Tortoise Head Inlet

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 14 Apr 2023 06:53

Position: 38 23.97 S 145 17.83 E
At anchor Tortoise Head Inlet, French Island
Wind: E F3
Sea: rippled  Swell: nil
Weather: sunny, mild
Day's run: 3 nm

This morning's mission was to do some laundry. The tide was on its way out as I rowed ashore and I left the dinghy on a sand bank with the small grapnel anchor out for insurance. After a brief visit to the holiday shack to say hello to Mark, Issy and Archer, I continued into town.

Once that most essential, if mundane chore was complete I returned to Sylph, the tide now fully out and just starting to turn. I had to drag the dinghy about a hundred meters across the sand to get it back in the water but then it was only about twenty meters to row to Sylph. In fact the breeze was already coming in from the NE and with no tidal stream running Sylph naturally was riding to the breeze and not the tstream. Consequently, when I got back onboard I found that she was just touching bottom. On the plus side, being so close to the beach allowed Issy and Archer to swim out to pay me a visit, which was very welcome.

Visit complete, I rowed them ashore, said my farewells one more time and then back onboard, Sylph now riding to the flooding stream again, I weighed anchor and motored the short distance across the East Arm towards the aptly named Tortoise Head on the SW corner of French Island. From here we negotiated our way up an inlet on the south side of French Island where I intend to stay the night to shelter from the NE breeze forecast for tonight.

Most of the channel is unmarked, apart from a few sticks in the mud towards the top end of the channel. I followed the chart via my GPS plotter and for the most part it proved accurate, except for the last few hundred meters. The white sticks gave no indication on which side I should pass them so I naturally followed the chart plotter, which proved a mistake for I found myself once more aground. No problem, the tide was making and we had touched bottom at low speed so it didn't take long to back Sylph off the soft sandy bottom. I then tried passing the other side of the stick beacons and there found deep water. I touched bottom one more time feeling our way up the channel before eventually finding a small basin close to the shore to set the anchor in. I realise now in hind sight that I would have been better off navigating with Google Earth as it shows the channel quite clearly and for such shallow water navigation is more accurate than the chart.

Looking at the weather forecast, the next opportunity to head back to Port Phillip is on Tuesday. So my plan is to explore a little bit of Westernport between now and then, hopefully without too many more groundings.

All is well.