On Wednesday 29th January, 2020 I said goodbye to my wife & flew back to Launceston leaving Tullamarine Airport at a sensible hour of 1310hr arriving Launceston 1415hr. Ophelia was in good condition with both lithium batteries nicely topped up due to 2x120w of solar panels. I had to shop for food next day as well as work. The supermarket is about 1.1km from the Old Seaport Marina so with my full back pack & shopping bag in each hand I set about walking back. It took a while. From memory I had a short nap to re-cover. Work continued each day until my eldest daughter & granddaughter, Diandra & Indi, arrived on 1st Feb. for a week. It was the first time for Indi to sleep on a boat which she enjoyed. That was a great week walking many places, including visiting the annual Launceston Festivale with face painting & dancing, breakfast at Peppers & a play in the great new park near Peppers. I hired a car & we visited Jan & Peter in Penguin & Seahorse World at Beauty Point. Seahorses are sent all over the world. It was such a big day Indi slept on the way back to Launceston. While I had the car I filled the 5x20l jerry cans with diesel. The Old Seaport Marina is in need of a make over & dredge. Many vessels are sitting in the mud at low tide.
After they left, it was time for more food shopping so I could leave on 9th Feb. heading back down River Tamar 20nm to Spring Bay for a week working. I caught some small flathead from my yacht & made some bread. After a week I moved 10nm further down the river under Batman Bridge & the fast flowing river to Beauty Point on anchor out of the current. I miss-timed the tides slightly with current against me under the bridge so could only travel at 2.5 to 3kts. After an hour tide changed so all was good. I had a few days of strong northerlies & southerlies which is same direction as the river, although the surface was smooth due to being out of the current.
After continually looking at the forecasts for a suitable weather window to head down the Tasmanian west coast to Strahan, I decided to leave here on Wed. 19th Feb. to stay at Mersey Yacht Club pontoon, Devonport, for the night & leave there about 1300hr next day. That would give me about 15hr to get to south end of Hunter Is. (north west corner of Tasmania) & wait a few hours to catch the tide & slight breeze heading west. I was informed the tide runs fast through this area & don’t go through tide against wind.
Upon leaving Devonport I untied all mooring lines except one stern & bow line. The tide was going out so I stepped backwards onto the pontoon from the bow to release that rope first & landed in the river with some very sore right side ribs which I though I was just winded. They hit the pontoon timber edge on the way down. From memory Ophelia was moving away from the pontoon slightly & in my hurry to leave I jumped backwards. That was my mistake – being in a hurry. I managed to pull myself along the pontoon edge against the current to a ‘stink boat’ in front & clamber onto the low duck board – I was lucky it was there. I changed clothes & headed out the river, un-furled the jib, but after 3/4hr my ribs were so sore I had to turn back to Devonport. Furling the jib using the winch was very difficult & any body movement created pain. I rang the yacht club manager explaining what had happened & asked for help to berth. I closed up the yacht & a club member took me the 10km to Devonport Hospital. After receiving pain killers & about midnight I was transfered to Burnie Hospital ICU for 4 days. The lowest rib was broken in 4 places & next 3 above were broken in one place each. The concern was fluid (blood) below the right lung which could cause pneumonia. They said I had to cough, but I could not – it was way to sore. I was discharged on 26th Feb. to Jan & Peter’s place – once again they came to the rescue. So that was the end of my 2020 trip around Tasmania. It would take 3 months to heal. On 29th Feb. with the help of a club member I moved Ophelia out onto a mooring amongst the seagulls. That was a concern. I caught the ferry back to Melbourne on 4th March to recuperate.
However COVID-19 came onboard & the Tassie border was to be closed midnight Friday 20th March. I had a return ferry ticket booked for end of March but changed it to the night sailing of 19th March. Lucky I did as that was the last chance to enter Tasmania unless one was an essential traveler or lived in Tasmania. I was also concerned the seagulls will take over Ophelia if she was left unattended for months, like some other vessels on moorings in the river. I had to be careful stepping from yacht to dinghy while on the mooring & onto the pontoon from the dinghy. After one month it was getting colder & more windy/rainy so the yacht club put me behind the pontoon in a blow-off position out of the waves. The horrible NW gales belt straight into the yacht club across the river from the city. After a couple of weeks I bought a 21 speed bike to get around & was able to exercise much more including fast walking up a hill to the water supply tank. I stayed at Devonport for 3 months although once we could move I motored 3hr NW to Penguin for a weekend. I had to repair the chain driving the rudder from the helm at one stage as it broke. I cleaned the anchor well & painted the anchor fire engine red. I also painted inside some storage lockers in the cabin & many more maintenance jobs, all while working. I even tried to learn the mandolin but never put enough effort into it – working too much. Devonport has many ships berthing unloading gas & fertilizer and loading cement. The fishing boats have to move to the gas terminal wharf when a cargo ship is in port, then move back for the gas supply ship.
Close to the yacht club was a car park for all the returning Tasmanian’s from the ferry. From here they were bused to a hotel. At one stage early on, the car park was full – perhaps up to 200 cars. Once restrictions were eased the local Dragon boats made their appearance on the water – practice only. The club named Nipples on Ripples is the paddling home of breast cancer survivors & supporters. I spent one weekend with Jan & Peter who took me to Burnie, Wynyard, Smithton & Stanely where we climbed The Nut. I had hoped to sail to these places but the weather was too cold. Eventually I purchased a cheap Chinese diesel 5kw heater. 1kw setting is quite sufficient for my cabin.
By end of July I was getting ‘itchy feet’ – it was time to move on. So on Tuesday 4th August I left Devonport motoring to Port Sorell onto a mooring owned by a Mercy YC member, Lance. I stayed here for one week after Lance showed me around the area. It would be a great place in the summer months. They have a ‘mud berth’ where vessels sit on the bottom at low tide & float at high tide. My next place to stay was St. Helens – since watching the tv show Gourmet Farmer Afloat a few years ago, I wanted to visit St. Helens. I phoned the marine rescue & booked the bar crossing on Tuesday 1300hr. So on Sunday 8th August I left at 1300hr for the overnight 125nm journey passing the notorious Banks Strait (NE tip of Tasmania) at 0230hr Wednesday morning. I had planed a perfect trip arriving spot on high tide to ‘go with the flow’ east & the surface was a mirror reflecting the moon which had risen at 2330hr. I arrived Binalong Bay on the public mooring at 1000hr Monday. The whole journey used the motor as there was very little wind. Ophelia was rocking a lot on the mooring & I was concerned about the bar crossing next day so I motored the 2nm to take a look – wow, no way was I going to cross that bar – the rollers were breaking right across the bar. An easterly swell had developed. After a phone call to Marine Rescue, who agreed, I set sail for the next safe haven, Triabunna arriving there at 0830hr Tuesday. I had phoned the Triabunna Boat Club before leaving Binalong Bay to book a berth.
I stayed at Triabunna for 1 month working, departing for Port Arthur via Maria Is. on Wed. 09-09. In that time we had 2 NW gales – luckily Ophelia was very protected by 2 long vessels on the windy side. Winds reached 42kts during the 2nd gale. There was a very nice cafe – Colonial Food & Wine – which had some very nice cakes & meals. I tried my hand at the cheese cake & also made my usual bread from Laucke mix.