I returned to Adelaide, completely refreshed, on 20-09-2019 after three months in Melbourne with family & two weeks with my wife in Bali at Uluwatu & Seminyak. Following day I removed the mast & slipped Ophelia on the hard stand for a few maintenance jobs :- antifoul, replace batteries to Lithium, replace cutlass bearing (for the prop) as it has been leaking for two years. The bearing was burnt so at some stage water was not lubricating the bearing. The cutlass bearing was replaced in Mandurah November 2017. The last time the mast was down was in Bowen 2016 where I replaced the VHF aerial & added an internet aerial so had two 10mm super low loss cables plus three electrical cables. The VHF cable & electrical cables went down inside the mast but with no more room inside the conduit & my allocated time running out, I had to fix the internet cable down the back stay with sail hanks. I had trouble ever since with the wire main halyard being wrapped around the back stay & hanks a few times. So I inserted another conduit & ran the internet cable inside the mast.
So on 12-10-2019 at 0915hr it was time to leave Outer Harbour, Adelaide & head to Launceston by 09-12-2019 to catch the plane back to Melbourne on 14-12. I had 8 weeks & 6 to 7 places to stop for a week working. First stop was a patch of sand amongst the weed at Brighton Beach for the 100th opening day of the Brighton & Seacliff YC about 4hr motoring since no wind.
I had dinner & left at 2000hr for the 11hr sail & motor across Backstair Passage to Christmas Cove marina, Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. The entrance is rather shallow with 0.2m under the keel near low tide. It is a great marina very protected in the hollow, although I am told a strong NW is rather swelly. It was while walking up the hill to the town I noticed I was getting puffed out & did get some pain in the left side chest & lower left jaw – same pain as I had a couple of times in Melbourne after some strenuous exercising. Marina cost is $20/day if staying 8 days or more, otherwise $30/day. After 9 days working I moved around to Hog Bay, the main beach for Penneshaw ready to leave at 1900hr for the 28hr, 130nm, journey to Robe, S.A. which took 31hr due to no wind for at least half the distance, arriving at 2300hr.
The channel at Robe was very narrow & difficult to see at night & ran aground so anchored outside the first channel markers only to be awakened about 3am with around 20 cray boats leaving with their bright lights on. I went into the marina at 0700hr with a 0.7m high tide & 0.5m under the keel. Ophelia’s draft is 1.5m. I believe some cray boats hit the bottom at times but with huge props they work their way through. I did watch a few boats navigate the short channel. There are ideas to dredge & with about 30 cray boats, one wonders why it has not happened already. Inside the marina depth is approx. 3m. The boats must bring in a lot of money. I saw many 45l boxes stuffed full of live crays every day bound for the Chinese market. I stayed here for nine days & hired a bicycle for $20/wk to get around. Robe has a number of women’s clothing shops for which it is well known for. I sat out a 40kt easterly gale side on (blow on berth) which bent a couple of safety rail stanchions as Ophelia lent over forced into the pontoon. Cost for a berth was $25/day.
On 30-10, I left Robe at 1330hr for the 28hr, 136nm trip to Portland in Victoria. I had a good motor/sail in SW breezes arriving at a respectable time of 1700hr. For each place I had arranged a few days beforehand a berth. For Portland there was no room in the marina so had to sit rather exposed behind a floating pontoon on the visitors berth. The yacht club members are very friendly, some 15 min. walk away. I did show my ‘show’ videos one night to 30 members. There were numerous strong winds from all directions and we survived. One very interesting chap I met was Gary Kerr, a cray fisherperson & video maker of history. Some of his videos are about cray fishing around SW Tassie, Huon Pine loggers in the Gordon River Tassie, Pearl luggers around Thursday Is. top of Australia & many more. He gave me six videos which I passed onto Royal Brighton Yacht Club after watching them. Another chap very kindly drove me around the area & out to Cape Nelson Light House. Portland is home to a large wood chip exporting terminal & making wind turbine columns & lets not forget the aluminium smelter. However the wood chip dust is blowing onto the main beach which is now brown silt, not white sand. Cost for pontoon berth was $20/day.
After 11 days in Portland a weather window opened on 10-11 for the 8hr, 34nm, journey to Port Fairy. After passing Lady Julia Percy Island, just over half way, the bay opened to the ocean & the sea was rather rolly. Port Fairy is tucked in behind an easterly point giving quite good shelter from the SW & S. I did wonder what the entrance would be like but once inside the reef the water was smooth as. The Moyne River depth varies 4-6m for the 0.5nm into town, but at the jetty where visitors tie up was very shallow at 1.5m normal low tide. Ophelia sat in the mud, but upright. This is a very sheltered place with very high Norfolk Pine trees planted many years ago which shelter the river precinct from the westerly gales. Protection is also from all directions. There is a yacht club & council owned great facilities with kitchen, laundry, toilet & showers. I rather liked Port Fairy.
Time was running out for me to get to Launceston so on 16-11 at 0830hr I left Port Fairy heading to Warrnabool to pick up Scott (who caught the train from Geelong) about 1100hr who was joining me for the 85nm trip to Apollo Bay. The wind was a good sea breeze 15-25kt SW with some rocking motion and was the first time in ages we could sail the whole distance without the motor. We passed Cape Otway lighthouse which was so dim one could quite easily miss it. Scott steered Ophelia into Apollo Bay arriving at 0200hr Sunday 17-11-2019 into an allocated berth – very swelly. Upon arrival we had the usual nip (or 2) of Timboon Christie’s Cut single malt whisky – very expensive which I bought at a fair in Portland – before retiring for the rest of the night. Mandy came down from Ocean Grove to pick up Scott, who like me had to work next day. Apollo Bay is home to the famous scallop pie – I had a couple during the week – was very nice but had to be careful of the hot sauce. I met John who had a small yacht in the marina – he invited me to his place for a very enjoyable evening & meal with his wife one night. There is a fish shop at the wharf with lots of varieties to purchase including $120 crays.
I had been very lucky with weather windows since leaving Adelaide – there were a lot of SW gales for days on end. The gales subsided for a week which allowed me to leave Apollo Bay 0300hr on Saturday 23-11 heading to Grassy on SE corner of King Island, almost due south of Apollo Bay. I was going to stop east side of Christmas Is. & New Year Is. at NW corner of King Island for the night sheltering from a 20-25kt W wind, but the wind got up too strong before I got there so headed down the east side straight to Grassy onto a public mooring. I stayed here for two weeks sheltering from the gales. Some were from the south straight into the entrance of the bay with a swell. However on the mooring it was comfortable, but disconcerting with the rock wall 50m behind. Landing a dinghy at the concrete embankment was tricky as the swell would rise onto the embankment. I often took the dinghy up the ramp out of harms way or landing on the adjacent beach. Grassy township, about an hours walk up the hill, is now deserted with no facilities except a mechanic & ‘eco’ restaurant. The main town Currie, with a terrible harbour, is 30km away. I hitched a ride into Currie to pick up a hire car for two days on the first weekend & drove north to Cape Wickham Lighthouse & golf course, stopping at King Is. Dairy to taste all the cheeses, one day & to south of the island next day to Stokes Point & Seal Rocks. Grassy was the home to a scheelite mine many years ago. The infrastructures have almost disappeared but there is still a large open cut mine with some water in it. While walking around this area I had the left chest & lower jaw pain so had to limit my exercising. I googled the symptom & found out the possible problem. The Grassy Yacht Club is a great place with a number of school children involved. They spend Sunday mornings on the water learning to sail with some more advanced sailors. Being nearly Xmas the club was selling Xmas cakes for fundraising – I bought two and eat them with custard & whisky.
I spent another week on board due to the SW gales & finally at 2130hr on 07-12, I could leave heading direct to Beauty Point in River Tamar – 28hr & 143nm. The first 6hr crossing between Grassy & mainland Tassie was good breezes but then gradually dropped out as predicted by BOM. I had to work the sails a few times and felt the pain again. I had been informed of the very strong currents in the Tamar so had to stop at Beauty Point on someones large mooring for 6hr to wait for the flood tide heading to Launceston some 40nm upstream. The current was against me entering the Tamar which is 50m deep at the entrance and 30m deep at Beauty Point mid river. Huge eddies abounded but we made it. Beauty Point is on the west side of the river with Darylimple Bay (or Bell Bay) on East side. This is home to Bell Bay Aluminium, South 32 (processing manganese), Ecka Granules, TasPorts, Qube, Forico, Timberlink and a diverse range of businesses. I stopped at Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory in 2016 where South32 mines manganese & ships it to their Bell Bay Refinery for processing which then goes to mainland Australia, Asia, North America & NZ.
After the customary nip of whisky I got some sleep & left 0600hr on the turn of the flooding tide heading to Launceston which I made in good time, being with the current, doing 7-8kts at times. Under the Batman Bridge the river was 30m deep & perhaps 50m wide with twirling water. I could not use the autopilot in these conditions as Ophelia was almost side on in places. I did unfurl the jib in places but had to be careful with the heart condition. We arrived Launceston on the high tide slack & motored into the nominated berth at Old Seaport Marina for $256/mth. For that you get a great berth & sit in the mud at low tide with lots of restaurants at top of walkway. Showers ($2/4 min), toilet & laundry is about 5 min. walk way. I made an appointment to see a doctor next morning 0830hr. On the way I had the pains but this time tingly arm – the doctor called the ambulance & next day had a stent put in – 98% blockage with two more at 25% & 50% blockage. My problem is Diabetes & high cholesterol. I never made that plane on 14-12 but ended up at a friends house in Penguin, west of Devonport, for a day before booking a cabin on the Devonport to Melboune ferry on 14-12-2019. Jan & Peter took me on a journey into the hills which was very nice before catching the ferry later same day.
The cost of the ferry trip was reimbursed by travel insurance – $311 less $88 (air fare). I was very lucky. I spent the next two months in Melbourne recuperating. The 10 minute ambulance trip cost $1200 paid by private health insurance.