Summer in Hobart, 2009

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Liz Hepburn's second trip

Monday 29 December 2008 to Sunday 4 January 2009

Captain, mate, ship's cat and friend Liz Hepburn packed themselves into the mate's new second-hand Renault on Monday 29 December and caught the Spirit of Tasmania from Port Melbourne to Devonport. Reached Hobart late Monday evening, spent Tuesday provisioning and getting the boat ship-shape after all disturbance from the engine project and other maintenance. We made a leisurely, post-coffee start on New Year's Eve, but still had plenty of time to sail and motor (erratic winds) down to Barnes Bay and moor in Sykes for a New Year's Eve dinner with champagne, and an early night.

New Year's day was wet, cold and very gusty, so we enjoyed an idle day catching up with reading and sleeping. We hoped to sail further on Friday, but we awoke to more grey skies with rain squalls blowing in every half an hour or so. Occasionally we had enough sunshine in between for us to think about going, but then the next bank of grey clouds would appear and we'd decide to stay put. We eventually gave up all idea of moving and cooked a big roast dinner to keep us warm.

On Saturday we decided that the weather radar showed it was drier further south, so set sail even though we had a shower as we left. Our impression of improving weather was partly correct - we had a pleasant sailing breeze most of the way from Sykes down the Channel, round Huon Island and into Randall's Bay. It was dry but still cold - the promised 20+ temperature didn't eventuate. We found the holding in Randall's poor, so after a lunch stop we continued on to Cygnet, motoring most of the way (the wind as ever adverse going up the inlet). We were in time to go ashore, walk into Cygnet for dinner at the Red Velvet Lounge and be back on the boat before dark.

Promised sunshine finally arrived on Sunday, and we had a lovely trip back from Port Cygnet. We had to motor sail quite a bit of the way to make sure we got back in time for Liz to catch her plane, but had a good sailing breeze going up the Channel and again in the lower Derwent, getting up over 8kt under sail a few times. With the new engine we are bolder about starting a return trip to Hobart from further afield, as we know we have the power to go up the river at a steady 7kt if we need to. We were safely in the berth with an hour or so to spare for Liz to shower and pack, and then we drove her to the airport. The captain is getting quite skilled at getting Nahani into her present berth, so we're planning to stay in it for the summer. [Top]

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Carroll's third trip

Tuesday 6 January 2009 to Wednesday 14 January 2009

We spent the first full week of January alternating between finishing off bits of the engine project and entertaining Carroll, who arrived on Tuesday 6 January, sadly without husband Don who had done his back and was not fit to travel. Fortunately Carroll is happy to pitch in with cleaning and cooking tasks or take herself off for a walk, so most of the outstanding jobs got done. The hot water was connected (very important, and the cat thought so too, as it warms up a cupboard which is a favourite spot of his). The engineer invested in a new splitter, which successfully distributed appropriate charge to both banks of batteries when the engine is running. More soundproofing panels were cut, and two out of three fitted. A switch panel was purchased which will provide the anchor up-down function (the old switches had to be removed to make room for the new Yanmar panel). The ship's engineer was pleased because with each modification the plumbing and wiring systems were becoming simpler and more elegant, and this usually means more robust and easier to fix in the future. There were of course still a few small jobs to finish ... (it's a boat, after all). More technical detail on the Weblog.

While in port we had a social time. Rolf and Deborah of were about to sail away in Northern Light at the end of week, so we had a last dinner party with them on Thursday evening, and an icecream party with them and Horatio and Lisa's son Didi on Friday afternoon. Horatio and Lisa were too busy on the slip to join us, but as Lisa said, Didi ate for all three of them.

We had planned to sail out on Sunday but on Saturday morning, Peter and Carroll woke feeling lousy and for the rest of the day took turns to throw up. Even the cat joined in briefly, vomiting on the rug. The mate was untouched by whatever disease struck them down. We were looking forward to a visit from Peter's university colleague Thomas, wife Ester and friend Christoph, but decided not to feed them lunch while we were still trying to trace the cause of the illness. So they came to afternoon tea instead, and we had a pleasant time, although the captain had to resort to a bucket on deck in the middle of giving them the tour of the boat.

After 24 hours of not eating and minimal drinking, Peter and Carroll were starting to feel a little better, but rather dehydrated. By Sunday evening they were toying with food, and on Monday they felt fit enough to sail out at about midday, although still not feeling 100%. We took it gently, motoring into a headwind until well down the river (which takes us half as long with the new Yanmar as it used to with the Perkins). We then tacked to Pierson's Point, and sailed down the Channel on a very pleasant beam reach. We were doing so well we passed Barnes and anchored in Apollo Bay at about 1600. The captain had to do a telephone conference and we found we had inadequate coverage in Apollo, so we motored back out into the Channel then sailed very slowly toward Kettering under staysail while he made his call. When the meeting ended we came back, tucking into the N side of Apollo for a change.

We were promised N to NW winds on Tuesday, but the wind had already gone southerly before we even weighed anchor at about 0930. We put up full main in the hope of more favourable conditions in the Channel, but had to motorsail into a light southerly down to Mt Royal. Round the corner the wind seemed to be still on the nose but there was more of it so we alternated sailing and motor sailing. Half way across we found ourselves heading into a rising SW wind, so we were sailing in earnest, tacking to miss the fish farms, and finally hurtling into Port Esperance in 25+kt with too much sail up. Dropped sails and motored in, anchoring off Dover. Carroll and Helen went ashore by dinghy and were delighted to find the Bakery/Cafe still open. After a coffee and one of the world's best raspberry tarts each, they returned bearing scallop pies for dinner, fresh bread, and a raspberry tart for the Captain who'd stayed aboard.

All three of us made the dinghy trip and walk to the cafe in the morning, only to find that coffee was off (power cut) and croissants not yet baked. We made do with muffins and brought back three more tarts. It was blowing hard enough by then to make getting crew and outboard back on the ship tricky, and the dinghy had shipped enough water to make hoisting it challenging as well. We weren't in a hurry to leave because the forecast was for the winds to ease. We had lunch and were ready to pull up anchor shortly after 1300. We motorsailed out of Port Esperance and then had a wonderful sail back to the RYCT, starting in a very strong southerly which pushed us along at 5-6kt under staysail alone, then progressively adding jib and finally main when we came round Pierson's Point into the Derwent. We averaged about 6kt, rarely doing less than 5kt, often more than 7kt and with the GPS showing 8.6kt at one point. The only downside was that the cat didn't like the rolly conditions and left assorted deposits on the rug. Fortuitously, it was much less windy when we rounded the Garrow in the evening and we made a perfect entry into the pen. It was just as well it was quiet in the marina as we found that the starboard side guest line had broken, making it difficult to hold the bow straight as we came in. We were tied up and shipshape by 2000, and had a final farewell dinner aboard. [Top]

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Circumnavigating the Tasman Peninsula

Sunday 1 February 2009 to Saturday 7 February 2009

After a couple of weeks of boatwork, during which captain and mate made separate returns to Melbourne for assorted meetings, we were finally ready to set sail again on Sunday 1 February. As our last two trips had taken us down the Channel, we decided to head off around the Tasman Peninsula, or to be exact, around the Tasman and Forestier peninsulas, including going through the Denison Canal, which we'd never done before. Check out the map if you would like to make geographic sense of what follows.

Plan A was to leave Hobart on Saturday and sail round to Norfolk Bay, where we hoped to catch up with the Blichfeldt cousins who were staying with friend Sue at Koonya for the weekend, then go through the Canal and go clockwise around the peninsula. But the engineer was still finishing off work on rustproofing the stanchions on Saturday, Sunday morning was spent getting the boat shipshape, so we didn't leave until midday Sunday. We motored into a southerly, and had just put up sail to tack out of the last part of the Derwent, when we heard a call for assistance from a small powerboat with fuel line problems. Nahani is not an ideal vessel for towing a much smaller craft, but noone else seemed to be responding so we thought we'd go back just in case they started to drift into danger. Shortly after we reached them another similar sized power boat came to the rescue, so we headed back down the river again, but this time at full speed under motor until we cleared the Iron Pot and started heading for the inside of Betsey Island. When we cleared Betsey we found ourselves with a strong wind coming from ENE. We would have had to tack all the way up Frederick Henry Bay, so we switched to Plan B, which was to go round the Tasman anticlockwise, returning through the Canal.

We spent Sunday night in Nubeena, very comfortable in the strong NE winds that blew overnight. Motored down to Cape Raoul in flat calm, enlivened by a visit from dolphins. As the mate leaned over the pulpit to watch, one cleared the water, twisted on to its side and flopped back into the water with a final tail flip that created a huge splash, spraying her with water from head to toe. Clearly deliberate as the trick was repeated, but with less effect as she was watching for it. From Cape Raoul we sailed a nice broad reach to Port Arthur inlet, jibed over and came up the inlet with the wind behind us, anchoring in Stewart's Bay in time to cook a roast. We had two nights in Port Arthur, spending the intervening day ashore exploring the Historic Site, which offers a huge amount to see and do. We chose to wander around on our own, rather than do a guided tour, and the boat trip included in the entry also seemed a bit superfluous.

On Wednesday we let a N wind blow us out of Port Arthur and down to Tasman Island. We elected to go round the outside – probably not the best decision as it was very windy and took a couple of hours of tacking to get from S of Tasman Island to E of Cape Pillar. We motorsailed, partly to charge batteries and heat shower water, and partly to let us tack more efficiently. But we sailed the last outward tack and the return into Fortescue Bay, then motored into the anchorage in Canoe Bay.

We were the second boat into Canoe Bay and three more arrived subsequently, making things a bit cosy. Three of the other four were classic wooden boats en route to the Wooden Boat Festival - a lovely sight, but not when the boats swung in the wind and the classic wooden jackstay of Storm Bay was only a metre or so from Nahani's pulpit. As we had arrived first, they kindly moved. All three wooden boats left early the next morning, and the remaining Farr transferred to the other side of Fortescue later that day, so on our second night we had Canoe Bay all to ourselves, apart from a couple of visits from a large seal. We'd discovered to our acute disappointment that despite all the motoring, we had no hot water, so the engineer spent the morning finding and fixing a leak, while the mate did an overdue job of cleaning up routes, tracks and waypoints on the chartplotter and then backing up all the data. She had a swim break before lunch (yes, it was warm enough), and late in the afternoon the whole crew took exercise in a walk ashore, although Sake insisted on being carried for most of it (sook).

We left Fortescue early Friday (well early for us, at 0800) as strong NE winds were forecast later in the day. The forecast S winds in the morning were non-existent, so we motored most of the way, making use of a gentle E wind for the last part of the journey past High Yellow Bluff (which is indeed both) and across Marion Bay to the Marion Narrows, where sandbars obstruct the entry to Blackman Bay. At this point we noted a slightly smaller yacht coming up behind us, so we hailed them for advice. Our problem was that it was almost low tide and it was still going out, and you don't cross a bar on an ebb tide, but the NE wind was rising rapidly, and you don't cross a bar in waves whipped up by a howling tail wind either. The crew of Salty Dog had come through a couple of days earlier going out, and were confident that it would be OK, so we decided that calm conditions were more important than the tide state and followed them through. They provided advice over the radio on where they found shallow patches, which was a huge help, and we got through the Narrows, past all the sandbars, and across Blackman Bay. The whole bay is extremely shallow and you have to pick your way between sandbars both within the marked channels and in the "open" water. We followed Salty Dog through the Canal as well, fighting a now very strong cross wind in the approach channel. The steerswoman almost scraped the barnacles on the canal bridge support as she tried to go close to the left so that the captain could drop off the accepted tribute of a couple of stubbies to the canal keeper as we went through, but she recovered her mid-canal position without incident. Once through Salty Dog stopped at the jetty just past the bridge to wait for the tide to rise further but we went on into Norfolk Bay with only the merest hint of a vibration under the keel at the shallowest point of the channel on that side. Salty Dog caught us up later as we sailed S down Norfolk Bay and we discovered that Koonya was home for them, and that they knew Sue, and the Blichfeldts – Tasmania is indeed a small place. We anchored in Sommers Bay, well-sheltered from the NE winds still blowing strongly.

Or so we thought. At midnight, an unforecast strong SW change came through, swinging us through 180 degrees. Fortunately the anchor held, and we were in deep enough water and far enough from other boats not to have to move, but we had about three anxious and rocky hours before the wind abated. By morning it was back in the NE and we flew across Norfolk Bay at 7-8kt under just headsails. The wind eased enough for us to put the motor on in Flinders Channel, then strengthened again down Frederick Henry Bay and we sailed down, past Betsey and round to the Iron Pot. We faced a 20+kt northerly coming down the Derwent, so motored up with wind lessening as we went, down to under 10kt as we came into the RYCT marina and made a perfect entry into the berth. [Top]

At anchor in Barnes Bay

Sunday 8 to Wednesday 11 March 2009

We returned from two and a half weeks in Melbourne to rather dismal weather in Hobart, so we stayed put for the first few days, but by the weekend the weather had improved, and we were off on Sunday at 1300. We motored into adverse winds in the Derwent, put up sail and tacked for the last part and had a very pleasant sail beating down the Channel. We headed into Barnes Bay proper because we were on a rescue mission. We had had an email from Deborah on Northern Light to say that a Word file containing one of the chapters for the new book she and Rolf are working on had become corrupted. She was hoping that we had a more up-to-date version of Word that might repair the corrupted file. We found Northern Light on a mooring and picked up one temporarily just behind them, with help from Rolf and Deborah in their inflatable. They came on board with the problem file on a memory stick, but we couldn't find a way to open it. Deborah mentioned that on a previous occasion she'd found a repair program on the internet, but we had no coverage to try it. However, early next morning we got some coverage, Helen located and downloaded the repair program and successfully restored the file, to everyone's delight and relief.

Shortly after this achievement Northern Light headed back to Hobart, but we spent the next two and a half days idling at anchor in Barnes Bay. It was calm and sunny, and a very pleasant place to potter about doing boat chores. The only downside was that instead of getting on with the planned jobs, we (mostly the engineer, with occasionally help from the cook) spent the best part of a day trying to fix leaking burner problems on Stove. At the beginning, the back burner wouldn't turn on properly. By the end of the day, we had had to replace the back burner with a plug, cutting the number of working burners to two, one of which was now leaking, which it hadn't been before. Large quantities of soot had been deposited on the roof and the cupboard front behind the stove, and the engineer had lost a lot of hair from the back of his hands, together with most of his normal equanimity. Not a huge success. Once again we are cursing the people who seem incapable of making stove burners that work, and stay working for any length of time.

We did manage a few other more profitable exercises, including going ashore for a walk. Despite the problems with Stove, we really enjoyed our stay. It is one of the most peaceful anchorages we have found down the Channel: very calm in all winds, hardly anyone coming and going. We could easily see why Rolf and Deborah had chosen it as the place to sit and write for two months. On Wednesday afternoon we rather regretfully pulled up the anchor and headed back to the RYCT, mostly under motor, so that the captain could fly to Melbourne on Thursday. [Top]

Port Davey

Thursday 19 March to Thursday 2 April 2009

Our second trip to Port Davey took two weeks and warrants a voyage page to itself. [Top]

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Rosie T's second trip: Dover to Koonya via South Bruny

Easter: Friday 10 to Tuesday 14 April 2009

While in Port Davey, we received a message from Peter's son Michael, asking to spend a few days with us, arriving Monday and departing Thursday. Much earlier this year, Rosie Tipping had booked an Easter sailing trip and she arrived on Wednesday. We made the best use of the overlap with a day trip down to Mary Ann Bay, motoring down, lunch at anchor and a leisurely sail back. On Thursday we provisioned for a longer trip, saw Michael off, and on Friday, set off with Rosie.

Our itinerary for the voyage was largely determined by social events. Rosie is an old friend of Jeremy and Penny of Rosinante (many past mentions in these pages). After years at Constitution Dock, Rosinante has moved to a mooring in Dover, where Penny and Jeremy have recently bought a house. They were keen to catch up while Rosie was here, so on Good Friday we headed to Dover, motor sailing in variable winds most of the way down the Channel, but managing a good sail across from Satellite Island and into Port Esperance, where we anchored in our customary spot before going ashore in the dinghy and walking round to Jeremy and Penny's newly purchased house, right on the corner near the yacht club. We had a delicious meal washed down with generous quantities of wine, and were most impressed with the newly acquired house. Clutching cake, a parting present from Penny, we walked and dinghyed back through the cold to Nahani.

Saturday morning we went ashore, to be disappointed because the wonderful Dover bakery was closed – no raspberry tarts! After a brief shop and coffee elsewhere, we returned and readied for sailing, weighing anchor at about 1300. On our way out of Port Esperance we watched the yachts in the Port Esperance Regatta, with Rosinante as committee boat as Jeremy runs the regatta. Sadly for the competing yachts and for us there was not much wind inside or outside Port Esperance, but as we progressed past Partridge Island a nice southerly seabreeze came up which we tacked into down to Cape Bruny, then sailed a beam reach across and into Cloudy Bay, anchoring behind the reef in time for a barbecue tea.

Our next social engagement was a birthday party at Koonya in Norfolk Bay on Monday, so we left Cloudy Bay early on Sunday. There was quite a swell running despite a lack of wind, but it was calm in the shelter of the Friars on the SW corner of South Bruny, so we were able to motor back and forth for a close look at the seal colony on the rocks there. Round the corner in Storm Bay it was flat calm and stayed that way all day as we motored up the east side of Bruny, past Betsey Island into Frederick Henry Bay and through the Flinders Channel to Norfolk Bay. We finally got some wind there and sailed for a short period, but had to motor to get into Taranna before dark. With the new chartplotter navigating the narrow channel in Little Norfolk Bay is easy, and we were safely anchored by sunset.

Next morning we proved that our memories have now deteriorated so much that we repeat our mistakes, as we motored straight past Koonya and across to Impression Bay before realising our error. Back we came, anchored off the beach and took the dinghy ashore to join Claire and Gösta (birthday boy), Sue and Jack, Geoff and Janet Fenton (last seen in Port Davey), Sue's cousin Lyn and her husband Gavin. Big barbecue lunch, birthday cake, pleasant conversation, beach walks, a fishing trip, all on a glorious sunny day looking out on the beautiful Koonya view – what more could anyone ask? Rosie demonstrated her skills as a fisherperson with Claire and Gösta, catching not only three out of the total haul of seven flathead, but also Claire's hat as it went overboard. It was some compensation for slipping over on the beach walk and severely bruising her knee. Half the party left at dark, leaving Claire and Gösta, Sue and Jack and the Nahani crew to enjoy one of Claire's famous poiki pot stews – this one wallaby with lots of vegetables, cooked in the traditional african three legged iron pot over the open fire. While waiting for the fishing party to return, captain and mate went back to Nahani to put on the anchor light and collect more warm clothes, only to be roundly abused by the cat when he realised we were leaving without him again. We had to be very nice to him when we finally returned to the boat after dinner.

It was so calm we stayed anchored off the beach, and made a fairly early start back to Hobart on Tuesday morning. We'd originally planned to sail back on Wednesday, but the forecast was for gale force winds and rain that day, so we returned in sunny warm weather and a light northerly which made for a very pleasant sail down Frederick Henry Bay. We were going fast enough under sail to interest a large pod of about twelve dolphin who played around between our boat and a big ketch sailing alongside us. We'd promised Rosie that she'd see dolphin, so they were just in time. We had to motor again as we went inside Betsey and across to the Iron Pot as the northerly dropped away there, only to increase again as we entered the Derwent, rising to a gusty 20-25kt as we approached the Garrow light. We motor-tacked at first, then gave up, dropped sails and headed into the wind under motor. The captain was very anxious about getting into the pen in a strong northerly, but as usual it was much calmer in close to the shore, and he is now quite expert at the back and forward movement to line up on the pen, so we got in without drama despite the wind, with plenty of time to make the boat shipshape before dinner aboard.

Later that evening we had a brief visit from Jacky, Ken and daughter Ruth, Melbourne friends visiting Tasmania who wanted to see the boat. We woke on Wednesday to rain, thunder and lots of wind, confirming that our decision to return early was a wise one. We used the weather as an excuse for a lie-in, then caught up with those real world tasks that one happily ignores while sailing, before a last night meal with Rosie at Don Camillo, our favourite Italian restaurant in Sandy Bay. [Top]