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
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
There were few words spoken, then someone said … “why are we whispering?” … it was just that kind of place.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
For now we would just
enjoy the remote isolation and beauty of the amazing Port Davey
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 !?
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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…”
Having enjoyed a diet of perfectly calm anchorages, last night at Louisa Bay was something of a rolly affair.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
seas, fair breeze and French
garden from 1792
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
Early sailing experiences … Rob and friends, including flatmate and current Chimere sailing “volunteer” John Land, at university near Christchurch NZ… (1981)
Today was officially the end of Stage 1 and the beginning of Stage 2.
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.
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!
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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)
Friday 22 February 2019 Thursday 21 February 2019 Wednesday 20 February 2019
Prince of Wales Bay
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Smooth seas, fair breeze and A Time of Transition
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 …