B-log ~ January 2018

January 2018                                                     Dec 2017 >>
Blog of Jack and Jude
explorers, authors, photographers & videographers

Betsys Bay Track Tour and Track Clean up

Walking track to the Great Southern Ocean from Betsys Bay in Macquarie Harbour about 10 NM south of Strahan. A good day walk, about 5 km one way, with time for a lovely picnic and return. Drone footage around the Bay then walk to the Wild West Coast on beaut sunny day.

Wild West Coast Fly over

Fish Farm Trash
It’s just so disappointing! Nine months ago the west Tasmanian community did a full harbour clean up, 80 volunteers including Jack and Jude covered 80 kilometres of shoreline, and this beach was spotless.

Of course the farms contribute to the local economy by providing local jobs to a dwindling market that is somewhat suffering from population and property value decline – BUT that’s no excuse for destroying the environment and littering what is world heritage area. Instead of ensuring their workers are diligent in keeping ropes and pipes from escaping, instead of building a protective barrier around their work site, they’d rather let their litter float away and destroy what once was pristine foreshore.

This very much reflects the history of man’s development. Profit before sustainability and just look where we are at. Denuded land, forests gone, species destroyed, there’s less and less for our children. The locals here and everywhere just don’t see that the environment is irreplaceable. Stricter guides and morals should be a part of how we do things and would not add much costs to production. In fact, in this case, it would help the farms be acceptable, instead of getting stonewalled by communities.

Fish Farm Trash is not restricted to the Harbour – We discovered this long length of poly on the west coast ocean beach. It must have floated out Hells Gate and was swept kilometres down the shore!


Fish Farm Trash found on the west coast beach opposite the harbour

Bye Bye Birdie – Bye Bye!

Very remote location salt water inlet – no communications – no humans nor infrastructure.
Planned Litchi waypoint mission one third completed when “System Error” reported and mission aborted. Bird stationary. Reloaded mission and bird began to return to first waypoint – not what I wanted so I paused mission and took control. All okay for first moments until I saw that it was going backward to controls, or so I believed. Plenty of power – 85%

Banyandah at Farm Cove

Tried to complete part of my planned flight best I could, but maybe it was my frizzled nerves 15 metres above saltwater, because it did not seem to be responding to my stick movements, so initiated RTH. Big mistake I think although I have done this once before when over water, and cancel out when the bird got nearly back to home. 

Bye Bye Birdie

The home location (boat) had shifted so Mavic flew past. I cancelled RTH or so I thought and began to fly back to boat where I descended to about 7 or 8 metres using controls then started getting into position to hand catch. While moving across the deck, heard “Landing” and looked to see the craft a metre or two above the water. Pushed sticks in panic. But she splashed.

Sank in 7 metres of dark tannin stained water, viz nearly zero.
Spent the rest of day dragging a grapple across last known position.
Zeus smiled down on last cast when nearly dark, a sodden slightly muddy bird came up dripping saltwater.



Back on board, battery removed, gimbal lock on, she went straight into a pail of fresh water and sloshed up and down, changed water and did that again, and let her sit there for a few hours. Afterwards, shook her as dry as could till next day when the sun came out hot, and bird put on deck, turned over from time to time for next 48 hours.

chance in a million to hook it

chance in a million to hook it

A week later, took a deep breath and fired up with new battery, and very surprised that she came alive with GPS, but no output on micro USB port (no DAT file). Not sure yet about recording on Micro SD, try that today when we test fly, camera working but foggy lens.

Mount Sorell’s peaks

Not sure if this was pilot error or equipment malfunction. Be very pleased if a more knowledgeable member could look over my CSV file and give me their opinion. 
In any case, I’m in the market for a new drone. This poor baby could never be trusted to do the sort of flying we do out here in the wilderness. It’ll go up on the wall back at our shack as a reminder how serious is this business.
Litchi Mission:
Mission Hub – Litchi
CSV file: (save as)
2018-01-16_11-19-14_v2 – Jack and Jude

More News 22 January:
Flew the drone – amazing! Lens fogged up, but had control and all functioned normally. But I’m not thinking this is going to last as saltwater and electronics are a bad mix. BUT I went on to recreate the Litchi Waypoint system that I used in Farm Cove to check out what happens when the mission is paused. Lost complete control is confirmed. LEFT STICK: No up no down no rotate. Right stick worked – but erratically, meaning forward went backwards, right went left – the first time. After 30 seconds – forward stick went right and right stick went forward. In other words no control at all. Change mode to FPV (First person View ie you drive) and Hit RTH (return to home) and the Mavic came back but unable to control – controller still locked in waypoint mode. All ended Okay this time as I was on dry land. Never-ever pause a Litchi Waypoint mission

Betsys Bay Track Cleanup

This beautiful walk linking Macquarie Harbour to the wild west coast has long been a bit of eye sore caused by human trash, mainly beer cans! Admittedly some empties were used to mark the few difficult parts of an otherwise easy to follow track.

BUT thanks to Jack and Jude, Wildcare Friends of Macquarie Harbour, both the trash and track have been cleaned up! Red tape now marks the track in lieu of all the cans, bottles and plastic that was taken away to the tip.

Betsys Bay Track 2 hours one way – Great for picnic, beach combing and return in one lovely day.

Betsys Bay, Macquarie Harbour


West Coast facing Southern Ocean

With this along the way –

Sunning himself on the track


Wildcare Friends of Macquarie Harbour and Waterways

2017 was great! Let’s make 2018 even better!

At this moment in time, as many celebrate “Auld Lang Syne” while others struggle around the world, Jack and Jude are cherishing moments of an eventful year, and pray that you are as well and happy as we are. Praise be to Earth, the provider of life. We’re not being religious here, just factual.

We won’t rattle on recapping a list of last year’s events. It’s enough to record that we did survive the first year of the Trump regime, though we’re not so sure that Earth can take much more of his narcissistic shenanigans. What we do know is that he’ll continue to drum it into the rest of the world that America can be great again, in the same manner a brutish neighbour berates his neighbours while telling them how great he is. Meanwhile, as he blows his bugle, Earth perishes from our waste and pollution. Australia also is going backwards, reneging on its clean energy target, and teetering on granting a billion dollar loan to a foreign company to develop in Australia the largest coal mine in the world while we still grossly under-fund our Parks and Wildlife Services. It would be much better to get our kids out into Nature with a ranger inspiring them than spending so much time in front of screens. After all, they’ll be making the rules in a few short years.

In this last year, not enough has been done to control our effect on the planet or our impact on the wildlife that shares it with us. Specie decline continues unabated, deforestation too, and essential requirements like clean water are dwindling. And though we’re slowly coming to grips with the enormity of rubbishing the planet with plastic, too many marine dwellers are still choking to death on the stuff. There is even talk that we’ll soon not be able to feed the many millions that join our ranks every year. So, maybe our civilisation won’t end in a nuclear holocaust after all. Instead, all life might fight over the scraps with the less fortunate, less able, fading away.

To Jack and Jude it seems that there’s not much political nous left. Capitalism is a gonner. We’ve used that business model for long enough, and what is required is revolt. Yes, revolt!  Put Earth First. Those of us that still have a thinking brain should convince the silly ones that money and possessions are a poor outcome when the planet and her creatures are dwindling and dying. Consumerism! Who needs so much stuff?

But it’s not really just that. There’s so much more to Earth life than gathering all you can. Don’t get us wrong. Humans are compassionate. Our best element is looking after each other and bringing comfort to those in need. And we believe that with smaller numbers enjoying the benefits of our knowledge, we could learn so much more about the wild kingdom and be amazed. It is truly a marvellous creation, one that should be savoured and explored, not exploited and destroyed. Controlling our numbers, we think, could even reduce the rising stress between us, and solve so many of the problems that threaten our future and that of the world. So, in those quiet moments when the baby is asleep, and the morning’s sun pours pure gold over the far horizon, let you mind wander to a future where greed and narcissism plays second fiddle to the greatness of Earth. Then encourage others to revolt to save our planet. Haven’t we had enough of destruction a la Trump and his ilk?

Christmas gathering in Hobart
At this point we’ll add something about our lovely Christmas gathering in Hobart. Both the girls and the boys flexed their muscles, stirring pots, creating taste delights and cleaning sheds, making a grand venue under the awesome might of Mount Wellington.

pup tent Mt Wellington

Christmas may have begun as a religious event but what has endured through the years, besides the monstrous marketing of gifts, is the kindness we show each other at this time of year. Christmas friendship was lavished upon Jack and Jude over the holidays starting when we were hitching a ride to Hobart outside the Strahan BP, and an unexpected ride by Sean got us off to a great start, taking us all the way to the door of Barry and Wendy’s on the side of The Mountain where we spent the next eight nights. Many others were gathering there, so straightaway we pitched our accommodation, a cosy pup tent, on the plateau that boasts expansive views up to the tippy top of Mt Wellington and down to Hobart. As you’ll see in this photo, already we were close to heaven.

Paradise Mt Wellington

Christmas puddingChristmas lunch was a huge success, scrumptious food served outside under a sparkling blue sky in perfect comfort. Jack carved the leg of lamb, chicken, and huge ham, which was served alongside a bevy of salads and fresh vegetables and then capped by yummy deserts of Christmas pud and trifle along with lots of laughter. 

On Boxing Day, we watched the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start, saw Wild Oats shit on Comanche, and then that evening Jude barbecued a huge chunk of scrumptious ocean trout that we’d brought from Strahan, thanking Sam for the good fortune of his present.

Nigel and Pam

Jack flew his drone up the mountainside to friend Patrick’s bush house and then again around the paddock entertaining the little ones who danced about when it buzzed round their heads. The following day we enjoyed a wondrous day sailing on the Derwent in front of the second city of this great nation and enjoyed watching the young girls catch their first fish before taking the dwindling sea breeze home to cook them on the barbie.

Hobart Christmas

John Lennon living life as one

John Lennon

In our travels around this Earth, Jack and Jude have been so very fortunate to have met such wonderful caring folks. Humans are great. It’s the system and expectations that tweak us into being cranky, self-centred and narcissist. Life passes quickly, and we all need space and time to savour it before we leave. I think it was Homer who suggested that we should collectively grab a dream then reach for it in our daily lives. Seems good advice. John Lennon said in words:

“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”

Wishing you all, good luck and good health in this year of 2018

Celebrating 10 years of video making
Now, for a breath of fresh air we bring you our celebration of ten years of video making, capturing the beautiful essences of Nature, its wild adventure, its mind expanding knowledge and wonder, all encapsulated in a five minute clip.

Practical Tid-Bits

The Head

Bathrooms on boats should be light and easy to keep clean and well ventilated. Before Banyandah’s refit there was a cupboard below the sink and if a sudden wind gust put us on our ear before we had a chance to close the seacock, the sink would overflow creating a soggy mess to clean up.

The HEAD on Banyandah - Jack and Jude

Ample swinging room for arms in the head

Some features of Banyandah’s head –

1/ Where the bulkheads, floor, hull, and pedestals come together are completely sealed with concave rounded corners. This prevents water retention. After a shower, a quick sponge down keeps the head clean and it will dry quickly preventing mildew.

2/ A little cupboard behind our homebuilt Lavac toilet (see website for details) acts as a backrest and the toilet seat rests against a rubber pad on a block of wood. This is the only storage below chest height and is used solely for small items like hair and tooth brushes. Drainage channels incorporated within the support ledge around its opening top keep items dry even when showering.

3/ The sink pedestal, made from a flat fibreglass sheet pulled round a former then glued to rims top, middle, and bottom, ends well above the grated floor, which measures 36 cm wide tapering to about 12.5 cm by 90 cm long. Sufficient foot space for a shower with swinging room for arms. The toilet seat is convenient when washing legs and feet. Sink plumbing is accessed from underneath the pedestal. Toilet plumbing is exposed.

4/ The toilet support, a formed fiberglass channel, has a gap between it and the hull which assists drainage down to the floor base.

5/ Major plumbing and valves are visible so their open-shut positions are easily seen at a glance.

6/ The hand operated fresh water pump also has a foot pump connected in series. The shower head screws onto the hot and cold pressure faucet and hangs on the bulkhead when in use. When not, it is coiled and stored in the cupboard.

Banyandah’s toilet door reveal is arched top and bottom as seen in the photo reflection in the mirror. It has a continuous door stop except at the bottom where the reveal slopes down so that water drains inside only.

Tip.  A small deck hatch in the head aids ventilation. And the door can be hooked open, handy for funnelling in a breeze in hot climates.

Download more photos and details: Practical Boat Bits and Tips by Jude Binder

Swain Basin soundings
Our first sortie after returning to Banyandah was a week in Swan Basin, the shallow inlet a few miles south of Strahan.

Swan Basin is a shallow inlet giving easy walking access to Ocean Beach

Swan Basin is a shallow inlet giving easy walking access to Ocean Beach

It has always been challenging for keel boats to find their way through the shallows into the basin, which provides superb protection from just about any wind. A few years back we bumped our way in, and put online the track we’d successfully followed going out. This time getting in was easier although still a bit frightening. No one wants to run aground, especially in Macquarie Harbouor where sticky mud prevails. So, on the calm days Jude and I jumped aboard the Green Machine with a sounding line and proceeded to delineate the area where Banyandah would float meaning a minimum 1.8 m of water. We’ve plotted the results and revised the online map. Surprisingly, the bottom is not gentle, but has a couple of lumps, one too shallow for us to get over.  [click here for google map]

swan basin soundings

swan basin soundings showing the 3 m line

Hells Gate Fly Through
Using our compact Mavic Drone we are now able to fly over anchorages and entrances to provide a better idea of what awaits the visiting mariner. Over time we hope to compile a library of places we visit. The first of these is Hell’s Gate, one of the most feared and respected entrances in Australian waters situated halfway down the wild wet west Tasmanian coast that was first discovered by the young mariner James Kelly when on a voyage of discovery. In December 1815 Kelly left Hobart in command of an expedition to circumnavigate Tasmania using the whaleboat Elizabeth. The party made the official discovery of Port Davey on the south west coast, and on 28 December of Macquarie Harbour on the central west coast. Features within the harbour were named the Gordon River after the owner of the Elizabeth and Birchs Inlet after Kelly’s employer and sponsor Thomas Birch.

The name Hells Gate came from the pitiful convicts transported to the Sarah Island Penal Colony after they beheld the utter isolation and harsh countryside. Notwithstanding that, the name also described the treacherous shoal-bound entry where many ships have been lost. So many in fact that the British closed the Sarah Island penal colony after only 10 years, where even without fences, only one of many escapees managed to find their way across the island while others succumb to the cannibalism of their inmates.  

satellite image of Cape Sorell and Hells Gate.

Today there is a man-made training wall that keeps the channel from silting up, but it stills contains fast flowing currents through its wandering channel that has sand banks and rocks either side. [Get our Tasmania Cruising Guide for full details]

Mitigating fatigue at sea

“They’ve upgraded their warning. The storm’s going to be a lot worse.” And so starts the drama of staying alive in “The Martian,” which is one of our favourite movies because not only are the effects impressive and the acting convincing, but also because crossing an ocean aboard a small boat is something akin to being isolated on a faraway planet. Help can be a long time coming so self-sufficiency is paramount to our safety. Jack and Jude have crossed a lot of oceans and have survived some horror situations, and so following on from last week’s great storm tactics article on Deckee.com by Jessica, I thought I’d record what I think is equally important, and that is fatigue.

Shorthanded crews thinking of sailing the world as well as coastal sailors will find tips here on how to mitigate fatigue and survive.  So here goes.

Preparing for an extended voyage is daunting. It’s a tiring task ensuring everything is in good working order, then gathering long lists of provisions and getting them aboard. Doing so takes heaps of mental concentration that’s sometimes not evident until the lines are cast off, when relief floods the mind as we slump to gaze at the land slipping astern.

Take all the rest you can get
In our earlier days of sailing when we took other people across oceans, we’d often have to tend to their mal d’mer or keep them company with their amazement or anxiety. Or they’d slump below and fall asleep because the sudden never ending motion simply knocked the last bit of energy right out of them. So the rule is. Take all the rest you can get.

From firsthand experience, fatigue deepens over time and that can cause bad judgment and the inability to focus on a problem. In the extreme, I’ve even hallucinated, when one night I imagined that a passing vessel had turned about and thought they were pirates, only to find it was another craft.

We "hot bed" the hammock on this voyage

We “hot bed” the hammock on this voyage

Sea berths and hammocks
So, rest all you can, even if it’s just a lie down. Falling asleep is a bonus. A good sea berth helps. One that is low, fore and aft, and a tight fit so you don’t roll back and forth. Stuffing cushions in around your body and head helps. I sometimes use our hammock. They take a bit of getting used to, but once you’re asleep, it’s like being on solid ground, so much so, getting out can be tricky. There’s a reason the navies of the world had their crews in hammocks besides saving space.

As the days go on and on, our set routine for off time is invaluable. I generally always lie down. Even if I do not sleep, just lying horizontally polarized gets me ready for my night watch.  In rough conditions I might go two or three nights without sleep and I find lying down, mind as blank as I can, refreshing.   

Prepare as much as you can before departure
Another point is to prepare as much as you can before all the rocky-rolling action begins. Jude prepares meals in port and stores them in the fridge, which is so handy the first few days out when we’re at our lowest. Tasty prepared food is also available off the shelf, very handy for a single late night meal.

On board Banyandah, unless the wind is expected to lessen, we’ll put a reef in the main during the midnight changeover, ensuring the off watch doesn’t have to get up if conditions freshen.

Learn to hove to
For us, crossing an ocean is not a race, so the next tidbit is to learn to hove to. It’s a handy technique to avoid arriving in darkness as well as getting much needed rest. Therefore, when you get buggered battling the bad stuff, take a break and be refreshed. Just so you know, at the other extreme, when there’s no wind, we mostly drift. Why spoil all that peace and isolation with a noisy engine. While drifting we’ve had the most magnificent seabirds paddle up to us, looking for a hand out.

That favorite movie of ours ends with the hero standing in front of a classroom of new recruits delivering a humorous, yet serious monologue that we all could follow.

“When I was up there stranded by myself, did I think I was going to die – yes, absolutely. And that’s what you need to know because it may happen to you. This is space. (pencil in ocean)  It does not co-operate. At some point, everything is going to go south on you, everything. And you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I am going to end. 

Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You solve one problem. Then you solve the next one. And the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”