Opal Lady completed 2500nm in just under 3mths!
Easter began with clear blue skies and a warm sunny day! We were headed down the coast, by car to Tony and Lyn Peaches’ for a Good Friday Scallop Lunch. Joining us were the crew from Maa Malmi, Suzan, Michael and Larry, a 52’ yacht from Seattle. Prior to lunch we drove the 12 klm from the base to the top of Mt Wellington to see the magnificent 360 degree view of Hobart City and surrounds on one of the rare days that it is out of the clouds. The temperature at the top is 10 degrees cooler than Hobart City, so it was not real warm! The margaritas’ that were served to us on arrival at Tonys’ warmed us up along with the Scallops Mornay and Pan fried Scallops whilst enjoying the view from their cliff top home of the Derwent River.
Brendon and Aaron arrived on Easter Sunday and still the sky was blue so we made another trip up Mt Wellington before untying from the dock and heading the 22nm to Norfolk Bay Region where we anchored in Lime Bay for the evening. On the trip over the seas were calm so I was able to cook a Roast Pork feast with all the trimmings (Brendon’s favourite), as soon as the anchor was down we were able to enjoy dinner with yummy crackling.
Monday morning we were awoken by the phone, Tony( Alans fishing mate from Primrose Sands) was calling the troops to order and they were to be ready for pickup in ½ hour. With PFDs’ on, as this is a Maritime law here in Tassie, that any person in a vessel under 6m is required to wear one at all times, they all left and I then had several hours to wash, clean and do girly things in peace!! They arrived back starving hungry with a bucket load of fillets in hand. 80 flathead were caught and filleted and approx 40 were thrown back as they were under the 30cm limit! They all enjoyed the fresh baked bread rolls for lunch before we headed off across the bay in search of a suitable spot to lay the craypots down. The process involves following the shoreline around until the bottom on the sounder screen shows a rocky sea bed. Then the feed baskets are filled with fish carcasses and cable tied into the craypots and lowered into the water for several hours, although we still have differing opinions as to the time we need to leave them down! The long golden sands of Primrose Beach with the headlands either end made a wonderful early morning sunrise photo the following morning. The anchor was up and we were underway before I ventured to wake the boys up so they could assist Alan pulling the pots. Easy to see why the professional guys have big winches for the job. But the disappointment was they both came up bare and secondly Alan dropped our good extendable boat hook and it didn’t float.
The clear blue skies and flat water made for a wonderful passage through the Denison Canal. Today was the first time that the bridge keeper had come down with his bucket attached to a long stick to collect the $1 fee. Not being prepared Alan hurriedly grabbed 4 beers from the fridge and put in the bucket. We were an hour before the high tide but we still had at the least a metre of water under us. 3nm and several Nav markers later with made it to the East coast of Tassie and headed for Maria Islands’ east coast and the hope of crays and fish. The southern shores of Maria Is are steep, high rocky cliffs with deep water below. I remember as a young child, Pop(Dad’s father), in one of his many lessons when he took us fishing at the base of Fishing Point . . . “high land, deep water, Low land, shallow water!” Once again the pots went down, then the anchor went down in Whalers Cove. This tiny bay was just big enough for 2 vessels and with the roll of the ocean swell coming in we deployed the paravanes then Alan threw the inflatable tender off the boat deck into the water and fitted the outboard for the boys to go fishing. In contrast to their week’s holiday last year at Fraser Is, this time they arrived back with lots of fish in their bucket. Later they let on that the other yacht in the bay had a gill net out and caught several Leatherjackets and gave them some! But they did get several flatheads and a Wrasse themselves. Dark was approaching fast and we gave them the filleting knife to head to shore to clean and fillet them.
Wednesday 15th, ½ the week gone already! Gale warning forecast! SW – W Winds expected to hit late afternoon 40 – 50knts! Good enough reason to pull up pots and head in. As we started to pull the pots the seas began to rise and as we headed back around the south eastern corner of Maria Is we were hit with 62knts from the west, 5 hours early. But Opal Lady handled the seas and wind easy, although the tender was still in the water and it was picked up and thrown around like a hanky in the wind. It flipped over and emptied the fish cleaning gear into the drink, with a flick of the bowline Alan had it back on its hull and we headed for the shelter of the bay to pull it back up on the boat deck. We used the wind to help get it back up by having the wind on the beam; Alan pulled it up on the leeward side. This method also worked well to get the paravanes stowed. The westerly blew a consistent 45knts for the 3hr trip back to Dunalley and we decided to anchor and wait for the wind to abate before heading back through the Denison Canal. Once through, this time with such miserable conditions there was no little man with his hand out so we slowly made our way back into Norfolk Bay. Going through metre high waves and against 40 – 50 knt headwinds, we slowly plugged away across to Monk Bay and joined the other ½ dozen yachts sheltering there.
5am Thursday 16th and the forecast 30knt Southerly didn’t arrive, but alas instead a northerly did and this had us hanging back on the anchor in shallow water. So we flew out of bed and were off in record time. This made our trip to The Duck Pond on Bruny Island very comfortable as we had a tail wind for the 28nm trip. Alan firmly believes that the boys are either sleeping or eating as they didn’t get out of bed until the anchor dropped in The Duck Pond 5 hours later! They complained about the noise!!
The sun shone and the small bay gave us great protection from the northerly winds, we had a relaxing day!
The winds had subsided and we made our way back to the RYCT. The boys wanted to experience the night life of Hobart and took us to the Casino for dinner in one of the many restaurants. After a beautiful dinner Alan and I went back on board to retire and the boys partied on!
The following morning we took them back to the airport for the trip home! So sad! Great week!
In the week following we spent many hours endeavouring to solve our ongoing problem with the Inverter, catching up with other Circumnavigators that were still on the marina, and we met some new friends that are also happy ‘playing boats’ around here!
Plenty of rain dampened Anzac Day and the Dawn Services, but the smile was still on the faces of friends Rhonda and Fraser, as they arrived for a week’s holiday from their Cafe Bakery 285 in Deniliquin. We had been planning a low key week as Rhonda is definitely not a boating person and had serious words to Fraser prior to their leaving Deni, and made him promise that if she said get me off, he would! With this in mind, after doing the grocery shopping on Sunday we untied the lines from the dock and headed off in search of a calm anchorage at the Duck Pond for the evening, So far so good! During the evening a NW blew up. . . .56.9knts! But our trusty 105lb/ 47kg anchor held us fast, it’s a shame the converted trawler in front of us didn’t have one. As the wind strengthened Alan and I spent an hour or so peering through the pilothouse windows assessing the position of the trawler getting closer and closer. It seemed to pull up right on our bow, so we then let a further 25m of chain out to be on the safe side. That night it snowed on us for a few hours before the rain returned. As it appears to be down here, the sun shone the next morning (we slept past sunrise!) and by midday we all agreed to stay put. As the tide falls it exposes hundreds of oysters on the rocks on the eastern side of the bay, also a sandy beach on the western fringes and at the entrance there was a sand and rock spit that protrudes half way across the entrance. Thankfully someone has marked the point with a metre high stick. During the day we had numerous kayakers in the bay under instruction from the charter company, all attempting to get them to go forward, it provided us with entertainment for the day!
As we made our way past the ferry loading facility on Bruny Is and the fish farms, the snow lightly fell on us, thankfully we were warm and snug within the pilothouse. Rounding the northern tip of Bruny Island we set a course for the Iron Pot. As we entered Storm Bay, the swell coming from the Southern Ocean rose to 1-1.5m with another 1/2m chop on top and simultaneously Rhondas’ face turned the same green as her shirt. As she broke into a sweat, I rushed for the lolly barrel, we opened both Pilothouse doors and bought out the nibbles this helped and although not really happy she made it all the way without embarrassment.
In the following days we went to Lime Bay, Monk Bay and then Primrose Sands for the boys to go fishing with Tony. The day was bitterly cold and as we farewelled them we snuck back into the warmth of the cabin where Rhonda and I spent a few quiet hours.
A bucket of Flathead fillets and a few very cold men arrived back to a hot bowl of Pea and Ham Soup, Chicken and Tomato Pasta and some fresh hot bread rolls to warm them up!
In search of a quiet anchorage for the night we left Primrose Sands and headed for Dodges Ferry, a small town at the entrance to Pittwater. Pittwater is a large body of shallow water covering 200-300 hectares. From Frederick Henry Bay you leave Spectacle Islands to starboard and stay to the starboard side at the channel as you past Tiger Head and Dodges Ferry and to port are the high sand dunes. The depth of the channel is 8-10m deep, although the depth doesn’t extend very wide or very far into Pittwater. We anchored just as the sun was setting behind the sand dunes and spent a very restful night. Fraser and Rhonda had been providing us with a star rating for the week and after the Storm Bay episode we were down to a 2 star rating, but this anchorage and the peaceful trip back across Storm Bay along with the Derwent River cruise had us back to a 9 star rating before we docked at the yacht club.
We farewelled them Saturday and will now spend a few quiet days here at the marina before heading to explore many more anchorages around the Southern Waters!