Around Hobart, Summer 2015

After a short summer the preceding year (renovations!), and only two brief trips during the year (renovations! still!) we are determined to make the most of 2014-15 summer. We book our passage on the Spirit at the very end of November, and plan to stay until Easter at least. And we do stay in Tasmania until the end of April, except for a return to Melbourne during March. But the story begins with a look back at our two between seasons visits.

Winter R&R

Thursday 3 to Monday 7 July 2014

After all the trauma of renovations, the unexpected death of the Mate's brother and his funeral, we ran away to Nahani for much-needed rest. We did manage a bit of socialising, but the weather was cold and wet, so we had a good excuse to just snug down in the berth and enjoy being on board (not to mention having a working stove, as the home kitchen was then still unfinished). [Top]

Spring preparations

Friday 30 October to Wednesday 12 November 2014

Back aboard Nahani, listening to the familiar sounds, the clacking of halyards, flapping of flags and sailcovers, squeaking of buffers. Pity about the howling of wind around the masts and the chill factor produced by the snow on Mt Wellington. But it's going to be warmer tomorrow... In fact it takes several days before the weather improves, but we enjoy the excuse to socialise and sleep instead of working for the first few days. But when the weather improves we get on - the Captain with plumbing projects and the mate with varnishing the brightwork. When it turns wet again we turn out all the lockers, discard things not wanted on voyage, organise what's left in better storage containers and more rational locations, make an electronic inventory so that we can find things again more easily. By the time we leave the boat no longer has the neglected look that goes with peeling varnish above decks, and is much tidier below. [Top]

First days of summer

Saturday 29 November to Thursday 11 December

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Summer in name only. None of the windy weather we had on our earlier trips, but a steady, gentle southeasterly breeze bringing grey skies, constant drizzle and only one day over 20 degrees in the first week. So we are busy below decks again. We arrive with a car full of stuff - new solar panels, washing machine, sewing machine, yet more storage containers, mate's clarinet and music. First days spent stowing all this and socialising, as the mate's late brother's family are down for the weekend. We redo some of the sorting and organising with the very superior containers the Captain found in Melbourne. This has to be the final solution - Mate will mutiny if she has to sort the screws, nuts, bolts, shackles, electrical items, plumbing fittings, electronic bits, etc etc ever again. Not to mention retyping the inventory because things have moved...

By Thursday lockers are pretty much done and we are ready to tackle a project we've been contemplating for at least 3 years. When our new gas stove was fitted in 2011, the engineer installed gas alarm sensors under the galley floor, and in the process we discovered that there was a large metal object trapped in the space below the stove compartment. It felt like a wok. Discussion with builders Steve and Chrissie confirmed this diagnosis - Chrissie had put it there testing the area out as a storage option, and Steve had built the wok in, not realising it was there. Between the four of us, we established that there was no way of getting it out without taking the whole galley cupboard apart, or by cutting a hole in the front. Cook is keen for the latter solution as it not only allows us to remove the wok, but also givers her a useful locker under the stove where things like trays and platters can be stored. So the project begins with her carefully measuring the items she wants to store and drawing a proposed shape for a cut-out. Engineer approves, drills a starter hole, then cuts neatly round with the jigsaw. Corner constraints mean that the last curve has to be cut by hand with a hacksaw blade, but then out comes the cut-out, and yes, the hole is big enough to remove the wok with ease.

Progressive excavation and creation of the new locker

To our surprise and delight, the wok isn't even rusty, which just shows how dry Nahani is, as the wok is steel but not stainless and has been sitting on a frame for 15 years. The prospective locker is a little grubby, with a layer of legacy soot from the old kero stove, but it cleans up perfectly with assorted cleaning compounds and some elbow grease. On Friday we find the appropriate catch amongst our newly organised spares, then shop for ply to line the locker and hinges for the door. As the weather continues to be cold and wet for the next week, the project continues with framing the locker door area, fitting the hinges and catch, fitting the lining, priming, painting... Parallel activities include fitting the last of the new shelves in the shed to hold all the new containers - now there's a place for everything and everything is in its place. And a bit more sorting and re-organising, shopping, washing, dealing with issues from Melbourne via Skype. By the time the weather starts to improve the following Thursday, we are suffering from cabin fever and ready to sail away.[Top]

First sail: down to Barnes Bay

Friday 12 to Monday 15 December

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After twelve grey, rainy days, the weather finally improves on Thursday. We have a dinner date Thursday night, so it is around the middle of the day on Friday when we are ready to slip our moorings and head out. It's an easy exit in a light easterly, although the mate manages to get the boathook inextricably locked in the pickup line and has to leave it for someone passing to pick up and put back on the jetty. As usual, the easterly turns into a southerly as we round the Garrow, so we motor down the river, finally putting up the main about an hour from Pierson's Point. We motor sail until we're in the Channel, and then a favourable wind takes us down to Barnes Bay in good time, doing 5-7kt. We head into Sykes, pick up a mooring and enjoy a calm night.

Saturday morning dawns warm and sunny. When the wind goes round to the north we move across to the other side of Barnes, into Quarantine. By evening there are about twenty boats there, but it is still very quiet and peaceful. We continue our maintenance work - mate paints the new locker in the galley and the surrounding panel, captain services the winches. On Sunday we make an excursion ashore to visit the old Quarantine Station, which now has excellent signage and information about its history, very interesting. The dinghy performs well as usual - we row to the jetty rather than use the outboard. Captain does another winch, while the Cook plants herbs in her new hydroponic planter box.

On Monday we fit the door of the new locker under the stove, completing the Great Wok Removal Project. We pack away all the paint, tools, etc and ready the boat for the return trip to Hobart. Favourable winds are forecast and once out in the Channel we put up all sail and make progress at a steady 4-5kt to Bligh Point, then 5.5-7.5kt as we head up to Pierson's Point and into the river. It is sufficiently rolly in the lower part of the river for a large amount of water to slop out of the new planter as the boat heels - damn! Hopefully when all the planter holes are full, this won't happen. As we approach the Garrow the wind goes from SSE to S, and the helmswoman gets anxious about the possibility of a jibe. We drop the main, just in time as the wind suddenly goes round to the SW and strengthens so much that we wonder if we can get into the berth safely. But after a few circles while we hang buffers all around, we head in and the Captain makes a safe entry into the pen, albeit not at a perfect angle, so we drag along the corner a bit (he's out of practice). By then the wind has turned really chilly, so we have a celebratory whisky below, rather than a G&T on deck. But we have had four lovely sunny days and a really good sail each way to Barnes - what more could you want? [Top]

On the slip

Wednesday 17 to Saturday 20 December

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The day after our return from Barnes is wet and very windy, so we are pleased we came back early. We spend the day getting ready for slipping, unearthing tins of antifoul, polishers etc. We have to wait for several other boats coming up and down and don't get hauled out until mid-afternoon Wednesday, but by then the wind has dropped making our exit from the berth and entry into the cradle very easy. It also means that we are left in charge of the presssure blaster when the bosun's leave, and can take our time washing down the hull. There is a bit more weed this year, but fewer barnacles and mussels - in general the hull is in pretty good shape. Captain works above the water line, mate below. By the end of Thursday everything is clean and primed ready for antifouling. By the end of Friday the antifouling is patched, the prop greased, the topsides polished and we are ready to go back in on Saturday morning. We're relaunched late morning, slide across to the fuel jetty to fill up, then put Nahani back in the pen, clean and ready to go. [Top]

Barnes Bay again

Sunday 27 to Wednesday 31 December

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Boxing Day is wet and squally, and the next day not much better. By the time the weather starts to improve in the afternoon, we deem it too late to set out. Instead we are up at 6am on Sunday, and by 7am we are out in the river heading for the Garrow light. A light northerly helps us downriver for the first hour, then the wind turns to the south. Knowing that the Sydney-Hobart leaders are due around the middle of the day, we continue sailing slowly down into Storm Bay, where there is less than 5kt of wind and very calm conditions. We explore the east coast of North Bruny, anchoring in the attractively named bay Man of War Jack while we wait and watch for Wild Oats XI to round Cape Raoul, checking her position on the iPad. She sails well west of Cape Raoul and before turning northward. Now we can make out the huge bulk of her spinnaker, even at a distance of some 15nm. As she progresses up Storm Bay more and more yachts come down to meet her, and sailing amongst them becomes quite complicated. We gather with others south of the Iron Pot where we know we will be out of WOXI's way and watch her sail up to the top end of Bruny, followed by a fleet of motor yachts (yachts under sail have no hope of keeping up), where she jibes over and heads up the Derwent. Most of the yachts follow, but we continue to enjoy sailing in Storm Bay watching for Comanche, which follows the same track about three quarters of an hour later. This time we position ourselves in Bull Bay and get a much closer view. By the time the supermaxis come up Storm Bay the wind is a respectable 10kt and rising - Comanche sails in faster than WOXI and looks stunning as she passes. Excitement over, we head round into the Channel where we have to motor into the now strong southerly to get down to Barnes Bay. We pick up the mooring in Sykes after a long but lovely day in the water.

On Monday and Tuesday the weather goes back to ordinary, windy with extremely squally moments, rain. We shuttle back and forth between Sykes Bay and Quarantine Bay as the wind goes from south to north and back to south, and spend most of our time below decks, reading. On Wednesday the wind finally drops and we set off in a sunny afternoon to return to Hobart for New Year's Eve. As we motor out of Sykes Bay we see a pod of dolphin who come briefly to play round the boat, and a sea eagle soaring above them. In the Channel, seals are basking, and don't even bother to swim away when we pass quite close. Special moments to end 2014.

A good breeze takes us briskly up the Channel, getting close to 8kt as we pass North West Bay, but there is no wind at all in the Derwent and we motor all the way back to Sandy Bay. Just as we are heading into the marina the forecast northwesterly comes in, but we still make a reasonably good entry to the berth. The spring line that the mate picks up is hooked around a box on the jetty, causing the bow to swing in and hit the fire hose stand at the end of our berth (not for the first time - oh, that they had mounted it anywhere else but there), taking out our portside navigation light. Amazingly, the lens just pops off the light, falls on to the anchor roller and stays there (rather than falling into the water and sinking without trace into the marina mud). Even more amazing, when the captain refits it, it still works![Top]

Cruising the Channel

Monday 19 to Thursday 29 January

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Captain and mate make separate trips back to Melbourne in early January. After the mate returns on 15 January, we have three days of gale force winds. On Monday the weather finally improves, and after re-provisioning we head out in the late afternoon and progress down the river. As usual we motor at the beginning, motorsail at the mouth of the river, then make good speed under sail alone once in the Channel. Having been to Barnes twice already, we pass on and come to rest on a mooring in Apollo. There are a couple of other yachts in the bay, and a barbecue party ashore, but we are too hungry and eat aboard as soon as we stop.

Tuesday brings a strong northerly and we have a great run from Apollo until we run out of wind on the west side of Huon Island. We motor up to Randall's Bay and anchor for lunch. Mate thinks about going overboard to try to work out what is wrong with our speed log, but chickens out. Later in the afternoon we continue on to Port Cygnet, motoring up the estuary after some very slow progress under sail into the mouth of the Huon. We pick up a borrowed mooring just in time to watch the Port Cygnet Sailing Club Tuesday evening race. We contemplate going ashore for the post-race barbecue, but opt for dinner aboard instead.

On Wednesday we have our first proper hot day - 28 degrees. We go ashore, walk into Cygnet for lunch. It does rain briefly while we are lunching, but it is hot again as we return. We call in on Peter Manthorpe before returning to the boat. The mate is now hankering for a swim, but the water in the Port Cygnet estuary is murky and off-putting. We decide that we will relocate to a beach on Thursday. Thursday dawns grey and cool and stays that way. Peter comes out to Nahanifor morning tea and a chat about his family's imminent relocation to Hobart (anyone want to buy the nicest house in Cygnet?). In the afternoon we leave and motor all the way to Lighthouse Beach, as there is no wind at all. At least it charges the batteries and heats the water. It's our seventeenth wedding anniversary and we celebrate with roast duck and sparkling burgundy, but then a strengthening northerly forces us to relocate to Mickey's Bay.

On Friday we reverse the move when a strong southerly comes in, but now we go to Kingfisher Beach as it is quieter - we are the only yacht anchored there. When the weather improves on Saturday morning, we go ashore for a walk and a beach cleanup. We find ourselves compelled to pick up any rubbish we see and usually bring a folding bucket for the purpose. We haven't brought it in the dinghy this time, but we find four intact plastic bags in our walk and return with them all full, plus two pieces of rope of a length to foul a prop. Before leaving we bring Nahani in close to the beach, and the mate dons wetsuit and goggles and braves the water. She dives under the hull and successfully spins the speed log wheel, but isn't confident that it is really free. But she enjoys her first swim of the season. We are preparing lunch and tidying up ready to depart when we realise that we've been dragging since we took the boat closer inshore, and are now rather uncomfortably close to a rocky cliff. We start the motor, pull up the anchor and then set the headsail as soon as we are clear of the bay. We have a lovely easy broad reach across to Dover, arriving in good time for sundowner drinks on deck and dinner below on Saturday evening. Is the speed log working? No, it's not.

On Sunday we go ashore for a walk and to see what has changed in Dover, as it's three years since we came here last. The answer is not much. The Gingerbread House bakery, that once made the best raspberry tarts and scallop pies, is still closed, as it has been since the baker's wife died. The general store, which once sold everything from fresh veg to fishhooks has turned into a bottle shop. Only one cafe is open, and we retreat in there to avoid a rain shower which lasts for fifteen minutes or so. A bit of shopping at the IGA supermarket, a couple of books from the book exchange is all the excitement that Dover can offer. We drop in on Jeremy and Penny coming and going: on the way in to deposit our rubbish in their bins and return a book lent eons ago, and on our return to discuss book publishing over tea and home made banana bread. We purchase a copy of "Around the World with Rosinante", Jeremy's account of their circumnavigation which he has just self-published, and talk about our current struggle to get "Following Burke and Wills" across the finishing line.

On Monday forecasts of strong winds and 1-2m waves in the Channel deter us from moving. Mate celebrates Australia Day by baking Anzac biscuits to warm up the boat. It doesn't rain, but there is a chilly westerly or southwesterly most of the day. At 6pm we finally decide it is calm enough to launch the dinghy and go for a trip round Port Esperance. Still chilly, but with intermittent sunshine as we motor past yachts and fishing boats on moorings, past the derelict jetty near the pub, round to Rabbit Island, where the occupants of half a dozen boats are ashore having the traditional Australia Day barbecue (rugged up in their wet weather gear). Past the fish farms and back across the bay to where Nahani is sitting comfortably on a Kingborough Boating Club mooring. Weather continues ordinary on Tuesday, and when the wind goes round to the south we head down to Rabbit Island and anchor there for the evening, taking some nice sunset photos.

After three nights in Dover, it's time to move and on Wednesday we sail back to the Huon and head up the river. With the wind still coming from the south east many of the anchorages on the west bank are unprotected, but we eventually find a calm spot with good holding in Waterloo Bay. Once again the weather improves towards evening, so we take another dinghy ride further upriver to investigate the Port Huon marina in Hospital Bay. The entrance is as narrow and shallow as we've been told, and we're pleased we hadn't tried to bring Nahani in. The captain is worried about whether we have enough fuel for the return trip, but in true Tassie fashion, we find a nice bloke who sells us some fuel from his own jerry can, while telling us that we would be able to come in safely at high tide. It takes us much longer to get back to Waterloo Bay as we are heading into wind and chop, but we make it in time for a lateish dinner and another wonderful sunset.

On Thursday we find that the forecast is for the weather to get progressively colder, wetter and windier, so we decide that it's time to return. We have to motor down the Huon into the south-easterly. Somewhere around Huon Island the speed log starts working, to our delight. Once round Ninepin Point we start sailing up the Channel, boosting our speed with the engine occasionally to ensure we get back in reasonable time. Once in the river we find we have 18-25kt southeasterly behind us and we get up to 8kts coming down the waves, which are quite sizeable. No need for the motor, and at times we feel we have too much sail up. It's still blowing hard when we are off Taroona, so we head across the Derwent to Mary Ann Bay, where we are sheltered from the wind and can take sail off in comfort. We anchor there for about an hour, waiting for the wind to ease a bit, then head back to the marina under motor for an easy landing. The next three days are particularly cold and wet, so we are pleased to be back in port where the heater works! [Top]

Wooden Boat Festival Parade of Sail

Friday 6 February 2015

We had a lovely day on the river watching the Parade of Sail for the Wooden Boat Festival followed by lunch in Mary Ann Bay and a gentle sail back to Sandy Bay. Weekend then spent ashore visiting the Wooden Boat Festival and preparing to head out on Monday. [Top]

Boats, boats, everywhere wooden boats

Down the Channel with David

Monday 9 to Thursday 12 February 2015

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We have a beautiful four day trip with lots of good sailing. On Monday we motor-sail and sail down the Channel, making good time to pick up a mooring in Missionary in mid-afternoon. Captain and David go ashore in the dinghy and bring back a good haul of oysters and mussels. After some hard work shucking and cleaning, we have a wonderful meal of oysters followed by moules marinieres.

Next day we motor south toward Ford Bay, and go ashore to introduce David to the delights of the Bruny Island Cheese Factory. Then we head toward Cygnet, first stopping in Little Fancy Bay for lunch. We have a good sailing breeze across to the Huon, and we're joined by a couple of wooden boats on their way home from the Wooden Boat Festival. We hook on to a mooring in Cygnet just in time to watch the Port Cygnet Sailing Club twilight race.

On our way out on Wednesday morning, we explore the Port Cygnet estuary under motor (no wind), but find some wind to get us to the Quarries by mid-afternoon. The dinghy goes down again for another oyster-gathering trip, and the mate has her second swim for the summer (just warm enough in a wetsuit).

Thursday brings a favourable but gentle breeze to blow us home, so we break out the MPS on our return trip up the Channel - the first time this sail has had an airing this year. Last but not least, we see the biggest pod of dolphin we've ever seen on our way back up the river. The mate was alerted by a conversation overheard on the radio, so when she noticed one of the tourist boats doing circuits in shore off Kingston Beach, she reached for the binoculars and found she was looking at dozens of dolphins moving slowly upriver. We slowed our pace to match theirs, and off Taroona the whole pod headed out towards us, some coming to play around the boat, but most of them between us and the shore. In the photos you can count about 35 dolphin, and we think that for every one above the water at a given moment, there are another five below, which means there were a couple of hundred - an amazing sight.

Dolphin in the Derwent [Top]

Out with Lynne

Wednesday 25 to Saturday 28 February 2015

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The mate returns from a Melbourne trip on Wednesday 25 with out next guest on the same flight. After lunch in Battery Point and a bit of sorting out, we head out in calm conditions and motor across to Ralph's Bay where we anchor for the night. Thursday we have our usual experience of motoring most of the way down the River, then motor-sailing, and finally sailing down the Channel. We plan to spend the night in Sykes Bay in Barnes as a strong southerly change is on the way. It catches us just as we come into Barnes, and we have an exciting sail across to Sykes, especially when the headsail comes unfurled. It is raining by the time we're looking for the KBC mooring, and after a perfect pickup in strong winds we realise we're on the wrong buoy. However we cast off and manage an equally good pickup of the right one. On Friday morning there is no wind, so we do a tour of Barnes Bay under motor, then head back up the Channel. By the time we reach the river we have a good sailing breeze for our return, and we're comfortably back in the pen in time for dinner. Saturday our guest wants to spend in Hobart, so we potter around Salamanca Market and visit the replica of Mawson's Hut, before having a farewell meal at Don Camillo. Sunday we're up early to put our guest on a 9:25 flight. [Top]

Norfolk Bay

Friday 13 to Wednesday 18 March2015

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Our plans for March 2015 became progressively less ambitious. Strong winds and huge seas ruled out going to Port Davey and Macquarie Harbour. Plan B was the East Coast, but when the time available was further reduced by Melbourne events in late March and a trip back by the Captain in early March, we settled for a gentle cruise around Norfolk Bay.

Our plan to leave Friday is delayed by a northwesterly which makes getting out of our berth somewhere between difficult and impossible. But late in the morning the wind eases, we exit without drama, but of course we then have to motor-sail down the river and round past Betsy Island as the wind is light. In Frederick Henry Bay there is more wind, but from the north east, so we have a long beat under sail up past Slopen Island. As we turn to the east toward Norfolk Bay, the wind turns as well, so after a bit of motor-sailing to get round the top of the peninsula, we have another long beat across Norfolk Bay, finally anchoring behind Dunbabin Point, where we've been once before.

Forecast is for a strong change, so we leave early on Saturday, put two reefs in the main and head toward Taranna. We start with a nice breeze, but it then drops. We decide to trust the forecast and do nothing - sure enough, as we are idling at about 1kt in 3kt of wind, we see whitecaps on the other side of Norfolk Bay, and five minutes later, we are sailing briskly in 15-20kt, and are in Taranna in time to get in touch with Sue and Jack at Koonya and go to lunch at with them at Port Arthur Lavender.

On Sunday we learn that Caspian is back from the east coast and we have a very pleasant beam reach back up Norfok Bay to join them in Lime Bay, where we have dinner together. On Monday they head back to Hobart in the morning, we enjoy an unusually warm sunny day in Lime Bay, before heading back across the top of Norfolk Bay. Pleasant but slow sailing in sunshine and light winds eventually gets us into King George Sound, and this time we go right up to Murdunna, a new anchorage for us, dropping the pick at sunset.

We make early starts the next two days to get the best winds, starting with a fast beam reach across to Pittwater on Tuesday. We motor into the inlet past Dodges Ferry where we see a small pod of dolphin, then anchor behind Tiger Head, where we've spent a night once before. However we find that a strong tidal stream is swinging us uncomfortably close to boats on moorings, and the Captain is afraid it may trip the anchor, so we move further up and anchor off Pines Point, opposite Lewisham. We are still tide-rode, but no other boats and a sandy beach nearby rather than rocks mean we are much more comfortable. Our second early start on Wednesday gives us a leisurely sail down Frederick Henry Bay using the headsail only with the wind dead astern, then a beam reach round to the Iron Pot. No wind in the south end of the river, so we strike all sails. As we reach Taranna it comes in at 20kt from the North, so we stop for a while in Ralph's bay until it eases, allowing us a comfortable entry into the berth, for possibly the last time this summer. [Top]

Last sail - to Barnes Bay with Libby

Sunday 26 to Tuesday 28 April 2015

On Tuesday 21 April we prise ourselves out of our newly renovated house, leave the luxury of washing machine, dishwasher and flushing loo for a last return to the liveaboard life. The weather is surprisingly warm and sunny on Wednesday and Thursday, but the forecast for the weekend when we are expecting sister-in-law Libby is miserable. We collect her on Friday, visit Salamanca, the Mawson Replica Hut and enjoy a family dinner that night at the Blichfeldts. The forecast rain doesn't eventuate on Saturday after all, but we mooch around the marina before she goes to visit an old school friend on Saturday evening.

Sunday is sunny, no rain, and a gentle northerly rather than the forecast southerly, so we head out. The northerly and the presence of about four sports boats makes our exit from the pen a bit more exciting than we would like, but we make the turn with a metre or so to spare and head out, putting up sail immediately to make the most of the breeze. In contrast to our recent trips, we sail down the river, then have to motor sail in the Channel when the wind is more southwesterly. By mid-afternoon we are comfortably parked on the mooring in Sykes Bay, where it is beautifully calm and quiet.

Monday brings more sunshine and we enjoy breakfast on deck before heading over to Quarantine, with the wind increasing. We have a slightly bumpy dinghy ride ashore for a visit to the Quarantine Station, but once ashore we are out of the wind and enjoy our walk. The wind has strengthened and gone more southerly when we come back to the bay, so we ship a bit of water as we bring the dinghy alongside on our return to Nahani, and we decide to head back to the calmer waters of Sykes for a second night. A roast dinner helps to keep the boat warm.

On Tuesday we wake to find the boat pointing north again - irritating as we are expecting a nice southwesterly to take us back to Hobart. There is a more favourable wind in the Channel so we put up all sail and make good speed for a little while, but then have to motor-sail the rest of the way up the Channel. We hope for more wind in the river, but it is calm as we round Pierson's Point. Higher up we get a nice steady westerly breeze and get up to 7.8kt briefly, before we have to motor again. By the time we reach the marina it is so calm that the Captain has a bit of trouble getting the bow round and we get rather close to the fishing boats in the pens behind our berth, but once lined up we make an easy entrance and a perfect pickup of the lines. We have plenty of time for a late lunch at Jackman and McRoss before returning to collect Lib's luggage and then take her to the airport for her return flight. [Top]