Tall Ships in the Mist

Thursday 7 February 2019

Prince of Wales Bay Marina (Hobart)

Many months of planning and ten days of sailing, had got us to this point.  The day we would finally sail into Hobart. 

It was 41 years, almost to the day, that I had last sailed into Hobart.  Back in 1978 it was as an 18-year-old, bullet proof lad, aboard the family yacht, a Compass 29, with my brother Andrew and father Bill.  At that time it was my father’s retirement that marked the voyage, which was to see us on the water for 3 months, learning as we go, and finally putting the theory of cruising into practice. This time it was my OWN retirement last July, that was the reason for this voyage … hence the name “Freedom Sail”

The earlier trip, in 1978, was to be a formative time, wedged as it was between the end of my high school and the start of university. The lessons learnt at that time and the survival of several “near-death experiences” in Bass Strait, were memories and experiences that would last a lifetime.

Ships in the mist … our view over the stern on the morning of 7/2/19 in Stinking Bay, near Port Arthur … Soren Larson (who had moved from her earlier anchorage off Port Arthur), the Bark Endeavour and the James Craig
The Endeavour and James Craig – ships in the mist

Rain on the deck and the cabin hatches, for most of the night, was a comfortable backdrop to a good night’s sleep, with our plan to once again be away by 6:00am

As the day’s light returned, mist and passing drizzle hung on the water, with the view over the stern being something from a different time.

As the photo shows, we now had three tall ships anchored just off our stern.  The Endeavour and James Craig from the night before PLUS the Soren Larson, closer to our stern, who had thought better of their earlier anchorage and re-located the short distance to Stinking Bay.

As we prepared to up-anchor, Soren Larson, (having already stowed her pick), bore away to starboard showing us a peaceful broadside as she circled out of the bay ahead of us.  Once more it was a grand sight as she disappeared south into the grey mist.

All wet from the overnight rain as we pass the James Craig at anchor
James Craig at anchor … and people think Chimere has a lot of lines !

Our outward track took us past the Endeavour and  the James Craig and it was here that we turned up into the wind to hoist the (double reefed) mainsail, before setting our course south and rolling out the jib; at least part of the jib.

The wind remained from the north east, pushing us down the bay towards Cape Raoul which we rounded in no time.  Once more it was very “brisk” sailing, snug and sheltered inside our enclosed cockpit, but full of wind gusts and a pretty constant 25-30 knots as we then made our way up the aptly named Storm Bay; the entrance to Hobart.   

Cape Raoul in the mist
Cape Raoul at the entrance to Storm Bay
Wind gusts off Cape Raoul – looking more like Cape Horn – were regular occurrences
Some waves created walls of water down the lower side that required a lifting of the feet to avoid getting wet. On this occasion Linda mis-timed, with her focus on taking the photo, with the water ending up over her socks

Linda kept her camera at the ready to record each dose of green water down the lee side.
Linda keeps warm and dry
Dressed for the conditions – a regular fashion statement
Linda and Bill
Alistair

We soon over-ran the Soren Larson, leaving her to our port side at a distance of around half a mile, as we both charged up Storm Bay.   With around 10 miles to Hobart we then spied another tall ship in the distance, off our starboard bow, which the chart plotter confirmed to be the South Australian vessel, One & All.   She was going our way, heading north, but after a while she did a 180 degree turn and started heading our way, at a great rate of knots, literally.    

We quickly surmised that she was taking day trippers out for a spin, heading there and back in full sail –  she made a splendid sight.    As our paths crossed, at a distance of around 1-2 miles I again hoisted our small staysail as a sign of respect and for visual effect. We may only have three sails to hoist, but going from two sails to three sails is, after all, a 50% increase!

Soren Larson from our snug cockpit
Soren Larson was left in our wake as we made our way up Storm Bay
Soren Larsen in the Storm Bay swell off the port side

One & All, Soren Larsen and James Craig appear on our chart plotter – plus us of course, as we make our way up Storm Bay
Linda in the galley

Then, all of a sudden, as Storm Bay morphed into the Derwent River, the wind died right off and the sun came out, which soon had us peeling off our rain jackets and jumpers.  Around this time we pulled in the two headsails, turned on the motor and set a course for Hobart, the bridge and our marina destination beyond.

Getting stir-crazy in the cockpit, Linda plays with her food. Alistair poked his chocolate biscuits somewhere else but in the interests of his reputation (and good taste) the photo has not been included here …?!
Rosie, Bill, Linda and Alistair snug and warm in the cockpit and even checking emails on their iPhones

“This is where the Sydney Hobart Race is often won or lost”, said Bill, continuing, “A yacht might charge around Tasman Island, Cape Raoul and into Storm Bay, only to hit a brick wall with no wind in the Derwent”

The Iron Pot, at the entrance to the Derwent River . A light was first installed on the small 1 acre island in 1932. According to http://www.lighthouses.org.au the Iron Pot is …”the oldest original tower in Australia and the first lighthouse in Australia to utilise a locally manufactured optical apparatus. It is also believed to be the first lighthouse to be converted to solar power in Australia.”

Any resemblance we might have to a racing yacht is purely coincidental but the dramatic change in wind conditions was clearly in evidence.  Unlike a racing yacht, however, we could simply turn our motor on when things went quiet in the wind department.

After a grey and windy start to the day, the sun came out as we worked our way up the Derwent towards the Prince of Wales Bay Marina

Our course took us close-by the Hobart wharf, and it was clear things were starting to ramp up for the next four days of Wooden Boat Festival – expected to attract more than 200,000 visitors to the town.  Which isn’t bad given the city itself has a population of little more than that.

The Hobart waterfront complete with visiting Navy ship (HMAS Choules) … the same Australian Navy ship we have seen in Vanuatu doing humanitarian work in response to Cyclone Pam and the Ambae volcano
We moved aside to let the big ship pass under the Tasman bridge

Lining up the passage under the Tasman Bridge
No problem with height !
The Tasman Bridge. It’s hard to imaging the tragic effect of a large ship hitting the bridge and bringing down two support pylons, along with the connecting bridge-deck back in 1975.

Heading up under the Tasman Bridge, the wind suddenly picked up to something short of a gale on the nose, as we were passed by a large ship with a tug boat escort. 

For those old enough to remember, this was the bridge hit by the 7,000-ton bulk carrier, the SS Lake Illawarra, on the 5 January 1975 (just a few days after Cyclone Tracy had destroyed Darwin).  The accident brought down two support pylons and 120 metres of the four-lane bridge-deck, killing 12 people; five from driving off the gap opened up by the fallen spans and seven on the ship after it sank with the force of the fallen bridge debris.  Consequently, all big ships now travelling under the bridge receive a tug escort, AND all traffic travelling over the bridge is stopped for the duration

These two cars teetered on the edge, their occupants able to get out and warn other approaching vehicles
A devastating sight from 1975
Frank and Sylvia Manley’s Sunday drive in their V8 Holden Monaro ended here back on 5 January 1975
Forty years on … “Frank and Sylvia Manley and the green Monaro, which teetered on the edge of the broken Tasman Bridge” https://www.examiner.com.au/story/2799455/monaro-that-teetered-on-the-edge-of-the-abyss/
Chimere’s tough and rugged appearance, some say “industrial”, certainly had the effect of lowering the value of the neighbourhood

Not only were Liz and Murray at the Prince of Wales Bay Marina to meet us, but with a similar passion for all things boating, my brother Andrew was also in town for the Wooden Boat Festival and had taken time out to meet us at the dock, kindly sending me a plan of the marina berthing layout beforehand and suggestions for the approach to our berth.

After phoning ahead, the marina manager, David, was also on the dock to meet us and to grab our lines.  And despite the cross-wind, the tight, narrow berth and the presence of a multi-million-dollar motor yacht as our immediate neighbour, we made a near-perfect landing, first time; much to the relief of all.  I sensed the relief was particularly felt by one of the five paid crew on the next-door boats, whom I saw out of the corner of my eye running around with a very large fender, looking well-prepared to throw himself between the two boats as a last resort, if I strayed too far off my approach centre-line.

Thurs 7 Feb 2019, The “after” shot, Alistair, Bill, Rob & Rosie … are they pearls your wearing Rosie?
TWO WEEKS EARLIER … Just as a reminder … Sun 27 Jan 2019, The “before” shot, Bill Alistair, Rosie and Rob

After an hour or so of tidying up, including the formalities at the marina office, we made our way into the city and Constitution Dock to soak up the atmosphere, gawk at the boats and generally wander around.  The weather now turning surprisingly balmy with a gentle breeze from the north.

Dinner of fish and chips was had at the iconic Mures Restaurant, on the waterfront and with the kind assistance of Andrew and his hire car – plus Murray and Liz as our land-based team – we returned “home” to Chimere after what can only be described as a BIG DAY.

Sleep came very easily as we reflected on a mission accomplished – SO FAR !

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Tall Ships in the Mist

Rob Latimer 

Rounding Tasman Island


Wednesday 6 February 2019

Stinking Bay (Near Port Arthur)

Conditions were brisk, but mercifully from behind for most of the day’s voyage

The day dawned a Wednesday.  The task before us, today and tomorrow, being to cover the 115 miles south around Tasman Island and Cape Raoul and then north-west up Storm Bay to Hobart.  Not actually Hobart itself, but a further 10 miles beyond that, up the Derwent River to the Prince of Wales Bay Marina; where we had booked a berth. So a total of around 125 miles.

The wind was forecast to remain from the north-east for the next couple of days at around 25 knots, which mercifully, was favourable for the different courses we would be travelling, initially south, then north-west. It was certainly better than a howling southerly, south-wester or northerly … to be sure !

Our two day task was to make it from Coles Bay down around Tasman Peninsular (and Tasman Island) and up past Hobart to the Prince of Wales Bay Marina, with an overnight stopover near Port Arthur

Rather than cover the required distance in one, macho, overnight slog, we planned to break it up a bit.  Stopping overnight at a suitable anchorage down south after covering the bulk of the miles on the first day – today.

As a result it would be an early start – up at 5:30, away by 6:00 – and we tentatively planned an overnight stop at Port Arthur, a distance of around 75 miles, which we figured we could cover in around 10-12 hours given the conditions.  We chose Port Arthur, partly for its historic value and partly because there were several anchorages on both sides of the inlet, depending on the wind direction.   

As the morning light slowly began to reveal the day and the kettle on the stove came close to the boil, we sleepily turned on the nav lights, started the motor and set about lifting the anchor … some say “weigh” the anchor, but as I might have already said, we know it’s about 45 kilos, so that wasn’t necessary…

Looking south to the “tall ship” anchorage on Schouten Island we could just make out the nav lights – red, green and white – of another vessel, which we soon confirmed to be the James Craig.  As for the Endeavour, she was no where to be seen, up-anchored in the night presumably, with the shared objective of making it to the Wooden Boat Festival by Friday.  Being so much slower that other boats, we could well understand why the Endeavour might have left before everyone else. 

Morning light shining from the east over the port beam through the Schouten Passage

The anchor stowed, we soon had our sails hoisted and were heading south, inside Schouten Island and on a converging course with the James Craig; who was rightly setting a course further out in deeper water.

The warmth of the morning sun was slow to be felt

“Where do you think she’ll be anchoring tonight?”, we inquired out loud … “and what about the Endeavour?” … With the aid of www.marinetraffic.com, or our chart plotter, we might have been able to answer the questions, but for now we were happy to simply speculate. 

Bill looking all the part like an Orthodox priest (without the cross) very much at home in the cockpit
Pancakes anyone …. am I hearing correctly?!
Rosie in command of the galley
“So what do ya call these darl?” … “Their just rissoles” … “Oh, but it what ya do to em”

Clear of Schouten Island, our speed picked up to around 7-8 knots before the following sea, with the wind off our stern quarter.  Pretty soon our path crossed the James Craig’s and it was clear we would soon be leaving her in our wake.

The southern end of Schouten Island starts to fall astern
Bill sporting summer-time wear at sea in Tasmania’s southern waters ?!
Alistair and Linda snoozing in the sheltered cockpit as we sail south

Breakfast complete and our southerly course set, I went back to bed, leaving Alistair and Bill in the cockpit to guard the fort, and ensure things remained in order; all the while the James Craig – a grand sight – fell further and further behind.

The partly dressed James Craig falls behind – arr, a grand sight

After a few hours snoozing, I returned to the cockpit to discover we were well south of Maria Island with our sights set on rounding Tasman Island, which was just visible way to the south.

Before leaving Coles Bay, we were warned by a fellow yachtie on the dock, that if you have 20 knots of wind from the north-east on “this side” of the Tasman Peninsular, then it’ll be 40 knots on the other side; as you make the approach to Storm Bay south of Hobart.    As it turned out, this proved to be pretty accurate !

As we closed the coast again, the dramatic cliffs and rock formations of the Tasman Peninsular and Tasman Island were all that we had imagined – dramatic, stunning and awe inspiring.  We came as close as was prudent, but probably NOT as close as those who do battle each year in the Sydney-Hobart race.

May not be 50, but there are certainly a lot of shades of grey out on the water

The photo below gives some idea of what we saw.

The organ pipe rock formations off the southern tip of Tasman Peninsular. Pretty soon we will be steering to the right and heading up the coast to Port Arthur, with wind “bullets” blasting down from the cliffs at regular intervals and hitting us on the starboard side
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasman_Island
https://lighthouses.org.au/tas/tasman-island-lighthouse/

Rounding Tasman Island we altered course from roughly south-west to nor-nor-west, with the wind now further on the nose, but not enough to cause a concern.  What was of concern were the boisterous gusts of wind coming down from the high cliffs on our starboard side, clearly visible on the sea as they advanced upon us at regular intervals.

Pretty soon we had instituted a “gust-watch”, so as to pre-warn the helmsman, and everyone else for that matter, that we were about to be healing over a little more than normal.  All the while we raced along at around 8 knots with a double reefed mainsail and small jib; plus a small staysail mostly hoisted for visual effect, given the tall ships in the neighbourhood.  Our three small sails were no match for the 8 or more set by the bigger ships, but it’s the thought that counts !?

Our own “tall ship”, Chimere, dressed with double-reefed main and two head-sails; a small jib and an even smaller staysail

The wind continued to blow hard as we passed the historic settlement of Port Arthur, clearly visible off or port side as a collection of iconic and very old sandstone buildings.  Also visible in the direction of Port Arthur was the tall ship Soren Larson, anchored in a not-so-good spot given the north easterly wind that blew on-shore from across the bay.  We continued another mile or so, as all the while the wooded shorelines began to close in on each side and the wind speed lessened on account of the increasing shelter. 

So it was that we came to anchor in Stinking Bay.   I’d imagine, NOT most people’s first choice, sight unseen, given a list of anchorage names and possible options.  But Stinking Bay it was, and whilst my sense of smell is rather non-existent, Linda, on the other hand, whose many super-powers include the smelling sense of a beagle, thought it did have a slight pong on account of the seaweed; which naturally found it’s way here at the head of the bay 

And who else might be anchored here in the bay … the Bark Endeavour !  Great minds think alike.  And about an hour later who should drop anchor a short distance behind the Endeavour but the James Craig. It was a grand sight to be sure.

Robert and Linda with the anchor down in Stinking Bay, (near Port Arthur) … “can you smell something?” … “it wasn’t me”

Soon after a small wooden sailing boat, all the way from Port Albert in Victoria, turned up and that was it, just us and the tall ships surrounded by forest to the water’s edge on three sides, anchored a short distance off a beautiful sandy beach. 

It was fun to pay a visit to the Endeavour, anchored off our stern … “There’s room in my hammock for the blue-eyed man” … called a woman wearing what looked like a tea cosy …

In the hour or so of remaining light we launched the small dinghy off the stern, and before going ashore we motored off to say hello to the Endeavour.  We were obviously a source of interest, if the heads peering over the handrail was anything to go by as we exchanged greetings and answered each other’s questions. 

“There’s room in my hammock for the blue-eyed man in your dinghy” … called a “mature lady” on the Endeavour wearing a hat that looked like tea cosy.  Quite obviously a “character” … perhaps performing in-character for us, but then perhaps not.  “But the Royal Navy hammocks were only 40 inches wide”, I called back … “Still plenty of room for him”, came the reply, as she pointed down to our bearded Bill in the bow of the dinghy.

Taking our leave, with Bill still firmly secured in our dinghy we explored ashore, before returning to Chimere for dinner and a good night’s sleep.  Around this time, it started pouring with rain, causing us to bring in the washing from the line around the base of the mast and close all the deck hatches.  

Talk about serenity … Stinking Bay
The view from the beach at Stinking Bay, with Chimere in the foreground and the Endeavour and James Craig behind.
Talk about tall ships … we’re much taller …
Another view from the beach at Stinking Bay
The chart plotter says it all … SOREN lARSEN, SV JAMES CRAIG & HMB ENDEAVOUR … with the little black symbol of a boat further up the bay being Chimere

Tomorrow we would finally be making it into Hobart, that was the good news.  The sad news is that we would soon be saying good-bye to Alistair, Rosie and Bill

Smooth seas, fair breeze and rounding Tasman Island

Rob Latimer

Drop-off at Coles Bay

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Bryan’s Corner  (Southern corner)

In keeping with our carefully prepared sailing plan, today’s main task was to return Murray, Liz and Linda – the land-based team – to the car at Coles Bay for them to meet us again on Thursday in Hobart, where we will be taking a temporary berth at the Prince of Wales Marina.

Murray takes his turn at the wheel to give the Autohelm, affectionately known as “Otto” (as in … “Otto-helm”), a break.

Fortunately the wind was still blowing from the south, as reflected in a top temperature on the water of little more than 14 degrees – and this is summer!  As a result, the sail north to Coles Bay would be a smooth and speedy affair with the breeze up our tail.

Alistair always faithful at the wheel

As it turned out, Linda was enjoying the experience so much – partly due to having a wonderful (newly built) princess-bed in the cockpit and partly due to having great company in the form of Rosie (and her husband too?) – and as a result she decided to remain aboard for the next couple of day’s sail; around to Hobart.

Linda was enjoying herself so much she decided to stay aboard all the way to Hobart
Liz, Rosie and Linda soak up the fun on the foredeck. Note the “summer” wear.
So effortless and eco-friendly. With no harpoons, this was definitely a Dolphin-Friendly voyage
Dolphins were a regular sight, usually hard to film, they gave the appearance of simply playing with us and each other before the bow

I can’t say that this was all part of my master plan, but regardless, it made me very happy to have Linda sharing the experience with me and soaking up this magical experience.

The sail north to Coles Bay was predictably fast, with the wind moving more to the east, and therefore on the starboard beam.  Half way up the coast of Schouten Island, however, we spied a wonderful sight on the horizon just off the starboard bow.

The temperature can’t have topped 14 degrees – and this is summer – I’m guessing it’s a bit colder in winter
Rosie looks to the horizon to see the tall ships
Rob checks out the tall ships at anchor as we alter course to go over and gawk
Alistair confirms the identity of the tall ships on the chart plotter’s vessel identification system (AIS)

“That looks like the Bark Endeavour” I exclaimed, the familiar bulk of the hull and the dark mass of the ropey-rigging, supported by three masts rekindling past images in my mind of the famous vessel.  A quick spy through the binoculars showed the shape to indeed be a tall ship, with the chart plotter revealing it’s AIS (Automatic Identification System) details to be the one-and-only HMB Endeavour (HMB=His/Her Majesties Bark) – the replica at least    

Rob takes a photo of Rosie, Bill, Linda, Liz, Alistair and Murray with the iconic
HMB Endeavour in the background … out in her natural habitat

This was too good an opportunity to pass up.  Alter course to starboard !! came the cry.  We were going over for a closer look, otherwise known as a gawk

Rob and Linda take advantage of the HMB Endeavour photo opp.

As we closed in on Crockett Bay at the northern end of Schouten Island Alistair made the observation that there looked like there was another tall ship anchored nearby; it’s dark coloured hull camouflaged against the forest of trees on the shore behind.

From any angle the Endeavour evokes so much history, discovery and achievement
Passing the Endeavoir, we sail on to the James Craig before anchoring for lunch in Crockett’s Bay at Schouten Island

Sure enough, looking again at the chart plotter confirmed a second AIS symbol in the bay with details of the 229 foot long vessel SV James Craig  (SV=Sailing Vessel) anchored a short distance away.  Double prizes !! 

Taking decades and over 30 million dollars to restore, the James Craig is a living, working example of a maritime past that helped build our great nation

As the photos show, we passed the Endeavour and James Craig at a close, but respectful distance, then moved closer into the small bay, dropping anchor in about 5 metres of water for lunch. All the while admiring the surroundings and marvelling at the small chance of stumbling across these two beautiful ships, together, out in their natural habitat.

And then out of the blue the Young Endeavour sails past with welcome gun-blasts fired. Maybe Chimere needs a cannon ?!

Then, as if two tall ships weren’t enough, we heard another vessel communicating on the VHF radio with the James Craig with the intention of doing a close sail-past – it was the sail training ship the Young Endeavour.

Rosie knocks out another gem from the galley … “I know what to do with those carrots … make a cake”
Rosie prepares dinner !

After an hour or so it was time to head north once more to Coles Bay where we picked up a mooring in the bay and set about transferring Liz ad Murray, plus their gear, over to the public jetty.

Liz and Murray say farewell at Coles Bay and will join us again in Hobart at the Prince of Wales Bay Marina
Tide’s out at Coles Bay … view from the dinghy.

There was time enough for a small amount of shopping and after little more than an hour we were away again, this time back south to find an anchorage for the night

Watching a movie in the saloon while eating dinner

Having shifted more to the east, the wind was largely off our port side as we travelled south again, with the anchor finally dropped in the late afternoon at the southern end of Bryan’s Corner; little more than a mile from Passage Bay, where we’d stayed just a few days earlier. 

Yep, no question, definitely the Bark Endeavour

In the distance we could still see the Endeavor and James Craig at anchor across the Schouten Passage at Crockets Bay and we speculated as to when they might up-anchor, in order to reach Hobart in time for the Wooden Boat Festival in two days’ time.

Our chart plotter reveals our many tracks north, south, here, there and around
Our last stop on the Freycinet Peninsular, at the southern end of Bryan’s Corner

With the evening routine of dinner and the viewing of a movie in the saloon complete, it was off to bed. The next day would see us up at 5:30am and away by 6:00am as we continued our journey to Hobart.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and drop off at Coles Bay

Rob Latimer

Rest, Relaxation & Repair


Monday 4 February 2019

Shoal Bay, Maria Island

Overnight our anchorage in Shoal Bay, Maria Island, remained calm in the extreme, despite the steady south east wind.  Little wonder so many other vessels had made the same choice.

Morning saw a few yachts up-anchor and depart, but for us, this would be a day of adventuring ashore – rest and relaxation (and repair)  and so we would be staying put.

The dinghy was launched off the stern and after a late breakfast and some maintenance on a water tank and a few other things, the first group headed ashore – me, Linda, Rosie, Liz and Murray. 

Soon enough, I was back for Bill and Alistair and we all then followed the well-worn and very short track across the narrow, long sand dune that separates the north and south ends of Maria Island.

Bill strikes a lonely pose walking the short distance from the ocean side to the sheltered side of the Maria Island Isthmus
It was just a short walk from the Shoal Bay anchorage on Maria Island across to the main surf beach

Despite the coolish wind we instantly noticed that on land the temperature rose immediately as the sun radiated off the sand.

Apart from walk an hour along the surf beach, then an hour back again, there really isn’t much to report here.  It was just a time to soak in the rugged, isolated beauty of the place.  There were lots of animal tracks in the sand – wallabies, birds of all types, and some other small mammal, the source of much speculation – Tassie Devil, Quoll, Koala … Thylacine??    plus the usual selection of drift wood, shells and beach-debris.   

Liz and Murray soak in the remote wilderness

Some shells had a very neat, small hole drilled into them, making them ideal for threading onto a string.  The source of the hole remained a mystery until Linda suggested it was a predator of some sort.

Despite the fact that fish of all description abound in these parts – according to almost everyone we have met – our skills and enthusiasm in this area could best be described as “disappointing”.  We sometimes troll a line out the back, in search of those particularly dumb, hungry, big and impulsive fish … but so far to no avail.  As for the tasty flathead, whiting, snapper and the like, not to mention crayfish, I suspect you need proper bait and correctly configured rigs, placed in the right spot at the right turn of the tide … all things that have so far eluded us.  Probably what we really need is a crew member whose super-power is catching fish … a bit like our Rosie in the galley … but with fishing gear.

Linda plays a trick with a panoramic shot by appearing twice
The Hairy Bill Turtle comes ashore at Maria Island
Beached as, bro …
Hiding places for birds and small animals
After time at sea any rest can turn into a sleep
Lots of tracks had us guessing

In the afternoon the relaxed tone continued … with much sleeping, talking, listening, eating and laughing – no fishing.

As the night closed in one of the annoying things it must be said, were the mosquitoes.  These were industrial-strength beasts who’d obviously managed to find their way out across the sea to us, despite the wind and considerable distance.   

Bill the fixer, this time it’s one of the water tanks

One other thing to mention, particularly for those over 5 feet 10 inches tall is the height of the ceiling aboard.  Technically, we have 6 feet headroom, but in practice it’s necessary for some of us to adopt a permanent stoop as we make our way around.  Newcomers eventually develop this Chimere-stoop, but only by accident.  And it’s generally the head that pays the price, as evidenced in the photos.

Murray shows off his latest bumps
Alistair’s head is learning to stoop when going through doorways

Having mentioned the challenging headroom – for some – I should mention a few of the GREAT things about Chimere.  In particular the fact that we have five separate cabins, albeit small, for sleeping, storing our personal gear and generally getting away from everything when necessary.  There’s also a large saloon for communal dinners and movie watching, which also passes as a galley, study and with a few small modifications, a bedroom.

Chimere’s internal layout

Out in the cockpit there’s the wonderful, fully enclosed space surrounding the wheel, which I suppose could be called a wheelhouse, where upwards of 8 people can gather and shelter and where Linda makes her, very comfortable, nest at the end of the day.  Stepping aft of this is a very useful back porch platform, ladder down to the water and davits, which enable the small dinghy to be lifted and stowed out of the way and be ready for quick deployment.

After 2 days at anchor in Shoal Bay our path back and forth makes for an interesting diagram

The end of the day was greeted with another extremely tasty Rosie-dinner, chicken curry, followed by apple pie and ice-cream (yes you read correctly, ice-cream).

Watching a movie in the saloon while enjoying one of Rosie’s culinary creations

Smooth seas, fair breeze plus rest, relaxation & repair

Rob Latimer

Wonderful Wineglass Bay

Sunday 3 February 2019

Shoal Bay, Maria Island

After an overnight stop at Passage Bay, it was then on to Wineglass Bay, before heading south to Shoal Bay at Maria Island

Passage Bay turned out to be the perfect place to stop and as the sun rose to a new day, it was clear that the northerly wind had abated and that the seas “outside” might well have died down

As a result a new plan was hatched by consensus … travel first up the coast (into the elements) to Wineglass Bay for morning tea, and then head south to Maria Island (with the wind)  before the predicted 180 degree wind shift in the afternoon.

By seven o’clock we were away, along with a few other boats that could be seen out on the water, the heavy dew of the night covering the deck

Anchoring … it’s sometimes considered a Dark Art … 50% good judgement, 50% equipment and the rest just plain good luck … but the process of anchoring and up-anchoring has become a rather solid routine onboard Chimere.  Involving issues of shelter, depth, sea bottom, location of other vessels, potential to swing with wind and tide, potential exit strategies, weather forecast, deploying springy “snubbers” on the chain to absorb the forceful pull of the steel chain on a steel winch and the ever present down-wind consequences in the event of dragging (ie “the exit strategy”) 

In the event of emergency your highly skilled and experienced crew, Rob, Bill and Al, are here to assist you …

In pulling UP the anchor it’s important to ensure the chain is retrieved as “loose” as possible, with hand signals to Alistair on the helm to drive forward, that-way, this-way, stop or reverse, in order to reflect the lay of the chain.  Up on the bow, I use a control switch on an extended cable to drive the anchor winch, enabling me to look over the bow to view the chain.  Bright yellow dobs of paint on the chain indicate how much chain is still to come, with Bill down in the anchor well, armed only with a short stick, spreading (flaking) the fast-returning chain, to each corner of the hold.  This ensures it doesn’t pile up under the chain-pipe, thereby stopping more chain falling into the well.

If resistance is felt on the chain in the course of the process, (eg if the anchor has dug in quite deeply) then a chain-hook (attached to a strong rope) is quickly slipped onto a link in the chain and cleated off.  This immediately takes the pressure off the winch, transferring it instead to the rope.  Loose toes and feet must of course be keep clear at all times !

As a rule of thumb, we generally deploy around 5-7 metres of chain for every metre-depth of water, but sometimes more, bearing in mind that whilst the anchor needs to dig in, it’s the (hopefully horizontal) pull of the chain along the sea floor that provides most of the holding-power.  In all, we have about 120 metres of 13mm chain, weighing 500kg, plus a rather big Rocna anchor weighing 45kg.  The boat weighs approximately 30,000kg, so you can see, it’s certainly NOT the weight of the anchor and chain that keeps us in one place.

It’s a rather labour intensive process but one that’s important to get right every time – if you want to sleep well at night..

The dolphins just seem to be playing …
The wind was brisk at times, enabling us to top 8 knots
Sea mist cleared in Wineglass Bay to reveal a spectacular scene

As the morning progressed, the wind picked up, as did the sea conditions, but the blue sky and sparkling sea made up for any sense of apprehension.  Adding to the joy of the moment was the arrival of dozens of dolphins, big and small, who playfully entertained us at the bow for much of the way.

The ladies lounge …

Sea mist began clearing as we entered Wineglass Bay, just as Rosie’s latest batch of delicious scones came out of the oven … how does she do that.

More scones …

Our sudden arrival drew considerable interest from the group of campers onshore; all loaded up with their packs, presumably ready for the walk out … poor things ?!

Kind of speaks for itself

After first-morning-tea we launched the dinghy off the back davits and made our way ashore in two trips, all the while soaking in the magnificent surroundings … the photos kind of tell it all.

Wineglass Bay at it’s best
Alistair climbed the nearby hill for a better view
You’ve heard of Elephant Rock … here on the beach was Dog Log

Bill felt emboldened enough to strip down to his jocks with every intention of going for a swim, and I’m sure if the water had another 5 degrees on it, he might have succeeded, but on balance it was roughly a 40% swim, based on waterline.

After a couple of hours serenity-soaking, we once more up-anchored and headed out to sea for the voyage  south to Maria Island; a distance of around 35 miles.  How long it would take of course depended largely on the speed we could achieve … at 6 knots it would take around 5.8 hours, 7 knots exactly 5 hours and so on.

Alistair at the helm
“Come on now … be a tiger, work the lense … give us a smile … “

In the end the wind was mostly favourable with some exciting moments requiring reefing of both mainsail and jib as the wind picked up from the south east.  Our speed topped 8 knots at times, with Rosie, Linda, and Liz enjoying their time up on the foredeck looking out for the return of the dolphins and laughing at the occasional burst of spray.

The wind from the easterly quarter was accompanied by thick sea fog which brought with it such moisture in the air that it dripped from the awning, fogged up our glasses and accumulated in beads on the metal surfaces.  This necessitated us to turn on the radar, with Bill standing in the bow, dressed like Mawson, with a fog horn in his hand in the event of a close encounter.  The fog really was thick !! 

Then up goes the cry … “BOAT TO PORT !!” ….  And as we began studying the radar once more and planning possible evasive action strategies, it was followed up (slightly more sheepishly) with … “Oh, sorry, it’s a bird on the water”.  An easy mistake in such conditions?!

Bill on fog-watch … “A boat … no, sorry, it’s a bird”
Hard to know where the sea ended and the sky began

Our anchorage in Shoal Bay, Maria Island was finally reached down Mercury Passage, where the wind seemed to funnel onto the nose.  The calm seas, however, enabled us to maintain our speed and at around 6pm we dropped anchor in 4 metres of water, about 400 metres from the beach.

Lots of other boats had a similar idea, but it is a big bay, enabling everyone to kept a respectful distance.

Mist cleared and Bill was given time off for good behaviour
The easterly wind brought moisture that built up on many surfaces

Distance covered for the day was a respectful 50 miles and with tomorrow declared a relaxation day, the evening routine seemed even more laid back than usual.  Linda revealed her two loaves of fresh bread, baked on the way down, which could not be resisted … resulting in everyone enjoying second-afternoon-tea, or first-dinner, depending on your perspective.

Inside and the return of good communications is evidenced by the appearance of everyone’s SmartPhones

Down below, the stillness of the boat was disconcerting, giving the impression that we were either stuck in mud, or in a marina, with there being minimal evidence of any movement.  There was much chatting, story-telling and laughter as Rosie prepared a late dinner of chicken and mushroom risotto – naturally delayed due to late afternoon tea of bread

In-flight entertainment included a screening of the film, The Dish, as the wind kept up a steady blow outside.

All the beds made up it was not long before heads hit pillows and it was lights out till morning

Smooth seas, fair breeze and wonderful Wineglass Bay

Rob Latimer

Retreat to Passage Bay

Saturday 2 February 2019

Passage Bay

Once more the sun’s rays lit up the craggy cliffs overlooking the bay, this time from the east, as the morning light signaled the start of a glorious new day.

The pancakes were eaten as quick as Rosie could make them

And how much more glorious can it be than when plate after plate of perfectly cooked pancakes get passed up into the cockpit by Rosie.  As soon as they were cooked, they were appreciatively knocked back by Alistair, Bill and me.

Communications were improving, as we got closer to towns and built-up areas,  so there were lots of texts, emails and social networking to attend to… as you do.

It was then away by 7:00am before a 20kt northerly, south towards the tip of the Freycinet Peninsular and the Schouten Passage… the narrow stretch of water that separates the mainland from Schouten island 

Making good time from Wineglass Bay to Coles Bay
Approach to Coles Bay doing 5 knots into a strong northerly wind

Once through Schouten Passage we headed north, now INTO the northerly wind, with Chimere’s clean propeller and hull enabled her to overcome at a rate of 5 knots; despite the conditions

Our primary task of course was to pick up our three land-based team members in Coles Bay and in theory, the easiest way to do this would be to tie up alongside a jetty, pass everything over the handrail, park the car nearby, then step aboard for a smooth and trouble-free exit.

Alternatively, we could drop anchor out in the bay, then use the dinghy to ferry everyone, plus their gear, from shore.

In the end, I chose the “tie-up-alongside-the-jetty” option, but words like, smooth and trouble-free, in all honesty, couldn’t be used to describe the experience.     

In my defence, the shallowness of the water, the close confines of the harbour and the strong northerly that blew onto the public facility, could be submitted as mitigating circumstances. In aviation terminology, any landing you can walk away from is seen as a success. And whilst our arrival and departure from the Coles Bay jetty could be improved upon, in the end no one was injured and Bill was later able to partly straighten the bent stanchion on the starboard side.

Pick-up from Coles Bay – being able to easily pass bags, supplies and people across from the wharf was a distinct benefit, even if the strong wind and conditions acted against us getting in and out easily.
Rob, Rosie, Alistair and Bill celebrate their arrival at Coles Bay
Murray parks the car before stepping aboard Chimere for a few days of exploring

All aboard, and finally clear of the jetty, it was off again.  South, this time with the wind back on our stern with lunch prepared and eaten as we sailed on in glorious sunshine; Chimere stable as a putting green

Liz assumes pole position at the bow – the land team now joining us for a few days of adventure afloat

Reaching the tip of the Freycinet Peninsular in less than two hours, with the hope of making it back around to Wineglass Bay, we briefly poked our way through Schouten Passage to assess the conditions “outside”.  As expected, the strong northerly had whipped up the seas into a very lumpy, wet and decidedly on-the-nose affair.  Definitely NOT the conditions to inflict, voluntarily, upon our three new crew-adventure-seekers, Liz, Murray and Linda.

Our final anchorage for the night, Passage Bay – something out of a travel brochure

We all quickly agreed … Wineglass Bay is for later !  For now, it was time to retreat in order to fight another day.  Our alternative anchorage being just 15 minutes away in nearby Passage Bay.  This was a secluded cove which provided all we were looking for – shelter, white sand, turquoise water and serenity. It may not have had the iconic label of Wineglass Bay, but it had almost everything else. Once anchored it was time to frolic ashore, even swim, on the part of Linda, Rosie and me.

Linda and Rob (and Chimere) at Passage Bay
“Beach-as bro” … a small yacht high on the sand at Passage Bay – possibly the result of an earlier storm or dragged anchor
Bill attending to some more repairs aboard … complements of the Coles Bay public wharf
Rosie in charge of the galley serving pancakes to Liz … “yes please”
Rob and Bill attend to the anchor

Back aboard, Rosie took command of dinner once more and after watching a couple of Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarn episodes together in the saloon, it was time to start the going-to-bed routines.  Made more interesting with the addition of three extra bodies aboard 

Linda’s exclusive “Princess Boudoir” was created on the cockpit settee (portside), complete with fold-out bed base and new foam mattress.  All designed to create a level, generously-sized bunk, with a feeling of space and openness, not to mention privacy.

Linda’s custom-bunk in the cockpit

Inside, comfortable sleeping-nests were prepared for Murray and Liz.  All the while, the steady 20 knot northerly wind made its presence felt by whistling in the rigging.

Liz reclines in her saloon cabin

With most lights off, and bodies settling down to sleep, much laughter could be heard coming out of Bill and Alistair’s cabin. The source of which turned out to be a wayward Linda, mistaking my cabin door, along with me too, it must be said, for Bill !  Linda claimed all the fumbling and groping, of a semi-sleeping Bill, were in search of her iPhone. Bill could only take her word for it, and after being restored to fully awake rather quickly, responded in a gentlemanly-like manner with the words … “Madam, I think you’re in the wrong room”.

Reflecting later on the experience, Bill commented that Linda had all the hallmarks of a dreamy apparition, dressed as she was in her flowing white nightie. Whether the stuff or dreams or nightmares it was hard to tell.

There was a blessed stillness to the anchorage, despite the strong wind, with tomorrow holding the promise of a voyage further south to Maria Island, given the strength and direction of the wind.

With all lights out, Chimere soon fell into a sleepy silence

Smooth seas, fair winds and retreat to Passage Bay 

Rob Latimer

A welcome stopover

Friday 1 February 2019

Wineglass Bay

The overnight stop over at Eddystone Point, and the meeting up with Linda, Murray and Liz, proved to be a welcome rest after the action-packed previous couple of days.

Alistair hand steers as the autohelm “Otto” decides to take an untimely “break”
“Wineglass Bay” … sounds like a name bestowed by a discerning gentleman from the Barossa Valley … but no, it owes its name to the colour of the bay when whaling was in full swing back in the early 1800s – RED … sorry to bring that up.
What else would you do on arrival at Wineglass Bay … dig out the wineglasses and call a toast. Alistair’s studious expressing is more a function of his first-time operation of his selfie-stick, NOT a lack of red wine in his glass.

https://greataustraliansecret.com/tasmania/east-coast-tasmania/wineglass-bay/

In order to make it down the coast to Coles Bay, we were up at 6:00 and away by 6:30. It is here that we would not only meet the land-based team again, but take them aboard for few day’s exploring in the region.  All very weather dependent of course.

Whilst the wind was still from the south and very much on the nose, the seas were relatively flat so we were able to make good time

The auto helm, which had been playing up, meaning it wouldn’t hold a straight course, suddenly began to work again … but only intermittently.  This resulted in a lot of hand steering, and close monitoring, because you never really knew when, or if, the self-steering “Controller Unit” would decide to take us off in a totally random direction and course of its choosing.  For those old enough to remember the film 2001 Space Odyssey , it seemed a bit like the onboard computer HAL.  When given a command HAL would reply … “I’m sorry (Dave) I can’t do that”

After a time, or a few times, eventually, mysteriously, the electronic Controller-brain, decided to be reliable once more

On approach to Wineglass Bay … The Hazards … so named NOT because they were a risk to shipping, rather after the American captain Richard Hazard … nothing to do with the Dukes of Hazard, Orange County?!
Snug at anchor in Wineglass Bay

Along the way, Bill maintained his “Most Useful Crew” status by fixing lights and switches in the two toilet and shower areas – electrics being one of his many “super powers” … along with voice impersonations and eating peanut butter sandwiches made from homemade bread; as we would soon discover 

Realising we would not make it all the distance around into Coles Bay in a civilised hour, we were able to raise contact with Linda, to inform her that we’d instead be stopping at Wineglass Bay on the ocean side of Freycinet Peninsula.  Our rendezvous having to wait until the next day around 11:00 in the morning.

Whilst Linda, Murray and Liz arranged to stay at nearby Swansea, in the late afternoon, we made our way into glorious Wineglass Bay after having seen the rocks, peaks and headlands of the dramatic Freycinet Peninsula emerge from the misty horizon over the previous few hours

By our usual standards, it was a “crowded” anchorage with several boats dropping anchor well into the night, so that by morning more that 10 boats bobbed around at anchor.  Some of the boats, of wooden construction, clearly making their way down to Hobart for the Wooden Boat Festival

Wooden boats making their way down to the Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart
Bill using his super-power in fixing onboard lights and switches
It’s NOT Bill’s new cabin … rather, it’s Bill hard at work using the “stick” to assist spread the anchor chain (known as “flaking”) as we retrieve the anchor

Having dropped anchor in a bay called “wineglass”, it seemed only appropriate that we should respect and honour the occasion by digging out our own unbreakable Tupperware “crystal” and drinking more of the onboard Aldi Red, despite the extravagant $2.85/bottle price tag.  Given I had dreamed, along with many yachties before me, of one day dropping anchor in Wineglass Bay, this in all seriousness was a very special moment. 

The setting sun cast its golden beams on the surrounding granite hills, known locally as “The Hazards”, which contrasted with the white, white sandy beach and sea and sky of a dozen blues

So the plan tomorrow is to rendezvous around 11:00am at Coles Bay, (on the other side of this peninsular) with the land team bringing some additional essential provisions … fresh fruit and veggies (we had heard about the risks of scurvy) … bread rolls, jam and honey (for the scones of course) etc

After dinner we remained in the saloon to watch a DVD … “Bass Strait Fury 2 – Even less furiuoser” before retreating to our respective bunks for a well earned and restful sleep.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and a welcome stopover

Rob Latimer

Time to get out of here !

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Eddystone Point

It was an early “escape” from Key Island Bay and a quick dash down the Tassie coast to Eddystone Point for a well-earned rest

The weather remained foul and given our situation it was important to maintain an anchor watch. When we talk about an “anchor watch”, we don’t mean literally … you understand.  That’d be impractical and a bit silly given the anchor is under several metres of water and it was dark.  But what we do constantly “watch” is the depth of the water, our location on the chart plotter, the wind direction, the anchor chain and the snubbers for signs of chafing (this involves a walk to the bow) plus any other significant change in conditions that might necessitate a response.

Given the smallness of the bay, any adverse change … like for example  a dragging anchor, or major wind change … would need swift action.

Around 1:00 am Bill and Rosie came on deck all bright and sparky to be briefed on the situation at hand … depth down to 2.8m (on account of the outgoing tide) … anchor holding steady and massive amounts of lightening in the direction of Tasmania which is NOT heading our way.

Alistair and I then took our leave for a welcomed break.

Sleep came easily, but the mind remained very much awake, as possible scenarios, past, present and future were played and re-played in a form of dozy stupor.  The urgent, high pitched blare of the Anchor Drift Alarm broke through on a couple of occasion, indicating we had moved at least 30m from our original location. But there was nothing to fear.  Bill was in charge and he knew his stuff.

By now it was 3:00am, the wind was still howling, slightly less, mercifully, but soon it was Bill’s footsteps I could hear crossing the saloon floor with the words into my cabin, “Rob, the wind has shifted to the west, we’ve swung on our anchor and the depth is down to around 2.1 m”

No more dozy stupor … this was fully awake stuff as we all gathered in the cockpit to assess the situation and decide on a response.

Chimere’s stern was now facing the beach, with the wind blowing steady from Key Island at the entrance to the bay.  “Let’s start by bringing in 10-15m of chain, that should bring us out into deeper water” … “we’ll still have plenty of chain out for the depth of the water. We can up-anchor at first light in about 2-3 hours”

Well, that was the “starting-plan”, but after seeing the depth drop below 2m, despite having wound in the chain, and considering whether we might re-anchor in deeper water, we finally made the decision around 4:00am to “get out of here”! 

Fortunately, we had the chart plotter trail, or “bread crumbs”, to follow, with Bill on the bow again with the light … this time yelling … “ROCKS TO STARBOARD, VEER TO PORT” … which was quickly relayed to the ever-steady Alistair at the helm.

Our “exit” track, out of Key Island Bay, through Banks Strait towards Eddystone Point

Once out of the bay, a small jib was set and with the westerly howling in across the starboard beam and then the stern quarter, it was a fantastic romp to Banks Strait, keeping Preservation and Clarke Islands on our port beam. 

The engine was kept ticking over in the background with the morning sun on the bow revealing the remote beauty of the surrounds … deep blue sea, breaking waves, albatross and mutton birds out on the glide and the red sky giving way to a pale blue. 

Rosie busily getting some rest between batches of scones?!
Alistair soaks up the beauty of the morning sun across Banks Strait
Rob keeping an eye on the small jib while the autohelm … “Otto” … (as in … Otto-helm) does his thing

As if by divine providence, it was all going our way … the wind, the waves, even the impressive 3 knot tidal flow … helping to keep Chimere’s movement stable and calm, or as Captain Jack Aubrey or Master And Commander fame might have put it … “a right Christian state of affairs” … as our speed regularly topped 9 and 10 knots 

The waves came up from behind lifting us up in a surfing action as they passed beneath
Sea, wind and tides through the narrow Banks Strait creates a confused wave pattern
The wake behind isn’t always a straight furrow
Very early light
Always nice to see the sun after a long dark night
Despite 35 degree forecasts on shore, the mornings at sea in Bass Strait are mostly cold affairs

Meanwhile, on shore, my darling wife Linda and our friends Liz and Murray had arrived in Tassie with a car and camping gear and once communications were once more restored – we found 2 bars once out at sea – we arranged to rendezvous down the east coast at Eddystone Point (lighthouse) where there was a tolerable anchorage.

Our fast speed meant that we got there ahead of time, around 10:30am, covering the 40 miles at an average speed of approximately 7.5 knots.

The lumpy seas, whipped up by the westerly wind, lessened as we made our way down the coast, with the final 30 minutes to Eddystone Point seeing the arrival of a southerly wind, right on the nose.  This wasn’t enough to lessen our speed greatly, but it did create a sense of relief that the previous wind had carried us so far, for so long.

The anchorage on the north side of Eddystone Point was a bit “rolly”, resulting in both Rosie and Alistair feeling a bit off colour, but not for long.  The dinghy was launched and I motored ashore a couple of times in the hope of meeting up with Linda, Liz and Murray.  This sounded simple enough, after all, there’s only one bay to anchor when the wind is blowing from the south, there’s only one road to the lighthouse and Chimere was one of only two boats there. 

In the end it took nearly two hours to find each other, on account of poor or non-existent communications, no road access to the beach and every track that did come off the main dirt road looking like it was a private driveway.

During this waiting-time onshore I got to know a family who were packing up their 4WD after a week’s holiday in a nearby shack overlooking the bay.  Here the “home” is one of very few private residences located in a National Park, up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches it would probably sell for $10 million given its commanding sea views.

The husband of the family kindly drove me down to the lighthouse in the hope of finding our “land-based team”, and the wife took me inside the hut to a window overlooking the sea – apparently the only place in the region where it was possible to secure 2 bars on your smart phone – so that I could make a call ?!

Oh, I also managed to fall asleep on a rock – sleep deprivation can do that too you – and sometime later I felt compelled to start walking along the dirt roads in the direction of the lighthouse in the hope of coming across their car, in passing, literally so to speak.   It was around this time that Murray, Liz and Linda finally found the side-road that led to the dinghy and access to the water, apparently, just after I’d walked in the opposite direction, over the hill towards the lighthouse!  My attempt at making renewed contact via my iPhone being cut short on account of a flat battery.  Welcome back to the olden-days !

So it was a joyful sight to behold when I returned from my 30 minute “road trek” to find Linda, Murray and Liz, starting to explore the nearby rock pools and cove, the car parked on the secluded grassy knoll nearby.

Finally reunited – land and sea teams – Rob, Murray, Liz and Linda
Back to rolly Chimere for Rob at the Eddystone anchorage

Given the rolly action of Chimere at anchor – clearly visible from our vantage point – plus my desire, and need, to fall asleep for a few hours, we agreed that Murray, Liz and Linda would find accommodation onshore and I would return aboard.  The plan being for us to continue the sail south tomorrow in order to meet at Coles Bay as originally planned.

Back on board, I followed through with the sleep, with the generator started to both charge the batteries and warm the water for Rosie to have a shower … her Travel Calm pills were starting to kick in.  Bill fixed the broken “stop-cable” for the main engine, and I have no idea what Alistair was doing – I’m guessing he was also sleeping.

Rosie prepared a wonderful dinner once again, after which we watched a DVD together in the saloon … the title of the film, selected by Bill it must be said, was the aptly named “Bass Strait Fury”.  This was produced in 2006 by Evan Minogue, chronicling the Latimer family’s 2-week sail around Wilsons Prom, Deal Island, Flinders Island and northern Tasmania.  Despite being essentially a “home movie”, the hour-long film is professional and thoughtful in its production, along with informative, thereby commanding broader appeal than you might expect.  One amusing, not to mention spooky, aspect was the simple act of watching a movie depicting a boat rocking around on the high seas, while simultaneously sitting on a settee in the saloon of a boat being rocked around on the high seas – talk about authentic !

As we each drifted off to our respective cabins and bunks it was with a sense of relief – despite the boats current roll – that this would be a far more relaxed evening than last night, and a sleep we had each truly deserved.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and time to get out of here

Rob Latimer

Chimere 1 – Storm 0

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Preservation Island & Key Island Bay

The Furneaux Group comprises around 50 separate islands, including Preservation Island at the southern end

The morning dawned at our anchorage on the south east side of Preservation Island so calm you could have played billiards on the saloon table

Lazy bodies emerge late at around 8:00am and set about greeting the day with the usual routines.  Rosie went for a swim, the rest of us volunteered to remain aboard on shark-watch and more of the serenity was soaked in

A plan was hatched to go ashore to explore the circle of rocks on the hill, built in 1797 by the crew of the ill-fated Sydney Cove, to contain the fire they would light when a rescue vessel finally came … talk about living in hope!

But first there were some house keeping tasks to perform.  Chief amongst these was the cleaning, sanding and oiling of the wooden toe-rail.  For the last year or so the wood has look decidedly grey, aged and shabby.  The task before us all now was to restore it to the honey-teak splendour of its birth … or at least a light-brown of middle age.

Once completed, and after stopping for numerous cups of tea, coffee, water, and of course lunch and afternoon tea, I ran Rosie, Alistair and Bill ashore in the dinghy to explore away.           

The rock formations on Preservation Island are amazing
More panoramas on Preservation Island
Your Uber-dinghy sir … and yes, this is Bass Strait, NOT tropical North Queensland
From around the point Chimere looks beached-as (bro)

I returned aboard to catch up with writing the previous day’s Ships Log and searching for an internet connection on my iPhone.  This involved climbing part way up the rigging to get “one bar” and occasionally two.  Eventually I hit on the brainwave of attaching the phone to a spare halyard, turning on the Hotspot Setting and hoisting away.  The extra height must have worked because I could happily tap on the laptop down on the deck as if I was at home in the study 

Around 5:30pm the call came over the VHF radio from shore for an “Uber-dinghy”; somewhere around the point and up the coast.    All together again aboard Rosie began preparing dinner, while Alistair, Bill and I prepared for departure in the morning by hoisting the dinghy aboard and lashing down anything that might move

Chimere’s gang of 4
Alistair in search of the illusive 2-bars !
Your Captain

We were expecting a wind change, which would necessitate a change of anchorage, but truly nothing prepared us for what nature had in store.  First it got dark to the northeast, then the wind began to build, followed by flashes of lightening on the horizon accompanied a short time later by claps of thunder.

By now we’d retrieved the anchor and were motoring out and around the sand banks (which we’d negotiated on the way in) towards  the southern coast of Cape Barren Island where two potential anchorages lay; aptly named Thunder and Lightening Bay and Key Island Bay. 

Already the sea was building with the wind now howling through the rigging as we set a small portion of the jib to lighten the load on the motor and speed our arrival before dark.

With light fading, we chose to shelter in the closer and smaller, Key Island Bay on account of it hot only providing shelter from the current north east wind, but also from the westerly, that was expected as a follow-up at similar strength before dawn. 

Light almost gone and it was largely an instrument approach to our chosen anchorage, with no shortage of exposed rocks each side for us to avoid. 

On approach to the beach at the top of the bay, which was clearly reflected in our search light, Alistair steered a steady course as the depth reduced as expected … 14m, 12m, 8m … then the call from Bill at the bow “ROCKS PORT SIDE” … “VEER TO STARBOARD !!”.  No arguments there, we complied, as the depth kept reducing … 4m, 3.2m, 2.8m … TOO shallow … more to starboard … 5m, 6m … ok, straight ahead, cut the revs …

Meanwhile, the wind kept howling, with gusts vibrating the rigging to the extreme, as the lightening flashes increased with almost instantaneous thunder.  Surprisingly there was very little rain.

Back in the cockpit, our position on the chart plotter in the middle of the bay around 150m off the beach, the depth at around 4m and the general vibe that this was about as good as it was going to get, meant it was time to drop anchor. 

The howling wind soon took hold of the boat, quickly blowing us backwards as the engine was slipped into neutral and the anchor deployed.  Chain raced out through the bow-roller with my yellow paint markers appearing … 10m of chain, 20 m of chain … time to cleat it off and see if she’ll dig in and round-up on the chain.  

It’s at this point you hope and pray that the anchor found a patch of sand, and not weed, in which to land … for all the obvious reasons.  The thought of a dragging anchor and having to manoeuvre again in this confined bay did not appeal.  Rather than being named Key Island Bay, I think it should more accurately be named Key Hole Bay.

To our great relief, the anchor dug in, with more chain deployed … to be sure, to be sure.  Three “snubbers” were attached to the chain to absorb the force of the wind before Bill and I retreated to the cockpit to set the Anchor Drift Alarm.

Between a rock (lots of them) and a hard place, but mercifully some shelter from the storm which bore down from the north east … plus some shelter that would be needed when the wind veered to the west early next morning

To further reduce the stress on the ground tackle, the engine was kept in gear, driving forward, going nowhere, but still doing its job.   

“Anyone for dinner?” … Funny, we’d all lost interest in calmly sitting around the table, eating Rosie’s lovingly prepared chicken and noodle specialty while knocking back a bottle Aldi Red.

What we did feel however, was a collective sense of overwhelming relief at keeping Chimere and all hands, safe and sound, while all around us raged.  The lingering apprehension about the possible impact of a lightening strike was harder to dispel, however, knowing that our mast was probably screaming to the heavens at this very moment “hit me” … “hit me” … “hit me”

By now it was around 9:00pm, with Alistair and I settling in for the first “anchor watch” of the night and Bill and Rosie retiring to their bunks to gain strength and reserves for their watch from around 1:00am.

As Bill summed it up … “we went from tropical to decidedly Scottish in the space of a few minutes”

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Team Chimere 1,  Furneaux Storm 0

Rob Latimer

Preservation Island Paradise

Tuesday (PM), 29 January 2019

Preservation Island

There are days when you are so busy doing stuff that there’s simply no time to record it.  Yesterday was such a day

After making landfall at the southern end of the Furneaux Group late morning as expected, it was then a steady “drive” south inside Badger and Great Chappell Islands, to Preservation Island.  Flinders Island and Cape Barren Island remained on our left, or port side.  The wind stayed light, or non-existent, with the seas flat.

Mt Strezleki and Flinders Island off the port side as we head south
Blue on blue over an oily sea with the sails up for shade
Good ol Aussie flag and the Vanuatu Cruising Association
Approaching Flinders Island as we pass between East Kangaroo and Great Chappell Islands

As the beauty of the surroundings revealed itself the mood aboard rose significantly, all anticipating the destination, Preservation Island.

Rosie cemented her position in the galley, with little chance of being dislodged, by making some amazing sandwiches for lunch, followed by a kind of shepherd’s pie thingy using last night’s leftovers and mashed potato.

The breeze increased from behind on approach to Preservation island, causing us to cautiously drop the mainsail before taking a hard right turn towards our anchorage for the night. 

At this point Rosie announced … “I’ve just put the scones in the oven, they’ll be ready soon”

Scones? Wow !  With jam and cream?  Yep !

Rosie assumes command of the galley, to the appreciation of all
Bill tries to resist … “just another one” …

As it turned out, finding the anchorage was a little more drawn out than we’d expected.  It’s not that it was hard to find, it’s just that a very large sand bank and stretch of shallow water lay between us and the preferred beach.

The black line tells a tale … top left was dropping the mainsail (which didn’t want to come down, initially) then the squiggly line out and around shows our path around shallow water and the ever present risk of running aground

We’d anchored here a couple of years ago, but our approach at that time was from a different angle.  This time we had to “undo” our initial approach, then back-peddle all the way around the shallow patch.  The photo of the chart plotter tells the story.  A bit embarrassing really.

As for the Marine Traffic Tracker, at the moment we are out of range, so our position is out of date.  Sorry about that.  It should come good on Thursday when we head down to Tassie.

Welcome to serenity … Bill, Rosie and Alistair with Preservation Island behind

The scones, jam and cream were ready and laid out on the table as we secured the anchor in 5 metres of sand and the set the anchor-drift-alarm on the chart plotter.   Is this a civilised South Pacific cruise or what ?!

After a small amount of cleaning-up we launched the large dinghy – all fully reconditioned I should say – and made our way ashore for some exploring.  The photos tell the story, with the remote and rugged beauty of this place, coupled with its history, making it a wonderful time.  The weather was also sublime, with the colours of the water, the sand, the rocks and the sky, combining to create in the words of Darryl Kerrigan, true “serenity”

360 degree sea views …
Rosie and her shells

Returning to Chimere there was time for a sleep, a rest and some further tidying up – all by different people you understand – before then having dinner and returning ashore for the arrival of the penguins and mutton birds. 

Our return to the beach coincided with the going down of the sun, adding further to the serenity, if that was possible, as more and more photo opportunities presented themselves.

Chimere and the dinghy at rest
In search of Happy Feet and our own private penguin parade
The sun sinks slowly in the west

As for the penguins … we were graced by only a few “Happy Feet” waddling up the beach … much to disappointment of the kiddies.  Was it our boofy presence on the sand, torches in hand, was it simply an off-night and the action was elsewhere, or might the baby Happy Feet have grown up, left the burrow and were out catching their own tucker. 

The mutton birds made up for it though.  As the sun went down, as if on cue, they started arriving.  Circling high up, then coming closer and closer till they made their final approach, flapping their wings madly to minimise the thump on contact with the ground.  These birds might fly to Alaska and back each year – to the same burrow – but landing with style doesn’t seem to be their strong suit.   

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short-tailed_shearwater

By 10:00pm we were ready to give up on seeing any more penguins, and so we made our way back to the warmth and comforts of Chimere.  We were certainly happy to leave the mosquitoes, or whatever was biting our ankles, to find a feed elsewhere.

Mutton birds return to their burrow as the sun goes down. Rum Island in the distance.

My good intentions of writing up the day’s activities on return, evaporated in sleep, particularly after having little sleep the night before on the passage down here.

The anchorage was incredibly still, the stars reached down from the sky above and the sound of waves on the shore provided the soundtrack to the close of a very special day

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Preservation Island Paradise

Rob Latimer