Saturday, March 25, 2006

 

March 2006 Newsletter

Hi there

Amazing place Tasmania, since our last update ,we left Samantha and Tamara in Swansea to catch a bus to Hobart and the flight back to Perth, WA and hoped that they enjoyed their time with us on Cockatoo II, allowing us to spend more time on the east coast of Tasmania. We met the loveliest people Keith, Tricia and Chris(who do charters from Orford), Lloyd, and Karolyne and Leith in a little town called Orford just off Maria Island. We have enjoyed their company and generosity having the opportunity of catching up with them all again during our time in Hobart.

We have been busy exploring the beautiful coastline of Tasmania, spending time in Hobart where we caught up with other cruising boats that left WA around the time we left being Azure, Cartref. Mendana, Stray Cat, Indali. Azure on a different timetable (meeting Corrine in Sydney) sailed ahead of us to the West Coast and have already completed their circumnavigation of Tasmania recently heading for Sydney. It was a sad parting and we miss them as we have experienced so much sailing and travelling together since leaving WA. All the best Chris and Lilly -fair sailing and please keep in touch.

We left the City of Hobart taking time to explore the beautiful D’entrecastreaux Channel spending a few days in Recherche Bay before heading off around the wast coast of Tasmania to the stunningly beautiful Port Davey area. The trip took us ten hours but we stayed nearly three weeks. The area is so isolated that only HF (and in some areas VHF using a repeater station) radio works. This remote Heritage Wilderness area is only accessible by boat, plane or by walking. So we feel very privileged to have seen this beautiful area that not many get the chance to see.

The joy of waking up every morning to the sight of miles and miles of wilderness, mountain ranges and the serenity that the bush offers is amazing. Exploring the history of this area is also fascinating. We met many other cruisers, some international, also sailing these remote waters and have made many friends. It is interesting that the water is black which takes a bit of getting used to, the reflections are spectacular on a clear and windless day. The dark colour comes from the tannin in the button grass leaching into the water.

Many walks and climbs are available all of them following wombat and wallaby tracks through thick, thick scrub. No, we did not climb Mt Rugby although it was tempting (we decided that we were not that fit) but did enjoy the views from the top of Mt Beattie.

We ended up spending about three weeks at Port Davey before heading off to Macquarie Harbour and the only reason was that we were starting to get low on food, we had two carrots, five potatoes, six tins of baked beans (and one does not to feed to many of these to Paul) and lots of pasta (not Paul’s favourite food).

The 18 hour sail to Macquarie Harbour was a pleasant one leaving Port Davey at 3pm in the afternoon arriving just on daybreak to enter the notorious Hells Gates.

We have been anchored near Strahan for nearly a week. The difference being near a town makes the noise of cars, boats going to and from, seaplanes and helicopters taking off and landing. There are a number of cruise boats working; one of them takes 1000 passengers per day-quite amazing when one recalls the population of Strahan is only 500. The town has been restored and its very beautiful with the old buildings overlooking the Macquarie Harbour. The water here is also black.

We hope to be here for about three weeks as we have yet to explore the Macquarie Harbour area and what it offers, especially the Gordon and Franklin Rivers. More will be revealed as we venture forth.

When we leave here we will be sailing through the Hunter Passage and (weather permitting) stopping at the Three Hummock Island, an approximate 24 hour voyage. This anchorage will mark our circumnavigation of Tasmania and the end of our first experiences of sailing in the Roaring 40’s.

From the Three Hummocks we intend to sail back to King Island, and off to Melbourne (back through Bass Strait) for the winter to work and earn money to boost the cruising kitty. It will be a shock to our system –returning back to civilisation and normalcy (or lunacy) for the winter.


We hope everyone is happy and healthy and that life is treating you well. If you want to know more about our travels have a look at the logbook and photos on our website http://www.cockatoo2.com.au/.

Monday, March 20, 2006

 

Port Davey


20Mar
Moved and anchored off Hannets Inlet to return Graham "Stray Cat" coat which was left on the boat. We both moved around to Spain Bay as all were desparate for a decent walk, having a beautiful lunch on board "Stray Cat". Heading for the beach at Spain Bay we met a hiker who had been walking for what seemed months around Port Davey and was getting food drops at certain points (sailing seemed a luxury with everything with us on board). Merredith and Graham went on the walk to Sheperds Bay and we did our walk along the beach before heading back to the boat and heading off to Macquarie Harbour at about 3pm. This was the time to leave as we wanted to get to Macquarie Harbour and enter Hells Gates just on daybreak.

It was to be an 18 hour voyage. It was also Samantha's 20th birthday tomorrow and wanted to ring her if possible on her special day.

19 Mar
Jim and Anne invited us over on this cold, windy and rainy day for a morning cuppa, we stayed for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea, talking and enjoying thier company. We left about 4pm.

18 Mar
Again cold and overcast with drizzly showers, the sun appearing about 9.30am. The tide is low so will wait for it to rise,as there are shallow spots backing out off the jetty before heading to Schooner Cove. (The wind is to come from the NW at 20-30 knots tomorrow) It is raining again so will read my book until it is time to depart-could walk up the hill but it is too cold and wet.

Arriving at Schooner Cover we met a couple on ayeacht from the USA by the name of "Insaitiable II" so invited them over for a sundowner, Stray Cat joined us on their way around to Hannets Inlet. It was lovely to see everyone. The American couple, Anne and Jim have been cruising for 20 years.

17 Mar
Cold and overcast we pulled anchor (after having a little sleep in) and motored around to Claytons to refill the tank with water allowing us the luxury of having a shower and doing a load of washing. We have another boat rafted up to us, “Charon” with three guys also sailing around Tasmania their homeport being Melbourne.

The “Men of Clayton” are here doing maintenance work on the Clayton house –rebuilding the fireplace which has caved in-and gave us a short tour of the garden around the house. Paul has decided to stay here the night and have drinks with them this evening instead of heading around to Spain Bay as planned. We do not intend to head off to Macquarie Harbor until Monday. I have mopped the floor, cooked a cake(for the “men of Clayton”) and finished off a crossword. We took the luxury of watchin g a DVD and fell asleep about 9pm. We were told that we were called over for a 500 challenge apparently at 11pm but we were fast asleep in bed at that time.

It is very quiet and overcast with a few showers every now and then. As the sun is setting it is getting very cold. I shall close up to keep the heat in and make sure the fly screens are on to keep the mozzies out. Now I know why most of the Tasmanian cruising yachts have heaters on board. I even have my hot water bottle out ready to use.

16 Mar
Went exploring up the channel as far as the place where the walkers have to row across. The scenery was breathtaking and we had sun out to warm us up. On our return we went over to Swan Island, a beautiful island that the black swans breed on. The water was so calm and smooth that we took lots of photos. The weather started to deteriorate and we had a bumpy ride back to the boat. Reading books for the afternoon and having drinks and a game of 500’s that night on “Stray Cat”.

15 Mar
Calm waters met us went we woke; it was overcast so stayed aboard. Paul updating our music CD’s for our trip. I took the tender for a burn around the harbour but as low on petrol it was not long before I returned to the boat.

We took ourselves over to “Stray Cat” to find Graham wiring his second computer in so Paul gave him a hand soldering wires, etc. Meredith and I took ourselves to Celery Top Islands and had a look around returning for a lovely afternoon cuppa. Graham and Meredith are coming over for dinner tonight.

The weather is perfect for heading up the west coast to Macquarie Harbor but have decided to stay until the next weather window presents itself which should be Sunday or Monday as I was to climb Mt Milner, check out the Waterfall and the Ochre Cave near Schooner Cove.

14 Mar
I updated the photos and the log book and decided to tackle the washing up (trying hard to ignore it) and had a lovely hot shower afterwards. We swapped DVD’s from “Stray Cat”. Paul went over and spent time on “stray Cat” doing things on their computer, etc. When he came back we both had a lazy afternoon reading, ending the day with a beautiful dinner aboard “Stray Cat” with Meredith and Graham.

13 Mar
Paul wanted to move to Kings Cove after such a sleepless night but he had a few things to do and as this took most the morning I did some cooking. Paul arriving back at about 1pm we took up the anchor and headed back to Kings Cove to sit out Gale force winds of 30-40Knt from the West. The wind had come in quicker that expected so we motored up the channel in 40 knot winds with rain and whitecaps. It was a different experience from the normally calm days as we had to navigate allowing for current and drift, also dealing with the wind funneling down through the gullies at 40+ knots. We finally anchored at Kings Cove. That night we had dinner on board with Meredith and Graham from “Stray Cat” and played “Zilch” amongst wind, rain and the cold. We slept very soundly that night.

We can get VHF 82 weather in this area whereas we can only get HF weather elsewhere up the channel.

12 Mar
Heading out early morning again with no wind, the water still reflecting the surrounding mountains we motored to Brambles Bay just in front of a group of Kayaker’s paddling down the channel.

We anchored at Brambles and then thought about what we else we wanted to see before heading off. One was the Waterfall. We took the tender and went to find it but on the way we meet up with “Dancer” a beautiful yacht from the USA in Schooner Cover and “Stray Cat” from Fremantle anchored in Wombat Cove. After having a few drinks on board “Stray Cat” we decided that with the wind going more Westerly to move to Schooner Cove. Anchoring close to the little cove we had a restless night swinging around with the bullets coming down from the shore.

11 Mar
Took the tender towards the river entrance, it was very shallow and there were many tree stakes sticking out of the water, as we cannot see in the water due to the blackness of the water we decided not to take the risk of puncturing the dingy and went back to Cockatoo. Not before trying to land ashore on the rocky beach, but again the tree stakes made it quite unattractive for us.

We pulled anchor, not a breath of wind and motored past Celery Top Islands and moored at Claytons Jetty, hitting a mud bank. Once tied along side we filled with water, had a long hot shower (BLISS) and did three loads of washing including the sheets.

Taking the weather window offered to us we took the climb to the top of Mt Beattie which I found to be a struggle going up, down was fine. Paul is so much fitter than I am. Still the view atop was magnificent and we sat for quite a long time taking in the view. We were so lucky there was not a breath of wind and the colours and details of the view were fabulous.

Pulling away from the jetty I did not get aboard quick enough and the boat pulled away leaving me stranded. Paul had to come back along side to pick me up and got stuck on the mud bank again-he was non too happy with me.

We motored to Iola Bay, a tiny circular cove with one narrow entrance. We put the anchor down in the middle but felt very uncomfortable being so close to the sides of the bay. Mt Beattie towered over us at this anchorage.

10 Mar
W-SW 10-20 during day SW-SE 5-15

Woke up to calm still water, no wind and had everything out airing. As the weather was fine we took the tender up to Melaleuca. Again it is very black water with thick vegetation on each bank. There are sticks with beer cans on top marking the way down the river, have to keep these sticks to our port side

The scenery with the mountains as the backdrop is again breathtaking as one can see by the numerous photos I keep taking. We tied our tender to the jetty and walked along a boardwalk to the airstrip which is heavily used by the many light aircraft ferrying in tourists.

Beyond the airport is the bird hide which is definitely worth the visit as one can wait and see orange bellied parrots which are endangered and quite rare. We were lucky to see two that day. There are also bushwalkers huts which are well appointed with beds and dry surroundings. These huts I imaged would be a welcome retreat for those who are fit and brave enough to walk this secluded area.

Further along is the original residence of three generations of the King family who mined tin in these areas.

The house and area has been set aside by the family to view the living conditions of Denny King and we were able to see how they lived and survived in these remote conditions. We could look inside the home through the windows as the hut was locked but although basic it really was very comfortable.

We also walked across the airstrip to the operational alluvial tin mine and looked around. It looked very primitive but then again so do many mine sites. The beautiful white square rigged schooner in the photos is owned by the owners of the tin mine. We saw this beautiful boat go past us a couple of days later as they went for a run on the water.

It was a hot day but beautiful after being cooped on board for the last few days with weather.

We picked up the anchor and gave it a good rinse as it was full of mud and headed off to anchor on the other side of Bathurst Harbor near Swan Cove as we hoped to take the tender up the Old River and check it out.

9 Mar
Strong Wind Warning
W-NW 15-25 increasing to 30 with a late SW change 10-20

We are still here in Kings Point hiding from the strong winds. All went for a walk this afternoon in the rain and wind. We explored a set of stairs on the river bank and discovered the campsite of the Roaring 40’s-a kayak group providing wilderness tours and very well set up. Then went over to Claytons and walked up the top of a small hillock near Claytons Cove in the rain and wind. Checking for leeches on our return Paul had on that had crawled right up his trouser leg. A sundowner on Cockatoo finished off a lovely day.

8 Mar
SW 20-35 W-NW 15-25 in the afternoon

A very lazy day, almost too embarrassed to put it in writing.
Woke up for the 8.30am weather shed on Channel 82 (repeater) –there is another cold front coming through so apart from Sat being fine the next few days into next week do not look like improving any. We ran the motor to charge the batteries and heat the water for a shower (BLISS!). After the shower had breakfast and headed back to bed to read and snooze. I wrote a letter to Samantha wishing her a happy 20th birthday as I am out of phone and email range here; I will ask Kinetic Energy to mail it when they get back to Hobart for me.

We arose from our slumber at 4pm ready for a sundowner on Kinetic Energy. It has been cold, wet and gusting all day.

The police launch was in checking boats; they did not come over to see us but passed by and had a look. We threw our lifejackets in to the tender wearing them over to Kinetic Energy (we keep forgetting these are mandatory in Tasmania) to ensure we did not give them reason to stop us. What a horrible day to be out working.

7 Mar
W-SW 25-35 increasing to 40 at times
The winds have picked up 20-26-gusting 30+ from the west. I have had a lazy day on board reading and cooking biscuits. Paul has been busy upgrading Kinetic Energies laptop which has taken nearly all day, Marg came over with a freshly cooked loaf of bread which we shared for lunch-turkey and salad sandwiches. We all ended up over on Huon Mist while Paul did something to their computer. We got back on board Cockatoo II about 5pm had dinner and a relatively early night.

A lot of other boats have come up and anchored here as well hiding from the winds. There are about seven yachts anchored in Kings Point.

6 Mar
SW 10-25 increasing 20-30
I cooked a teacake and we played the game “Zilch” on board Cockatoo II with Huon Mist and Kinetic Energy which was most enjoyable as the outside weather was not very pleasant. We had an early dinner and watched a DVD before retiring to a cosy bed listening to the wind howling and the rain, hoping the anchor alarm did not go off (the anchor has dug in well and we do not think it will move after these few days of strong winds).

5 Mar
SE 5-15 and W 15-25

With the winds changing to a predicted 30 knts for the next two or so days we all decided to anchor further up the river in Bathurst Harbor at Kings Point-Hobart. Negotiating the channel was interesting (with our charts being slightly off) and adrenaline rushing but we made it and anchored securely before taking the tender and exploring Celery Top Island.

The botanists find these islands interesting because they supposedly have not been burnt anytime within the last 20,000 years or so. There is a lot of undergrowth and rotting vegetation but very beautiful again. We also headed in the tender around to Claytons Corner where there is a jetty with fresh water. We went ashore and strolled around the cottage, which was the home of the Claytons in the 1940’s and is used for a shelter for hikers, before heading back to the boat preparing for another sundowner, all congregating on “Huon Mist”. Leaving very late in the evening-we forgot to put the anchor light on and had to find our yacht which after drinking a few was interesting and bloody cold.

4 Mar
S-SE 10-25 tending E in the afternoon
Leaving the boat at Bond Bay we took the tender around to the Davey River and motored all the way up to the gorge. Breathtaking views and stunning scenery, with the water being black the reflections were amazing. We ate our picnic lunch in silence floating back down in amazement of our surroundings.

Returning back to Bond Bay I walked along the beach on white sand and explored the many rock pools along the way while Paul pulled the lobsterpot (nothing again-we have to improve if we want to survive as a yachtie!).

Expecting strong easterlies this afternoon we pulled anchor and motored around to Bramble Cove, anchoring alongside two other boats in Milner Cove. We were invited on board “Kinetic Energy” Bill and Marg from Brisbane for a sundowner and met Sandra and Lee from “Huon Mist” whom Paul had met at Kings Pier in Hobart. We enjoyed a lovely night with guitar playing and plenty to drink and eat.

Bond Bay 3-4 Mar
Strong Wind Warning NW 15-25 increasing 30-35
In the afternoon the wind picked up and we decided to move to Bond Bay. Motoring with winds gusting up to 30 knt winds and a 2 metre swell. The winds calmed down when we got closer to Bond Bay and we anchored in the deep hole off the beach in calm conditions. Trident III is the only other boat here.

Spain Bay 2-3 Mar
Anchoring in Spain Bay took us two goes as the bottom is quite hard and the anchor did not bite in the first time. We still are using our admiralty anchor which has proven itself to be very reliable.

Paul went across and had a couple of beers with a local Abalone Fisherman. The fisherman said that he in all his time fishing here had never seen so many boats come across at once. He was quite annoyed with one small power boat who had come over with no HF radio, and little safety gear. He also kindly gave Paul 3 abalone which we had for dinner.

The next morning we parked the tender on the beach and walked to Stephens Bay, it is a track which the wombats and wallabies keep well maintained. We walked through thick scrub which turned into beautiful subtropical (trees, ferns, moss, etc) closer to the beach. Stephens Bay is a beautiful beach and well worth the walk to get there. Pandora called up to tell us that if we are stopping in Melaeluca Inlet that there are rats and mice that will come aboard so don’t leave the boat open if you go away, we will remember this when we get there.

Leaving Recherche 2 Mar
Getting up at 4am to prepare for a 5am departure when it was pitch black was hard. Pulled in the anchor and started off. As there was no wind we motored, heading around Fisher Point in pitch black darkness. Once around the corner we saw about eight mast lights behind us so we must have woken everyone else up. Recherche Bay seems to be the launching pad for heading around to Port Davey.

We saw a magnificent sunrise, although I was not feeling too well (seasick) the swell was about 2 metres and quite sloppy. The coast line is again most magnificent. We headed in close to the shore as we wanted to stop at New Harbour along the south coast (since the weather was so good) all the other boats seemed to head in a line following each other around past Maatsuyker Island.

New Harbour
Approaching slowly as there were huge rocks in the entrance we anchored in very rolly conditions and had lunch and a shower. I would have loved to go ashore but we had to head off if we wanted to get to Port Davey by daylight.

South Cape and approaching Port Davey
As we sailed past the South West Cape (the wind was actually behind us at 20knots giving us a great sail) we could see the magnificent coast line. Entering Port Davey had us guessing as the charts are out and we had to have visual and try and relate it back to the charts. We had to leave the pyramids to the starboard and head for Big Caroline and Swainson Island to Port to pass between that island and the islets on the end of Forbes Point.

Recherche Bay
After having a morning walk along the Ida Bay Railway line at Southport, not really a good idea as we had grease from toe to knee from the vegetation along the track, but the scenery was lovely and the exercise needed. We then had coffee on board Dolphin III and said goodbye. We pulled anchor and left for Recherche Bay (saved from logging recently). Everyone says it is lovely and worth staying a few days. We had strong winds from -you guessed it-right on the nose-so motored all the way arriving early evening anchoring close to the waterhole. Every time we changed course the wind did too – how does it do that? Arrived late afternoon, nearing the entrance there was a rain squall causing an almost total whiteout, we wanted to see where a fisherman ahead of us was anchoring and it was difficult to keep an eye on him.

Approaching Recherche is interesting as many of the islands and reefs are very low and difficult to see. The cruising guide states “Great care should be exercised when navigating in the area of Recherche Bay and Acteon Island because of extensive reefs offshore. When approaching from the North, the safest route is between Acteon Island and Black Reef. Beware of extensive kelp beds W and N of the island and adjacent to the reef.” Our other guide states “From the north vessels should track approximately 190 degT to pass 4-5 cables west of Actaeon Island until abeam of Sterile Island and then turn to track 257 degT to enter Rocky Bay between Fisher Point and Kelly Rocks”

We have anchored near the Waterhole. It is protected here. We fished and put the craypot in but no luck, catching nil in the pot and only small flathead on the fishing line.

Taking the tender across to the national park we walked on the southern most road in Australia and looked around, checked the whale sculpture out, finding delicious raspberries on the roadside we ate what we could find before heading back to the boat. Taking the tender out late afternoon we fished catching enough flathead for dinner.

On the 27th we pulled anchor and headed towards another part of Recherche Bay called the Pigsties. Lots of Kelp, which can foul the prop and there were wind gusts up to 30 knts-you guessed it right on the nose again. We stopped to drift fish on the way and caught two barracouta.

It is again beautiful here as well. It is heavily wooded down to the beach except for cleared areas such as caravan parks and other buildings. There are also some fish farms as well. We are not certain or please about where we have anchored so will move later. Interesting coming in that the map displays a rocky area but we passed right over it (with the sonar checking it) and is not where it is indicated on the charts.???? I have hung the washing out all over the boat. Took the tender out and explored up the river before we pulled the anchor, heading back to the Coalbins for the night. Dolphin III had arrived during the day. We spend a few nights with them and Midnight Sun having sundowners.

Thursday looks like the day to go-go-go round the corner. Saw Kantala -they went to Port Davey and saw Azure there and were having a lovely time. Hope that they are still there when we go around as we have taken so long to get here, but we have enjoyed ourselves exploring this delightful part of the coast.

Got an email today Azure has arrived safely in Strahan, all sounds well.