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

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.

A Night on the Town

It’s not often I get the opportunity to stay as a visitor in Hobart, to sleep right on the city’s waterfront without having to pay for a hotel room. When our eighteen-year-old son persuaded us to let him have a party at our house we decided to escape the noise (and our responsibilities perhaps) and sleep on the boat for the night. This provided the perfect opportunity to take Ariadne’s Clew over to the city for a night out. On Saturday afternoon, after bomb-proofing the house (removing Turkish rugs from the living room, and the prize bottle of whisky from the drinks shelf – oops forgot that!) we drove to the marina, hopped on board, cast off and motored across the Derwent River to the docks. The low winter sun sparkled on the water this bright winter’s day. On the way in we passed the Mona Roma (MR2) heading north for it’s final trip of the day, and the Spirit of Hobart, a boxy red and white ferry that always reminds me of a bath toy. We entered through the gap in the sea-wall to the Kings Pier Marina and reversed into one of the pens on the public marina just outside Elizabeth Street Pier and the Lady Nelson replica sail training vessel.

There was one other yacht tied up for the evening with three young men on board, and later another larger yacht arrived complete with large labradoodle, which quickly persuaded its owners to take it for a walk. The public marina has capacity for around five vessels of our size and another two larger ones, plus space for dinghies and run-abouts to tie up. It was the first time we’ve used this fantastic facility. Once we were settled we locked up and headed into Salamanca Place for dinner. Our first pick of restaurants were full, but we got a table at Barcelona where we ate a huge meal, rounded off with coffee and desert!

Eating at Barcelona and showing off one of the historic sandstone walls of Salamanca Place

Then it was time to head to the Peacock Theatre to see one of the shows forming part of the Festival of Voices, What Rhymes with Cars and Girls? We enjoyed the show – an entertaining light-hearted musical romance with two strong leads and a band. The plot was woven around the songs of Tim Rogers and performed by two talented young local actors.

After the show we headed back to the boat, which was warm and cosy thanks to our little diesel heater. Down below we played a game then watched the Tour de France until our eyelids began to droop.

Ariadne’s Clew on the Hobart public marina

In the morning we had a lie-in before heading to T42 restaurant for breakfast where we took a window seat in the bright morning sunshine. From our seat we watched the Lady Nelson crew doing a training session, and both our neighbouring boats as they prepared to cast off.

We checked with Ben to make sure the house had survived the party, then went back on board to cast off and head back across the sparkling river to Bellerive.

Leaving Hobart