Julie’s Story!

The weather has been not bad, cool in the mornings and evenings but nice and warm in the middle of the day.

Whilst still trying to reload all the programs and information on a new Laptop, we are still kept busy with the social commitments around the marina.

29th March Julie and Peter from Adagio

have joined us and here is her account of the days they have spent with us!

I am sitting on the bow of Opal Lady where she is anchored in the sheltered waters of Recherche Bay. Beyond a speedboat is moving through the confused seas of the Southern Ocean, leaving a white trail in it’s wake. As I scribble a few notes the warming sun is shining on me while the boat gently rocks to the chorus of birds on the shore.

When we boarded Opal Lady in Hobart on Sunday, Karen implored me “can you please write an entry on the blog”, so while I hum John Farnham’s “Just a Touch of Paradise” I will try to give an insight from my perspective of live aboard Opal Lady.

We own Alan’s previous catamaran sister ship, Adagio, so when Karen and Alan announced they were abandoning the life of sticks and rags to join the stink boat fraternity, I was surprised. I now know why. Stabilizers, copious supplies of fresh water, long hot showers, a galley with all the mod cons and a quiet diesel engine, plus the ability to ride comfortably in some pretty uncomfortable conditions with safety, make life aboard Opal Lady very civilised indeed. She is beautifully appointed with a stunning teak and cream leather interior. The guest room comes with a comfy innerspring mattress and en-suite. Combine that with Karen’s gourmet cooking, and Alan’s gracious hospitality, you will understand why we feel like we have died and gone to heaven.

Our holiday aboard the good ship Opal Lady began with a pleasant jaunt on the Derwent around Hobart. We were joined by our friends Julie, Kim and Dick. It was lovely to see Hobart’s sandstone buildings and parklands, including Government House, from the water. It reminded me of Sydney fifty years ago before the intrusion of towering skyscrapers. After leaving our day trippers at the wharf to catch a plane back to Sydney, we headed off to Primrose Sands for the night. Passing the lighthouse that constitutes the Iron Pott, we left the calm waters of the Derwent River and entered the notorious rough waters of Storm Bay en route to our protected night time anchorage, Lime Bay. Cameras were set in overdrive as the night sky exploded with a magnificent swirl of magenta, primrose and ruby brush strokes.

Alan designated ‘L’ Plates to Peter, his very enthusiastic and later anxious fishing student. The threat was ‘no fish, you swim’. This enticed Pete to cast the line at every possible opportunity. With a sigh of relief, three days later, he has caught three legal sized flatheads to add to tonight’s fare, so it is ‘no swim for him’.

But I digress. Monday was overcast and the water less agitated as we crossed Storm Bay to enter the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. We could now see first hand these places we had heard and read about during the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race reports over the years. In the channel I wondered at first what the black fins that sailed vertically along the water were. When we nearly ran one down, a seal quickly manoeuvred itself from it’s repose and dived underneath the surface. Our time aboard Adagio is mainly spent in Queensland waters, so it was wonderful to see these beautiful marine mammals in their natural southern environment.

For the second night running, Plan B dinner menu was necessary as the boys hadn’t caught any seafood. Not that we, the guests, were complaining, as Karen cooked up a storm, spoiling us with roast dinners and home made slices and breads.

We had a long passage the next day from our anchorage in Barnes Bay, north of the Huon River, down through the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and out into the Southern Ocean. Alan was keen to christen his two new lobster pots. We circled off the headland, watching the depth sounder for a good rocky bottom for the boys to position them, making sure it was not too deep to pull the pots up later. We then negotiated a passage through a lot of kelp to the calm waters of Pigsties Bay for the night. I asked Peter what the name of the rock with all the birds on it was called, and when he checked the chart, he answered, Shag Rock. It was appropriately named as over forty shags were sitting on it ‘like shags on a rock’. From the boat we could see cars driving along the road which meandered along the shoreline dotted with little fishing shacks and old houses. I believe this is the most southern stretch of road in Australia.

After an abysmal effort, the pressure was on our boys to find us a good feed of seafood. Captain Alan was up bright and early, keen to check on the success of his new lobster pots. We woke to the sound of the anchor being lifted, so we knew he meant serious business. While his first mate cleverly manoeuvred the boat next to the first float, the boys hauled up the basket. A couple of dejected expressions told the story as it rose to the surface – the cupboard was bare! It is April Fool’s Day today, so when Alan announced as the second basket broke the surface that he had five crays, we thought he was kidding. Three were just under the limit, so they lived to tell the tale, while Karen gleefully popped the other two in a pot of boiling water – hurrah. There was lots of excitement for captain and crew as we celebrated the first lobster catch aboard Opal Lady. Buoyed with enthusiasm after their successful mission, the boys headed off to a sandy patch to catch flathead. Last count we have seven flathead and a wrasse to add to our seafood banquet tonight. Ah, there is nothing grander than the sweet smell of success baking in the oven. I wonder what delights will be awaiting us when we lift the pots again tomorrow?

We left before dawn to collect our spoils from the pots. It’s quite an effort to pull the pots from the rocky bottom, especially in these lumpy seas. What a disappointment to find the five crays in the first pot were undersize, and the second pot yielded nothing. Last night’s delicious feast has given us a taste for these magnificent shell fish, nevermind. Once we had the pots stowed we headed north to the town of Dover. It’s a beautiful hamlet nestled in rolling hills with a back drop of Adamsons Peak ‘silhouetted like an ancient pyramid placed by mistake in this southern land’. The day started with thirty knot winds, and once anchored it’s strength had reduced to 15 knots. We hopped into the dinghy, all with lifejackets on, a law in Tasmania, and motored into the sandy shore. First stop was the baker to buy some of their famous curry scallop pies for dinner. We then meandered down to the pub for a feed of Tasmanian Atlantic salmon – yum! Pete’s great grandparents had lived here in the late 1800s, so it was wonderful to see first hand this beautiful area they called home.

Seals cruised nearby with their black sails raised, and a couple of penguins entertained us as we motored back up the D’Entrecasteaux Channel for our night time anchorage at Barnes Bay.

We head back to Port Stephens tomorrow, and take with us the unique sights, sounds and smells of this natural Australian treasure they call Tasmania. Thank you Alan and Karen for a wonderful time on Opal Lady. We treasure your friendship, and admire your boat and adventurous lifestyle she is affording you both.

We farwelled Peter and Julie on Friday afternoon and had another busy weekend spending Saturday with Gaye and Joe. Alan and Joe had to do some modifications to our spare anchor to enable it to fit in the anchor locker on the shelf while Gaye and I spent the afternoon shopping. The evening finished with a delicious BBQ around the outdoor fireplace at Joes.

Soon it was the middle of the week and Paul, Alans’ cousin from Melbourne arrived with his mate Gary for a day onboard Opal Lady. Clear skies and not a breath of wind on the Derwent allowed us to explore the banks on the way south to Bruny Island for lunch. The boys reminised all day reliving stories from their childhood and enjoying the sights. Passing the fish farms and ferry terminal to starboard we dropped anchor in The Duck Pond at Barnes Bay on Bruny Is. It is a very protected anchorage and being midweek we thought we would have it all to ourselves but within 5 mins of dropping the anchor another converted cray boat entered the bay! Perhaps they thought the same!! Several bottles of wine, chicken, salad and rolls were enjoyed before the sun was getting lower and I realised it was already 4pm! We hitailed it back to the yacht club and just made it before dark. A very enjoyable day!

Happy Easter To All!

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