Autumn in Tasmania - that island close to Antarctica

Miss Molly 4
Bob & Peggy Wilkerson/Geoff & Merel Pettifer
Fri 25 Mar 2011 11:00
42:17.81 S
148:17.11 E

When we woke up yesterday morning the wind had done a shift so that we were on a lee shore at Kangaroo Bay on the Eastern side of Hobart. Despite the rain which caused bad visibility we decided to just get underway, destination Port Arthur, 40 miles away, to start our trip back North. But the weather was so miserable with the wind on the nose and driving rain, that we decided to anchor on the Sandy Bay side of town until the rain would slow down a bit. A wet job again for the 1st mate 1st thing in the morning with all this anchor business! We did a few jobs and after lunch the rain had stopped. Still grey skies and poor visibility, but we could make out the gannets and the dolphins that accompanied us on the trip. 4 Hours into the trip something funny happened: we were in the middle of a sunny circle, surrounded by clouds. It turned out that we were right at the centre of the Low weather system that was giving us our wind. In the centre no wind though! So Port Arthur it was by dinner time, a bit later than we thought. The evening was spent with a great deal of studying the weather forecast as we are trying to catch a window to cross the Bass Straits.

We had hoped for an early departure but that did not work as we woke up quite late! Because it was blowing about 30 kts from the South-Southwest we decided to go for it. Not that we liked beating to weather for the first 8 miles to get around Tasman Island before heading North, but we did like the fact that the rest of the 70 miles trip would be downwind. Wow that first hour was rough! Molly was trying her best playing the elegant hippo, bashing her way through the confused seas that bounced off the surrounding rocks. It even made the previously clogged up speed impeller work again! We had the full washing machine experience and shipped loads of green water. The other green thing on board was Merel, who did not manage to grow her sea legs back fast enough. But the good old trick of laying down with your eyes closed worked and once around the corner of Tasman Island the seas got a lot smoother. To our surprise we discovered a RIB on a tourist tour bouncing around Cape Pillar, where the vertical organ-pipe like rock structures are. They could not have felt hunky dory.

We made good progress under mostly headsail. No rain today and more dolphins, gannets and even albatrosses. The only downside was that the wind was blowing from the South - straight from Antarctica. Even down below inside the boat it was only 12 degrees C/55 degrees F. You should have seen what we were wearing and we were still cold! We arrived on dusk at our planned anchorage on the Northern side of Schouten Island. Heater on and purring now! We are hoping that this will be our jump off point for our overnight trip across the Bass Straits tomorrow and the following day, before the Northerly winds return and warm as they may be, that is not what we need. So keep your fingers crossed for us!

Geoff & Merel