Wineglass Bay to Binalong Bay

not the easiest of times . . .

When the wind eased the next afternoon we decided to head for Bicheno.

By the time we arrived at Bicheno the wind had almost died completely and the swell was rolling into the beaches rocking and rolling us around. It was nearly dark. We picked up a fisherman’s mooring in Waub’s Bay and began dinner. It was so rolly here that the pots would not stay on the stovetop and I stood holding onto them while dinner was cooking. We need to get fiddle rails for the stove.

We tried to improve the motion of the boat by putting out a stern anchor to keep us pointing into the swell. It didn't work that well - a "Bruce" in sand didn't set very well. It wasn’t that comfortable but we felt safer on a mooring rather than trying to anchor in sand.

In the morning we met the first of our many “bird friends”. We have met quite a few characters of the avian world on our way. This was Brekky Bird. We think it may have been a juvenile Pacific gull but we weren’t sure. He stalked around the foredeck and didn’t seem to be afraid of us. He did enjoy the titbits of abalone we gave him that we were keeping for fishing bait.

The abalone was from a grateful skipper of a yacht in Wineglass Bay after Greg helped him with his radio. After a while he decided that we were boring and took off. So did we - to the Gulch where we tied up to the wharf and I went to do some “real” shopping while Greg filled up the water tank.

The Gulch is an interesting place. It is quite shallow and the tide rushes through there at many knots between the mainland of Tasmania and Governor’s Island. There are moorings for fishing boats and a few recreational craft. The water is very clear and divers can be seen looking for crayfish and generally observing the life in the water – the seaweed, sponges and fish. It is a marine reserve. We had to motor in and then do a U turn to get to the jetty. We were beginning to find out that the dinghy on the davits could be a handicap. We weren’t used to the way that the ends of the dinghy stuck out from the stern of the boat.

After stowing the supplies, and before the tide got too low we untied and headed to our next anchorage – just up the coast about 8 miles to Long Point to shelter before the forecast strong winds hit. It was good to be on the move again. We had heard that there was more bad weather coming so we wanted to be in as much shelter as possible.

Long Point was not a very sheltered anchorage. After setting the anchor in the afternoon, we reset it just on dusk trying to get further around the point to protect us from the swell, but the wind continued to strengthen and we had a restless night. It eased off at daylight only to be replaced by a south to southwest change later in the day. It was good that we had a good supply of reading material and board games to play.

I think that a lot of cruising is sitting out bad weather and you have to have something to do.

That night we started a system of watches where one of us was awake just in case the anchor dragged or something went wrong. We took 3 hour shifts. It wasn’t very warm - it was bloody cold. The swell continues to roll in from the South east whatever the wind direction. After my watch the wind continued to increase to about 30 knots and, with us on a lee shore, we did not feel comfortable, so when the forecast gales were downgraded to a strong wind warning we decided to leave for Binnalong Bay early the next day.

We were not sure about going out but we were less sure about staying but we decided to risk it and head off. We actually had a wonderful day. It was bitterly cold but sunny and windy to start with. As soon as we hoisted the sails, a reefed headsail and main, the swell effect diminished and we sailed at about 6 knots for a couple of hour, but the wind abated and, off Wardlaws Point, we were wondering if we were actually going forward. Greg decided that this would be a good time too install the repeater for the navigation instruments in the cockpit. This wasn't an easy job because we both needed to be in the same spot, but it was done in the end without too much swearing and jostling for position.

The dolphins playing in the bow wash were the highlight of the day and as we passed St Helens we had a school of seals waving their flippers in the air like sails. Dolphins are great fun. They actually interact with us. One of us will go to the bow and make eye contact with them. We can hear them talking to each other under the water. They are very entertaining when they hear the engine noise ther rush over to us as if they know that boats are good fun to play with.

We didn’t risk the entry into St Helens as the tide was wrong and it was getting late in the afternoon. We had heard many stories of scary crossings of the St Helelns Bar. So we continued on to Binnalong Bay where we anchored at Skeleton Cove in the late afternoon and we went ashore. I went to find a shop – my turn for retail therapy. I could only find a café but it sold bread and milk after a 2 km walk.

The anchorage was surrounded by big granite boulders covered with orange lichen which is the signature of the Bay of Fires. Skeleton Cove is at the southern end. It was very sheltered and for the first time in about 4 days I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep. There was still a strong wind warning current but no strong wind in here.

But . . .It became very rough during the night, the wind had turned and was blowing straight into the bay whipping up big waves. We wondered what to do in the morning after another night of broken sleep. The boat was being pounded by the waves and we were being knocked around so, after the alarm alerted us that the anchor was dragging, we decided to move to Seaton Cove, just south of the Gardens, even though it was blowing 45 knots by this time. Lupari struggled through huge waves and swells, some washing right over the cabin roof. She does not handle punching into such big waves with her small motor very well. It was a very slow trip, although it was not very far. We were very glad of our internal steering station. With the engine going it gets quite warm in the cabin and it was a cold day. We were warm and dry. It was the scariest weather I had been in so far.

Seaton Cove was on the windward shore and as we got closer we noticed that the waves were smaller and it was almost calm near to the beach. It was sheltered by the hills behind it. The swell was being broken by a reef of rocks to the North East. With a much smaller fetch the waves were quite small here and as evening fell the wind died away and we had a quiet and peaceful night.

We woke to a beautiful morning refreshed by a good night’s sleep. The world looked lovely again. It took us a while to decide what to do from here as we had a couple of choices depending on the weather as the next step was to cross the unpredictable Banks Strait to Flinders Island.

Our journey has been slower than planned because of the rough and windy weather. Sitting out gales and big swells was very frustrating and at the end of 2 weeks we were still in Tasmania at Binalong Bay waiting for the weather to improve to go the next leg – across Bass Strait.