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After Bill left we continued waiting for a weather window to sail across the infamous Bass Strait. It has a reputation of being a trechorous body of water largely due to the shallow depths, strong currents, and the roaring seas and weather that come blasting out of the southern ocean. Fortunately we could wait indefinately in Port Eden as it offered great protection from the wind. But to get protection from the swell we had to sail across from one side of the bay to the other. It was here that we learned how quickly the wind could change. On one particular day I was sitting in the cockpit talking to my daughter on the Iphone when I noticed the boat starting to point differently, wind picking up and swell increasing. I quickly said goodbye and called out to Denny who was napping. Within minutes we pulled the anchor up and motored against 40 knots wind to get protection from the other side of the bay. We motored at full throttle and we were barely making one knot. With the wind howling and the rain drenching us, we eventually arrived at our anchorage point and Denny warned me that we would only get one shot to drop and set the anchor. If the boat got a chance to turn down wind we would quickly be blown straight into a mussel farm. The pressure was on but we did what was needed and got the anchor down without a hitch. We learned that sailing along Southern coast of Australia would require constant vigilance unless we were in an all-weather anchorage and these were hard to find.
We couldn’t seem to get a weather window for crossing the bass strait and tired of waiting in Port Eden we decided to make a move to Lakes Entrance, a little further south along the coast. Halfway there we hit the notorious wind on the nose sail and we spent a night making very little progress again as we tacked back and forth. But we persevered and by morning the wind all but died and we were able to motor sail to Lakes Entrance. The sand bar we had to cross had a reputation of being a little daunting. There is a sky cam linked to a website that boats can use to look at the opening swell conditions as they make their way to the entrance. But it was a calm morning when we arrived and we motored into the lake without any problem.
Lakes Entrance is a beautiful sheltered lake with many offshoots to explore but it can be a little nerving as the channels can be quite shallow. It took us several hours to get to our final destination, Paynesville. This little town offered great protection from the wind, a public jetty where several boats could tie up and explore the town for a maximum of 4 hours and it was where our friends Mark and Sally on Sally Forth were. We arrived just as the sun was setting and Mark and Sally where at the dock catching lines and giving us a wonderful welcome.
The “people” is what makes a town a great place and we loved Paynesville. We were tied to a 4 hour maximum dock for 4 nights and the people didn’t seem to mind as they came for a visit and offered us compliments on our well maintained boat. It felt good to have people recognize the hours of effort we put into the upkeep of our little home. We were invited for a glass of wine and snacks at a Joe Loci’s house, a local that tried to convince us to sell our boat to him. We spent and afternoon at his home and he served us a bottle of his own brewed Shiraz wine made from scratch. I can tell you it was one of the finest Shiraz wine I have ever had and Denny commented that if wine tasted like that all the time he would drink it more often. We will come back to visit Joe again as much for his company as for the divine wine!
Besides hanging out with our friends on Sally Forth we took a quick ferry trip to nearby Raymond Island well known for the 300+ Koalas that live there. We celebrated Valentines Day there surrounded by the noisy Cockatoos that seemed to travel in pairs. We could have hung out here for weeks but in 4 days we had our weather window we needed to cross the Bass Strait.
Crossing the BASS STRAIT
It was a tranquil motor sail across the straits, traversing past the oil rigs in the middle of the night and enjoying the dolphins visiting us by day. And still not a fish on the line. We couldn’t anchor in the famous Wineglass Bay as the wind and swell were rolling right in.
Our first Tasmanian anchorage was in Passage Beach. It offered a good night sleep, beautiful white beach to explore and mussels on the rocks ready for us to pick. As soon as we had our dinghy in the water and we were making our way to shore we were stopped by the water police. We learned that we were required to wear life jackets and have flares, a bailer, anchor, 150 feet of line and a fire extinguisher in the dinghy at all times. Denny had a good chuckle about the fire extinguisher and the police agreed it didn’t make much since in a rubber dinghy. But that was the law! He just explained the rules, gave us a fish ruler so we would know what the fish quotas and minimum catch sizes were.
From Passage Beach we made our way to Spring Bay where we were scheduled to meet Ella and Bill. Anchoring in Spring Bay wasn’t easy as it was a shallow bay with lots of moorings. Landfall kissed the muddy bottom while we did our anchoring circle, it took a couple of times to finally set the anchor as the bottom had a lot of shells and weeds and the wind was gusting 30+.
We dinghied to the nearby town, Triabunna. It’s mainly a little town that services tourists wanting to get to book ferry passages to nearby Maria Island. The Island is designed for various levels of cycling tours and an opportunity for people to explore the historic ruins of the convict settlements. The information center offered public showers and for $8 had a glorious hot water wash. There were a few small grocery stores, very full campgrounds, a small tired looking hotel and a small fish and chips takeout (which we did try). We managed to secure a little berth for Landfall so we could do our road trip with Bill and Ella. Getting the berth wasn’t easy as the marina was full. The first call to the Harbor Master was a bust but as we walked around the place we met other cruisers that were leaving the next day. The second call to the Harbor Master resulted in him meeting us as he had some difficulty understanding us via the cell phone. Once we were face to face, able to have a social chat and with the promise of a beer and the understanding that we would take the berth of the boat that was leaving we were set to safely leave Landfall for a couple of days. I will say that coming into the marina and maneuvering into the little berth was a little intimidating and we were glad that Bill and Ella were there to catch the lines. Next adventure, road tripping with our friends.