Sydney to Hobart, December 2007

Blackwattle Bay, Sydney Harbour, to Jervis Bay

Friday 7 to Saturday 8 December 2007

The Friday part of this journey was good sailing. The less said about Saturday the better. Friday began with breakfast in a Glebe Point Road deli with friend Liz Hepburn, with David Mattiske arriving to join the crew as we got back at 1000. By 1100 we had raised the anchor and were on our way under the Glebe Island Bridge and out of Blackwattle Bay. We enjoyed our trip back through the Harbour under motor, put up sails just inside the Heads and then headed out. With an ENE wind we were doing 6-7 kt and making very good progress, with plans to go straight through to Eden. Part way through the afternoon we were contacted by the coastguard to give us a severe thunderstorm warning. By then we were well off-shore and could see the heavy cloud and rain on-shore. We kept careful watch as the weather came towards us. We donned wet weather gear, put up the hail boards on the solar panels, reduced sail and put the motor back on as a precaution against the "hail and damaging winds" in the forecast. In late afternoon we had some thunder and lightning, and a little rain, but nothing dramatic and no major wind change. By going well out to sea we seemed to have missed all but the tail of the storm.

Once that passed we had a 20kt northerly and we lolloped along still doing about 6 kt with just headsails set. The wind was warm, the sky starry, we started our evening watches feeling very comfortable.

We were expecting a southerly change on Saturday morning, but the forecast was for a relatively gently one. At about 0100 as Peter was handing over to David and about to go off watch, a very vigorous southerly came through and continued at 25-30kt for the next 10 hours. Much kerfuffle of trying to sail to windward, which brought Helen back on deck, then we settled for motoring into a head wind with just a staysail for stability. Seas got very lumpy in the wind. David got very seasick and retired below. Helen was sick too, but managed to stay on deck. Somehow she and Peter kept plugging into the wind for the rest of the night, she heroically untangling staysail leads in the dark, he heroically putting up the mainsail again once we had some light. David made a couple of attempts to return on deck, but was too desperately ill to remain vertical. Nahani rolled and plunged, all the books fell out of the bookshelf, the cat was miserable. But later in the morning the wind eased to less than 20kt, we started to make better progress, and finally reached the entrance to Jervis Bay at about 1300, to the relief of all.

Jervis Bay is a big bay, well protected by Perpendicular Head at the north and Bowen Island in the south. We headed into the south end, not far from the naval base, to a little beach called "Hole in the Wall" where we were well protected from the southerly. There are very good public mooring buoys there so that people don't drop their anchors into the thick seagrass which you can see clearly through pellucid water. We all had a sleep to recover from the trip down. When we woke it was very calm, sunny and pleasant. Helen had a swim, we all had showers and a meal, then went to bed early in preparation for an early start Sunday. [Top]

Link to Picasa gallery

Jervis Bay to Broulee

Sunday 9 to Monday 10 December 2007

On Sunday we had a lovely sail in gentle NNE winds from Jervis Bay down to a little bay at Broulee (rhymes with growly, not gooley) which is just south of Bateman's Bay. A strong SW change was forecast, so we anchored at the south end of the bay and enjoyed watching the locals on the beach, walking, swimming, flying kites. Later there were dolphins, and a swimmer whose mates had dared him to swim out to the boat and back. The change came through at about midnight and after that we had a rather rolly night. We waited out the southerly blow on Monday, moving further into a corner of the bay to where there was less swell and we could sleep easier after a roast dinner. [Top]

Broulee to Eden

Tuesday 11 December 2007

Tuesday conditions were not ideal: not much wind and mostly on the nose. But with a favourable weather window coming up for the Bass Strait crossing, we wanted to get to Eden on Tuesday night, so we motor-sailed, tacking down the coast on a 75nm journey that took us about 17.5 hours - slow going. We got into Eden at about 0100 Wednesday morning on a beautiful starry night. [Top]

Eden to Maria Island

Wednesday 12 to Friday 14 December 2007

Early Wednesday morning we motored across Twofold Bay to Eden Harbour where we found the diesel tanker already waiting. David and Helen left Peter in charge of refuelling and cat walking while they bolted up the hill to re-provision the boat at the supermarket. At 0915 we were off again and headed down to Cape Howe in beautiful sunny weather, with the Eden coastguard wishing us farewell "until next time we were in Paradise." The wind was favourable, but very light, so we started out under motor, gradually adding sail in the early afternoon until about 1615 when we had enough wind (15-17kt) to make good time without the engine. After that we averaged 7.25 knots under sail. The wind continued to increase and we reefed down at sunset and put in another reef around midnight. During Thursday we progressively added sail again as the wind eased. We sighted Cape Barren Island at 1323, about 20 hours after our last sight of the mainland (the visibility was very good).

Getting a sight of Tasmania proper took longer as it became hazy around sunset, and we had to wait for the Eddystone Light to start flashing to confirm that we were off the east coast. The wind went more northerly and eased, and by 0200 on Friday we had to put the motor back on. The wind increased again during the day on Friday, and David enjoyed the challenge of steering with a big following swell and a strong northeasterly. We reached the entrance to Wineglass Bay 49 hours after leaving Eden, a record passage for us including covering 174nm in one 24 hour period. As we discovered on the trip north, Wineglass is an uncomfortable and unsafe anchorage in a northeasterly, so we didn't stop but went on down to Maria Island, sailing down Mercury passage in gentler conditions in the shelter of the island and finally anchoring in Chinaman's Bay early in the afternoon. Chinaman's Bay is one of the two bays on either side of the isthmus joining the northern and southern parts of Maria Island. Like all of Maria it is a beautiful spot. We enjoyed hot showers and a couple of bottles of red with dinner to celebrate a successful Bass Strait crossing. [Top]

Link to Picasa gallery

Maria Island to Fortescue Bay

Saturday 15 December 2007

We made an early start at about 0700 to sail as far as we could with the northerly wind before the forecast change came through. Conditions were reasonably gentle so we motor-sailed to keep the speed up. The change came through at 0930, and the wind went to the south. At first we tacked, planning to go into Pirates Bay, but the wind then went more westerly and we decided to keep motor-sailing to windward down to Fortescue. We made good time and were anchored in Canoe Bay at about 1330.

Fortescue Bay is the southernmost anchorage on the east coast of Tasmania. It is a big bay cutting into the east side of the Tasman Peninsula, about the same latitude as Port Arthur. Within the bay is a smaller inlet called Canoe Bay, where a small wreck across the mouth of the bay provides some additional protection from swell. There is a long bushwalk that goes right round the bay. As we were anchoring in Canoe Bay there was a group of walkers lunching and resting ashore, a tourist boat stopped for lunch in the bay, and a couple of blokes in a tinny setting craypots.

As we were eating a late lunch on deck we were joined in Canoe Bay by Alchemy II, a Beneteau about the same size as Nahani but lighter and with a more racing rig. They had also come from Sydney, but had started several days later than us and sailed without stopping. They had intended to keep going all the way to Hobart, going round Tasman Isle that day, but apparently the conditions were so awful round the corner (40kt winds) that they turned back and came up to Fortescue. When we said that we'd decided this morning to wait out the change here they called back "Smart move!". We thought so too.

David and Helen took the dinghy ashore in the afternoon and followed the bush track along the north side of the bay out toward Cape Nola. It is a beautiful walk with lots of moss, treeferns, big eucalypts and small flowering plants. As David and Helen were coming back on board after their walk, it became apparent to the three of us that Alchemy II was having trouble with their anchor. They pulled up a huge ball of weed, cleared it, but then found themselves dragging again. After watching for a bit, Peter offered them a loan of our big fisherman type anchor, which they accepted. We felt that their anchor was rather small and light for a boat that size - as Peter and David rowed over with our fisherman's in the dinghy Peter felt like adapting the Crocodile Dundee line: "This is an anchor!". After a bit of messing around Peter got our anchor in tandem with theirs, and with both deployed they were finally secure. In the process Peter discovered that one of the three man crew was an academic from Melbourne University whom he knew, so of course all three came back to Nahani and we sat about swapping yachtie yarns for the next few hours. We really enjoyed their company and hoped to catch up again in Hobart.

On Sunday we waited out another weak change. Peter and Helen went ashore in the dinghy with Sake, who enjoyed his first walk since Eden. Later we went ashore again and walked around to the beach on the other side of Fortescue, watching a fleet of kayakers crossing the bay and paddling back again as they walked. Forecast showers were no more than a few light sprinkles, and on return to the boat we barbecued chops, the last of our provisions. [Top]

Fortescue Bay to Hobart

Monday 17 December 2007

We had perfect conditions for the trip round the Tasman Peninsula, although the first couple of hours were hard work. We left early under cloudy skies and had to tack down to Tasman Isle into a southerly. Seas were a bit lumpy at the toe of the Tasman Peninsula and we decided it was not a day to go through the channel between Tasman Isle and the Peninsula. Tasman Isle is spectacular from all sides, and we enjoyed the view from the south side, not seen since our first trip to Hobart as we've been through the gap on the last three trips. After clearing Tasman Isle we had a very quick passage across to Cape Raoul in a good SW breeze, clouds giving way to sunshine as we sped across at about 7kt. The sail up through Storm Bay was gorgeous, warm and sunny with the wind now behind us. A large pod of dolphin (at least six, but probably about 10) swam with us for about half an hour, doing their amazing aquabatics around the bow, with Helen watching fascinated in the magic seat. We had wind enough to sail right up the Derwent wing and wing (jib poled out on the opposite side to the mainsail), only dropping the sails to turn into Sandy Bay, where we anchored at about 1730. It was a wonderful last day of a very successful voyage. The next day we took Nahani round to a berth in the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, where she was safely berthed while we returned home for Christmas. [Top]