Circumnavigating Australia Part 12

Sailing and Travelling Around Tasmania

Around the Tamar River – Tasmania – Part 1

Friday – 06/12/2013

Well we have been at the Beauty Point Marina for just over two weeks now and I must say it is a nice place to stay with very nice people. There are two blokes Ron and David that run the marina for the Launceston Yacht Club on a volunteer basis they take turns a month about but you often see them most days helping construct new parts for the marina. We have achieved some work on the boat along with some sightseeing. We are fortunate to have a car courtesy of Glen and Anne have who loaned us one of their cars which has been handy to shoot into Launceston some 40kms away to shop for parts and do some sightseeing.

One purchase Nancy is very pleased with is a new Force 10 stove, the old one was not working as well as it should be and age was showing in the burners causing it to be inefficient. Nancy baked bread and has cooked a roast chook and the results have been great, I am just waiting for her to make me an apple pie and I will be pleased with it to.

I have had to order original Lewmar hatch seals for the side hatches as I cannot find any rubber seal that I could use, naturally being Lewmar part they are not cheap being $90 for the 600mm x 200mm hatch and $80 for the 480mm x 200mm hatch, there are four of each required. Although we only have three hatches with light leaks it will only be a matter of time before the others show their age and leak to. The heavy seas we have experienced put all hatches to the test and we suffered some drip leaks from the hatches in the deck in the two forward cabins and the aft port head, this was between the deck and the hatch. I removed them and cleaned the surfaces and reset them in the deck and we have had two lots of rain that have tested them and they have not leaked.

(Standing on the fwd bed with hatch removed)

(Removing and sanding the old seal face on the deck)

(The worst job removing the old sealant from the hatch, leave one scrap and it will leak.)

We have taken the opportunity to see some of the places we have not seen before as we have visited Tasmania in the past, we brought a car over on the ferry in 1998 and spent nearly three weeks here. I must admit it is easier to get around these days with highways to major centres and not just country roads as was when we visited before.

Tasmania has a lot of history and some of the buildings including many houses go back in time.

We know that Tasman was the first European to discover Tasmania and he named it Van Dieman’s Land and was changed after Bass and Flinders proved that Van Dieman’s Land was an island, the name was changed to Tasmania in 1856 after a penal colony was established. Bass and Flinders sailed from Sydney in 1798 to find out if there was a Strait between Van Dieman’s Land and the Mainland of Australia in doing so they found the entrance to the Tamar River which they named Port Dalrymple, it is unclear where they first landed there is a small plaque a short distance from the marina in Beauty Point that states they landed there on 4 November 1798 and there is a plaque at the Pilot Station north of George Town where it states that Bass and Flinders discovered Port Dalrymple 3 November 1798, also near this site it shows a map of the sightings Mathew Flinders took for the navigation purposes of Port Dalrymple, but it does not state the day he landed there.

George Town

Low Head Lighthouse

The following is taken from the website: –

In 1808, the Hebe was wrecked on the rocks at the mouth to the Tamar, thence giving them its name. Altogether, a dozen ships were wrecked in the Tamar over the next 100 years.

A pilots and a signal station was established at Low Head (Georgetown) in 1805 and is Australia’s oldest continuously used pilot station. Current buildings date from 1838.

When a sail was sighted at dusk, a fire was lit and kept burning all night to keep the vessel in touch with the port.

After a review of pilotage in 1827 it was resolved to build a lighthouse at Low Head.

The tower was built in 1833. It was constructed of local rubble with a coat of stucco to make the structure durable and to provide a worthwhile landmark. The crown was built of freestone from Launceston.

The keepers’ quarters consisted of four rooms attached to the base of the tower. The only case of the quarters being attached in any Tasmanian lighthouse.

The tower was 15.25 metres from top to bottom. The lantern room was built of timber in Launceston.

It had been designed by the then Colonial Architect John Lee Archer who was responsible for the design of many other Tasmanian lights.

The original apparatus was provided by a Mr. W Hart of Launceston. He supplied “six dozen lamps, including reflectors, at three shillings and sixpence each”.

This first light was known as the ‘Georgetown Station’.

It is Australia’s third and Tasmania’s second lighthouse built.

Conditions were poor on the early Tasmanian lightstations. Low head was no exception, being manned by a superintendent (headkeeper) and two convict assistants who were locked in their quarters overnight.

In 1835, the light was upgraded by installation of a revolving shutter which was rotated by a weight-driven clockwork mechanism.

In April 1838, the original tin reflectors and Argand lamps were replaced by a new revolving lens array from Wilkins and Co of London, UK. In 1851, the candelas were increased, but no figures are quoted.

The 1833 tower was poorly constructed and after 50 years had fallen into a state of disrepair. In 1888, this original convict-built stone tower was pulled down.

In the same year it was replaced with the present double brick structure, was designed by Marine Board architect Robert Huckson, with new lantern room and apparatus. The new tower was painted white.

The lens apparatus was modernised in 1916 with a more up-to-date Chance Bros. revolving lens using an incandescent kerosene mantle lantern.

An auxiliary red light to cover Hebe Reef had been installed in 1898.

In 1926, a broad red band was painted around the middle of the tower to ensure adequate visibility during daylight hours.

In 1929, Tasmania’s only a foghorn was instated at the station but discontinued in 1973 due to improvements in navigational equipment.

In 1940, electricity replaced the old vaporised oil system and mantle, and the clockwork rotating mechanism was replaced by an electric motor.

From 1865 to 1912, the light was under the control of Alfred C. Rockwell and his son Alfred Rockwell Jnr, a period of 47 years!

The station was also responsible for the smaller Tamar Leading Lights which were separately manned for some years.

This light is now unmanned.


(The above is the Fog Horn at the lighthouse)

(Lister kero stand-by engine)

(The Pilot Boat Harbour)

(Pilot Station, now the Maritime Museum)

(Plaque at Pilot Station)

(Sign showing Flinders navigation sightings)

(The rear Lead Light, new light mounted on top right, the house is up for sale)

Launceston and Tamar River,_Tasmania

Following is extract from this website:

The first inhabitants of the area of Launceston were largely nomadic Tasmanian Aborigines believed to have been part of the North Midlands Tribe. Walter George Arthur, who petitioned Queen Victoria in 1847 while interned with other Tasmanian Aborigines on Flinders Island, lived for several years in Launceston as one of numerous homeless children, before being taken into custody by George Augustus Robinson who sent him to the Boy’s Orphan School in Hobart in 1832.

The first white visitors did not arrive until 1798, when George Bass and Matthew Flinders were sent to explore the possibility that there was a strait between Australia and Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). They originally landed in Port Dalrymple (the mouth of the Tamar River), 40 kilometres to the north-west of Launceston.

The first significant colonial settlement in the region dates from 1804, when the commandant of the British garrison Lt. Col. William Paterson, and his men set up a camp on the current site of George Town. A few weeks later, the settlement was moved across the river to York Town, and a year later was moved to its definitive position where Launceston stands.

 Initially the settlement was called Patersonia; however, Paterson later changed the name to Launceston in honour of the New South Wales Governor Captain Philip Gidley King, who was born in Launceston, Cornwall. The name still survives in the tiny hamlet of Patersonia 18 kilometres north-west of Launceston. Paterson himself also served as Lieutenant-Governor of northern Van Diemen’s Land from 1804 to 1808.


There is today’s history lessen, Tasmania is an intriguing place with its history. The next post will be about Beaconsfield which became well known on Anzac Day 2006 when the mine collapsed trapping miners and the long period of time it took to rescue two survivors and one deceased.

Beaconsfield – Tasmania

Beaconsfield is a small township not far from where we are at Beauty Point Marina, this place hit the news on Anzac Day 2006 when an earthquake caused a mine collapse trapping three miners with one unfortunately losing his life. The rescue was a long process and it brought it into all the homes via news through that tough period. After seeing Beaconsfield one can understand the emotion this town would have gone through with the mine being right in the centre of the town.

(Survivors Todd and Brant, I have copied the print section in three parts below for easier reading)

The now closed mine is a museum showing many things from our past, not only mining gear it has old machinery and many other items on view, there are three tourist sites close by this mine, the Seahorse World and Platypus House, the latter two being at the old wharf at Beauty Point, the cheapest way to see all three exhibitions is to buy a triple pass for the three places which is an open pass for three months for one visit per site.

(Beaconsfield Mine and Museum)

(Old Miners Cottage)

(A scale model of the mine tunnels under the town)

 (Old steam traction engine)
(Items from an old surgery)

(The old washing gear, I can remember seeing these items in use)

Beaconsfield has two IGA supermarkets one of which has a hardware store, there is also a gardening and building centre amongst other shops.

The weather has been a bit of a mixture we have had some very nice days and some cold and wet days so we are doing jobs on the boat as the weather permits.


The following is taken from one of the websites listed below.

The area around Beaconsfield was first explored by Europeans in 1804 when William Paterson led an expedition to Port Dalrymple and established a settlement at York Town. Settlement of Beaconsfield itself, then known as Brandy Creek did not occur until the 1850s. Limestone mining led to the discovery of gold in 1869. Gold mining began in 1877 and the area’s population boomed. Brandy Creek Post Office opened on 1 December 1877 and was renamed Beaconsfield in 1879.

The town was named Beaconsfield in 1879 in honour of Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at the time. In 1881, the Beaconsfield newspaper was called the Beaconsfield Tickler. In 1953, Beaconsfield was the first town in Australia to fluoridate the water supply.

Gold was first discovered in Beaconsfield in 1847

The town began its early life as ‘Brandy Creek’ because of the colour of the water in the creek where the gold was originally discovered.

In the financial year 2004/05, 240 685 tonnes of ore was produced from which 3890 kilograms of gold was extracted

On Tuesday 25 April 2006, a small earthquake caused a rock fall in the Beaconsfield gold mine. Fourteen miners escaped safely, one miner, Larry Knight, was killed, and the remaining two, Todd Russell and Brant Webb, were trapped in a shaft approximately one kilometre underground. The two trapped miners were found alive five days later on Sunday 30 April. Rescue operations continued for nearly two weeks until the two miners were freed on Tuesday 9 May.

The Beaconsfield gold mining operations finally ended with the closure of the mine in June 2012.


(The old Bank of Tasmania that was robbed of cash and gold worth around $2,700 in 1884, it is now an Art Gallery and Souvenir store)

 (The Exchange Hotel still looking good and operational)

The Old Post Office now a Newsagent)
There are many other heritage buildings in the main street and around the town.

Tasmania land time.

We have had two months in the marina at Beauty Point and through some very good people we have had a vehicle to travel and see the inland side, here are some of our experiences, I have done more notes that will follow this and I may repeat myself in those so you will have to put up with that. What we got up to besides work on the boat.

We had a wonderful Christmas with our dear friends Anne, Glen, Vicki and Nigel, a special thanks to Glen and Anne for the loan of a car and allowing us to take it all over Tasmania.

(Nigel, Vickie, Anne, Glen, Nancy and yours truly after lunch at Nigel’s)

Places we visited:


(Some of the historic buildings in Oatlands)

(Callington Mill at Oatlands opened 1837)
(Chimney sculpture at Oatlands)


(The victors of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race ‘Victoire’ top left, the Switzerland yacht bottom left had the only female skipper in this and the clipper round the world race that they are part of race and a crew that had not done anything like this before)

(With Frank and June, both ex-Navy friends of mine, Frank met June in the Navy and they married and had two lovely daughters. Here at Salamander Markets as part of the Taste of Tassie and the finish of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.)

(Two lovely ladies, Nancy and June at the Taste)

(The Taste of Tasmania, the place was packed it has all types of food, wines and ice cream)

(Relaxing at June and Frank’s, this lovely lady has never changed she is still gorgeous)

(New Years Eve with Frank and June and Lucas)

Lemonthyme Lodge and Cradle Mountain

(The tree cabins as we drive in, no they are not physically in a tree, they are among the trees the front at the car park level and the rear on supports on a slope among the trees)

(Our cabin)

(Nancy at the bar inside the lodge)

(Inside the lodge and Nancy on the veranda)

(At around 2000 hours the Paddy Melons come to the lodge grounds for a feed)

(On one of the walks around Lemonthyme Lodge)

(One of the other wild animals in the bush, Oh no it’s Nancy)

(Nancy again armed with camera at Dove Lake near Cradle Mountain)

(A little wind picked up causing a few waves, I took this picture at ankle level)

(The Boat Shed Dove Lake)

(Lake Dove and Cradle Mountain)

There were lots of other places we visited but we need to get back to the sailing around Tasmania as part of the circumnavigation, we will see more land areas as we sail into some ports.

Tasmania is a beautiful place sometimes the weather can be challenging but as Billy Connolly says, “there is no bad weather just bad clothes”.

Tasmania – Setting sail again

(Beauty Point Marina, moon rising over the hill)

I know I have been slack on the scribbling for this blog so now I have to catch up. We finally cut the cobwebs between the dock and the boat at Beauty Point Marina owned by the Tamar Yacht Club, the main club being in Launceston which was founded in 1837. It has been an enjoyable stay and the two blokes who run the marina David and Ron who are both volunteers run and work on the marina without payment. The boys look after you and the marina fees are cheap in comparison to the mainland.

(Sunrise from our boat in the marina)

On Tuesday 21/01/2014 we as I said cut the cobwebs and headed up the river towards Launceston we actually motor sailed all the way to the Batman Bridge we had to go under it as you do, then turned around and anchored at Devils Elbow a little bay just north of the bridge. The idea of this was to run the engines and make sure all was good before continuing our circumnavigation a sort of shake down before heading out. It was good that we did this as the port engine stated to run a little hotter than normal and this was fixed when we anchored. We had a pleasant night at anchor and a reasonable early night, although I had the usual problem of first night at anchor where one does not get a good night sleep getting up and checking all is well with the different movements of the boat.

(Part of the Tamar River)

(The Batman Bridge, we passed under it and here have turned back towards and anchorage)

Wednesday 22/01/2014, we were up at first light all was calm and cool and we weighed anchor and motored down the river and head out to Devonport some 38 Nms. The Tamar River is quite beautiful and the historic buildings look great. Once out of the Tamar we had some wind so we hoisted the sails but the wind was not strong enough to go under sail alone so we had one engine running . We arrived at Devonport and entered the Mersey River and found our way to the Mersey River Yacht Club where we had arranged a berth for the evening. Long time friends Wayne (Caba) and Anne Cabalzar were there to greet us and after getting to the dock with help from Steve on a yacht berthed at the dock behind us and we were all secured Caba and Anne took us home to their place where we had lunch, showered and did some washing. Having spent a nice afternoon with them they drove us back on board. It was great catching up with them again, I worked with Caba in Alice Springs many years ago, I have many good memories of when we worked away down at Ayres Rock and on the night we would go to the pub for a beer as you do and Caba would keep us in stitches laughing at his jokes. He is a bloke that can keep a straight face or use the appropriate expression whilst telling jokes and he would have us with tears rolling down our cheeks and make your stomach ache from laughter. We had some good times together.

(Entering Devonport, the ‘Spirit of Tasmania on the port side

We had received a text message from Glen and Anne on the day to meet them for dinner at 1900 hours at the hotel across the road from the marina, so as soon as we got back on board it was time to get changed and head to the pub. So we had dinner with Glen, Anne and Nigel and then we said our farewells before returning on board. We had also met Steve and Kerrin on ‘Rhapsody’ a 10 metre timber monohull yacht that was built in New Zealand, they were the yacht behind us and they are doing the same as us heading west so we will probably being seeing some more of them.

We hit the sack quite early as we were going to head out at 0400 hours in the morning for Stanley, again it was going to be motor sailing as there was a shortage of wind which is sometimes a good thing in Bass Strait.

Devonport to Stanley – Tasmania

Thursday, 23/01/2014.

Up at 0345 hours and we headed out in the dark at 0400 hours, ‘Rhapsody’ was slipping lines and getting underway as we were just getting ready. As soon as we were out of the port Nancy went for a rest the air was still so I reduced down to one engine sitting on a speed of 5.2 knots, we could see ‘Rhapsody’s’ stern light in the distance and some steaming lights on the horizon off the starboard quarter this turned out to be the ship ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ ferrying people and vehicles from Melbourne so I was pleased we were clear of the port before she arrived it would be a challenge going out of the Mersey River when she was coming up the river.

(Visitors came to see us as we sailed along)

(Coming into land, these birds will do this they land on the water near the boat then later catch up and do the same again)

(A significant landmark The Knob at Stanley)

As daylight came a little wind came with it but not strong I was able to unfurl about a third of the headsail to get some wind to hold it out and we picked up speed to 5.8 to 6 knots. It was quite a calm trip with a little swell on the beam at times which made the sail slap. We arrived at Stanley at 1430 hours just as the wind kicked in, the afternoon sea breeze. The port entrance is quite narrow, I had to get Nancy to watch the port side as we entered to make sure we did not hit the pole that was leaning inwards of the entrance. We got alongside the dock and secured.

You need boards with your fenders along the dock here it is not as bad as it was in Apollo Bay the vertical timbers are square and clean, however, we do have a 3 metre tidal difference so rope adjustments are required at times. The plan is to stay here for a couple of days whilst the next change comes through that is bringing 25-30 knot winds.

(The Witlshire Railway Station now a motel in Stanley)

(Not one of the good things of our past)
(1871 newspaper advert, well before the internet)

Steve and Kerrin came over for sundowners and to use our shower as their small boat has a cockpit shower and the dock master has not turned up with the key for the shower on the dock. There is no electricity available here but there is a tap for topping up the water. Whilst Kerrin was having a shower Les the dock master turned up with a key and said he would be down to see us in the morning so I suppose we pay him for use of the dock then.

We had a pleasant couple of hours with Steve and Kerrin, couple of beers and wines. When they went home we had dinner and went to bed.

Saturday – 24/01/2014

I woke during the night at high tide and low tide and checked the ropes all was good. I slept in till 0730 hours then got up and made a cup of tea and Nancy got breakfast, Steve and Kerrin had just come back from a run, young fit buggers. Steve is 48 years old, he is ex-British Army and then worked for the New Zealand Army. They are nice couple.
They gave us the key to the showers after they had theirs and they went off into town, we went into town after we showered and had a good walk around and chatted to some of the locals. Stanley is a pretty little town, we came here last Sunday by car with Glen and Anne and had lunch along with some other sightseeing.
This time we had lunch at Moby Dicks Breakfast Bar and I must say it is a very nice place and the price for meals were very good and the service excellent. I still maintain that customer service here in Tasmania is the best. There is no falseness or practised lines when you walk into a place, the people start up a conversation rather than the “Can I help you?” Love Tasmania.
The wind started to pick up so we returned to the boat and by the time we got back we started rocking and rolling as the afternoon went on it got worse. The one thing that confused both Steve and I to start off with is that Les had told us that where we were was the best place for SW winds even though Glen had told me earlier that it was not a good spot. However, I looked at the magnetic compass and the direction it showed for SW should give us good protection. In reality the opening of the harbour that we are in line with is SW, there is something in the area that interferes with magnetic composes, it could be the dock face is steel casing or something in the building nearby.

By mid-afternoon the winds had picked up along with the waves coming at us and we were being bashed against the dock, Steve’s boat being smaller and lighter was suffering the most, in the end he rang Les and asked to go into a fisherman’s pen. As he told me and asked if we could help him with ropes a gentleman came along, Jim Hursey of the family that owns the fishery and most of the fishing boats pens. He told us where we were was very dangerous during these conditions, Steve told him that Les said he could move into a certain pen and Jim said that the fishing boat would be going there tonight but we could both move into two of his other pens as the boats will not be back for a couple of days. We thanked him and we both moved over to the other side of the harbour where it was calm. Just on dark a very large fishing boat entered and went to the pen that Les had allocated Steve, so it was a big thanks to Jim Hursey for our peaceful night.

(Marine Park, Stanley)

(This is a memorial in the Marine Park for Jim Hursey’s son who was lost at sea when trying to rescue another person, Jim has a grandson now that is getting his Captains qualifications, the sea is in the family blood)

Stanley to Hunter Island – Tasmania and Shepherds Bay, Hunter Island to Macquarie Harbour

Stanley to Hunter Island

Saturday 25/01/2014

Not a big rush to get going this morning we have a short run of 35 Nms to get to Shepherds Bay, Hunter Island for an overnight stay before tackling the west coast. Due to the winds the next couple of days we cannot overnight anchor on our way to Macquarie Harbour so tomorrow will be an overnight sail.

But as I said we did not need to rush things so we went with Steve and Kerrin to Moby Dicks for breakfast and I think what I saw makes it a good place to go, some of the local families go there for breakfast. After breakfast we went to get ready to sail, we still had not seen Les, he said he would be down yesterday morning then he said he would be here this morning but no show , so we phoned him and he got a little upset when I said that we were not pleased with him telling us that where he put us was the better place for the conditions, so I think I upset him a little.

We had a good sail today, a little lumpy with 20 plus knots of wind but we sailed all day at 7 to 8 knots with the mainsail reefed right down and the headsail having 5 turns on the furler. We arrived at Shepherds Bay and dropped anchor, ‘Rhapsody’ arrived a short time later. We had a quiet night early to bed and early to rise for leaving in the morning.

Limestone rock formations on Hunter Island)

(The beach at Shepherds Bay, anchorage was good with a little swell but not uncomfortable)

Shepherds Bay, Hunter Island to Macquarie Harbour

Sunday – 26/01/2014

Happy Australia Day.

We may be at see but we still celebrate Oz day, Kanga the deckie checking the wind generators ashore)

We weighed anchor at 0610 hours, it was a cool morning but calm we headed south to Stack Island and the tide was with us pushing us along at 6 plus knots with one engine and the mainsail hoisted, very little wind. After Stack Island we turned to head out of Hunter Passage to where the two tides meet. Fortunately we were close to high tide and the seas on the other side of the passage (west coast) were calm other than a 2 metre rolling swell. It got a little bumpy where the two high tides meet but we have seen and been in worse.

As we passed the NW headland of Tasmania you could see large numbers of wind generators, they were only just turning with the little wind that was about. Not having any wind to transit the west coast can be a blessing, this coast line is notorious for the harsh seas. It is a wonderful thing today to have the weather services we have so that we can pick what weather to go by. When you read of the 1820’s when the ships sailed from Hobart to Macquarie Harbour not knowing what weather was in store for them, it may have looked good when they left Hobart but the weather patterns are totally different from East and West coast. Their ships were slow and would take more days than a month. In 1826 the ship ‘Cypress’ left Hobart and encountered such bad weather decided to sail via the east coast to Macquarie Harbour where she arrived 53 days later having been damaged off Cape Baron Island where she lost an anchor. In a normal situation going around the bottom of Tasmania to Macquarie Harbour it would still take 26 days to sail the 200 nautical miles. These days when we can pick what weather to sail in sailing at a rate of 5 knots we can make the same voyage in around 40 hours.

One of the other benefits we have is that we are sailing to Macquarie Harbour for a different reason than they were those days, for all the beauty that is there today it was not that beautiful to the people that were sent there in the 1822 and onward, it was seen as a very isolated place where escape from prison was thought to be impossible the land so covered in timber and mountainous country one would not be able to find their way and that is if they could get away from Sarah Island, I would image the place of beauty was not what they saw.

(An albatross sores over the seas, pictures do not show what seas are really like, here we have a 2 to 2.5 metre swell about 14 seconds apart which is not uncomfortable you just roll up and down the waves, swell can come from a hundred miles away, we do not have any wind therefore no wind waves, it is wind that gives us the nasty waves)

We headed down the coast with rolling 2 to 2.5 metre swell which just rolled at around 12 to 15 seconds apart which made it comfortable it was our plan to arrive around sunrise as we did not want to attempt entering Hells Gate in the dark. People think it is called Hells Gate because of what lay behind it in the 1820’s the conditions the people had to live in or should I say exist in the early parts of 1822. The name Hells Gate came about because of the treacherous seas and the difficulty to access the narrow shallow waterways.

Night came and we fell into our normal four hour watches, I doing the 2000 hours to midnight and Nancy the midnight to 0400 hours etc. When Nancy took the watch at midnight the winds had already picked from the NE we had dropped all sails early due to no wind and also it looked like I had broken a baton on the mainsail from it slapping side to side with the wave action. I said to her that we need to slow because we are getting ahead of time. I then went to bed but Nancy woke me at 0200 hours saying that the winds had picked up she can see a flashing light ahead and we are catching up right behind ‘Rhapsody’. When I got up on deck ‘Rhapsody’ was right in front of us so I changed course to port, looking at the chart I could see the flashing light was the entrance light to Hells Gate but this was still 12 Nms away. ‘Rhapsody’ had cut its engine and was just slowly moving under sail to slow right down as we were going to get there too early. I unfurled the headsail around five turns and shut down the engine once I had my bearings and said to Nancy I would look after it and for her to get some rest.

Monday – 27/01/2014

We sailed at 3 knots which would slow us enough to knock on Hells Gate at first light. As we got near Hells Gate the NE winds had stirred the ocean so now we have NE wind waves against SW swell making the waters like a washing machine, a little uncomfortable but not bad.

Once behind the break wall it calmed and the entrance was great. When calm the entrance is beautiful, I found the electronic charts to be accurate which is always good. But entering this time in the morning gives it something special, although there was still little light, there is a man made break wall on the outside of the entrance and one on the inside.

(Welcome to Hells Gate which is just ahead, it was darker than the picture shows as we entered I have lighted the picture so you can see)

These were built by the convicts the outside to settle the waters on the narrow entrance and it also made Pilots Bay where ships in the early days would be tied to two heavy anchors in the bay until the seas calmed enough for them to enter Hells Gate, the inside was something to do with shipping the massive logs as they were losing them in the rough seas. My photos will not do the place justice I am sure. We entered through the narrow seaway with ease of modern day charting and vessel. Going back in the early times calm days like today they would have to lower the anchor into a boat and they would row the boat ahead and drop the anchor then the prisoners would man the capstan and haul the ship forward on the anchor this would be repeated until the ship had entered Hells Gate.

(Hells Gate light)

As we entered the Macquarie Harbour proper the NE winds met us and we had the wind on the nose all the way into Strahan where we anchored. The anchorage of the town Strahan is of moderate holding as the bottom is silty mud base, our anchor took hold and we got everything settled and had a snooze before heading ashore. Strahan has changed a little since our last visit back in 1998, it has like most got a little more commercialised and geared up for tourism but still a pretty place. We looked around did a little shopping before a reasonable quiet night on board.

(‘Rhapsody’ passes by the second light, this photo shows the light that we entered in.)

(Sunrise ahead, the line in the water is where the fresh water and seawater mix, the Gordon and Franklin Rivers continue to flow at a good rate along with streams and creeks so the harbour is mainly fresh water although tea coloured.)

(‘Rhapsody’ ahead in the choppy seas with NE winds blowing as we head north to Strahan)

(Strahan ahead, anchor, breakfast, shower sleep)

(Strahan waterfront shops)

(Sunset in Strahan Harbour)

(Strahan by night from our anchorage)

Tuesday – 28/01/2014

We decided that we would go down to Kelly Basin south end of Macquarie Harbour and go into the Gordon River tomorrow. Our original plan was to move anchorages before the heavy weather arrived by going the other side of Strahan Harbour but we changed our minds to go with the winds and sail down the Macquarie Harbour. We had to duck ashore to do a fuel run first so we dropped the dinghy went to the fuel station and returned to see Alana Rose the other side of the harbour on the sandbar. Apparently a precursor to today’s weather in the form of a wind bullets dislodged us and we dragged. I must say I have been pleased with my Rocna anchor but in these conditions it failed and the reason is in this type of slimy silty mud many anchors can fail, but the Rocna and other anchors of similar design will fill the scoop with this mud and it will stick, when this happens it does not allow the anchor to reset, some plough type anchors may have the same problem in these conditions, I should have let a lot more chain out. We headed for the boat and got aboard, turned instruments on started engines and because we fortunately was in the same type of ground but a little shallow I was able to put the starboard engine full astern which finally took the stern backwards and turned it towards a port direction , then once it had moved a little tickled the port engine ahead slightly helping the back of the boat turn outwards away from the land and then both full astern and we were out of our bad situation with a few more grey hairs and wrinkles. Nancy winched the anchor up and had to scrape the silty mud from it.

Beautiful Mt Sorell)

After settling down we hoisted the dinghy and got out of there and headed to Kelly Basin about 16 Nms away to a more sheltered anchorage. As we turned out from Strahan the winds got heavier we had 40 knots from behind so we let out a little headsail shut down the engines and sailed down the harbour at 8 plus knots.

Back at Strahan there was a cycle race staring in town so not many people would have noticed Alana Rose going away by itself but we did learn later that the two pilots that run seaplane flights saw it and had actually notified the Police but when they saw us heading there they also notified the Police that we were in attendance. They say when all else fails read the directions. I had failed to read that section in the guide book that states that the harbour is only moderate holding in moderate weather.

After an invigorating sail down the harbour we anchored in Kelly Basin where the winds were sheltered and the anchorage a lot safer.

(‘Rhapsody’ anchored nearby in Kelly Basin after a rainstorm)

A quiet night after a relaxing afternoon we had a good sleep to get going at first light into the great Gordon River, which I may add is uncharted, although we do have mud maps that were prepared by West Coast Yacht Charters and found them quite helpful. These mud maps do not have depths but do offer advice, I and Nancy put depths on them as we went along and I will add waypoints to these also.

The Gordon River – Tasmania

Tuesday 28/01/2014

Up and ready to go at 0600 hours the mouth of the Gordon River was covered in fog, it will take us an hour to get there from Kelly Basin by then the fog may have lifted.

(‘Rhapsody’ heading into the Gordon River, port and starboard markers ahead of them)

(Into the fog)

(‘Alana Rose’ coming out of the fog)

(Fortunately the first section of the river is charted on the electronic charts and are quite accurate but you would not tackle further in the river under fog conditions where it is uncharted.)

We followed ‘Rhapsody’ as Steve had been in the Gordon before and as he said if he hits bottom I have more power to pull him out than he has to pull me out. These fears were unfounded as there was plenty of depth as long as you follow the usual rules of a river, always stay on the outside of the bends and then go as you imagine the river flows, which is near centre between the leads in to the bends. The first part of the Gordon River about a mile is charted on the chart plotter but after that you have to work it out for yourself. There are also a few lateral markers at the start to lead you in to the river.

(Looking back at the sand spit at Snag Point)

(Heading up the Gordon River)

The sun had risen and some of the fog had started to lift as we got to the entrance but there was still fog in places which actually made it more interesting and beautiful. A few times ‘Rhapsody’ vanished in the fog as we did with them. With the waters only being disturbed by us there were still waters ahead and the reflections of the land and trees were amazing. We continued up the river heading for the furthest point it is safe to go and that is Sir John Falls, there is a landing there for the falls and if there is no one there we can tie up to the dock as long as we leave enough room for the seaplanes to go alongside on the attached floating pontoon.

(Our meeting with the other boats)

At one point ‘Rhapsody’ slowed they had spotted a dinghy floating along the side of the river with no one in it, Steve picked it up and towed it up river in case that someone was stranded, as we approached the next bend there were two boats, one a large yacht ‘Maatsuyker’ with Jack and Jude aboard, they are off another yacht named ‘Banyandah’ that write books on sea travel guides, not Glen’s “Banyandah”. They were doing some filming on the Gordon River. The dinghy belonged to the other boat a converted fishing boat doing charters and he was going to pick it up on the way back.

Steve had met Geoff and Judy before so they had a quick chat before we headed on up the river. We negotiated the Snag Point and the shallows near Warners Landing without any problems, the shallows where you keep close to the right side bank was the shallowest water we had come across for the length of our travel which was 3.9 metres.

(Sir John Falls pontoon us alongside and ‘Rhapsody’ rafted to us)

Sir John Falls is only a short distance from these shallows and Steve suggested I tie up on the dock first and if it was alright for him to raft to us which was alright with us so we did just that.

Once all settled we went for a walk to the falls, which is a very short distance from the landing, apparently there used to be a longer walk where you could go above the falls to where a hut was, where it is believed that the occupants had a piano there, this walk has been closed off by National Parks

(The walkway to the falls)

(The river from the falls)

(Sir John Falls the colours in the water from the tannin and sunlight over the sand)

Sir John Falls is quite spectacular not only for the falls but the area and its colours. There is a small beach on the far left side and with the stained water from the tannin  shows up as bright orange in the sunlight. During night hours they have the glow worms which we did not see due to our extended sundowners. We had sundowners that ran into dinner but all had a good night.

(Sundowners aboard our boat Kerrin and Nancy)

During the day the planes arrived, they do a flight over the harbour and Hells Gate along the Gordon and Franklin and land here for the falls. This is how we learned that the pilots saw our boat dragging anchor and they had informed the Police, we thanked them for what they did.

We had a chat with the pilots and their passengers who were interested in what we were doing, nice people.

Up, up and away)

Wednesday – 29/01/2014

Yes a little worse for wear the lot of us I think, but still it was a good night, it was a slow start but eventually we all got moving. Steve and Kerrin headed off in their dinghy to go through the rapids and up to the Franklin River. Nancy did not like the sound of going through the rapids so initially we declined the offer to go with them. However, after they left Nancy was saying we could go and look, so we changed the outboard motor over to the 8hp, more grunt than the 2.5hp. Just as we were getting ready one of the planes arrived so we had a chat and then we headed off. The river is beautiful, as we progressed the water although flowing was like a mirror and each item ashore reflecting on the water. When we reached the rapids I asked Nancy if she wanted to go through, she said we could give it a try, so away we went, I don’t know how Steve made it with his 5hp motor but we struggled with the 8hp at times Nancy was saying we are going backwards at other times she had her eyes closed. We wasn’t going backwards it was that we had to go sideways or was being pushed side to side with the flow, although near the end I wondered whether we would make it. Once through we looked at the current flow ahead and a second lot of rapids, it was going to be hard going all the way to the Franklin which was still a way to go. Nancy was not feeling comfortable and I must say I think I was pleased we did not continue, we turned and rode the rapids back and it seemed no time at all before we were back at near the boat. The second plane had arrived and we gave a wave to the pilot who waved back and we continued on to Warners Landing.

(Kerrin and Steve heading off up the Gordon River)

(Reflections, the boats at the dock as we return from our little dinghy run)

Warners Landing was the camp where the workers were to commence the construction on proposed dam but it all came to a halt after one of the biggest demonstrations seen in Australia, it was December 1982, people had chained themselves to trees, bull dozers or whatever to stop the construction work, people up in the trees, Police arresting people and news cameras recording the events. I must say I am not a hardcore greenie but I probably thank those that did what they did to stop the dam from going ahead. The way I see it today is that if the dam had gone ahead it would mean two things would happen, there would be less water in the Gordon downstream from the dam therefore it is possible boats would not be able to venture therefore tourist trade would suffer badly and really that is our main business today, the other part would be that there would be more seawater from the sea enter Macquarie Harbour as water finds its own level which would probably affect the shoreline vegetation. Macquarie Harbour is fresh water with maybe a little seawater mix. Going back in time I think that the concern was that the land around the Franklin River would go under water , I am not sure that in 1982 the two items I mentioned were part of the demonstrators worries, I could be wrong on that matter but I cannot remember it being mentioned.

We live in a wonderful country when one looks at the journey we have had and we see rivers like the Gordon that has the beauty of greenery with its vegetation of trees, bushes and vines, and we look at the rivers north west of the Berkeley and King George that has the rich red rock formations and stunning waterfalls.

We went ashore at Warners Landing and found the clearing above the dock saturated with water that had seeped down from the higher land, I don’t think it would have been a great campsite for the workers.

 After getting back in the dinghy we headed back to the boat but waited for the plane to take off before we ventured far. It is something to watch these light seaplanes take off, where they land and take off is a nearly straight part of the river but they have to turn a few slight bends as they go and with little wind to help them lift it is quite a long run.

After returning to the boat we changed the outboard motors back over on the dinghy and then had a short nanna nap. Steve and Kerrin got back mid afternoon and I asked Steve how he managed with the 5hp explaining we did it tough with the 8hp, he said they had to go from side to side gradually working their way up and had to do the same up through the second rapids.

Sundowners was a quiet affair with two beers each and a quiet early night.

(This is a chart that I have made up of the Gordon River, if you use this as a aid to navigation you must realise that it is how it was on the day and situations can change, read the notes on the chart).

Gordon River to Sarah Island

Thursday – 30/01/2014

Our plan today was leave the Gordon River at around 0900 hours, Steve and Kerrin were staying for extra time then going down to Heritage Landing where the tourist boats go, our plan was to go to Sarah Island and anchor off and dinghy ashore then head up to Double Cove for the night being closer to head out tomorrow to Port Davey and overnight run.

First I had to repair the mainsail baton that had come apart where it had a joiner so I mixed up some fibreglass to do the repair. We then said our goodbyes to Steve and Kerrin and we parted company. Going out of a place is always easier we just follow the track we made coming in on the chart plotter, so it is more relaxing for me at the helm, plus having noted all the depths on the way in on the chart I knew there were only a couple of places that we needed to take more care.

It was a pleasant sunny day which made it a magic trip down the river as we approached Heritage Landing one of the big tourist catamarans was alongside we continued on and it was not long before it was approaching us from behind as we neared the next bend the other tourist catamaran was coming up the river but there is plenty of room to pass each other.

(Going down the Gordon River, this is the Marble Cliffs and its reflection)

(The sand spit at Snag Point)

(Perfect reflections)

(great reflections and Mt Sorell in the background)

(One of the two tourist cats at Heritage Landing, they go out to Hells Gate, Sarah Island and to here for the forest walk)

(A calm day Sarah Island on the left and Grummet Island  to the right. Can you imagine people living on that Grummet Island, those days was called Small Island, it is steep and the beach goes under water at high tide or when rough seas occur)

(Grummet Island from another angle)

(It is hard to see in this photo but we had the start of heavy 40 knot winds and waves crashed on these islands)

We arrived at the anchorage at Sarah Island and dropped the anchor then we lowered the dinghy and headed for the jetty. The last time we were here was on one of the tourist cats in 1998 and I must say that I think it was better then than it is now. Today they have made it like a tourist attraction with wooden walkways and wide pathways, the grounds are kept in good order and they have erected tarp covers in one place with a few bench seats where they probably tell the story of the island, the modern day of occupational health and safety has ruined many a natural place that was taken over by National Parks to keep it natural and then erected all this. In 1998 there was one jetty and a pathway which was made by people just walking the same path continuously, it looked like the ruins then of a place that had been a terrible place to be in its day and it was, it would have been a horror of a place to be. Some prisoners were housed or should I say camped on Grummet Island a short distance north of Sarah Island, then known as Small Island in an overcrowded building where each man had an area of 700mm by 700mm (6ft 3inches), and most times had to jump overboard from the boat to get ashore so their clothes were wet that they had to stay in. The only comfort they had was that the cook had a meal for them and a fire was burning to warm them. They also had to wade out to the boat the next morning to go to their work unless the waters were calm and then had to stay in wet clothes, Tasmania is not a warm place. Many of the prisoners were sent there for very little crimes. Authorities wanted people to fear being sent to Macquarie Harbour and fear they did and should have.

These islands on a good day look beautiful in the harbour but on bad weather days they would have been hell. When we came down the harbour the other day we had winds of 40 knots, the wind waves were picking up and water was blowing off the tops of the waves, these islands being rather small and not very high are lashed by the winds and sea. When it was a penal colony one Commandant ordered  a timber wall to be erected on the shore to give some protection, there are still small remains of the wall there today.

A book I am reading at the moment tells the story, “Closing Hell’s Gates” by Hamish Maxwell-Stewart. On the back of the book reads,” For twelve long years between 1822 and 1834, Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour was the most feared place in Australia – a place so remote that those sent there as punishment felt condemned to an underworld. Clinging to the shores of the wild west coast of Tasmania and hemmed in on all sides by vast, mountainous landscape, the environment itself formed the prison walls. While some chose death or were driven mad by the brutal conditions, others clung , against all odds, to the hope of escape through the rugged uncharted wilderness”.

It paints a picture of what things were like one man was sent there for three years for taking two pieces of paper, some others were let go by the courts due to lack of evidence or the prosecutor did not show up, but Lieutenant Governor Arthur sent them to Macquarie Harbour for three or seven years punishment, he was above the law.

(The way it was)

 (There is not much left of these cottages today but this gives the history)

A little bit of a contrast to prison today and the court systems.

Some prisoners did escape, some got caught, some died and some were never seen again. Some that escaped turned to cannibalism to survive as they had no food. Prisoners were sent to the place of work without food for the day as a precaution that they could not use the food to escape, they only had the two meals a day under hard labour wet and cold conditions.

The beauty we see here today was a horror story in its past.

Well we left Sarah Island the wind was picking up so we did not visit Grummet Island we ventured north to Double Cove navigating around the fish farms to get there. We anchored in the southern anchorage which is not good for north winds but good for the SW that we had today.

It is a pretty anchorage and very peaceful. We had a quiet night, I refitted the repaired baton in the mainsail whilst calm conditions and got things ready to sail tomorrow.

It is no wonder why the Australian way is to knock authority because this as in Port Arthur and other penal colonies was the foundation of this country.

Macquarie Harbour to Port Davey

Saturday – 01/02/2014 

There was no hurry to get underway this morning because we do not want to get to Port Davey until it is daylight in the morning although it is quite safe to enter and anchor in the dark with a large number of safe places to drop the pick.

(Leaving Hells Gate behind again we had calm waters, not that I was disappointed)

(Dolphins race towards us and then swim between the bows

After talking to our mate Glen we might look at the anchorage at the island Hibbs Pyramid just over 20 Nms south of Hells Gate. If we anchored there we would not have to sail through the night.

We headed out of Double Cove at 1000 hours and motored to Hells Gate with hardly any wind and sun shining made for a good passage through Hells Gate once out we hoisted the mainsail with two reefs to prevent the slapping under light winds with the side swell rocking the boat. As we went down the coast I noticed one yacht in front of us going the same way and another sailing catamaran coming north, plus there were a couple of fishing boats towards the coast.

(Hibbs Pyramid stands out as we approach, fishing boat in front had just passed us and another is on the port beam)
Photo by Nancy

(Hibbs Pyramid) Photo by Nancy

As we approached Hibbs Pyramid the two fishing boats started to race us to the anchorage they with their larger engines got there just in front of us, we let them settle then checked around for a suitable place to anchor that would be out of the swell and give enough swing clearance from the fishing boats, but they had the spot to anchor so we continued on. We did not grumble about it as the fishermen are at work and need a place to anchor for the night. So it is we sail through the night. It would not have been good to stay as the boats there would have their generators and flood lights going all night. Actually as we got well down the coast we could still see the glow of their flood lights in the sky.

A note in the guide book states that older charts can be up to one nautical mile out at Hibbs Pyramid, I have a number of charts and most were well out other than the new Navionics that has been updated this year on my IPad, for a change the Garmin plotter was the furthest out on this occasion and those charts are 2008. It not only show Hibbs Pyramid incorrectly it is also its surrounds including the mainland coastline and the two rocks north of the island.

(With sunset upon us we settle down into our watch routine for the sail through the night)

Sunday – 02/02/2014

We did our four hour watch routine and we arrived at the entrance of Port Davey at first light, the night had been cool but not as cold as it has been. I woke Nancy as we got closer although she had only been in bed two hours which was around 0630 hours, I knew I would be in trouble if I didn’t there were too many photo opportunities as the place is wonderful. I said to Nancy the plan is to go straight to Clytie Cove which is a good all around anchorage and we have some strong winds due tomorrow, when we get there its breakfast, shower, shave then a sleep. (Nancy did not have to shave).

Entering this waterway is very impressive with the mountainous country which is entirely different to where we have been, the country is very different as far as vegetation, the trees are not as large as that in Macquarie Harbour there are short bushy type trees and from this distance a heath type vegetation covers most of the areas.

 There is plenty of depth of water in the waterways, some of the anchorages here are not great holding and some areas suffer from bullets of winds that can cause concern.  This is why we have selected Clytie Cove as it is listed as a good all around anchorage . We passed three anchored boats on the way to the anchorage so we may see more of them later.

As soon as we anchored and got things in order Nancy got breakfast of left over curry stew that we had through the night and made toast to go with it. After breakfast it was a nice hot shower and a shave for me before a good hours sleep.

This is our backdrop view from our anchorage in Clytie Cove)

We have noticed that this west coast one has to put up with march flies they live in these waterways, we have a fly screen draped in the doorway of the salon and they still try and find a way in, I sprayed the fly screen with fly repellent and that fixed the problem they they won’t touch the fly screen.

We had a restful afternoon looking at the scenery and having a read and working on these notes. This was followed by a roast dinner and an early night for me.

Monday – 03/02/2014

Quiet day, worked on the notes, windy weather and very cool with a few showers.

(Nice fresh bread that Nancy baked)

Tuesday – 04/02/2014

We weighed anchor and went for a look further into Port Davey checking places along the way in particular Clayton Corner where there is a jetty and water available, not that we really needed water we just wanted to check it out. When we got there we found it quite shallow which the guide book identifies and with a moderate wind from the SE to anchor there puts us on a lee shore and the fact the guide book states it is silt mud bottom and not good holding we did not bother to stay. We motored back to where we came and for the predicted winds anchored back at Clytie Cove

(The jetty at Clayton Corner)

We then lowered the dinghy and headed for one of the walks, as we neared the shore in the dinghy we saw another man rowing to the same spot from god knows where. When we all got ashore and spoke with him he was from Switzerland, he is over here on a hiking holiday. He had been hiking these parts for 12 days and had 2 months in Australia, he was hiking around the Port Davey track and continuing on south and across to the southeast where he would then hitch a lift at the road south of Huon. I think you have to be a special type of person to do this alone. He was telling us that many of the walking tracks you have to cross water like he had just done, he said he was lucky because the place he picked up the rowing dinghy there were two there, if there had only been one he would have had to row across pick up the other dinghy and tow it back to where he started and then row back again so that there is always a dinghy for the next person.

We wished him well and we both walked off. We had just a short walk to the top of the second rise and then came back and returned to the boat.

(Nancy talking to the hiker from Switzerland, the dinghy rack for the ones used by hikers)

(Natures sculpture)

(Nancy on the hike)

(The view from the hill of Clytie Cove and ‘Alana Rose’ anchored and the passage in front of Mt Rugby)

We had a lazy morning to start with then we weighed anchor and caught the outgoing tide and went to Bramble Cove this would give us protection for the predicted NE winds for the next two days and at the same time be a staging point for leaving on Friday. One thing that seems to be the norm in Tasmania and that is on the west coast SW sea breeze will come in anywhere between 1000 hours and 1300 hours and on the east coast the same occurs with the SE sea breeze.

This area like all of Port Davey is breathtaking , today we had clear skies and sunshine which made it even better. I think the photos will show this.

(Joe Page Bay)

(Another view of Mt Rugby)

This Cove has a few bays with beaches and more walks up mountains. No I did not climb them. It was a glorious day and we enjoyed it.

Thursday 06/02/2014

After breakfast and the weather warmed we headed ashore to have a look around, on the way we called by a French boat to say hello and was invited aboard for coffee. They had spent 4 years in Raiatea, French Polynesia, they arrived there the same year we left but knew people that we knew there, as we say small world. So we caught up on a bit of the gossip from there.

We then headed ashore to explore and stretch the legs, we got back on board as the sea breeze started up as the sea breeze puts us on a lee shore, it only last a few hours.

(Tides out, view from the beach to the anchorage)

(Golden sunset over the bank of islands in the passage)

(Mt Misery at Bramble Cove near sunset)

(The sun has set)

Tonight it is early to bed, we sail or probably motor at 0400 hours in the morning, tomorrow we enter the real part of the Southern Ocean and reach our most southerly position on this voyage. We hear horror stories of the west coast and southern coast of Tasmania and we hope like we have done so far picked the right weather window for tomorrow.


Port Davey to Recherche Bay

Friday – 07/02/2014

Awake at 0330 hours put the kettle on make the tea, my heart starter. Then start getting things ready, roll up the cockpit covers, started engines to warm up, switch on the instruments, Nancy gets her herb garden planter boxes inside the cockpit so the seawater does not kill them, undo the mainsail bag, not that I think we will be using it there is no wind at all. Which can be a blessing in these parts.

Cup of tea finished time to go, Nancy out on the anchor winch bringing up the anchor whilst I move the boat to take the strain off the chain, she gives the all clear and we are off.

It is dark you can’t see a bloody thing out there other than shadows of land, although we have two chart plotters at the helm when you first turn after pulling the anchor they are slow to respond because we are only moving slow until the boat gets a little speed up. It is quite easy to get disoriented during this time. Your eyes are still trying to adjust to night vision and Nancy who needs a torch out forward for the anchor does not help the night vision because inevitably she will turn with the torch and hit you with the beam in the eye without fail. After a short time we adjust and I navigate us out of the Cove and into the channel through the islands and out to sea.

As we get out to the ocean and change course for the SW Cape the morning light starts and what a great sunrise. The shoreline is full of mist with a few fishing boats that have been anchored for the night. The seas have a rolling swell of around 1 to 2 metres other than that it is calm no wind no wind waves. After we cleared the channel of islands Nancy went for a rest because I will need a rest later and she is missing this lovely morning, she will curse me when she sees the photos I have taken but safety comes first and we need sleep in case we are out here longer than we expect to be.

(Red in the morning?)

(Heading to South West Cape)

(Albatross glides over the sea)
(Sunrise as the albatross glides)

(Approaching South West Cape)

Nancy got up as we were about to round South West Cape, if she had not have been I would have to wake for this one it is one of our mile stones of circumnavigation. There is always a concern on the seas and they say to stay well clear of the Cape because waves can come from nowhere, we were surprised how calm the seas were, we had studied the weather but the predictions were for moderate NE winds and we expected the seas and wind to be up a little. The guide book stated the best time to leave Port Davey for our destination was just before a westerly change and that is on its way. Other than less than one metre swell we had smooth seas no wind therefore no wind waves, it does mean running engines.

(South West Cape)

After rounding the SW Cape without any problems from the sea we headed for the Maatsuyker Island Group (the name may be familiar because of the yacht that we met in the Gordon River had the same name). The guide book suggests the best course is to pass through these islands and they are probably right, however, I am pleased it was not night time as there were lobster pot floats all over the place and we had to steer a course through them.

The day was quite misty not sure whether this was smoke from fires in SA or VIC but it did not make it good for some photos of the coastline. The southern coastline of Tasmania is really something to see, the mountain ranges and cliff are wonderful. The Maatsuyker Island Group are also very attractive.

(Maatsuyker Island Group)

Nancy took the watch after we had passed through the islands and I went for an hours sleep then I took the watch again whilst Nancy made a brew and something to eat. Nancy kept checking our Lat/Long as she wanted to record our furthest point south again another milestone. This occurred just as we neared SE Cape the Lat/Long was 43⁰ 39.645′ S 146⁰ 18.069′ E. Prior to reaching this point as we neared South Cape we had a great experience, in the near flat seas we could see dolphins coming in distance from all directions towards us, prior to this we had seal groups of seals. The dolphins just kept coming and it did not stop until we reached South East Cape, it was mind blowing. Some left and more joined, as some left behind us they were jumping out of the water high in the air. We have had many dolphin experiences but this would have been the best.

(Dolphins between the hulls)

(Dolphins above and below)

(Dolphin jumping behind the boat)

(Nancy taking photo of dolphins and the seal out to her left)

(A seal with its flipper out of the water, they do this as a way of controlling their body temperature)

As we rounded SE Cape we could see a storm ahead and then we saw the lightening and heard the thunder, by the guide book standards we had left Port Davey at the right time, they stated that there would possibly be small storms when we got to this area as a pre-cursor to the westerly change coming. We headed for Coalbins anchorage in Recherche Bay as we reached the bay I had to stop engines and wait a short while as the storm hit and we had white out, it lasted a short time then we anchored. We put the covers down due to further rain but there was not much after anchoring. Nancy asked if I wanted a cup of tea and I said no way I’ll have a beer. We made good time getting here taking 11.5 hours averaging just over 6 knots only using one engine most of the way.

(Part of the southern coastline, South Cape to the right)

(South Cape)

(South East Cape)

(Storm cell as we arrive at Recherche Bay)

It was very calm and with only two other yachts anchored it was quiet, we had a nice dinner and a couple of wines and I went to bed reasonably early after a long day.

Recherche Bay to Port Huon and Port Huon to Hobart via Port Cygnet, Kettering and Barnes Bay

Saturday – 08/02/2014

We did not rush around this morning we had breakfast before heading out up the D’Entrecasteax Channel to the Huon River. The guide book indicates that once leaving Recherche Bay to be careful of the kelp beds, these are natural growing seaweed that grow off the edges of coral stretching out from the islands and reefs, these are well marked on the electronic charts. There is a lot of the kelp floating freely that have broken away so that can make you think that you are close to a kelp bed but basically if you stay on a line centre to the islands it is clear of the beds.

It was a very calm day, might say the calm before the storm the change is due tomorrow, we set off and motored no wind again. It was a pleasant journey, we had about 35 Nms to go. We passed many numbers of seals along the way laying on their backs with their flippers sticking straight up out of the water, as I have found out that this is their way of temperature control which I mentioned before. They look cute but they can become nasty at times if they think they are being threatened.

(Its a rough life)

(Classic little motor boat)

As we neared Huon River mouth we found many fish farms on each side so care needs to be taken, they are clearly marked with yellow markers you just stay outside these markers. I heard one bloke on the radio the other day calling the fisheries up on the radio asking how he should navigate around them, the fisheries told him to follow the track outside the yellow markers, this bloke had trouble with that, I don’t think the bloke should be out on the water. All you need is binoculars to see the markers ahead of the one you are approaching to work it out.

(A section of one of the many fish farms)

(One of the fish farm boats)

We continued up the river and I re-checked the weather on the internet and said to Nancy with the change of 40 knot winds tomorrow it may pay to see if we can go into the marina. Nancy contacted the marina and they said they had a berth for us so we headed for there.

The directions given to us was go passed the main wharf of Port Huon then follow the line of moored yachts and boats and that will lead us into the Kermandie River then follow the markers to the marina. We did this after being assured that the water will be deep enough for us to enter. It was about an hour after low tide. When we got to the entrance I was a little surprised at the narrowness of the marked channel, from my helm position it hardly looked wide enough for us to pass through it although in reality there was well enough width. The shallowest point was 2 metres deep. We found where we were intended to go and as we went alongside a bloke by the name of David came to give us a hand grabbing the lines and securing us, we thanked him after introducing ourselves. He was very helpful with local information. Later we met another yachty, Sue who had a lovely looking yacht ‘Lioness of the Sea’, which she has up for sale she also lives aboard.

We had lunch up at the Kermandie Hotel, which I can fully recommend, the marina complex is owned by the same person that have the hotel a well known sailor, Shaun Langman.

Frank from Hobart rang and said he would come down the next day and for a drive we could have lunch so we thought that was a good idea. We had a quiet night on board

Sunday – 09/02/2014

Today the weather is going to turn bad, high winds are predicted for around 1400 hours, the morning we spent cleaning the boat and getting things tied down. Long time friends Frank and June and June’s sister Cath came down from Hobart to have lunch with us at the Kermandie Hotel in the main restaurant. I can only praise this place the food is wonderful and that was voted by all of us, the service was very professional and not expensive, prices were on par with most restaurants, but I would class this as five star service and quality of meals and ample size meals. The other day we had a bar meal in the main bar which was a burger and chips but we both commented then how good that was and it only cost $12.50.

The restaurant is quite busy so if you intend to go there it is advisable to book ahead, we were lucky to get in without prior booking and the place soon filled up.

(Kermandie Hotel, great food great service)

(Kermandie Marina, very sheltered and not expensive)

(Kermandie Marina Boatyard large boat haulout, one of Shaun’s yachts, he entered this one in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race)

(Kermandie River, entrance left up river right)

Whilst cleaning the boat this morning a yacht went passed on their way out, I made comment to them about the weather change, they said they would be alright and I hope they are, the winds out there were horrific, no sooner the storm hit we heard on the VHF radio calls for assistance six boats in trouble just 3 nautical miles from us. Hobart radio put out a ‘Relay Mayday’ for any vessel in the area that could go to their assistance and fortunately some of the strong boats from the fish farms responded. Most boats would have had trouble getting away from the dock to go, we definitely could not go in these conditions the wind would not allow us to turn without sending us aground even the coastguard rescue boat could not launch in these conditions, the fisheries boats were in the area of the fish farms and are strong tug type boats. . Looking at the met observations winds out on the river were up to 72 knots

(This was after the storm had settled down a little, this is the channel into the marina and Kermandie River)

(Light rain brings the rainbow)

Hobart had been hit quite bad, Frank phoned to warn us about the storm it hit them just as he was turning into his street, I told him that it had already hit down here. Hobart had power blackouts and trees down, one poor chap was killed when a tree fell on the utility he was driving.

The winds stayed until near dark so we did not venture anywhere. Sue’s yacht broke away from the dock as a bow line snapped and the boys were there quick to give her assistance and the fishing boat behind us had a boom snap where it had a shade awning over it, the wind in the awning broke the boom.

Fortunately it calmed some but still windy through the night, I was feeling so pleased we had come into the marina rather than ride this one out of the anchor.

Monday – 10/02/2014

Things were calm again but we could see some of the aftermath of the storm with one yacht that had been out had a ragged piece of cloth hanging from the headsail halyard, when talking to the owner later he had lost the headsail and the mainsail, apparently they were out with other yachts from Cygnet Bay racing, which is amazing when they cancelled the Hobart Regatta race due to pending weather conditions in Hobart which was the first time in its history to be cancelled through weather. People do not realise the risks at times they think that all will be alright, they do not think of the people that have to risk their lives to rescue them when everything goes pear shape, that those people have families that also worry.

(The new day a new morning)

(One of the yachts that lost both headsail and mainsail, the remains of the headsail flapping aloft)

(Calm after the storm)

In the quiet morning we went for a walk down to Huon Wharf, the wharf today is used by the fishery farms, earlier days it would have been used for timber fruit and vegetable shipments. This area appears to be growing as far as housing with new estates opening and land prices are quite low in these parts.

As we walked back to the marina we met Sue that came along in her car and stopped alongside and asked if we wanted to go for a ride into Huonville where we could do some shopping, so we thanked her and went with her, we did our shopping then had a bite to eat and on the way back she stopped and showed us Franklin and we visited fruit farms where Nancy bought so fruit.

(Place where the jetty was)

(This would have to be one of the oldest mile stones around, I assume it is 34 Miles to Hobart

(The Huon Wharf now used by the fish farms)

(The bank come Hospital come Antique Shop)

We had a very nice day and as we are leaving tomorrow we went over to the hotel to see about paying our fees for the marina. We got to the hotel across the road and said that we need to pay for our stay at the marina, Lisa asked if we had any meals at the hotel and we replied that we had lunch in the bar the first day and lunch in the restaurant yesterday, so she said that the two meals cover two days so we only had to pay for one day which was $25. You can’t get better than that. We had a couple of beers at the bar before heading back on board and getting things organised for leaving tomorrow. We had a usual nice dinner aboard and a quiet night.

Port Huon to Port Cygnet

Tuesday – 11/02/2014

We left the marina straight after breakfast not long after high tide so we had plenty of depth in the passage and catch the tide down the Huon to Cygnet Bay, again it was a motor job as there was no wind so used the one engine and went along at 5.3 knots. The Huon River like the rest of Tasmania is beautiful, the landscapes of farms and other properties are a mix of modern and heritage styles.

(Leaving Port Huon

(Farms of different types above round bales and below fish farm

(This tug is towing the fish enclosure at a very slow rate it does not look like they are moving there is a very long tow line between them which is hard to see in this weather, there is a black marker half way along the tow line and the tug has the correct signs for towing)

As we rounded Beaupre Point going into Port Cygnet the land on the point was farmland with round hay bales and in the bay just before the point was a monohull yacht moored, Nancy said there is the best of both worlds assuming the yacht belonged to the farm which makes sense.

We went up to Cygnet Bay and anchored just outside the moorings at the Cygnet Bay Sailing Club after anchoring we noticed an older motorboat on the opposite shore to the club aground still tied to a mooring and the mooring was aground just in front of the boat, a possible result of the storm the other day.

(Looking down stream from Cygnet Bay)

(Classic yachts)

In the afternoon we watched the yacht race, they had little wind but there were some wonderful vintage yachts racing, one I noticed when it finished it had two young children aboard in their lifejackets that were having a ball, they were laughing and jumping around on the foredeck, it is just great to see children enjoying the time aboard probably not worrying about the race just having fun, the day ended with a great sunset.

We spent a quiet night at anchor and it was quite peaceful.

(Cygnet Bay sunset)

Cygnet Bay to Barnes Bay

Wednesday – 12/02/2014

We caught the tide out and headed for Kettering Marina to fuel, it would be easier to fuel here than try and cart it in containers in Hobart. The day is cloudy and drizzling rain, not a great day, no wind having to motor again although I do have the sail up its not doing much. As we come out of Cygnet Bay I noticed a fisheries tug with one of the fish growing units a fair way behind but I imagine it is being towed, looking through the binoculars I could just see the tow line with a marker about half way, on a grey day like today it is difficult to see and because the unit is so delicate the boat towing is barely moving. So one needs to be alert at all times.

Leaving the Huon River and entering  D’Entrecasteaux Channel passing Huon Island I noticed the classic old homestead ashore hard to see as it is surrounded by large trees making a wind break for the property. It looked quite spectacular even on this grey day.

(Entering Kettering Marina area)

(Fueling up, self serve)

(Kettering Marina)

We continued up the channel and the weather started to clear just before we got to Kettering, as we approached the ferry crossed ahead of us that takes cars and people across to Bruny Island. Turning into Kettering there are a lot of moorings but there is a wide passage through the centre as you enter the marina area it appears to be cluttered with docks in all directions. We headed for the marina fuelling point which is right down the end where there is a big FUEL sign. However, on the way there we passed another fuelling point which was self serve, we continued to the far fuel area at the marina as we had rang them, but looking at the dock that we had to go to was not favourable, it was a high dock and we probably would have had to run around organising boards for the fenders so I opted to turn around and go back to the self serve which had a good dock in a clear area. We filled the tanks and the containers then left for North Bruny Island, Barnes Bay at the anchorage Alexanders this is only a short distance across the channel.

As we entered Barnes Bay we noticed a small yacht that had been a victim of the storm the other day, it was well aground and badly damaged, this was the second vessel that we had seen aground. We anchored in Alexander a small well protected bay that is used by yachts regularly heading for Hobart from the south as an overnight anchorage.

(Alexander anchorage Barnes Bay, North Bruny Island)

(The one closest is the vocal one, must be the female)

(Morning calm)

After anchoring we had visitors and one was very vocal, two black swans looking for a feed, they had already had a feed at a large motor cruiser a short distance from us and as we found they just travelled between the two boats looking for extra food.

It was a very calm anchorage and good holding so we had a comfortable night.

Barnes Bay to Hobart

Thursday – 13/02/2014

We had a nice breakfast and waited a short time for the sun to warm things up, it was a great day with sunshine no wind again so it was to motor once again. We set off and as we pulled the anchor up the two swans came after us for a last feed. We headed out up the channel to the Derwent River. We tried to get into the marinas in Hobart City but all that was available was the inside Constitution Dock, where we would not have power and we would be alongside the dock wall. This is not what concerned me, what did was the fact that the entrance is 8 metres wide and we are basically 7 metres wide, the bridge does not open to the full vertical and with our width it does not give me room to avoid the bridge with a mast that is well  above the height of the bridge, there has been a few yachts come to grief with the mast hitting the bridge. Nancy rang a friend Darrin and he has his yacht at Prince of Wales Marina at the Prince of Wales Bay which is closer to the Bowen Bridge north of the Tasman Bridge. So Nancy contacted Noel there and he booked us in and met us at the dock to tie us up. This marina is well protected and is brand new only been operating for 18 months. The only disadvantage is that it is a distance from shopping areas. It does have a cafe on site that is open 0630 – 1600 hours Mon-Fri. Fees are more than reasonable considering we are a wide catamaran taking up two berths it cost us $121.00 for the week.

(Going up the Derwent River Tasman Bridge ahead)

(There are restrictions small craft have to avoid the centre openings)

(Near Prince of Wales Bay is where they build these large Cats, this one has just returned from being on lease to USA the Australian Forces used one during the Timor incident

(Sunsets over the Mt Wellington ranges

(This motorboat in the marina must be serious about drinking, beer tap aboard)

After getting settled my good friends Frank and June were here to see us, they only live a short distance from here, so it was dinner at their place. We had a good time and it is just great being able to catch up with these lovely people

The following website is interesting reading.

Hobart – Tasmania

Well we had a week and a half in Hobart staying at the Prince of Wales Marina and I must say it is a very nice marina, the marina is a bit distant from town but there are buses available after a short walk. Thanks to two more wonderful friends, Frank and June we got around and about with them. Frank told me he was available to run us around where ever we needed to go.

(Prince of Wales Marina, this marina has only been open for 18 months)

(Prince of Wales Bay)

(Alana Rose berthed with Mt Wellington in the background)

We arrived on Thursday 13/02/2014, June and Frank were there to meet us and they took us home for dinner. On Friday Frank ran me around to get oil and filters I needed and filters for the engines so two days were taken up doing engine maintenance, all fuel and oil filters changed, changed oil, cleaned the heat exchangers and adjusted the valve tappets.

Saturday I did the starboard engine and I tried to help the blokes on the boat next door to us as they had electrical problems which ended up being a crook battery charger and one bank of batteries needing replacement, Sunday Frank and June took us to Richmond to see the Highland Piped Bands, they have the championships there each year and Frank used to play in the Police Piped Band. From there we went into Hobart to the Italian Food Festival where we had a bite of lunch. The day did not have the best weather it had light rain from time to time but we had a good day of it.

(Piped bands at Richmond)

(The Italian Food Festival, it was packed)

Monday it was back to work and I worked on the port engine completing the service. Tuesday Frank gave us his car to do our shopping, so we went and did a big shop for groceries as at the time we thought we would be leaving the next day, although it was in doubt due to the change in weather.

Wednesday and Thursday was a quiet days aboard it looks like Sunday before we leave. Friday we went into Hobart and caught the fast cat MR1 (Mona Roma 1) and went to the Mona Gallery. This was some experience, The gallery is owned by a David Walsh who had made his millions as a professional gambler. The art exhibitions some being very confronting are from artist worldwide and are actually David’s personal art collection, some of the exhibits are changed every six months and I believe that it is Hobart’s biggest tourist attraction as far as the number of people that visit. Some people fly from all over the world just to drop in see the gallery and leave again.

(Arriving on the ferry gallery entrance white building on top of hill

(At the basement floor looking back at lift and stairs around it

(Rest area this is where the tour starts)

First exhibit is the light that comes on when you hold the handles and it flashes to the beat of your heart)

May I say it is not every ones cup of tea, as I said some art works are confronting, The Poo Room is one that everyone goes to see, I must say that the smell shortened my stay in the room considerably. I may say it is an incredible place, most of the art works is not my thing but it was well worth the visit not just to see the art but the building and it’s surrounds. The building is below ground level, the entrance is on top of a hillside on the waterfront and when you get off the MR1 that takes you there are 92 steps to reach the top. When you enter the gallery there is a hall where you can take your bags and secure them because you won’t want to take them with you and I don’t think you are allowed to. There is a cafe and a lift that goes downwards or you may choose as we did to walk down the spiral stairs that are on the outside of the round lift. Down the bottom which is about four floors below there is toilets, rest area, a bar and the start of the gallery. To give you an idea of time required we caught the 0930 hour ferry (MR1 cat) and caught the 1345 hour ferry back, this gave us plenty of time to look around and have a bite to eat at the cafe. If we needed extra time we could have organised a later ferry or give the cafe a miss and have a bite on the ferry on the way back as they also have a cafe.

(These are separate exhibits just put together on photo)

(This exhibit was spread from one side the room to the other and had flies dead hanging on threads the photos have been split to enlarge)

(These exhibits were also separated)

(One of the paintings)

(This again is a number of photos in the same room)

(The Poop Room and smells the same, these represent the digestive system, they get fed twice a day and if you are lucky enough to be there they do a poo at 1400 hours, shame our boat left at 1345 hours)

(Above and below a couple of views from the cafe)

(MR1 taking us back to Hobart

(The sign in the Galley of the MR1

When we got back to Hobart we went to find the supermarket as Nancy needed a couple of items, we then went for a drink and caught up with Elena and her family, a lovely lady that used to live in Alice Springs. We have chatted on the old Face Book and as we were both in town at the same time thought we would meet and say hi.

(The lovely Elena with Nancy and myself)

(Steve and Kerrin’s ‘Rhapsody along the dock)

(This is the entrance to Constitution Dock, I think you can see why I did not attempt it

After this we went over to Constitutional Dock and met up with Steve and Kerrin off ‘Rhapsody’ who we sailed the Gordon River with and after having a drink with them we caught a taxi back to the marina.

Saturday being our last day Frank and June put on a farewell barbeque for us, Frank was also good enough to run us into town to drop some charts off for Steve and Kerrin before we headed to his house. We had a great afternoon and we said our goodbyes in the early evening and Frank took us back to the marina as we needed an early night as we leave first light in the morning.

Hobart to Port Arthur

Sunday – 23/02/2014

We have to pick the weather to sail or should I say motor sail because sometimes the alternative in the Southern Ocean can be a bit unnerving. It is a fact the barometer here can wear itself out. Some of you may not understand that, if you live on the mainland the barometer may move from time to time but here the weather change cycles with high and low pressures have a great affect. So end result is that we sail or motor when it is safe to do so, this is why we postponed our leaving from Wednesday to Sunday.

So Sunday up at first light and left the marina and headed down the Derwent River, the weather all though cool was great sun shining and calm waters. As we headed down the river towards Storm Bay we hoped it stayed that way. As we neared the Iron Pot, which is the oldest lighthouse in Australia which is off Cape Direction as you enter Storm Bay.

(Heading down the Derwent towards the Tasman Bridge)

(A group of Cormorants on one bridge base)

(The Iron Pot, Australia’s oldest lighthouse)

(Dolphins came to play)

(Hundreds of Shearwater Birds or also known as Tasmanian Mutton Birds)

The swell picked up a little but not bad it wasn’t until we neared Cape Raoul and Maingon Bay near Port Arthur  that the swell lifted and also the wave rebound started off the shear face of the cliffs. Being close to the cliff face is something to see but one has to suffer the rebound waves to see it. Friend Frank said to stay close to see it and for Nancy to take pictures, trouble is trying to stay still to take the pictures.

We rounded the beautiful Cape Raoul and headed for Port Arthur entrance as soon as we changed course going with the swell it was a lot calmer, it is around a 4 Nms run into the actual Port Arthur from the entrance. It still amazes me that the ships of that day negotiated some of these seas and entrances and considering they had a compass and sometimes no charts and a sextant that one could really get a reading at midday if there was no cloud, I take my hat off to them.

The fact is though when those ships in the 1800’s came here the passengers may have been grateful to get off the ship because the conditions were not good but they had little to look forward to.

As we entered we went passed Mason Bay where Port Arthur settlement is located as there is little room to drop anchor due to moorings in most places and it is well open to the elements. We anchored a little south of there in Carnarvon Bay. As soon as we anchored I had a little nanna nap and we had a quiet night aboard watching a movie, it was a little chilly outside and a change was due.

(The first thing to see is The Island of the Dead, this is where they buried the dead from the penal colony some not having a headstone)

(It is something to see now but it must have been a sight when before it became ruins)

(The Shipwrights and Clerk of Works houses)

Monday – 24/02/2014

We are not going anywhere today, drizzle rain most of the day so we stay aboard getting our notes up to date.

Late in the day, just before dark I rechecked the weather to see what we needed to plan and it indicated a change for winds that we were not expecting so we decided to move before it got dark, so we pulled the anchor and headed into  Stewarts bay which would give us protection from the northern winds predicted. When we went to anchor the anchor winch decided to go on strike so we let the anchor out manually, looks like a job for tomorrow.  Another cool night we settled for another movie and then went to bed.

Tuesday – 25/02/2014

We decided the anchor winch could wait, to be honest I think it is passed help it needs a new electric motor. So after breakfast we dropped the dinghy and headed ashore to Port Arthur penal colony at least that is what it was for many years.

It was a good walk from Stewarts bay beach but a nice walk at that. We arrived at the visitors centre to part with some money. This place has been done up since we were here last in 1998, they have got massive car park area and overflow car parks thrown in.

In 1998 things were a little different, it was not long after the terrible incident where a shooter randomly shot people in the Port Arthur complex and tourism had suffered a little, which I may add was a benefit to us as bringing the car over on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry cost us a whole dollar, the government subsidised tourism to get people to come here. Which to me I find unusual to some degree, but when you think that if a disaster like a crocodile attack up north or someone disappearing from Ayres Rock actually increased tourism to those areas. Maybe that the reputation of Port Arthur created something different because of its history. But I am pleased to report that the amount of tourist here at present is quite numerous and I don’t think we are really in the peak season.

(The above photos of Port Arthur are numerous photos that I have manually stitched together, it is a little challenge for myself and I enjoy doing this.)

Port Arthur as like other penal colonies before it has some gruesome history, I think I mentioned before that I was reading a book that I have now finished called “Closing of Hells Gate”, it is well worth a read, the book ends where Port Arthur begins as Port Arthur took the place of Sarah Island and some other penal colonies like Maria Island.

After our walk all over Port Arthur we walked back to Stewart Bay and back aboard where I decided to give the anchor winch a strip down and without any great result other than confirming it is dead. The only thing left to do is have a drink.

We had a reasonably early night as we sail in the morning at first light for Maria Island.

Port Arthur to Maria Island

Wednesday – 26/02/2014

We got ready at first light and waited for enough light so I could see the anchor chain as I had to use the hand lever to manually haul in 45 metres of chain and the anchor, certainly warms you up on a cool morning. We motored out of the bay and passed the Island of the Dead I tipped my hat and wished them farewell. The seas ahead looked a little lumpy but not too bad. We left the entrance and set a course to clear Tasman Island, and what beauty it has. It made me wonder how many sailors have passed this island without noticing her beauty, you may think that that is a strange thought. However, consider this point in the ocean can cause havoc to sailor and vessel in many times of heavy wind and seas. Tasmania has a wonderful coastline so many different variations but very beautiful.

(Looking back towards Port Arthur and Cape Raoul

(Approaching Tasman Island )

(Tasman Island)

As we neared Tasman Island another island approached, at least that is what it looked like at first, I checked the chart but no island noted then as we neared it and it came out of the mist it was a floating island one very large tourist ship. Then as we passed at a good distance I noticed a fishing boat of the point of Tasman Island so I altered course to avoid it.

(Passenger ship)

(Rock formations on mainland and right Tasman Island)

(Tasman Island)

(Cathedral Rock)

We then rounded the point of Tasman Island and looked on this great sight, the seas now calmer as we went with the waves north. The winds now from the SSW dropped away as we passed high land form and bullets out as we crossed the low land forms so it was a bit of motor sailing and some sailing. I know I may repeat myself but the coastline is very beautiful there is something of attraction all the way along this coastline, I suppose I can say this for nearly all of Australia, but I think the mountainous country with the green of massive trees with small farm properties mixed in along with some rock formations really stand out.

We arrived at Maria Island at the Chinamans Bay anchorage, there were two other yachts anchored that had the better sheltered area so we dropped anchor behind them. This gave us all protection from the westerly wind that was in full force, however, the wind waves tended to come up the channel from a south westerly direction which I think is caused by the land form of Marion Bay and Cape Bernier south end of the passage. Be that as it may the anchorage was tolerable and we had a relaxing afternoon as we arrived at 1410 hours we had a nice dinner and a reasonable early night as tomorrow we head for Wineglass Bay.

(Chinamans Bay, Maria Island)

(The end of another day)

Maria Island to Wineglass Bay

Thursday 27/02/2014

We were underway just after first light and motored out to deeper water before hoisting the mainsail, there is little wind but we may get some aid from what there is, looking at Maria Island as we go along and seeing a few old buildings ashore along with newer farm buildings one has to be reminded that this island was also a penal colony, it was not as bad as Sarah Island but the men that were sent to any penal colony some paid more than their penalty. Think of it seven years for stealing a hankerchief, some steal cars today and get a slap on the wrist.

The passage north was the same as the day before the wind came and went with the land form. We headed to the west side of Schouten Island where our original plan was to anchor in the beautiful northern bays for the strong SW winds predicted then the plan was to go across to Passage Anchorage on the southeast part of Freycinet Peninsula for the northerly winds tomorrow. However, we figured we could go through Schouten Passage checking the anchorages on the way have some time in Wineglass Bay and then head back tomorrow the 12 Nms to Passage Anchorage for the weather change.

(Schouten Island ahead)

We have walked Freycinet areas some years ago travelling land side and it is very lovely it is equally lovely from the sea. Heading towards the passage care needs to be taken as a reef extends out on the NW corner of Schouten Island it has an Isolated Danger Marker to identify the rocks.  We checked the anchorages as we headed through the passage and made a mental note to self of where we would go if the change came through. Going through the passage with the tide raced us through at a speed of 9 knots, this passage would be dangerous to travel if there were strong  winds and high seas it was near flat when we went through with SW winds.

(Northern anchorages at Schouten Island

(Schouten Passage)

After passing through the Schouten Passage and turning northward to Wineglass Bay we had dolphins to welcome us, one never gets tired of seeing them. The rock formations of the cliff faces are something to see and there is lots of them. We finally got to where we turn towards Wineglass Bay and headed in the SW wind met us head on but nothing to worry us just slowed our progress.

As we neared we could see other yachts anchored, a good mixture a large motor cruiser, a catamaran, a trimaran and one monohull. We dropped anchor and just took in the sights, the beach had quite a number of people and there were some going to a camp nearby. The two couples off the motor boat left the beach and went by and I gave them a wave to say hi and they returned the wave, later the two blokes went out in the dinghy fishing and on their way back they called into to say hello and gave us three large flathead for dinner. We thanked them and had a chat they were from Melbourne and touring Tassie. When they left I cleaned and filleted the fish ready for dinner.

(Freycinet Peninsula)

(Wineglass Bay)

(The free loader Gull

Later in the afternoon the NE sea breeze kicked in and at first I was concerned as that put us along with all the other boats on a lee shore so we kept a close eye on things, it did not last long and we had still air and waters through the night. We had our great feed of fish for dinner and just relaxed.

Friday – 28/02/2014

The first boat to move was the motor cruiser, when I was talking to them yesterday I told them about our anchor winch problems, as they started to hoist their anchor they got it part way up and they had some trouble, I thought I had jonahed them. After some work they got it going again I think the chain had jammed somewhere and they had to unjam it.

The next to move was an old fella in the monohull, a solo sailor had to hoist the anchor hand over hand, he got it half way up and had to go to the cockpit have a drink and sit for a while before completing the task. It was not a large yacht and it had travelled, Queensland and Australian registered so he had been places, he came by us and wished us well as we did him. Then the other solo sailor in the catamaran went and we followed.

(The solo sailor pulling the anchor up and heading off)

We headed back down to Schouten Passage where the others headed out to sea to catch the wind that would come later in the day as they were going further south. We went through the passage and headed for the anchorage on the north side of Schouten Island, the reason for this is that a SW change could come through the night and I wanted to have a look at the anchorage in case we had to move in the dark, we motored around the area marking waypoints on the chart plotter so I would know exactly where to anchor in the dark plus the fact that when we moved away to the Passage Anchorage for the NE winds predicted it would leave a track on the plotter that I could follow back.

(Dolphins race towards us as we head south to Schouten Passage

(Nancy taking photos of the dolphins)

Just after plotting and turning towards Passage Anchorage the strong NE winds kicked in we headed for the anchorage and dropped the pick ensuring that it grabbed well because the guide book indicates that this anchorage is dubious. So I made sure the anchor grabbed. Within the next couple of hours we had a total of eleven boats anchored nearby all with the same idea. By sunset things had calmed and although the southerly change did come through during the night they were light winds and no reason to move to the other anchorage.

(Passage Anchorage

Tomorrow we head for Flinders Island it will be an overnight sail

Freycinet Peninsula to Flinders Island and around Flinders Island

Saturday – 01/03/2014

We set off at 0720 hours and we will have to sail overnight to Flinders Island. The problem with the coast from here up is that it has anchorages for south sector winds and north sector winds but not anchorages that have a change of winds north/south sectors during the night, tonight we have NE winds and around midnight they change to SE winds, many of yacht has come to grief in these situations.

There is another factor that one must realise sailing this area this time of year is sudden weather changes, what is predicted this morning can change within a few hours this is often caused by the low pressure systems on mainland Australia, we can have a high pressure system in Tasmania giving good SE winds to sail north then halfway through the day a trough in a low pressure system pushes its way into the northern side of the high pressure changing the wind to strong NE winds.

Sailing north was going well until around 1400 hours and then the above happened and we had N/NE winds on the nose and it started to strengthen so we slammed into the wind and wind waves and watched the coastline go passed slowly.

(We have had many dolphin moments and this was another)

(Choppy seas at sunset

The other challenge ahead is when we get to Banks Strait, this is the stretch of water between mainland Tasmania and the Flinders Island group, it has very strong (3 knots) current flow ebbs to the east and floods to the west, we need to get there when it is a flood tide. As it turned out we were a little early but we were not affected by the full tidal flow as we crossed at an angle until the flow changed direction and then went with the tide.

We reached Clark Island at daybreak, the island looks quite baron with little vegetation probably due to the strong winds that it experiences plus the sea air spray. By this time the wind had gone and we had flat seas we continued on up to Franklin Sound which is the waterway between Flinders and Cape Baron Islands once at the mouth of this we still have 20 nautical miles to go.

(Entering Franklin Sound heading for the north passage towards Flinders Island ahead)

(Cape Baron Island which is south side of Franklin Sound)

(Very hard to see but these are fairy penguins as we got close to get a good photo they would dive

The sea now had turned to glass the sea was so calm and no wind, as we entered Franklin Sound I noticed these small birds on the water when we looked closer they were fairy penguins as the boat neared them they would dive making it difficult to get a decent photo. There were quite a few groups of them.

After we had breakfast Nancy phoned the Harbour Master at Lady Baron and got permission to go alongside at the wharf in Lady Baron, this was given so we don’t have to worry about anchoring.

Like most times of arrival it is often afternoon and what happens in the afternoon is the strong sea breeze arrives just when you want it to be steady to go alongside a dock. We arrived near the dock and checked it out so we could set up the fenders and fender boards which are needed because of the docks have timber vertical pylons about 2 metres apart. Once we had secured alongside the first thing I did was have a beer and relaxed for a while then had a nice shower.

(Alana Rose alongside at Lady Baron)

Nancy organised a hire car for a couple of days for in the morning and we had a quiet night aboard and early to bed.

Flinders Island

Monday – 03/03/2014

We hired the car through Flinders Island Car Rentals which is in the township of Whitemark some 24kms from Lady Baron. Whitemark is the main centre. So there is a charge of $30 for the car delivery, Rowena pick us up and we had to drop her back to Whitemark so we were armed with our shopping bags to go to the supermarket in Whitemark.

Flinders Island is quite pretty and has lots of farm land and good healthy looking cattle, it is a mixture of mountainous, undulating and flat lands and attractive waterways that can get stirred up with the strong winds at times.

After dropping Rowena off and getting some local information we headed into the township of Whitemark which is not very big, it sports a post office, hotel, garage/service station and supermarket, bakery cafes, hardware store and a few other stores, shops and services.

(The Supermarket and garage at Whitemark, we met owners Leedham and Judy Walker and their daughter Alison who went to school with our friend Alison in Darwin)

We did the important things like get our stores for the boat and then went for a coffee at the cafe before taking the stores back on board, the next job was the fuel run, Lady Baron has a service station and store and the store carries all grocery items, hardware, clothing, gifts, you name it I think they have it and it is also a cafe with good coffee. We had to do two fuel runs to top everything up.

(The general store, fuel station and cafe at Lady Baron, with me filling fuel containers)

(At Whitemark Jetty, the ferry no longer uses this jetty due to tides they call at Lady baron)

(Mt Razorback from Whitemark jetty

(Franklin Sound from the eastern lookout

(Nancy at the lookout)

(At the lookout point I spotted this small memorial for a Kerryn Hatfield, it is just a plastic marker, I asked the locals about it but no person seems to know about it)

We then went for a small drive to some lookouts and then called into the hotel not far from the dock for a cold beer.

We returned on board had a checked all was OK and checked the weather before walking up to the hotel again for a couple of relaxing beers looking over the waterways. We had dinner on board and a reasonably early night.

Tuesday – 04/03/2014

The ferry ‘Captain Bill’ from Bridport arrived this morning, the ferry bring visitors and stores of all kinds for the locals and their businesses)

After breakfast we headed off for a drive to see some of the island the wind was quite strong today from the NE. The roads here are in very good condition even the unsealed roads are very good, we had a drive around and then returned to Whitemark for lunch at the hotel.  This hotel was built in 1911 and the lounge is very nice along with the meals are sizeable and very nice.

(Mt Razorback covered in cloud and healthy stock grazing

(Wybalenna village area the old chapel)

(Near Long Point a boat ramp and fishing boats moored in the bay)

(Long Point is a bird breeding ground for Shearwater birds also known as Tasmanian Mutton Birds)

(Flinders Interstate Hotel built in 1911)

After another short drive we headed back to the boat had a shower and then walked up to the hotel , the Furneaux Tavern, we ended up staying there for dinner in the restaurant and I must say the dinner was very nice just as nice as what we had at Kermandie Hotel.

(This is the view from the Furneaux Tavern veranda

Wednesday – 05/03/2014

We are watching the weather closely looking for that weather window to head across Bass Strait, looking at the net I think we may be able to leave late this afternoon and go through to Eden which will mean two overnight sails.

After breakfast we took the car up to fuel at the service station and had a coffee whilst we were there and had a chat with some locals and other sailors. We left the car by the tennis courts for Rowena to pick up later then we readied the boat for sailing later.

We placed our money in the honesty box for our stay, the charges were $11 for the day of arrival and $5 for every day after if we used power, if we did not use the power it would have been no charge.

Come 1700 hours the wind had died enough for us to get off the wharf safely with a little help from one of the sailors off a motor boat that released the ropes for us. We drifted in the harbour whilst we stowed fenders, ropes and fender boards then we headed out the eastern outlet.

Flinders Island to Eden

Wednesday – 05/03/2014

As I mentioned in my last scribbles that we left the dock at 1700 hours and drifted in the harbour of Lady Baron to stow fenders, fender boards and ropes ready for sea. The local Police Officer Matt had given me some information regarding exiting the bar on the eastern side, and that was to favour the red side slightly as the bar has moved, he said we would see it when we got out there and we did. Where the leads indicate the waves are breaking quite well but just to the port side on exiting there is reasonably calm water which we went through and some as shallow as 3 metres.

It is a fair way out to the sand bar but the ebbing tide pushed us along at 9 knots. When we got out there the predicted ESE winds of 10-15 knots was there which pleased me although I am expecting a short burst of strong easterlies later tonight for a short period.

We passed Babel Island at a good distance just on dark and dolphins came out for a play at the front of the boat then the night settled in and a dark night no moon. Then the wind changed to ENE and came in strong 20-25 knots. I checked Meteye on the net and it still indicates we should be getting ESE 15 knots. As we went on the winds got stronger and eventually we had 35 knots and the waves standing up quite a lot, to get any benefit from the sails I had to change course to head for the Victorian coast, I figured if we had this wind all the way when we got close to the coast we could then change course and the wind may not be as strong.

Come the time of change of watch I did not wake Nancy, it was a little scary for me out here, it would be very scary for her to be here and besides I would not sleep worrying about her out here. Nancy got up a couple of times and I told her to go back to bed. She finally took the watch at first light, things had calmed down some we now had 20-25 knot winds still from the same direction and very uncomfortable. It is not often in a catamaran we lose books and stuff off shelves but we did last night.

Thursday – 06/03/2014

The day brought rain squalls and strong winds but not as bad as last night, I am on my third set of clothes the others being very wet. Last night we had waves coming over the top of the boat as we crashed into them. I was looking out the side checking for any other ships when one wave hit and I ducked under cover, thinking I was smart that the wave missed me I stuck my head out again just as the boat rolled and all the water on top of the bimini went down the back of my neck.

We are still getting water over the bows and spray over the top occasionally but today the rain is coming in with it. We kept our normal watches today and I got a bit of sleep, we still have today and tonight to go before we get to Eden. We are still on the same course for the Victorian coast and hoping for the wind to give us some favour tonight when we get close to it.

On these overnight runs Nancy always makes a big pot of stew or alike in the Shuttle Chef, so we have plenty to eat and can grab a feed whenever we feel a bit hungry. The food also warms you when it is cold and it is cold.

Friday – 07/03/2014

The weather has not changed but at least now the predictions are showing what we are getting in fact that did occur yesterday morning to be fair. As I mentioned before weather this time of year in Bass Strait is very unpredictable with so many low pressures over the mainland.

The sad fact is that we are not going to get any change in the weather until we start heading north for Eden so we have to stay on course for the Victorian coast and then change to an eastward course when we are a few miles off and bash into these east winds until we can turn north.

I change to the eastward course during my watch after 0400 hours and was pleased to change course northward some two and half hours later, daylight came and although there were a few squalls the sea was calmer than it had been it poured rain for a few minutes at a time as the squalls came by us. After the squalls the seas settled and we just motored along into Eden.

(Cape Green as the rain squall goes by

We arrived at Eden at 1130 hours going alongside the dock for a couple of days