If it’s good enough for The Mercury, then mate, it’s good enough for me. It’s been a terrific day, but with a Cruise Values Session (drinks up at the clubhouse) in less than an hour I’ve got to whack this one together fast. Try and follow the day from the photos and the captions! Bits in between you can make up yourselves.

Short-sighted Larry chatted up the paintwork for quite a while

Roy and Di tie up for a coffee after night passage

Filling up with diesel.....

...is quite a .....

...and with 350 litres in each tank, you can work out the $$s

We went for a walk along the foreshore

From where the marina looks very pretty

But little Dorothy looked a little unloved at low tide

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In case you were thinking that cruising is all sun, sand and blissful enjoyment, today brings a few of the realities into focus. As our trusted crew set off to get a bus from Launceston to Hobart in order to bring their own car back so we can enjoy some sightseeing before they go home next week, we continued with the not so glamorous end of things.

More boat things to fix, more business to conduct (thank goodness for dongles and mobile phones), garbage to offload, laundry to do, and plenty of other things to wash down.

But, this is no hardship when we hear of other people whose spirit of adventure has prevailed even when more serious mechanical, electrical or other problems have beset them.

By 18:00 yesterday we were tied up at the Tamar Yacht Club in Beauty Point. The strength of the tide on the way in was something to behold, and it was not surprising to see some boats having to work very hard to manoeuvre into the marina. After dinner we were surprised, however, to notice RYCT vessel, Dreamtime, coming in towing another boat from the VDLC fleet. Having had propeller problems, this yacht had not been able to motor for the past 2 days. Despite light winds, they had plugged away under sail to reach their destination. We were very pleased to be able to assist in bringing them alongside E2 safely while guardian vessel Dreamtime dropped the tow-line and prepared to berth herself.

There will no doubt be many more stories – some we will hear about, others we will not. But as more vessels arrive the camaraderie will continue to grow and the true spirit of cruising will wash over us all. Then, when we’ve wiped the salt from our skin, we can smile and get on with the next inevitable flippin’ job!

The fleet nears Low Head Pilot Station

Not the sort of thing you want to run into

Not sure if they had to put on extra services just for us!

You really could call this 'My Beautiful Launderette"

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Goodbye Swan Island, we’re on our way to the Tamar. It’s a corker of a day which isn’t surprising with the barometer reading 1018. The 65 miles we will cover today has been through quite different waters, and with a very different shoreline to that of the East Coast. We’re probably abeam Barnbougle and The Lost Farm golf courses as I write, but we are too far off the coast to take a decent photo. We did pass fairly close to Waterhouse Island but the only things to see there were one tree, one (maybe derelict) lighthouse or tower, and a helicopter!

So, with not much scenery, a drop in bird life and no sightings of any dolphins, it’s been a good day to sun-bake, throw some dough around, and of course drive the boat and keep our proper log book up to date. I think the skipper is keen on winning the prize for the best kept cruise log.

One thing that is interesting to ponder are the various names given to islands and rocks. After Waterhouse Island, for example, there is Ninth Island (some of you may recognise these two words from a wine bottle). After Ninth Island, however, there is Tenth Island. Were the people who name these islands just getting stuck for new words? It’s another story between Eddystone Point and Swan Island though – with Eucalyptus Rock, Salamander Rock, and Lipstick Rock. I can’t believe that any man would have sighted a rock, and said “I’ll call that one Lipstick…” I think I will have to look into that one a bit more – perhaps there was an intrepid French female explorer, or even a cross-dressing Dutchman of some sort out here many centuries ago.

Clearly, my mind is wandering after 8 days on the briny, so it’s a good job we are not far from the Tamar. Apparently the very nice shop-keeper at Beauty Point is not only stocked up for our arrival, but has offered to drive us back to our boats with our purchases, however large or small. That’s Tasmania for you.

I'm sure somebody can think of a good caption for this one

Waterhouse Island seems unusually devoid of attractions

Knead some dough?

Captain's log..... star date 2302....beam me up

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OK, so Binalong Bay might not have been jumping, but that’s what this cruise is all about. Guess what, we’ve had another relaxing day, although there was one tense moment when we pulled up the anchor this morning. Coming in over the bow roller the anchor gave a kick and jammed on an angle. A certain amount of welly was required (one man jumping, one man hammering) to free it, but soon we were underway on Day 7 of our adventure.

We motored for about 5 hours from Binalong Bay to Swan Island where we are anchored for the night in company with 4 other VDLC boats.

Time to get out your maps to see exactly where we are folks. If you Google Swan Island you will find some interesting facts. For those of you who can’t be bothered, Swan Island is just off the north-east tip of Tasmania, in the throat of Banks Strait that separates the mainland from The Furneaux Group. According to Wikipedia, part of the island is privately owned, there is an automated lighthouse, an airstrip, and several houses.

Going ashore at Telegraph Bay we discovered there is also a Mutton Bird Rookery here, but the sign says “closed all year” – which must be a bit of a pain if you are a mutton bird wanting to rook.

Another superb sunset as we decide what to do with fresh tuna for dinner.

Plenty of welly to un-jam the anchor

Katrina III off the Bay of Fires

Want to go ashore?

Want to go back to the boat for a G&T?

Whoops, more dolphins!

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Sorry, but you do have to see just one more photo of dolphins. Yesterday, at Binalong Bay, between the boat and the beautiful beach, we were paddling our kayaks and couldn’t believe our luck. In fact, the first fin out of the water gave us a bit of a shock, but once we realised we were not potential dinner for a shark, we shrieked with delight to see dolphins at such close quarters.

Ashore we bought fresh milk, posted another letter (letter writing being an odd practice these days perhaps, but something my sister-in-law is single-handedly trying to retain), and had a general nose around. Binalong Bay has some very pretty holiday rentals as well as well-presented homes. My memory of it, however, will be for unbelievable clarity of colour. If there isn’t a paint called Binalong Blue, after the water, or Binalong Sky, after the sunset, I’m going to register the names!

With a few other boats also at anchor in the same location we hosted a small pre-dinner drinks party and a good time was had by all. Tall tales and true were swapped, and parting gifts of sashimi tuna and a lure – so our guests could catch their own next time – were proffered. We wait to hear how successful they have been.

The last dolphin photo I promise

Closer encounters by kayak

The very pretty Binalong Bay

Seriously, how's this for a sunset?

Making new friends is all part of the journey

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Day 6, and we are eating up some miles, heading up the east coast of Tasmania for Binalong Bay. In total it will be a 10.5 hour passage, having loitered temporarily at Wineglass to oil a squeaky anchor chain roller and clean our third fish. Another beauty, thanks Tolly.

Late yesterday the skipper and I got ashore for a brief look at Mayfield Bay, but by the time we got back it was too windy for the second shore party to take a trip. A pity, as the boat had been spotted by friends of theirs from Queensland who happened to be parked at the nearby camping area, and had given them a call.

Today has been glorious. Everybody is relaxed, and we’re happy to spend our time watching sea eagles, dolphins, diving-petrels, and keeping our eye on other boats in the fleet.

The dolphins make us all smile, they seem to radiate happiness. I tried my best to take a half-decent photo of them, and even read the manual for my camera to discover a ‘burst’ setting. Next time I buy a camera it’s going to have a proper old-fashioned view-finder, not just the massive great black screen that I can only see myself in on a sunny day! And maybe a telephoto lens too…

Barometer – rising steadily, hurrah
Grumpometer – no signal, hurrah
Tripometer – 75 miles by the time we reach Binnalong

The one I love and who makes all this possible

Emeritus 2

Touched 10.2 knots as we shot through Schouten

Dolphin magic

Just having fun alongside the bow

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What a 24 hours it has been. From a morning when even the fishos stay put, to an afternoon of kayaking and swimming in crystal clear blue water. From the best sashimi ever tasted by the light of a glorious moon, to an unscheduled night passage across to Mayfield Bay. No wonder the others are pushing up a few zeds right now.

It really had been a superb afternoon, and after a relaxing gin and tonic aboard Wild Goose (those South Australians are pretty cool guys really), we sat down to a perfect dinner, in a perfect bay, on a perfect evening and watched a perfect moon rise above the perfect hills. Ahhh.

We knew the weather was going to deteriorate, but the westerley really came around very quickly. Only 20 minutes after checking everything around the boat, and then going to bed – with the skipper sleeping in the wheelhouse just in case – we were suddenly woken by the crew of the neighbouring boat Dana Felicia calling on the radio and shining their large flashlight into our cabins. Both large boats and swinging on a lot of chain (for non-boating types that’s the chain that attaches the boat to the anchor). We were getting perilously close, and with surf coming at our bow in massive waves we pulled up our anchor to get clear. With 40 metres of chain out, this is not an instant operation. And with strong winds pushing into the bay we knew that re-anchoring in a crowded bay, even with a bright moon to help, was not a good plan B. There was no debate – Plan C – get out of there and head due west, punching into the wind, and head for Mayfield Bay, just south of Swansea. The first half hour was wild, but the good old Gardner just seemed to enjoy the challenge, and we anchored safely around 01:15. Some of the fleet had made the move earlier in the day, and another four boats followed us over on their own unscheduled night passage.

With a pile of salt-water sodden towels in our midst this morning (getting the ports shut firmly was not at the very top of our list during the early stage of our departure) we were pleased to see a huge blue sky and lots of sunshine. A perfect day for laundry. As the wind hasn’t dropped either, everything was dry in fairly good time.

The VLDC fleet is now scattered over many anchorages, but with better weather forecast in a day or so we are looking forward to reconnecting with our fellow explorers as we continue our journey around Tasmania.

Lovely rain to top up the water tanks

The rod that feeds us

Wringing out towels, better than yoga

Wild Goose at anchor in Mayfield Bay

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If you’ve looked at a weather map for Schouten Passage in the past while, you will know that the promised lousy weather has materialised. It’s a test of everybody’s gear and we’re keeping a watch for those who might be dragging. We’re also getting on with a multitude of jobs aboard E2.

But, before getting into what to do on boats when the weather is cruddy, a recap on the beach barbeque I was off to yesterday.

How pleasant it was not only to meet some of our fellow voyagers but to feel the clean white sand under our toes at Bryan’s Corner, at the southern end of Freycinet Peninsula.

As many of our beach bbq areas and other stop-off points are National Parks, 4 VDLC boats carry superbly made portable (but bloody heavy) gas barbeques.

Back to this morning, and a couple of us spent an hour up on the roof with the deck hose and a couple of brooms, cleaning off the stuff seagulls leave behind…. and then after a good hour of letting the fresh rain clean off the salt water, we started funnelling it into our water tanks. I wonder if it rains red wine anywhere around the coast.

There are also some small leaks being seen to by The Skipper (rain is the only way to find them!), and The Fisherman has downed rods to be The Handyman. I think we are about to have a smart looking rack of hooks up on the wall!

After lunch we are expecting the wind to change and we will probably get underway and find a new place to hide from the weather. We are safe and dry and the Scrabble board will also be getting a work-out later on.

Barometer – dropping (999 at 11:45)
Grumpometer – variable, depending on how leak-proofing goes
Scrabblometer – strong change forecast

The skipper starts relaxing

Now, how do these fit together again?

Good weather to scrub the roof

The wonderful Rosinante duo

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It’s been all go today, and I am racing to put this together before the dinghy returns to spirit me away to the first ashore gathering of the cruise participants.
We could not leave Maria Island before going ashore this morning at Darlington. A very special place indeed, and my next dream is set – to do one of Ian Johnstone’s Maria Island Walks. As a good friend’s mother says: ‘you only need 4 things in life – someone to love; someone to love you; something to do; and a dream.
And now we are at anchor in Schouten Passage – and the weather forecast is not terrific so we might be here a day or two.
‘The Fisherman’ continues his good run, with a large skipjack tuna caught on our way here this afternoon. We’ve all then put a rod in the water for squid and come up with about 8 between us. They are currently heading for the beach along with the the RYCT portable bbq we are carrying.
Last night we ate most of ‘Alby the (doe eyed baby) Albacore’, and what was left we put into some sushi for lunch. Helve, a very special photo for you today!
Dad, glad to know you are now (at 80-whatever) online so you can watch our journey. As requested, you will now find a photo of me on this blog.
That’s it for now because my dinghy awaits and there is socialising to do.
Barometer – a bottle of champagne on ice
Grumpometer – should be better after champagne
Fishometer – what can I say, but move over Rex

VDLC yacht off Maria Island

New dream, to return to Maria Island

E2 cook having a grate time making sushi

Helve, here's one for you!

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Before telling you about our passage to Maria Island from the beautiful Carnarvon Bay today, a quick recap on our adventures ashore on the Tasman Peninsula yesterday.
As soon as we were tied up securely two crew put the dinghy in the water and headed over to the public wharf at Port Arthur. From there we had an excellent walk around the foreshore to Stuart’s Bay. We posted a couple of letters at the local store, and then nipped back to the wharf via the outskirts of the convict site at Port Arthur.

Meanwhile the crew left aboard on fishing duty were catching some calamari. Barbequed with a bit of oil, and served with lemon and salt. Delicious. And that was just the entree!

As for today, well, what an experience. Carnarvon Bay was picture perfect as we dropped the mooring at 07:15. We motored at around 8.2, and had a fairly bumpy ride through ‘the hole in the wall’ – between Cape Pillar and Tasman Island – and as it was my first time through I wore shorts and ugg boots to mark the occasion. Luckily no photos were taken.

09:45 and a nice albacore on the line. That’s a fish for those of you who don’t know – and in some places (not Tasmania) people pretend it’s tuna.

With a south-west change approaching we were pleased to drop anchor in Oyster Bay around 13:00, with Maria Island as our splendid backdrop for the rest of the day and evening ahead.
Barometer – don’t know, I’d have to get up and look
Grumpometer – sleeping, so I can’t ask him to look either
Fishometer – excellent!

Port Arthur - an incredible heritage site

No squid ink on me!

Can 'ardly believe our luck in Canarvon Bay

No need to raid the freezer tonight

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