On the Way West

We are travelling west across the bottom of Tasmania, from Recherche Bay to Port Davey. The fabled roaring fourties are quiet today but despite the light conditions we both feel exposed out here on the southern coast of Tasmania. There are no towns. The Huon Highway ended at Southport, which we passed yesterday. This is what I signed up for, but it sure feels strange to be motor-sailing the roaring fourties, going the 'wrong' way, on a cool but beautiful sunny day, in bare feet and wet weather gear. Very strange.

It's the wrong way because the weather travels from west to east here and we are going the other way. The mantra of the cruising sailor is 'never go to windward'. But if you are patient, or lucky like us, then you pick up a high pressure system under Tasmania, which will provide northerlies, or even light easterlies, such as we have today.

The birds are phenomenal. They are everywhere and in all shapes and sizes. Enormous flocks of shearwaters soar and swoop within centimeters of the waves;  smaller birds (fairy prions?) sit in flocks on the water, feeding and resting; huge shy albatross make the shearwaters look like amateurs, soaring and diving with easy grace. We also have an escort of dolphins riding our bow-wave for a while but they don't hang around for long and scoot off looking for better fun.

We should be able to catch a fish but Lesley's persistence in towing a lure meets with no success. We have towed that lure the entire trip and caught nothing, not even seaweed. One of the tuna fishermen I spoke to in Hobart said birds are a big problem for him. Albatross in particular love to dive on lures, but we have no such problems. The birds, like the fish, leave our lures alone.

Big Caroline

We work our way through the Maatsuyker Group of islands and the wind drops out completely as we do. When we come out the other side the wind is light but easterly. We leave South West Cape well alone as we start heading up the west coast of Tasmania, passing the East Pyramid rocks and finally Big Caroline. Well, Caroline was obviously memorable to whomever named this rock. Big Caroline marks the entrance to Port Davey, which is not special in any other way, but just a collection of rocky and hilly capes, bays, inlets and waterways, backed by mountains.

We have decided on Spain Bay for the first night as it is just by the entrance, protected and easy to anchor. By mid-afternoon we're anchored after an 11.5 hour sail.

Excited to have made good time we jump into the dinghy and go ashore, surprised to see a bunch of other yachts and a gathering on the beach. We have been told to expect just a small handful of boats here but it turns out we've encountered the VDL Rally (the Van Dieman's Land Rally) a group of about fourty boats circumnavigating Tasmania. I am a bit deflated by this, but we soon make friends and they turn out to be a great bunch of people. 

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