Port Davey, Summer 2013

We enjoy our best ever trip to Port Davey, with an amazing period of warm sunny weather, thanks to a big blocking high pressure sitting in the Tasman.

To the SW Coast

Wednesday 27 February to Friday 1 March 2013

We leave late morning Wednesday, motor in a flat calm and stop at the Quarries for the night. Thursday starts with a strong southerly, so we make a late departure waiting for it to abate, but still slog down to Recherche, motoring into a headwind and lumpy seas. Early start Friday and once again we motor all day. Once round SE Cape we put sail up, but to little effect in a wind varying from WNW to WSW. We hope that the wind will be more favourable once we round SW Cape, but there's not much wind at all, so we motor on. Past the Pyramids we turn off the motor and sail slowly until speed drops to less than 2kt, after which we give it up as a bad job, motor round Breaksea Island, into the Bathurst Channel and round to Schooner Cove for the first night. [Top]

In Port Davey

Saturday 2 March to Monday 11 March 2013

Link to Picasa gallery

The time at Port Davey is blissful. We re-visit favourite places and see new things there: in Old River we manage to get the little dinghy across the first rapids and go up to the second set by boat, instead of walking as we have done previously. In the Davey River the scenery is much changed by a bushfire in January, but we are intrigued by the randomness of fire damage - here is a section green and untouched, there a section of bush with leaves scorched to rust colour, there a badly burned area of blackened soil and trees reduced to charred sticks. Even the Davey Gorge has a mix of burned and unburned foliage on its sides. In previous years we've had trouble anchoring off the mouth of the Davey, but not this year with our new Rocna. So we arrive and anchor the night before our trip up the river, thereby starting much earlier in the day than on previous visits, and so for the first time we see the Gorge with the sun overhead and shining straight in. There is also (surprisingly after such a dry summer) more water than we've seen before. We get the little dinghy easily up to the rapids and stop there for lunch. The mate swims from the rapids further up the gorge and round the next corner for a look, before returning for the trip back through gorge and downriver again.

Our third revisit is to Melaleuca Inlet, where we find a new boardwalk has been built, telling the story of the Needwonnee, the Aboriginal group who lived in the area once. It tracks through the paperbarks along the edge of the Melaleuca Lagoon, a beautiful walk made more interesting by the placement of Aboriginal artefacts - here a canoe, there a hut, a basket, grinding stones, images of the spirit people made of grass.

We anchor in familiar spots like Kings Point, Schooner Cove, Iola Bay, but also in bays and inlets we haven't been in before. We spend two warm cloudless days in Ila Bay, a big open bay ideal for trying out the latest improvements to the sailing rig that Peter has been developing for the dinghy. The Heath-Robinson combination of plumbing fittings at the front of the dinghy works to give us a successful unstayed mast, the new bit of poly pipe with rowlock fitted at the end works as a boom, and she sails surprisingly well. After the first day, the captain makes a number of improvements to the tiller (recycled from a Mirror dinghy), and we consider it just about done. The mate swims each day, takes to the kayak to explore the edges of the bay, and finds a beautiful hidden natural garden where a stream coming down from Mt Rugby has created a tiny cove.

After several days seeing no one, we catch up with Caspian and spend a night in company with them in another anchorage new to us, Wombat Cove, just big enough for two boats. We spend time in Moulters Inlet: first we spend an afternoon sailing the dinghy the length of the inlet and back. We have a great sail until we are about 15 minutes from Nahani, anchored at the mouth of the inlet, when the wind drops. So we start rowing. When we have rowed about half the remaining distance, the wind comes up again, and we try to sail, now having to tack as the wind is on the nose. Wind continues to be fickle, coming and going, so we alternate rowing and sailing until we finally make it back, the last bit having taken well over an hour, very frustrating. A day or so later we return to Moulters and with Caspian and Stormfisher to lead us in, we take Nahani into this very shallow inlet, anchoring the three boats in a group in the middle. We have a splendid dinner party for seven aboard Nahani, repaying hospitality from Caspian and enjoying Stormfisher's contribution of fresh tuna.

We spend our last night in Spain Bay, another anchorage new to us where the mate swims ashore to a sweeping beach. Later we join the others for drinks on Caspian while watching an amazingly beautiful sunset. Next morning we take the dinghy ashore and walk across to Stephens Bay. As the forecast is for the weather to break, we return without walking along the beach in this bay to the Aboriginal middens - next time. [Top]

Returning to Hobart

Monday 11 to Tuesday 12 March 2013

We leave Spain Bay at about 1:30pm and motor all the way back to Hobart in calm seas. The sun sets when we are between Maatsuyker and South Cape, and as we look back to admire the sunset we see a pod of whales in the water near De Witt Island. We round SE Cape in the dark and continue up toward Bruny Island.

Some time after midnight we consider stopping at Southerly Bight at the south end of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, but there is a big workboat there, so we keep going and as the night wears on, stopping seems less worthwhile. The mate has cause to regret the decision when she is on watch at the top end of the Channel and thick fog rolls out of the bays, Apollo, Barnes and North West Bay, making navigation completely dependent on the instruments. She peers into the fog anxiously listening for the sound of any other boats, but there is nothing until she encounters early fishermen in dinghies at the top of the Channel, by which time the dawn is breaking and fog diminishing. Sun rises just after we round Piersons Point, and the captain takes over for the last leg up the river. After about 19 hours motoring, the wind change hits about half an hour from the Garrow light. Trying to berth in a 25kt northerly has no appeal, so the captain retreats into Ralph's Bay, where the crew has a sleep, eventually bringing the boat back to the fuel jetty at the RYCT just before dark, and then putting her safely into the berth at about 9pm when there is a welcome lull in the wind. The galeforce winds continue next day, and we are pleased to be in our berth as we hear of 65kt gusts in Port Davey. [Top]