Our Life Afloat

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February 2019                                                     January 2019 >>
Blog of Jack and Jude
explorers, authors, photographers & videographers

Halcyon Days Obscured

Once safely inside the Nubeena anchorage at Parsons Bay, Banyandah settled into a calm state of nirvana that hit maximum bliss over the Australia Day long weekend. Before those three glorious festival days, we re-victualed our sorry larder with fresh goodies from the handy IGA that lay a mere hop, skip, and paddle from our floating home. The only hitch being timing our crossing of the hugely wide, drying sand flats that took a bit of strategic planning, but once mustered, we knew precisely when to brave the rigours awaiting us ashore, where it was hot and often irritatingly smoky.

Just when we were getting the hang of things, a bolt out the blue from our past showed up. Yonks ago when sailing round the world was something everyone hankered to do, there were several floating families hove together up the Klang River in Malaysia. With us was Brian, who had recently lost his wife in strange circumstances, converting his yacht for a special delivery to an unnamed country. And another was this likable lad with rusty coloured hair with his wife and child, doing any odd job that had anything to do boats.


Forty years down the track, this rusty haired lad now living in Tasmania contacts us. Brief messages between us revealed that he had pursued a maritime career, and we suggested he drive down to meet us. Uh-oh, his hair is no longer rusty coloured. In fact, all three of us are fifty shades of grey, but all of us can still sail a boat – just about anywhere.

Reminiscing is such good fun when you have something in your lives worth recalling, so between the three of us we talked up a storm from moment one, for pretty near the next thirty-six hours. And it was so much fun that we have something on the boil for later down the log.

Australia Day was very special. Jack and Jude joined the local scene right from the get-go and participated in the local Peninsula Aquatic Club Renegade Regatta. Well, sort of. We were visiting cheerleaders and storytellers, and we had a lot of fun chatting with the local sailors. Then we moseyed over to the local craft fair, where we were amazed by the quality of talent. Even more impressive were the stories we heard from the artists. It’s a great way to learn local history first hand and get a good grip on what makes a place special. So we went home hoarse from non-stop talking to the local folk.

At its worst we could not see the hills

At its worst we couldn’t see the hills


Tasmania on Fire

Smoky Nubeena

Although almost everything was glorious, the one hang-up was the smoke haze and acrid smell that drifted in and out on the changeable breeze. At its worst, we couldn’t see 500 metres! And it caused such great worry for us deeply regretting the loss of wildlife and forests, while worrying about how the fallout would affect our painting Banyandah. Seemed the whole state was engulfed in fire, a tragedy effecting all Taswegians. 

Isn’t it well past time that we humans recognize the impact our massive population is having on this lovely bit of magic we call Earth. How ridiculous to think we, meaning the billions of humans, running cars, flying in aircraft, burning fossil fuels for heat and energy, can go on doing so without changing the dynamics of the planet. Hey, we live on a ball floating in space and there ain’t no Plan B. Imagine for a moment the creator of all this is testing us. Remember, we are unique, with such great powers.

Final Romp to Slipway

Okay, back to life on the briny: We needed to get to our lady to her appointed moment to be hauled out the water so we tracked the weather as furiously as kids texting each other. It’s just so handy to watch the weather systems unfold and be able to predict nearly exactly the moment to lift the anchor for a perfect sail. We had seen our moment coming, and had planned our whole happenings around departing at 12 noon the following Saturday. Nope, no overtime applied, real sailors sail on good wind whenever it arrives. And so when the first skerrick of northerly breeze touched our cheeks we sailed.

By the time we’d cleared the fish farms, yes, Nubeena has them as well, a lovely 12 knot breeze filled our sails, and as predicted it got stronger every minute that afternoon till we were romping along propelled by twenty knots and looking for quieter water. That arrived perfectly at Dennes Point when we gybed all sail to broad reach at near max speed down “The Channel.” That’s what the locals call the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, a narrow waterway protected on each side by Bruny Island and Tasmania. The channel is the most popular boating area in all of Tasmania, with literally hundreds of anchorages in bays and inlets. Our destination, The Oyster Cove Marina, located at Kettering, lay just a few miles from the top end. We sped down channel till opposite our haul-out point then zipped into the complex of many bays opposite it to get ready for our big day two days hence.

Spirare means Breeze in Latin

Spirare means Breeze in Latin

While having a paddle around the next morning we met Serge and Joanne, French Canadian’s on a steel yacht called Spirare, which in Latin means breeze, or breathe like in respire. Serge told us many other words from this Latin root that we’re not able to recall at just this moment because our head is filled with their sorry tale of visiting Australia. Their love of Australia is their problem. It seems Australia only allows visitors a maximum stay of two years, and then they must go. Now Segre and Joanne are not young and therefore cannot apply for residency. But it’s not that they want. All they want is to stay longer. They spend near twenty thousand dollars a year in the local economy while living in their own floating home, so they are paying their way and are no burden on the community. Once they paid quite a hefty full price for some needed medical attention. So, in fact they are never a burden and actually support our economy. But the rules say, two years only, and then you must go. So, listening to their tale of woe we wondered why? Now they’re preparing their vessel for a sail back to New Zealand, a country they told us will gladly take many like them. You make up your own minds on that one.

smoke in the channel

A bit concerned with the smoke


Hard Yakka

Okay, moving onto the trials of our older bodies revitalising our vintage craft knowing that we’ll write a full report on the facilities here at the Oyster Cove Marina once we’ve completed the full tour. But for now, we’re up to our eyeballs in Hard Yakka. For those of you who do not own a vessel or those able to hire labour to do this tiring work, we’ll explain. Imagine something as big as a forty-foot container but has no flat sides nor is close to the ground. Instead it stands over head-height on a narrow comb with all the real work way up above mere mortals. Making things much tougher, it lives in a marine environment requiring very special coatings and then even before applying those touchy chemicals, the marine growth has to be removed and the surface prepared, which on our veteran lady is a bit pock-marked like a demented witch that has had a hard life. Scrape, scrape, sand, sand: Ouch! Our shoulders are hurting, and all the time we’re climbing up and down two stories while, most importantly, all the time carefully watching our every footing. And there’s more: Always outside, exposed to the sun and wind, and rain.

Our lady needs some TLC

Our lady needs some TLC

Of course there’s a financial cost. Haul-out costs we’ll report later when we’re back in the water, but the paint, anodes, brushes, rollers, thinners, masking tape, and sanding gear, etc, etc, so far runs to a thousand dollars. No charge for our labour! So, any of you contemplating owning a boat, rub away those rose coloured images of basking beside a white sandy beach with a tall glass of bubbly, and get real. This is serious work.

We’re not whinging. We’ve done this before, and will gladly do it again, well, maybe not gladly, but there are positives. A ship looks after a person’s well-being. She provides a home and is the magic carpet to extraordinary places not reachable by any other form of transport. And she gives a quality of life that is truly memorable. Now, when all is said and done, if we are fortunate enough in coming years, we’ll be able to spin some yarns that will lighten up our eyes, not just with pride in what we achieved; but with an inner glow remembering the wonderful places we’ve experienced and the magical wildlife we’ve witnessed. For all that, the price starts with Hard Yakka.

Wooden Boat Festival

Wooden Boat Festival 2019

We took a day off from our Hard Yakka when good friends loaned us their second car to drive up to Hobart on a rainy Saturday to see what all the fuss was about with thousands vying for a look at timber vessels of all shapes and sizes. What we really wanted to see was an outcast from the others. A metal vessel we’d grown up hearing of her restoration and here was our chance to actually go on board the James Craig.

  • The Tall Ship James Craig
    The Restored Tall Ship James Craig


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“Jude’s Fright” – Uncharted Rocks Update

Concise reply:
“Overall, I would very much like to thank you for bringing this to our attention in such a well documented way via a Hydrographic Note. Based upon your advice, we have already updated the official electronic and paper nautical charts, though it could be two years before those changes are reflected in the unofficial recreational charts – another challenge we are attempting to address. If you note (or recall) any other areas where the charts don’t reflect real-world features, we’d most appreciate hearing from you again.”

We wrote back and suggested that if they chose to name those rocks that they call them “Jude’s Fright.”

Full Reply from Hydrographic Office
A valuable read to better understand accuracy of both paper and electronic charts

The Australian Hydrographic Office responds…

By Mike Prince
Director, National Charting Program
Australian Hydrographic Office

Firstly, I’d very much like to thank Jack and Jude of the SY Banyandah. They took the time to submit a very comprehensive Hydrographic Note to the AHO that has already resulted in changes to both the official electronic and paper nautical charts.  The only thing I can’t confirm is how long the changes will take to appear in the private ‘chart plotter’ style charts.

Secondly, they very rightly posed the question “Why aren’t they on today’s charts?” The answer is simple – because the extensive rock formation couldn’t be seen on the later survey that replaced Matthew Flinders’ efforts. (of 1798) 

Preservation Island was later ‘fully’ surveyed by Commander HJ Stanley of the Royal Navy in the period 1874 to 1877.  

other rocks exclided

Note from J&J: 
This chart also excludes the rocks extending from the point next to “I”

The rock shelf was drawn much smaller than in Flinders’ earlier version and was subsequently then partially covered by a depth value when incorporated in the British Admiralty chart of the era. It then remained that way for over 90 years, including within the last Admiralty chart, created in 1968. Although subsequently replaced by an Australian chart, even as late as 2002 when the latest full new edition was published the largest scale topographic maps didn’t show the rock shelf either, while use of satellite imagery was in its infancy at the time.  

All this goes to show that, despite best efforts, the quality of a chart is dependent upon the quality and clarity of source information, and the efforts of our predecessors, both here and on the other side of the world.  They’re very careful, but not infallible.

To address this, the AHO, along with many other nations, categorise the reliability of every large and medium scale chart.   The system is known as Zones Of Confidence (ZOC), and there may be several different zones on every chart.   In this case, the area was categorised as ZOC C, meaning that positions could be out by 500 metres, and that there could be numerous undetected features rising from the charted seabed.   While official charts all show the different areas of confidence, this information isn’t included in the private ‘chart plotter’ style charts (user beware), and is the down-side of the convenience they offer.   Information about the accuracy of electronic and paper charts is available on the AHO website at www.hydro.gov.au.

So what happened after Jack and Jude notified us?   The Electronic Navigation Chart was updated immediately, and was available for download three weeks after being notified.   The paper charts followed about two weeks later – all as a result of observant sailors caring about the safety of those who may follow in their wake.   To them I say, thank you.


Australian ENC AU441148 Aus 798 and 800


Till next time, safe anchorages and fair winds.

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Our Life Afloat — 12 Comments

  1. Hi Jack and Judy
    Cynthia and I on Horizon have been cruising the SW wilderness and have now returned up the east coast currently in Dover looking for somewhere up the Huon to moor/ anchor or tie up to get a diesel
    Mechanic to check out a minor fuel issue.
    We were thinking of heading to Port Huon for a short stay but would appreciate any input from you. We joined your website whilst still in SA but can’t seem to find our conversation emails with you. Look forward to reconnecting as we are finding Tasmania a cruising Mecca.
    Michael and Cynthia Lohmeyer

    • Hello Michael and Cynthia Lohmeyer
      Yesterday we finally emerged from the south coast’s black hole of communications and found your letter posted as a reply to a post on Caitlin and Michael ~ “Bass Voyager. Not to worry, sometimes that happens because it’s one of the first post in revolving comments from other members.

      Now then, fuel problem. Hope you’ve got it sorted. There are many mechanics at Kettering, and you can lie alongside for a causal fee of I believe $25 while the problem gets sorted.

      Let us know if you’re still stuck and we’ll provide further info. Cheers

  2. New to all of this .
    Only just spent 30 min reading and like what I read.
    Dun some sailing in the past .
    Bringing a yaught from bundigber to albany wa . Can you help me with some advise.

    Ta james

    • Yesterday, we finally emerged from the south coast’s black hole of communications and found your letter posted as a reply to a post on Caitlin and Michael ~ “Bass Voyager. Not to worry, sometimes that happens because it’s one of the first posts in revolving comments from other members.

      It’s getting a bit late in the season to head west, unless you go around the north after cyclone season ends in late April. The lows down under Aus are getting bigger and the easterly winds common close to the coast in summer are waning.

      If we can help with more info we’ll need to know how big a boat, crew on board, experience and when you’re thinking of setting off. Cheers

      • Thanks for the reply.
        Heading from Bundaberg in June over the top down the west coast to Albany on the south west coast . Wondering about the sailing conditions at this time of the year and how long it possibly will take. The yaught is 45 foot ketch rigged. I have sailed from India to Perth but that was a lot of years ago.
        Four of us on board so should be able to spread out the night watches All the best to you both. Jim

        • right, good voyage that one.
          Plenty of easterly winds, especially TI to Darwin. Take great care in the Kimberley, turbid waters caused by huge tidal movements present challenges, so plan your movements with tides in mind. Keep moving, you’ll want to be in Carnarvon/Monkey Mia by mid-October or you take the chance of being hammered by southerly winds north of there to Cape Leveque with long distances between bolt holes.
          From Monkey Mia, you can wait till a fair wind takes you to Geraldton and then you’re into more variable winds.
          We’ve done this trip a few times. the strong constant south winds are generated by heat rising up in the NW sucking in the cooler air.
          Hope that helps

  3. A good read, thanks Jack and Jude! We think we last met you in the Red Sea, 1985. In Mr Walker then, now have Mr Micawber, an Adams 40.
    Keep up the good work! Cheers, Dave and Patsy.

    • Well this is a blast from the past! Sure we remember you and the dreaded Red Sea, can you still remember the night we huddled together, after Brown Palace was boarded? We’ll email you, we’re writing a book about that voyage around the world. Safe sailing.

  4. Well done on facing the challenge that comes with the change. I’ve only ever seen Hells Gate from the deck of the Harbour Master and it was pristine weather. Looking forward the next blog.

  5. You two are always an inspiration.You both teach a lesson if people want to listen and learn.
    Best Wishes and big smiles for 2019
    Brian and Sandra Dorling

    • Hello Brian and Sandra,
      So many helped us when we were starting out, and they still do, so we are delighted to share whatever knowledge we’ve gleamed from the many days and nights afloat. It’s fun. See you at the Hobart Wooden Boat Festival?

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