Saturday, 15 December 2018

Oh Tasmania!

SV Southern Belle cutting through the waves on her way to Tasmania 2018.
I'm still.  The movement of the boat has ceased.  There's no rocking, no rolling or pitching or jerking from side to side just blessed stillness.   It's hard to believe we were on the boat for just 9 days and sailed over 500 nautical miles from Sydney Harbour to our present location, Triabunna, Tasmania.  It's even harder to believe I'm doing this again.  

I never planned to travel back to Tasmania in our little boat but here we are and, as happened last time, Tassie never disappoints!  The scenery is dramatic, the people are warm and friendly and the wind, well, it just blows and blows .. but occasionally it stops and presents a perfect day.

Our crossing from Eden to Wineglass Bay was, in hindsight, not too bad.  We motored a lot of the way in light winds but the sea was restless and rolly which made my stomach unhappy.  The crossing lasted about 54 hours.  A long time to feel like puking.

The towering peaks on the way into Wineglass Bay.
 Our arrival in Wineglass Bay - so called either because of the perfect shape and clarity of the water or because of the blood and guts spilled from the old whaling boats (yuck) - was a relief.  It was calm and beautiful and so quiet.  The rugged mountains that provide the weather protection corridor (in some winds) leading into the Bay are smooth and black and imposing.  But then once into the Bay you easily see the perfectly white sands and famed beach curve.

We spent our first night in Tasmania there.  First enjoying a celebratory wine or two, then a heavenly shower and quick dinner.  Sleep came quickly.

The next day we headed for the little town of Triabunna on the eastern shore of Tasmania.  The sun was out and the wind decided to blow at just the right speed for our big red code zero sail (a kind of spinnaker sail on a roller furler).  I personally dislike that sail for a number of reasons I won't go into here but George loves it!  So, with our friend Bruce on board - who is a racer and loves a spinnaker - the red sail went up and we had a terrific, and I must admit, near perfect, sail all day down to Triabunna.

George and Bruce elated over the perfectly set big red sail!
Because the day was so perfect and the sailing so good the men wouldn't take down the sail until the last minute which meant we entered the channel leading into the little bay at Triabunna way too close to low tide.  There were a few uncomfortable minutes where we ran aground just to back out and run aground again.  Finally the boat broke free with 0.1m under the keel and we came into our pen only to run aground half way in!  Our little 75 hp Yanmar engine with the steely determination of the captain managed to plough the boat through the mud to our final destination for the day.  Whew!

The next morning we got up early and sadly walked Bruce up to the bus stop to catch the bus for Hobart and a plane for home in Canberra.  It was so good to have him on board for our trip all the way from Sydney.  He absolutely loves sailing - me, not so much a lot of the time - and was the perfect partner for George.  Thank you Bruce for being there for us!

Triabunna is a nice little town with a new small marina.  The harbour master is friendly, helpful and accommodating.  But there aren't many berths available to visiting yachts.  He told us there are plans for more berths to bring the marina up to a high standard but right now it is pretty full.  But if you're sailing this way you should try and stop here.  We like it a lot. There's a great old pub circa 1844 where you can meet the locals over a beer, a well stocked IGA and a new coffee shop/restaurant that makes excellent coffee.  There's also the Fish and Chip van that we loved so much last time we were down but, unfortunately,  we didn't think their food was as good this time. 

This town is also the gateway to Maria Island a World Heritage locatioin with an historic convict station dating from 1825.  There are spectacular bays, rugged cliffs and lots of wildlife with well marked walking paths.  We decided to spend the day on Maria Island yesterday and boarded the ferry for the half hour crossing at 9am. 

A quick word about the ferry.  It's big.  Very big for this little bay and it does a tight 180 degree turn right off the stern of our boat 5 times a day.  Our experience of the ferry has gone from alarm to admiration at the driving ability of it's captain.

Anyway we arrived on Maria Island early and our first stop was the ranger station in the old Commissariat Store building.  As usual the rangers were helpful in giving us tips on how to best enjoy the island and how we were in for a treat with all the wild life.  Then the friendly ranger said to me (who has a healthy fear of snakes), "did you see the TIGER SNAKE on the way in?"  "What!"  "Yes, come on let me show you."

I walked right past it on the way in .. one of the top potentially fatal snakes of Australia.  There were people already there taking photos of the poor thing and George encouraged me to get a photo as well.  But I decided to stay a healthy distance away behind Mr. Ranger.  No snake photos for me thank you very much.

We had a good day on the island and didn't see any more snakes but we did see Cape Barron Geese, kagaroos, lots of birds and lovely scenery.  We also spent a fair amount of time walking through the convict buildings and reading the tales of the unfortunate men who spent time in this, what must have seemed God forsaken, place.  If you get out this way we recommend a day on Maria Island it is a very special place for many reasons.

Today the wind is back with rain and we are enjoying some welcomed down time before continuing our journey to Hobart.
The path leading from the ferry on Maria Island past the Commissariat Building. 

Cape Barron Geese.

Some of the old convict buildings.  You can stay overnight in this building on the island but you have to bring everything.  There are no stores or refreshment facilities or even drinking water fountains on the island.