Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Up a creek and in a ditch!

Our window of favourable winds came on Wednesday last week and we motored out of our snug little Refuge Cove as the sun was coming up into a calm sea, heading for Western Port.
Leaving Refuge Cove at dawn

It had been a very wild few days in there, Wilson’s Prom were reporting gusts of 60kts a few miles away and we were getting dollops of it where we were. The cove is like a bowl and the westerly wind swirls around and blows down from the steep hills at high speed. We were mostly safe however, our lovely new over-size anchor holding well in the sand and a second anchor out to stop us from doing circles. 

I can’t remember why but there was a good reason for us to move the second anchor rope from the stern to the bow on the windiest day. We then went below to pull the stove out and clean and service its gimbals. 

Mayhem below - and above as it turned out!
We were engrossed with that for a couple of hours and had become accustomed to the gusty conditions when Jenni pointed out that we were getting very close to the rocks. It turned out that we had done a couple of complete turns around the main anchor and on the last turn the chain had hooked under the shank and pulled the anchor out of the sand. We were hanging on by the second anchor only and it was time to take some action. We started the motor and managed to retrieve both anchors before motoring round the cove, being blown over at a good upwind sailing angle by some of the fierce gusts and looking for a patch of sand to put the anchor back in.

It all ended well and we put both hooks out again in a new spot.

Gorgeous Refuge Bay after the big blow.
By Tuesday the wind had moderated and we went for a wonderful bush walk through the soft forests of the southern most tip of mainland Australia. At the top of the hill separating Refuge Cove from Sealers Cove we found enough phone signal to post the last blog entry.

Stunning view of Sealers Cove from the popular Wilson's Prom walk trails

Beautiful lush vegetation on Wilson's Prom

Our Wednesday sail was fabulous. We had to motor for a few hours until the breeze filled in, rounding the Wilson’s Prom light and the islands off the point before we could set sail. By the afternoon a full sea breeze had come in and was pushing us along at our usual 8-10kts plus the odd squirt of 12+ down the waves. 

Wilson's Prom lighthouse - the southern most point of our journey.
Several pods of fun-loving dolphins with babies joined us along the way, surfing and playing in our bow wave, rolling over to eye-ball us and squeaking excitedly. Wonderful!

Just a couple of the dozens of friendly dolphins who played with us.
We decided to skip the anchorage we had planned to use in the eastern entrance to Western Port and continue the last few miles to the western entrance while the going was so good. After rounding the ragged rocks and entering the western channel, we made our way to a lovely quiet mooring at Cowes on the north side of Phillip Island.

The following morning we caught the tide up channel to Hastings marina where we stayed for 3 nights doing provisioning, a sail repair, fender cover make-over and replacing the steering cables.  All this activity whilst a very hot and wild 38 degree north easterly was blowing, a bizarre weather change after the cold south westerly gales at Wilson’s Prom just a few days earlier.

Low tide at Hastings. Big tides are a thing here - a bit like their namesakes in the UK.
Fenders sporting their new PJs - thanks to Hastings op-shop!
The marina was fine but a bit impersonal and we were next to the busy yard and boat lifter so after a bit of deliberation the decision was made to head a bit further upstream to Yaringa Boat Harbour which had caught our eye earlier as a cute looking little place. There is no shopping or public transport here but having done all of that in Hastings it seemed like a good place to spend a couple of days doing some engine maintenance that Chris had wanted to do since we left the Gold Coast.

Up a creek and in a ditch to get to Yaringa.
Yaringa harbour as you can see from the Google Earth image is a ditch cut in from the deeper water. Just as Upstart entered the channel we decided to start the motor and furl the jib. For the third time since we had been using the boat the starter motor would not work. Like the other occasions it did work after a few minutes of waiting but not before we had taken the precaution of lowering the anchor and were sitting safely in mid channel.

We have been here in Yaringa for three nights now, enjoying the charming low-key friendly atmosphere, and the lovely tidal wetlands, bush and abundant bird-life around us.

Feeling right at home in this little marina.
We have given the Nanni [motor] a wonderful holiday with new oil, hoses, anode, a fully cleaned and serviced heat exchanger and a threatening examination of the starting system, which all looks perfect of course. The drawers and cupboards all have new non-slip, the deck clutches have new labels, we have washed off the dirt from the wind at the last port of call and we are generally feeling ready to continue.
Bring out the tools - its time for Nanni to have some TLC.
At this stage Saturday is looking good for a voyage to Apollo Bay.  We are planning to leave here on Friday and go back to Cowes for a night before setting off again into Bass Straight.


  1. Great stuff Jenni and Chris.
    Look forward to reading more...

  2. Thank goodness Jenni spotted the rocks in the anchor twirling incident!! Glad you're well and having fun. Mxx

    1. Thanks M! The Blogger app doesn't tell me who made this comment, so I'm just guessing which 'M'? Jen xx


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