Hobart - Sydney 2003

With Judy's eye problem she wasn't confident about being able to go on deck and attend to normal crewing duties.  We called on our friend Peter Munckton who had sailed from Brisbane to Sydney with us in 2001.  Peter flew down from Brisbane and we were very grateful and pleased to see him on Tues 13th.  

May 14th was spent sightseeing in Hobart -  Constitution Dock, Salamanca Place, Sandy Point, and the maritime museum. We left Hobart with Peter on Thursday 15th, stopping in Fortescue Bay.  

May 15th  Our first stop was back in Fortescue Bay.  We had intended retracing our steps to Maria Island and Schouten Passage as there was a deep low approaching from the west.  The forecast we got as we approached Maria Island was for relatively calm NE winds so we thought we would head off across Bass Strait to beat the low.  We motor-sailed all through Friday night and Saturday morning when the wind, seas and swell steadily increased making progress slow.  Our speed dropped from around 6 - 6.5kt down to about 4.5.  This meant longer motoring times, more fuel consumption and a pretty uncomfortable ride.  Around lunchtime, we were about 20 miles east of St Helens.  We decided to go into St Helens to rest and refuel.  The Coastal Patrol advised we return to St Helens Is, and they would guide us in the next day.

The north-east swells made the St Helens bar impassable on Sunday and Monday.  Meanwhile the Low was approaching across the Bight.  Behind that the 4-day outlook promised a High with settled conditions.  That meant making a move north to Flinders Island to get more fuel.  We made the decision to leave the next morning at 5am and head for Forsyth Island, south of Cape Barron Island.   

Tues 20th We left around 5:30am in quite calm conditions.  As we were abeam of St Helens, hundreds of dolphins joined us - a magical sight.  When we finally got a forecast from Coastal Patrol, the Strong wind warning had been upgraded to a Gale warning.  We pressed on, motor sailing into a fresh N - NW wind and building seas.  Meridian ploughed through easily under autopilot.  We reached Forsyth Is before sunset to a welcoming committee of Cape Barron Geese.

Wednesday 21st we went around Cape Barron Island to Flinders Is, through Banks Strait to Franklin Sound.  Again, a Gale Warning was current. Running eastwards was fine, but turning around we had an accidental jybe which broke the mainsheet traveller car.  Peter managed to jury-rig a method to control the boom, but we were cautious about using the main after that.  We got into Lady Barron on the south side of Flinders Island and tied up next to a fishing boat for the night.  The local BP agent came and refuelled us right on time, so we then walked to the only store in Lady Barron for some more supplies.  That night we had an excellent meal in the tavern.
Thursday 22nd, one week after leaving Hobart, the wind was still quite strong with a Gale Warning still current.  Our trip out of Franklin Sound past the well-named 'Pot Boil'  was interesting to say the least.  Water depth goes down (up?) to only 5 metres - with the SE winds behind the waves stood up quite high.  Again, Meridian ploughed through effortlessly.  After getting past the Pot Boil, we changed course to NNE which put the seas and wind behind us.  Travelling was quite good with Opa the autopilot keeping us on track.  Throughout Thursday and Friday the seas and winds slowly abated as we had predicted from the weather maps on Monday.  Our arrival back on the mainland was in Eden at 7pm on a dark, moonless night.  After rounding the woodchip loading facility, we had to get around the new wharf being built for the Navy.  We had been here before we left for Tassie 3 months earlier.  I knew there were some buoys to avoid so had Peter and Judy looking out with torches.  Eventually they spotted 2 piles with feeble yellow lights on them.  The next morning (Saturday) we saw they were roadworks-type lanterns, hardly suitable for the job.
We headed to the wharf in Eden, tied up and went to town.  A very interesting Whale Museum kept us there for a couple of hours, a bit of shopping then off again at 4pm.  This time we were off for Jervis Bay in reasonable SE winds and seas.  During the night there were many rain squalls which made for a pretty miserable watch.  These continued during Sunday until we arrived in Jervis Bay at 5pm.   12 hours later we were up, getting ready to leave for Pt Hacking.  Instead of Pt Hacking we found ourselves in Kiama.

Monday 26th.  We were up at 5am, left at 6 for Pt Hacking.  As we cleared Jervis Bay, the wind was strong SE with big seas and swells - sometimes 5m.  When these swells hit from the starboard quarter, Meridian would roll quite a bit, up to 40 degrees.  One of these swell hit while Judy down below tidying up the galley.  She was flung across the cabin, hitting her back against the nav desk.  She was obviously in agony as I tried to make her comfortable.  Once that was done, I contacted the Shoalhaven VMR.  The operator there then contacted the Wollongong Water Police who in turn contacted the Air Ambulance.  They rang me to enquire if we needed a helicopter lift!  I explained the situation - Judy was comfortable, but it would be very difficult to extract her from the cabin.  It would also be very difficult getting her in a harness to lift her, and besides it would probably cause more trouble than it was worth.  At this time we were north of Shoalhaven and didn't want to turn back.  Kiama seemed a bit small and swelly a harbour so we decided to go on to Wollongong.  Water Police rang to advise going to Kiama, as it was much closer, and that they would assist our berthing.

We had passed Shoalhaven and didn't want to go back.  Kiama seemed a bit difficult so Wollongong seemed a better option although it was about 24 miles or 4 hours away.  The Water Police recommended we go to Kiama - they would be there with an ambulance in attendance.  We got in OK, and with many helpers we were tied up.  The ambo's came aboard and confirmed the broken ribs, so gave Judy some morphine to kill the pain.  They gave her enough so that she could walk up the 6 steps of the companionway, and then up a tyre onto the harbour wall.  She was then taken to Shell Harbour Hospital for X-rays.  I went with her of course, while Peter was left to look after Meridian.  We were taken to Shellharbour Hospital where X-rays confirmed that Judy had three broken ribs.  She was admitted that night after a bed was finally found.  I was given a lift back to Kiama by one of the fishermen, just in time to get some fish and chips. Judy stayed in SHH for three days on pain relief.

I arrived back in Blackwattle Bay on Tuesday 27th June with Peter, leaving Judy in Shell Harbour Hospital.  Peter had a very interesting fortnight with us - quite different from what we had planned.  But at least he got to see St Helens, Forsyth, Cape Barron and Flinders islands.  He was an invaluable crew member - it make such a difference having a third person.  Getting a 4 hour break instead of 2 was heaven.  He didn't even complain about the water that leaked onto his bed from the forward hatch.

Please go to http://au.f1.pg.photos.yahoo.com/prodenhuis for photos of our Tassie trip.

Up ] Southport-Mackay ] MKY-Whitsundays ] Whitsundays-Mba ] North 2001 ] South 2001 ] SYD- HBT 2003 ] [ Hobart-Sydney ]