Sydney to Hobart 2003

4th Feb 2003. We left Sydney after refuelling, having the rigging and compass checked.  We made our first stop in Port Hacking.  This was a short trip to make sure everything (including us) was working correctly.

5th Feb.  Jervis Bay was the next stop, and as its about 80 miles, we had an early start - 4am. There wasn't much breeze for quite a while, but eventually it as a good Nor'easter about 15 - 20 knots - good downhill sailing.  As the afternoon progressed, it got stronger, about 25 - 30kts so we reefed the main and furled in some of the headsail.  We were basically running before the wind until we turned to go around Pt Perpendicular into Jervis Bay.

Then the wind was across the beam and as it whipped around PP, I reckon it must have been 40 knots plus. The top 5 slides of the mainsail broke so the sail was flapping everywhere.  We managed to get up to Montague Roadstead where the wind was much reduced, and spent a restful night, followed by a restful day fixing slides amongst other things.

7th Feb.  Our next port of call was Ulladulla, mainly to visit friends Greg and Janise ('Windchimes') who we met on our first trip after buying 'Meridian'.  We managed to tie up at the jetty with the help of passers-by.  Greg and Janise took us to the Mollymook Golf Club for a pleasant lunch overlooking the beach.

9th Feb.  Nor'easters were predicted for Sunday so we headed off for Batemans Bay -  a nice day trip of 32 miles.  Again there was not much wind in the morning, but we had a good sail in the afternoon.  We were a bit worried about the depth of water over the bar, and were assured by Coastal Patrol that we would be OK.  Well we actually hit the bottom, 0.0m under the keel, but with the swell and motor we managed to keep going.  We tied up in the marina with less than a foot of water under the keel.

10th Feb. Our BBQ gas tap had broken, and I had tried to find a replacement in Sydney with no luck. On Monday. one of the Coastal Patrol members drove me around Batemans Bay looking for a tap.  In the end it was cheaper to buy a new burner with tap attached.

11th Feb. Tuesday was another day trip of 42 miles to Bermagui, so we had a 7am start for that. We needed to leave by then so that there was enough water over the bar.  As it was we had 0.2m under the keel as we went over the shallow bit.  There wasn't much breeze at all that day, so motor-sailed all the way.  We had a shock when something went 'bang' and the headsail started falling to the deck. Afer we were tied up to poles at the Bermagui wharf I climbed up the mast to investigate.  As I suspected, a snap shackle had broken. A spare soon fixed that and the sail was back up.   A highlight of our visit to Bermagui was being given 3 flathead by one of the fishermen - Judy made some great fried fillets from them.

12th Feb.  We had another 42 miles so left Bermagui at 8am with a good sail from the start.  Unfortunately the wind from the NE died for a few hours ahead of a southerly change.  We sailed into Twofold Bay and  then anchored in Snug Cove.  We  checked out the town, had lunch at the pub and did some shopping.

We spent more than a week in Eden, moving from the north to the south a few times to shelter from the winds which were mainly SE or SW.  Eventually the Nor'easter came and we prepared to leave.  In East Boyd Bay, we had the company of three catamarans - Steve and Dorothy on 'Adagio', Sue, Mike and Patrick on 'Hippo', and Jackie and Ray on 'Cat's Chorus'.  The latter two were heading to Melbourne, but 'Adagio' was heading back to Tasmania.  Steve had access to various weather models and forecasts from a "router" in Hawaii.  We were all very interested in these forecasts, and eventually decided to leave on Thurs 20th.

Bass Strait. We left Eden at 6:30am in overcast conditions and a light SE breeze which gradually increased in strength as it swung around to the NE.  There was a strong wind warning for Victorian waters east of Wilsons Prom but we were prepared for that.  We had two reefs in the main, and set the staysail at first.  As the wind swung around, we dropped the staysail and put out the headsail.  We were travelling well at around 7 knots, but as the wind and sea started to build, we furled some of the headsail.

Friday's forecast was for stronger winds, and "confused swell"  which we certainly got.  The main wind waves were from the NE and up to 6m high, but other swells would occasionally hit us on the beam and roll us to more than 45 degrees.  'Meridian' handled this OK, and we were OK too.  On Friday afternoon, the autopilot was not holding the course well, and I discovered a broken wire to the fluxgate compass which controls the autopilot.  While I was looking at this, the boat lurched and I instinctively put my hand up to steady myself.  Unfortunately, I grabbed the wires to the compass, so instead of one broken wire, I had 5.  

There was no option now but to hand-steer for the next 24 hours.  This was quite arduous and the most we could do was around and hour or so.  Losing the autopilot meant that sail changes had to be done by me with great difficulty or not at all.  With the wind forecast to reach 40 knots we had previously dropped the main and put up the storm trysail; not really necessary but under the circumstances we were being conservative. 

By the time Saturday morning dawned, the wind had died down, and the waves as well, but the swell remained.  I made up another cable for the compass but it didn't work!  There was another broken wire which was unrepairable while at sea.  We motor-sailed for the rest of the day until we reached Schouten Passage on the east coast.  At 3:30pm after 57 hours, we dropped the anchor, briefly tidied up, then fell into bed.

The next few days were spent recovering, and putting stuff away - wet-weather gear, tools, etc.  A southerly change meant that a move was necessary to Schouten Island, where we climbed up Bear Hill, quite a strenuous climb, but worth the effort.

26th Feb Our supplies were running a bit low, so we headed north to Coles Bay at the top of the Freycinet Peninsular for some shopping.  This was followed by a walk across to the famous Wineglass Bay.

27 - 28th Feb More southerly winds were predicted, so we went across Great Oyster Bay to Triabunna.  Some welcome rain fell while we were sheltering here. 

1st - 3rd Mar Maria island was the next stop south.  Strong SW winds were quite unpleasant but we were reasonably sheltered.  We weren't able to get ashore until the 3rd, when we had a pleasant walk to the penitentiary off Chinamans Beach.

4 - 5 Mar  Flukey winds down the east coast meant we had a mixture of motoring and sailing down to Fortescue Bay.  As we arrived there, the heavens opened.  We anchored in a delightful corner of Canoe Bay with heavily wooded foreshores.  The next day was quite fine and sunny for a brisk walk to the carpark and back.

6 - 7 Mar  were spent in Port Arthur.  The section from Fortescue Bay, past Cape Hauy to Tasman Island was really spectacular.  Vertical cliffs of columnar basalt were very imposing.  By contrast, Port Arthur was fairly low with undulating hills.  The almost full day we spent at Port Arthur was very interesting, much more so than the quick visit we made over 30 years before.  The whole site has been set up so much better with lots of information available. 

8 - 9 Mar These two days were spent in Parsons Bay, again sheltering from strong winds and rain.  There was no real inducement to venture ashore here.

10 Mar  A grey day which developed into rain and drizzle as we headed for Hobart across Storm Bay.  At times we needed the radar to see the boats around us, as they disappeared in the gloom.  We headed up the Derwent, past Sandy Bay, Sullivans Cove, under the Tasman Bridge to Prince of Wales Bay at Goodwood.  There we rafted up next to 'Wyena' which belongs to friends Derek and Colleen.

11-  29 Mar  This period was spent being ferried around by Derek or Colleen as we shopped, went sight-seeing, getting boat bits, etc.  Judy lost the sight in one eye, caused by a vitreous haemorrhage.  This meant visiting various hospitals and specialists.  At this stage the best estimate is that sight will return, but it might take up to 6 months.  She has to see yet another specialist next week.

30 Mar  Finally we moved from Prince of Wales Bay to the Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania for fuel and a night or two in the marina.

Judy's eye problem has thrown our plans up in the air.  We had originally planned to go to Port Davey, then return to Sydney by the end of April.  We would then spent some time with the family before heading north to the Louisiades.  Now, we are not sure what we'll do - maybe we'll stay here for the winter, see some more of the state, and head back to Sydney before Christmas.  Or we might go back to Sydney as soon as practical, and maybe only go as far as the Whitsundays. 

April was spent in and around the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island.  More details to follow.

May 13th Peter Munckton arrived from Brisbane via Melbourne.

Please go to  Yahoo  for photos of our Tassie trip.



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