Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tasmania '10

TASMANIA The days around Christmas were a little bit rough on us. We had bad weather, bad seas and bad progress. I prayed and Eelco sailed. A sleeping whale gave us a fright and the birds disappeared. When we were finally becalmed amidst the centre of a high pressure zone, we dropped sails, and slept. Awakening to a pink sunset sky that coloured the water around the boat a turquoise green we were rejuvenated and ready to tackle the rest of the trip.
There were big, fat, drilling, lifeless, odd coloured jellyfish drifting by. The air had a rotten smell. We were already on the Bass Strait plateau and the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race was on and the front runners in our vicinity. Also the Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race was on. We actually saw a handful of these boats.
We had a hard to windward run all the way over Bass Strait. The currents created rough and high seas. Our progress was fair. The recently repaired jib, very costly, ripped with a hollow 'thud'. Fortunately only the bottom part, and we could roll a reef and continued. Rips and head winds and no room between the islands to tack pushed us onto a lee shore. When we finally got out of that mess, the wind died. With gale force wind we arrived the next morning of 30 Dec '09 in Beauty Point, Tasmania, our port of entry after exactly three weeks at sea from Opua, New Zealand.
After a week of resting, greeting friends, stocking up and doing washing, it was time to move again.
The plan is to cruise Tasmanian waters this season. Weather may rule otherwise. Crossing Banks Strait between Flinders Island and Tassy a wind bullet smacked us and thoroughly blew the again repaired jib with a loud 'bang' to pieces. At the moment we are trying to order a new sail with the means of our shortwave email. Internet is not readily available on or around the water. We got lured into a small bay by beautiful rock colours and formations - and got chased out by terrible gusts. Trying to weigh the anchor the anchor winch busted an oil seal. Yes, below decks. The mess and stench of oil burning on the electro motor were unreal. In the next two days Eelco had to lift the 80m of chain plus anchor five times on deck while 50kn /100km winds (only half of that was predicted) had us dragging repeatedly. Truck-tyre-sized jellyfish thrived in the bay north of Maria Island.
Here in historical Port Arthur we are kind-of stuck for the moment. Will just have to wait till the wind turn favourable again and we can move to the area around Bruny Island further south and west. Good for MYLADY though, chores getting done.
Cruising Tasmaina is not cruising at all. It is hanging on! Wind forever rules one's life unpredictably. Cold and wet fronts keep us cold and wet. Sailing is costly and hard work. I get the feeling that many a convict might have experienced - miserable. A sunshine moment without wind I sceptically enjoy. Have I mentioned the awe-inspiring organ pipes towering hundreds of meters straight from the seafloor into the sky? In some places they have toppled and crumbled in square rocks strewn over a slope. Have I told you about the universal peace on earth just before sunrise? And the terrible bush fire that covered us in smoke and soot. Friendly smiling dolphins, curious looking seals and the graceful beggar birds are our regular companions.
Tasmania = Impressive.