A very quiet day


Sunday 3 March 2019

North Inlet, behind Black Swan Is.  (Port Davey)

The morning saw a shroud of mist, drizzle and smoke on the surrounding hilltops as we up-anchored and departed Forest Bay around 9:30am

If yesterday was summer, today is much closer to winter … or at least a cold day in spring.

Carefully following the “breadcrumbs” left on our chart plotter on the way in, it was now time to explore Bathurst Harbour, with our sights set on cruising past Eds Cove and onto Black Swan Island at the entrance to North Inlet

Leaving Forest Bay it was very misty and considerably cooler than the day before
It might have been smoke, mist or a mix of both
Beautiful scenery at every turn

It was only a matter of a few miles but once we’d dropped anchor and turned off the engine in the isolation of North Inlet – surrounded on all sides by sea and rocky-green mountains – we found ourselves silent and just staring at the stillness.

The birds were chirping in the trees close by and there was barely a breath of air or ripple on the water.

There were few words spoken, then someone said … “why are we whispering?” … it was just that kind of place.

The water is brown from the tannin in the rivers and leaves a sudsy wake
The water’s surface sometimes broke up into what we called Alphabet Soup noodle shapes
Quiet at anchor behind Black Swan Island – at 10-15 degrees it was quite a bit cooler than the 35 degrees of the day before

In one sense there was very little done today.  Besides soaking up the vibe of the surroundings.  I went back to sleep for a couple of hours … as did Ray at some stage during the day.  Isabel and Jacqui made a lovely soup for lunch, then a spinach pie for dinner.  Both up to their usual, amazing standards !!

John and I went for a spin in the dinghy after we’d figured it wasn’t going to rain anymore and after John did a more permanent soldering job on the HF radio aerial I was able to pick up two forecasts today covering the next three days. 

John and Rob take a spin in the dinghy and land on tiny Black Swan Island
Black Swan Island
Is that a patch of blue?!
Look !! It’s starting to clear

There was much less communication on the VHF radio today – in fact none that I can recall.  Some yachts have grabbed the opportunity to head up the coast before the north west wind and swell start up again, and another we suspect has gone south before the south west wind takes over in two days’ time

A day of relaxation aboard – Jacqui rugged up with a book
Isabel and Ray fill in the evening at anchor

Our current plan is to explore Port Davey further tomorrow (Monday) and half of the next day, before sailing for Port Macquarie through the night of Tuesday and Wednesday morning.  The key objective being to arrive at the entrance of Port Macquarie – known affectionately as “Hell’s Gate” – during daylight hours!!

Other than that, there’s very little to report, other than we probably had more morning and afternoon teas today than usual, Isabel is progressing well wither her knitting and we all read more today than average

Smooth seas, fair breeze and A very quiet day

Rob Latimer

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

Oh Melaleuca!


Friday 1 March 2019

Forest Lagoon (Port Davey)

It was a great feeling to finally have made it to Port Davey. It was now time to explore and after dropping anchor at Forest Lagoon (near Clayton’s Corner) it was a dinghy ride the rest of the way to Melaleuca

Getting away from Spain Bay after a lazy breakfast – and a walk ashore and up the nearby hill for Isabel and Jacqui – not to mention swim – we were soon making our way into South Passage.  To our left lay the Breaksea Islands as we took a hard right into the Bathurst Channel.

There was a brief encounter with several very large bottlenose dolphin before they raced off to play with another passing yacht, leaving us wondering what they had that we didn’t !?

You don’t get to do this very often … tie up to a cliff to obtain water from a waterfall
taking a short ride while we fill the tanks from the waterfall
A view from the waterfall

The sun was warm, the wind was slight and the sea was flat calm.  Despite the tidal flow against us we were making a steady 5-6 knots, just puttering along and we didn’t have long to wait for our first point of interest.  It was the enticingly named Waterfall Bay. 

Really?  A waterfall?  In summer, here in southern Australia?  Surely in name only.  Certainly, the photos in the cruising guide looked intriguing, so we were keen to check it out.

Here was a place where you could parallel park your boat, against a 25-metre cliff, down which a waterfall tumbled and cascaded.  Not only that, someone had built a wharf-style arrangement with fenders and ropes to make the tying up process easier.  Plus, a large collection bucket had been suspended part way up the cliff with a long hose running out of it to fill your tanks, have a shower or simply wash your decks.  

The fenders are already tied to the cliff to make for an easy tie-up
John climbs the waterfall for that full immersive experience
Washing day at the waterfall
Dual tasking … drinking coffee while hosing each other down … right ??!!

This proved to be a fun excursion and after having a good taste of the slightly amber looking fluid, we were quick to poke the hose into our tank inlet.  Given the warmth in the sun, we also enjoyed a very generous cold shower and there was even some overdue washing of clothes undertaken.

There were no other boats looking to take our place and so lunch was declared – a tasty combination of cup-a-soup and home-made (boat-made) bread topped with lashings of jam, peanut butter and honey.

On our way again we were met by a woman in a dinghy out of the blue motoring from her anchored yacht around the point.  As she approached, she called out … “…is this the Chimere that takes doctors around the islands … I knew the previous owner of Chimere?”  Appearing so enthusiastic, we invited her to tie up alongside as we motored along, and pretty soon she was on deck introducing herself as Jo. 

It was a real out-of-the-blue experience and after hearing about the previous owner and how she occasionally sailed with him, and showing her through Chimere, she was soon on her way, back to her yacht, K’Gari … which by now was just off our starboard beam anchored quietly in Schooner Bay.

And I thought we were the only ones here … Coral Discoverer drops anchor in the near Bathurst Channel, Port Davey
Our track from the south, into Spain Bay, then through Bathurst Channel and Bathurst Narrows and into Bathurst Harbour

From the Bathurst Channel we progressed into the Bathurst Narrows, past the occasional yacht at anchor in a side-bay, past the 200-foot-long tour ship Coral Discoverer, the waterway becoming narrower and shallower the further inland we progressed.  By mid afternoon we’d dropped anchor in Forest Lagoon at the start of the, extremely narrow and shallow, Melaleuca Inlet.

Making our way up the Melaleuca Inlet, then into the Melaleuca Creek was high on our list of things to do in this region.  Isabel had read a book years ago about the early pioneers to this region, mining tin and carving an existence from the beautiful yet harsh environment.

The last few miles were naturally covered in the large dinghy, in a three-hour excursion that was truly a highlight of the whole trip.

Despite the remoteness of the place on the map called “Melaleuca” it sports an airstrip, a ranger’s hut, toilets plus a collection of buildings old and new.  In addition, there was an extensive collection of machinery-relics – looking a bit like a scene out of the movie Mad Max  – associated with the early years as a tin mining region.

A rare day at Melaleuca – warm and still
The board walks help preserve the environment
John, Jacqui, Rob, Isabel and Ray next to the air strip at
Melaleuca

The quiet vastness of the surroundings gave new meaning to the word serenity, but it was the presence of the extremely endangered, migratory, Orange Bellied Parrots that was a real thrill.  As we sat next to a volunteer observer in his shelter busily recording each foraging bird by “name” (via a coded band on its leg) through a spyglass he commented … “those 7 birds on that feeder-shelf represent 8% of the known wild population in the world” 

Even if it was 1% of the wild population, it meant that this small greenish bird, that flies from here to Victoria and back each year, is extremely rare.  The volunteer continued … “There is a breeding program and these ones are the babies.  Their parents will fly north and eventually these ones will follow.  It’s amazing that even the birds bred in Victoria and released into the wild here, manage to find their way back to Victoria.  Just seems to be built into them”

The extremely rare and endangered Orange Bellied Parrot, which migrates to and from the mainland (almost said Australia) – they say there are less than 100 or so birds living in the wild
Looking like a scene from Max Max the movie … John’s creative DIY New Zealand mind is trying to figure out how he could get it running again using only 8-gauge wire … he might need another hour or so with this one
It was a tough and rugged life … they even had their own smelter to refine the tin into ingots

The air was still, the sky was clear and the warmth seemed to seduce the senses as we wandered around the boardwalks – built just above the scrubby ground cover – soaking in the surroundings. 

Isabel, Ray and Jacqui eventually returned from their more extensive stroll, taking in the Needwonee Aboriginal discovery trail, and the old walkers hut which Jacqui used way back in 1980 while walking the South Coast Track … surely as a little girl?!  Jacqui reported that it still smelt and felt the same, as the fond memories all came back to her. 

The reflective experience was stunning
It was hard to put the camera away
Back at anchor and it was still … “still-as bro”

I should mention that we also visited the Deny King museum, which was of particular interest to Isabel who had read and researched the man and the region more than any of us

Hard to know where the real world started and finished
We had Forest Bay to ourselves … apart from all the other yachts … that’s K’Gari to the left

Eventually, as afternoon showed the first signs of becoming evening, we clambered down into the dinghy for the 30-minute chug back to Chimere.

It was here that the stillness, seen in the amazingly clear reflections of the inlet, really came into its own.   It seemed for a while there we were traveling in two worlds, one the reflected image of the sky, hills and trees in the water before us and the other that represented the real world, rising from an indistinct line in the middle-distance to the sky above.  The photos hopefully do it more justice than my words.

Back aboard, the evening routines began – dinner of tacos, an early nap, some book reading, photographing the sunset and advancing night, plus discussions about possible plans and possibilities for tomorrow.

Maintaining sufficient charge in our bank of batteries is a constant consideration and whilst the motor and wind generator help top it up, our constant drain of around 10 Amps needs us to run the generator for a few extra hours – which we’ll need to do tomorrow.

Having entered the bay close past the stern of three other boats in order to remain in the deeper part of this lagoon, the numbers on our depth sounder got below 2 metres for a time, which is always a source of concern.  Admittedly it was low tide, but no one likes to run aground and particularly when others are watching !  As surely they are when the delicate task of anchoring is taking place anywhere close by, with accompanying thoughts such as …  “they’d better not anchor too close to us” … “do they know it’s shallow over there?” … “are they going to turn up into the wind?” … “have they considered the expected change of wind?” … “they’d better take into account the swing if they put out too much chain” … you get the idea

In the end the depth went from 1.8 metres to 4 metres and with a sign of relief we rounded up and dropped the anchor along with 20-30 metres of chain. 

For now … to quote our on-board kiwi lad John … “it’s as calm-as bro…” 

Time for sleep

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Oh Melaleuca!

Rob Latimer

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 

Retracing our steps to Louisa Bay

Wednesday 27 February 2019


Louisa Bay (West)

After a brief respite from the weather, it was back around the southern coast of Tasmania in the direction of Louisa Bay, on our way to Port Davey

After two nights in The Pigsties, that quirkily named corner of Recherche Bay, we made our way out through the narrow entrance – Shag Rock on our starboard side and Maid of Erin Reef on the port – and into the southern section of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.  It was 7:00am and the sun was touching the higher peaks inland, with a promise of a fine day ahead

The Pigsties – we were becoming spoilt on a diet of very still anchorages
The morning glow in the east

We took special note of the weather forecast, particularly from the Bureau of Met. site because we figured this would be our last access to the internet for sometime.  Not even 3G and 1-bar … as primitive as can be.  We listened to the TasMaritime weather and information schedule, and were even able to radio in our location and likely plans for the next day. 

Whilst boaties are encouraged to make regular reports of their intentions to Tas Maritime and/or other coastal radio stations, and I can certainly see the sense in it from a safety perspective –  this can sometimes be problematic.  Particularly when it sets up an expectation and obligation that can’t be met, when plans change, or communications are not possible. 

The sun breaking through
Out to sea and De Witt Isnad near Matsayker Is – the best place to anchor in a serious south westerly, but in 24 metres of water

Once upon a time, ALL you had was VHF and HF radio for communication, and everyone knew there would likely be difficulty keeping in touch from time to time.  Now of course there’s mobile phones, email, texts, Facebook, Messenger … you name it … and any delay of more than a few hours in responding seems grounds for calling in the Navy.  I was in a strange position yesterday of having no VHF radio transmission out of The Pigsties, so I sent an email to TasMarttime to report my position.  It seemed kind of weird.

Our track today was taking us back round Whale Head, South East Cape, South Cape and onto De Witt Island, where we had been exploring on Monday.  The wind had now moderated significantly, but the swell and lumpy sea from two days of strong south westerlies remained, making progress a little more uncomfortable than we’d experienced to date.

With the aid of the good ol’ Perkins motor, plus it must be said, the clean propeller and hull, we still made good progress and by 1:30pm we were dropping anchor behind Louisa Island, after doing a close drive-by at nearby De Witt Island.   The cruising guide describes the De Witt island anchorage as the “best place on the coast to weather a south west gale” … and I was keen to see how it looked in the current 2-3 metres of swell; just for future reference.  Who would have known … the guide was right !  The only problem was the 24 metres of water, requiring around 80-100 metres of chain to be deployed.  But that would be a small price to pay for a steady anchorage in a gale. We sailed on. 

Rounding South East Cape
Behind Louisa Island and the land bridge to the mainland at low tide would be a good place to film the “parting of the Red Sea” scene in a remake of The 10 Commandments

Back at Louisa Bay (East) we had lunch of soup and sandwiches, got the big dinghy over the side and after packing an “expedition bag” with all of the essential items … handheld VHF radios, water, flares, torch, knife, Tee Vee chocolate biscuits and salt & vinegar potato chips.

John and I dressed for the possibility of a swim and “crayfish search” … but somehow we never got around to it.  Inside Louisa Island, which extends to form a long sandy spit to the mainland at low tide, it was just a magical cove, full of strangely shaped driftwood, rocky caves and evidence of penguins and mutton birds who would be returning after dark.

The cruising guide did however, describe this bay as “affected by swell” and whilst it was very calm, the swell did in fact extend around the rocky point having the predictable impact on comfort aboard – after all, we’d become pretty fussy about stillness at anchor after Mickey’s Bay and Recherche Bay.

With plenty of sunlight left in the day we decided to up-anchor and head across to the anchorage on western side of the bay, where we thought the swell might have less of an effect.

Once re-anchored we explored ashore once more and rated it one of the most pristine and delightful beaches we’d seen in a very long time; complete with wallaby tracks and birds of every description

In the end we all agreed that the anchorage was less impacted by the swell, but as the wind died and its steadying impact faded, the small swell that remained seem to bat above its average whenever we drifted beam on.

Isabel and Jacqui treated us to another amazing feast – chicken, noodles, gravy, cabbage, kumara and some more green things !  Then for afters we had cantelope, grated Rum & Rason chocolate and ice-cream.  I couldn’t believe it, we had another tub of ice-cream in the freezer.  And due to it having been in the freezer longer it was even more ice than cream after several days.

Ray starred in the fishing department, catching a two-foot-long shark, which I’m sure will make it onto the menu, maybe tonight?!  Then a bit later in the evening Ray caught a rather large stingray, although to be sure … it caught us because there was no way we were going to be able to land it.

Ray comes good with dinner

By 10:00pm we were all drifting off to our bunks, with the promise of some more exploring tomorrow

Smooth seas, fair breeze and retracing our steps to Louisa Bay

Rob Latimer

French garden from 1792


Tuesday 26 February 2019

The Pigsties, Recherche Bay

It was a lazy start to the day.  And when I say “lazy”, I mean Chimere was breaking new ground with 9:00am, or there-a-bouts, being a PB for ALL crew to appear from their respective cabins.

“But I was reading a book in bed” said Isabel.  “And I kept asking her questions, and interrupting her … but it’s not our fault … if you provide us with comfy beds, we’re naturally going to use them … ”, followed up Jacqui. 

But this really WAS meant to be a slow day and after a generous breakfast we were ready to go ashore and explore by around 12:00 noon

Isabel led the way to discover what remains of the stone walls that once enclosed the French garden built in 1792
The rocks along the beach had distinctive shapes

Once ashore, Isabel took the lead with her Google-notes about Felix Delahaye, (plus old map of the area) the gardener aboard the French ship Recherche.  Our objective was to locate the walled garden – or what was left of it – he, and no doubt many of the ship’s crew, built in 1792.  The purpose of the garden being to supply the ship as well as serve as a form of food-insurance for future visitors. 

How hard could it be? 

Isabel leads the way

But Isabel was not deterred by the thick forest that extended inland from the rocky tide-line.  She had her ancient map and after lining up one rocky headland against the other to establish exactly where it might be … what do you think we found?  Moss-covered rock walls, evidence of a dam, a hand-dug overflow channel and piles of rocks further inland; no doubt the remains of further walls or structures.

The remains of the garden wall were easy to find … when you knew where to look … and were very impressive
More stone walls in the forest that has reclaimed the garden it once encircled
Ray, Isabel, Jacqui and John next to a pile of rocks further off the beach

I WAS hoping to be able to dig up some carrots, or maybe pick a few French apples, but still, what do you expect after more than 200 years?!

Check out the following links for more reading on the site.   It’s certainly a fascinating part of Australia’s early European history that I suspect is largely unknown.

http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/national/recherche

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/archived/hindsight/the-gardener-of-recherche-bay/3143322

It was a voyage of scientific discovery in 1792. We found this small plaque set in a rock on the headland overlooking the bay and the French garden
John inspects the plaque set in the rock in 1992 to recognise 200 years since D’Entrecasteaux landed in 1792

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234394850_D’Entrecasteaux_1792_Celebrating_a_bicentennial_in_geomagnetism

Making our way back to Chimere for a late lunch, John took the prize for seeing the only wildlife … a tiger snake curled up minding its own business in a small clearing.  As a New Zealander, John took the encounter very much in his stride and by the time I’d caught up with him all I saw was 30cm of black tail retreating into the bushes.   …

The wind kept up a persistent 15-20 knots from the south-west, but whilst it threatened, the only rain was during the night  

John relaxes with a book from the ships library

Culinary-wise … this was definitely the day of the egg.  For breakfast, in two cakes (carrot, date and sultana cake) for first and second afternoon teas (and dessert tonight with ice-cream) and quiche.

What could be better than a carrot/date/sultana cake … TWO
carrot/date/sultana cakes
Some of the green things that again ended up in the delicious dinner

Back on board there was some sleeping in the afternoon, reading, cooking and relaxing – all the while anticipating our departure from the bay tomorrow and return to the bays, coves, beaches and headlands around the south west corner from where we had retreated two days earlier.

My kind of sailing footwear
What sort of sailing is this??

With the wind expected to move “northeast to southeasterly” tomorrow, we are looking forward to off-shore winds, rather than the persistent south westerly that builds the swell and always seems to have you on edge

The view from the side deck in The Pigsties, Recherche Bay
These guys waited in vain for a feed
Photographing the sunset and this bird flies past and mucks up the shot …

Our destination will again be Louisa Bay tomorrow night, however, we might consider alternatives if the effect of the southwest swell is too dominant – anchorages such as Cox Bight, New Harbour or Ketchem Bay.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and French garden from 1792

Rob Latimer

There and back again


Monday 25 February 2019

The Pigsties, Recherche Bay

The day’s adventure began still, warm and calm, enabling us to briefly enter the Rocky Boat Harbour before returning to Recherche Bay where we sheltered for two days.

It was a blissfully calm night at Mickey’s Bay, with phosphorescence in the water and red sparks occasionally visible amongst the trees ashore.  The phosphorescence occurs when it’s dark and the conditions are just right, the sparks were from what remained of the fire on Mickey’s Point a week ago. 

A still anchorage is always a blessing

After spying smoke rising from the tree canopy as we entered the bay last night, we were initially very concerned – should be call Triple-O? But then we saw a vehicle driving amongst the trees and figured it must have been continuing mopping up operations. 

With sails up, we were soon away, down to the southern end of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, past Recherche Bay on the starboard side and out into the open ocean. 

Taking advantage of the mirror-calm conditions our path took as close-by the many headlands and bays that make up the south west coastline, all the while speculating as to how each location might serve as a anchorage-retreat at times of fierce weather … very poorly if from the wrong direction!

Heading south out of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and into the Southern Ocean
Very calm rounding Whale Head
It could not get any calmer – very unusual for this part of the world
Isabel has a go at the helm

Location names included … Mouldy Hole, Whale Head, South East Cape, South Cape, Shoemaker Bay, Surprise Bay and the very-true-to-label Rocky Boat Harbour … just behind Chicken Island and Hen Island.  

This region is known for its extreme weather, but today was something most unusual – still, calm, sunny and even warm.  All the reasons why we were here and not sheltering back around at Recherche Bay waiting for a suitable “weather window”.  This WAS the weather window, and we were grabbing the opportunity to scramble through.

But we knew a change was on the way, sometime later in the day, and made a point of getting away around 6:30am so as to have as much time as possible to both explore and make alternative plans – if necessary.

Our planned anchorage for the night was to be Louisa Bay.  Described as a relatively snug anchorage, behind Louisa Island, with only mutton birds and penguins for company.  To get there we would, however, first need to sail past Deadmans Bay and Lousy Bay, which sit in the vicinity of the Maatsuyker Group and De Witt Island.

But for now, a lunch stop was on our agenda and by 1:00pm we were starting to explore the Rocky Boat Harbour – or at least the bay in which the Rocky Boat Harbour was located. 

The weather had remained calm and it was hard to think of a more beautiful, more absolutely perfect day, on which to attempt the narrow entrance between the rocky outcrops and past the kelp-beds, in order to locate the sandy bottom in 5 metres of water, within the “harbour”.

So it was that we entered, and anchored in, Rocky Boat Harbour.  It was here that John, Isabel, Jacqui and I also donned flippers and snorkels in order to splash around in the still, green … and surprisingly warm … waters.  John found a suitable sized abalone … which he and Isabel prepared as an entrée for dinner.  (very delicious it was too – after much tenderising with the stilson wrench)

Ray stayed on “shark watch”while the rest of us went for a swim
The still green-ness of the Rocky Boat Harbour
The rocks and stones of the small harbour passed as a “beach” … an English beach.
After an hour of bliss, the ripples on the water showed evidence of the change to come
True to label Rocky Boat Harbour … it was rocky, we had a boat and it was a sort of a harbour
After a swim and some lunch it was time to go ashore

After a swim and some lunch, plus a quick zoom ashore (less than 100 metres off the back deck) it became apparent that the weather was about to change.  In fact it was changing before our eyes, with the south-west change beginning to blow harder accompanied by ripples on the water that would soon become whitecaps.

“I think it’s time to leave” … was the consensus view, with our return to Chimere soon followed by the starting of the motor, the hoisting of the dinghy onto the davits and a lifting of the side ladder.  The 20 metres of anchor chain were retrieved in quick-time and with John, Ray, Isabel and Jacqui on the boat giving directions, we quickly retraced our inward path and were motoring out of the bay.

It was less than 20 minutes after we first detected the wind change and already the seas had built, with spray covering the deck as we beat into the elements.  In the lee of Hen Island we hoisted a double reefed main, and soon after a small jib with our intention being to push up the coast and the night’s destination.

The chart plotter shows our track into and out of the Rocky Boat Harbour

In weighing up our options and desire for comfort, both at sea and also at anchor, it soon became apparent that a return to the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and the enclosed protection of Recherche Bay, would be the most prudent thing. 

The change of direction – back from where we’d come – brought instant bliss – from pounding into the wind and seas doing no more than 5 knots one minute, to a calm, stable 7-8 knots the next.  Just from steering away from the wind and setting a new course back from where we’d come.

The chart plotter shows our track out of the
D’Entrecasteaux Channel, in and out of several bays along the southwest coast, then back again to Recherche Bay for the night

Three house later, after enjoying two afternoon teas, and a romping ride before the increasing swell, we were dropping anchor in the tranquil, forested surrounds of the strangely named “The Pigsties” … in Recherche Bay.  The contrast could not have been more stark. We look forward to discovering how this little corner of the large bay got it’s name.

It was a brisk return, with the wind up our tails
Jacqui models on the foredeck as we race along before the sea and wind under heavily reefed sails
Rounding South East Cape things began to settle down

After a welcome-beer on arrival, I enjoyed a power nap, Ray did some fishing, John prepared the abalone and Isabel and Jacqui whipped up another amazing dinner involving noodles, chicken, a magic sauce and some other green bits, oh and some celery … that was delicious.

After the initial stillness, the wind arrived after less than an hour , along with a very light misty drizzle … mizzle perhaps?  The sea remains flat but the sound of the wind in the rigging is unmistakable, along with the whirr of the wind generator out back.

With the wind expected to remain from a south westerly direction over the next two days, our revised plan is to relax here tomorrow, and even explore the “French Gardens” ashore … planted in 1792 by early explorers.  I should mention that when I say French Gardens, it’s archaeological relics and low walled structure we’re talking about here … nothing to do with manicured lawns and trimmed hedges in front of an elegant palace.

For now, it’s time to sleep and “recharge the batteries”

Smooth seas, fair breeze and there and back again

Rob Latimer

Sailing away…

Sunday 24 February 2019

Mickey’s Bay, Bruny Island

It was the first morning aboard Chimere for John and Jacqui and the day just happened to dawn sunny, still and warm. 

For John it wasn’t strictly his first time on Chimere.  That was back in 2013 when he volunteered to sail as crew from Melbourne to Sydney and from there to Vanuatu as part of that year’s Medical Sailing Ministries (www.msm.org.au) mission

The “BEFORE” shot … Rob, John, Ray, Isabel and Jacqui

Given we had just hours before untying the lines, we all took advantage of the onshore marina facilities.  Ship-board life would be occupying the next 3 weeks and although Chimere offers all the comforts of home, including a hot shower, there’s still nothing quite like a land-based toilet and shower.

Our original plan was to get away as early as possible, ensuring we made it as far down the D’Entrecasteaux Channel as possible before dark; our jumping-off point to venturing around the south-west cape and heading up the rugged and exposed west coast of Tassie.  Due to the “issues” we had experienced with the autohelm, however, and the fact that a technician called Jeff had offered to drop in on Sunday – today – to give our system a “once-over”, we thought it prudent to wait a few extra hours. 

This turned out to be the right thing to do.  Not that Jeff could find anything drastically wrong with the current settings and configuration, but “to be sure” … he re-set the machine’s “memory” of exactly where the centreline of the boat was, along with full-lock to port and then back to starboard … so it would know its reference parameters.

That all sounds like I know what I’m talking about … but in reality, I rely on the buttons basically doing what they are supposed to do, and don’t venture too far off the standard menu.

Prior to this we’d waved good-bye to Murray Ogden, husband of Liz and the vital component of the whole venture, who will be spending the next week working his way north and seeing the sights.

Waving good-bye to Murray
Murray and the transport head off
John’s first night aboard … in the workroom cabin
Johnny the meerkat … poking his head out of his bunk…

After dropping Jeff back at the wharf we wasted no time in motoring out into the Derwent and then down the bay towards the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.

Around this time a pile of sandwiches appeared from the galley and after a few hours … pancakes with lashings of jam. Isabel had quite obviously been reading from the “How to Care For Your Crew” book, although I’m sure she could write her own.

We drove in close by Hobart town on the way south, and soon after were sailing past the Lady Nelson and Windward Bound – two local tall ships.

Ray checks out the day’s cruise ship in the harbour
The start of the journey with a close drive-by of Hobart town

Heading further south the weather remained amazing – sunny, calm seas and breezy – although the southerly that was supposed to be a north easterly was a bit frustrating for a time, until it decided to do the right thing and blow in from behind. The conditions allowed us to also hoist “the big one” and for a considerable period of time we were topping 7.5 and 8.0 knots. And that’s without the engine ticking over in the background

Flat seas, a steady 15 knot breeze up the tail enabled us to hoist “the big one”
Time to relax on the foredeck as the night’s anchorage gets closer

After about 6 hours of sailing and motoring we finally dropped anchor in Mickey’s Bay … where we’d anchored a week before … and the site of the bush fire a couple of days later.

Within 15 minutes of anchoring the call for dinner rang out with an amazing spread laid out, topped off with freshly baked apple crumble and ice-cream

Tomorrow we will venture further south, with the hope of making it around the bottom on account of a favourable weather forecast. How far we get, and where we stay will definitely be a case of … “depends” … so stay tuned for the next installment.

South a few miles more to Mickey’s Bay doing 8.3 knots

On that point, access to the internet will become limited as we venture further into the remote south west, so I’ll apologise now in advance for the expected break in communications

Sharing the Mickey’s Bay anchorage with friends of a friend … aboard their motor boat, Windward Passage
The sun goes to bed over the stern
Nearly gone for another day …

I’ll try and get some texts and photos out where possible and my ever-supportive son, Matt, has promised to upload whatever information he can.

Till next time

Smooth seas, fair breeze and sailing away

Rob Latimer

Early sailing experiences … Rob and friends, including flatmate and current Chimere sailing “volunteer” John Land, at university near Christchurch NZ… (1981)

Taking out friends in winter on Akaroa Harbour … 1981
Launch day of our small dinghy, 1981, Lake Forsyth, NZ
Rob in winter, running a sailing “camp” for fellow uni. students on Akaroa Harbour
John Land and Rob sailed together on Akaroa and Lytleton Harbour NZ. Here we wake up to a lovely NZ farm scene

T’was the night before …

Saturday 23 February 2019

Prince of Wales Bay Marina

Today was officially the end of Stage 1 and the beginning of Stage 2. 

Liz, Murray, Rob & Linda … the “AFTER” shot
Stage 1 was coming to an end

After a morning ambling through the Salamanca Market, in the glorious sunshine, Murray, Liz Linda and I made our way out to the airport around 1:45pm to officially wave good-bye to Linda and Liz as they made their way home to Melbourne.

Linda amid the hustle and bustle of Salamanca Market
Murray, Liz and Linda in the morning sun at Salamanca Market
Linda and Liz, primary school friends from way-back, say farewell to us as they head back to Melbourne

It was in many ways a sad farewell as we reflected on the wonderful experiences of the past three weeks, but couldn’t ignore the separation of the next three weeks as I remained behind for the journey home.

As it turned out, one of my old New Zealand university flatmates, John Land,  flew in to join us around 2:00pm, (via Melbourne) along with the final crew member Jacqui Rock.  This was a most fortunate coincidence because it meant that our Uber-Murray could drive us all four back to Chimere, via the local Bunnings of course as we needed to buy a replacement flick-mixer tap for the galley, plus a few other things … such as more duct tape!

New crew members arrive – Jacqui Rock and John Land

While we were out, Isabel and Ray made good use of their time, catching a taxi to the nearby MONA art gallery and museum, which they enjoyed greatly.

It was then a rather serious excursion to the supermarket for Isabel and Jacqui to buy a generous supply of fresh fruit and veggies – plus the essential tub of ice-cream… this IS a boat of serious sailors after all !

The final shop-up …
Everything has a home … just got to remember where it is !?
Some boaties have dogs … sea dogs … these two are often seen joined at the lead … very cute

One thing that has been a niggling issue for me has been the unreliable autohelm.  I was keen to get a technician to have a look at it, but all those who were referred to me we full up with work for another week or so.  One guy, however, said he could drop out on Sunday – tomorrow, so instead of leaving first thing, I’ve decided to stick around till 12:00 noon so as to allow him to check it out.  This will require us to leave the dock in order to fully test its functionality.

As an aside, I made contact with our boating friend Dick, who assisted us with fixing the anchor well hatch, and he straight away asked … “did it only happen in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel?” … he went on to describe that both he and his father … “often experience vagaries with our autohelm heading north and south in the channel. Dunno why, The Kettering Triangle!!”

Just catching up on some of yesterday’s activities … Linda travelled with Murray and Liz up to Mt Wellington and as you’ll see from the photos, it was a beautiful day … no cloud or rain, but a temperature of around 10 degrees and a wind that made it feel like 5.

From Mt Wellington the world is laid out below
Dinner at the Hope and Anchor
Boutique burger and chips !

There was also the “Farewell Dinner” Linda Liz, Murray and I had last night at none other than the Hope and Anchor … where we’d had a beer the day before and which claimed to be the oldest licensed pub in Australia (1807)

It’s now getting late.  John and Ray have just finished fitting the new tap (which doesn’t drip) to the galley sink.  Isabel, ably supported by Jacqui, have received the adulation of all for their delicious evening meal.  And based on Isabel’s preparation (note the pic of the book she has been reading) and provisioning, we are in for a very delicious three weeks.  As for the 8 dozen eggs ?? I trust Isabel knows what she’s doing and I’ve simply kept out of the way.  Like her sister Rosie before her, I’m sure we will all be well looked after.

How’s this for preparation … Isabel with … “Care & Feeding of Sailing Crew”
This fishing caper is about to get serious …
No more dripping tap in the galley !!

Ray has been reading a book on catching fish, we just hope the fish have done the same … but he sounds keen on giving it a serious go.  Apparently the way to catch bigger fish is to use bigger hooks, so I’m keen to give that a go !

As an introduction to the area we will be exploring … weather permitting of course … you might enjoy the brief film clip at the following link .,..   (“The Shank” is the book I have recently purchased with details of some very remote anchorage)

https://andrewwilsonphotography.com.au/video-footage-captured-while-creating-the-shank/

The mood aboard is one of anticipation as we share the first night together, as a crew, before heading off tomorrow. 

Murray, our ever-faithful ground-crew driver, is heading off tomorrow too.  His ploan is to explore his way north in order to meet the ferry at Devonport by 3 March

Smooth seas, fair breeze and T’was the night before …

Rob Latimer

A Time of Transition


Friday 22 February 2019
Thursday 21 February 2019
Wednesday 20 February 2019

Prince of Wales Bay Marina

The sailing adventures of “Stage 1” are now at an end.  Chimere has successfully transported us all the way from Melbourne to Hobart, she has been the home of many for nearly a month, exploring many of Tasmania’s wonderful bays and waterways.

While doing the laundry at the marina facilities, one of the crew members found this book amongst the pile … always something you can learn…
This fella got a bit of use from the Chimere crew
Plastic step ladder on a plastic pontoon deck makes for a slippery surface …
… good ol’ duct tape !

It was now a time of transition as we addressed a range of tasks, including maintenance, cleaning, food-buying, fare-welling old crew and welcoming the new.  There was even some time to do some site-seeing in town, in particular the Maritime Museum and the Art Gallery & Museum, not to mention a brief stop at the Hope & Anchor … a pub dating from 1807 claiming to be the oldest in Australia; which surprisingly also turned out to be a museum in its own right

Murray snapped this shot returning to the boat from airport drop-off duty Wednesday morning … it was a super-moon apparently

Because we are “between adventures”, it seems appropriate to combine the last three days, given it’s probably less interesting to most.

We had been wanting to explore the Maritime Museum for some time, but after viewing many of the exhibits which inevitably involved wrecks, disasters and rescues … plus an awful lot beyond rescue … I’m NOT sure it was such a wise thing.  Particularly given so many of the “exhibits” featured the west coast of Tasmania … the very place we would be venturing to next.

Here’s something good about the good ol’ days … no need for silly study and wasting time at school … here’s a story about a young lad in 1838 who gave up his violin studies in Paris to become a Ships Surgeon aboard the Henry … his qualifications no doubt being that he could read and was breathing when he applied for the job. No need for Professional Indemnity either … just settle disputes by means of a duel!

One thing we have, that the early explorers and pioneers didn’t have, is of course better weather forecasting, and as far as we can tell the outlook for early next week appears calm and settled. Perfect for exploring the many remote bays and coves of the South West.

Having parked directly across the road from a pub that claimed to be our oldest hotel, we felt it would be un-Australian NOT to go inside for a quiet ale.

To quote Joni Mitchell … “They put up a parking lot …” but at least in this case the quaint old establishments at the front were retained … the one on the corner claiming to be the oldest pub in Australia – 1807
Oldest licensed pub in Australia … 1807
Not just a pub, but upstairs it was very much a museum with very much a hunting and killing theme
Murray sums up his choice of weapon, upstairs at the oldest pub in Australia …

Organising food was another one of those big tasks – making an inventory of what we already have, assessing the eating requirements of the next 3 weeks and then compiling a suitable list to make an assault on the local supermarket. 

The great thing about Isabel and Ray coming in three days early was that Linda could assist with the changeover, with Isabel, like her sister Rosie before her, assuming command of the galley in a highly proficient and experience manner.

Ray Jones and Isabel Whyte enjoy their first morning coffee aboard Chimere at the Price of Wales Bay Marina with Mt Wellington behind
The freezer is always a tricky thing to access, as well as defrost …
Linda and Isabel take charge of the galley … “Does my bum look big in this freezer …?”
… “That’s a trick question isn’t it …?”

Smooth seas, fair breeze and A Time of Transition

Rob Latimer

Seagulls
Coming from Melbourne I’m familiar with seagulls, or Silver Gulls as they are more correctly known. I’ve also seen enough Pacific Gulls in my time making the occasional squawk. So what are these birds that make a sound like an episode of Doc Martin, or Poldark. Or like a “Seagull Clip-audio” sound bite

As I hear them calling from the roof of the big shed nearby I also think back to walking along the seaside at Brighton Beach in southern England … yet here they are alive and flying around here in Tasmania.

A quick web-search revealed them to be Kelp Gulls, which are very much at home here … have a listen here …

https://download.ams.birds.cornell.edu/api/v1/asset/535332