Leg 15 Hobart to Pittwater
.Hobart to Sydney
This was to be the last leg of captain Paul’s circumnavigation of Australia. Unfortunately it was to be sailed with a new geriatric crew, some of whom had restricting ailments, the most notable amongst these being Alzheimer’s. Where’s the muesli, how do you find the next way point and where’s my soap, being typical calls during the trip. This was to test the Captains patience and perseverance. But he was never found wanting.
Guinevere had arrived into Hobart well ahead of schedule, giving Paul lots of time to re-provision the boat ready for the new crew and a prompt departure. And so it was, within minutes of our arrival we had pushed off the Elizabeth Street pier and were sailing out across Storm Bay headed for Port Arthur. The safety briefing was a type of ‘on the job training’. And very effective it was, what I can remember if it. The skipper had already carefully loaded our course for the day into the chart plotter, so it should have been an easy matter for even a novice to steer the safe course. The trouble was, some of the new crew were tourists and liked to steer close to shore for better sightseeing. On more than one occasion this took Guinevere into slightly shallower water, highlighted on the charts by blue colouring. As soon as the skipper saw this we directed to “keep out of the blue bits”, not an entirely unreasonable requirement, considering the value of this beautiful boat and the wellbeing of the crew.
A favourable southerly pushed us past the impressive vertical granite cliffs of Cape Roul with Tasman Island off to our starboard as we entered ??? .Bay. We found a pretty anchorage on a comfy mooring close into grounds of Port Arthur. The crew had been following the Guinevere blog for sometime before this leg and had noted the sumptuous meals the crews had enjoyed on previous legs. We were not disappointed on this one.
The next morning we were tempted to have a look around Port Arthur, but we were even more keen to head north so that we could make use of the strong southerlies, forecast for Sunday and Monday, to push us across Bass Straight. Denis was given the task of setting our course for Wineglass Bay on the chart plotter – and how entertaining was that. Way points were set in the direction of Wineglass making quite sure to keep out of the blue bits. Sounds simple? Well it sort of would be except that, each time Denis was instructed to “zoom in” to the chart he would “zoom out” and vicky versa. Not once did the tone of Paul’s voice change and in the end we had a course planned. We are still not sure whether Denis has dyslexia or was testing Pail’s patience.
We set sail early heading north passing between Tasman Island and the mainland. The cliffs in this area rise out of the sea in sheer vertical columns that in places are more than 1,000 metres high. The day was pleasant with fair winds and mostly clear skies, and sea birds to keep us company. We passed by Maria and Schouten Islands and round into the spectacularly beautiful Wineglass Bay. You will hear a lot of superlatives in this report but this really is a pretty place. The skipper set the anchor carefully on the sandy bottom ready for the overnight strong south westerlies. We watched as the youth training ship the Young Endeavour sailed in and anchored in the other end of the Bay. We had another beaut dinner, this time a stir fry prepared by Geoff.
In the morning we stepped onto the very white sands of this horseshoe shaped beach. A stroll across the isthmus to Hazards Beach was changed into a very scenic but arduous walk around the edge of Coles Bay, up to the splendid lookout over Wineglass Bay and back to the beach. Back on Guinevere we were invited by the navigator of the Young Endeavour to have a look over their ship. This vessel had been gifted by the British Government to the youth of Australia in the year of our bicentenary. She is still in use as a training ship with a professional crew of 15???? and some 30??? young Australian volunteers. The crew impressed us with their professionalism and enthusiasm.
In the evening, the next day’s sailing plan was prepared. We were starting to get the hang of it. This plan was for the long ??? NM hop across the Straight to Eden in southern tip of NSW. We hoped to depart early Sunday morning and arrive in Eden sometime Tuesday morning.
We secured everything that might move in the boat and weighed anchor at 7.15am. After motoring for a few hours to top up our batteries we were off shore and set a full genoa and just a smidgen of mainsail and headed north pushed along by a strengthening southerly with plenty of white caps. The Young Endeavour had started on the same course 7 hours before us. We enjoyed following the coast past Bicheno and up to St Helens with the wind strengthening and the waves growing. About this time we gybed and set our course for Gabo Island. The wind by this time was getting up to 25 and 30 knots with the highest gust seen on our instruments of 45 knots. The white caps were now breaking waves. By this time our headsail had been reduced to 1/3rd and Guinevere was sailing at around 8 knots. At no time did we feel she would not handle the conditions. The waves continued to grow to around 3 metres with boat sliding down the front of each wave and slowing as she rolled back into the following trough. The best speed on the sumlog was 10.9 knots.
At one stage the wind dropped and Mike and Geoff unfurled more headsail. At around 5.30am Monday morning a gust came through with a particularly large swell that rolled Guinevere to starboard. At this precise moment Mike decided to do an impersonation of a ballerina doing the splits. One foot stayed firm while the other slid down the deck 180 degrees until he landed heavily on his right cheek. The boat easily made a graceful recovery, but Mike did not. His duties for the rest of the trip were restricted to moaning and writing the occasional log.
We left Flinders Island on our port stern as we crossed Bass Straight. The wind slowly moved to the south east and dropped back to around 15 to 20 knots. Having not seen any other vessels for well more than a day, the instruments picked up 5 ships near Gabo but none came close. By early Tuesday morning as day broke we were approaching Eden and civilisation again. It had for some of us, been an epic and memorable voyage.
We tied up, carefully, against on old craggy pier for the exorbitant fee of $5 for the day. We were not far from the Young Endeavour who had arrived just a few hours before us. She had a slower voyage, as she had gone further out to sea and had faced the strong southerly current that slides down the east coast of Australia. Most of the crew went ashore for a walk around the town, a nice seafood meal and some shopping to re-provision Guinevere. Mike stayed aboard to mind the boat (actually he couldn’t climb the ladder onto the dock). Qualified medical advice said he could continue the trip under strict conditions.
By now the sail planning on the electronic chart plotter had become quite a competition around the crew, with scores being awarded for proficiency. A wonderful course to our next stop at Batemans Bay was set by Reg and Michael. Later the hospitable folks at Batemans Bay radioed to tell us there was no room at the Inn (there were no berths or moorings available). We quickly decided we’d take our business elsewhere and changed course for Jervis Bay.