Wednesday, 18 February 2015

End of the Road - BUT not for us!!!

The signpost at the End of the Road.  Bet you didn't know it was signposted!
We are here at the bottom of Tasmania .. at the marker of the end of roads in Australia. 
After this only water, Macquarie Island (if you find it/hit it) and Antarctica... it is remote and stunningly beautiful here.

We are in Recherche Bay at the bottom of Tasmania.  The vistas - everywhere you turn to look - are breathtaking.  Our anchorage is a protected bay within the larger bay called Coalbins and from the boat you can see the opposite shore or the expanse of water stretching out to the North. 

Right now the westerly winds are blowing.  At times they're much lighter than you would expect coming off the southern ocean and then in the next minute the wind gathers strength to whip up the water surface and leave the boat pulling left and then right against her mooring line.  We are waiting for those unpredictable and often fierce westerlies to settle down and for a change to more favourable wind speeds and direction.  Our plan is to move out into the Southern Ocean early in the morning and around the coast to a place called Port Davey/Bathurst Harbour.  Every time I think about it I get that tense, almost sick, feeling in the bottom of my stomach.  That feeling comes to me when I know we're sailing to a new place.  You would think after making it all the way down here I wouldn't get that "stage fright" feeling .. but I do, in spades.

Once we move around to explore Bathurst Harbour we will be out of contact with the world through phone or the internet.  The only contact will be via either limited VHF radio coverage or HF radio coverage.  The area is a true National Park treasure and, supposedly, one of the most beautiful places on our planet.  If you would like to find out more about the area, or see a YouTube video on the national park click here to go to a link .

As I say each time I sit down to blog ... "the past few days/weeks have been soooo busy" .. and since I blogged last it's been no exception.  We've been to some amazing places and seen some grand sights and now, to get in as much as I'd like to and not be too boring, I'm just going to post pictures below ....

This is the outside of a large "shed" in the bush which is the home of THE WALL.
The Wall, when finished, will be a collection of 100 sculpted panels of Huon pine with scenes representing the pioneer spirit of Tasmanians, the clash of cultures with Aboriginal people and the plants and animals that define the bush.
The art is simply amazing, in fact words don't/can't do it justice.  The artist is Greg Duncan and he's been working on this for over 10 years now.  What he can create out of wood is almost too real to be believed.  You can't take photos inside the building but to get a taste of what it looks like and more information click here to go to the website

On the way to The Wall we stopped to have a look at one of the hydro electric plants on the way.  These plants are built differently to hydro plants I had seen previously.  Instead of a major dam driving the turbines this plant - and many more like it - have water coming from canals, rivers, etc in the bush.  The water cascades down steep slopes .. as you can see from the photo .. and hit the turbines at great speed.  Fantastic sight!!

The day before we left Hobart we had to completely restock the boat.  What you can see here is probably 2/3rds alcohol - one can't run out of wine or beer now can one - but there are more food bags behind.  I promise.  Thank goodness we still have our car or we would have needed 10 trips back and forth to the stores!!  All stocked we took off yesterday morning for the southern ocean.

Leaving the Derwent River - Hobart - in the early morning we passed a cruise ship on the way in to Hobart city.

The cliffs on the Storm Bay side of Bruny Island.  They are huge.  You can just see a tour boat at the bottom to get an idea of how massive and high the cliffs are.  We were lucky .. the wind was very calm and we could get in relatively close to see the sights!

More fabulous and ancient rock formations on the way down to Rescherche Bay.  This island was so worn the fast tour boats could just go in behind it and peak out through the tunnels. 

The far beach in Rescherche Bay,

The mountains of the rugged South West coast.  That's where we headed .. to the bay nearest to these mountains.
It looks like Middle Earth doesn't it?

Here in Rescherche Bay they used to practice whaling.  There used to be a population of over 100,000 southern right whales here at one time.  Whaling brought that population down to almost extinction.  Now there are only a couple of 1,000 still coming here in their migration.  This sculpture is life size of a young whale calf.  So sad we drove these wonderful creatures to the edge of extinction. 

So tomorrow we're off into the southern ocean and around to Port Davey.  I won't be able to blog for a week .. maybe more ... but when we're back there will be lots and lots to share!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


The spectacle of the Hobart Wooden Boat Festival.  Certainly the best boat show we've EVER been to! 
Every day since my last post has been busy ... up early with somewhere to go, someone to meet and someplace to see. 

As usual it's been great fun & rewarding on many levels.  But the bummer of all bummers has been our persistent head and chest cold which has slowed us both down a bit.  We've still kept going, probably the reason why we can't seem to shake the damn things. 

Lately at the end of particularly long day I say to George, "that's it, I'm taking tomorrow off and staying in bed!".   Then the next morning that wish appears to be THE most ridiculous thing.  "I can't miss that!", rings in my head as I roll out of the v-berth and we get ready to cough and sniff our way through another action packed day.  There's too much to do and nothing short of pneumonia can stop us!

The highlight has most undoubtedly been the Wooden Boat Festival held over 4 days this past weekend.  The literature for the festival describes it as an ... exciting celebration of our nation's rich maritime history and one of the world's most anticipated events.  I'll admit to not knowing exactly what to expect when we were planning our trip down here.  The thought of a hanging around a boat show every day for 4 days didn't particularly seem exciting and I just didn't understand how varied, beautiful and enticing wooden boats can be.  As we've been here hearing about the show and talking to our friends Bruce & Thelma - who own a beautiful and well loved wooden boat themselves - I started to get a better idea of the "specialness" of the show.  But, as they say, nothing can prepare you for the first time with the real thing!!!

In addition to the sights of the Festival I've had a chance to meet many people - some are women sailors who have circumnavigated the planet (I admire their courage and ability so much) - who've become internet friends through blog posts or through sailing specific Facebook groups.  We also met two famous world cruisers who have been sailing together around the world and around Australia for a total of more than 40 years.   Here as some photos of all the activity ....

The opening day of the Festival there was to be a sail past of participating boats and we took our boat out to see the parade from the water.  I thought they would all be waiting just outside of the entrance to the Derwent River and that the sail in would be rather staged.  It was nothing like that!  As we progressed down the river to where Storm Bay and the opening to The Channel meet the river there was nothing.  Then, after going a little further, there they were - the Fleet - on the horizon.  So many yachts coming with their colourful sails up and sailing proudly towards Hobart. 
Wow!  It was really something to see. 

Out in front of the grand parade were the tall ship replicas .. so impressive under full sail.

Then came the larger cruising type yachts all varnished and gleaming ...  
 moving, living monuments to the artistry of wooden boat building.
With just our head sail out we turned to mingle in with the fleet as they approached the show docks in Hobart.
This was the bit that made me nervous!  As all the yachts approached central Hobart and with helicopters overhead everyone sailed on display backwards and forwards across the bay to show off their boat.  This meant lots of in close sailing with the afternoon breezes getting up.  George handled the boat perfectly.  Me, I'm happier where there's lots more room around the boat.  I am not - in no way - a racing sailor.  Never will be.

Back at the docks in Hobart.  The Festival featured all sorts of wooden craft from tall ships, to shore traders, rowing boats and motor boats.  All were loving cared for and the owners welcomed visitors aboard to have a look inside their pride and joy.  There were dogs on boats and kids everywhere, buskers and performers, street theatre and demonstrations .. the saying "something for everyone" certainly applies here.
A view across the docks from the bow of our friend's Bruce and Thelma's beautiful wooden yacht - Tui of Opua.
Hobart has been a major surprise this trip.  The things to do and see since we've been here have been exceptional but, like I said earlier, I think the Wooden Boat Festival has been the highlight so far.  Not to be outdone the social life has also been in high gear as well.  It is surprising but the number of people you meet just shuffling up and down the docks through the crowd is amazing.  Great atmosphere and terrific sights .. this is an event to put on any bucket list.

At the start of this Tasmanian adventure I was introduced to two very supportive Facebook groups ... Tasmania Cruising, set up by Jack and Jude Binder the well known world cruising couple; and Women Who Sail Australia, a forum of women just like myself who are cruising around this continent on lakes, rivers or the ocean.  Each group provides a forum for posting achievements, thoughts, and questions relating to sailing ... and in my case in Tasmania.

I can unequivocally say that each forum provided us - me, in particular - with good information and support in taking on this sailing venture.  We followed up some of the people at the show and went on their boats.  I loved meeting the skipper of the magnificent yacht 'Kintail'.  He was so welcoming and shared his experiences of the area.  He's yet another new friend to meet up with on the water somewhere between here and our home port .. both boats live in Pittwater, NSW.   We also met Jack and Jude at the signing of their latest book at the Boat Books stand ... again great people, honestly welcoming and interested in how others see this cruising thing.

On Sunday some of the Women Who Sail Australia group who are down here for the show got together for a glass or two of bubbly and an afternoon lunch.   It was wonderful to be able to put faces to so many of the supportive comments over that site.  We had a blast.  Linda Flylink Anderson, who wrote about her experience circumnavigating the globe in her book 'Sailing in my Sarong, Around the World A 30-Year Dream' joined our lunch as did Jude.  For awhile Jack joined us and Linda's husband and my husband but they all left us for the time necessary to have a great female lunch session .. which is sooo good for the soul!!!

Ladies who sail, also Lunch!
The girls having fun.  From the left around the table .. Jude, me, Linda, Madelaine, Judy and Julie.
Excellent afternoon spent laughing and sharing.

There're many more things I can share and rave about ... like our wonderful dinner with Di, John, Nic and Peter and drinks with Bev and David.  But you get the picture .. all good with great people. 

Today George and I are doing what we tried to do during the show ... rest.  A lot of our RPAYC group are out exploring the fabulous cruising grounds of Tassie.  Bogart left this morning for Port Davey as did a number of the people we've met here in the marina.  Port Davey is our next destination but we're going to spend a bit of time getting well first. 

As usual... more later.  And to everyone reading this a very big THANK YOU!

Monday, 2 February 2015

THE WEATHER ... having fun in spite of it.

At our "picnic" with the Derwent Sailing Squadron on Sunday. 
The cold and the wet wasn't going to stop us hardy sailing types from drinking and eating!
This morning we woke to a calm marina bay, glassy water conditions, bright sun and flawless blue sky.  As I walked from our boat to the shower stalls people were standing out on their boats or on the walkways smiling and everyone commented on how wonderful the sunshine felt.  This beautiful morning seems like it's been a long - long - time coming ... and everyone, including me, is well and truly OVER the wind and the drizzle.

Normally I try to only accentuate the positive when writing this blog but I have to have just a little whinge first up about the weather.  The wind has been the predominate factor in this whole Tasmanian adventure but the grey skies have also contributed to the growing frustration factor.  There's been a very deep low off south-eastern Australia and it has meant wind and rain for a lot of the coast from northern New South Wales down to the southern tip of Tassie. 

Here we've had grey skies day after day but, for me, the westerly wind has been the killer.  George and I have been lucky with our anchorages and with our trip back to the marina last Monday but so many of our boating friends have been caught out in uncomfortable conditions.  Even here in the marina the wind is a part of everything you do .. or try to do.  It is annoying.  However, all the wonderful local people - on and off the water - say it will stop now.  February and March are the months when the wind starts to behave and the sky clears.  Summer will come.  Any day now.

Enough of that.  On to the fun bits!!!

Australia day celebrations in the little township of Nubeena!
Over a week ago we left Port Arthur for the little township of Nubeena.  We sailed back around the impressive cliffs of Cape Raoul - on a much calmer day - and up the western coast of the Tasman Peninsular.  The little community of Nubeena sits beside a sheltered inlet called Parsons Bay.  We liked it a lot and stayed there a week.  It was very comfortable in the south-westerly winds. 

As we pulled into the bay, being careful to avoid the large fish farms all along the passage, we heard from our friends on 'Bogart' ... they were on their way around from Norfolk Bay to join us.  Hooray!  And then, as they arrived we saw 'My Way 2' coming in as well.  Double Hooray!  Even if the weather kept being bleak we would at least have some good social time.  What we didn't expect was a full on Australia Day celebration the next day on shore.

Australia Day - for those elsewhere - is the official national day to celebrate being Australian.  Originally established to recognise the arrival of the first fleet ... Australia Day is meant to celebrate community and diversity in our nation of immigrants.  However, as a footnote, to date the day doesn't pay homage to the original owners of the land unfortunately.  But, me personally, I LOVE Australia Day and the way it brings communities together .. and usually out on the water.  Being in Nubeena for their day was such a surprise, privilege and so much fun!

Part of the celebrations in Nubeena was a cruise out of the bay on a replica tall ship.
There were also kids kayak races and a sailing regatta. 

During the day on land there was an excellent art fair by local artists in the civic center/high school.
And starting at 5pm they had a Taste of Tasmania in the sports ground with
food & wine vendors PLUS a terrific Aussie Band.
The day there and night in the sports ground was FANTASTIC.  The next day we all walked to the local pub which was a good piece away and a very welcome walk to stretch the legs.  'Bogart' left that evening to return to the marina in Hobart.  Unfortunately they had to cross Storm Bay in winds forecast to blow 15 to 20 knots but, just like most of the conditions we've been experiencing, instead they battled 40 knots plus of  hard driving cold winds.  'Southern Belle' and 'My Way 2' stayed behind to wait for a better forecast a couple of days later. 

We had all noticed a small restaurant on shore called Lucky Ducks.  Our lunch, on the last day in Nubeena, was excellent.  Good menu, food and a great wine list.  Happy.
So, the past week we've been back in the marina.  Most of the RPAYC boats and crew are here as well and we've been enjoying what I consider the absolute best part of cruising - socialising!  There's been drinks on board, meeting new people and dinners out.  The best of times ... so good to be with the larger group. 

Last Friday night we all went to the Moonah pub not far from the marina.  I suggested the venue - sight unseen - after looking around on line for someplace that could take our group of 18.  Unfortunately as we were driving up to the front of the pub we noticed there was also a large group of very serious looking bikers arriving as well!  Would this be Bikers vs Sailors?  No.  They went to the public bar and we went back to the very respectable looking dining room.  Fun was had by all .. the food was remarkably good.  And each group - although we only really met while ordering food - were very nice to each other.

And finally ... sorry about the length of this post but I've been so lazy about posting that there's so much to tell! .... Yesterday our group were treated to a BBQ on the beach by the members of the Derwent Sailing Squadron.  We were all looking forward to this.  The DSS people have been very generous with their time and with inviting members of our group to join in their activities.  They had promised free beer, oysters and salmon and a great day out months ago.  Unfortunately the day was bleak weather wise.  Rain, drizzle, wind, cold ... you name it we just about had it all.  In spite of the prevailing wet stuff the BBQ went ahead.   I had a great time, although at one time I thought it was the coldest I had ever been - in my life.  George woke up with a cold and a bad cough so I went in the car with Peter & Debbie.  We decided not to brave the conditions in the boat.  I'm so glad I went - and that the event happened.  As usual the people were good to meet and, again, apologised for the weather and promised February and March would be much much better.

The fantastic beach and bay where we had the BBQ. 

This coming weekend the wooden boat festival starts in Hobart.  The festival has become one of the major attractions for Tassie and we're all looking forward to it.

And a final note on the weather.  George and I are having a wonderful time.  At the end of it all the weather doesn't matter.  It's the people, the joy of sharing good times - and bad.  And it's the place.  Tasmania is just beautiful.  Nothing has disappointed.