Around Hobart, Summer 2006-2007

Our third summer and Hobart is beginning to feel like home. There are places to go, people to see, and Peter is always happy simply messing about in boats. So most of our sailing is triggered by the advent of guests. We returned on Boxing Day after Christmas in Melbourne, and the first guests arrived three days later…

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Day sail with Di & friends

Friday 29 December 2006

Friend Diane Meier was touring Tasmania with her friends Rob, Marjie and Anne, and we organised a day sail as the culminating event of their tour. We and they shopped at Lipscombe larder for lunch provisions, so we were awash with goodies, including some very nice 9th Island champagne. Once out of RYCT, Anne settled in the magic seat up forward and Marjie tried her hand at steering with Rob advising, not always effectually. We tacked down the Derwent into a SE wind, rounding one of the Sydney-Hobart finishers coming up the river with spinnaker flying. Then a beat across the river to anchor in Ralph’s Bay for a splendid and extended picnic. Returned mid-afternoon with the wind behind us and the experienced sailors, Diane and Rob, taking turns at the helm, making good speed. Helen made a near perfect entry into the berth and we were safely moored in plenty of time for the visitors to head to the airport.

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Rediscovering the Channel

Tuesday 2 to Tuesday 9 January 2007

We had to leave RYCT at the beginning of January to make room for the “Sailing South” fleet, so we headed out for a week exploring the Channel. We began with a strong NE wind which blew us all the way down to Mickey’s Bay for our first night. We then worked our way slowly back, staying a night in Dover, Randall’s Bay, two in Port Cygnet, one in Alexanders and one in Apollo Bay before returning to RYCT.

Familiar pleasures were the fiery sunset in Mickey’s, delicious cakes from the Swiss Bakery in Dover, coffee and cake in Port Cygnet’s Red Velvet Lounge, fossicking in the antique shop there, eating heavenly fresh raspberries and cherries from Cygnet, riding out wet and windy periods snug in Cygnet and Alexander’s, and what is becoming a tradition for us: the last night barbecue on the beach in Apollo, eating freshly gathered oysters, barbecued chops and Cygnet cherries. Amazingly, we had beach and bay to ourselves, with only Nahani’s anchor light to guide us as we rowed back by starlight.

We interposed some new experiences amongst the old favourites. In Esperance we decided to go on an expedition by dinghy up the waterway that feeds into the bay. We motored across the bay from Dover, round the back of Rabbit Island and into the entrance, then upriver dodging small islets, shallows and the odd oyster-encrusted rock. It was sheltered and sunny, very warm. After about half an hour we’d reached what seemed to be the end of navigable river, and Peter made a routine fuel check. We were unpleasantly surprised to find the tank almost empty: our new low-powered outboard was a bit less economical than anticipated. Undaunted, we took turns to row back downriver, relatively easy in the sheltered stretches but harder work rowing into the wind. Near the entrance we stopped on a handy beach to rest, eat lunch and watch a sea eagle. Once back out in the main bay we used what fuel was left to cross the windy, choppy bay, pleased we weren’t still rowing.

Randall’s Beach was a new anchorage for us. It is lovely sheltered bay with long sandy beach, and we ate on deck enjoying an unusually warm evening. On a cloudy Friday morning we kayaked ashore for a walk along the beach, which we had to ourselves. On return to Nahani the sun appeared, the beach filled with people, and Helen had a swim before we weighed anchor and motored out and round and into Eggs and Bacon Bay, another anchorage we had not investigated before. As the weather was deteriorating we didn’t stop there, but went on to Cygnet.

We used Fanno, our inflatable kayak extensively on this trip, going ashore in it in Dover, Randall’s, Cygnet and Alexander’s. After a Saturday of typical Cygnet scotch mist, Sunday dawned calm and fine, so Helen took advantage of a high tide to ka yak all the way up the creek from the yacht club to the town (about two kilometres). She stashed Fanno in a tiny creeklet, walked the last 100m into town to shop, and finished the return trip just before the wind came up. Although officially a one person craft, Fanno holds two quite safely. In Alexander’s, we decided the cat was overdue for some exercise, so put him in his favourite blue bag and paddled ashore with three on board. He enjoyed a stroll round a sheep paddock, and then Peter paddled valiantly to get the kayak back to Nahani with a full load. Left the bag unzipped on the way back and Sake seemed quite happy watching the water go by, unfazed even when some plopped on his head from a flying paddle.

Sailing highlights were having a following wind almost every day. Our only windward journey was tacking from Alexander’s round the corner to Apollo. In the brisk NE of the first day we did 8-9kt in Isthmus Bay with all sail up – really flying. We were able to sail into Esperance, slipping gently past Faith, Hope and Charity. We only motored leaving Randall’s and on the last day returning to RYCT. As ever, the wind came up as we were trying to berth, resulting in a major lowlight: Helen mistimed the turn, came in too fast and at the wrong angle. Full reverse wasn’t quite enough to stop Nahani’s anchor bending two stanchions on Rushknot next door. When we contacted the owners they were very nice about it, so we suffered only slightly dented pride and bank balance. [Top]

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Day sail with Claire & Gösta

Saturday 11 January 2007

A typical afternoon sail on the Derwent, with very variable wind conditions. We ate a very pleasant lunch (oysters, cherries) while semi-becalmed. When the wind came up we reached over 7kt briefly on our way to Half Moon Bay, a lovely day anchorage off South Arm. We relaxed for a spell in our separate ways: Gösta kayaking, Claire napping, Helen swimming and Peter supervising. On our return journey the wind progressively lessened. Once past the Garrow light it was on the nose, and we gave up tacking in favour of motoring into the RYCT. After the last mishap, Peter had put guest lines on the sides of the berth, and with them we entered almost without drama – after the last experience Helen took the turn as wide as possible in order to come in straight, and Nahani’s dinghy only just cleared the dinghy hanging off the back of the boat opposite the berth. [Top]

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Down the Channel with Merran

Saturday 20 to Monday 22 January 2007

The weather was disappointing – cool and misty with little wind, and we had to motor almost all the way to Apollo. Merran, who has Scottish ancestry, loved it anyway as it reminded her of the Hebrides. She also participated enthusiastically in gathering oysters and mussels, and we had a feast at the Apollo barbecue.

Sunday started warm and windless, with a change coming through about midday. We motored down to Isthmus Bay and then had a lovely brisk sail in a rising southerly, tacking down the east side of Green Island, beam reach across the south side and then running back up the Channel to Apollo, where we lunched and loitered before moving round to Alexanders just before serious rain set in.

Monday was clear and sunny after a wet and windy night. Variable winds again, but a weak southerly in the Derwent gave us the opportunity to put up the MPS, so that Merran experienced all sailing conditions. She enjoyed steering while Peter and Helen went through the longish process of putting up the MPS, and wanted to continue rather than come into the RYCT. As usual, the wind gusted strongly as we were coming into the berth, and with nasty memories of the bungled berthing we decided discretion was the better part, retreated and anchored off Wrest Point, ferrying Merran ashore in the dinghy in time to get her to the airport. Our later attempt at berthing was fair to poor – pushing and shoving required to get her in past the poles, minus some paint from her rubbing strip. [Top]

Norfolk Bay: a very social trip

Thursday 1 to Monday 5 February 2007

Helen’s cousin Claire insists that Koonya, in Norfolk Bay is one of her favourite places in all the world, and regularly encouraged us to sail down there. Our second motivation was to catch up with Peter England, a work colleague of Helen’s from long ago, who has a 30 acre block just out of Taranna, in Little Norfolk Bay. We’d sailed down to Norfolk Bay in the previous summer, but failed to find the narrow channel into Little Norfolk Bay, and didn’t visit Koonya either. This trip rectified all that.

Koonya has a very wide sandy north-facing beach, with shallow water and sandbars for about half a kilometre out to sea – the perfect beach for small children. Several families and their friends have been camping on the beach for generations, and there is an assortment of tents and huts, some temporary, some permanent. Claire’s friend Sue owns the property which provides access, and was living in two tents on the beach that summer, while her house was being renovated. Her “boudoir” was a standard tent, but a much larger, custom-built canvas edifice provided a kitchen/dining/living room.

We sailed the 40nm to Norfolk Bay comfortably in a day, despite variable wind conditions. With a northerly forecast we didn’t want to anchor off Koonya, so crept into Little Norfolk Bay. With the aid of the chart plotter on the laptop we were able to avoid the shallows that had defeated us the previous year and anchor safely.

We spent three nights there, being picked up and driven to Koonya on two of them, and having a return dinner party on Nahani in between. The first night was just us, Claire and Sue. On Friday, we had seven aboard for a roast dinner: Claire and Gösta, Sue, Chris and Sally, and us. On Saturday night Sue had a huge barbecue on the beach with lots of guests, some staying, some visiting. We had a great night with lots of singing – Di Giblin’s rendition of “Screaming” sticks in the mind.

We caught up with Peter England and partner Anne on Saturday, visiting them for coffee in the morning and then they returned with us for lunch aboard. Like us, Peter is retiring from the world of IT and his new passion is making fine furniture. On Friday we explored Taranna, which took all of 10 minutes, and ate a very good lunch at the Mussel Boys restaurant. A lay day was welcome after a very early start the day before (up at 0530) lots of sail changes en route, and tricky navigation at the end of the journey.

Our Friday night dinner aboard was complicated by Dinghy Issues. Chris and Sally were coming from their power boat at Nubeena, and were delayed because they decided to bring their inflatable with them in Sue’s ute, rather than leave it on the beach. Then when Peter launched our dinghy to ferry guests across from Taranna jetty, the outboard kept dying in mid-crossing. When it did, he drifted rapidly out of the bay in a strong southerly, and Helen thought she might never see him again. After rowing back to Nahani twice into the wind, he gave up. The visitors returned to Koonya to pick up the ute and Chris and Sally’s inflatable, and we used that on their return. Later we found that the problem was not opening the air intake far enough – simple when you know!

On Sunday we sailed round to Koonya and anchored off the beach so that we could join the others swimming, kayaking, and have yet another barbecue. It was perfect beach weather and we could see why it is such a well-loved place. When the seabreeze came up in the afternoon we beat back up Norfolk Bay, reached through Flinders Channel, then ran past Sloping Island and round to Lagoon Bay – slightly rolly but very pretty. We were expecting a northerly in the morning to blow us down to Betsey Island, but it dropped out and we started under motor. But the seabreeze came in early and we had a lovely beam reach going between Betsey and the mainland, round the Iron Pot and then ran up the Derwent wing and wing, back to a new berth in the Motor Yacht Club at Lindisfarne. [Top]

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Down the Channel with Rosemary

Friday 9 to Sunday 11 Febuary 2007

We did our usual run down the Channel, first night in Apollo and second in Sykes. We left around midday on Friday and returned mid-afternoon Sunday so that Rosemary could spend some time in Hobart, mostly exploring the Salamanca area. We had a very good sailing weekend – making good time both coming and going between Lindisfarne and the Channel. On the Saturday we left Apollo under motor but once in Isthmus Bay had good winds. We circumnavigated Huon Island before sailing back up to Barnes Bay. Rosemary was another enthusiastic oyster gatherer, and despite the arrival of a large number of power boats while we were working away on the rocks, we had the beach and barbecue to ourselves to enjoy the oysters, steak and red.

It was the weekend of the Wooden Boat Festival, and we timed our trip down the Derwent to coincide with the sail past. It was great to see it from the water, especially the Dufken replica. We took lots of photos. On our way back, we found ourselves on the other end of the camera when Chris and Sally (see previous entry) came past in their power boat and took some nice shots of Nahani under sail. (You may find them in the Gallery.) We managed to see a bit of the Wooden Boat Festival itself before dining at Barilla Bay with Rosemary en route to the airport for her return trip. [Top]

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Circumnavigating Bruny Island with the Mattiskes

Tuesday 27 February to Sunday 4 March 2007

With six days available to us and an experienced crew, we decided to venture where none of us had been before, and circumnavigate Bruny Island. We motored off in grey drizzle with a southerly, and left the decision about which way to go round until we reached the end of the Channel. The wind freshened as we left the estuary, and we decided to head down the Storm Bay side. We were sailing well but the seas were lumpy enough to make Renate slightly seasick. The green, soft contours of North Bruny slipped past and we headed into Moorina Bay in the north corner of Adventure Bay. When we identified dark shapes near the beach as surfers on boards, we questioned the wisdom of anchoring off a surfbeach, but NNE winds were forecast and we thought there would be worse swell down the south end of the bay. We had a rolly and disturbed night, so headed off early and anchored at the south end for breakfast, where it was much calmer.

Rounded the island at the southern end of Adventure Bay and found ourselves wallowing in the shelter of the cliffs – South Bruny is much more rugged than North, more like the Tasman Peninsula. Headed out to sea a bit under motor, then had a good reach right down South Bruny’s east coast. We jibed over to pass between the small islands and rocks off the tip of the island – not quite as stark as the Tasman Island passage, but very scenic nevertheless: seals aplenty, and splendid rock formations rising in the mist. Cloudy Bay lived up to its name as we tacked up into the NE corner to anchor in calm water behind Cloudy Reef. We enjoyed a walk on the beach, a spectacular sunset, a good meal aboard, and a much more restful night.

Woke to rain on Thursday, but it soon eased and we had favourable winds, either running or reaching, out of Cloudy Bay, round all the wonderful rock formations off Cape Bruny, up the side of the Labillardiere Peninsula and round Partridge Island. Slower progress tacking past the fish farm and south to Kingfisher Bay. Once anchored, we took the dinghy round to Lighthouse Beach and walked to Cape Bruny to see the lighthouse – only to find it was closed. Discovered boat shoes are less than ideal for long walks. David, who walked the two hour round trip in very decrepit sneakers, was the only one who didn’t get blisters.

Now in the sheltered waters of the Channel, we could take our time. Friday we explored Mickey’s and Tin Pot bays as the Mattiskes hadn’t been to either, then sailed north to Port Cygnet, where we anchored, walked into town and found our favourite local raspberries. Our Saturday leg was to Kettering, with a stop at Apollo for oyster gathering. We were expecting a large party for the evening meal. Claire and Gösta were in Kettering after a day spent exploring South Bruny in a charter boat (teachers’ day out). Ian Ridgway (old friend of Peter) and partner Joan were touring Tasmania and wanted to catch up before returning to the mainland, so we told them to come to Kettering too. Peter ferried Blichfeldts and Ridgways over from the public wharf to where we’d anchored on the outer edge of Kettering Harbour, and then Claire’s friend Bruce Young came over by dinghy from his own boat, anchored nearby. Seven people sat in the cockpit scoffing oysters as fast as David Mattiske could open them (the other two, non oyster-eaters, ate smoked salmon), before going below for a big roast dinner – the biggest sit-down meal yet hosted aboard Nahani. A good time was had by all. A slow start Sunday, a big wash up, and a steady if slow trip up the Channel and Derwent to Lindisfarne, to end what felt like a real Voyage. [Top]

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Slipping: Up in the air at the RYCT

Wednesday 7 to Thursday 22 March 2007

Peter managed to exit Lindisfarne, motor to RYCT and put Nahani into the slip cradle – a fine solo effort. The downside was that on his own he couldn’t clean the hull fully with the pressure hose before he had to move the boat off the slip – so others had lots of scrubbing to do later when the algae was dry and more difficult to shift. Steve & Chrisy arrived shortly after the boat had been moved and immediately set to work planning for the major project of installing the new autopilot and wheel steering. Helen joined them the next day after a short stint in Melbourne, arriving just in time to see the horrifying sight of a large yacht careering back down the slipway into the water – the slip cable had snapped in mid-pull. Surprisingly, the runaway boat sustained only very minor damage. The next day we discovered that the RYCT had no spare cable, and we were therefore on the hard stand until a replacement came from the mainland. As it turned out, it wasn’t an issue as we had plenty to occupy us in the ten days they had to wait for the new cable.

To re-engineer the steering we had to remove the rudder, empty the lazarette, cut a slot in the back of the transom, fashion a stainless steel stub tiller and fit it to the rudder, construct and fit a baffle around the transom slot to exclude water, install and connect the hydraulic ram to the stub tiller, install the helm pump and all the interconnecting tubing for the hydraulic fluid, build and fit a box to hide the helm pump, install the compass and all the electronics for the Coursemaster autopilot, sculpt and fit a huon pine dashboard to hold the Coursemaster controls and new TickTack instruments, fit the wheel to the helm pump and last but not least, find and fit a huon pine bowl to hide the wheel mounting. On completion Nahani had an elegant new wheel steering position on the starboard side of the cockpit, and an industrial strength autopilot as an alternative to manual steering by wheel or tiller.

During the summer we’d decided we needed to upgrade Nahani’s refrigeration. After much research, we bought a 40 litre Waeco portable fridge to replace the Esky we’d been using for backup, and ordered an 80 litre Waeco upright to replace the existing installed fridge. It arrived while we were up on the slip, so we hoisted it aloft, only to find when we removed the packing that it had been dropped in transit and the door hinges bent. The chandlers readily agreed to return it to Waeco, but we would have to wait weeks for a replacement. After some negotiation it was agreed that we would fit the bent one, and swap it when a new one was available. As we manoeuvred the fridge down the companionway, Steve asked, “I suppose it will fit through the cabin doorway?” Peter and Helen had measured the fridge space to the last millimetre, but hadn’t thought about the doorway. Fortunately with the cabin door removed, the fridge cleared the doorframe with about 10mm to spare. We had wins all round: only minor modification was required to fit the new fridge in the old space, and with the door opening the other way there was just room to open it fully so that the fridge trays could be removed. Amazing, since it was all good luck rather than good management. The new fridge is larger, more efficient and importantly, is so quiet that it no longer keeps our guests awake (part of the guest cabin doubles as the food storage area).

While Peter and Steve worked on the major projects, Chrisy and Helen cleaned, washed, antifouled, polished, and kept the boys in food. We ate on board most nights and on two occasions we had as a dinner guest Yuri Sterk, a seventy year old Slovenian who was attempting to be the oldest sailor in the smallest boat to sail single-handed, non-stop round the world. He’d started from Mauritius, then restarted from Capetown after an early mishap. A broken forestay had forced him into Hobart, so he was commencing his circumnavigation from there for the third time once his boat was in shape. We inspected his 9m boat Lunatick while it was on the stand. From aft the boat had two curious characteristics: no prop, and a jam jar-like cover over the exhaust. Yuri told us the engine hadn’t worked for some time, so he’d removed the prop as superfluous, and covered the exhaust to stop water coming in. His fridge had also died, and he was now using it for book storage. Even without these basics he was confident of his ability to complete his voyage, or at least to survive the attempt. We sent him off with food parcels, a copy of In Tasmania for his library, and hugs from Helen and Chrisy, possibly the last physical contact he would have for the next year.

On Thursday 22 March Nahani was eased back down the slip on the new cable, with most jobs completed. Peter and Steve took her back to Lindisfarne, trying out the new steering gear, while Chrisy and Helen drove the cars back. We spent the day tidying and provisioning the ship ready for a test voyage down the Channel. [Top]

Testing the new gear with Steve & Chrisy

Friday 23 to Sunday 25 March 2007

Although they’ve circumnavigated Australia, the D’Entrecasteaux Channel was new to Steve & Chrisy. On Friday the usual variable winds and mixture of sailing and motoring, mostly motoring, brought us to Apollo Bay. It was hot and still, even oppressive, so Helen had a swim while Peter, Steve and Chrisy went oyster gathering. With a strong westerly change forecast, we weighed anchor to head round into Barnes. The change hit as we left Apollo. With only the staysail and reefed headsail up, we flew across toward Kettering with Steve at the helm. We were then hit by a line squall which Steve estimated at around 50kt, but Nahani came through it well, although a lot of things hurtled on to the cabin floor. The copper pipe left over from installing the steering hydraulics had been stowed in an upper seaberth, not an appropriate place in that kind of weather. Mercifully nothing hit the cat on the way down, and he was unfazed. We tacked back to Alexanders where we were sheltered from the strong winds, gradually shifting from NW to S/SW overnight. We feasted on oysters and steak, finishing with icecream – a novelty made possible by the new fridge.

On Saturday we sailed again to test out the new steering and show Steve & Chrisy more of the Channel. We did a tour of Barnes Bay, headed across to Little Oyster Bay for lunch, then down toward Green Island and back to Alexanders. Back at anchor we inflated the kayak so that our guests could try it out. Dined on beautiful fresh fish that Steve & Chrisy had caught that morning before we set off.

On Sunday it was calm enough for Steve to go up the mast. He did the routine check of the rigging and found that the MPS block had lost its sheave. After repairing that, he erected the new TackTick wind vane and anemometer. Steve was impressed with the design – quick and easy to mount. We were all relieved when he was safely back on deck. The lack of wind was good for mast work, but made for a rather boring return journey, mostly under motor. At least it gave us a chance to try out the new autopilot, which performed well. We had one more night in Lindisfarne before we returned to Melbourne. Steve & Chrisy stayed an extra day finishing off a few last tasks before heading back to northern Tasmania. [Top]

Last Tassie trip: Norfolk Bay again

Saturday 7 to Tuesday 10 April 2007

We returned to Hobart for Easter, and what was to be our last cruise there for the summer. Fearing holiday crowds in the Channel, we decided to head to Norfolk Bay, where there were still anchorages we hadn’t yet tried. Good Friday was cold and gloomy, and we had been celebrating Peter’s birthday the night before at Le Provençal in company with the Blichfeldts, so we left on Easter Saturday for a four day trip. Starting around midday still gave us time to get to Sloping Main Beach for the first night. Easter Sunday we were in Sommer’s Beach, a lovely anchorage over the east side of Norfolk Bay, well sheltered from N/NW winds. Our last anchorage was Ironstone Bay in the NW corner of Norfolk, from which we made a comfortable trip back to Lindisfarne on Tuesday.

We had variable sailing conditions, ranging from flat calm in the Derwent on the way down, good sailing both ways across Frederick Henry Bay, very brisk sailing going east across Norfolk, and a delightful slow, sunny sail back to the west side. On the return to Hobart we had one of those days where the wind is always on the nose no matter what direction you turn in, but at least there was enough of it and we made good time on long beats to windward.

Highlights of the trip were the tranquillity of the two new anchorages, having a barbecue on deck under sail in the middle of Norfolk Bay while waiting for wind, a beautiful mauve and pink dawn and sunrise when we made an early start on Tuesday morning, and the opportunity to go ashore and explore the Coalmines. It is an old penal settlement on the west side of Norfolk Bay, used for the more recalcitrant convicts from Port Arthur. They dug coal there and you can still see black shale on the beach, and the ramps where coal trucks ran down to barges below. It was quite an enterprise in mid nineteenth century, with some 600 prisoners and about 100 soldiers, plus civilians. Even the basic buildings had classic Georgian elegance and proportion, built out of sandstone or bricks. The site is well-documented with good signage and we had time to do most of the walks and explore the ruins.

Overall the trip was very restful, and we enjoyed the contrast of being on our own after a guest-filled summer. We returned to Melbourne with Sake, to await the outcome of the mediation on the court case on which we’d been working since buying Nahani. To our delight it settled and we were free at last! Instead of working all winter, we could plan trips to Sydney and further north… [Top]