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I must go down to the sea
A typical weekend (24 and 25 march)
04/02/2012, Moulter's Inlet, Bathurst Harbour

Saturday is usually the day of chores, and Sunday is usually the day of rest. And so it was this weekend (well, almost). Thank goodness Saturday was a warmer day with less rain. We baked, cooked, cleaned and refuelled. After Lesley spending some time during the night working out how many meals we have left, we were lucky enough to be given some grocery items by Sam from the boat Schouten Pass. He is here as the support boat for a group of marine scientists from Hobart who are doing some sort of survey of marine life in Port Davey and it's entrance. However, the weather is too rough (too much swell) for them to do any more work so Sam tied up the boat at Meleleua Inlet and they flew back  to Hobart in the afternoon. Sam is a really genuine bloke and has been very helpful sharing their long range weather forecast with us, as well as local knowledge regarding anchorages, and the use of his sat phone last night. We went to see if we could find any nocturnal animals - our Saturday night out - as we were planning to leave the jetty on Sunday and be back at anchor.  

Sunday was yet another day of strong wind warning (20-30 knts) and a drizzly morning (more rain). We set off in the drizzle for Moulter's Inlet and arrived in time to drop anchor and have lunch. It is a pretty spot but unfortunately too windy, and a bit too cold, to be out and about in the dinghy. So another quiet afternoon playing scrabble. There is a glimmer of hope in this afternoon's updated forecast that we might be able to make a run for Strahan on Wednesday or Thursday.

A new yacht club (march 23)
04/02/2012, Clayton's Corner, Bathurst Channel

Well we have had horizontal rain on this trip, and now we have had horizontal hail. During the night last night, there were several heavy hail showers, and it has been hailing and raining on and off all day today. The maximum temperature in sandpiper's cabin was 10 degrees. The winds are still westerly and still blowing at 20 to 30 knots. We have had strong or gale wind warnings for the last 4 days and it is not over yet. It is very lucky for us that at the end of the jetty to which we are tied is a small house that once belonged to a local crayfisherman (Clyde Clayton) and which is now maintained by a group of volunteers for the use of yachties, fisherman, and bush walkers. We spent most of the day up there in front of the fire, drying clothes and playing scrabble. We also established the Clayton's Corner Yacht Club (CCYC) of which Phil is the Commodore. There is now a smart sign on the mantelpiece of the house, and a tin for membership fees which we hope will be put towards maintenance of the house (club rooms). In his foraging for firewood, Phil found a 4 metre Huon pine tree not 25 metres from the house. The weather situation is starting to get desparate.  It seems like we might be here for at least another 5 or 6 days before it would be reasonable to make a run for anywhere. The locals are saying that this is more like winter weather patterns and saying that it has not been like this at this time of the year for at least 8 years. Due to the generosity of one of the other boats, Lesley was able to call Reece tonight to let him know that we have not disappeared, and check all is ok at home. Being completely out of touch for this long is a bad feeling. It is now about 8.30 and the only thing left for us to get into bed and read to keep warm.

Running out of patience (22 march)
04/02/2012, Clatyon's Corner, Bathurst HArbour

Another fairly miserable day weather wise - wet, windy and cold - so a fair bit of moping around on the boat. In between showers, Phil did some minor repair work on the dinghy, and we went for a walk. Our spirits were not helped with the latest forecast which now includes Sunday - the day we were hoping we would get a chance to move on. But not the case. So we have a new challenge in keeping ourselves entertained and maintaining a sense of humour in the face of somewhat adverse conditions while we wait some more for a break in the weather.

By the camp fire (21 march)
04/02/2012, Clayton's Corner, Bathurst Harbour

 We woke to another day of rain and so busied ourselves in the morning testing various things to try to get to the bottom of the battery problem. It turns out that it was not the solar cell and unless there is something else draining our power, the house battery is on its last legs. We just hope that it keeps on holding its charge for at least 12 hours at a time until we get to Strahan. We also had to do a boat shuffle as there was a charter fishing boat that wanted to get some water. We managed to fit two yachts on one side of the jetty, so he could get on the other side. This was all done in the rain, so full wet wether gear was required. The guys on the charter boat vindicated our decision to up anchor and tie up, telling us that they knew of yachts that had recently dragged anchor in strong winds in Clayton's Corner. After  that it was baking bread, making hummus, and playing scrabble (Gayle, there is a new champion!). We discovered that our neighbours had gone up to the house here and got the fire started so we joined them for pre dinner drinks. It was very cosy and a pleasant few hours was enjoyed by all. The winds are going to be 20-30 knots for the next four days so it doesn't look like we will be leaving here until at least next Monday by which time we will have been here for 12 days. Apparently the record for being stuck here is about 40 days! We have done a stock take and we have plenty of food to last us well into next week, but if we don't get a break in the weather by then, we will have to look into getting some food flown in which is done regularly for bush walkers on long treks. Meleleuca is a bit of a base camp for them apparently. Hopefully it won't come to that. We are very glad that we got here on the day we did, otherwise we would still be around the other side of tassie waiting. If we had to get stuck anywhere on the trip, this is really the best place as it is somewhat protected, is very scenic and there are quite a few different anchorages to see, and lots of bush walks to do.

Making the most of it (20 march)
04/02/2012, Clayton's Corner, Bathurst HArbour

As strong winds were forecast for later today, we decided to make the most of the good conditions to climb Mt Beattie. It was one of the nicest walks we have done here. It started through rain forest in which there is the greatest variety of moss that we have ever seen. Lovely tall straight tea trees and gum trees. Then out into open grassland. A spectacular view back over Claytons's Corner, our boat, Meleleuca Inlet and to the southern ocean beyond. At the top, we were rewarded with more fabulous views of Bathurst Channel and Harbour. After lunch - a reconnoitre in the dinghy to chat to another boat which had just come in and to explore round the edges of the bay. Like most of this place, there was very little foreshore, except for a narrow strip covered in tight knit short green grass like plant which looked almost like it was manicured. We couldn't resist tieing up the dinghy and walking on it just to see what it was like- very soft and spongy. By now the wind was getting up and the  latest forecast indicated gale force winds for tomorrow (40knts). So we took easy option and motored over to Clayton's jetty to secure ourselves for what was to come. The other yacht followed and we spent a few enjoyable hours after dinner looking at their photos of Davey River and the gorge  which we are unlikely to get to see.

Fairyland (19 march)
04/02/2012, Clayton's Corner, Bathurst Harbour

After a stunning still and misty morning at Meleleuca Inlet, we motored back down to Claytons's Corner to fill up with fresh tank water, then over to the mouth of the Old River, where we anchored. Then off in the dingy for the challenge of rowing 2 miles up the river to see if we could find a stand of old Huon pine trees. It was a very pretty trip and we were surprised at how quickly we got to the intended spot. We were following some instructions in one of the cruising guides, and we nearly didn't find the right spot at which to go ashore. What a surprise that was in store for us. It was like walking through a fairy land. There was moss everywhere, ferns, toadstools, and finally the stand of Huon pines from very small ones to quite large trees. Phil thought it was certainly worth the row, and so did Lesley. Back down the river, which is scattered with logs, quite shallow in parts, and the water is very dark with tannin so difficult to see obstacles even if just under the surface. We managed to slam into a large rock which stopped the dingy suddenly and startled the occupants! All was well. Back over to Claytons's corner which is a pretty spot to settle down for the night and the forecast windy day tomorrow. A perfect evening finished off with enjoying the twilight up on deck and a brief sojourn to shore to look for nocturnal animals, who were not going to show themselves tonight at least. 

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