2002 Dec 25: Christmas on the Clarence River, Queensland

The year of 2003 has brought us wonderful fun and many new friends in Australia. Kim and her fun family visited us for Christmas last year, then visited Sydney. In the new year we continued to cruise the beautiful waters of Tasmania, going first up the incredibly beautiful rocky coastline of the east coast, and in March, around to the wild and woolly Tasmanian west coast. By the end of June we were ready to head north to the Great Barrier Reef. Dorothy’s sister Helen joined us there in August, and we continued to sail north to the Whitsunday Islands just inside the GBR, for some SCUBA diving and snorkeling, at every island we visited. The fish and coral are in better condition the farther one goes from the mainland, and we were enthralled by what we saw underwater. Helen took hours of underwater video. After her departure, we continued north, then turned around when the northerly winds filled in, for lovely sailing south along the east coast of Australia, to avoid the summer cyclone season in the tropics.

This was to be our first Christmas away from Kim and her family, and we were trying to keep both our chins up and look forward to sharing the holidays with them next year. In November Dorothy enjoyed helping Kim with the moving adventure from San Francisco to Seattle, where Kim and Alan have relocated their family to Beautiful Bainbridge Island, just a 30 minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle. We all attended the Nutcracker Ballet performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company, and enjoyed Sarah’s running commentary (so cute).

The Aussie pre-Christmas celebrations brought us a bit of culture shock and good entertainment. While we were at a lovely little resort town north of Sydney called Sanctuary Cove, we attended the town’s annual “Carols by Candlelight” music performance. Each little community has one of these, and we found it amusing and fun. The city fathers set up several hundred chairs in a small parking lot next to a small park, erected a stage, and passed out leaflets containing words to Christmas carols. A large swing band called “Swing Force” set up their 4 trumpets and 4 trombones, drums, clarinets, saxophones, keyboards more. The performers included three opera singers who could really belt out the carols, almost drowning out the voices from the audience, an Elvis/Sinatra impersonator crooner named “Ace”, a Marilyn Monroe/Eva Gabor impersonator singer, a Pavaroti impersonator/singer, a pair of female swing singers/harmonizers, two high school age jazz dancers dressed sort of like cheerleaders, child dancers dressed in Christmas finery, Humphrey the Bear (a large man dressed in a bear suit and overalls (must be a local TV character)), a nativity scene with local children, Santa (baby) sung by Marilyn/Ertha Kit. The singers reminded the children in the audience that there were only “17 sleeps” until Christmas. Many of the children in the audience kept time to the music with chemical lightsticks and necklaces, and some young people lit candles and sparklers. At intermission, some hair products company representatives handed out samples of shampoo and cream rinse to everyone in the audience (?). We had a lot of fun, and so did everyone else

After Boxing Day, Dec. 26, begins the “silly season” when factories close and everyone goes to the beach. There seems to be enough beach to go around, too. There are miles of it in New South Wales. As Jimmy Buffet sings, “We’ve got everything but snow.” (Unless, of course you are in Hobart, Tasmania, where they sometimes get snow on the mountain in December, which is summertime downhereunder.)

We departed Sanctuary Cove and anchored near the Southport Sea World for the night. The morning of December 16, we motored out through the Goldcoast Seaway at 0315 hours, in order to pass through the Seaway at slack water. The brightly starry sky was followed by a beautifully slow dawn. A favorable boost from the East Australian Current increased our speed over the ground, so in order to not arrive early at the Clarence River Bar, we slowed Adagio down a bit. Dolphins joined us several times in the afternoon. We crossed the bar on a flood tide, and tied up to the Visitor’s Dock at the Yamba Marina at 4:30 in the afternoon. Terry helped with our dock lines and recommended “Coyotes” for Mexican food.

This attractive small town at the mouth of the Clarence River was being evacuated due to flooding when we sailed past in early 2001. By contrast, during this year’s visit we were not allowed to hose down Adagio due to water restrictions imposed – due to a prolonged drought. Yamba was preparing for the “Silly Season” which began roughly on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, and lasted into February. The campgrounds were filling up, and young people carried their surfboards through town. The fresh seafood shops displayed an abundance of inexpensive, locally caught prawns, crabs and fish. We joined the Aussies who were buying seafood for their barbies and deep fry pots.

Dorothy caught the 0930 Clarence River Ferry from Yamba to Iluka across the river. We watched a pair of ospreys sitting on the navigation light north of Dart Island, and a third osprey soaring overhead. After a 30 minute ride in the fire engine red and white, small wooden ferry, we arrived atIluka where Dorothy photographed a White-winged Triller bird singing happily in a beachside tree. A flock of white pelicans floated with great dignity in the little harbor, and zillions of pea-sized soldier crabs flowed over the sandy shore in waves, instantly disappearing into tiny holes at the slightest movement by the photographer trying the capture them on film. The Iluka Nature Reserve provides a 5 km round trip World Heritage Rainforest Walk , a pathway through tall trees whose branches held large clumps of staghorn fern. Thick Llianas, vines like those out of a Tarzan movie, hung from the treetops and draped to the ground. The dominant trees were Lilly Pilly ( which we grow in our garden in New Zealand as food for the threatened Wood Pidgeon), and Riberry. There were many examples of the strangling roots typical of the rainforest fig trees. These roots extend down from a seed that sprouts in the top of a host tree, forming a web around the trunk of a tree of a different species, and slowly cover and strangle it. The host tree dies, and the fig remains as a tall freestanding tree. Dorothy stepped carefully past one small Giant Stinging Tree whose saucer-sized, heart-shaped leaves are covered with stinging spines which break off and pierce your skin when touched. The best treatment is application of adhesive tape to pull the spines out. Rufous Fantails flitted around in a peek-a-boo game. The trail ended at a climb up to a lookout (for whales) at Iluka Bluff, providing sweeping views of beautiful Bluff Beach to the north and Iluka Beach to the south. Waves coming into the beaches foamed in white crescents as they broke numerous times on the gently sloping sand. The hot sun baked the top of Dorothy’s parasol on the return walk to catch the 1430 ferry back to Yamba.

The deckhand on the ferry lassoed the pilings from a fair distance with an old, floppy dockline with a loop spliced into the end. He showed me a blue swimmer crab he had taken from a crab pot he keeps near the Iluka ferry dock. I asked him about catching fish in the Clarence River. He said that to catch flathead: Buy some “blue pillies” (pilchards) frozen bait and hook the bait through the tail. Place a weight on the line above the hook. Use a hook with a long shank because the flathead sucks the bait into its mouth, and its teeth can cut a fishing line. To catch whiting which are also in the river this time of year: Buy some worms from the bait shop and put them on a hook, with a weight on the fishing line above the hook. Both fish are caught near the bottom. That evening we dined on fresh prawns, fresh blueberries and mangoes. We had never appreciated mangoes until we tasted the locally grown mangoes of the east coast of Australia. Sort of a cross between a peach and a cantaloupe. Perfectly ripe, and gorgeously golden-orange.

We phoned the Harwood Bridge operator, requesting that he open the bridge across the Clarence River for us the following afternoon, so that we could make our way upriver to the “Scottish” town of McLean. His wife told us that the bridge was scheduled to be opened at 1400 hours. After buying more fruit at the Yamba fruit and veggie shop, and fresh prawns, smoked tuna and crab cakes, we departed Yamba at 1230, and made our way beacon to beacon, following one set of leads after another, between the sandbars, out onto the wide flowing river. A large Pelican stood sentinel at the end of the Yamba breakwater as we passed through. At 20 minutes before 1400 we were 20 minutes away from the bridge, right on time according to our clocks, and saw that it was opening already. Good, we thought. A monohull sailboat was positioned close to the bridge, and passed under as soon as it was opened. Then whoops. The bridge began to close. We were still on the down river side. We phoned the telephone number we had been given for the bridge operator, his home, and a man answered, saying that we probably had spoken to the operator’s wife and she had probably forgotten to tell the operator that a second boat would be passing under the bridge. He gave us the operator’s mobile phone number. We phoned it and spoke to the operator who said that, sorry, he would have to close the bridge to let the traffic pass over, then would open it again. No worries. Route 1 crosses this bridge carrying the major north/south vehicular traffic along the Australian east coast, so we waited patiently, although we still had not eaten lunch, and were understandably grumpy. Soon the bridge opened again, and we waved and thanked the bridge operator as we passed under his little “house” which rises with the bridge span.

Along the shore were several of the small commercial fishing boats set up for a night of pocket-netting for prawns. They secured the boat in a spiderweb of anchors and pilings, within whose restraint the vessel steams at night to disturb the bottom and drive prawns into a net streamed astern. By 1500 hours we were tied up to the public pontoon, essentially in the center of the town of McLean. The electrical outlet on the wharf was functioning, but the water tap had been turned off due to water restrictions. Showers were required before we could lay our weary heads down on our clean pillowcases for a bit of a read and a nap. We awakened to the dusk chorus of birdsong ashore, and our new friend the White-winged Triller was belting out a staccato of pleasant notes. For dinner: fresh prawns and Steve’s killer red sauce with horseradish, figs, and tossed salad.

In the morning we went ashore to explore the Scottish town of McLean. They have decorated their light poles with Tartan patterns. We had not heard the bagpipes yet, but expected to hear them playing Christmas carols soon. The local history museum, in several restored historic cottages beneath an enormous mango tree was filled with fascinating displays from the surrounding farming community. The curators had arranged a very old school room, a doctor’s office and other realistic scenes from the past. The Scottish Cairn at the top of the hill overlooked the town and river.

We lunched at a pretty waterfront cafe’ and watched the locals. Most shops are directly on the waterfront, opposite a small shaded park, or only a block or two away. We shopped for veggies& fruit and a new water hose. There are two small groceries, two butchers and a fruit and veggie shop here. Nice looking prawns and blue swimmer crabs for sale in the fish shop. Locals also catch mudcrabs in the river.

Sunset finds a band setting up on the riverbank – no more than 5 meters from Adagio, It turned out the band leader was the electric guitar-playing/singing pastor of the Church of Christ, including a teenage girl drummer and trio of singers. Nice music. We met another cruising couple from Melbourne, who had anchored nearby. They planned to cruise up the river, too, but someone had stolen their dinghy and outboard motor.

The next morning brought us another beautiful day in drought-land. We bought fresh pears and lettuce, then prepared to head up the river to Ulmarra. The barometer had been steady for days. A flock of large white pelicans glided past the boat, wingtips skimming the water. Several small commercial fishing boats have been motoring upriver and some downriver. One trawler was towing a net, perhaps for prawns. Sleek bodies atop long rowing shells glided past us as effortlessly as the flying pelicans. We departed McLean at 1145 hours, motored away from the dock and smack into the submerged Nine Pin Rock, as if to test the integrity of our mini-keels, double bottomed hulls and to give the townspeople something to talk about. We had done everything in preparation for departure except look at the chart before moving. We kicked ourselves all the way to Ulmarra, following the winding, farmland-edged river. Very pretty.

We arrived at Ulmarra at approximately 1430. Two car ferries crossed the river in front of us along the way. We waited for them to reach the other side of the river before proceeding over the top of the heavy cables which pull the ferry back and forth. When the ferry is berthed at either side, the cable drops down to below 3 meters in depth.

We had come as far upstream as it was possible in Adagio, as the overhead cables are lower than the 25M height of our mast. Rain showers line the horizon south of us . The weather was hotter north of us, so we’re in a comfortable location. Peacock and rooster calls sang out from ashore and a large praying mantis was hanging upside down from our starboard lifeline. We observed a diurnal pattern: calms and still winds and waters in the morning followed by choppy sea breezes against the ebb tide in the late afternoon, just when the cook should begin preparing for dinner. The current swings us broadside to the seas and Dorothy takes a Bonine tablet. Soon after dark the waters calm and we dine comfortably.

We planned to go ashore in the morning and return to the boat before the rough waters begin. A group of preteen boys swam out to the boat from time to time and, in spite of our asking them not to, they hung off of our mooring bridle,swam under the boat, hung from the running rigging that spans the underwing beneath our salon. When holding on to the hull, they spread the black antifouling paint around. Dorothy took the King’s bus from Ulmarra to Grafton to stock up on fresh produce and Horseradish. She visited the Clarence Valley Regional Gallery for a morning of viewing fine art exhibits followed by an excellent lunch at the gallery cafe’. A cold front passed over as Dorothy was returning to Ulmarra by bus. On Steve’s suggestion, she waited for the rain and lightning to end by visiting Fred and Anna-Liisa at their folk art shop. Fred served up a cup of tea, and then brought Dorothy and her parcels to the boat ramp in his car. A good look around the gallery revealed Anna-Liisa’s beautiful flower paintings, many of which have been featured in Folk Art magazine.

When Steve met Dorothy at the boat dock after the rain stopped, he said that the local preteen boys had trashed the dinghy, during the rainstorm while Steve was inside. They stole the hatch cover for the anchor locker, the deck that we stand on when boarding the dinghy. What a bother. They also stole one of our two mooring lines, an expensive Spectra line from the stern, and a large red inflated fender. The Ulmarra police was in Yamba for the holidays. Merry Christmas!

Yesterday the drought-stricken farmers received the gift of rain. This morning dawned clear and sunny, with a quarter moon in the sky. Steve took the dinghy 10 miles up the river looking for the dinghy hatch cover, and found the large round red fender. Meanwhile Dorothy posted notices in town: “Reward for the return of dinghy hatch cover…….” Although some of the other kids from town apologized and offered to help find the stolen items, they were never recovered. While Steve was searching up and down the river, the dinghy outboard malfunctioned and he was given generous assistance by several residents of the town of Grafton. Such kindnesses from locals almost made up for the upsetting thefts and vandalism.

Rain, lightning and thunder most of last night. Clearing and calm this morning. Baro is rising. Currawongs singing in the trees ashore. Boxing Day and our wedding anniversary. Light rain before noon. Steve walked to the petrol station in Ulmarra to fill up the dinghy fuel tanks. Then Steve searched the stretch of river south of here for the lost dinghy hatch cover. The little boys watch us from shore. The mooring has been positioned too close to shore, making it easy for the boys to swim out to the boat, in spite of this area’s reputation for large sharks! This is the first time I have felt that as soon as we leave the boat, vandals will strike. Not a nice feeling.

Time to head back down the river, and our evening anchorage was at the entrance to a large, shallow lagoon called the Broadwater. A hundred white and black pelicans flew towards their evening roost on a low peninsula nearby. A large hawk soared over the field. Cormorants dried their wings in the trees. This was a very beautiful anchorage, which became spectacular in the lingering sunset.

For our anniversary on the 26th, Steve caught us a large mud (stone) crab for dinner! Now we just have to work out how we are going to get this monster into the cooking pot – while retaining ALL of our fingers and toes. The crab was moving around too much to measure, but must have been two feet across depending on how his claws were deployed. Steve netted the crab while Dorothy started the pot boiling. Then Steve went after the crab with our “Lipper” which is a nifty fisho tool designed to firmly grab the lower jaw of a toothy fish that needs subduing. In this case the Lipper was used to lift the crab by its big fighting claw while Dorothy slammed the pot lid back down. Sorry, no photos, as we were much too focused on our crab feast!

The next morning, eleven small fishing trawlers were working nearby on the river before dawn. They arrayed themselves in an equally spaced formation, unfurled their nets, and trawled their way slowly up the river. Soon they had turned around and were headed back downriver, performing carefully choreographed maneuvers as they passed each other on reciprocal and parallel courses, managing to not tangle in each others’ nets. We seemed to have anchored next to the river’s best prawn fishing. It was raining in the morning as we passed under the Harwood Bridge.

On the morning of December 29, Steve found spectacular photos of the world class New Year’s Eve fireworks in the “Sydney Morning Herald”, and said, “We can be there in time to see this year’s fireworks! Let’s go for it tomorrow.”

2002 Oct 16: Sailing south from the Whitsunday Islands

Oct 16: The settled weather over the past few weeks allowed us to visit several of the most beautiful anchorages and beaches in the Whitsunday Islands. Conditions were superb for snorkeling and beach walking. Northerly winds will now allow us to sail in a southerly direction for a few days, before the next “southerly (wind) change” arrives. We departed the Whitsunday Islands two days ago in the early afternoon, and covered about 200 nautical miles in the first 24 hours in moderates winds and slight seas. Motorsailing with our huge reaching foresail and one engine running at 2500 rpm allows us to maintain an average speed of about 8 knots. We have seen very few other boats, as we make our way south inside the Great Barrier Reef.

We have trolled a fishing lure for over a thousand nautical miles, with not a nibble, even though the fish seem eager to come aboard. Our first night at sea, what I thought was a large flying fish hit our deck and windshield and flapped around a lot before I went on deck to see what was the matter. By the time I had donned my life vest and harness and tethered myself to the jacklines as I walked forward, the fish had gone, leaving only a large scaley imprint on the windshield. We have recently been reading an article about the 52 species of flying fish. They use their tail fin to scull rapidly on the surface of the water to build up speed and become airborne, “flying” 150 feet at a spurt. They are said to be very good eating, and I wished ours had not flopped back into the water, but rather into our frying pan. The following morning Steve found the fish, and our fish ID book says it is a “Wolf herring”, fangs and all, lying on the port side trampoline.

A few days before we departed the Whitsundays, Steve bought a used Alvey commercial wireline winch unit which he installed on our port side stern pulpit. It allows us to lower our fishing lures deeper into the water where the fish are likely to be. We looked forward to be passing over some shallow areas before evening and had our fingers crossed and our fry pan ready for a fishy dinner. At 3 PM we heard an unusual noise, one we had never heard before, our Alvey downrigger had sprung into action and was telling us that it had hooked a fish. Have you ever wanted a fishing reel with a handle that you turn easily like crank, that is fixed at waist height to a railing? Well, this is it. Steve calmly cranked the fish to the stern of the boat and Dorothy gaffed it with the beautiful custom-made gaff made by Richie Blomfeld in New Zealand. Steve was heard to thank Dorothy’s father Everett for teaching her how to gaff a fish. We had caught a five ft long Narrow-barred Spanish Mackerel, which our fish ID book gives four stars for “excellent eating”. Hooray! Dorothy managed to remove about 30 pounds of fillets from this beautiful fish, before returning the carcass to the briny.

As I write this, we are approaching the port of Bundaberg where we will go into a marina for a day. We are feeling sleep-deprived, and a strong wind warning has been announced by the meteorolgy service for the coast to the south of us. We could certainly continue sailing, but what the heck, we are cruising, and Dorothy prefers to avoid the 30 knot winds when given a choice. We will then make our way, beacon to beacon, through the Great Sandy Strait, down the coast, and then along the inland waterways inside Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island to our Gold Coast destination at Sanctuary Cove Resort.

When Dorothy returns from a November USA trip, Adagio will make for Tasmania as fast as the fair winds grant.

2002 Jun 30 to Jul 17: Hobart, Tasmania to Sydney

We are on our way to the Great Barrier Reef. In June we hauled ADAGIO at the Domain Slipway for new bottom paint and maintenance, then departed Hobart (after a 15 month stay in Tasmania) on June 30. The winter weather systems, according to locals, had returned to the patterns of days of old, with constant and strong Roaring Forties in Bass Strait and south. We were determined to make our way up the East Coast of Tasmania, sheltered from the westerlies, and be poised to dash across notorious Bass Strait in a good weather window.

Because of high seas south of Tassie, we decided to pass through the shifting sand channels east of the Denison Canal and out the Marion Narrows (continually narrowing) into the Tasman Sea. We timed our passage through the canal at low slack tide. From our overnight anchorage near the small fishing town of Dunalley, we departed on a rising tide early the next morning, and could clearly see the drying sand banks to port and starboard. We followed the written instructions and “mud map” in the most current publication from the Ministry of Safety, with water depths never shallower than 1.8 meters (300mm or 1-ft under our keels). We never touched bottom. We could have touched the northern side of the Marion Narrows with a boat hook as we hugged the shore and passed out into the Tasman Sea.

Light southwesterlies soon increased to the 20’s and we set full main and jib off the Freycinet Peninsula. In the early afternoon of July 1, just south of beautiful Wineglass Bay, one of our greatest boom-furler worries materialized: the mainsail furling line jammed, and we had to bring the gigantic mainsail down on the deck by hand, in 30 knot gusts coming down from the nearby cliffs. With great effort we lashed the sail to the boom on top of the coachroof and proceeded at dusk to Lady Barron Harbour south of Flinders Island. Some thoughts on boom furler issues are in the Techno section.

We planned to be safely anchored before the arrival of a cold front forecast to arrive late in the day on July 2. Georgetown VMR coastal patrol on the mouth of the Tamar River called on channel 16 for any check-ins. I reported our position and destination and inquired about moorings at Lady Barron. He said that Vicky in Lady Barron will come up on ch 16 at 0840 and can arrange a mooring for us.

Just north of beautiful Cape Barren Island in the Furneaux Group, the seas were quite rough in the shallow entry to Franklin Sound, called the “Potboil”. Potboil is a very apt name, as ADAGIO bucked like a stallion in the short and steep wind-against-tide seas. The navigation aids provided visual guides for staying out of the shallows, but we found that the leads indicating the final approach to Lady Barron Harbour would have taken us ashore onto the eastern corner of Little Green Island. We never had the opportunity to question the coast patrol about this.

Twenty-seven hours after departing Dunalley we passed our bridle line through the very beefy 2-inch polypro loop (sized for fishing boats) on the mooring in Adelaide Bay and stayed there for a week as a vigorous westerly air flow with numerous embedded fronts and complex deep low systems passed over us. Heavy rain and winds in the 40’s kept us aboard, where we edited videos, sent and received e-mails and read our books. The windswept islands provide rookeries for hundreds of thousands of shearwaters, gannets and cormorants. The short-tailed shearwaters migrate each winter to Alaskan waters, and return to these islands to breed in the summer. For many years they were harvested for food, feathers and oil.

Our log entry for July 9 reads: “We came off our mooring at about 3 PM, in between squalls. Tied up alongside M/V Furneaux Explorer at the Lady Barron Wharf. Heavy seas and strong winds as a cold front passes over. Furneaux Explorer’s skipper & owner Brian told Steve of a sandy anchorage to the east of Little Green Island where a boat would be secure in southwesterly winds (a rare patch of sand, as most of the bay is heavy weed and unsuitable for plow-type anchors). Winds steady 40 kn then 30 kn, easing to 20 kn for a time.

We had rafted up at the wharf, planning to take on diesel fuel tomorrow AM, but have been invited to join Furneaux Explorer to follow a fishing boat out through a short cut in the morning, bypassing the Potboil, and head towards Eden. The weather might foil these plans.”

The 1600pm surface analysis chart showed a kink in the isobars to the west of us, indicating the wind should back to the south, which we estimated would arrive about 2000pm. That would mean the little shelter we had at the wharf would evaporate, subjecting ADAGIO and Furneaux Explorer to 40kn winds countering the stong tidal flow around the corner of the wharf. We decided to bail out of our raft up before the situation turned ugly.

Even so, at 2100pm as we and the ‘Explorer crew organized to untie ADAGIO, the strong currents and southwesterly seas were beginning to slam us into the side of the 62-ft steel fishing boat. While Steve was steering from the starboard bow, working to maneuver ADAGIO clear of ‘Explorer while we disengaged the four lines securing us to our neighbor, one of those Bad Things happened: ADAGIO’s remote helm station controls the engines and autopilot steering via a joy-stick. Whilst 40kn gusts were blowing ADAGIO into ‘Explorer and both boats were bucking in the short seas, the auto pilot steering failed, leaving the rudders hard over to starboard. Steve couldn’t tell the pilot had failed at this point, only that ADAGIO was not responding to engine and rudder controls as she should. Steve managed to get ADAGIO clear before she was swept down onto ‘Explorer’s bow – but it was a close thing. Damage was limited to a crease in ADAGIO’s starboard topsides where she slammed down on ‘Explorer’s steel rub rail (the wind was blowing so hard at this point that our fenders were being blown horizontally, no longer protecting us from the unfriendly steel.

Steve fought to control ADAGIO so we could move downwind 500 meters to reconnect to our previous mooring. But ADAGIO just would not come up into the wind, she insisted on circling back into a beam-to attitude. This would soon have us blown down into the smaller boats in the mooring field, and unoccupied moorings that could foul her two props.

So Steve scampered back to the inside steering station. There he was able to regain control with manual steering and could monitor the radar and the electronic chart. Dorothy sat in the rain and spray on the foredeck with the spotlight, keeping Steve appraised of hazards by FSR radio. In very poor visibility we made our way to the eastern side of Little Green Island, and were tremendously relieved when we felt the anchor dig firmly into the sand bottom. Shortly after we anchored we saw Furneaux Explorer’s nav lights approaching our sand patch. She had found it too dangerous even in her more sheltered position at the wharf, so soon she was anchored directly upwind of us. We stood anchor watch throughout the night. Entry for the Maintenance Log: install audible and visual alarm on the remote helm station to alert pilot failure!

The next morning of July 10, in fine weather and a rising barometer, we hailed Tony on VHF 16. Tony is Vicki’s husband, another Bass Strait fisherman who was about to depart for Crayfish grounds east of Flinders. Tony agreed to lead us out through the constantly-shifting channels close to Flinders – saving us about 7nm and another trip past the Pot Boil.

In the lee of Flinders Island the seas were mild, and we sailed under our jib and reacher in winds in the 20’s. As we approached Babel Island, the last opportunity to anchor before crossing Bass Strait, we decided to continue, as our weather window had opened. Our pilot failed again with another over-current fault as we were furling the reacher, causing an hourglass which was soon sorted out. We encountered three meter seas in the center of Bass Strait, but the winds blew steadily in the high 20’s from the southwest, and the seas came down as we approached the southeastern corner of the Australian mainland.

At midnight on July 10, Steve made this entry in the log: “Went out for a good look around. The 3 radar targets at 7, 8, 10nm appear to be rain squalls. Stars, Milky Way are dazzling. Seas are definitely down from 1800, maybe 1.5 to 2M, moderate slams every 5 min., not much spray on deck. Wind is also tending down, 17 to 20kn. Furneaux Explorer 1.044nm dead astern.”

At 8:47 AM on July 11, Dorothy entered into the log: “We are now passing the 48 meter tall lighthouse on Gabo Island with sand hills 60 to 100 ft high along the shore between Gabo Island and Cape Howe. Two albatross circling over the waves to port. High cirrus cloud cover. Barometer steady at 1021.”

We had safely reached the Australian mainland. By 11:30 AM we were between Green Cape and Twofold Bay, where we saw a group of seals swimming and floating rafted together. The sky was clear, sun was warm, seas almost calm with smooth 1 m swells from the south, 3-4 knots of wind out of the north. We had no complaints. By 1:30 PM we entered Twofold Bay, and tied up alongside M/V Furneaux Explorer at the Mussel Wharf in Eden. A small pod of dolphins greeted us, and a dozen white pelicans floated around in the harbor. Bellbirds clanged out their songs in the nearby forest. A large white egret strolled along the shore. We dined on large portions of seafood with our new friends Brian, Don and John at the Fishermans Club in Eden. It was great to be there.

Over the next few days we took on diesel fuel, disassembled the mainsail furling drum and re-wound the furling line. Tom Peters and partner Linda had stopped by to see if they could help with anything. Which they surely could do, as we had just discovered our messenger line for the boom furlering line was snagged in an underwing block. Tom went home to fetch his canoe, then Tom and Linda rowed under ADAGIO to help us free the messenger. Then with the help of our new friends we furled the mainsail back into the boom and then served everyone a hearty dinner.

At the Eden Whaling Museum we learned about Old Tom, the leader of the Orca pod that assisted whalers to find and kill whales that passed by Twofold Bay in their migrations to and from Antarctica. Old Toms skeleton is on display at the entrance of the museum, showing the wearing down of the teeth of his left lower jaw bone, because he would grab the harpoon line to assist in slowing down the harpooned whale. Amazing.

At 9:45 AM on July 17 the southwesterly winds had filled in and we departed Eden. The weather remained clear and the winds steady. By 2:30 PM on July 18 we tied up at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in Rushcutter’s Bay, a beautiful setting, and right in the middle of Sydney.

2002 Apr 01: Tasmania Report for SSCA

As we prepare for our departure from Tasmania, we wish to share some of the information we have collected during our 12 month visit to this wonderful cruising area. We leave reluctantly, asking ourselves, “Will we ever find another place as wonderful as Tassie?”

Before departing the Gold Coast for our trip down to Tasmania, we purchased the Admiralty charts which cover the region, and the “Admiralty Sailing Directions, Australia Pilot Volume II NP 14”.
Our cruising guides are: “Cruising Tasmania” by J. Brettingham-Moore, and “D’Entrecasteaux Waterways” by the Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology publishes an excellent general weather book “The Wonders of the Weather” by Bob Crowder, and the invaluable “Wind Waves Weather, Tasmania”, part of their Boating Weather Series. We found the most useful chapter to be “Weather in Tasmania” with sections on Climate overview, Common weather situations, Dangerous weather situations, Typical weather sequences, and Local weather effects. These publications are also available from the Bureau of Meteorology for New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland waters.

The Bureau of Meteorology is proud of their web site http://www.bom.gov.au, as well they should be.

Throughout Australia commercial radio traffic is carried via Telstra Coast Radio Stations, this includes normal voice communication and telephone connection by Radphone (MF/HF) and Seaphone (VHF).

Tasmanian waters are covered by Telstra’s Melbourne Radio (call sign VIM) which maintains a continuous listening watch on MF/HF frequencies 2182,4125,6215,8291 and on 12290 and 16420 between 0700 and 1900 local time. VHF Seaphone stations are located in Tasmania at Devonport (Ch.28), St. Marys (Ch. 26), Hobart (Ch. 07) and Bruny Island (Ch. 27 and Ch. 24). These stations operate continuously.

Hobart Ports Corporation maintains a continuous listening watch on VHF Ch. 16. Contact Port Control for details of entry into Constitution Dock. The operator of the bridge at the Denison Canal at Dunally maintains a watch on VHF Ch. 16 and on 27.880 MHz between 0800 – 1700 local time.

The Derwent River and D’Entrecasteaux Channel areas are well served by TASMAR RADIO. A listening watch is maintained between 0730-1930 local time daily on 27.880 mHz, VHF Ch. 16 and MF/HF 2524 kHz.
A further service is provided by TASCOAST Radio operated by Jeff Boyes. Frequencies monitored are 27.880 mHz, VHF Ch. 16 and 81, and MF/HF 2524 kHz. Jeff’s home telephone number is (03) 6265 2543. A former teacher and principal of The Hutchins School in Hobart, Jeff is very generous with his time in assisting cruisers find their way around the area and access local services. Check in with him by radio as you approach Tasmania and join his twice daily radio schedule roll call.

Weather Broadcasts for Southern Tasmanian Water: (local times are given)
Weather Bureau
Phone no. (03) 6221 2000
Melbourne Radio
Times: 0733, 1303, 1933
Frequencies: MF/HF 2201,4426,6507,8176
Telstra VHF Seaphone Stations:
Times: 0803 and 1733 (not Bruny Island Ch. 24)
Times: 0745, 1345, 1903
Frequencies: 27.900MHz, VHF Ch. 67, MF/HF 2524
Times: 0805, 1805
Frequencies: VHF Ch. 81
Times: 0835, 1835
Frequencies: MF/HF 2524
Hobart Ports Corporation:
Times: 0535, 1135, 1735, 2235
Frequencies: VHF Ch. 67

Hobart region Yacht Clubs and Marinas:
Tides are irregular. Maximum rise and fall is 1.4m, but the difference between highest high water and lowest low water may be as much as 2.3m through the course of a year.

Marinas and such:
At Sullivan Cove, which is the port of Hobart, there are two inner harbours, historically called Victoria Dock and Constitution Dock.

Victoria Dock is reserved for the fishing fleet. We never saw a cruising yacht go in. Constitution Dock accomodates cruising yachts, and is accessed through an opening bascule bridge, width 28.5 feet. Pass through the bridge at slack tide. Vessels wishing to berth in Constitution Dock should contact Hobart Port Control on VHF Ch. 16 or Ch. 12 for details of entry into Constitution Dock. Vessels without radio should go alongside Elizabeth street Pier and contact Hobart Port Control by telephone (03) 6235 1000, fax (03) 6231 0693, email sec@hpc.com.au, Internet http://www.hpc.com.au. A direct telephone to the Port Control Tower is available on the King Pier’s toilet block for contacting the duty officer. The bridge is kept closed except when a vessel is about to enter or leave. The “D’Entrecasteaux Waterways” cruising guide says that the bridges will be opened for vessels passing out only at the following times of day: 0830, 0930, 1130, 1330, 1530, 1830, and between midnight and half-past seven in the morning, or at such other times as the Harbour Master may direct. But our experience has been that when you phone Port Control, they will tell you how soon a duty officer will be available to open the bridge. It was never a very long wait, and we were always treated with the utmost courtesy and consideration.

We recommend that a newly arrived visiting yacht stay in Constitution Dock for at least the first few days. If tieing to the concrete wharf, you will need fender boards and strong dock lines protected with fire hose to tie up to the wooden pilings. Otherwise, you can raft up to another boat that is tied to the wharf. “The Dock” affords good protection from wind and swell, and is where we lived aboard ADAGIO from late autumn through early summer. This is where you will find Penny Parker and Jeremy Firth aboard ROSINANTE (January 2002 bulletin, page 35). Five minutes walk to the Federation Concert Hall for symphony concerts, ten minutes walk to Salamanca Market, two minutes walk to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Maritime Museum, five minutes walk to the general post office and the central business district, and minutes away from dozens of excellent cafes and restaurants and fresh fish shops, this is the best location in town. You will be right next to Mawson Place and the Waterside Pavilion which are popular with the locals where they stroll with their families in the evenings, lunch on fish and chips in the noon day sun, hold their wedding receptions and live music concerts. We especially loved meeting the many Hobartians who stopped by Adagio for a chinwag.

None of the yacht clubs or marinas were able to accommodate Adagio, our 52′ long 27′ wide catamaran when we arrived in March, 2001. The local yachts were all in their marina berths. We could have tied up alongside Elizabeth Street Wharf, but we found a better location at Constitution Dock. We entered through the bridge in mid-March and stayed until November. We think this is the best location in the Hobart region.
A toilet block with hot showers (but no heated air), clothes washers and clothes dryers is located on the wharf near King’s Pier.

City water and electricity are included in the monthly fee. We paid one Australian dollar per foot per week. Space availability is on a first-come first-served basis. You cannot reserve a space alongside the wharf in Constitution Dock, and if you should go out for a daysail, you might have to find a different space, perhaps rafted up alongside another boat when you return. All boats are required to leave Constitution Dock at the end of December for a few weeks to make room for the Sydney-to-Hobart racing yachts.

Kings Pier Marina and Elizabeth Street Marina are located at the head of Sullivan’s Cove, inside the breakwater, but rarely have vacant berths. Hobart Port Control will allow you to berth alongside Elizabeth Street Pier, near the restaurants. This is a wonderful location in the center of Hobart, but not as protected from wind and swell as inside Constitution Dock. Telephone Hobart Port Control (03) 6235 1000 to make arrangements.

The small Pier Marina at the water end of Murray Street is managed by Lewis Boat Sales (03) 6224 8288.
There are very few floating docks in Tasmania. The only one we know of for visiting yachts is at the Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania in Lindisfarne. Some marinas provide pile moorings with bow or stern to the wharf.
Visiting yachts are welcome at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (03) 6223 4599. On arrival you should berth on the southern inner arm of the marina adjacent to the fuel berth and then contact the bosun or the Club Secretary to arrange a visitor’s berth. A 30 minute walk, uphill, to the Hobart city center, is located in a beautiful residential area south of CBD.

Another alternative is for yachts to anchor out from the Yacht Club, beyond the line of moorings, where it is quite comfortable except in strong E-SE conditions (your typical summer sea breeze).

Derwent Sailing Squadron (03) 6223 6626 is located next to the RYCT and occasionally has marina berths available for visiting yachts.

Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania (03) 6243 9021 is on the east side of the Derwent River in Lindesfarne Bay just north of the Tasman bridge. We stayed here in the new marina extension behind the breakwater, for several months in 2002, finding the floating docks very convenient, as well as the ease of coming and going without having to wait for a bridge opening. There is good public bus access into Hobart, and plenty of shops and services within easy walking distance of the MYCT. Robert Young, the bosun, can be reached at 0419 572 316.

Bellerive Yacht Club (03) 6244 1353 is in Kangaroo Bay just south of the Tasman Bridge.

Prince of Wales Marina (03) 6272 6699 is on the west side of the Derwent River north of Hobart.

Deepwater Marina (home) (03) 6228 7221, (offiice) (03) 6278 2878 in Newtown Bay north of Hobart, is said to be family-run, laid back.

Oyster Cove Marina (03) 6267 4418, fax (03) 6267 4349 in Kettering 30 minutes by car south of Hobart.

Margate Marina Park (03) 6267 9600 is 15 minutes south of Hobart.

We bought a used car in Hobart and arranged for permit parking at a cost of $AUS 99.00 per month.
Contact Hobart Ports for permit auto parking. Hobart Ports Corporation Pty Ltd, 1 Franklin Wharf, GPO Box 202, Hobart, Tasmania, 7001. Telephone (03) 6235 1000, fax (03) 6231 0693, email: sec@hpc.com.au.

Goods and Services:
We found that the marine trades are numerous and competent in Hobart, probably due to the local fishing fleet and that Hobart is the home port for the ships of the Australian Antarctic Division.

“You can get anything you want” at the Saturday Salamanca Market. Practically a festival of arts & crafts, live music, fruits, veges, fresh-cooked foods, baked goods, used books, clothing, Aussie hats, jewelery, toys, and much more. You’ll love it. Take your camera.

Salamanca Fruit and Veg Market is a small grocery store with an amazing assortment of fresh and packaged food. The WurstHaus nearby at 1 Montpelier Retreat (03) 6224 0644 is an excellent delicatessan and gourmet food shop. There are numerous bakeries in the Salamanca area and the central business district. There is a small grocery store in the CBD and large Coles and Woolworths groceries in New Town and Sandy Bay.
The General Post Office on the corner of Elizabeth and MacQuarie Streets also houses the public bus schedule office.

There is a Visitor Information Center at the corner of Elizabeth and Davey Streets, one block from Constitution Dock. They book travel and provide information for all of Tasmania, as well as an extensive calendar of events.

ATM machines are located at the Brooke Street Pier on the waterfront, Salamanca Place, at the Westpac Bank across Elizabeth St. from the post office, and at the Antarctic Experience at Salamanca Square.
Go to J. Walch & Sons, 130 Macquarie Street, for navigation charts and books. They correct their charts to the notices to mariners.

Service Tasmania at 134 Macquarie Street sells topological maps for Tasmania as well as maps of the parks and cycling guides. The Map Centre at 96 Elizabeth Street also sells a wide selection of topo maps, Lonely Planet Guides and travel books.

Hobart Book Shop at Salamanca Place has a large collection of books about Tasmania, but also check into Angus & Robertson at 36 Elizabeth St and Fullers Book Shop at 140 Collins St.

There are two boat chandleries within walking distance of Constitution Dock: C. H. Smith Marine at Franklin Wharf and Peter Johnston Ship Chandlers at 21 Morris Street. We also liked Bay Chandlery on Marieville Esplanade, Sandy Bay. See the phone book for numerous other chandleries, canvas workers, riggers and sailmakers.

Fuel can be ordered and delivered to your boat by tanker truck while you are in Constitution Dock, from Metco. Phone Colin Gregory at 03 6278 1044 in Hobart. The Royal Tasmanian Yacht Club has a fuel dock, as does the Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania.

Cruising tips:
The D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Huon River offer some of the most beautiful cruising in protected waters in the world. Bruny Island is a gem with safe anchorages. Our daughter and her family visited us for Christmas and our grandchildren enjoyed the beaches and parks, with Santa locating ADAGIO in spite of our remote location.

In January, 2002 we cruised up and down the East Coast of Tassie, visiting Wineglass Bay, Coles Bay, Maria Island and Fortescue Bay. We visited four National Parks during this one outing. We waited until calm weather to round the spectacular Tasman Peninsula and Tasman Island, avoiding the Denison Canal. The Triabunna scallops at Freycinet Lodge in Coles Bay are not to be missed. The 300 ft high dolorite cliffs are spectacular, and make you happy to have GPS and good weather. Excellent hiking ashore.

In February, 2002 we cruised down the D’Entrecasteaux Channel to Recherche Bay then around the SE tip of Tasmania and up to Port Davey and Bathurst Channel and Harbour. We cannot begin to describe the beauty of this World Heritage Area and National Park. The tannin-stained water make for spectacular reflections in the still waters.

It is certainly worth the crossing of Bass Strait, and if you go to the trouble to get here, then it’s worth staying a year to enjoy all of the excellent cruising and festivities. We have forgotten to mention the Taste of Tasmania, The Hobart Summer Festival, the Cygnet Folk Festival, 10 Days on the Island Festival, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, wineries galore, Targa Tasmania, The Three Peaks Race, the numerous flower shows, open gardens, Hastings Cave, Strahan, Launceston, Mt. Field National Park, Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula and more. You will love it here.

2002 Feb 6 – 22: Cruising the West Coast of Tasmania

Click the thumbnail for photo gallery

Before leaving Tasmania, it was imperative that we visit the west coast of the island. Most visitors to the South-West National Park World Heritage Area must hike in, carrying all provisions and equipment for at least a week. There are no roads or facilities for visitors in this huge wilderness area which covers almost one quarter of Tasmania. The story behind the preservation of this unique region involves Tasmanian state governments toppling, enforcement of international treaties by the federal government, and the formation of the Greens Party and the Wilderness Society. We wanted to see what all the fuss had been about, and we could take our luxurious accomodations with us. The environmental turmoil of the 1960’s and 1970’s was over the Hydro Electric Commission’s flooding of Lake Pedder, the most beautiful in all of Tasmania, and already supposedly protected as a national park. The environmentalists succeeded in preventing damming of numerous other rivers in South-West Tasmania.

A weather window opened for us, so on Wednesday, Feb 6, 2002 we departed Hobart for Recherche Bay, the customary overnight anchorage for cruisers preparing to round the southwest corner of Tasmania heading for Port Davey. The weather forecast called for ‘variable winds to 15 knots today, ENE 5-15 tonight, with inshore afternoon sea breezes. Seas 1.5metres on a SW 1.5 metre swell. Friday: NE 10-20 knots variable over the west tending SE-SW 10-20 , increasing to 25 in the west as a trough crosses Tasmania.’ Our plan was to be snugly anchored in a protected cove before the arrival of the trough on Friday.

Thursday, Feb 7, 2002, we departed Recherche Bay and arrived in Port Davey. Our navigation log entry for 9:15 AM was:

‘South East Cape to STBD, altered course for passage between De Witt Island and Flat Witch Island (north of Maatsuyker Island). The SE swell was joined by a 1.5 m SW swell. A few small fishing boats were working Recherche Bay this morning, and a few larger ones were traveling towards the west along this shore. Mt. La Perouse, Lune Sugarloaf and Adamsons Peak were beautiful to the north. ‘Rain showers to the south. Sky clearing along the coast where we are. Outbreaks of sun. Cormorants and Australasian gannets. One fairy penguin sighted west of South Cape.’

Port Davey is the only safe haven with an easy all-weather entry on the entire west coast of Tasmania. The opening between Hilliard Head to the south and Point St. Vincent to the north is almost 8 km wide with numerous clearly visible outlying islands. There is only a single lighted navigation aid for 60 nautical miles up and down the coast, and it is well inside the harbor at Davey Head.

The Australian charts of this area are not corrected for satellite-derived positions (GPS), but Steve was able to observe and calculate a correction factor which he entered into our electronic navigation system. Our large scale charts are annotated with respect to which areas have been surveyed for depth, and which areas remain ‘Unsurveyed’, which are considerable. The northern half of the outer harbor has received a ‘Reconnaissance or inadequate survey, sounded by lead line, with an accuracy of soundings of 3 feet’, most recently in the year 1899. The outer harbor was ‘Sounded by Echo Sounder’ as recently as 1974. The inner harbour where we were to make our entry into Bathurst Channel has received a ‘Controlled Survey, Sounded by lead line’, to an accuracy of 2 feet, in the years 1902-1922.

We entered South Passage, following the advice of our cruising friends in Hobart, in the best weather we could have asked for, passing south of aptly named Breaksea Islands, and towards Mt. Misery. A sharp right turn at Sarah Island where the popular Bramble Cove lay to the north, and we had entered Bathurst Channel, and by the way, The South-West National Park, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. As we entered Tasmania’s largest park and one of the wildest and least accessible, we found ourselves at the feet of 500 to 1500 foot high mountains on either side. We kept to mid-channel, as the GPS correction had not yet been applied to our charts, and noted each headland, outlying reef, cove and inlet as we passed. Waterfall Bay where fresh water can be collected for a boat’s water tanks, Schooner Cove where caves and middens of Aborigines can be found, Joe Page Bay and Ila Bay, stretching away to the north, whose northern reaches are unsurveyed. As we passed through the 300 foot wide entrance to The Narrows, we could see the row boats on shore used by trampers following the Port Davey Track to cross the channel. We discussed which of several anchorages would be suitable for Adagio in various wind conditions, including Clyte Cove, Frogs Hollow, Starvation Bay, and perhaps the tiny Iola Bay. Platypus Point. at the base of 1285 foot high Mt. Rugby which dominates the skyline, marks the entrance to land-locked Bathurst Harbour. Measuring approximately three nautical miles north-south and five nautical miles east-west, average depth twenty feet, this small inland sea is fed by several streams and small rivers, one in each of its four corners.

Anticipating the arrival of a cold front and brisk winds, we made our way to the farthest southeast corner of Bathurst Harbour and entered Moulters Inlet for our first anchorage. We passed carefully through a 100 foot wide entrance at the north end of the inlet and anchored Adagio in the center of a tear-drop shaped mirror. The reflected peaks of the surrounding mountain ranges pointed towards us like the teeth of a shark into whose maw we were falling. At sunset the teeth were decorated with pink candy floss.

With no history of habitation by Europeans, no access by track or road, this 1-1/4 nautical mile long by 3/4 nautical mile wide landlocked lagoon is visited by only a few boats each year. Averaging only 2 metres deep the flat bottom of the inlet was invisible, as the water was dyed a dark golden brown by the tannin dissolved from the humic material which has formed on the poor soils of the distant boggy plains. A river valley lay to the south, and 1630 foot high Mount Fulton loomed above us on the western shore. In the southwest, the knife edge ridges of the Bathurst Range formed multiple diagonals which marched off into the distance. Beyond Kroanna Hill to the east, the horizon was festooned with the undulations of a dozen round-topped mountains of the Ray Ranges. Shaped by the Pleistocene glaciations, the landscape was filled with cirques, scooped valleys and terminal moraines. The thawing of the glaciers 12,000 years ago resulted in the drowning of the river valleys which have since that time filled to a relatively shallow depth by further erosion.

Enjoying the sunrises, rainbows, wind, small hail and brilliant sunsets, we stayed in our private, pristine inlet for several days to catch up on boat tasks and sleep. We would have to leave this lovely anchorage if we were to see any more of the Bathurst area.

Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2002

With a verbal ‘letter of introduction’ from our Hobart cruising friends Margaret and Gordon Gowland of S/V Bird of Dawning, we made our way by dinghy from where we left Adagio at anchor in Clyte Cove to visit Barbara and Peter Wilson at their alluvial tin mine at the head of the Melaleuca Inlet.

We crossed paths with a Melbourne couple on their ketch Sea Trek as we were leaving Clyte Cove. Our invitation to them to come in the afternoon for a visit was declined, as they had plans for traveling westward. Several kayakers were enjoying the calm waters and bright sunshine as we made our way eastward in the Bathurst Channel.

Yesterday we had poked Adagio’s bows into the Melaleuca Inlet as far as Woureddy Bay where the channel narrows, and decided that Adagio’s width was too great for a safe passage in the mother ship. Adagio’s depth sounder is located in the port hull, and her maximum beam is 27 feet. In the winding, narrow channel of the inlet, her starboard hull would most likely be in the nearby shallow water. If we she were to get stuck, we would have to back out as there is not sufficient width for us to turn her around.

Today our sprightly dinghy Allegro was perfect for the 6 km journey from the Celery Top Islands in the southwest corner of Bathurst Harbour to the dinghy pontoon landing south of Melaleuca Lagoon. Halfway up the Melaleuca Inlet, several series of rustic stakes marked the presumed location of the 2 to 4 metre deep channel which wound sometimes sharply in great arcs from left to right, then from right to left. Allegro’s depth sounder was put to good use. Only once did we get into the shallows.

The shores are composed of peat which forms a delicate veneer over the glacial gravels and slick granites of this area. Lush, billowy forests grow above rows and rows of pointed white granitic rocks, formed from strata which have been tilted vertically, edging the shoreline with a pallisade-like rock formation. These white vertical rocks are several metres high where they form the Celery Top Islands, and are topped with tufts of green vegetation, thus the islands’ name. The water around us was so flat calm that the scenery duplicated itself perfectly, upside down, until our dinghy wake turned the lower image into graceful ribbons of light and dark.

We found the 1997 edition of the Melaleuca 4219 1:25,000 series topo map to be a better representation of the land forms than the Australian navy navigation charts and cruising guide. At the end of the winding inlet, we found two sets of vertical and horizongal pilings, chained to each other and to the shore, each with a sign reading ‘Welcome to Melaleuca. Public Mooring’. If we had tied Adagio to one of these ‘berths’ she would have mostly blocked the channel. A tour boat was tied up to one of the sets of piles, and a square-rigged sailing vessel named Rallinga was tied up to what appeared to be a private pole wharf.

Our map showed the entrance to a creek on the right hand side, and a sign reading ‘Public Pontoon’, pointed in that direction. Following an even narrower winding channel, we came upon a new, well-maintained small metal floating dock to which several metal boats were tied. An engine mechanic was working on one of the boats, and a representative of a small tour plane operation was walking the docks. We followed a new board plank walkway to a short, gravel airplane landing strip where small, single-prop planes bring sightseers in for a landing, after what must be a very impressive aerial view of the coastline between here and Hobart.

We followed the signs to the ‘hide’ where one can view the rare and endangered Orange-bellied parrot. Only 200 of these brilliant emerald green robin-sized birds remain. In flight they flash a yellow breast and orange patch on their belly. The leading edge of the wings and a band on the forehead are deep blue. Several ornithologists and volunteers are monitoring the nesting boxes placed in the trees nearby, and recording sightings of banded birds. But we saw none through the windows of the comfortable small building. The ‘hide’ was outfitted with spotting scope, binoculars and educational posters explaining the life cycle and migratory patterns of the parrots, as well as the importance of periodic fires to maintain the vegetation required locally during the nesting season.

We continued across the landing strip and found a sign marking the beginning of the South Coast Track. The track took us to an area of small mounds of mine tailings (actually the remains of washed gravel). A metallic blue helicopter was perched on top of a rise, and several people were standing next to a small shack. Spread out below the rise were elevated fat black irrigation hoses coming and going, and conveyor belts for moving gravel up to the top of what must be the washing equipment. A woman in red trousers and two men greeted us as we approached. In response to our inquiry, ‘Are the Wilsons around today?’ the woman and one of the men pointed amusedly to themselves and smiled at us. The other man was introduced as the helicopter pilot who was saying his farewells before taking off with his group of tourists to fly on to Strahan and Macquarie Harbour to the north.

With the departure of the helicopter, Peter and Barbara Wilson gave us their full attention. Probably in their early 60’s, rugged and healthy, they were pleased to receive our greetings from Margaret and Gordon. After a few minutes of conversation, we walked with them back towards their home, and they invited us to spread our picnic lunch out on their dining table, while they enjoyed a hearty salad from their vegetable garden. Outside their windows were the Orange-bellied parrots, feeding on the ground and at the long plank of a bird feeder, flying from clothes line to tree, making quite a display. We also spotted several ‘Beautiful Firetail’ finches. Barbara told me that the parrots don’t like helicopters, explaining why we had seen none from the hide. We took photos and videos, and watched the birds through the spotting scope.

Lunch conversation turned to tin mining, which the Wilsons have been doing in Melaleuca for the past 27 years. Barbara plunked down a heavy can half filled with a black sandy substance — a sample of the tin ore that they had washed from gravel. A man named Denny King established the original mine many years ago, and his home has been preserved nearby by the park service.

Twice a year the Wilsons take the tin ore to Hobart in their sailing vessel Rallinga, and return with a load of supplies. They smelt some of the ore for the metal works near Victoria Dock. Peter was a cray fisherman before becoming a miner, and still enjoys fishing and collecting crays and abalone for personal consumption. Powered by a wind generator and solar panels, the house is comfortable and spacious. Peter collects firewood for tin smelting and the wood-burning stove in the living room. Water is collected behind several small dams. Apple trees line the narrow road and cluster around the house. Not far from their working mine, they are restoring the vegetation to some old mining sites for the government. Saturday they will take several backpackers and the two ornithology volunteers to Schooner Cove aboard Rallinga.

Peter went back to work after lunch and Barbara showed us the footpath leading to the walk up to the top of 230 foot high King’s Knob for a grand lookout over the area. There is no formed track, so we picked our way through the scrub and over the heathland community which is the vegetation covering much of the plains between the mountains in this national park. The plants are adapted in various ways which prevent them from freezing and enable them to withstand conditions of low temperatures, cold wet soil and exposure to wind. Clumps of Button Grass were all around us. Underfoot were tiny, red Forked Sundew plants, Drosera binata, equipped with long sticky hairs for trapping insects. The purple Fairies’ Aprons, Utricularia dichotoma, are small solitary flowers straight out of the movie Fantasia. The Bladderwort called Swamp Melaleuca in the myrtle family displayed its bright pink-purple spherical clusters of flowers. We passed hillsides covered with the skeletons of two foot high Tea trees which had been killed by last year’s fires. The ornithologists say that the fires provided new vegetation growth that has resulted in a larger than usual number of juvenile Orange-bellied parrots this year. We found several clumps of spagnum moss in the wetter areas.

Our view from the top of King’s Knob showed us the South Coast Track winding its way across the buttongrass plain, towards the southeast, where the blue sea at Cox Bight appeared between Mt. Counsel and Mt. Melaleuca. The Bathurst Range was in its full glory to the east, as was the Melaleuca Range to the west. In the distance to the north we could see the Melaleuca Inlet and Bathurst Harbour. Not a bad view for a short, easy uphill walk.

We said our goodbyes to Barbara and Peter, and invited them to join us for a meal aboard Adagio, to be arranged at a later date, given their busy schedule. We would communicate via email to the Gowlands in Hobart who can reach the Wilsons by satellite phone, and then back to us by email. It sounded like a good plan. Our mobile phone reception had ended about two hours travel south of Hobart, so there was no chance of it working in this remote area.

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Another sunny morning after a night of brilliant stars. A cold front was approaching from the west, so while the tracks were still dry, it was time for us to stretch our legs and tackle the climb up the ridge towards the summit of 2520 foot high Mt. Rugby. This peak with its polished granite crags dominates the west end of the Bathurst Channel, as its slopes fall steeply into the water. Allegro carried us to the first cove to the east of Starvation Bay where we anchored her safely and changed out of our jelly sandals into our hiking boots. We did not see the faded pink ribbons tied to shrubbery on either side of the entrance to the formed track, and began our climb through the virgin coastal heath, unavoidably tredding on Forked Sundew plants and pushing aside Pink Swamp Heath plants in full bloom. Happily, this detour gave us a better view of the local wildflowers than was visible from the formed track which we joined about half way up the ridge. The track skirted a steep canyon filled with a Dr. Seuss form of tall tufted eucalyptus trees, and climbed steeply at times through a scrub of Tea trees and Banksia, with the beautiful white Heath blossoms all around us. The views of the Bathurst Channel and Harbour spread below us and challenged our photographic abilities. Adagio’s mast first appeared from behind Eve Point, and as we approached the top of our track, was in full view swinging at anchor in Clyte Cove, appearing very small among the hills and mountains. At about 1575 feet we were ready to make our way back down, as the track had become very muddy and slippery. We have admiration for the hikers who carry full packs as they travel along these trails.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

The weather had warmed, so we planned to make our own breeze by traveling in Allegro on an exploratory trip up the Spring River, at the north end of Joe Page Bay. Our topo map and cruising guide showed a meandering channel, but we were unable to follow it, running aground several times in one foot of water. We made our way far enough up river to enjoy the forest views, but returned to Adagio disappointed. We felt better that afternoon when two kayakers told us that they, too, had grounded trying to find the channel. They also told us that a better channel was to be found going up Old River in the northeast corner of Bathurst Harbour.

There was a magnetic anomoly to the northeast of White Point in the SW corner of Bathurst Harbour where Barbara and Peter had anchored Rallinga and dinghied ashore to cut firewood. We left a bag full of wheat-free ingredients for Barbara on board. Barbara had explained her allergy to wheat during our lunchtime conversation.

Two kayakers from Hobart, part of Andy’s Kayak Crew, came to ask for assistance contacting Morrie on the fishing boat La Golondrina. They asked us to tell him over VHF radio that the kayakers will be waiting for him to pick them up at Bramble Cove as soon as weather permits. The kayakers’ VHF radio was low on batteries so not turned on. After trying unsuccessfully to raise La Golondrina on the VHF radio, I sent an email to the Gowlands to pass the message via Tasmar Radio. Margaret and Gordon replied that they knew Morrie well, and had communicated the message.

Friday, February 15, 2002

We returned to beautiful Moulters Inlet to wait out two cold fronts associated with deepening lows which were passing to the south of Tasmania. We felt comfortable anchored in 2-1/2 metres of water, far from the shore. The winds blew in the 30’s when the first front arrived, possibly stronger because it was accelerated over the top of Mt. Fulton to windward of our position. The winds settled down and changed directions numerous times, accompanied by rain over night. Our log entry reads: ‘Wind steady 30’s, with gusts near 40. Some rain beginning. Brown waves all around.’

The weather situation was reported as: ‘A weakening cold front embedded in a west/northwest airstream is moving east/southeast at 30 knots away from Tassie A second Low of 982 lies to the southwest and is moving east at 30/35 knots, bringing 30/45 knot winds from SW/NW with its associated cold front.’
The weather forecast was: ‘Gale warning for a region to the SW of Tasmania, which will approach the SW corner of the state during the day, bringing possible strong winds late Sunday or early Monday.’

The weather faxes that we had been studying over the past few days showed a pattern of westerlies settling in, reinforced by upper level winds. Consequently, a series of cold fronts was traveling on the westerly winds like a magic carpet, bringing a long period of windy and rainy weather. We decided to make our way out of Port Davey, around the South West Cape and as far up into the D’Entrecasteaux Channel as we could before the next cold front arrived. Doing so now would give us the opportunity to continue on north to Hobart when the weather eased. Otherwise, we could find ourselves ‘stuck’ in the beautiful South West wilderness area for several more weeks, and we were running low on fresh produce. Also we had several appointments in Hobart next week, that we did not want to miss.

Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2002

We raised anchor in Moulters Inlet at 0800 hours, and motored across Bathurst Harbour, the full length of Bathurst Channel and out into Port Davey. The easterly winds ranged from 15 to 20 knots, and the SW swells turned to SE as we passed through the Maatsuyker Island group. So we found ourselves bashing into easterly winds and swells. At 1640 hours, Steve made the following log entry:

‘TWS up to 24/25 – slamming into wave backs every 3 or 4 minutes, wing slams every 10 min. Glad Adagio is a dry boat!’

After listening to the 7:45 PM weather report from Tasmar Radio, we notified them that our present location was abeam of Recherche Bay and would put in to Port Esperance for the night. We arrived after dark, and carefully made our way to an anchorage south of the fisherman’s wharf for the town of Dover, setting our anchor at 10:30 PM. Bless Adagio’s radar! It had been a long day, and we were pleased to have good protection from the forecast westerly winds.

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2002

The morning weather report was: ‘A deepening low lies to the SW of Tassie sending a fast moving front towards the west coast.’ The weather forecast was: ‘Tasman I. to SE Cape: Gale Warning: northerlies 20 to 30 knots, reaching 35 knots offshore. 15 to 25 knot southwesterly change later in the day, 20-30 tonight.
‘Derwent: Northerlies 15-25 knots, turning northwesterly mid-day, reaching 30 knots at times tonight.
‘Storm Bay and Channel: Gale warning: northerlies at 15-25. 30 knots in open waters. Northwesterlies 15-25 mid-day, 20-30 tonight.
‘Thurs: westerlies 25-35, 40 in the north, 45 in the south
‘Fri: SW 15-25, 30 in the south and SE as a ridge approaches.
‘Swell forecast: SW coast 5-7 metres.’

Over the next two days, a vigorous southwesterly airstream continued over the area, bringing Gale Warnings to most of coastal Tasmania. Storm Warnings were forecast for the north west coast and for the area north and east of a rapidly deepening low pressure system that was approaching from the southwest and sending a vigorous cold front towards the Tasmanian west coast. The enforced isolation gave us time to complete the editing of some of the videos we have made over the past year and a half. We watched a wicked looking roll cloud make its way up the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, just two nautical miles to the east of where we were anchored, as the strong cold front arrived. Full rainbows appeared several times each afternoon forming an archway over the entrance to the Bay.

Friday, Feb. 22, 2002

This morning’s weather forecast was for the swells to decrease and the winds were forecast to be from a southerly direction, so we decided to leave our sheltered anchorage in Port Esperance and poke our bows out into the Channel to have a go at getting back to Hobart before nightfall. ‘Esperance’ means ‘hope’ in French, and the three islands we passed as we exited the bay are named Faith, Hope and Charity.

The seas in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel were on our quarter until they went flat as we passed the entrance to the Huon River. The land to the southwest gave us shelter from wind and seas and a comfortable trip. We were tied up at the Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania in Lindisfarne by 4:00 PM. It was good to be back in Hobart, with our computer full of new photos and our minds full of fond memories of the awesome Tasmanian wilderness.

2002 Jan 16: Cruising the east coast of Tasmania and three national parks

Adagio was flying. Her speed gave us the sensation of her having lifted off of the waterπs surface, resisting gravity and friction, propelled by her great white wings over the blue-green waters and across the steady northeasterly winds. The cumulus clouds and waves whizzed past. The huge boulders and glacially scarred cliffs of the coastline heaved slowly up and down as the motion of the boat animated the scenery framed by our windows. The wind increased to 28 knots, and our steady average of 12 knots of boat speed climbed to a 13 knot average. We were all smiles.

Two weeks before departing Hobart for a cruise of the east coast of Tasmania, we had purchased tickets to a James Morrison jazz concert, and now we needed to end our island hopping and get back to claim our space on the lawn at Morilla Estate winery. The weathermen had forecast northeasterly winds and our course would be SSE from Wineglass bay on the Freycinet Peninsula to Chinamanπs Bay on Maria Island, then south to round Tasman Island at the southeastern tip of Tasmania, westerly around Cape Raoul and then northwesterly across the open waters of Storm Bay, before sliding north up the River Derwent to Hobart.

In November and December, Adagio had taken us cruising in the sheltered waters of the DÏ€Entrecasteaux Channel and Huon River south of Hobart, to blow away the cobwebs and restore our sea legs. After numerous upgrades and maintenance tasks, improvements and safety checks, we were keen to cruise the sheer rock cliffs and sugar white beaches of Eastern Tasmania.

We departed Hobart on a Thursday afternoon in mid-January and made our way in light winds down the River Derwent and across the upper reaches of Storm Bay to anchor in Wedge Bay at the small fishing village of Nubeena on the west coast of the Tasman Peninsula. We checked in with Tasmar Radio after listening to their evening weather report.

Up early on Friday morning, we motored around the southern coast of the Tasman Pensinula, coming in close enough to Cape Raoul, Tasman Island, Cape Pillar and Cape Hauy for photographs of the amazing dolorite rock formations on this coast of the Tasman National Park. These rocks were formed when intruded into sedimentary layers deep underground at about the time Gondwanaland was splitting apart. The slow rate of cooling of the molten rock formed them into vertical columns which after millions of years of erosion and thousands of years of battering by the waves of the Southern Ocean, have created vertical cliff faces hundreds of feet tall and immense clusters of stone needles poised on the extreme seaward points of land. Any rocky shore is a peril to a ship, but these shores are exquisitely beautiful in their danger.

South of Port Arthur, between Cape Raoul and Tasman Island, a pod of bottlenose dolphins cavorted beneath Adagioπs bows, and told us of their pleasure in friendly squeeks, airborne out-of-water experiences and occasional eye contact as they propelled their silver forms parallel to our sleek hulls.

Lovely Fortescue Bay provided a good nightπs rest before we set out again on Saturday morning for Maria Island. The winds were still light, so we motored again, passing Waterfall Bay, Tasman Arch, Pirates Bay, Eaglehawk Neck, High Yellow Bluff, Humper Bluff and Cape Peron, arriving at Chinamans Bay early enough to anchor close in to shore in crystal clear 2 metres of water over white sand. By sunset a cluster of other boats had anchored around us, some of whom were friends from Hobart. The bay was created thousands of years ago when sand filled the gap between two islands, forming a sand spit that separates Chinamans Bay from Riedle Bay. Kookaburras laughed at us under the crescent moon as they glided from tree to tree, in this our second national park of Maria Island.

At sunrise several wallabys were gracefully loping along the hikersπs footpath, stopping to graze along the shoreline not far from the crumbling remains of a convict settlement from the 1800s. A white-bellied sea eagle soared above the waterπs edge.

A lively breeze developed on Sunday morning, so rather than go ashore for some exploring, we decided to set sail for a circumnavigation of Maria Island – we were curious to see the rock formations of the east coast of the island. Such a passage is bound to bring a variety of sea, current and wind conditions. Fair northeasterly winds in the teens carried us up through Mercury Passage, past the scallop leases, and around Ile du Nord north of Cape Boullanger (the French arrived here early enough to give names to a few of the geographic locations). In the lee of Mt Maria (2328 feet) and the two peaks of Bishop & Clerk (2067 feet), we found flukey winds and flat seas. As we rounded Mistaken Cape and headed southwest again, our sails filled, and we sailed past the white crescent that is Reidle Bay. Staying clear of the towering cliffs of this coast, we left Boy in the Boat rock well clear as we rounded the southern tip of Maria Island and sailed past Green Bluff back into Chinamans Bay. Southeasterlies were forecast, so we anchored in the southeastern curve of the bay called the Deep Hole, in water so clear that we could see our anchor buried in the white sand.

On Monday we set sail for Schouten Island and our third national park, Freycinet National Park comprised of Schouten Island and the Freycinet Peninsula. Halfway between Maria Island and Ile de Phoques (Island of Seals), we were joined by a dozen or so common dolphins. Smaller than the bottlenose, these dolphins seemed feistier, as they competed for the best position, bumping and shoving each other. They stayed with us for almost an hour and we loved every minute of it. With Steve in one bow pulpit and Dorothy in the other, there was no competition for the best viewing position, and the photographer on one bow had great views of the person on the other.

We set our anchor in Cooks Corner, at the base of Mt. Freycinet, on the west coast of the Freycinet Peninsula for a good nightπs rest.

The Hazards are four mountains rising steeply above Coles bay on the western side of the Freycinet Peninsula and above Wineglass Bay on the eastern side. We sailed into Coles Bay in time for lunch at the Freycinet Lodge, and to make dinner reservations. We had assumed that the restaurants in Hobart would serve all of the types of seafood available from this coast, so were surprised to find at the Freycinet Lodge a new kind of beautiful little scallop from nearby Triabunna. Delicate, tender and locally grown, we ≥tucked into them≤, and asked the waitress to have the kitchen wash the pretty shells for us to take with us.

The lodge is nestled among gigantic orange lichen-covered granite boulders that bulge up from the waters of the bay and melt into the forest that climbs up the slope of Mt. Dove. We had tied our dinghy alongside the wharf that is built out from the decks of the lodge over the mass of granite. The red granite of The Hazards was formed as the core of ancient ≥alpine≤ mountains which have been eroded and polished smooth by glaciers. In the town of Coles Bay, we purchased some packages of lettuce, a newspaper and some milk for Steveπs morning coffee. We were unable to receive Tasmar Radio from Coles Bay. The color of the Hazards changed from gunmetal silver to golden bronze at sunset.

On Tuesday morning, the weather was still settled so we wasted no time setting off for world famous Wineglass Bay. Winds were very light, so we powered through the Schouten Passage, past Point Geographe (named after one of the early French sailing ships which explored this coast), Slaugherhouse Bay, Gates Bluff, Half Lemon Rock, Lemon Rock and Cape Forestier, and entered Wineglass Bay. Well protected from all but strong northeasterly winds, this crescent of white quartz sand reflects in its multicolored blue waters the peaks of Mt. Mayson, Mt. Amos, Mt. Dove and Mt. Parsons of The Hazards.

Ten other boats were anchored in the bight in the southwestern corner of Wineglass Bay, so we dropped our wonderful S.P.A.D.E. anchor off the beach to the north of the other boats, but still within the protection of the bluffs to the south and southeast. The weathermen had forecast cloudy weather for the next day, so we had only today to make the hike up to the viewing platform in the saddle between Mt. Mayson and Mt. Amos for photos of Adagio at anchor in Wineglass Bay. Allegro zipped us to the beach where we used our endless rode technique to pull Allegro away from the shore after we had disembarked in the shelter of the southwestern bight. Clad in jelly sandals from New Caledonia, our ankles and feet were caressed by each sea swell as we walked the full length of Wineglass beach to the start of the walking track in the northwest corner of the bay. Translucent rollers sparkled clear as glass before spreading like snow on the gradually sloping sand, pinwheeling around the point of land into the inner reaches of the anchorage. After forty-five minutes of steep climbing through a dry eucalyptus forest we reached a boardwalk lookout and spent an hour enjoying the view of Adagio at anchor in the emerald jewel set in a white crescent. Steve asked another hiker to take our photo holding two copies of Latitude 38, with deep-blue Wineglass Bay in the background. It was difficult to imagine the bay wine-red with whale blood as it was during the years when whaling along this coast was a major industry.

As we were returning to the beach, we met a small Rufus Wallaby grazing alongside the trail. He hopped a short distance into the forest as we approached, seeming little concerned about our presence. Once again following the full length of the white scalloped beach, photographing the glistening sheets of water reaching up then sliding away, the changing blues of the water reflecting the changing depths of the bay, we did not want to leave this beauty.

Having noticed a Crealock 34 sailboat named ≥Windchime≤, hailing from Olympia, Washington anchored nearby, we met the owners, Lynn and Jim as they brought their dinghy ashore. We invited them to visit us aboard Adagio the next morning so we could share with them information we have gathered about Hobart. Lynn and Jim had just sailed down from Eden, on the ≥big island≤ (Australia), sometimes referred to as the ≥North Island≤ by those Tasmanians who do not wish to pander to the egos of Sydneysiders and Melbournians.

The anchorage in Wineglass Bay is a bit rolly in the swells, but Adagio felt little of the motion in comparison to the monohull boats. Awakened near midnight by sounds of loud bumps on our hull, we hurried into the cockpit to find that a small orange sailboat that had anchored too close to our stern was now banging against it. Steve turned on our foredeck floodlights and spreader lights as well as our cockpit lights, while Dorothy shoved the bow of the little boat away. Fortunately the two owners of the little boat arrived in their dinghy and obliged our requests to re-set their anchor in a safer location.

After a few pleasant hours getting to know Jim and Lynn on Wednesday morning, we decided to take advantage of the northeasterly winds forecast for the next two days to make our way back to Hobart and our music concert. It seemed too short a visit to Wineglass Bay, but we look forward to revisiting this special place on our way back north to Sydney in March. We also wanted to be back in Hobart before a forecast trough crossed the island on the weekend, bringing southerly winds in its aftermath.

Raising the anchor and hoisting full sail, we departed Wineglass Bay, poking our bows out into the 17 knot northeasterly winds which would carry us down the coast. Our route took us along the eastern shore of the Freycinet Peninsula and mountainous Schouten Island, and once again past Ile de Phoques where fur seals languished on the rocks. We sailed past Darlington on the NW corner of Maria Island, where the ruins of a penal colony have been restored, and the magnificent Painted Cliffs — swirls and concentric circle patterns formed in sandstone by water seeping through the rock. We rounded Point Lesueur and into Chinamans Bay for our evening anchorage. The solitude of this 5 km long bay is wonderfully calming and protective from whatever the weather offshore might bring. Many sailors wait here for a weather window before setting off for points north or south along this coast.

Friday morning we departed Chinamans Bay with the goal of arriving in Hobart by sunset. Adagio was prepared. We were prepared, and looked forward to some good sailing. The northeasterly winds carried us on a port reach all along the coast, as if rewinding the stunning videos we had made during our trip north just a few days before. A northeasterly swell of one meter rose towards two meters as we approached the southeast tip of the Tasman Peninsula. The winds had increased from the teens into the twenties, and Adagio was enjoying herself.

As we approached the gybe point south of Tasman Island, we prepared the huge mainsail for a gentle swing from the starboard side of the boat to the port side, and Steve artfully controlled the traveler for a soft change onto the starboard gybe, on a carefully-chosen wave. We kept our course well south of the cliffs and capes to avoid the possibility of williwaws coming down off Arthurs Peak and Mt Raoul. As we entered Storm Bay, the swell went down, blocked by the Tasman Peninsula. Adagio lifted her petticoats and picked up speed.

We had been looking forward to these perfect sailing conditions ever since our arrival in Tasmania — 26-28 knots of steady winds carrying us on a broad reach across low seas. As we stayed to the NE side of Storm Bay, Adagio accelerated to 11, 12, 13 knots of boat speed. The water hissed as it sped under her hulls, and gurgled around her keels. Waves erupted into geysers up through our forward trampolines and washed across our front windows like the rollers melting onto foam on the beach of Wineglass Bay. Meanwhile, Steve and I went about our tasks of navigation, standing lookout, meal preparation and occasional naps, snug and safe aboard our magical ship, with occasional whoops and laughter as we shared in AdagioÏ€s fun. All of our dry work towels were used to stem the salty water that leaked through the edge of our port escape hatch. But other than a few telltale drips which were remedied by tightening the screw on a hatch handle, all was dry inside, while the waves occasionally washed over the coachroof, giving Adagio the firehose test.

We approached the entrance to the River Derwent, between the Iron Pot on the southern tip of South Arm and Cape de la Sortie on the northern tip of North Bruny Island, happy for the low lying land to starboard allowing the wind to propel us unhindered. Our computer screen on which our electronic charting was displayed began to flicker on and off, so we took careful bearings and began a dead reckoning plot on our paper charts which we always have spread out on our dining table. We were in familiar waters with numerous landmarks within view. Our radar showed us the distant shores.

Up the eastern side of the river we fled, white foam spuming from our sterns. As soon as we came within cellphone range of Hobart we phoned our favorite restaurants for dinner reservations, knowing that our fast progress would get us home in good time. We also phoned friends in Blackmanπs Bay and Sandy Bay as we sailed past. We enjoyed sharing our fun with them as they watched us from the windows of their homes ashore.

This passage brought us the same immense satisfaction as a fine ocean passage. We trust Adagio. We trust each other. And we feel a great sense of achievement that our years of planning and preparations, practice and study are bringing us the sailing that we love. We also have a list of items to which we must attend before we will feel prepared to tackle a sail up the west coast of Tasmania, notorious for its treacherous waters and dangerous weather. Stay tuned.

2002 Jan 01: Hobart Update

We are still in Tasmania and loving every minute. We have been invited to join the Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania by some of their fine members with whom Adagio buddy-boats from time to time. Our local friends have signed on for some of our future passages.

Tassie has some of the most dramatic and scenic coastline we have ever seen. From peaceful rivers to enchanting islands with long white sand beaches to towering wave-carved cliff faces. There is some of everything nice right here. Ashore the sightseeing is endless, with the national parks, wineries, historical towns, caves and forests.

During our first eight months in Hobart, we were tied up in the center of town, at Constitution Dock. You will see photos of it on our web page. During the winter we attended an international festival called “Ten Days on the Island”, as well as Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra performances on a weekly basis, and theatre performances and free concerts at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, the Botanical Gardens and Meadowbank Estate winery. The museums were a stone’s throw from our berth, as were the town’s best restaurants, markets and seafood stores. Walking in the historic districts became our daily exercise.

Now that we have resumed our cruising, Hobart springs their Summer Festival on us, with hundreds of events of the highest quality — what’s a sailor to do?

Kim, Alan and our two grandchildren David (4-1/2 years) and Sarah (14 mos) came to visit with us for 12 days at Christmas. They loved being aboard Adagio, and we could hardly keep up with good answers for Davids continuous string of appropriate questions. He wants to be a scientist when he grows up. His brain is a huge sponge and we have been entertained by some of his explanations of our world. Sarah is a delightful, beautiful, energetic and strong blue-eyed blonde charmer. Needless to say, we look lots of photos.

The Sydney to Hobart Race this year was led by the Volvo Challenge yachts. We were happy so see Mark Rudiger navigate Assa Abloy to line honors, then hear that Assa Abloy also was first to reach Auckland. We had a good look at all the boats while they were in Hobart (only 1-1/2 hours).

Adagio is proving to be a splendidly comfortable home. Steve has been beavering away at the many maintenance tasks, and at re-installing numerous components as well as monitoring performance and performing various tests. But the basic design and construction are sound. The Tasmanian waters offer challenges and shelter, as well as a high quality community of marine tradesmen, due to its being the headquarters for the Australian Antarctic Division and ships. We have met several of the scientists and have watched the icebreakers come and go from Hobart to Antarctica and back.

Adagio practically sails herself. Yesterday during the last hour of our trip to Hobart from South Bruny Island, I stood watch, baked cookies and a loaf of bread while Steve napped.