Monday 11 March 2019
Grassy Harbour, King Island
“Up at six, away by six-thirty”, was the mantra for today and in the darkness of the pre-dawn we went through the well-rehearsed routine … alarm, dressed, kettle, engine, coffee, course, anchor, sails, chart plotter, steering (Doh!!… should have turned OFF the anchor-drift alarm!!) … and away … oh, plus toast with peanut butter and honey.
We managed to fluke the tidal flow north out of the Hope Channel, Hunter Island on our left and Three Hummock Island on our right, with our speed topping 8-9 knots at times.
Pretty soon we were laying a course for King Island, or more specifically, the east coast harbour of Grassy. To our port lay the small rocky island called Albatross Island, where we suspected many of the graceful birds of the same name we’d been watching, had originated.
The wind was still pretty strong, with the advancing swell coming in on our port side, and not on the bow, which was a blessing
Around lunch time, however, the wind moved more to the west-northwest, causing us to put in a few tacks in order to lay a course for the entrance to the harbour. With communications restored I called Duncan from the King Island Boat Club, who turned out to be busy on his farm, so he put me onto Russell, a local fisherman and boat club member, who he thought could fix us up for a mooring.
This indeed turned out to be the case and he remembered my previous visit here four years ago, when the mooring I’d been allocated by someone else had actually dragged. Certainly NOT what you expect from a mooring !
So, after a brief stay on a short anchor in the crowded confines of the harbour, Russell soon had us on a big fishing boat mooring – the same one he arranged for us in 2015 AFTER the earlier one we’d been given had failed.
As it turned out Russell was a very helpful guy. As was his wife Marie, who kindly drove us the 30 kilometres across the island to Currie the next day so we could pick up a hire car. (a saving of $100 in a car “drop off” fee!)
One rather frustrating thing that occurred on the way up from Hunter Island, was the “Max Deviation” message we received on the Auto Helm. This had occurred before and resulted in us having to hand steer the boat for extended periods. Thankfully, each time it DID finally correct itself … and YES, I did turn it OFF, then ON again … several times. But this time it seemed a more permanent situation that would have to wait for another day. For now, no amount of button pressing and re-setting would put it right – we’d just have to hand steer the old-fashioned way.
After all of the anchoring and mooring activities it was getting late and time for dinner. Then once the sun had gone down, we made it ashore for the unofficial penguin parade. This consisted of sitting at the top of the boat ramp, 50 metres off our boat’s stern, and watching the little creatures emerge from the water only to cross the carpark and road to their tunnel-homes in the grassy hill behind. They were so cute, and you’ve got to respect their stamina, commitment and focus, going out each day for fish, only to bring them back again each night for their babies.
The south west wind was starting to really howl, rain was threatening and it was a great relief to make it back to the warmth of Chimere for an evening hot drink and a secure bunk.
Smooth seas, fair breeze and a Private Penguin Parade