Fun With Flags
17 March 2018 | Dover, Tasmania
A long, long, time ago, in a land far, far away, back when we were working class, I used to while away my evenings scanning cruisers' blogs, dreaming of the day we could make our escape and cruise the distant oceans. Otherwise known as spending untold and ludicrous amounts of money and fixing your boat in nice places.
The first phase of the dream was that one day, we would join the ARC, The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers and over the long winter months I began to form the idea that, if we committed to some super-commuting, we could both work and play.
We'd flash the boat from the Clyde to northern Spain over a very long weekend then fly back for a couple of weeks at work. We'd then fly back out, flash the boat to Lisbon, fly home and work. Then flash the boat out to the Canaries.....fly home and work. A quick four weeks across the Atlantic and Bingo, we'd have done the ARC and hardly been missed at work.
While doing some research to flesh out this plan I stumbled across a blog written about the ARC, written strangely enough by people who not only owned the same type of boat as us, an Island Packet but they lived in our village. So, doing what cruisers do, and what I’ve repeatedly been warned not to do, I made an Internet date to meet in the local pub and it was there we explained our brilliant idea to John and Liz.
They were polite enough to listen attentively but sadly lacked the ability to keep a look of absolute horror from their faces. While again they were polite enough to not actually say, "are you pair completely nuts", after a short discussion it was apparent that maybe the plan needed some work. Long story, short, the passage planning Gods smiled on us, we surrendered our working class status, well, more like took the offer that was on the table and ran like stink, saddled up and headed for the ARC. Now, the point of this nonsense is not that we did the ARC but that during our meeting with John and Liz they highly recommended we join the Ocean Cruising Club.
Now, we'd never heard of the OCC but after a bit of checking, we signed up and have been members of this global "virtual cruising club" for a while now.
And it was this that led to us pulling up to the quay at Dover in deep south Tasmania yesterday to be welcomed with, "You must be Anne and Stuart". Now, you are fairly anonymous cruising around out in the wide open seas on your wee boat, dotting from anchorage to anchorage with pretty much nobody knowing where you are. No one really cares who you are, what you did, what size car you’ve got and so, to be greeted by our first names in this rather out of the way town of seven hundred or so souls, threw me into a panic thinking that Customs and Immigration had finally seen through our plan. But no, it turned out our new best friend, was Jeremy, the Ocean Cruising Club newsletter editor and writer of the Tasmanian Anchorage Guide. Our "bible" of the last few weeks.
One of the many things that keeps us amused out here in cruising land is "Fun With Flags". When we arrive most places, we hoist our string of signal flags, and, like Nelson, we take them down at night and on passage to save a few quid. While we're not quite dressed overall, our string includes the Ocean Cruising Club pennant, our Scottish Saltire (Freeeeee-dom) and the Largs Sailing Club burgee where we did our sailing apprenticeships. It not only makes us look pretty but when spotted by a resident OCC member, it gets us we invited to dinner, hot showers, sailing club parties, local guided tours, car loans (as in, “here, use my car” as opposed to financial assistance), shopping, laundry and pretty much any needs you may have. From Orkney to Tasmania, Norway to Norfolk USA, Ocean Cruising Club members have welcomed, fed, watered and generally looked after us.
So, as we arrived in Dover, flags flying, Jeremy spotted our Flying Fish flag from his front room, looked us up in the members list, jumped on his bike and headed down to scare the living daylights out of me - and then gave us what has become a typical Ocean Cruising Club welcome, dinner, at night out at the yacht club and…………a drive into the hills for a bush walk.
Haven’t these folks read about the snakes?????
09 March 2018
Back oop north when we were on the mainland, all our Australian pals were telling us we just HAD to go to Tasmania. They were even kind enough to give us all the routing advice, notes on sheltered anchorages, links to web PDF's for hill walking and of course tips on weather and how to make the jumps; first, the notorious Bass Strait and next, the jump around to the wilderness marine reserve of Port Davey. So, here we are, out in the wilds of Port Davey and after a few days out in the sunshine, getting nicely tanned and exercised from long "bush walks" and kayaking in glassy calms around the stunningly picturesque bays, the Roaring Forties have started roaring and.................nobody told us how to get back.
09 March 2018
Click, Click. Click Clack.
And then she appeared out the bush. This VISION. All tanned legs and hot pants, carrying a massive backpack. Click, Clack. Click, Clack went her walking poles as she walked towards us along the path. "Hi, aren't you scared of snakes? She asked. Somewhat distracted by the legs I didn't quite grasp the question. "Sorry" I apologised wrestling my gaze to eye level. "what was that?"
"Aren't you scared of snakes?" she kindly repeated. "Bloody terrified" I replied. "Well, I just passed two Tiger snakes in the last ten minutes. Make plenty noise" And just as quickly as she appeared, this vision of a backpack with long bronzed legs passed out of my life without even a backward glance, click, clacking her walking poles together.
We had opted to go for the four hour Bush Walk" across the point from our anchorage in Recherche Bay to South Cape bay, the southernmost point in Tasmania and thus Australia. Right up until "THE VISION" we'd been casually saying. "Bush Walking. That's nuthin'. At home, we'd just call it a walk". But now, all of a sudden, the impact of being out in the Bush, miles away from anything, hit home. Now I don't know anything about Tiger snakes but I'd a feeling the clue was in the name. Not only would a single bite leave you writhing in a long, agonizing, lingering death, but to add insult to death, the Tiger snake would probably haul you up a tree to munch away at your softer parts, enjoying Stuart Tartare for some weeks.
Somewhat disconcerted we continued our walk but as my pathetic whimpering obviously wasn't going to be loud enough, we collected a couple of big sticks and headed off again, beating the ground as we went, trying to sound like a small army on the move but more likely like Blind Pugh looking for a black spot. Unfortunately, from that moment on, every tree root took on the appearance of a snake, every branch had a Hissing Sid looking down for its next meal and, after not very much longer we thought, "Bugger this for a game of soldiers" and headed back to the safety of the beach and the boat where, to ease my conscience, I decided to use my time more gainfully, diving to scrub the hull and replace the anodes. After all, there's only killer whales, sharks and Portugeuse Men-of-War out there.
The anodes of the keel cooler genuinely needed replaced. A job I'd been putting off for some time. We also needed to give the hull a scrub before heading around to the pristine waters of Port Davey Marine Reserve. So, to salve my conscience and my manhood, I donned my SCUBA gear and plunged into the icy waters of what is after all, the Southern Ocean. What a guy! Scared of snakes yes but, layered with 5mm of neoprene I could do anything.
The following morning, in the pitch black and chill of 04:15 we headed out into the Southern Ocean and the Roaring Forties for the seventy mile trip around the bottom of Tassie. Seventy miles of motoring as it turned out there wasn't a breath. Not a ripple on the water. Twelve hours and many litres of diesel later we dropped the hook in Bramble Cove at the mouth of the Bathurst Channel in Port Davey in blazing sunshine lying under the mountains and cliffs reminiscent of the west coast of Scotland.
Another vision, but I'd swop it for the legs!
NOTE; (Port Davey really is a wilderness area. It's accessible only by boat, light plane or a six day walk so we are pretty well off the beaten track. We are also completely off grid, no cell coverage, no wifi, no nuthin' so no pics. Look back again on Facebook once we get comms in a week or two)
04 March 2018 | Shackleton in Bronze
You're leaving" says the secretary at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania looking at her watch. "You're meant to be away by ten, otherwise I should charge you for another day".
We didn't want to say we were only just out our pit, so instead, coughed up the credit card and shot back to Time Bandit to make a swift exit.
There was an excuse for our lazy morning. One - TOG 12 duvet. Two - a wild night out at the Salamanca ARTS Centre!!!!! Can't get enough of that art. An Irish folk/rock band, fresh from Celtic Connections in Glasgow was playing and we'd tagged along with Jeff and Kathy from Beatrix. Gone half past ten by the time we got back. Wild!!
And so, for the moment, our time in Hobart with its sunshine, museums, jails, trendy cafes, street markets, another jail and pricey restaurants (or are all restaurants pricey these days?) comes to and end. We quite like it here. Scenery, relatively quiet, plenty back-country space and, more sunshine. Just like home in fact. Apart from the sunshine that is. But then, there must be another side we don't know about as an ice breaker just went past.
As regards the whole convict thing, until relatively recent times perhaps the nineties, to admit to having convict blood in one's lineage was something of an embarrassment and family trees were certainly not broadcast if they bore "the stain". Nowadays however Tassie is the place to live and if you've convict blood, even better. A prosperous economy, sunshine, clean, fresh air and reasonable cost of living who wouldn't want to live here.
They've just had their state elections and I think I read that one party was advocating that as life was so good in Tasmania criminals should be deported to England.
24 February 2018 | Approaching the Hole in the Wall
There's convicts and there's convicts.
During our time in Australia we've been learning and reading a bit about how in the early 1800's the British "establishment" rather fancied thinning out the rabble that were clogging not only their jails and courts but also causing their posh neighbourhoods and green parks to look somewhat untidy. Fully staffed with all the servants they needed, it was time to clean up the streets, cut incarceration costs and numbers, while also addressing petty crime. But in reality, they just wanted to thin out the rabble.
And so was born the world's first first form of subsidised public transportation.
The "First Fleet" of seven hundred and fifty one merely desperate and starving who got busted for lifting the odd carrot or a crust or two found themselves whisked off on an early P&O (Prisoners and Officers) Southampton to Sydney cruise where the recently found continent had been lying since Cook's day, waiting for the Brits, who, having nailed their colours to it, had been struggling to come up with an idea of what to do with it.
Colonisation through "Transportation" was a stroke of genius. An ideal solution, killing a number of birds with one relatively inexpensive stone. And so was born Australia with penal colonies dotted around the eastern seaboard. The light fingered found themselves in the likes of Sydney and Brisbane. The real bad guys got the alternate cruise to Port Arthur in Tasmania and it's from here we write.
After hanging out in Eden for two weeks we finally caught a northerly and knocked off the four hundred and something miles in two and half days, one of them a fine darts score of one hundred and eighty taking us down into the Roaring Forties. No roaring as yet. Just a good breeze blowing us south and more of that current. Quite how we get back uphill I don't know.
Meanwhile, it's a tour of the colony, preceded by.........wait for it........a boat trip round the bay.
Another $10 well spent.
(More pics on Facebook)
Dither In Sin City
17 February 2018
You'd think we had boats that don't go to windward.
We're sitting here, we being about six boats, watching the forecasts and the wind switch from north to south and back again every day. Sometimes, north in the morning, south in the arvo (apparently that's Australian for the afternoon).
We only need a 48 hour window and, if push comes to shove, we can go to windward. But, all the local advice, solicited and unsolicited (!) says, chill, relax, be patient. Not my strong point.
So, it's another run ashore this time to walk around the market, no doubt to look at endless amounts of white socks, trainers and over-sized brassieres.
The good news is we won't have to hide from the twenty six party animals, nine of whom were ejected from the Carnival cruise ship that made an unscheduled stop here yesterday to end the misery the other two thousand passengers had been putting up with. The culprits were resoundingly cheered off the boat, we heard it two miles downwind, as they were shepherded ashore by the police launch to the waiting terra cops.
Well, if you're going to sin somewhere, it might as well be Eden
Wot!!! No Skimpy Bikini??
14 February 2018
Still negotiating pay rates for the skimpy bikini role so meanwhile, this will have to do.
Living the Dream
10 February 2018
It's jolly nice down here in Eden. Tied up with the other cruisers at the jetty, tourists and fishing boats coming and going, long walks on golden beaches and stunning views from the headland.
Unfortunately, as the jetty is exposed to the south and twenty to thirty knots was forecast, like rats deserting the sinking ship, one by one, the cruisers headed off for safe anchorages. Which is what we did yesterday afternoon. Just around the bay. No big deal. Business as usual.
Yeah. As usual. WHY, oh why is it you can roll up into an anchorage, pick a spot, drop your hook, and then, for as many hours as there are daylight, it doesn't make a sound? It doesn't drag along the bottom and the chain doesn't magically wrap itself around submerged rocks, coral heads or dumped vehicles.
Oh no. It always waits until it's pitch black, blowing a hooly and then........in the dead of night, when you're warm under the duvet and enjoying a passionate embrace with a hot movie star and "CLUNK". Like you just been jabbed with a 10,000 volt cattle prod, you're wide awake, on deck on your Y's, nursing a strain from your athletic leap out of bed peering into the dark for whatever made that damn noise.
And if it's not the "CLUNK", it's worse. It's the self inflicted, screaming, ooooooo...aaaaaaah, ooooooo...aaaaaaah of the anchor alarm you set. Just in case.
The fact you've never dragged the anchor anytime in the last ten years is irrelevant and doesn't enter the equation.
Religiously, once the anchor is set, we dial in the bearing to the anchor and set the distance. This drops a lovely and reassuring tiny graphic of your anchor on the screen with you, the boat, as a homely, glowing light blue spot pulsating gently as you draw a tiny snails track around the ocean. All showing all is indeed well.
And then, in the wee small hours, ooooooo...aaaaaaah, ooooooo...aaaaaaah. Cattle prod again.
Why wouldn't the App designers give you a choice of alarm sounds. The ooooooo...aaaaaaah, ooooooo...aaaaaaah for extremely deep sleepers, and as an option, perhaps tinkling water, like you get in the massage shop, to rouse you and gently part you from your dreams and that passionate embrace.
And how come you don't read about these nights of stress and broken sleep in "Living the Dream"?
I'll tell you. The authors of these damn books are sitting, tucked up in one of these 5 Anchor, marble lavvie marinas, tapping away on their keyboards, selling books about cruising "dreams" which are as much based on reality as my deep sleep, nocturnal, romantic adventures.