Casting off for the Furneaux Islands – 16th February

Position: At anchor, Murdunna (Fredrick Henry Bay)

It seems like we’ve been planning this trip for ages. The last few weeks have been a rush to tick off lists of jobs. And buy new equipment and supplies.

We are heading north, all the way to the Furneaux Islands. We’ve never sailed there before, having only visited once with our camping vehicle and three small children almost twenty years ago. This group of around 80 islands is a beautiful area to explore by boat. It does, however, hold many challenges for sailors. The Bass Strait is a submerged land bridge and, located in the Roaring Forties, strong winds and currents are funnelled into it between Tasmania and the Australian continent. This causes strong tidal currents, big tide variations and even underwater waterfalls where currents plunge down over the shelf. It is also dotted with islands, rocks and shoals, and a graveyard for hundreds of wrecks. Let’s make sure we don’t add to that tally!

Over several days we provisioned and replaced a few expensive pieces of equipment – the biggest being our anchor – upgrading it to a more reliable model recommended for its ability to bite. We also had to replace our generator after it seized up. With our new solar panels we shouldn’t need to use the noisy generator, but best to have one just in case.


With a fully provisioned boat we cast off the mooring lines from Bellerive Yacht Club, which was buzzing with the activity of the Crown Series Regatta. Boats of all sizes and divisions put on a display for us as we motored over to Sandy Bay to fill up with fuel, and then began the trip down the Derwent, unfurling the headsail for an extra boost from the tail-wind. This dropped out near South Arm so we furled it up again and I made lunch so we could eat before we reached the Iron Pot and the anticipated change of wind and direction as we turned north near Betsey Island.


See here for some video of us sailing.
It is lovely to be back on the water, leaving all the cares of the city behind us. The shushing of the waves and an abundance of sea birds – cormorants poking their heads up unexpectedly, little penguins bobbing black in the waves, short-tailed shearwaters rafting on the sea and capped terns diving and splashing – all entertained us. We passed a lone seal using his flippers as sails while he rested.

The tides are not favourable for us to get through the canal at Dunalley this afternoon. Our boat draws two metres and we need a high tide to navigate the shallowest spots at the approach to the canal, as well as the approach to the Marion Narrows at the far end of Blackman Bay lagoon. High tide tonight will be at around 8.30pm and the canal bridge only operates between 8am and 5pm. For a while we considered the option of sailing all the way around the Tasman Peninsula, but in the end turned north into Fredrick Henry Bay, deciding to anchor near the canal entrance ready to make the transit on the morning high tide as soon as our friendly bridge operator begins work in the morning.

So we’re now at anchor within earshot of the Arthur Highway and I’m about to bake beef puffs and vegetables for dinner.

8 thoughts on “Casting off for the Furneaux Islands – 16th February

  1. Ian Jeanneret says:

    It’s exciting to hear you are headed for the Furneaux. They certainly have their share of hazards (not to be confused with the ones at Freycinet) and they mostly centre around tide and current. That aside, there are many wonderful anchorages and sites that make it an idyllic place to visit. George’s Rocks is an interesting place to stop. I am looking forward to a blow by blow account and hope the weather is kind. Good sailing 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sam Webb says:

    Sounds idyllic! Very much looking forward to reading of your adventures and a well overdue coffee catch up on your return ☕️
    Safe and happy sailing ⛵️ xx


  3. Tasmanian traveller says:

    I love learning from people’s blogs. I was not aware there were undersea waterfalls in Bass Strait. Marvellous. But dont let them drag you down! By now, as I type this comment, I suspect you have sailed through the canal and are headed north. Bon voyage!


    • marionstoneman says:

      Hi Helen, yes we’re through the canal and bound for Wineglass Bay. I have taken lots of video, but not sure whether we’ll be able to upload anything tonight in Wineglass. Hope you liked the photo of my lunch at the Iron Pot!
      Take care!


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