Gabo Island to Eden

This post comes from the high seas (gotta love technology), only because I want to post the photo…

Steaks for dinner, sushi for lunch! 4kg of Striped Tuna

Steaks for dinner, sushi for lunch! 4kg of Striped Tuna

Caught on a trolling lure, 28kg line. The bitch put up a serious fight, going straight down and dragging out almost all my line against the highest drag setting! Best quote of the day from Kelly when I asked a Barra-fisher whether she could handle the landing net: “does a bear know how to shit in the woods?” – I deserved that!

Across Bass Strait!

It took a real leap of faith to cast off yesterday morning and head out through the Potboil (!) Shoal, forsaking the safety of Franklin Sound for what promised to be a rough crossing. The wind had howled all night and I had very little sleep. From the forecasts I knew, however, that we really only had a 36hour window to get across, unless we wanted to stay another 10 days in the hope of a better crossing.

So off we went, trailing our new friends on Carribean Blue (also RMYC members) by about an hour. In the lee of Flinders for the first 6 hours, the seas were not too bad and the wind kept abating until we were broad reaching with full canvas up, making 7 to 8 knots.

Once we got into Bass Strait proper, however, the seas got a lot bigger, I reckon about 3 meters, short and steep, with some braking waves. We also had it right on the beam which was a bit uncomfortable. It was now blowing 20-25 knots out of the west and we were still broad reaching with two reefs in the main and half the #2 genoa rolled away. Wild sailing but at least we were making good time!

Weathering the weather in Bass Strait - one tough chick!

Weathering the weather in Bass Strait - one tough chick!

Just after sunset the wind abated as forecast, the pressure started rising and it looked like our faith in the forecast would be rewarded. We started steaming as soon as the boat speed fell below 5.5 knots, knowing there would be a nasty nor-easter to punch into later on Thursday.

So we motored all night and all day on Thursday. When the nor-easter came through we decided to call it a day and went into the anchorage at Gabo Island where we had a lovely night. I was shattered and went to sleep after our dinner (bbq snags and potato salad). The crew went exploring ashore in the moonlight, petting penguins and lying alongside the lighthouse, staring up at the sky…

Gabo Island is a great anchorage in good weather and provides good relief from the north through the east to the south. However, the holding is not good, with the bay being mostly a smooth rocky bottom or kelp and thin patches of sand here and there. In a big blow the jetty probably is the safest option. We had about 3.5 meters of water at high tide and the tidal range was only 600 mm. I would think twice about sitting out a storm here though. We reset the anchor four times and found it lying upside down on a rocky bottom when going round by snorkel to check…

Change of Mind

I got up this morning at 6, intending to sail north at least as far as Narooma, slowly making my way back to Sydney, having given up on the idea of sailing to Hobart. It just seemed like a lot of hard work and then there was still a return passage that would have to follow.

As I left Twofold Bay I listened to the weather forecast on the VHF and asked myself why I was sailing north when I had three days of nor-easters to come that would get me to Tassie so easily… I turned south, felt the sting of the southerly… and turned north. Another ten minutes went by before I turned south again, this time for good! I called up the Marine Rescue at Eden and explained that I had a change of heart and was now heading south!

Bass Strait: Gabo Island to St Helens

Bass Strait: Gabo Island to St Helens

As I entered Bass Strait I realised that a long night of motoring into a 3-4m swell and a 10 knot southerly could be avoided by going into the lee of Gabo Island and waiting ’till the next morning.

Anchored in the lee of Gabo Island

Anchored in the lee of Gabo Island

What a great move! It’s a bit rolly but, to be fair, I’ve anchored in worse places, and the scenery unbelievable. It is truly a little remote wilderness, complete with penguins on the rocks and not a soul in sight.

I’ve used the time here (I arrived at around 3pm) to check the engine (oil and coolant etc) and top off the diesel from the jerry cans. A lovely dinner and hot shower (with 1.4 litres of water from my fabric softener bottle with holes in the cap) followed and now┬áI’m off to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a long day…

Sunset over Victoria from the lee of Gabo Island

Sunset over Victoria from the lee of Gabo Island