2001 Jan 30 – Mar 18 Brisbane to Hobart, Tasmania


Anchored once again, for the first time since departing New Caledonia on November 24, 2000. This is cruising! We are not where I would call ideal cruising grounds, and certainly not the charming little town of Manly, where we were marina-bound for two months. Off of our bow is the Sea World theme park (we can hear the sea lions barking at feeding times). We are in Southport, oldest town on the Australian “Gold Coast”. To seaward, just beyond Sea World, are miles and miles of beaches where Aussies tan their skins to rawhide. The most famous is Surfers Paradise. Off of our stern is the inland waterway that we followed south from the Brisbane area of Moreton Bay. Scattered to port and starboard in the distance are dozens of high rise towers of hotels, lining the beaches that we will pass as we sail towards Sydney as soon as the weather is suitable. Ten minutes ago, just as the sun was setting, we were reminded that we are still in the South Pacific, as six or more 10-man outrigger canoes paddled quickly past, chanting and hooting as they trained and strained to be the fastest. Probably one day they will compete against the outrigger teams that we enjoyed watching at sunset in New Caledonia. The inland waterway is shallow and requires careful navigational and planning to avoid running aground on a sandbank. We timed our dawn departure to arrive at the shallowest channel at high tide, and passed over the shoals with two tenths of a metre of water under our keel. Utilizing paper charts, computer charts on which we had plotted our course two days ago, special guides and local publications, we carefully made our way from beacon to beacon, counting them and mentally checking them off as they marked the winding, serpentine channel. Egrets and ibises stood on the mudflats and mangrove trees lined the shores. It has been a beautiful day, and here we sit with water slides, roller coasters and casinos off our bow, and at 8 PM and again at 9 PM we were treated to fireworks displays and don’t know why. We love cruising.

We made the voyage down to Tasmania in several legs, stopping every 400 miles or so to review weather conditions and resupply. From Manly to Southport was an interesting beacon-to-beacon, follow the dots exercise, winding our way through the channels of the inland waterway east of Moreton Island. Sunshine and light breezes accompanied us, and the rain and strong winds did not begin until we were anchored off the Sea World at Southport. We could hear the sea lions barking during their performances and the children screaming as they rocketed down the water slides. For three weeks we kept Adagio at the Southport Yacht Club Marina, waiting for our next weather window, and listening to reports of heavy rains and flooding in Sydney to the south and Brisbane to the north. We, too, experienced strong winds and heavy rains, but also days of bright sunshine for visiting the very long beach nearby, observing the rainbow lorikeets, pink cockatoos and white ibises in the local park, and enjoying the Aussies parade their perfect bodies in surfers clothing past the excellent restaurants as we dined on loc al seafood including Moreton Bay Bugs (crayfish) and Atlantic salmon (farmed in Tasmania), Italian delicacies and some of the best produce ever. We were smack dab in the middle of The Gold Coast, home of famous Surfers Paradise. Not a bad place to have to wait out the weather. Unfortunately a problem developed in our PC making our navigation, weather fax receiving, satellite image receiving and other software unuseable. It took Steve two weeks of 10 hours/day, and numerous phone calls to hardware and software experts to discover that Windows 2000 was misinterpreting signals from our instruments, including our GPS, as coming from an external serial mouse!

February 8, 2001 Patience

The happiest cruisers are those who have learned patience. Patience to wait for the weather window of opportunity before departing for the next port, patience while the official lets your visa application marinade on his desk for several days, patience while the restaurant staff takes their dinghy to the nearest town to buy the ingredients for the dishes you have just ordered (this occurred in Turkey).

We arrived in Southport on a sunny January 30, the day that Sydney, 450 nautical miles to the south, was experiencing heavy rains and flooding. In the afternoon we heard the announcement over the radio that gales and strong winds were expectd in our vicinity, SE to E winds from 25 to 30 knots and heavy rains, expected to continue for the next two days. On February 1 the strong wind and heavy rain on our roof were so loud that we could not hear our Jimmy Buffet music CD playing. Each day we listened attentively to the weather reports from Brisbane to the north and Sydney to the south. “Gale warning. Expect Easterly winds of 35 to 40 knots for the next 6 hours. Seas 3 metres on a 1 to 2 metre swell.” The Australian current flows mostly from north to south, so when a SE wind blows against the direction of the current, seas build up and can be 4 to 5 metres high. No thanks. We stayed comfortably tied up to the Southport Yacht Club Marina dock. The first night of rain we were happy to see that there were no leaks in Adagio, except for one: a drip down onto the face of the captain’s wife, which we later concluded was the result of the hatch being open when the rain first began. After the second night, there were no further drips — we were very relieved, and Dorothy could sleep without a towel draped over her face at last.

We began to explore our surroundings. This is the fastest growing region of Australia, and mostly owned by citizens of Japan. Huge highrise apartments and condos peer down on miles and miles of beautiful barrier beaches protecting inland waterways. We first walked to the beach one late afternoon. Looking to the left then to the right, as far as the eye could see were sunning, swimming, strolling, boogie-boarding and surfing Australians and tourists. Each of the lifeguard stations positioned at regular intervals along the beach had set tall flags into the sand to mark the limits of their patroling, between which swimmers were advised to remain. Just inland from this spectacle are canals along which are built houses with small boats tied up nearby. Bordering the beaches are parks, many with large areas of playgrounds for children. The landscaping is impressive.

We discovered the gigantic shopping centers, each with large-screen cinemas. The Aussies have designed a better way to buy tickets and popcorn — they combine the two ways to get your money, and ask you to buy your movie tickets at the “Candy Bar” serviced by half a dozen queues where you wait to buy tickets, popcorn, candy, ice cream, etc., etc.

The Aussie shopping centers are legendary in New Zealand. While living in New Zealand, we were always surprised that the travel shows on the telly describing Kiwis vacationing in OZ spent half the show describing their shopping activities. The prices are quite low and most of the stores sell summer clothing, with the sprinkling of electronics, jewelery, grocery, department and discount stores. We learned our way around the grocery stores, finding most of what we want and some items new to us. In the little suburb of Main Beach, near our Southport Yacht Club Marina, was the most beautiful produce shop we have ever seen, where all the fruits and vegetables are arranged artistically in giant bowls.

Our happiest discovery has been the restaurants serving some of the best seafood dishes we have ever enjoyed. Local “Sydney rock” oysters are small, tender and sweet. Moreton Bay Bugs are very tender crayfish. Salmon, snapper, mahi mahi, baramundi, sea trout — yum — Mediterranean style cuisine with touches of Thailand. The Aussie wines are inexpensive and good. After a day of hard work on the boat we enjoy the treat of a good and low cost meal.

Everywhere we go we hear unusual birdsong, but have difficulty spotting the birds. Then surprisingly we will see six ibises poking around the trash dump at the marina (!!) A nearby shopping mall has a small aviary with rainbow lorikeets and some of the large Australian pigeons. The small black herons fish from the floating dock near our boat. A small flock of what I think are either native Eastern Whipbirds or Red-whiskered Bulbuls (introduced to Australia from wouthern Asia) were feeding in the grass next to the sidewalk in Main Beach.

Today there appeared a glimmer of sunlight sparkling through a crack in our weather window. The radio forecasts predict SE to NE winds for Saturday and Sunday, and the TV weatherman showed sunshine beginning Saturday. Our weather window might be opening soon — patience rewarded.

February 10, 2001 Watching Aussie Wildlife

At dawn a half dozen hot air baloons floated slowly over land to the south. A brisk morning walk to photograph some of the other Australian aerial wildlife took me ten minutes from where our boat is berthed to the shore of the Tasman Sea, where a very long beach is exposed to the full force of the Tasman storms. But not today. The sun is shining and the Aussies are at play. Before reaching the beach I walk through a park shaded by blooming trees where a flock of rainbow lorikeets are feeding. Pleasantly noisy, they fly from branch to branch, then hang upside down to reach the pollen and nectar. With binoculars I have a good look and a positive identification. The chest is multicolored in yellows, oranges and reds. The head is blue, the beak red, the back a dark green, with a light green “collar” across the nape of the neck. So pretty. Such good acces is a delight. On the grass at my feet are what I have come to photograph — half a dozen galahs. Pronounced gah-LAH, these birds are the origin of the phrase “playing the galah”, which means to act the fool. High energy avian clowns, with watermelon-rose colored breasts, white heads and white beaks, these birds are beautiful. They have been observed sliding on their backs down a slide in a children’s playground, alighting on the slowly rotating blades of windmills until they are tipped off then flying up again for another ride, and other antics. Today they are busily feeding on something in the grass. Here and there are White Ibises, stately and slow, accompanied by Masked Lapwings which have unusual yellow faces and cry out like Oystercatchers as they fly. In the forest bordering the beach I saw an Azure Kingfisher, a Pied Currawong and a Magpie-lark. Two White Ibises were feeding in the windowbox of a hotel room of the local resort hotel, while the occupants read their newspapers just inside the window.

Following the passage between the dunes that are protected by fences, I entered the sandy beach. The sea is quite rough today. None of the commercial vessels have been out today. The seas are predicted to settle down in the next few days. Our weather window requirements for a safe passage include a safe sea state as well as moderate winds from the northerly quadrant.

We have made friends with Dennis Creps and Sally Gillett aboard the sailing catamaran “First Light”. Sally has circumnavigated once already. Our mutual friend is Sandy Fontwit. Dennis is preparing the boat for cruising while Sally works to fill the cruising kitty. There are about 10 sailing catamarans of various sizes and designs tied up at the Southport Yacht Club Marina.

February 14, 2001

The weather forecasters are calling for another “Southerly Change”, which means strong winds from the south and rough seas. Time to go have a look at some more Australian wildlife. Dorothy drove our little rental car into the “hinterland” to Lamington National Park and stayed for two days at The O’Reilly Guest House. The O’Reilly brothers, sisters, and their children provide cottages and natural history walks on their own property and in the National Park. I made friends with Woo O’Reilly, granddaughter of the family who settled in the area before it became a national park, and avid researcher of native frogs. On one of her interpretive walks, she took our group to see the remarkable blue crayfish in the mountain streams, where we also found and identified tadpoles of several types of frogs. My mother would have loved it.

At the main guesthouse we fed these native birds: Grey Butcherbirds, Currawongs, Crimson Rosellas, Regent Bowerbirds and Satin Bowerbirds. The birds we saw in the forest are: Variegated Fairy Wrens, Sulphur-crested White Cockatoos, Noisy Pittas, White-browed Scrubwrens, Rose Robins, Black-faced Monarchs and Grey Fantails. One of the hilights of my visit was to stand not far from a pademelon in the O’Reilly botanical gardens. This small marsupial wallaby, about two feet high with varying shades of soft grey fur, did not seem to mind my presence, so I stayed a while and observed it. At dinner one evening I met Carol and Richard, from San Diego, who are cruising on their yacht “Evie”. They recommended vcisiting Middle Percy Island, offshore from MacKay in northern Queensland. The owner caters to yachties. Also Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Islands.

February 15, 2001

In preparation for each passage, we collect cruising guides, charts, pilot books, tide tables, weather guides and other information that will help us make a safe passage. I enjoy scouring all boating bookstores and chandleries for any guide or useful book. Today I obtained the guide “Cruising Tasmania” by J. Brettingham-Moore, and ordered nautical charts for Tasmanian waters from Boat Books in Brisbane. Boat Books is the best chart agent in the region, as they correct all charts from the Notices to Mariners. This ensures that each chart contains update notations for all changes made by the hydrographer’s office at the time the chart is purchased. We learned that there are several levels of chart agents in Australia. Unfortunately the chandlery at Southport Yacht Club Marina does not update the charts that it sells.

February 16, 2001

North and and south of where we are on the coast of Australia, there are strong wind warnings, gale warnings and high seas warnings for five days into the future.

February 22, 2001

We met Richard Gill of the 45′ trimaran TEVAKE. Joe and Kathy Suidzinski on “KatieKat” arrived in Southport from Brisbane. I bought wonderful Italian imported food at the Global Food and Wine wholeale outlet in the nearby town of Nerang.

February 23, 2001 Depart for Sydney

The weather forecast is for 10 to 15 knot Southeasterlies decreasing, with an afternoon Northeasterly sea breeze. We passed through the Gold Coast Seaway out into the Tasman Sea, bound for Sydney at 1045. The Seaway Tower personnel had told us that it would be safe to pass through the seaway even after the ebb tide had begun, but we found it a bit rough. We were under power, with no sail up, due to the contrary winds. A container ship crossed our bow at 1418, and we spoke to the Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) at Cape Byron at 1725, giving him our position. The sun set behind Cape Byron at 1821. We were abeam of Cape Byron at 1833 where we altered course towards Ballina Head. At 2100 we saw numerous fishing boats south of Evans Head. At 2300 we watched three more fishing boats off our starboard bow NE of Clarence Head. At midnight the Clarence Head lighthouse was abeam, in flat seas with a light breeze on a starry night. The Southern Cross was overhead and Orion reclined on the western horizon. Bright phosphorescence sparkled in our wake and was great fun to watch through the escape hatch in the wall of our bedroom. Our watch schedule, with just the two of us aboard, was 3 to 4 hour watches during the night, and 5 to 6 hour watches during the day. We slept and napped at every opportunity, so that we would be alert when on watch for the occasional very large ship and infrequent other sailing vessel.

February 24, 2001

At 0500 we had scattered showers at sunrise, as we approached Coffs Harbour to starboard. The weather forecast is for a weak southeast change moving into Sydney this evening and weakening. Shearwaters surround us as we approach Smoky Cape. Estimated time of arrival (ETA) is 0800 on Sunday to Broken Bay, north of Sydney. At 1850 I spoke by radio to the yacht “Flamboyant”, a 45′ Camper Nicholson cruising yacht, sailed by a singlehander. I relayed a message to Port Stephens Coastal Patrol, giving our position and that of Flamboyant. Interesting place names along the coast include: Mudgeeraba, Tallebudgera, Tumbulgum, Coolangatta, Murwillumbah, Wooyung, Mullumbimby, Montecollum, TyagarahIluka, Yamba, Wooloweyah, Yuraygir, Ulmarra, Arrawarra, Woolgoolga, Dorrigo, Missabotti, Urunga, Nambucca, Arakoon, Clybucca, Kinchela, Willawarrin, Toorooka, Willi Willi, Mooneba, Cooperabung, Bagnoo, Pappinbarra, Kindee, Byabarra, Wauchope, Killabakh, Coopernook, Krambach, Bunyah, Coolongolook, Warranulla, Bulahdelah, Tuncurry, Booti Booti, Dungog, Kurri Kurri, Cessnock, Cooranbong, Wyrrabalong, Tuggerah, Bouddi, Ku-Ring Gai Chase, Woy Woy, and Yerranderie. I think I got the spellings right.

February 25, 2001 A short stop in Sydney

Newcastle Coast Patrol hailed us on the radio, having been notified by the Port Stephens VMR that we would be arriving in their area. We hailed Gosford VMR at 0550. At 0900 we entered Broken Bay, on our way to Pittwater and the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club. He said we should tie up at the end of “D” pontoon. It was a sunny morning with light rain decreasing as we made our way up the beautiful waterway, past weekend sailors in boats of every description. The shoreline is dotted with beautiful small homes. Boats are on moorings here and there. We secured the boat and walked to the Boating Club Marina for dinner. This is one of the most beautiful cruising grounds in Australia, sheltered

from the ocean waves, mostly a national park. We met two British couples who had been cruising in Broken Bay for two months, and were reluctant to leave.

February 26, 2001 Depart for Eden

We collected our mail packages from Karen McManus, daughter of Bruce Grant who sailed with us from New Zealand to New Caledonia. Our weather window was still open, so on February 26 we departed Pittwater for the town of Eden on the southeast corner of Australia. The atmospheric conditions were such the first night that the big ships appeared as looms of light from below the horizon before their lights appeared. The loom of Sydney lay astern just as Steve stepped into the shower, and I sat at the navigation station to write down the weather report as it came in over the radio. When I stood up, the loom of Sydney was off our bow. The auto pilot had turned us around and was taking us in the opposite direction we wanted to go. Poor Steve cut his shower short and in the nude diagnosed the problem as a failed auto pilot. While I hand steered south using the Southern Cross as a guide, Steve switched to our second, fully installed, auto pilot, and we sat down to think about the risks of continuing on our journey. Steve believed that the chances of the second pilot failing were very low, so we continued on.

Each of us worked our way out of the paths of several large ships during our watches, and this morning Steve spoke by radio with two Australian naval frigates who were participating in live military operations off the coast. Dorothy had received a call on the radio during the night from a coast station notifying us of the location and time of military operations, but during the night the location had been moved to the south. We were safely beyond the specified area by the time the firing began. According to our charts, Jervis Bay is an Australian military zone.

Just before midnight a large vessel who was approaching from astern, hailed Dorothy at 3.5 nautical miles away, just as our radar appeared to show a large target ahead of Adagio. A woman’s voice spoke to me on the radio, identified her vessel as the commercial vessel “KOWOKA”, and said that she would pass me on my port side. I said that due to another vessel ahead of me, I might have to alter course, but would alter course to starboard. As “KOWOKA” approached from astern, the vessel ahead of me came closer and closer. I soon figured out that the very powerful radar on “KOWOKA” was creating an echo of herself ahead of me, and as “KOWOKA” passed Adagio, a bright halo surrounded Adagio’s position on the radar, and the echo disappeared. Whew. We noticed these echo and halo effects when close to other commercial vessels.

February 27, 2001 Eden arrival

Just before noon, Dorothy sighted two dark pointed objects rising strangely out of the sea several miles ahead and to port of our course. As the we approached the object, the points became tall, dark and missle-shaped. After a few hours, the unusual object revealed its’s true identity as a junk-rigged sailing schooner with wine-red sails. Dorothy spoke to its skipper by radio. He said he was heading to Eden, so we looked forward to meeting him there. At 1916 we entered Twofold Bay near the small town of Eden on the southeast corner of the Australian mainland. At first we tied alongside one of the two fishing boat wharfs, and met several crew members of the fishing boats. However, the chafeing of our lines on the edges of the concrete wharf persuaded us to untie all of our lines, stow our fenders and motor for two kilometres to a snug anchorage in East Boyd Bay In the darkness of night we could just make out the waves on the beach and several large ship mooring bouys, so we carefully positioned Adagio with the help of the radar and set the anchor.

February 28, 2001

North east of our anchorage is an old whaling station. Before the whalers arrived, the bay had been used probably for hundreds of years by Orcas (killer whales) as a staging ground for hunting the humpback and right whales as they migrated past. When the human whalers arrived, they noticed the Orca’s ability to scout the approaching whales and alert those waiting in the bay. There soon developed a cooperative relationship between man and beast, and the whales were doomed. The Orca Whale Museum in the town of Eden tells the story.

South of our anchorage looms a “wood chip mill”, where a HUGE pile of woodchips are continually being piled high for shipment to Japan by sea. The Australian forests are turned to primary production for Japanese paper products. This is one of many such mills in Australia. When the wind blew from the northeast, our boat was covered in a thin film of sawdust.

Ashore to the west of our anchorage is a stately “mansion” where children play musical instruments for most of each afternoon. The brassy tones from the trombones and tubas carry out across the water. Ashore the songs of bellbirds in the trees echo back and forth. These birds are small and difficult to see, and they are said to be ventriloquists, making it difficult to locate the bird from which the song originates.

March 1, 2001

We visited the little town of Eden which is perched at the top of a hill overlooking the Tasman Sea and Twofold Bay. One must climb a steep hill to reach the small shops which provide provisions and services. The weather forecast was for strong winds from the southwest, so we delayed our departure. The sailing vessel “Sweet Chariot” from Sydney departed this morning for Tasmania, her crew sporting their foul weather gear as they headed out into the seas and swell. The sea swell enters Twofold Bay and rolls ashore. To avoid the worst of the swell, we anchored in the southern region of the bay when a southerly swell prevailed, and in the northern region during a northerly swell. The swells from the east affected the entire bay. Adagio is a particularly comfortable boat while at anchor. As the other boats in the bay rolled heavily in the swell, Adagio’s movements were gentle and did not interfere with our daily activities. We even managed to launch and retrieve our dinghy with no problems. Our dinghy “Allegro” rides smoothly over the sea chop and swells, as if she is on “rails”, with no pounding and very little spray coming aboard. She is dry and comfortable. We love her, especially when making the two kilometre trip across the bay from our anchorage to the dinghy dock near the wharves.

The dinghy dock is located near shore inside the most southerly wharf. At low tide, it’s a bit of a reach to climb from the deck of Allegro to the lower steps of the dock. To keep Allegro out of the way of other boats, we would set a small stern anchor which was rigged with a turning block through which we passed a floating polypro line. One end of the anchor rode was tied to a stern cleat and the other end was tied off to a bow cleat. The line thus formed a loop which passed through the turning block. This arrangement allowed us to pull the dinghy out away from the dock towards the anchor, or back to the dock for boarding. The loop thus formed in the line was taken ashore and tied to a piling on the dock.

March 2, 2001

We received several visitors to the boat today. A group of dolphins swam around Adagio, and Roger Neal from the sailing vessel “Irena”, the junk-rigged schooner that we had passed enroute to Eden, came aboard for a cup of tea. During a long chat about his single-handed sailing adventures, we learned that he was planning to visit our friends Lesley and Robert Swan who now live at Barnes Bay on North Bruny Island, Tasmania. Roger is a retired architect and was looking forward to seeing the Georgian architecture in Hobart.

The sailing vessel “Polo Flat” from Port Kembla, Australia arrived in East Boyd Bay today.

The large, new, catamaran, alloy fishing vessel “StarTrek” anchored nearby in the rain, and continued to fish with small nets. Members of the crew told us that this vessel is so stable that she is able to continue fishing in bad weather.

March 3, 4 and 5, 2001

Today Steve set about the task of troubleshooting and repairing the autopilot pump that had failed as we passed Sydney. More dolphins visited us today. The weatherman reports gale force winds for Sydney and strong wind warnings between Eden and Tasmania. A swell rolled into our anchorage, but we were comfy cozy.

March 6, 2001

Steve succeeded in repairing the auto pilot, but complained of severe back pain and numbness in his right leg and foot, so we made an appointment for him with a doctor in Eden. Fortunately we have good reception for our mobile phone while anchored in East Boyd Bay.

March 7, 2001

This morning we waved goodbye and sent our wishes for fair winds to Roger Neal as he sailed “Irena” out of our anchorage and onwards towards Tasmania.

The beaches and forests along this coast are beautiful, and we have rented a car to tour around. Today we visited the aquarium at Merimbula and the Coast Patrol station in Eden. The volunteers at this sation have some of the best views in the world. They look out towards the Tasman sea where whales migrate past twice a year, and down into the entrance to Twofold Bay as the fishing fleet depart and arrive. We were advised that we can contact the following (Volunteer Marine Rescue) VMR Stations enroute to Hobart:

Wonboyn 6496-9134

Gabo Island 03-5158-0255

Mallacoota, Flinders Island, monitors 27 mhZ VHF and 2182 HF radio, telephone: 03-6359-3557 (03-5158-0884)

Mussellroe Bay Coast Patrol, 27 mhZ VHF 03-6357-2300

Tip of NE, Binnalong Bay Coast Patrol 03-6376-8170

St. Helens Coast Patrol monitors 27 mhZ VHF, and HF 03-6376-2443

Scamanda Coast Patrol 03-6372-5190, fax 03-6372-5174

Dodgers Ferry Coast Patrol monitors 27mhZ VHF, telephone 03-6265-9666

Hobart Coast Patrol, all radios, 03-6243-5182

March 8, 2001

Strong wind warnings were in force for Tasmanian waters and Bass Strait. We hope that Roger and “Irena” are making a safe passage. Heavy rain was forecast for Sydney and Brisbane north of us. We have been experiencing rains and high tides. The weather forecast this morning warns boaters that there are numerous logs floating around in Twofold Bay.

March 9, 2001

“Fresh” northerly and northeasterly winds were forecast for Eden, increasing to 20 knots, “ahead of a southerly change from the west”, so we raised anchor and move across the bay where we set our anchor in “Snug Bay”, near several boats on moorings. Our mobile phone will not receive a signal from this anchorage, but we are protected from the winds and swell, and are close to the dinghy dock. We contacted the fuel dock and arranged for the diesel truck to meet us at the wharf. Adagio’s fuel tanks were filled with 575 litres of diesel and Allegro received 18 litres of petrol. The fuel dock at the Eden wharf is run by Graham, telephone 6496-2006, mobile 0417-289-961, a keen fly fisherman who travels to New Zealand each year.

March 10, 2001

We listened to the weather forecasts several times each day and decided that it was safe to wait until Sunday to move back to East Boyd Bay. We lunched at the oyster farm north of Eden. The news reported 8 metre flood tides in the Clarence River, with 100 year storm floods. Residents of the small town of Yamba at the mouth of the river were being evacuated. Heavy rain came suddenly to our anchorage from the southwest, and then cleared just as the full moon was rising.

March 11, 2001

Today Dorothy (with supervision) had the opportunity to perform a few of Steve’s tasks, including changing the saltwater impeller for the genset, checking the oil in the genset and adding oil. She also added petrol to the dinghy fuel tanks.

March 12, 2001

Joe Suidzinskis arrived to join us for our passage to Hobart. Joe and Steve completed the rigging of the emergency parachute anchor.

March 13, 2001

Our weather router Rick Shema has recommended a departure between 0900 and 1600 hours tomorrow. The weather forecast for the 24 hours from noon on Thursday to noon on Friday called for fresh north to northeast winds, and 2 to 3 metre swells decreasing. Dolphins swam around the boat again today, a good sign. The around the world racing yacht VERITAS brought an injured crew member into Eden today for hospitalization.

We telephoned Jeff Boyes in Hobart, and obtained our first Tasmanian weather forecast. Jeff, a retired school teacher, 80 years of age, runs Tas-Coast Radio, transmitting weather forecasts twice a day on VHF and HF radio. He also provides a free service for cruising boats to report in to him twice each day, to report their location and cruising plans in Tasmanian waters. His radio schedule is:

0810 hrs VHF ch. 81

0820 hrs. HF 4483

0835 hrs. HF 2524

1810 hrs. VHF ch. 81

1820 hrs HF 4483

1835 hrs HF 2524

Tasmar Radio (Hobart Coast Patrol) also provides a full weather broadcast several times per day, and keeps track of the travel plans of the local commercial vessels.

We telephoned Jeff Boyes from East Boyd Bay near Eden, and he reported that the winds east of Flinders Island on the northeast coast of Tasmania were forecast to be strong today, decreasing tomorrow. For the east coast of Tassie on Wednesday and Thursday, the forecast was for SW to NW winds turnin to Ne to N winds on Thursday. He recommended that we be east of Flinders Island by Thursday at the latest. The trend for the 24 hours beginning Friday was for NNE winds ahead of a fresh to strong WSW change.

Jeff relayed the information that our friends Ed and Lynn Kerwin were hiking in Port Arthur, waiting for a weather window to head north back to mainland Australia.

March 14, 2001 Depart for Tasmania

At 1230 hours, we turned on our engines, raised our anchor, and departed Eden for Hobart, Tasmania, estimated time of arrival: the morning of Saturday, March 17. The barometric pressure was 1025 and steady. The wind speed 5 knots, and direction out of the northeast. Over the course of the afternoon, the wind gradually increased, so that at 1800 hours we hoisted full main and unfurled the jib. We were sailing at last!

March 15, 2001

Under full main and jib, in northeasterly winds of 20 to 22 knots, we were sailing at speeds of over 10 knots, frequently at 10.8 to 11 knots. Our log book reads, “Smooth sailing. Good progress”. The seas gradually increased from 1-1/2 metres to 2-1/2 metres. Cloud cover was 5% and the barometer held steady at 1023. Beautiful sailing. The Tasmanian weather forecast reported the situation as: “A 1030 hectopascal High lies over the Tasman Sea, moving slowly eastward, with a cold front expected to reach the west coast later on Friday.” The forecast for the east coast of Tassie was, “NE to N winds 10-20 knots, increasing to 15-25 knots overnight, then 20-30 knots on Friday afternoon, with locally 35 knots offshore at times. Seas of 1-2 metres today increasing to 3-4 metres on Friday afternoon. E-SE swells below 2 metres, tending NE on Friday afternoon.”

At 1510 hours we reefed the mainsail down to the second reef, and the barometer slowly fell 11 points during the next 24 hours.

Albatrosses circled Adagio. We turned on the engines to 2600 rpms and were motorsailing as the winds decreased to 14 knots, then varied between 16 and 22 overnight. At this rate we made it safely past Flinders Island, and headed down the east coast of Tasmania. The afternoon weather forecast called for strong winds of 25-30 knots for Friday afternoon, and seas of 3-4 metres. The southwest change was due to arrive late Friday or early Saturday. At 1800 hours we hailed the Coast Patrol to give our position as 21 nautical miles due east of St. Helens Cape.

March 16, 2001 Landfall in Tasmania

Early in the morning we discovered that several cups of water had leaked in through the port side escape hatch. We attributed this to underwing slams directly onto the hatch. There was no danger, but we kept a better watch on that hatch, and placed a towel to catch any further leaks. At 1530 hours we gybed to starboard, as the wind was backing rapidly. We passed a large ship on our port side.

We spoke to our friends Ed and Lynn Kerwin on VHF radio at 1710 hours, and scheduled a conversation at 0820 hours on HF channel 4483, but were unable to receive any signal on that channel. We were disappointed to learn that Ed and Lynn had sailed “Constance” up to Maria Island, where they were anchored, our “two ships passing in the night” as we sailed south towards Port Arthur.

At 0750 hours we could clearly see Tasman Island, where spires of Dolerite rock reach to the sky. The headlands of Cape Pillar are the wind-swept remains of the cores of ancient mountains, and appear ready to impale unwary ships on their needle-sharp teeth. We passed them at a safe distance in moderately rough seas, which settled down as soon as we were abeam of Arthurs Peak. We had decided to stop for the night in Port Arthur which is near the head of an inlet on the southern end of the Tasman Peninsula. We would proceed to Hobart after the forecasted cold front had passed over. The weather forecast called for 30-40 knots of wind offshore overnight, then easing on Saturday afternoon. Seas were due to rise to 4-5 metres for a period overnight, then ease Saturday afternoon.

Storm Bay on our route to Hobart had strong wind warnings.

We were hailed on VHF radio by the sailing vessel “Prelude 2” saying that he was anchored in Stewart Bay which was protected from northerly winds. At 0830 we were unable to get our anchor to set in the grassy and kelp-covered bottom at Stewart Bay, so we moved to Carnarvon Bay off the historic site of the Port Arthur penal colony.

At 1200 hours, our anchor set snugly in a clean sandy bottom. The 9 knots of wind out of the NNE gently ruffled the waters in our protected anchorage. The barometer read 1010 and was continuing to fall. The weather forecasters said that an intense cold front over the south coast of Australia was expected to reach western Tasmania late in the evening and cross the state overnight. A gale warning was in force for most of Tasmanian coastal waters. Strong winds from the north were to be replaced on Sunday and Monday by southerly winds as a High approached. Our plan was to wait for the southerly winds to make the passage across Storm Bay to Hobart.

Our Inmarsat-C satellite messages confirmed all of the local radio forecasts, and also included the following message:

“The projected re-entry and break up of the Space Station Mir will occur 22 march, alternate 21 March, in area bounded by —(geographic coordinates to the west of our location) — Central debris impact area 47 00S 141 00W. Our location was 42 degrees S 147 degrees E.≤

March 17, 2001

Rain in the morning cleared by the afternoon, with the barometer falling to 995 hectopascals. We swung comfortably on our anchor, watching the Blue Port Arthur ferry take tourists to and from Dead Island where the old prison cemetery is located. Each time the ferry passed, he came closer and closer to Adagio, and we soon realized that we had become part of the tour, with tourists taking photos and waving. The winds calmed in the evening with a brilliant sunset, and the barometer began to rise.

March 18, 2001 Hobart!

As the winds filled in from the south and eased a bit, we raised anchor at 1250 hours, and departed Port Arthur, destination Sullivan’s Cove, Hobart, Tasmania, estimated time of arival 2030 hours. We called Jeff Boyes for instructions as we approached Hobart. We also asked for advice in finding a good neurosurgeon for Steve. Jeff said that the best doctor was Des Cooper, now retired but volunteering for the flying emergency medical corps. He lives in Kettering, and Jeff will contact him for a referral. At 1900, we put out our fenders and tied up to Elizabeth Street Wharf, Port of Hobart, Tasmania. We were finally able to reach our friends Lesley and Robert Swan by telephone. They said that they knew all about Steve’s spine injury, as they had heard the story from Roger Neal, after he had sailed “Irena” into their bay and joined them for dinner. It’s truly a small world out here.

The thrill of being in a new place: Having made landfall, there is a wonderful transition in our state of mind, when we realize that “we are here”, where ever that “here” might be. Upon arriving in Hobart, we found ourselves not in a secluded anchorage or in a “secure” marina, but in the center of Hobart Town, tied up to a concrete wharf. By contrast, we had quickly untied our dock lines from the wharf in the small fishing port of Eden after it had become apparent that our lines would chafe through on the jagged concrete. The metre long piece of fire hose that we had purchased at the small Eden chandlery, was too short to protect the five dock lines what were required to secure Adagio. Unlike the surge from the swell entering the Eden harbor which raises and lowers the boats thousands of times per day, the waters surrounding us in Constitution Dock are calm, except when a cold front passes through. Dorothy obtained many metres of discarded fire hose from the generous members of the Hobart Fire Brigade. Tom Walton, our neighbor on “Half Moon”, gave us the fender board he was discarding after making a longer one for his boat. We now have three fender boards ….. dock lines, each protected by two feet of fire hose, no chafe problems, and enough fire hose remaining to protect our dock lines when we find ourselves in other ports in the future.

From “D’Entrecasteaux Waterways”, Edition 2, by the Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania.

“Hobart is exactly the right size to meet Aristotle’s criterion for the ideal city-state: small enough to be friendly and easy going yet large enough to accommodate the oldest and one of the most active theatres in Australia, a university, a good library, an extraordinary variety of restaurants, excellent shopping and more pleasure boats per capita than anywhere else in Australia; not to mention fine Georgian, Regency and Victorian architecture.”

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