First Summer in Hobart

Down the Channel

Thursday 30 December 2004 to Sunday 9 January 2005

After our first voyage (see Devonport to Hobart) we flew back to Melbourne for Christmas. We returned to Hobart on Boxing Day, and spent the next few days collecting Sake from the cattery where he'd spent Christmas, reorganising the Nav Station, reversing and marking the anchor chain, and provisioning. By Thursday 30 December we were ready to sail out. We passed a number of incoming Sydney-Hobart vessels as we went down the Derwent, with several more in view off the Iron Pot as we turned down the Channel. We spent the night and next morning in Quarantine Bay, where we met John and Dee, who offered us their berth in Kettering for New Year's Eve. We crossed the Channel, moored Nahani and headed into Hobart to attend the Blichfeldt New Year's Eve party and stay the night with them.

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After a late start, Claire and Gösta returned with us to Kettering and we had a pleasant sail across to Barnes Bay for lunch and a swim in the Duck Pond, returning to Alexander's after going across to Kettering and back to drop off the Blichfeldts. Sunday we lazed, and on Monday sailed across to Woodbridge where we went ashore for a walk and fish and chips at Peppermint Bay. In the afternoon we sailed back to Apollo Bay. As we came in Leo from Talisman II rowed over to tell us about the barbecue on the beach and to invite us to join a group already there. So we took our food ashore and joined Leo and Cheryl, Gordon and Margaret, for an enjoyable meal, with coffee and cake afterwards on Gordon and Margaret's boat Bird of Dawning.

We had a great sail the next day: wind from the NE as we sailed south down the Channel, then westerly round Huon Island and into the mouth of the Huon River, then turning more southerly as we headed north up to Port Cygnet, following us all the way. Once again the natives were extra friendly – this time we met Chris and Penny who gave us a lift from the yacht club into town, gratefully received as it was just starting to rain. We restocked and trudged back through the rain with bulging shopping jeeps, discovering Cygnet's beautiful local cherries at a roadside stall en route.

We were still abed next morning when someone knocked on the hull. We had a few seconds to pull on tracky bottoms and sweaters before greeting Doug, who'd rowed over in his dinghy from his yacht Loren to tell us we'd fouled our anchor chain. He cut free the anchor buoy that was causing the problem, then came on board for a cup of tea and a chat. He'd been sailing single-handed for 15 years, starting from Europe and covering the Atlantic and Pacific – he'd even been to Alaska. When he left we motored south out of Port Cygnet and then up the Huon as far as Port Huon, passing Bird of Dawning on the way. As we passed they offered to return the cheese we'd brought to the party two nights back, but we assured them they could keep it. We returned to Port Cygnet in the afternoon, with enough of a sea breeze to sail back up to the yacht club. We walked into town, through rain again, to do our washing.

Gale force winds and cold wet weather kept us anchored in Port Cygnet for the next three days. For the first two we stayed aboard doing internal chores. On Saturday the weather improved slightly and Peter spent most of the day in the dinghy doing a heroic job of repairing a jammed trim tab cable. When he'd finally completed the task, we walked into Port Cygnet to sample the folk festival (lots of long skirts and large silver jewellery). We re-stocked, and George from the supermarket gave us a lift back to the yacht club. The next day we sailed and motored back to Hobart in inconsistent winds, arriving in Bellerive where Peter's daughter Barb joined us after flying in to Hobart in the late evening. [Top]

Sailing with Barb

Monday 10 to Saturday 15 January 2005

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After a trip ashore for breakfast and provisions, the crew of Peter, Helen, Barb and Sake sailed down the Derwent and the Channel in a brisk NE wind to spend the first night in Quarantine Bay. After the four days of cold wet weather it was lovely to have a warm evening and eat on deck. But the pleasant weather was not too last - by Tuesday we had gale warnings again, this time for northerly winds. We headed on down the Channel with winds much more gentle than threatened, and tacked up to Port Cygnet, a very safe anchorage in strong northerlies. Drinks on deck were followed by a trip ashore to join the Port Cygnet Yacht Club barbecue. By the time we were returning to the boat the gale force winds had started, making getting back aboard a bit of a challenge and we thought we were going to lose Barb out of the dinghy for a minute. Once all were safe on board we spent some time preparing a second anchor in case it was needed overnight.

Despite winds over 50kt we stayed put on one anchor, but it was too windy to do anything much except stay put on the boat. By about 1600 it had calmed enough to go ashore for a walk into Cygnet, and then to go exploring Copper Alley Bay in the dinghy, but the choppy seas meant we all came aboard with wet bottoms again. On Thursday, the third day of strong winds, we venture out of the Huon again and headed across to Mickey's Bay on the south end of South Bruny. Big swells made steering exciting, especially as the fish farms were hard to see until you were on top of them. But a bit of swift tacking got us out of trouble. In Mickey's it was warm enough for Helen to go for a swim, and we all had a walk on the beach before dinner.

We began the return trip north up the Channel the next day, sailing into still strong northerlies as we headed toward North Bruny. Once past Isthmus Bay we had pleasant sailing up to Barnes, where we anchored in Quarantine Bay again. On our last day we started with no wind, and then a gentle southerly. We decided to fly the MPS, which turned out to be an unwise decision as the wind was much stronger once we got into the middle of the Derwent, and when we were trying to take the sail down we got the "sock" down OK, but then the wind wrapped the sock round the shrouds, and it took a bit of time and effort to get it to unwrap. Fortunately for our pride we got it down in time to make a dignified entrance into Bellerive, from whence Barb caught a taxi back to the airport. The rest of the crew spent another day at Bellerive before moving Nahani across the Derwent to the DSS at Sandy Bay, and then returning to Melbourne. [Top]

To Recherche Bay with the Mattiskes

Wednesday 16 to Tuesday 22 February 2005

Our second spell aboard began 10 February, after three weeks back in Melbourne working. We were in time to see the Sail Past at the beginning of the Wooden Boat Festival, and we spent a couple of days at Kings Pier Marina renewing acquaintance with various wooden boat owners: Leo and Cheryl of Talisman II whom we'd met in Apollo, Chris and Penny of An Old Captivity who'd given us a lift in Cygnet, and Dee and John who'd lent us their berth in Kettering. Nahani's builders Steven and Chrisy Edwards were there too, with tiny Mr Toad which won a prize as the smiliest boat in the Festival. When not at the Festival we had guests aboard at the DSS, including Pam Ditton, the Mattiskes, Blichfeldts, Clarkes and Edwards. They came in ones and twos, and also all together on Monday evening when we ate, drank and sang on a lovely warm evening, watching the fireworks in the distance.

David and Renate Mattiske joined us aboard on a gusty Wednesday morning. We decided we could cope with a bit of rough weather in the Derwent on our way down to the Channel, so set out, tacking across from the DSS in the wake of a wooden boat which had left about 20 minutes ahead of us. We reduced sail as we rounded Bonnet Point in anticipation of gustier conditions in the southerly part of the river, and just as Peter and Helen were part furling the headsail, David and Renate saw the boat ahead of us go over in a gust. We expected it to right itself again, but there was no sign of a sail. We headed straight toward the spot where we'd last seen them at full speed under motor, striking our sails as we went and sending a PanPan message over the radio. When we reached the other boat there were four people clinging to the bow and two to the mast, with the rest of the boat largely under water. We circled them, trying to work out how we could get close enough to assist without fouling our prop in the rigging and sheets trailing in the sea. As we were making our second circuit and feeling a bit desperate, we looked behind to see the water police's huge launch speeding towards us. Much relieved we got out of the way and watched as they picked up the six crew and headed back to Hobart while a second launch arrived to take the boat under tow. Our last sight of the incident was of an lonely Esky floating upside down – its contents, like those of the boat of the boat itself, at the bottom of the river. We motor-sailed on down the Channel in increasing winds, mostly on the nose, and using only the staysail when we were sailing. We were pleased to anchor in Alexanders and enjoy coq au vin for dinner.

We sailed out of Alexanders on Thursday morning with two reefs in the main, which we progressively shook out as we sailed south in easing winds. We saw a pod of dolphin and a seal in "hove to" position, one flipper stuck up in the air. The wind dropped away altogether just north of Partridge Island, so we motored the rest of the way to Southport. We went ashore in the dinghy for a walk before dinner. Later that evening we experienced a problem dreaded by all sailors: a failure of the marine toilet. On this occasion, the electric macerating pump died. So on Friday the crew deserted the skipper, who became Head Engineer for the day. David, Helen and Renate enjoyed a dinghy trip into Hastings Lake up almost as far as Hastings, stopping on the way back to collect oysters from the rocks near an oyster farm. By the time we returned Peter had the head working again, but lacked confidence in the longevity of his repair. We began planning to replace it with a Lavac. We had oysters and champagne for starters, followed by steak and red. The captain was so tired after his day-long struggle with the plumbing that it was the mate who went on deck in the middle of a very windy night to check the dinghy.

David's son Andrew joined us on Friday morning, bearing beautiful pastries from the bakery in Dover. After enjoying them with coffee, we sailed further south towards Recherche Bay, still with enough wind to warrant two reefs. We anchored in Coal Bins Bay, then all five went ashore in two dinghy trips. We walked up through a private drive to the road, then along the road to the beach past numbers of campers by the roadside, down to Cockle Creek, across the bridge and into the National Park. Here we found four weary walkers waiting for a taxi. They had just finished the South Coast track and the cab they had summoned from Hobart had broken down, resulting in their having to wait five hours, hungry and thirsty, before the replacement arrived. We sympathised, but we weren't carrying so much as a water bottle, so couldn't help. We looked at some of the historic items in the park, including the garden established by the French in the 1790s, then returned to the boat for more oysters and fresh fish caught by Renate.

On Saturday we started our return trip, in the morning sailing back up to Southport where we dropped Andrew off so he could drive back to Hobart, while we sailed on to Port Esperance in the afternoon. The wind had turned when we did, so we were sailing to windward again, but mostly on long beats, only tacking through the bottom end of the Channel past Partridge Island. We came into Port Esperance on the north side of Faith, Hope and Charity islands, then anchored off Dover and watched a beautiful sunset over Adamson's Peak. The next morning we went ashore by dingy and walked into Dover to enjoy coffee and cake at the Dover bakery – the first of many visits there. We returned to Nahani and this time took the southerly route round the islands, then enjoyed a great sail up the Channel in lighter winds with all sails set. We anchored in Apollo, where Peter and David took the dinghy ashore to collect oysters while Renate and Helen made salads. All four then went ashore for a barbecue on the beach, starting with the oysters. When we'd finished eating and the sun had set, we were sitting staring into the embers and watching Bennets wallabies graze in the paddock when we were visited by a spotted quoll who came to check out our leavings (he was disappointed as we'd already thrown our chop bones to the gulls), jumping from the log seats up on to the "table" (an old cable drum on its side). We were charmed. Finally Peter rowed us all back, taking two trips as rowing with four in the dinghy is awkward and hard work.

David had had reservations about Apollo as an anchorage as it is open to the west, but he'd been won over by the promise of oysters and a barbecue. It was dead calm overnight and when the slopes of the bay were perfectly reflected in the water in the morning light we teased David unmercifully about his doubts. Helen swam ashore and back, christening a wetsuit newly acquired to cope with the chill of Tasmanian waters. With no wind we decided to take the Mattiskes on a motor tour of Barnes Bay before trying to sail back to Hobart. Still no wind so we motored up the Channel and anchored at Denys Point to eat the last of the Apollo oysters. Out in the Derwent we put up the MPS but had trouble keeping it filled in very light conditions. We were overtaken by a whole fleet of yachts out on Rotary Sail Day, and one of the leaders shouted helpful advice as they came past. We followed it and did well until it was time to reduce sail for the final run to the DSS. We came into the club under main alone and had a relatively painless entry into the pen. We had final drinks with the Mattiskes before David's son Andrew came to collect them and it was time to say farewell after a most successful trip. The skipper and mate then had a couple of days of boat chores and maintenance before flying back to Melbourne. [Top]

Easter with Mick and Kitty

Friday 25 to Monday 28 March 2005

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It was Easter before we could get away again. We were joined by Peter's son Mick and partner Kitty on Thursday night and set off about lunchtime on Good Friday, after waiting for some improvement in the weather. With a strong southerly we motored most of the way to Alexanders. We tried a brief spell of tacking near Piersons Point, but only succeeded in making Kitty seasick. She'd fully recovered by the time we anchored in Alexanders and we enjoyed lamb shanks for dinner. We occupied ourselves on Saturday morning with spilling kero all over the cockpit in the process of refilling the stove, but eventually got the stove filled, cleaned up and set sail. There was very little wind and we put up all sail, including both headsails and the MPS. The visual effect was wonderful, but the effect on our progress less so and it took us all afternoon to get to the Quarries, where we anchored for a somewhat rocky night. After an Easter egg hunt on Sunday morning we went ashore to explore the old sandstone quarries, from which the stone for the Melbourne GPO was cut. Back for lunch and a lovely sail with a following wind pushing us briskly back to Apollo under just the two headsails. Once anchored there we went ashore for a last night barbecue of steak, salads and easter chocolate. On Easter Monday we had another great sail with the wind behind us, taking only about four and a half hours from Apollo back to the DSS, where we made a painless entry to the pen before putting Mick and Kitty in a taxi to the airport. [Top]

Last sail of summer 2005

Wednesday 30 March to Friday 1 April 2005

After Mick and Kitty left the skipper and mate had a day of cleaning up and finalising a long term berth for the winter. We had arranged to rent a berth in Kings Pier Marina, near Constitution Dock. The marina is controlled by TasPorts, so we had to attend the rather ugly building on the waterfront to fill in lots of paperwork. Finally we asked about a key to provide access both to the marina itself and to the ablutions block. We were told that keys were available for a $50 deposit, and we produced a $50 note for the purpose. To our surprise they told us that they couldn't accept cash, and we would have to go to the control tower, which is about half a kilometre away on the other side of the dock. We hiked round there, called up the control tower personnel from the building entrance and then were "beamed up" in a lift. In amongst all the quite sophisticated control equipment the port controller had a tin box into which he placed our $50, and a receipt book in which he duly wrote the details of the transaction before handing us the top copy. The view over the port from the tower was wonderful, and we felt it was almost worth $50 for that alone.

We decided to have one last sailing trip so on Wednesday morning we set out again at about 0900. We headed down the Derwent at 5.5kt with a tail wind, motored round Piersons Point when the wind dropped, but then had wind again in the Channel and got up to 7kt on the way down to Barnes Bay, then back to a steady 5.5kt past Apollo Bay, round Kinghorne Point, between Snake and Green Islands and finally tacked up into Missionary Bay. Once at anchor the cook decided to try some bread baking, with moderate success. On Thursday we woke to a beautiful sunrise, but we took our time over breakfast and washing up and set off about 1045, first motoring then sailing, again with a tail wind, down to past Satellite Island, Ventenat Point, Tin Pot and into Mickey's Bay. We were anchored by 1515, so we had time to explore Mickey's. We took the dinghy ashore and walked to Cloudy Bay Lagoon and back. The lagoon looked like a cross between the Bunga Arm in the Gippsland Lakes and Albert Park Lake: very shallow with grassy islets. The entrance is from Cloudy Bay on the south side of South Bruny, but would be too shallow for anything other than a dinghy. On our return the mate heroically went into the water to try to determine what was stopping the speed log from working. Despite helpful directions from the captain on deck, she was unable to locate the log by feeling under the hull, and had to give the search away because she was at risk of freezing to death. A welcome hot shower thawed her out again. Later the captain discovered the problem was a fault in the wiring, rather than the device itself. Mate unimpressed.

We left Mickey's reasonably early Friday morning sailing into a strong northwesterly. We made rapid progress to windward doing 6-7kt, and as we passed Long Shoal the speed increased to over 8 knots and the boat became hard to manage in strong westerly gusts. We reduced sail by dropping the main, and as the wind swung round to the South we continued up the Channel at 5-6kt. Conditions were more complicated in the Derwent, with fluky winds necessitating constant sail changes. The southerly came on strongly again after we passed the Garrow and we sailed up to Sullivan's Cove, finally dropping all sail and motoring slowly into Kings Pier Marina. We were not very confident about berthing, so had used our mobile phone to contact Peter Eversham, who we'd met when looking at the berth earlier in the week. By the time we were approaching the berth he was there with Jeremy Firth from Rosinante and Rob from Tasman Isle. We left the turn to late, missed the pen, and the prop walk pulled us round until we could very nearly have gone in backwards. But Jeremy threw us a line which Helen walked back up to the bow, and then with the combined efforts of those on the jetty, and a bit of pushing off by Rob to keep us clear of the stern of Tasman Isle we eased Nahani bow first into her home for the winter.

We spent the next five days living aboard in Kings Pier, enjoying our proximity to the city. We went to Salamanca market on Saturday and to a concert in the evening. On Tuesday 5 April we celebrated Peter's birthday with drinks aboard to thank the Kings Pier yachties for their help, followed by dinner at Don Camillo in Sandy Bay with Claire and Gösta. We returned to Melbourne the next day.

We made brief visits to Hobart in May (with Michael and Kitty), August and September to check that Nahani was OK, but the weather wasn't conducive to sailing. On one of these trips the weather was so awful that there were big waves coming through the marina, and all the yachts were bucking like frightened horses. Tasman Isle in the next berth broke a mooring line, and Peter was out in his wet weather gear in pouring rain helping Rob attach extra lines. But we always enjoyed our stays, however cold and wet. [Top]