Winter in Port Davey
August 10th - September 10th 2009

The Soup Cruise or Windswept Cruise, we can't decide???
The day has finally come for us to leave on our trip to Port Davey; we untied the mooring lines and departed from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmanian at 12.30pm. All snug in the pilothouse with only 700m visibility, light misty rain, and a light 6 knt breeze from the SE, it was the start of another great adventure. Our departure was first planned for the 1st Aug but due to the Southern Ocean / Roaring Forties blowing its head off we delayed for a few days then another Low came over and another delay. With 5 days of Easterlies forecast we should be right to head the 65 nm from Recherche Bay to Port Davey. As we steam at 1442 rpms using 1.5 USG per hour giving us a SOG of 6knts it is very comforting to have a few Cray boats overtake us as we turn to starboard to enter the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. A sign of good weather! 

Note: At this pace we would have a 4800nm range!!

The Preparation

I attracted the attention of the Woolworths Manager and an assistant when I went grocery shopping on Saturday as I filled 3 trolleys with enough food and consumables to last 6 weeks.  They helped me get the trolleys to the car and pack it all in. I have it down to a fine art working out how much of everything we require.  I just have to work out how to ration Alan with his chocolate bars! Stowing all the gear was the next problem, finding all the little hidey holes around the boat and stowing vegetables and fruit all wrapped in newspaper to help preserve them, although this is not a major problem when the temperature is only 8 – 10 degrees outside. Almost like living in a refrigerator!  

The motor, wing engine, generator and water maker had grease and oil changes as well as all the filters were changed. We had a breakdown of the freshwater pump only last week and have to have it replaced. Going without water for a few days made us think how dire the situation would have been if we were somewhere remote so we ordered a spare pump to add to the ships stores. 

Tonight we are going to anchor near Rabbit Island at Port Esperance, and the township of Dover. Here at low tide we will be able to collect fresh oysters that will last for a few days in a bucket in the cockpit, with Alan renewing the sea water a couple of times a day.

 

From Dover we will move to Recherche tomorrow and leave from there 4am Wednesday morning!

Port Davey is a wilderness area, a 7 day walk through National Park, there isn’t any road access, but you can fly in! No shops, No phones, No internet . . . I think! Although I have fitted an antennae booster for the Ericsson W25 so it will interesting to see how far the extended range gets us!

We dropped anchor in the dark after switching the navigation lights on as we rounded the point to enter Port Esperance. The southern shores of the bay are lit like an amusement park at night as the workers at the fish farms work into the night. It was only an hour later that LeMaris pulled alongside and tied to us where they joined us for Happy Hour to toast the commencement of our trip.

 11th August

We woke with a mission on our mind. . . .To go hunting and gathering from the shores of Rabbit Island.  The tide was low at 5.50am but we decided that 8am would be early enough for us to gather our stocks of oysters. Most of the oysters are only attached to small rocks so Alan gives them a gentle bash with his hammer and off falls the rock. Once the buckets were full, the tender was lifted by the boys to avoid the oysters on the shore from puncturing the inflatable.

It wasn’t long before we pulled anchor (10.55 am) and headed the 18.5nm to Recherche Bay arriving at 2pm. Well, we had forgotten that we needed to stow a lot more things, with 2-3m swells from the South and 25knt winds from the East causing confused and lumpy seas I locked the refrigerators and placed anything loose above floor level on the floor until we arrived in The Pigsties. It can’t fall any further!!

Early to bed ready for an early 4am rise!

12th August

After a sleepless night, you never sleep well when you know you have to get up, the alarm finally went off at 4am. It didn’t take long for the motor, kettle and the generator went on (so the aircon could warm up the boat). Tea and toast was made and as the final engine room checks were made and the anchor pulled up. Thank heavens for the High water pressure hose as the chain and anchor was caked with thick heavy mud. Navigating back in the dark through the narrow passage between Shag Rock and the point was a little nervy as it is only 150m wide and the chart plotter has us running over the top of it when we came in last night. As LeMaris did not have their chart plotter set to track they hung back and followed us out. The Sou Easterly swell was running right into the bay and as the seafloor came up the swell increased to 3-4m but as we ventured further out the swell reduced to 2-3m. The motor was running at 1100 rpm and we were making 3knts SOG. Once we rounded Whale Head Light we turned west and had the wind on our stern. The engine was increased to 1800rpm and with the added wind and waves behind us pushing our speed to 7 -7.5 knts.

We have 30-35knts Easterly wind and we are abeam of South East Cape, the southernmost tip of Australia. 43* 38. 7144S, 146*49. 5182E.

ETA at Port Davey 1600hrs or 4pm!

From here I plotted a point to between Maatsuyker Is and De Witt Island   . . . top Islands. As we approached we saw Lemaris on their tack in shore after being 10nm offshore. They were ahead of us by 5nms, sailing with headsail and Mizzen whilst Duncan hand steered as they had an autopilot failure. Here between the islands the waves and swells increased as the depth of water decreased, and we had a fantastic display by the dolphins coming towards us in the huge swells. West of Maatsuyker Island the swell flattened out and the course to South West Cape allowed the wind to be squarer on the stern.  Once we rounded South West Cape the seas had flattened out but the bullets of wind were gusting over the steep high mountains that frame the shore.

We arrived in Spain Bay at 3pm behind Lemaris by ½ hr. Anchored in the bay to the east of us was a lone Cray boat just awaiting the late afternoon to put their pots in for the night. It didn’t take long to get our little inflatable and 4hp off the boat deck so we could join Lemaris for a well earned drink before we all hit the sack early to catch up on sleep. Duncan’s autopilot stopped working just as we left The Pigsties so he was left hand steering a day until he rounded SW Cape and in the flatter seas Eva was given the helm.  

 

Thursday 13th . We had a leisurely sleep in and after a hearty breakfast of Bacon and Eggs we tackled the job of lifting the tinnie from her mountings on the boat deck. As this was the first time that we have taken her down since she was lifted there by a crane during the commissioning process it took us quite a while to remember the procedure. Once we reconfigured the boom from the Paravane set up, it all fell into place.

The craypots were set up and ready to deploy, the fish finder was at the ready to show them the rocky sea floor necessary to attract the crays and Duncan was picked up for the Hunting and Gathering mission to begin!

Whilst they were away I washed the layers of salt from the decks ready for cruising on the waters of Bathurst Channel and Harbour. The forecast for the days following looked less than good so at 4pm we left Spain Bay for the shelter of Schooner Cove. Like all the bays in this area it is surrounded by mountains that are mainly grass with few trees around the foreshore. Dinner – Roast Chicken

Friday 14th – Alan went to pick Duncan up at the prearranged time of 8am, but because Duncan knew that we don’t rise early whilst we have been at the marina, he didn’t actually think we were serious. So it took Duncan a few minutes to get ready! Their trip back out the Channel to Shank Islands was disappointing as there weren’t any Crays, but they relocated the pots and we can only hope!  Eva had invited us for some freshly baked Wholemeal Scones for afternoon tea with cream and “Bring your own jam! We don’t have any!!” was the call on the radio! I was also able to use their satellite phone to call Mum for her Birthday. I attempted to use the HF Radcall to phone Mum but it was unsuccessful. So I now see the need for a Satellite Phone! Dinner – Atlantic Salmon

Saturday 15th – As the wind had picked up, 25 – 35 knts NW, we decided to check the cray pots with Opal Lady. Alan picked Duncan and Eva up in the tinnie and bought them back on board for the 6nm trip out to Shank Islands. We dropped the boys in the tinnie in the lee of the islands and circled behind Breaksea Islands waiting for them to return. While they were gone the wind and seas increased, making it tricky to get them back on board.  Mission accomplished and we headed back to Schooner Cove via Watering Bay and Wombat Cove to investigate the anchorages for future reference. This was the first time they had been aboard whilst underway.

The anchorage for the night was planned to be Iola Bay, a little keyhole Bay on the southern side of the Bathurst Channel, but as we approached  we could see the waves and wind blowing straight in, so we continued east in search of something better.

Bathurst Channel opens out into Bathurst Harbour and just around the first headland to the south is Kings Point. From the notes in the cruise manuals it didn’t read too badly and we decided to give it a go! We anchored in 5m of water and it wasn’t long before we realised that we would be dizzy in no time! Thank heavens for the anchor winch! Up and move, this time a little further south, to Claytons Corner, the bay at the entrance to Melaleuca Inlet. There is a small jetty in the northern corner, at the site of the old homestead once owned by Clayton, now in the care of National Parks and Wildlife. Water is available from a hose on the jetty that comes from the tanks at the home.

We anchored in the bay and then reversed into the jetty and secured a line tying our stern in. Lemaris was anchored in the bay, but it wasn’t long for the bullets of wind to hit Lemaris and they were not happy to stay here. So up the anchor came again! All this before lunch!! Heading west in the channel we went into Horseshoe Inlet to check out Casilda Cove, reportedly good in a westerly gale BUT here it was blowing 30 knts from the NE, obliviously blowing from the mountain on the eastern shore.  We conferred via radio and Lemaris went to Eves Point for a look and they were happy there so we went back to anchor again! This time we stayed the night! Dinner – BBQ Pork Spare Ribs.

Sunday 16th – Finally we had another sleep in and after breakfast I began to do some baking. Mum’s Fruit Slice and a Chocolate Fruit Slice but the second one had only just been put in the oven when a gust came over the mountain. The boat heeled under the strength of the gust on the beam and then there was an almighty bang as the locked bar fridge door cart wheeled towards Alan, who was sitting at the table in the saloon.  Following close behind was the drawer full of ice and the contents of the fridge. During our inspection later we found the door had jumped from its hinges. During our drama, Lemaris had been battling with their dragging anchor and were moving sideways down the bay towards us. At their stern was our little inflatable, flipping from one side to another, thankfully Duncan had removed the motor and it was mounted on his stern rail. Not having enough time to pull anchor we started our motor and steered away from them.  It took some time to sort the saloon floor out. The barometer had crept lower to 981 hpa, within the hour the wind had subsided to 40knts. Lemaris made the call to move and find a better anchorage for the night before darkness fell.

We motored west along the Bathurst Channel a little way before heading up into Ila Bay. At the head of the bay it is all uncharted, so like Captain Cook we went ahead to feel the depth and to our surprise it was all 4-5 m deep. The anchor was dropped in the NW corner and Lemaris followed behind us.  Once we were settled Alan provided a taxi service so Eva and Duncan could come over for happy hour to discuss the woes of the day.

17th Monday -  Ila Bay

I made a Banana Cake and Eva and Duncan came for afternoon tea. Dinner – Chicken and Mushrooms with vegetables. 

18th Tuesday – Ila Bay

I cut Alan's hair and beard then I cooked a Roast Lamb Dinner with Apple and Meringue Tarts for dessert. My cooking was interrupted by Alan wanting to put out the second anchor. Duncan also spent his day fixing his second anchor and deploying it and then they joined us for dinner. Overcast, rain and 40-60knt winds. 

19th Wednesday – Ila Bay

Alan was still trying to shake the flu that I had unfortunately given him so he slept in until 1pm, whilst I cleaned up. We went to Lemaris for afternoon tea. The day had a few fine patches of sunshine and winds to only 20knts. Dinner - Leftover Baked Dinner. 

20th Thursday – Ila Bay

The sun shone brightly and the wind has died down! Yeh!! The barometer has risen to 1020 hpa. It was a great day to do all the washing and we turned the music up and even danced on the deck. It was such a great day that I had Alan start the tinny motor for me (I don’t have enough muscle in my arms to pull start it) and I picked Eva up and we went exploring and took some photos of the flora around the waters edge and we also found a small waterfall hidden in the neck of a small bay on the eastern shore of Ila Bay. Dinner – Steak topped with Garlic prawns.

21st Friday – Ila Bay

Another beautiful morning and then by lunch the barometer had started to drop to herald the next approaching low pressure system and the NW wind was gusting to 41.8 knts and the rain set in. Alan was still not well.  

22nd Saturday – Ila Bay

More wind Rain Rain. . . . .  Alan snuggled in his corner and watched the footy as I made another boiler of Pea and Ham Soup. Eva joined us to watch the footy as Duncan was still struggling to fix his HF Radio, but he did manage to come over for Happy Hour and to pick Eva up.

 23rd Sunday – Trip to Bond Bay.

Not wanting to waste any sunshine, when I came up for my early morning cuppa and saw the sunshine I quickly went back to wake Alan up, but it took longer than I expected and by the time he got out of bed, 1 hour later it was pouring rain. But as I had already radioed Lemaris to tell them our plans we still decided to go. The vegetable scraps needed emptying at sea, we also needed to make some more water as Ila Bay wasn’t  being flushed out enough to allow the watermaker to work.  The deck was covered in mud after retrieving both anchors and LeMaris was still trying to get both their anchors on deck 1 ½ hrs later. We hung around in the bay in case they needed some help then we headed straight out past Breaksea Islands and then north to Bond Bay. We anchored on the lee shore and with the watermaker still running we had a quick lunch and dodging showers we headed off in the tinny to do a spot of fishing around the point. There were several large kelp beds and small rocky outcrops but alas no fish! We left the bay at 3.30pm to travel the 2nm to Wallaby Bay where Eva and I would keep the boats circling as Alan and Duncan went in the tinny to put the Craypots out.

Duncan was still having problems with his generator and battery systems which was the reason for us taking both boats to Bond Bay for a run. 

Once they were safely on board we headed for the shelter of Wombat Cove, another of the suggested Westerly Gale anchorages on the northern side of the Bathurst Channel. Lemaris had anchored first so we went to windward and into the head of the cove, but as the gusts were still coming down the valley at 30+ knts we decided to tie stern to the NW bank to the “obvious tree” !!  

24th Monday – Wombat Cove

This was all ok until the wind rose and this coincided with the falling tide. It was 5am when we touched and as if synchronised we flew out of bed and each manned our stations. Luckily we had already discussed options before we went to bed. Alan let off the stern lines to the bank while I took up the slack on the main anchor. This didn’t take us very long and the kettle went on and I made a hot cuppa to warm us before nodding back to sleep for a few more hours.

The light of day bought some sunshine for a short period then the clouds moved in and with them, the rain and wind. More 40-60 knt NW! Due to the lack of biscuits and cake, I started baking. It now has been 2 weeks since leaving Hobart and I am still waiting for the day when our last 3 Bananas get to the over ripe stage so I can cook my Hummingbird Cake recipe that calls for ‘over ripe’ bananas. That tells you how cold it is down here! No need for refrigeration for anything!! Throughout the afternoon we have had snow, wind, rain, hail, thunder and it wasn’t long before the lightening came to complete our full weather picture. 

25th Tuesday   -  Wombat Cove

Another night that I climbed the stairs several times . It was 5am and the dinghy was hitting the stern so I went to tighten it when I  noticed that LeMaris had dragged back closer to the shore, with the painter re-adjusted I called Lemaris on the VHF, they were  already up and about to pull up on their  anchor. This was the second time as they had been woken at 2am with the crunching sound of the rudder skeg hitting the rocks below. We were experiencing the 30+ knt bullets coming from all directions off the surrounding mountains. After a hot cuppa we fell back into a heavy sleep until the next strong bullet hit us at 8am.  Duncan and Eva were still not happy with the way they were sitting so after several discussions on the radio we decided to go over and have a round table discussion with the charts laid out on the table and Duncan’s copy of the latest weather forecast. The weather forecasts we have been receiving on the HF Radio station VMC.

All things considered the consensus was to try Melaleuca Inlet, seeing we have tried most other anchorages. The 2  anchorage guides that we have been using are 1) Cruising Tasmania by J Brettingham-Moore and 2) Tasmanian Anchorage Guide produced by RYCT and with the knowledge of several local cruising identities.  The other important document which we have heavily relied upon is the National Parks Guide to Port Davey as there are a lot of restrictions that we need to adhere to.

12 noon was the agreed departure time, as we needed a few hours to do a few loads of washing and make water at the same time as we thought that Melaleuca Inlet would be too brackish and dirty for the watermaker to work effectively. Alan retrieved our lines that were tied to the obvious tree!! And then we pulled both anchors, we are getting more experienced at this now! As we head east back down the Bathurst Channel with the aircon in the pilothouse on 29 degrees and all the laundry hanging from the overhead rail, we are enjoying the view of the many waterfalls cascading down the high mountains. As we rounded the point into Claytons Corner we could see the water level on the jetty had risen substantially from the last time we were here so it shouldn’t be a problem to get down to Kings Jetty. But to be sure to be sure . . .We anchored in the bay and Alan had a quick lunch before getting all his wet weather gear on and taking Duncan in the tinny down the Inlet with the depth sounder on.

1 ½ hrs later they arrived back with smiles and the reassurance that we won’t have a problem getting the big boats down the 2 ½ nm of Melaleuca Inlet. Enroute I prepared a Paprika Beef Casserole and Potato Bake to feed all of us. The rain was still pouring down and the current in the creek was flowing at 2 knts which made it a little tricky to moor alongside Lemaris on Kings Jetty. There are mooring lines from the bank to tie to so you don’t rely on the poles that belong to an era long ago and are only in a shallow layer of mud. This was all done in the teaming rain, by the time the job was complete everyone except me was dripping wet and cold. I was still cooking dinner! The clouds were that thick and heavy we didn’t have any satellite coverage. We finally were able to contact Coast Radio Hobart via the repeater channel 82 on Maatsuyker Island. It wasn’t long after the sched when I had a call from the caretakers on Maatsuyker Island, Phil and June Harper, all too happy to hear from someone else they thought that they were the only ones out here. They are staying on the island for 4 months to tend to theLighthouse and weather recording as well as maintaining the grounds, whipper snipping and mowing etc. They are from Hobart and have a yacht at Lindisfarne. And in their words this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for them!

26th Wednesday

Everyone slept really well until the winds increased after 8am, gusting 40 to 60 knots. We decided to put our spare anchor 30 degrees forward off our port bow as the wind was pushing us onto Lemaris. Alan placed it in the dinghy and motored it into position, and then he asked Duncan for his spare anchor to place 30 degrees off his aft quarter. This held us off the poles and managed to consume our whole morning.

During the afternoon we enjoyed freshly made fruitcake on Lemaris. Still no satellite as we were moored too close to the trees.

 27th Thursday –   Kings Jetty, Melaleuca Inlet

The North West winds were still blowing 30 -40 knots and we had heavy rain and some hail. At times the mountains closest to us were unable to be seen, the temperature outside was a very cool 5 degrees and the water temperature was 7.1 degrees. All day we spent working on the computers updating our logs and photos. We were treated to Roast Pork and vegies and a Chocolate Sauce Pudding on Lemaris for dinner. Duncan is having battery and generator problems so we are running a lead from our aft power point to their boat.  The barometer is rising now 992 hpa.

28th Friday  –   Kings Jetty, Melaleuca Inlet

The rain continued throughout the night and into the morning before the sun came out just before lunch. The barometer had risen to 1000 hpa. I invited Eva and Duncan for a quick lunch of Party Pies and Sausage Rolls, and then we all dressed in our wet weather gear for our exploration trip to the airfield, National Parks Quarters, Deny King residence, the Bird Hide and the old tin mine and Wilson residence.  

This was our first opportunity to stretch our legs since our oyster collecting at Dover on the 11th Aug.  We motored further upstream against a fast flowing current until we came upon the rapids, it was here we turned around and let the motor idle so we could enjoy the sounds of the running water and the birds singing on the way back downstream to the wharf. The air was chilly and in the distance we could see snow on the surrounding mountain tops.

For 2 hours we explored before returning to the boats with weary legs just before darkness fell.  We had a late afternoon tea with fruitcake on LeMaris to discuss our plans for tomorrow. We decided to leave here at 7am to head out to check the craypots.

Dinner – Atlantic Salmon

Saturday 29th -  Schooner Cove

It was still lightly raining as we let the lines fall to allow us to head back down Melaleuca Inlet. 1009 hpa and a few lighter patches in the sky, It was a magnificent view of the snow topped mountains and I took many photos on our way as well as making some Rock Cakes for morning tea. Lemaris anchored in Bramble Cove and we picked them up in the tinny for the trip out to Wallaby Bay on Opal Lady. After dropping Duncan and Alan off, Eva and I went 1nm west to the outer point to dispose of our food scraps that we have been saving. By the time we got back through the 2 - 3m swells the boys were all smiles as they had pulled 2 nice crayfish from the pots. The swells would have made it difficult to get them back on board so we headed NW to the quieter waters of Bond Bay. Halfway there Alan decided to take us closer to the entrance of the Davey River and after several attempts to get our attention we continued on following them. Safely anchored at Carvers Point we had a cuppa and some rock cakes before getting into many layers of clothing and wet weather gear, gloves, beanies and sea boots for the 5nm trip up to the gorges. The rain continued as we navigated the river. The recent rainfall has increased the depth and flow of the river since Alan and I went up the river in March, we were able to cut corners and motor across points and islands that previously were above water. We pushed our way up the first set of rapids and onto the second, the depth sounder read 1.3m, in March Alan dragged the tender through ankle deep water at this point. Unfortunately we were unable to push any further upstream against the current.  The final gorges was beautiful in March, Duncan and Eva will need to come back again to see it!

It took us 1 hour 20 minutes up and 1hr 10min on the way back. All wet and frozen we arrived back at the boat and very quickly we turned the aircon on and started our trip back to Bramble Cove.  It was now 3.15 and we hadn’t had lunch so I made a pot of Asian Hot and Spicy Soup and once we anchored in Bramble we ate lunch. Trying to keep the soup in the bowl was a challenge as the swells were coming straight into the bay and we developed a terrible roll. We realised that staying here for the night wasn’t an option so we moved to Schooner Cove. The anchor only just made it down before darkness fell. 

My stockpot was put on full of salty water and once it was to a rolling boil Alan bought one of the Crayfish to the pot, only then did we realise that it just wasn’t going to fit! So Alan went to the lazarette to get the larger pan! We look forward to tomorrow’s lunch.

Still piss isently down rain!

Another cold front hit at 10.30pm with gusting NW winds 30-45 knts, we got up and let another 20 metres of chain out, the wind continued all night. 

30th Sunday

With more winds due this afternoon we decided to move back to Melaleuca Inlet. Lemaris were the first to up anchor and the plan was to do a tour around Bathurst Harbour before heading down the Inlet. The visibility was so poor that we could not see them or the mountains beside us. We motored past Mt Rugby and at the end of Bathurst Channel we headed to port and went past Eds Cove for a look. It was a small bay with steep hills surrounding the water’s edge. This little bay was only large enough for 1 or 2 vessels at a pinch. Passing North Inlet (This is a breeding ground for the Black Swans and there for is restricted to non motorised vessels only) to port we meandered east heading for the entrance of Old River. Just as we neared the bay at the entrance the water shallowed fast and before we could change direction we rose up on a shallow spot and ground to a halt. It took a few reverse /forward manoeuvres to free ourselves. As we turned to head out to deep water the wind started to rise and within minutes we had 65 knots which quickly whipped up the waves in the harbour as it is only 5-6m deep. We chose to curtail our scenic tour and head for the serenity of Melaleuca Inlet. Lemaris was already on the radio enquiring of our whereabouts as they were anchored at Claytons Corner waiting for us. They went ahead and tied back to Kings Jetty. As we headed up the Inlet we decided to anchor in one of the bends close to the shore.  There was about 2 knts current flowing out of the inlet so we set our primary anchor downstream and reversed to dig the anchor in and let out approx 110m chain, keeping the boat in reverse and holding the position Alan threw out the stern anchor and secured it. This will ensure that the forecasted 50 knt North Westerlies will blow on our bow. Then Alan took to the dinghy and secured the bow and stern with lines to the ‘obvious trees’ ashore.  This position was better than the jetty as the winds at the jetty were blowing on us amidships. Once in position we called Lemaris and explained the plan. They were to anchor in the opposite direction to us, with their primary anchor upstream and then Alan would take their stern anchor downstream to position them beside us. Hopefully this would ensure good holding no matter what the weather threw at us.  Following this manoeuvre we all had hot showers and

Following this maneuver we all had hot showers and found dry clothes before partaking  in a warming drink for happy hour and to discuss the adventures of the day.

31st August Monday

We woke to the wind blowing high above us and we could hear it humming through LeMaris’ rigging. It wasn’t long before the gusts were getting bigger and then all heads popped up to see what was happening.  Lemaris was rocking too and fro as the wind came across the trees and blew their masts causing the boat to heel.  Feeling sorry for them we invited Eva and Duncan over for an early morning tea only to hear that the biggest gust they had seen that morning was 90.4 knts.  We listened to the morning radio sched and heard from Maatsuyker Island that they had registered the highest ever  recording in 100 years of 94.0 knts.  All our efforts yesterday had paid off and we were holding well. So our day was spent watching the rain, hail and snow falling around us.

As Duncan had still not solved his power issues he decided that we needed to return to Hobart and move forward with the plan to fix things. Now we had to keep a close eye on the weather forecasts to find a suitable window to get back around the treacherous south west coast to Recherche Bay. But first we had to retrieve our pots from the sea floor in Wallaby Bay.

1st September Tuesday

The wind had subsided to 30-40 knts, this we now call a little puff!!! But the rain, hail and snow continued. Opal Lady was still the preferred boat to be onboard as it wasn’t rocking and it was nice and warm. In the afternoon the sun managed to shine and we took the time to get out in the tinny to get a few shots of our position. We watched the Sky weather station for most of the day, waiting for updates. It was all looking good to leave Thursday for our return journey.

2nd September Wednesday

We started pulling the anchor at 8am and just as much planning went into the retrieval of all anchors and lines as did the process a few days earlier.  But as we were heading back down the inlet something didn’t feel right with the steering!  I stopped and put her in reverse and then forward, looked over the stern but to no avail.  We reversed again thinking that we may have picked up a log or stick on the rudder, but still we couldn’t fix the problem so we limped the remaining 2 mile down to Claytons Corner to enable us to have more space to reverse for a greater distance. Here we reversed for ½ mile and this appeared to work! By now Eva and Duncan were wondering what happened to us and they were calling over the VHF to advise us that they were anchored in Schooner Cover awaiting pickup for the next craypot adventure.

t was 12.30 by the time we picked them up and headed back to Wallaby Bay. Heading through the gap between Breaksea Is and Boil Rock we were glad that our stabilizers were working perfectly as the the swell was still 3+ m and very confused as it was reverberating off both headlands. Once out to the bay the boys jumped in the dinghy and went in.  It took them about ½ hr to retrieve the pots and they came back with long faces, not just that there weren’t any Crays but the 7-8 m seas of the past week had completely thrashed the pots and sent the bait holders and funnels awol, never to be seen again.  Now we only had to return to Schooner Cove and put the tinny and the inflatable back on the boat deck in preparation for the ocean tomorrow.  As the final lashings were secured the sun came out and we got to experience the best sunset that we have had in the whole trip!! We had an early dinner and bed ready for an early 4am rise.

 

3rd September Thursday

But in normal Port Davey fashion it was only 10.30pm when the bullets of wind came down over the mountains surrounding the cove and buffeted us swinging from the bullets coming from all directions. We tried to get back to sleep but neither of us could do anything but doze so by 3am we decided to get up and go. We had a quick cuppa and toast whilst the engine was warming up and we stowed all the loose items. Once we cleared Port Davey and headed south the seas flattened out and as we rounded SW Cape the sun was just rising and the wind rose to 20-25 knts from the north.  The wind continued and we stayed as close to the shore as we were going east but still keeping to our rhumbline. As we past Maatsuyker we spoke to Phil and June and agreed that today would not be ideal to visit the island as the only access was a small jetty on the northern shore.  So we continued our trip, LeMaris  could only just be heard on the radio as they didn’t leave Schooner Cove until 6.30am, but with their faster boat speed they should catch up.

Getting nearer to south East Cape we noticed that we were getting swells coming from the South and the North East which made for very confused seas. We had to cut the revs back from 1620 to 1400, this cut our speed from 6.5 to 4.8 knots.  The final 7 nm to the Coalbins in Recherche took 2 ½ hours and it was a relief to arrive.

During our time at Port Davey I had been struggling with dizziness, nausea and headaches and these confused seas have not helped me. Prior to us leaving I had numerous tests which concluded that I had arthritis in my neck.

It was 5pm before LeMaris arrived in the bay and tied alongside. We had the port paravane out as this bay can be rolly. Our lesson learnt, put it out in daylight is much better than getting up in the night!

4th September Friday

Duncan had been up early as his power or lack of was still a problem. It wasn’t long before he knocked on the hull to let us know that they were heading straight to Hobart and being able to have the basic necessity of plugging into the marina.  They departed at 11am and we pulled anchor at 12.30 and motored just outside Recherche into the lee of Actaeon Island to do a spot of drift fishing as it was a bright sunny day. How unusual! No luck so after a very relaxing hour we then moved on to Southport.

Southport has a wide safe entrance that has some fishing shacks on the northern shore with a few obvious ‘well off’ fisherman’s houses. In the Northern corner of the bay are a lot of moorings with a variety of fishing trawlers swinging with the tides and winds. Here there is a wharf where many fisherman off load their catches. On the western shore of the bay is a golden sandy shore with a road winding along its shore and across the road are the houses of the small township. At the southern end of this beach is the Southport Narrows the entrance to the Lune River and definitely an area that we will come back to explore later.

5th September Saturday

This morning with NW 12-15 knt winds we headed back to our favorite spot near Rabbit Island at Dover. The quiet anchorage and the thoughts of some nice fresh oysters were the draw card. We arrived at 2pm the 12nm trip took us a couple of hours, and we settled in the deep hole to the SE of Rabbit Island.

6th September Sunday

The smell of fresh bread and the sunny morning kept us enjoying the tranquility of the bay so much that the day drifted by and the clouds came over and we never quite got the tender down to go ashore.

7th September Monday

We waited all day for the tide to go out and leave the oysters above water to enable us to collect them from the rocks without getting frozen fingers as the water temperature was only 6 degrees.

Once again our house water pump has started to fail (it was only replaced just before we left for Port Davey).

8th September Tuesday

We had another overcast day relaxing.

9th September Wednesday

Our decision to move today was based on the water pump issue getting worse, I love my long hot showers and it just wasn’t happening. So we left and headed out of Port Esperance between Faith and Charity Islands I found a seal laying on its back with a flipper flapping in the wind. I circled around and prepared the camera to get a few shots. Mean while Alan was downstairs and felt the boat going around but couldn’t figure out why! I kept downwind of the seal and this appeared not to worry him, or is it her???

As we nosed out of the bay 25-30 knt southerly winds hit us and the swell from the Southern Ocean was crashing into Esperance Point. This makes us realize just how protected we were at Rabbit Is.  On the way we passed Flowerpot and as we were passing Sue and Kevin’s house they just happen to be watching and immediately ran out the front and waved to us. I tooted the horn and then we continued on. This is a 4hr trip to Barnes Bay where we sought the calm of Sykes Cove, south of the fish farm and beneath the road that carries cars from the ferry to the towns on Bruny Island.

10th September Thursday

One month after leaving Hobart we arrive back at 11pm on the rising tide and as the wind was blowing across the beam of the boat at 20knts we were unable to get back into our berth so we continued to the fuel wharf to wait until the winds quiet down. I threw together a batch of fresh scones and we invited Duncan and Eva for morning tea. They were shocked to see us back so early!

The following night we had a celebratory dinner to end our Winter in Tasmania Cruise and toast a wonderful month away to a special place that few get to experience in those conditions.

The weeks following saw a pile of appointments for both of us. I found a brilliant chiropractor in Sandy Bay, Brenton, and after explaining the problem starting from May 2008 when we took the Savannahlander train trip from Mt Surprise to the Cobbold Gorge until now. His face lit up and after a few tests and a thorough look at my Xrays he diagnosed BPPV.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BPPV  After we read this we both agreed and now understand why I have felt so bad at Port Davey.

 

12th September Saturday

The first weekend back was close to the opening of the Trout fishing season and Alan took the opportunity to go with Tony up to the Lake Catagunya, a 1 hour and 45 min drive from Hobart. It was an all day trip and after launching the boat they fished for 5hrs. The score at the end of the day was Alan 8 brown trout and Tony, Nil, Zero, Zilch!! And Alan won’t let him forget it for a while!

12th October Monday

Now several weeks down the track the treatment is working well and I am feeling enormously better. We have under taken a health kick to get some fitness back after the sedentary life at Port Davey. We have been helping Duncan with his work on the boat and organizing to have Opal Lady’s hull antifouled, the bow thruster fixed and the zincs replaced.