B-log ~ April 2020

April 2020                                                   March 2020 >>
Blog of Jack and Jude
explorers, authors, photographers & videographers

Fast Voyage Completed ~
250 Nautical miles in less than two days, from 10 AM Monday to 3 AM Wednesday, plus another hour to sail through Hells Gate after daylight.

Starting with fast currents sweeping us out the Tamar River and finding strengthening northeast winds that took us to Tasmania’s NW corner. From there, a gentle north wind carried us down the coast to the “Gate.” Arriving before dawn we hove-to. These light breezes freshened after daybreak to send us through the Gate flying just a reefed mainsail. Fabulous! We might need a day or two to recover, meanwhile, our broad smiles remind us of how fortunate we have been.

Voyage Planning Rules Our Lives ~
As I write, we’re in the midst of an intense decision. No telling what we’ll do. It’s getting colder down here at 43 south, and when the virus alarm bells first rang, we made bookings on a Jetstar flight back to our shack in the Northern Rivers of NSW, where our kids and little ones live. In less than a day, we madly packed the boat for its winter stay. Then, just as we finished, our flight was cancelled. That put us in a pickle as no future flights were offered.

First, we looked at returning home in a campervan as the Spirit of Tasmania was still crossing the Bass Strait. But then the borders started closing. Staying the winter in Macquarie Harbour, where water can freeze in July and August, would risk pneumonia or something just as deadly, so we reckoned that shifting somewhere warmer and drier would fall under the essential travel exemption.

Around midweek, we had the choice of sailing a thousand miles home to Ballina or sailing five hundred northwest to Adelaide, where we have a berth at a quiet yacht club.

Of those options, Jude favoured sailing home, so we made a few calls only to learn our neighbour’s jetty was unavailable. With no other safe moorings, we decided sailing home was not such a good idea.

Then a weather window appeared for a four-day journey nor’ west to the Adelaide Gulf, and we have been watching it while our thoughts have switched between staying here to freeze through winter and taking our chances across the seas. This weekend is the decider. A big front is passing over, bringing a juicy big high-pressure cell lingering behind. But it’s still too far away to see if we can cover all the miles to South Australia with it. Meanwhile, both of us are prevaricating over what’s best to do. Tasmania has the lowest exposure to the deadly virus. But, it gets mighty wet and grey and cold in Strahan.

Adding extra spice to this mix is the fact that Jetstar has just reinstated flights from Hobart to Sydney, completing the first. So, is Australia getting on top of this pandemic? Could air travel be restored before the onset of freezing weather? To see what we do, you’ll have to check our yellow-brick tracker.

Never Throw Anything Away ~
Here’s a tale of smelly origins that would have most of us turn up our noses and say not me. Ah, but sometimes there’s no choice in a sailing life that takes us to faraway places without a serviceman or marine shop.

Enter one toilet. Dastardly things that are ever so useful and necessary; devices that I used to charge triple to fix when earning my living afloat. Having fixed several horrible clogged ones, for our boat, I designed a system as fool-proof as any can be, and can claim with great pride that it has done a magnificent job several times every day for nigh on fifteen years.

“Nothing lasts forever,” is attributed to Plato upon his death bed. Clever lad, he knew how time takes its toll even on well-designed things like our bodies and excreta disposal devices. Ours packed up a few weeks ago. Being well endowed with spares, I changed its diaphragm with a used one stored in a dark locker and loudly proclaimed victory, feeling oh so clever.

Alas, that diaphragm ruptured this morning only three weeks into its tenure, putting us further into a terrible fix. We’re miles from everything, watching a weather window develop that may take us hundreds of miles away to further isolation. So what to do?

As it happened, we had a second pump. Used to be sure, but worth a go. So in it went. Tightening the last bolt, securing the pump in its awkward position, I gave it a few strokes and saw the water go up and down but not out the bowl. Oh No! What a predicament. We need to pump out our toilet or shudder to think of what crossing an ocean could mean.

With steely determination, that pump was extracted from its tight spot, and once out, I tore it down to reveal a corroded valve. My brain ticking feverishly, I remembered that the original pump had a ruptured diaphragm, and now its replacement has faulty valves. Easy solution, right? Nope, they were different makers. One a Whale Gusher, the other a Henderson Mk V. But a closer look revealed similarities. In fact, one’s a copy of the other. So taking the top off one and attaching it to the bottom of the other, I had a whole. Perhaps a bastard, but one that works.

Moral of this tale: Throw away nothing. Second moral: Carry adequate spares.

Margate Marina – Next stage completed ~

The redevelopment of Margate Marina represents one of Tasmania’s biggest recreational boating investments and is a significant recent addition to Hobart’s boating infrastructure with several unique points of difference; a combination of secure gated access with CCTV, a dual fuel pontoon, berths to 40m and an office open 7 days.

The second stage of Margate Marina’s redevelopment was completed late last year with the construction of an extra 83 floating berths and a 150 m extension of the attenuator/breakwater.

Now, the Marina accommodates 133 new berths with more to come. The attenuator/breakwater extension now includes a 90 m section to the south and a right-angled 60 m westward arm, which provides additional protection to the Marina offering a safe haven for all conditions.

Margate Marina Fuel Dock and berths

Demand for the additional berths has been strong, driven by the Marina’s range of facilities and its immediate access to the famous cruising waters of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.

Anyone interested in berthing facilities can visit https://margatemarina.com.au/, ring the Marina office on 03 6267 9600 or email admin@margatemarina.com.au

Fish Farm Trash Collected ~
Our Macquarie Harbour Wildcare Group continues to collect fish farm trash whenever we’re onshore around the harbour in an effort to convince the farm management to instigate a full-time collection team to police the litter their operations dump on these pristine shores. The farm workers are as distressed by this pollution as we are, but management sets the agenda. And sadly, they place a higher call on profit than protecting the environment.

trash collected on Steadman Beach

Trevor Norton, master of the charter vessel Stormbreaker and Rob Harris, both committed members of our Wildcare group went out just this week to survey Pine Cove, a bay near the township of Strahan, and they were appalled at the farm trash littering the beach. Of course, they spent their time collecting what they could, then hauled it back to their vessel, the 73′ Stormbreaker, taking it back to the local tip.

Deck trash plus ute load to tip

This is not trash from the community. The majority are bits of plastic ropes, from 50 mm diameter down to 10 mm, plus lumps of styrofoam and parts of farm walkways.


We report these offences with position reports, and we’re delighted when this action was taken: