Friday dawned clear and calm – well, to be honest we were experiencing a little slop in our anchorage, but not enough to be uncomfortable. After breakfast we set sail (but only figuratively) for the south. The Channel here, between Middleton and Gordon on the west bank and Simpsons Point, Allonnah and Lunnawanna on the Bruny Island side, is exposed to the south and can get quite rough. Today, though, it was smooth, and the light winds meant we could either dawdle along under sail all day – as did one of our companion yachts from last night’s anchorage – or motor, as we did, perhaps with some headsail up.
The Channel was dotted with boats: a handful of tiny runabouts and dinghies full of keen fisher-people (this is a top spot for catching flathead), yachts and cabin cruisers heading up or down for a day out, and the odd working boat from the many salmon farms. Soon we could see the marker for Zuidpool Rock. This reef lies in the middle of the Channel, just below the surface. I tried to find out how it got its Dutch name – a whaling vessel called the Zuidpool visited Hobart in the 1840s, but I can’t tell you conclusively if this boat ran into it! The local Lunnawanna-Allonnah people may well have visited the reef in their bark canoes over millennia. The French didn’t run into it in 1792 or 1793, nor did John Hayes in 1793 from what I can see. I will continue my research!
Back to Friday 27th Jan – and soon we reached the southern salmon farms with circular pens stretching almost all the way across the mouth of Great Taylors Bay.
We skirted the leases, keeping outside the yellow markers, and made our way around to the beautiful Butlers Beach.
Butlers Beach lies on the northern tip of the Labillardiere Peninsula, in the Bruny Island national Park. It is a beautiful sandy beach only accessible by boat or by a couple of hours walk from the car park at Lighthouse Jetty Beach. Today it was one of those rare warm sunny and calm Tasmanian summer’s day, and all the boats from miles around had converged here to spend the day! We found a spot to anchor in the middle of over twenty boats, inflated our kayak and went for a paddle in the crystal clear waters, and a wander along the shore.
Back on board we whipped up a scrumptious salad – garnished with smoked salmon! I wonder if it came from one of the fish-pens nearby? Just as I was contemplating a swim, the wind came up and we decided to beat a retreat to our chosen overnight anchorage at Mickeys Bay on the other side of Great Taylors Bay. We anchored at the north-west side with only a couple of other boats. It was windy, but we were anticipating that the wind would soon change direction and die out, which it did. During the afternoon we were also joined by several other boats… and a few more… and more again… and eventually as the light began to fade, a whole armada of boats made their way in and anchored here and there in any available gap, making a total of over 30 boats! Most were well behaved, but three party boats rafted up not far enough from us and a bunch of kids on board began to screech country & western songs at the top of their lungs. Argh! Fortunately they must have worn themselves out during the day as the noise did not continue much beyond sunset and then we all had a peaceful and still night.