Flinders Island and across Bass Strait to Eden: 37:07.75S, 150:00.2E

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Mon 27 Feb 2023 23:12

We were expecting a few days of north easterly winds and wanted an anchorage that would give us shelter but also allow us ashore to walk.  The township of Lady Barron at the south end of Flinders Island offered protection but also had strong tides and shifting sandbanks.  The alternative, part way up the west coast of Flinders, was Trousers Bay.  With a name like that the decision was made.

We left Spike Bay, on Clarke Island, at 1000 for the 20 mile upwind passage.  The first part was easy, as we had to go west of north to clear Cape Barren Island to our north, and we had fast sailing in smooth seas without the need to tack.  We must have had better conditions than Saga, who had left an hour before us, as we began to catch her up.  Once we were out from behind Cape Barren Island and needed to go  north east the tacking started.  Wind shifts as we approached the islands around us made for interesting sailing and we thoroughly enjoyed the day.  We finally reached Trousers Bay at 1600, where Inge and Thomas had anchored leaving the public mooring for us. (We’ve put a position for this anchorage on the chart on the blog’s index page)

Trousers Bay before it got windy

Strzelecki Peak

During our first night there we didn’t get the shelter we hoped for as the wind howled down at us from Strzelecki Peak and we were please that the public moorings in Tasmania are rated for up to 40 knots of wind.  It continued to blow through the next morning so we stayed with Serenity, only leaving her to go for tea on Saga once it began to ease in the afternoon.  By the time we had finished tea it was quiet enough for us to feel comfortable going ashore for a walk.  There was a pleasant and not particularly strenuous circuit around Trousers Point which took a bit more than an hour.  It had some nice views, and hundreds of wallabies.  Every time you looked into the bushes they would be looking out at you.  They were even sitting in the middle of the track and would only hop away when you got really close.   Soon we had far too many wallaby photos! Part way round the walk there was an information sign that told two possible stories of how the place got its name, both involving shipwreck.  In one a cargo ship was wrecked with useful stuff like alcohol washing ashore elsewhere in the islands.  All that landed here was a box of trousers.  In the other a young man’s boat broke its mooring in a storm and came ashore here.  He escaped the wreck by jumping overboard – without his trousers.  Take your pick.

Views across Franklin Sound from Trousers Point

Bennetts wallaby

Trousers Bay

Serenity moored.  Blue sea and white sand, but too cold to swim!

The next day was Saturday and, with the weather beginning to look good for crossing the Bass Strait on Sunday and Monday, we carried on north up the west coast of Flinders Island aiming to reduce the passage time across the Strait as far as possible.  There were a few alternative anchorages at the north end of Flinders or on one of the two Sister’s Islands and none would be perfect.  We were going to have to put up with either the wind or the swell and in the end Blyth Bay on Flinders (position on chart again) seemed the best compromise.  It would add another couple of hours onto the crossing compared to leaving from the Outer Sister, but hopefully we could still arrive in daylight.  We were now out of the roaring 40s and hoping the weather would treat us kindly!

Following Saga up the west coast.  We had expected to motor all the way, but had some lovely sailing in the lee of the island

After a rolly but acceptable night we were up at 0500 on Sunday and lifting the anchor at 0530 to be motoring out of the anchorage as the sky began to lighten.  We were starting early partly to catch the favourable tide through the passage between The Sisters and Flinders Island and we soon felt its effect.  Sarah was below making breakfast when Phil said to hold onto everything as it was going to get bumpy.  There was a line of breakers across our path just at the narrowest point of the passage and the tide was taking us through at 10 knots.  Phil steered for the deepest water and found a way through where there were no breaking waves, but it had our hearts racing for a while!

Clear of the islands the wind filled in from west of south west and we had a great sail through the day averaging 6 knots and calculating early arrival times in Twofold Bay, but during the night the wind backed to the south west and we were pushed further into Bass Strait to keep the genoa filling.  Eventually, at daylight, we put the engine on and motored to the east for an hour and a half until we could clear Cape Howe at the south eastern end of Australia.  We were expecting the wind to follow the line of the coast putting it directly behind us and making it difficult to sail, but it stayed far enough ahead that we were able to sail to within a few miles of our destination.  We dropped anchor off the small town of Eden in Twofold Bay at 1525 after another easy crossing of Bass Strait.

Eden.  Two supermarkets, a launderette and a Killer Whale museum.  What more could a cruiser want?

In the evening we swapped passage notes with Inge and Thomas and caught up with Bernd, from Rebell, who we hadn’t seen since New Year.  We enjoyed our few weeks in Tasmania: a beautiful island with lots of history, walking and wildlife, and are really pleased we had made the effort to sail down there.