Tues 3 to Thurs 5 March
At Anchor: Cassilda Cove, Bathurst Channel
Winds: strong, blustery and uninviting!
The forecast for the next few days indicating strong westerlies and snow down to 600 metres, we decided to dig in at Cassilda Cove to wait out the weather. A sunny but blustery day we took the opportunity to catch up on the washing, hanging it out to dry in the sun, along the lifelines to starboard. Derek fixed the oven door, and the rest of the day we spent playing games and reading.
In the afternoon Michael and Bruce from Alpine, the boat next door joined us for a chat. I whipped up scones with jam and cream. Bruce, the boat owner, lives interstate but spends summers on his boat in Cygnet. We discussed boats, and swapped stories of the storm in the Huon last February. Michael knew some of the racing fleet that had been sailing that day – the fleet we saw knocked down, with sails torn and mayday calls sent out, right in front of us as we sheltered in Surges Bay. Their calls lured us out of our safe spot, quickly changing out of our bathers, deflating dinghy and kayak and donning safety gear, to tail the fleet as they struggled to regain control and limped into Cygnet Bay.
After the gentlemen left to ‘sort their box of screws’ – having little else to entertain themselves with over the next few days as they also wait out the weather – Derek whopped Fiona and I at games.
Another day hunkered down in Cassilda Cove while the wind whistled through our meager protection of trees around the cove. I baked bread – two loaves – and after scoffing half a loaf for our late lunch, Fiona and I headed out for a kayak, stopping first at Alpine to deliver the second loaf. The lads were grateful, having run out of fresh bread long ago. We continued our kayak, sticking to the sheltered southern shore of our anchorage as much as possible.
Cassilda Cove is near the Bathurst Channel end of Horseshoe Inlet, a large shallow body of water where a number of substantial creeks and marshes drain. Further in the waterway is too shallow to be navigable by any keelboats. We investigated a creek, its tannin-stained water gushing in over tannin-stained quartz rocks in a mini waterfall, as well as the inlet past the first lot of rocky islands, but didn’t go all the way into the large body of water that forms Horseshoe Inlet proper, as once we decided to return we were paddling into the wind, still blowing strongly from the west.
We returned to the boat freshened and invigorated from the fresh air and exercise, brief though it was, and spent the rest of the evening chatting, playing cards and dining on chicken tacos and chocolate pudding. Poor Fiona is having rather a dull time I fear. She’s read all her books. She did beat us both comprehensively at cards though, even Hearts on her first game!
Another rainy blustery day. We crossed the inlet in the dinghy and climbed Balmoral Hill. The anchorage guide says this walk is your best value view for effort in the area. A smallish but steep sided hill, it sits in the middle of Bathurst Harbour with water on two sides.
Views up and down the Channel were quite something. Spectacular on a clear sunny day I’m sure.
For walkers, the Port Davey Track (a four to five day extension to the South Coast Track from Cockle Creek to Melaleuca) crosses Bathurst Channel at the Narrows on the way from Melaleuca to Scotts Peak. To cross the narrows walkers must shuttle rowboats to and fro, always leaving at least one on each side.
After our short walk we made a visit to Alpine, where Bruce proudly showed us over this 64-year-old Huon pine boat. It is beautifully crafted and very solid. He has done a lot of work to restore and refit the interior, however the hull needed very little work thanks to the durability of the timber. We invited Bruce and Michael over for a barbecue dinner, cooked on deck in our little kettle BBQ, but it was too cold and blustery to eat al fresco, so we ate in the saloon below and chatted into the evening.