Lolling at Binalong Bay – Saturday 2nd March

Position: Binalong Bungalows, Binalong Bay

After lying awake thinking of the mess we’ll find when we get back on board – books and charts all over the floor? Will anything in the fridge smash or leak? I did manage to relax myself enough to sleep.

Over a poached egg breakfast in the Lichen café we consulted the latest weather forecast, and didn’t like what we saw: strong northerly winds, increasing over 30 knots towards Wineglass Bay in the afternoon – just when we’d be getting down there. Sunday was looking a better day to make the passage, and just out the window was our little boat bobbing about on the swell. We rang the redoubtable Jan to see if we could get another night’s accommodation. She had nothing available, but very obligingly rang around the town and secured us a night at Binalong Bungalows, managed by friends Marie and Colin, also boaties, and sympathetic to our plight. Jan also offered to take us in to St Helens for a quick shopping expedition, stopping on the way at Lease 65 oyster farm where she’d arranged to collect a dozen oysters – and we asked for another dozen for us! It transpires that Jan herself is a seasoned sailor having competed in a few Melbourne to Hobart races, including the tragic 1998 race when they rolled the boat before they even got it to Melbourne for the start!

Marie then picked us up with our belongings to drive us the short trip up the road to the bungalow, which is tastefully decorated in retro style, complete with video player and a library of videos from the 90s. Marie said she’d been at the café earlier looking at our boat and hoping the poor sailors weren’t staying on board. She supposed we were on shore somewhere – perhaps King Fisher Cottage?… I guess that’s small-town life.

We settled in, Derek did some work while I wrote and then, after a lunch of cheese, crackers and tomato with a few fresh oysters thrown in, we headed off to the beach via the lagoon track. The wind was blowing strongly onshore, the waves were pumping, and there was our boat still bobbing and swaying on that mooring. Marie had recommended a series of gulches past the boat-ramp as a good sheltered spot for a swim, so we wandered down to one of these delightfully secluded natural swimming pools where I swam and floated in the warm sunshine.

After a lazy afternoon we scrubbed up and walked back to the same restaurant for dinner. The staff all recognise us now as if we’re locals! We both ate the market fish tonight – delicious pink ling – and I indulged in chocolate pudding for dessert, but no coffee! The swell was beginning to settle down as we walked back to the bungalow in the dusk. I don’t think I’ll be worrying about Ariadne’s Clew so much tonight.

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A beautiful day at last – Sunday 24th February

Position: Furneaux Tavern, Lady Barron, Flinders Island (again)

By the time we woke the wind had blown itself out and the morning was still as the sun rose above the peaks of Strzeleki. After breakfast we were the first boatload to put a dinghy in the water to head ashore. We grabbed our bathers and walking gear and a good supply of water and putted across to the end of the point for a good look a the interesting rock formations. The tide was almost right out, and we soon encountered patches of weed, having to scout out a safe passage ashore. Eventually it was too shallow to use the outboard and we paddled the last 100 metres before having to hop out and tug the dinghy into shore.

We pulled it well up the sand and were anchoring it to some rocks when a friendly local appeared and concerned it could be damaged on the rocks, offered to help carry it further up to the beach steps, as the tide comes in pretty fast and far. We chatted and when he heard our predicament offered us a lift to the airport at Whitemark when he will be heading there on Wednesday.

After trying out the drone from the beach we headed off on the walk. The walk around Trousers Point is one of Tasmania’s ‘60 Great Walks’ and is only around 90 minutes return. We clambered over the spectacular granite boulders, amazed by the variety of colours and formations, including gnammas (pools in the surface caused by chemical weathering), rock pools, fissures, boulders, lichens and delicate lace-like formations of calcarenite (a product of re-dissolved lime from ancient shell deposits).

Before we arrived at Trousers Beach the crystal clear waters quickly lured me in for a swim. I climbed down the rocks, over the weedy edge and shallow dived into what looked like a metre of water – but turned out to be over my head!

We enjoyed the walk back along the road, with birds, plants and wallabies bouncing everywhere. There were multiple sites of animal crossings with well-worn tracks heading into the bush either side, and sadly a couple of road-kill.

Back at Fotheringate Beach we found the tide hadn’t quite made it to the dinghy. We had met and chatted to various other boaties on the walk. At the beach we met parties from two boats heading back to Melbourne after visiting the Wooden Boat Festival and they helped us carry it down to the water. Once we were back on board the wind had begun to puff from the north-east. Still keeping our options open we thought we’d consider travelling north for another night before heading back to Lady Barron if it wasn’t too difficult to winch the anchor up by hand. I sent Derek forward to the winch this time and operated the helm, the trick being to motor gently towards the anchor giving him some slack making it easier work. After 15 minutes of hard grind (Derek) and gentle manoeuvring at the helm (me) the anchor was up! Derek came back to the cockpit and the decision was made: back to Lady Barron. The boat won’t be going anywhere until the new motor is in place and operational. Winching a 25 kg anchor and 30 metres of heavy steel chain is hard work in favourable conditions. If we have trouble getting a hold and have to drop and raise it more than once, or there’s a swell and lots of wind, it could all become too hard, and totally unsafe.

We turned back to the south and rode the falling tide back into Lady Barron, where we grabbed the same mooring and went ashore for another night at the Furneaux Tavern. We tried to arrange a hire-car for Monday and left the amazing Andrew in Hobart in charge of sourcing a replacement motor and getting it shipped up here via courier and Sharp Airlines in to Whitemark as soon as possible. So we’re landlubbers again for a little while at least.