We arrived St Helens early afternoon on Friday, hoping to get going immediately and make our way to Eddystone Point, where we would spend the night before sailing to Flinders Island on Saturday. Tides are a real issue at St Helens and, even though we only draw 1.8 metres (6 foot) we needed at least half a tide to get out. With high tide around 1pm that meant we would have to wait at least 18 hours to get out if we couldn’t leave.
The weather forecast had changed dramatically, however, and there was 25 knots blowing at Eddystone Point. Not wanting to scare Prue witless on her first passage, I elected to wait and take another look at the weather in the morning. We had a very peaceful night as, of course, the wind died completely just after dark.
Looking at the weather Saturday morning showed that we had about 24 hours to get to Flinders before a pretty severe cold front moved in, so we left the dock to get to the bar by 10AM. We were still a bit early and the Marine Rescue boat had to drag us over the shoals at Pelican Point.
The passage up to Flinders was pretty full on, it was blowing 20 knots plus when we got out there and it varied between 18 and 30 knots all day. It was also forward of the bow so we were close reaching with two reefs and a semi-furled genoa. Spray flying, wet and cold.
We then faced getting into Franklin Sound in the dark with 30 knots blowing over the flood tide. We used the southern channel just north of Vansittart Island with GPS coordinates from the Cruising Tasmania Anchorages guide book by J Brettingham-Moore. This was stressful in itself because the directions of are indeterminate age… I can report that the channel still exists and we never had less than 1 meter below our keel (i.e. the shallowest part was about 2.8 meters at the state of the tide (tide was about 1 meter at the time we crossed). That’s a bit less than the charts promised.
We’re now holed up in Lady Barron, tied up to barge at the boat harbour. It’s been howling outside, we saw up to 42 knots at the height of the blow, and we’re really grateful to be here and not out to sea.