Nosing home

We awoke to another calm day and though the sunrise wasn’t as spectacular as some of the previous ones, it was still pretty impressive. I watched the birdlife – a lone pelican paddling gracefully then stopping to stretch into awkward angles and dabble; a handful of tiny grebes, that I fondly call pop-up-ducks due to the fact you can never count them accurately (there’s four, no two, no, ten… etc); a murder of crows cackling in the trees and stalking the shore; the occasional black cockatoo screeching overhead; and plenty of unseen feathered friends peeping and tweeting. The silky smooth water reflected the muted skies, trees and sandstone shore.

Reluctantly we set off for home, and nosing out of the protection of Quarantine Bay were pleasantly surprised to find that the rest of Barnes Bay and the Channel were just as calm. A couple of die-hard sailors were doing their best to fill the canvass, but there was no wind. Rarely have I seen it this flat. The reflections of light, scattered cloud, hills, and shorelines followed us all the way.

Even North West Bay, which tends to funnel any north-west to northerly winds, was still as a pond, and we rounded Piersons Point to find the Derwent sparkling and flat all the way to Taroona.

11 Iron Pot to Cape Raoul

Here was a clear line of demarcation, and just to its north a yacht was heeling into the wind. If only it wasn’t a wind on the nose we could have finished our weekend as it had begun, with another half hour of sailing! Even this breeze died and we were able to motor Ariadne’s Clew easily back into her berth, where we tied and tidied up, and returned to life on shore.

13 home to Hobart

Quarantine to Port Huon

The sun was up before me on Saturday. I poked my nose out of the covers to discover a crisp cold winter morning. The boat was covered in dew, but the anchorage was dreamily still.

I rugged up and sat on deck with a hot cup of coffee and began counting the wildlife. A fish splished, then a seal surfaced right beside me on his patrol of the bay. On he proceeded, after the fish perhaps, popping up here and there to snort and grab another breath. Near the shore a sooty oyster-catcher peeped as it took off in flight, watched by a white-faced heron. Cormorants bobbed up and down, also after that fish I expect. It was too early for the sea eagles as we pulled up the anchor and began our trip south for the Huon River.

We passed fish farms (I don’t think the thousands of Atlantic salmon can be counted as wildlife!) and the Mirambeena, ploughing across a glassy Channel with a load of long-weekend trippers aboard (another introduced species). Soon we merged in with a handful of other CYCT cruising boats headed in the same direction. Near Middleton the wind filled in from the south, but it was short-lived and dropped out once we had turned the corner around the Middleton Light.

Snow was visible on some of the southern peaks as we turned into the Huon River, where we met a gentle wind on our nose. This wasn’t unexpected, as the valley tends to funnel the winds regardless of where they’re blowing from elsewhere. The only exception seems to be during a summer sea breeze. We sat snug behind our clears.

9 Arch Rock

We found ourselves a spot to anchor in Hospital Bay surrounded by fellow cruisers. We inflated the dinghy on the foredeck, and launched it ready for our trip ashore. Then I went below to prepare a salad, as our contribution to tonight’s event.

At around 4pm people began to gather in their tenders for the trip up the shallow channel to the marina. We joined them and with our new little electric motor fitted purred silently past the reeds and mudflats of the Kermandie River, where we could add to the wildlife tally: two pelicans, an egret and some hoary headed grebes. That’s not to mention the various gulls, ducks and the farm geese and sheep on the other shore.

Local Port Huon boatbuilder Dean Marks was our kind host for this evening’s event. His boat shed was toasty warm, with gas heater and wood fire both roaring. Outside he had meats and vegetables roasting in the camp ovens. We were able to explore his two current building projects – a full scrape-down and refit of a fibreglass cruiser suffering from osmosis, and the rebuild of a beautiful little wooden yacht that had sunk in Dover a while back. Both these projects will keep Dean and his team busy over the winter when the days are too cold and short for the outside jobs.

We spent the evening chatting with fellow cruisers, listening to tales of adventure. Some were quite new to sailing and others old hands with many years’ experience. The meal was delicious. Each boat had contributed either a savory or dessert to supplement Dean’s meat and veg. By 8pm, however, we were all ready to tackle the trip back in the dark, and set off from the marina in a convoy of assorted craft with torches to light the way. We pootled slowly and quietly back to Ariadne’s Clew and tucked up toasty warm for another night of blissful sleep.

Off south for a winter cruise

The shortest day is only two weeks away, but these clear still winter days are somehow invigorating and irresistible. We haven’t taken the boat away since Easter, other than for a trip to the slip to replace the through-hull fittings (another ouch to the wallet!), so we jumped at the opportunity to join the CYCT winter cruise to Port Huon and Franklin. It fitted perfectly with Derek’s travel plans, as he’ll be flying off around the globe a mere 48 hours after our planned return.

On Friday I collected an old family friend from the airport. We chatted over lunch, then I handed her the keys to my sister’s car – on the proviso she drop me and our provisions to the boat on her way to stay with my Mum! We loaded up the boat – an unusual single barrow load for four nights away – and she farewelled me to stow the groceries and prepare the boat for departure.

Derek managed to wriggle away from work early and by 3pm we were slipping our mooring lines. A 12 knot northerly gave us perfect downwind sailing conditions, so we hoisted both sails and were able to enjoy a quiet run down the river at 7 knots.

On the previous weekend we had replaced our faulty VHF radio, but even with expert advice Derek had been unable to get it working with the masthead aerial (which means that someone is going to have to go up the mast again…). For this trip we will be using our emergency backup aerial, which did test out okay. We had also refitted our repaired chart-plotter (remember that at the height of excitement navigating the Vansittart Shoals in February, the backlight on this device had failed? See Surviving the Vansittart Shoals   for the full story!). Just a few weeks before, we had also replaced one of our failed ST70 instruments with a new version (another three ouches the the wallet!).

Early into our sail we started experiencing issues with the GPS and instrument readings. Alarms were beeping and signals kept dropping out. Which of the three recent electronic upgrades was responsible? After fiddling with things below decks Derek climbed into the port-side lazarette to investigate the wiring to our five binnacle-mounted instruments. Whilst he was head-down in the cupboard I kept the boat sailing, but as I turned in towards Sandy Bay Beach in order to avoid a close encounter with the John Garrow light, that beautiful northerly breeze started to fade. Soon it was replaced by a light 6 knot breeze from the south. Time to drop the sails and turn the motor back on.

Derek’s penance in the cupboard finally paid off after unplugging one device. He’ll need to get some new parts to fix the wiring, but that’s enough about electronics for now!

We were treated to stunning skies as the sun set over kunanyi (otherwise known as Mt Wellington) and then made our way into Quarantine Bay by the light of a sliver of moon and the brilliant stars – with the aid of the chart-plotter. We found a mooring in amongst the intrepid winter cruisers who were already bedded down in the darkness, and went below for dinner and a bit of tv.

Resourcefulness, and a brief history of McGyver

Another aspect of sailing that I like is the way it forces you to be resourceful. Whether it is steeling myself to climb the mast to replace a light globe, like on Friday, or reverse-parking this twelve-metre long boat into our tight marina berth, even these small tasks can make me feel a great sense of accomplishment. When the weather is against us we know we can trust the boat but are always aware that something could break and we might need to make running repairs, or use our wits to get out of a tricky situation. Even with a boat as new as ours, there are always things to maintain or repair. This trip began with Derek diving six metres below the boat in the marina to recover a part of our barbecue that had accidentally fallen overboard at the end of our regatta fireworks night. That was a dive I didn’t volunteer to do! And it gave Derek a chance to try out our new hookah dive system in the sea. He retrieved the part, removing a small marine ecosystem from its bowl in the process, however the bottom had rusted through. This trip we have also had to replace two fuses, top up the fluid in the depth transducer and repair Derek’s glasses, which he accidentally trod on. There’s also a rusted nut on the dinghy’s oar-lock we are yet to tackle, and now the toilet has sprung a leak!

My friend Anne has been our regular sailing companion since we bought the boat, almost nine years ago. She has always been resourceful when it comes to catering, and usually comes laden with fresh produce from her garden, and freshly cooked goddies. Back then she was single, but she’s since added to her usefulness by meeting and marrying Andrew, aka McGyver. Andrew is a lawyer, but his skills include diesel mechanic (oh, so handy when you have a 40hp motor inboard), metalworker, lift designer and builder and general handyman – oh and he’s good company, and not too bad at cards and board-games.

Andrew earned his nickname during our first trip to Port Davey, in Tasmania’s extensive World Heritage South-west Wilderness Area. Derek and I had sailed the boat around this rugged coastline with a boatload of fit young adventurers (our daughter included) who then walked the South-Coast track back to Cockle Creek. A few days later, Anne and Andrew flew in to meet us on a tiny plane that landed at the Melaleuca airstrip. During the intervening days we had been battered by a strong easterly weather system – unusual for this area which is usually subject to strong westerlies. We had spent a few uncomfortable and frankly frightening nights at anchor in 50+ knot winds. Our bow-rollers were damaged by the anchor chain bashing back and forth, but more worryingly our inflatable dinghy had been blown over not once, but twice! The first time the outboard motor, which we had unwisely left attached, had taken a dunking, and Derek had pulled it apart to dry and clean its components. The second time we’d lost the two seats, with their covers, and half an oar.

If there’s somewhere you need to be resourceful, it’s Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour. Andrew foraged around behind the old house at Clayton’s Corner and before we knew it, he’d fashioned a new oar-blade from a piece of timber. It was just like an episode of that 80’s tv show, where McGyver can build anything from a piece of string and a rubber band to get himself out of a pickle. So the name has stuck and that oar was so good we never replaced it, until last Christmas Anne and Andrew gifted us a new set.

Yesterday we picked up Anne and Andrew at Copper Alley Bay, just south of Cygnet. Before he came, Andrew had cut out a steel disc to fit the bottom of the barbecue. It worked a treat, and a few hours later we were enjoying perfectly sizzled steak and roast vegetables cooked on our little Cobb. Followed by a few board-games and a round of cards, which Andrew diplomatically lost! And this morning he fixed the leaky toilet as well.

Morning Musings

It is early morning and I’ve come up on deck to enjoy the view. We are anchored off Simpsons Point, South Bruny Island. The water is glassy, and I can see the passage of the slightest puff of wind as it travels across the surface. Sounds travel from the nearby bushland. Occasionally a fish surfaces with a splash.  I’m reading when I hear a thrum approaching from the south. I turn to see a huge flock of cormorants approaching low on the water, their white under-parts glinting in the sun. The flock parts around the boat, then re-forms, slows and one by one the birds splash into the water close to the point.

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A movement in the nearby trees catches my attention. It’s a white-bellied sea eagle come to join its mate perched less than a hundred metres from where I sit. The two of them sit so still in the treetops that they merge into the grey trunks. I pull out the binoculars for a better look. It is so still I can hear bird calls from all along the coast. In the grass I see a tiny flash of sunlight reflected, perhaps in a bird’s eye as it forages on the ground. A snap in the tree-tops makes me look up and it’s a sea-eagle I’ve heard launching into flight from its perch. It soars below the tree-tops, perhaps surveying the water for breakfast, and alights in a tree further along.

This is one of the reasons I love sailing – waking in a still anchorage right in the middle of nature. We had arrived late in the afternoon and found more than twenty other boats anchored along the shoreline. This is crowded for Tasmania, but to be expected during the Easter break, as everyone with a boat tries to get away for their final escape before winter sets in. Despite this every boat has plenty of room and thankfully none of our neighbours were loud party-boats. Before dark I had an essential task to perform. Our anchor light at the top of the mast wasn’t working, so Derek winched me up to replace the globe. A better scenario than me trying to winch him up, and thankfully I’m not afraid of heights. The view from the top is quite something I can tell you – though I didn’t take a camera up to get a photo.

Soon boats are beginning to make a move, rattling up their anchors and motoring slowly away. We’re assured a stunning day on the water, even if we don’t find enough wind to sail.

Stunning Cygnet

The weather on Saturday was rather ‘ordinary’ – cooler, windy and trying to rain on us. With a choice of travelling west to Dover or north to Cygnet we chose the latter, trying to avoid the lowering grey clouds that signaled a front sweeping across the bottom corner of Tassie. We looked at the main Cygnet anchorage and decided it offered little protection, and opted instead for Copper Alley Bay. Here we were spun around a bit with the variable wind, but missed the worst of it, and retreated below for a lazy day on board. The wind dropped out over night and with only one other occupied yacht in the bay, enjoyed a quiet night.

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At anchor – Copper Alley Bay

Sunday dawned still and clear. The front had moved on and the sky was cloudless and blue. Feeling that we had really been lazy enough, we decided to motor up closer to town and make a trip ashore in the kayak. Cygnet was looking stunning, with barely a ripple on the bay.

We anchored near the yacht club – avoiding the start box area just in case Sunday was race day – and paddled ashore. Here we took the water-front walkway up to town. We were greeted warmly by locals out for a walk, and stopped to chat to Aubrey, who had just knocked off from his shift at the pub. As well as friendly locals, Cygnet sports a thriving artistic community, with a bunch of talented writers, crafts-people and artists. The old apple processing sheds have been taken over by a few of them, and though the studios weren’t open we were intrigued by some of the works on display, including this replica canoe fashioned from wire.

Soon we came upon the town’s namesakes – not as many as the French found back in 1792. I imagine they made a slap-up meal out of a few back then (poor swans!).

Cygnet is also home to a popular annual folk festival earlier in January, and a bunch of crafty knitters have yarn-bombed the town, making the ordinary rather extraordinary!

I felt quite at home. Knitting is a good pastime on the boat (as long as you hang on to the balls of wool!). Here’s a pic from earlier in the month (Alice’s jumper still in progress).

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After wandering the town, grabbing a drink and piece of yummy cake from the famous Red Velvet Lounge, and almost buying a beautiful wrought iron bird bath at the craft shop, we returned to the boat and headed homeward. And it was race-day. As we pulled up anchor the yachts were milling about the start line. They put on a good show for us in the light wind as we motored out.

It was farewell to Adamsons Peak, Arch Rock and the Middleton Light (with Mt Wellington in the distance).

Then we passed the Bruny Ferry, Mirambeena, on its way to Kettering with a full load of holiday-makers on their way home. The queue for the ferry on the island side stretched all the way up the hill.

The river too was full of boats making their way homeward. At Taroona we waved to my sister Nancy, and she waved a sheet from her garden close to the river bank (her place is to the right of centre in the photo below, but it’s hard to make out the sheet – I don’t have much of a zoom sorry!).

And to top off four days of sunshine and relaxation, Derek’s sister served us lasagne on the way home!

South for the long weekend

With the public holiday for Australia Day falling on a Thursday, it made sense to take Friday off (easy for me as I don’t work on Fridays!) and make it a long weekend for a cruise. We took our time on Thursday morning, packing, provisioning and driving to the boat. It was windy, and as we stowed everything on board we kept the wind instrument on to check – it was gusting to over 30 knots in the marina! On our drive we had seen a few boats sailing down the Derwent amidst the white-caps. We were ready to go by late morning, but decided to eat lunch on board and wait for the wind to abate. It didn’t. So we made ourselves ready and waited for a lull to make the dash out of the marina pen and avoid being blown into any other boats. Fortunately Hughie and Julie, who were out for a walk, happened to come past and gave us a helpful shove. We were off.

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With just the two of us we didn’t want to bother with hoisting the mainsail in the strong wind, and it wasn’t abeam of us enough to set the headsail easily, so we just motored down the river. Near the John Garrow light we passed Don’t Bug Me, their crew cheerfully sailing for the finish line after a long night to Zuidpool Rock and back. After we had passed Blackmans Bay Derek took a nap and I navigated us into the Channel. Here the wind changed a little again, funnelling up the Channel and across from Northwest Bay. We’ve named Piersons Point, on the Tinderbox side of the Channel entrance, Dodgy Point, as the winds here are always fickle! We continued on into the wind past Kettering, successfully avoiding the two vehicular ferries doing a roaring trade taking holiday-makers over to the island and island dwellers elsewhere!

Just past Apollo Bay we could turn further to port, and the wind came more abeam, so I unfurled a small headsail to help us across to Simpsons Point. The wind was quite strong coming up from the South, but tucked away around the corner of the point we had flat water and a peaceful anchorage to spend the night with only a handful of other boats dotted along the shoreline. We roasted vegetables and barbequed steak under the watchful gaze of Fluted Cape from the south and Kunanyi (Mt Wellington) from the north.

An Embarrassing Tangle

After a tranquil night at anchor in Deep Bay we putted over to Cygnet and went ashore at the jetty just south of the Cygnet Sailing Club and walked into the town. The famous Cygnet Folk Festival was just days away and the town was buzzing in anticipation. We watched as ladies added the finishing touches to their ‘yarn-bombing’ of the town – fences, signposts, rubbish bins and store fronts were adorned with cleverly crafted woolen embellishments, all to welcome the crowds.

We found the Red Velvet Lounge packed, but managed to grab enough chairs at the big communal table to seat us and our anticipated guests – Derek’s sister Sarah, our French exchange student Martin and his friend Mathilde. Here we met and welcomed Mathilde to Tasmania. She is also on exchange from France, but being hosted in Perth, and has traveled across the continent visit us for two weeks and experience another part of the country. We enjoyed some breakfast and coffee in the lively surroundings, then stocked up on some wonderful fresh produce, including a bag of apple-sized organic cherries from a roadside stand, before heading back to the boat.

Our first coup in the display of boating skills to our new sailing companions, was to inadvertently and comprehensively tangle the dinghy line around the propeller! That meant no engine to manoeuvre our way out of the tightly packed anchorage at Cygnet. Derek, in a very commendable attempt at not panicking, called me back to the cockpit from the bow, where I’d been hoisting the anchor, and we put ‘operation untangle the propeller’ into action.

We unfurled a small head-sail, which harnessed enough wind to thread our way between the surrounding boats and into the lea of a headland on the eastern side of the harbour. Dodging an oyster farm, an anchored boat and the shallows we dropped anchor, and the questions was asked, who would volunteer to dive below the boat and see what could be done.

Naturally, the only volunteer was my own good self!

I decided that with no weight-belt my wetsuit would make me too buoyant. So I donned my bathers and a mask. Derek thrust a knife and torch into my hands and I wondered how I would hold these and untangle the rope at the same time… Anyway, down I went. With the first breath I discovered it was a simple case of unwedging the D-ring on the end of the rope and unwinding it. I got it half unwound then went up for air, handing back the useless torch and knife. On the second breath I completed the task, and noticed that despite having been in the water for almost ten months since the last scrub and anti-foul, the hull was surprisingly smooth and barnacle-free. Not that I did more than a cursory survey of the bits I came in contact with – and returned to the surface with some anti-foul smeared on my body and hair. I can also report that the water was very refreshing and not that cold.

After that mishap the rest of the day was splendid. A brisk sail down to Charlotte Cove for lunch, then a leisurely sail back to Cygnet with the wind behind us. Before we left Martin and Mathilde jumped into the dingy and were towed all the way. Us adults broke out the delicious cherries and Derek, sacreligiously, lobbed cherries at the kids. Most they caught and enjoyed, but one hit Martin on the eyebrow spraying bright cherry juice down the side of his face.

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Back in Cygnet we dropped Sarah ashore and anchored for the night in Copper Alley Bay.

A Family Weekend

Fri 23 Jan
Crew: Derek, Marion, Ben and Sarah
Course: BYC to the Duck Pond (North Bruny)
Wind: North-westerly  to Westerly, 10-15 knots

We were underway by 11.30 am – the younger crew took longer than expected to get ready for our weekend trip! We hoisted the main straight away, to take advantage of the favourable winds, thinking ourselves lucky to be sailing with the wind behind us for a change. It seems all too often we find ourselves travelling into the wind, or worse still, into bad weather. We set the headsail and enjoyed the quiet, training our new crew in perfect conditions. It is lovely to have Ben along with us for a change. He does have a lot to learn about sailing though!

We managed to keep the sails set until we were south of White Rock (at the end of South Arm), then we dropped the sails and served lunch – yummy salad rolls – as we motored into the Channel. There was a bit of wind about, so we proceeded into the calm waters of the Duck Pond, where we anchored quite close in to shore. We were greeted by two black swans, who noisily demanded food. The tide was out, exposing heaps of oyster beds, like strange plants emerging from every solid bit of sea bed. These were a bit of an obstacle course for our inflatable craft – dinghy and kayak – which we took out for a spin in the afternoon. We went ashore at the nearest ‘beach’, then around the small reef at the entrance and to another beach on the point. Ben and I tried the kayak sail on the way – but we were in a wind shadow. We could see the wind and waves rushing into Barnes Bay from the west.

We sat snug in our anchorage for the evening, playing board and card games and having spaghetti bolognaise for dinner.

Sat Jan 24
Same crew
Course: Duck Pond to One Tree Point and back the Quarantine Point overnight
Wind: south to south-easterly

A lazy morning with late breakfast of eggs and bacon today – the usual for a day on the boat with no fixed plans. At around midday we pulled anchor and nosed out of the protection of the Duck Pond to see what was happening in the rest of the world. We heard from Dave that he and Sue were out on Trouble, and having lunch and a swim at One Tree Point on the north east shore of Bruny Island, so we headed around to join them.

A good south-easterly breeze meant we were able to sail up the Channel, but we took the sails off when we rounded Dennes Point and were bashing into it. For a moment we wondered what we were doing out here in the wind, but soon we could see Trouble, a tiny white dot sitting calmly in the nook of One Tree Point. We pulled up alongside and dropped anchor, finding ourselves in the most beautiful protected little bay. We invited Dave and Sue on board for afternoon tea – a batch of fresh scones I whipped up on the way out! 2015-01-24 16.33.06

After scones we all went ashore in the dinghy and kayak – all except for Derek who had to take a support call from the US… Dave and I had a swim in the crystal clear water – beautiful but cold! Wading out we met a small skate. Once I had dried off I walked with Ben and Sarah along the lovely little beach and up to the cliff-top to look down at the bay on the other side, where kelp surged in the swell. we relaxed for a while in the warmth of the sun, and before we knew it, it was 5 pm and time to head in to a 2015-01-24 16.52.282015-01-24 16.46.01more protected anchorage for the night. One Tree Point is lovely, but a bit exposed for comfort, especially as the wind was predicted to swing around in the night. Dave had a story to tell about the last time he anchored here overnight, having to leave in the middle of a pitch black night and losing his tender, Short Wavelength, in the process, so we chose prudence, and both headed back into Barnes Bay, anchoring in our favourite spot off Quarantine Point – just near the Sea Eagle nest.

Dave and Sue came aboard for a BBQ dinner, and we spent a pleasant evening. After dinner they left and anchored a little way off before dark, and the rest of us played Catan (Pirate Isles) – with Ben the victor.

 

Sunday 15 Jan
Same Crew
Course: Quarantine Point to BYC
Wind: westerly ten to twenty knots

The morning dawned grey and drizzly, and though our anchorage was still and peaceful we weren’t lured out early. We had breakfast down below, but when I popped up on deck I did spot the sea eagle gliding over the trees to perch at the end of the point.

We spent the morning at anchor playing more games. The weather didn’t improve and after a hot lunch Ben and Sarah helped Derek deflate and pack away the dinghy and kayak before we headed out around the point into the westerly weather and made for home.

Once in the Channel the wind varied between ten and twenty knots. We put out a shortened headsail and rugged up. The kids hunkered down below, and slept for most of the trip home, while Derek and I sat on deck under the dodger reading and keeping an eye on the river traffic.

By about six we had berthed at Bellerive. Ben and Sarah collected the wheelbarrows while Derek and I packed and cleaned the boat. Soon we were on the road home, stopping at Susan and Sarah’s place to offload the kayak so they can borrow it for next week. We arrived home to a couple of lonely cats, and lots of washing!

Trip two – South Bruny

Monday 5th Jan – depart Kettering Marina
On Board: Marion and Derek

As we motored out of Kettering Marina, a little after midday, we were farewelled by a pair of swans accompanied by their five fluffy cygnets. The morning had been quite busy with a family breakfast for my cousin Mike, who was on a flying visit from South Africa. Derek had some loose ends to tie up at work. We motored south down the D’Entrecasteaux Channel heading for Great Taylor’s Bay on South Bruny. With the wind south-easterly there was little opportunity to raise any sail until we had turned the corner at Gordon. We had no particular destination in mind and put our nose into the Quarries near Lunnawanna. Finding it not particularly sheltered we continued on into Great Taylors Bay, trying and rejecting North Tin Pot, Tin Pot and Mickeys Bays and heading instead to Lighthouse Jetty Beach in the South Bruny National Park. There was minimal shelter here, but as evening closed in the wind dropped and we enjoyed watching the full moon rising over the water.

We ate pan-fried salmon with pink-eye potatoes and vegetables within sight of an array of salmon farms. I joked that in the hazy distance these looked like a huge swell on the horizon. We had heard on the radio sked, to look out for new markers near Butlers Beach that indicated a new salmon farm lease. I can’t help wondering what impact these fish farms are having on the environment. Butlers Beach is a lovely spot to go ashore. We have enjoyed swimming, walking and lazing about on this pristine white sand beach right at the end of the Labillardiere Peninsula. It is only accessible by boat or on foot – a five and a half hour round trip from the nearest road.  The next day when we went ashore at the beaches in the south-west corner of Great Taylors Bay we noticed an abundance of green algae – could this be linked to an excess of nutrients in the bay from the fish farms? It would be a shame if this industry is polluting the pristine waters that we all enjoy and that they rely on for the health of their product, which we are eating! Perhaps I should stop eating salmon?

Tuesday 6th Jan

This morning dawned with clear skies and a light south-easterly breeze. We enjoyed a slow start – one of our boating pleasures – and after second breakfast packed our backpack with lunch and plenty of water and went ashore in the dinghy. From the little beach nearby we picked up the Luggaboine walking track (part of the Labillardiere Circuit) and walked south-east through dry eucalypt scrub. We had been on this walk several years ago shortly after a devastating bushfire had ravaged the entire peninsula (apologies to Greg, Jackie & family – not a great time to show interstate visitors the Bruny Island National Park!) but now we were surprised to see how well the bush had recovered. New growth had sprouted from all the gum-trees, their blackened trunks the only evidence left of the fire. In many places there was a thick understorey of tea-tree,

Blandfordia punicea - Christmas Bells

Blandfordia punicea – Christmas Bells

and a profusion of wildflowers, including the showy Christmas Bells (Blandfordia punicea), heath (epacris impressa) and Trigger Plants. We heard rustling in the bushes (perhaps an echidna or wombat) but only saw one tiny brown whip snake wriggling off into the leaf-litter by the path. I listened to the profusion of bird-calls, but I’m not good with identifying birds by call alone!

Once we reached Lighthouse Jetty Beach we took the road for the four kilometres to the Cape Bruny Light Station. The view over the coastline to the Southern Ocean was spectacular. We marvelled at how calm the sea looked, only a couple of fishing boats taking advantage of the fine weather.

Looking south from the Bruny Island Lighthouse

Looking south from the Bruny Island Lighthouse

The dolerite coastline is spectacular here, much like Port Arthur, though the sea-cliffs are probably not as tall. The original lighthouse – now replaced by an automatic light – was only the fourth lighthouse built in Australia. The three light-keeper’s cottages are well preserved, and it looks like two are used for accommodation. The third and smallest is a museum, but we were disappointed to find it closed. We walked the steep track to the base of the old lighthouse and enjoyed our packed lunch sitting on a convenient bench which looks out to the south. This bench has been erected in memory of Hamish Saunders who died in April 2003 when he was washed off the remote rock, Pedra Branca, located twenty- two nautical miles south of the light. He was part of a research team visiting the rock to study the Pedra Branca Skink and the nesting seabirds, and was washed from near the top of this sixty metre high rock by a rogue wave. Yes, that’s a wave almost sixty metres high – terrifying and hard to believe on a day like this! As we sat gazing into the hazy southern horizon we could eventually spot the rock, but not its neighbour the Eddystone.

Pedra Branca – white rock – was named by Abel Tasman as he rounded the south-east corner of the island. It is sedimentary sandstone with a coating of guano from the thousands of sea-birds that call it home. The Eddystone was named by Cook’s voyage of discovery, after the Eddystone Lighthouse in England. This is a tall thin sandstone stack that looks for all the world like a lighthouse. Both Tasman and Cook sailed north-east of these rocks to land at Adventure Bay on Bruny’s east coast, missing the star attraction of this area – the channel between the island and Tasmania’s mainland. It was a navigation error made by the French on board La Recherche, commanded by Bruny D’Entrecasteaux, when they arrived in 1792 that led to the European discovery of the channel. At one point the navigator reported these rocks to starboard rather than to port causing the captain to steer north much earlier than planned.

We sat and enjoyed the view from the lighthouse for a long time – punctuated by lunch and a few phone calls for Derek – before making the walk back. I soothed my aching muscles in the icy water off the back of the boat – two quick dips! I whipped Derek at cards until he rigged up the television aerial and we watched some comedy on the ABC. By now the wind had swung around to a north-easterly, but it was so light we didn’t consider it a problem when we went to bed. By midnight, however, we were bouncing around a little uncomfortably. Though the wind was only measuring around six knots, the fetch across the bay (around four kilometres) was enough to raise a nasty little bouncing slop. Under the full moon we motored across to Mickeys Bay and dropped anchor in the middle of half a dozen boats, which had prudently chosen this anchorage at a more sensible hour.

Wednesday 7th Jan

We slept much more successfully at Mickeys. By this morning the wind has strengthened from the north and is whistling in the rigging, but there is no nasty bounce. Today is forecast to be warm, around 29 degrees, and it looks like the usual hot northerly wind. This will mean the trip home will be into the wind with little prospect of sailing again. Such is life.

We spent most of the morning at anchor, hoping for the wind to abate a little so we could enjoy the warm weather. At about midday we gave up and headed out of Great Taylors Bay back into the Channel and motored north into the wind. It was very mild, and by the time we rounded the corner at the Middleton Light the wind had dropped considerably. We unfurled the headsail and motor-sailed for a time, until we hit a dead patch just north of Green Island. The clear water and warm weather was too much for me and I convinced Derek to cut the engine, throw a line overboard with a fender attached as a float and I jumped in for a swim. I went in clad in my wetsuit (knowing the temperature of the water) but once I acclimatised and peeled it off this convinced Derek he should have a try as well. We furled the sail and drifted, mid-channel, for a refreshing frolic in the invigorating water.

We continued on home and arrived at the marina as the sun was beginning to set behind Mt Wellington. After an hour or so of cleaning, packing up and making everything secure we said goodbye to Ariadne’s Clew for a few weeks at least. On Friday Derek will be off to New York – his life as an IMW (International Man of Work) resumes. Perhaps one day he can retire to become an IML (International Man of Leisure) and we can spend more time sailing…?!