Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Cruising Bass Strait

We are currently hiding from some fierce gales in the appropriately named Refuge Cove on Wilson’s Promontory, the southern most tip of Victoria and mainland Australia. It is a gorgeous east facing cove surrounded by high wooded hills with a beach at each end.  Outside of here we have a couple of strong cold fronts passing over a few days. It is a very good place to be. We had reports of 50 knot winds at Wilson's Prom yesterday. All is well for us in this sheltered cove.

Hiding in Refuge Cove
We crossed the bay at Eden again last Monday morning after celebrating Jen’s birthday with a fine dinner in the restored 1800’s hotel at Boydtown. Our last day in Eden then quickly disappeared in the usual preparations to leave early the next day. We made our last trek up the hill in Eden to the shops to do a bit of provisioning including some fuel, and got it all back on board with the help of local sailors Brian and Deb who we met through the ‘Women Who Sail’ Facebook page.

This next leg of the voyage was a significant one in that we would be rounding the corner and starting to head west at last.  We would also be well and truly in the infamous Bass Strait by the time we arrived at our destination of Corner Inlet at the base of Wilson’s Prom which was 230 miles away, our longest passage to date.

We needed to arrive before 6pm on Wednesday to avoid the strong ebb tide, so in order to give ourselves plenty of time we set off at 4am on Tuesday. We knew it would be calm and we would be motoring for the first few hours before a nice 15kt easterly set in for the night and that was how it turned out. Our timing was planned on a conservative average speed of 6 kts and as usual we made good speed and with an average of 7 kts, arrived a bit early and entered the channel at 12.30pm. This was good as it meant we had time to do the last few hours cruising through the shallow channel to Port Welshpool where Roz was hoping to catch the bus the following morning.
Bass Strait Sunset
It was a glorious trip from beginning to end. Bass Strait was benign and kind to us and we gently sailed through the oil platforms in the dark,  seeing 12 at one time all brightly lit up against the clear  night sky. We saw a late whale, lots of dolphins some of which came to play, a shark, shooting stars and the majestic Bullers Albatross in abundance. Everyone on board felt energised and there was no hint of the dreaded mal de mer. The motion of the boat was easy, speed was good and we all loved it.
We said a sad farewell to Roz on Thursday morning in Port Welshpool.  Thanks to Uncle Colin’s mate Robin for the lift to the bus, and thanks to Roz for a month of very good company and lots of laughs.
Farewell Roz
Port Welshpool Wharf
After a day of rest on the Fishing Boat Wharf in Port Welshpool [160 people, 1 part time shop and 1 part time pub] we left for Refuge Cove yesterday on a sunny gentle day knowing that gales were not far away and we would be more secure there than anywhere else in this stretch of water.
Approaching Refuge Cove - the calm before the storm
Here at latitude 39 degrees south there is a distinct chill in the air, even when the sun is shining and we are rediscovering our thermal clothing.  Whilst it’s good preparation for Albany, we do hope to feel some warmer weather again before we get home!
Rugged up for cooler latitudes
As usual we are now watching the weather forecasts and looking for a little window free of strong westerly winds so we can continue our journey. Next stop will be Western Port although we would love to head to King Island (tempted by the famous cheeses!), however the weather isn't looking like it will send us that way.
Refuge Cove Colours

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