at Shepherd’s Bay, Hunter Island
An artistic shot up the rigging

It’s a rarely visited corner of the world and that’s one of its key attractions.  Depending on the wind and swell conditions there is generally a place to hide and our current visit brought back very fond memories of my previous stop-off back in 2015.  At that time the ship’s crew consisted of me, Matt, James and Eva and we stopped at four of the anchorages, including Spiers Bay where we rode out a brisk gale.

After a delightful night at Chimney Corner we up-anchored around 9:00am to explore the anchorages around the eastern side of Three Hummock Island, with our first stop being East Telegraph Bay.

Another wind change was forecast – from the current direction of east, way around to the west – and so we figured some protection could be had around on the east side of Three Hummock Island later in the day.  This might have been so, eventually, but right now the swell that had already built over the previous couple of days from the northeast did not bode well; at least in the short term 

Isabel serves up another cup of tea from the galley

This proved to be right and after a very rolly lunch-stop in the northern corner of East Telegraph Bay, we made our retreat, initially to Cave Bay on Hunter Island, and then a bit further up the coast to Shepherds Bay, where three other boats were already sheltering (generally a good sign) including a big motor launch called “Patriot X” which we had encountered a week ago down at Port Davey.

Last night we learnt a lesson about always turning the anchor light on when you stop for the night.  Not that we’d forgotten to do so, (we usually forget to turn it off come morning !) but around 6:00am, I was up on deck and noticed another yacht had anchored in the dark a couple of hundred metres away and there was a red navigational light slowly moving in our direction, confirming another boat was on approach and likely to also drop anchor soon.

At breakfast John and I were talking about the stars in the clear sky last night and I mentioned that I’d initially thought … “Wow, Venus is very bright tonight” …  and before I’d finished the sentence, John said, “Yes, I was up at 4:00am and it was really bright, off our starboard side”  … As it turned out, the “bright Venus” was actually the masthead anchor light of our new neighbour!!   

The problem with forgetting to turn on your night-light is of course that if another boat turns up they may not see that you are already there.  There’s also the small comfort in seeing from a distance that if another boat is already there, it might just be a good option for you.  Assuming of course that the other boat had made a good decision in the first place?!

This lazy seal didn’t even bother putting his flippers back in the water as we sailed by. We thought he might have been pretending to be a shark
Approaching Cave Bay at Hunter Island
Well named, Cave Bay, with evidence of aboriginal occupation from around 6,000 years ago and 20,000 years ago during the previous two Ice Ages when dry land was about 30 miles away
Ray spies the coastal cave as we approach

So, apart from a bit of a sail around the region very little else was done.  We ate, we slept, we reported our position to (the amazing) Mary who is (and has been for decades it seems) the voice of Smithton Radio. But most of all we assessed the weather forecast in order to determine travel plans for the next few days.

John had a go at fishing and within half an hour had caught a rather large flathead … known as a “lizard”, Ray said.  I even dug out a couple of collapsible cray pots which I’ve had stored onboard for a couple of years, using the fishhead as bait … short story – I didn’t catch any crayfish!

With the wind still blowing hard from offshore and the gentle roll of the boat letting us know that despite being the best pick of the neighbourhood anchorages, the current swell was finding its way into everything, I exclaimed,  “I think we should head off to King Island in the morning”.  According to the latest forecast, the wind (and sea) was going to come in very strong the day AFTER tomorrow, with tomorrow being simply “strong” and the seas levelling off from the previous few days of gales.

With internet and phone communications partially restored, if not very reliable, we took the opportunity to answer emails and update the website and also make contact with King Island to hopefully check out the possibility of obtaining a safe mooring for a couple of days, and also a hire car in order to check-out the local sights.  Things looked promising, but we would need to confirm specifics upon arrival tomorrow

Whilst we’d filled up the water tanks just a few days ago with 1,000 litres of Strahan’s finest, we nonetheless fired up the onboard water maker at Three Hummock Island, knowing that the sea water there was very clean and the machine needed to be exercised.   With new filters installed I was very pleased to be able to make the BEST water yet, like EVER, as measured by the very low salt reading of just 100 parts per million. 

Smooth seas, fair breeze and where’s the Fleurieu Group ?

Rob Latimer

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