2020 Aus North to Portland
North West to the Alternative Portland Harbour
Not the Portland Harbour we are familiar with in Dorset but its counterpart down under on the Victoria coast.
After a last supper, games of Mexican Dominoes and scrambled eggs and smoked salmon breakfast the next morning we were making our way back to Strahan when our separate thinking came together; the weather conditions would be perfect the next day but they are also perfect NOW. With the favourable weather windows being so short we could not afford to delay; the sooner we get there the more comfortably we would miss the predicted 40 knot Northerlies.
I nudged Zoonie alongside Nichola and managed to just touch her, the one and only time in all my close manoeuvrings and basically because I had to get close enough to drop Ken and Bron off to take lines and of course Nichola had no fenders out. No damage to either yacht but a little to my pride. We exchanged hasty hugs and kisses and gas bottles because Ken’s had more in than ours and we were off at 12.15 pm with 278 Southern Ocean miles ahead of us.
I prepared a snack of coleslaw with cheese sandwiches and we washed it down with a welcome shared Speckled Hen beer all the way from Ringwood Brewery in Hampshire as Zoonie trundled back down her black line towards Hells Gate.
Two and a half hours later she was leaning under the pressure of a 16 knot SE wind, her working sheet creaking in the winch. Dolphins welcomed us back to sea and we could see Nichola approaching the rock training wall about an hour behind us as they had done a quick shop. From then on our paths separated but we could still see her white sails well into the evening. We were back among the world of the albatross, continuing our long journey.
We had spoken with Alison and Randall while we were crossing the harbour, they were planning their crossing of the Bass Strait to Tassie, so our next reunion would be somewhere down the line since we had now left the shores of that jewelled isle, and with Jane in Jilliby whose recovery from her double knee replacement is going exactly according to plan.
By midday the next day we had started crossing Bass Straight and were leaving the continental shelf in a 3.5 metre sea state when suddenly one of those bigger than the rest waves thumped Zoonie on her side, deluged the windward deck from bow to stern with liquid anger, sending her into a spin, then all goes quiet for a few moments as the sea says “Ooops, sorry about that!”
There are many seabirds over the precipice of the shelf because that is where huge shoals of fish live, gannets, shearwater and sometimes albatross fishing the same waters.
It is bright but with 8/8 cloud cover and there is a chill in the air brought northwards by the southern ocean swell.
The Watt&sea wave generator is working well, keeping the batteries at 100% and providing the power for the autopilot with its new ram to work 24/7. Mary on Tas Maritime Radio welcomes home all the fishermen who call in their safe returns to port and notes down the location of those who are anchoring out overnight in some sheltered cove “Thanks George, you have a good one”.
So they are settled for the night but I only wish my tummy was. For the first time in ages I have nausea and an over active tum so I am enjoying the ride from behind a curtain of frequent sips of water and gulps of fresh air. The motion is not uncomfortable as Zoonie corkscrews her way north east, shoved onward by a quartering swell. Out beyond the continental shelf, shown by the crammed close together lines on the chartplotter, over the deep ocean and flat abyssal sea floor the swells are further apart and more forgiving.
Zoonie has produced between 4.9 and 8.2 knots of speed on this, I remember, her best sail in months.
The Emu Arrow kept us company for a while, motoring NE to Portland too and behind us on our starboard side until he did a considerable turn to port to pass behind us as we had been between him and the channel marker in to the harbour. It can look dramatically close on the chart plotter but with his alteration of course so obviously intended to give us a wide berth 1.2 miles astern I wasn’t at all concerned.
We tied up off the long hammer head pontoon at the outer end of the marina mid-afternoon having averaged 6 knots under sail and sailing 254 of the 296 mile journey. Marina Manager Scott came on board and warmly welcomed us suggesting we move around to a really tucked away berth out of the worst of the swell and water motion in the harbour. Well that was easier said than done but thankfully he came along to take our bowline and make sure Zoonie, on her tight turn didn’t clout the beautiful restored crayfishing boat moored next to us as you can see in the photo.
Hairdryer winds the next day made short work of cooking the washing and I clung on to it on the line as I gathered the articles in for fear of being blown away.
On leaving Tasmania we have passed one of the five southern-most capes in the world, SE Cape Tasmania, at 43’38.37South. It is in fact the third most southerly cape with just South Cape NZ and Cape Horn, both of which we won’t round, further south. Another two of the five are Cape Leeuwin SW Aussie which is next and then Cape Agulhas off South Africa, for the rounding in January next year.
Fast forward to today 9th Feb. Excuse me now as we go ashore here in Ceduna for breakfast with Kylie and Brad and await the arrival of our dear friend Hannes from Cayenne as he travels west to east along south Australia on his way back to the mothership in Tassie.