Summer in Hobart, 2010

Bludging in Barnes

Wednesday 16 to Saturday 19 December 2009

Captain, mate, ship's cat finally escape from Melbourne on the Spirit of Tasmania arriving in Devonport on Tuesday 15 December. By lunchtime we are in Hobart, and by evening we have replenished the fridges, store cupboard and the wine locker, ready to go next morning. We had beautiful weather for the Bass Strait crossing on Monday evening and Tuesday was warm and sunny, but on Wednesday we wake to hear a strong northerly whooshing through the marina rattling all the rigging. Getting out of our current pen is always a challenge, but a strong northerly makes it almost impossible, so we wait around in the morning doing this and that until the wind eases a bit around the middle of the day. By 1pm we have taken off all the ropes (the captain had extra ones on for the winter) and we are ready to go. Despite it being our first exit from the pen for nearly 8 months the captain manages the manoeuvre without a problem and we head downriver. Having blown strongly all morning, the north-westerly becomes capricious, varying from practically nothing to 25 knots, and swinging from north to west so it is one of those motor on, motor off trips down the river. Once in the Channel the wind is steadier, but lighter. But we aren't in a hurry, so we sail all the way to Barnes Bay at a modest speed, looking forward to coasting into Barnes with the wind behind us as it was shifting westerly. But just as we reach the entrance, the wind swings to the east (about the only direction that hadn't figured in any forecast). We tack in until that gets boring, then motor round into the Duck Pond.

The mate had visions of lying on deck in the sunshine and dropping overboard for a swim, but after being too hot all the way down, the easterly brings in very cold air, so no swim after anchoring. And the next day, Thursday, it rains all day. Still, it is a good excuse for going nowhere and doing very little. There is no mobile coverage where we are anchored, so we have a blissful day when the phones don't ring and we can't even check emails. Friday is drier, but still cool, overcast and very windy. We do motor out to the mouth of Barnes so that we can pick up email and make some phone calls, but it is much less sheltered so when we are done we return to our cosy spot anchored in the Duck Pond.

On Saturday the wind is still gale force, but it has shifted to the south and is supposed to ease in the afternoon. It is still blowing over 20kt when we leave at lunch time, and we have a great sail up the Channel and up river, running all the way with just the headsails up, often goose-winged. In the river we get up over 7kt and it is still blowing hard when we got to Sandy Bay, so we anchor for a while before attempting re-entry to the pen. Despite the wind, that all goes very smoothly as well, so the captain is very pleased with himself. He says the new more powerful engine makes it much easier to manage Nahani in tight spaces. [Top]

Sailing with Anne and Tom

Monday 28 to Thursday 31 December 2009

We are so embedded in the Hobart community these days that we no longer have to import our sailing companions. Friends Tom and Anne Clarke decided they were prepared to trade a few days watching the Taste (Hobart food festival) from their apartment in Salamanca for a three night trip down the Channel in Nahani. We pick them up earlyish Monday hoping to have a north wind to push us down the river before a southerly change forecast for the afternoon comes through. We did get away as planned, but the change comes through late morning when we are only as far as Taroona. But it is more westerly than southerly, so we have a brisk (at times very brisk) beam reach down river and down the Channel. We reef down as the wind strengthens, but still do 6-7kts all the way to the Quarries, where we join a dozen or so other yachts at about 6pm. It is rather too windy and a bit late for trips ashore, so we settle for drinks on deck, a stir fry below, finished off with Anne's wonderfully decadent chocolate mousse.

Still blowing hard next morning, so we idle around until the wind has shifted more to the south, and then have another very brisk sail across the lower part of the Channel to the mouth of the Huon River, at which point the wind dies out, so we anchored in Eggs and Bacon Bay for lunch. By the time we finish the sea breeze has come up in full force, so we shoot up to Port Cygnet in no time, but decide it is again too rough and windy for dinghy launching and a trip ashore is deferred to the next morning.

Being aboard Nahani does strange things to people's sleep patterns. Anne finds herself constantly lulled to sleep by the boat motion when we are sailing. She is normally a night owl and not an early riser, but she has us all up enjoying a bright, calm sunny morning at about 6:30am Wednesday. There is a bit of backsliding, but a couple of hours later we are off in the dinghy and into Cygnet for brunch at the Red Velvet Lounge. The wind that day is a north easterly which has the strange effect of seeming to blow clockwise around Mount Royal – down the Channel, across to Huon Island, then up the Huon and the Port Cygnet inlet. We've experienced this phenomenon before – it has the irritating effect of giving you a wind on the nose all the way from Cygnet almost to Simpson's Point. So we motor all this part of the trip, finally getting a bit of sailing across Isthmus Bay and Great Bay to Green Island before the wind dies altogether. We motor on to Apollo Bay, where the windless evening is perfect for a barbecue on the beach. Anne's cousin Paul came down from Hobart in his power boat to meet us there, so it is G&T's and nibbles aboard his boat, then ashore in the dinghy for barbecue chops and salad, then back to Nahani for more chocolate mousse, this time accompanied by local raspberries bought in Cygnet – a delicious combination.

Anne welcomes the day at about 6:30am again, and this time we all get moving as the forecast is for very strong northerly winds. It is a hard slog under motor up the Channel and up the Derwent to the Garrow, with 20-25kt wind on the nose the whole way. To our relief Sandy Bay is calm with little wind, so we get into the berth easily. Tom and Anne then reciprocate our hospitality by inviting us back to their apartment for lunch, washing and a very welcome shower. It is very pleasant to sit in their air-conditioned apartment sipping champagne as the wind and temperature rise to about 35, knots and degrees respectively. [Top]


Monday 4 to Thursday 7 January 2010

If there is one thing guaranteed to bring about a wind change, it's getting the big MPS sail out of the locker, stretching it out on the deck, and pushing out the bowsprit ready to hoist the sail. Either the wind goes round on to the nose at 15-20kt, or it dies altogether, as it does on Monday 4 January as we head down river en route to Norfolk Bay at about 8:30am. So we motor on down the river with the sail still stretched out in hope of better things once we get into Storm Bay. Disappointed again - more motoring up Frederick Henry Bay and through Flinders Passage. We finally get a brisk sea breeze in Norfolk Bay and have to put the MPS away in a hurry before it gets wet, and we make good speed down to Koonya, where we anchor off the beach.

Koonya is the mate's idea of heaven – a place where you can anchor off a north-facing, sandy swimming beach. As if that isn't enough, ashore we have the prospect of very convivial company: Sue and Jack who reside at Koonya in summer, and cousin Claire and her husband Gösta who are staying in Sue's tent on the beach. Koonya is supposed to be a day anchorage only, as the bay is open to winds from any northerly direction, but we stay for two nights without incident. The first is millpond calm, but on the second night a northerly comes in late and we have a few hours of rather rolly conditions which disturb our sleep somewhat.

We make three trips ashore to share meals with the Koonya residents on Monday and Tuesday. We combine our provisions with theirs to produce magnificent meals which include fresh flathead caught by Claire and Gösta, preceded by G&T's, accompanied by wine and the occasional schnapps. The cat accompanies us in the dinghy and enjoys walks ashore, but we have an anxious moment when Peter thinks he detects a tick in Sake's fur. Sake is anointed with petrol, which he objects to loudly. The mate has her first swim of the summer after arriving on Monday, and follows it up with another dip on Tuesday, this time in wetsuit and weight belt, to scrub off some of the weed and barnacles that have developed along the waterline over the last year.

On Wednesday we decide to move on rather than go ashore again. The wind is supposed to go round to the SW, but of course it doesn't, so we tack up Norfolk Bay with the wind slowly shifting more westerly. We have a nice long beat through Flinders passage, doing 6 plus knots, turn around the top of Bass shoal and head more or less due South, by which time the wind has gone to the W, so we are on a beam reach. The seas are sufficiently short and choppy to make it hard to sail close hauled, so we have to tack out once to avoid getting too close to the cliffs, but we generally keep up the 5-6 knot speed all the way down to Nubeena, where we run in through Wedge Bay with the wind behind us.

After a peaceful night anchored in Nubeena we go ashore for a walk and a coffee on Thursday, then have a beautiful sail in a brisk SW wind all the way back across Storm Bay and up the Derwent to the RYCT, getting up to 7kt at times. All in all the trip is a wonderful combination of sunny weather, relaxing with friends and good sailing – it's why we keep coming back to Hobart. [Top]

Round Bruny with the Mattiskes - again!

Tuesday 12 to Monday 18 January 2010

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We've now circumnavigated Bruny twice - with our sailing friends and mentors the Mattiskes both times. Last time we went clockwise, heading down Storm Bay first. This time a strong change is forecast later in the day, so we take the anticlockwise route down the Channel. We get away reasonably early to get out of the berth before the north wind gets too strong, but as usual it dies away at Bonnet Point and we motor in flat calm down to Piersons, sail slowly down the Channel with a bit more wind, putting the motor back on to run for the shelter of Barnes Bay when we see the change coming. By the time we drop anchor in Alexanders it is really blowing hard from the NW and this continues into the evening. It stays warm enough for the mate and Renate to brave the water. Some debate ensues about whether there are cold patches, or whether all the water is cold with icy patches. But both survive the experience, Renate with the help of a hot shower. We enjoy a beautiful big trevalla fillet for dinner.

On Wednesday we head round to Cygnet, again with variable wind strength and direction so that it's reefs in, reefs out, motor on, motor off, but eventually we sail up Port Cygnet inlet with a following southerly and we have to pull the sails off quickly before we arrive at the boat moorings to avoid sweeping in at over 6kt. Safely anchored, we make contact with Peter Manthorpe, son of David Mattiske's sailing mentor Pep. We discover he is living in the charming Federation weatherboard behind the big cypress hedge just near the yacht club, a house we've cast envious eyes at for years as we walk past on the way to Port Cygnet village. This time we walk in after dinghying ashore, and enjoy drinks with Peter and his family, catching up with family and sailing gossip. Back on Nahani we dine on tasty quail sausages from the butcher in lower Sandy Bay.

Thursday finds us heading up the Huon River under motor with the intention of getting to Franklin. But the tide is against us and after almost running aground in Crowther's Bay (navigators missed one of the marks and cut a corner) we retreat, drop the anchor and eat lunch. A friendly woman ashore calls to us with an offer to drive us into Franklin. When we decide to stick to the water and gratefully decline, she invites us ashore for coffee, so we meet Anne and Robert, drink their coffee and admire their beautiful house with land running down to the river, a jetty berth and their boat, designed to catch the north sun as well as the view. Robert and Anne are from Sydney and as Robert said, he dreamt of a house like this but in Sydney he was about $22m short of the price! We left, carrying a bag of freshly dug potatoes from the garden, thinking that this sort of hospitality from complete strangers only happens in Tasmania.

It takes about an hour by dinghy to get up to Franklin, where David, Renate and the captain visit the Wooden Boat School and the mate goes for an exploratory walk in Franklin, noting lots of interesting looking eateries to be investigated some time. The strong seabreeze blowing up the river makes the return journey a rather wet one for the Mattiskes seated at the front of the dinghy - David cops the worst of it, so we compensate him with a hot shower and a loan of the captain's rather splendid red fleece pants. The colour alone is enough to make you feel warmer. The cook makes lamb curry while we motor back to Cygnet, this provides further internal waming when we are safely anchored again. We stay in Cygnet on Friday as well, walking in to shop and lunch with the Manthorpes in the Red Velvet Lounge, then returning to welcome Peter and his two gorgeous little daughters Ina and Violet aboard Nahani. At 5 and 2 the girls are already experienced sailors and only the younger one needs assistance from Dad to climb aboard from a dinghy bouncing in the chop.

We resume our voyaging on Saturday with a great run down to Southport, getting up to 8.8kt, our fastest recorded sailing speed. Another change comes through there, bringing rain, so we take shelter in the Deep Hole and don't venture ashore. On Sunday we had another terrific sail in a brisk SW, getting from Southport to Adventure Bay on the east side of Bruny in about 5 hours, slowing down at the Friars to look at the seals. We hoped to visit the Bligh Museum, but took nearly an hour to find good sheltered holding for the anchor, but which time it was after closing time. So we just had to have another good meal and drink some more red, then turn in ready for an early start. The SW continued on Monday, giving us perfect conditions again for the sail back up to the RYCT. After some fairly boisterous sailing round the bottom of Bruny the day before, we took it easy, sailing with just the headsails, but were still comfortably back in the pen by about 2pm, in time to catch up with friend Robbie and her friend Elrose newly arrived from Melbourne, and install them with the Blichfeldts, where we all had a most enjoyable evening meal.

Having missed the Bligh Museum while waterborne, we returned to Bruny by car on Tuesday. It was the first time we'd explored the interior, and we enjoyed seeing familiar places from unfamiliar angles, as well as being fascinated by the collection in the little museum. Wednesday was cook's day off – we breakfasted at Jackman and McRoss in Battery Point, visited the Museum, lunched at Meadowbank before taking the Mattiskes to the airport for their return to Melbourne. [Top]

Perfect day sail with Robbie, Ellie and Claire

Monday 25 January 2010

The mate's very old friend Robbie and her friend Ellie were spending a week in Tasmania. They stayed with cousin Claire while in Hobart, joined us for the day driving round Bruny, headed west to Strahan and the Franklin, then back to Hobart for the Salamanca Market, Museum and Botanical Gardens, then east to the Freycinet Peninsula. For their last day they choose to have a rest from driving and come sailing with us, and Claire joins us as well. It is a beautiful day, with a forecast for a gentle northerly in the morning and a brisk seabreeze to blow us home in the afternoon. The northerly is so gentle we motor to Pierson's Point, then sail down the Channel, with a bit of motor assistance at the end when hunger drives us to get to Barnes sooner rather than later. We anchor in Shelter Cove where we enjoy lunch on deck and a post-prandial zizz, which Robbie, Claire and the mate then follow with a swim. We are all back aboard as the seabreeze strengthens, so we hoist sail before we weigh anchor and have a wonderful broad reach up the Channel and a run up the river. Once safely in the pen, our visitors leave but we reconvene at the Blichfeldts after a quick tidy up and have a farewell barbecue there, finishing early as the next morning Robbie and Ellie have a plane to catch and we are due to go up on the slip at 8:30am. [Top]

Down to Dover with Tim and Kylie

Saturday 6 to Monday 8 February 2010

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We have a few post-slipping days to re-provision and complete some maintenance tasks. The mate has a few more than the captain, as he has to return to Melbourne for a couple of meetings. We are looking forward to the visit of Tim and Kylie Ebringer, both ex-students of Peter's, and when they arrive about midday Saturday, we are ready to sail out on a lovely sunny day. We're expecting light winds, but in fact have a good sailing breeze, although not altogether favorable. But Kylie is a keen sailor, and although Tim isn't, he is well-dosed with Quells so we make the most of the wind, tacking down to Pierson's and then having a nice long beat down to Apollo Bay, with a bit of engine at the end to make sure we get in in time for a barbecue ashore. Although there are several other boats at anchor, we have the beach to ourselves and as usual enjoy the sunset as we cook, eat and drink.

More good sailing conditions the next day, so we put up the MPS for the first time this summer and make very good time down to South Bruny and across to Dover. We go ashore there to enjoy coffee at the bakery, replenish a few supplies, and then find we still have time for more sailing. We head out again and beat north into stronger winds, trying for an anchorage first in Randalls (no holding), then round the corner in Eggs and Bacon Bay, where we are much more comfortable. The cook has dinner prepared by the time the anchor goes down for the second time.

Our third successive sunny day is warm enough for the mate to have a morning swim before we start the return trip to the RYCT. The early part is done under motor with little wind, but the seabreeze obligingly comes in quite early and once we round Mt Royal and start northwards we sail all the way, finishing with a great run up the Derwent with the headsails wing and wing - a perfect end to three lovely days of sailing. Captain and mate enjoy having some younger blood aboard: Tim eggs us on to sail the boat harder, and Kylie is a keen and competent assistant in the sail changing and anchoring work. We are all ready for a beer when we get back into the pen at the relatively early hour of 4pm, and then the Ebringers take us out for a very elegant farewell dinner at Alexander's at the Lenna.. [Top]

Nubeena via Barnes

Thursday 1 to Monday 5 April 2010

Once again we escape from Burke and Wills and Melbourne at the end of March, coming on the Spirit of Tasmania and arriving in Hobart on the last day of March, which we spend provisioning the ship. We make a late start on Thursday, pottering down to Barnes Bay mostly under sail, with bit of motor assistance. Good Friday is cool and calm, so we have a welcome rest and catch up on our reading. More breeze is forecast on Saturday, but we have to motor most of the way back up the Channel and out of the mouth of the Derwent. Once in Storm Bay proper we have a splendid beam reach with a SW wind slowly increasing from around 10 to closer to 20kt. Our speed accordingly starts around 5kt, rises to a fairly steady 7kt and peaks at 8kt. By the time we reach Wedge Bay the wind has swung right round to the west, so we drop our main and slip in under just the jib, but still doing about 4.5kt.

We enjoy Saturday evening and Sunday morning at anchor in Nubeena, then go ashore to rendezvous with the Blichfeldts, who are staying in Koonya so that Alex can go to a wedding in Nubeena. A picnic on the beach at Koonya is a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon, with lots of good food and interesting company as usual. We are duly returned to Nubeena later in the afternoon by the Blichfeldts and we ready ourselves for an early start on Monday.

We motor out of Nubeena in very calm waters, but a nice breeze takes us across to Betsy at about 6kt. Easter Monday is Peter's 70th birthday, and a pair of albatross, a pod of dolphin and a few penguins all appear to give him their best wishes. Plan A was to get back to the RYCT in time for a birthday lunch, but the Blichfeldts notify us of a postponement until the evening just as we reach Betsey and the wind drops. So rather than start the motor, we just idle across the rest of Storm Bay at 2-3kt, then put up the MPS for the run upriver. What more could a birthday boy want? He does manage to make a meal of putting Nahani back into the pen, precisely because all the boats we usually have to avoid are out, and he tries to do it in one turn, instead of the usual 3-pointer, and it just can't be done. But eventually we are safely berthed, and off for dinner.

We manage one more birthday dinner on Tuesday with friends Tom and Anne, and spend the rest of our time in the RYCT on the usual maintenance tasks, ready to return via the Spirit on Thursday 8 April. [Top]