Across Backstairs Passagel

It’s a bit windy down here south of Adelaide. Blow a dog off a pier! The choice was to leave early and endure the end of the ebb against 15 kts in Backstairs Passage or leave late, have wind with tide but a bit more wind. It had been less windy overnight so the sea wasn’t up and the ebb in the SE direction through the Passage was easing so we left at 1000 hrs and our top speed over water was 11kts , the seaway a bit lumpy but our SOG only 6-7 kts due to the adverse tide. We prepared to come in to Wirrina Cove Marina and things got a bit unpleasant when the wind stepped up, we had no map of the marina and couldn’t find the designated berth, there were just the two of us and a lot of shouting which was promptly blown away by the wind! After 2 goes we berthed. It seems like the wind is funnelled down the valley into the marina. Handy!?

I believe there is a golf resort up the hill but the marina is pretty desolate, rocky and dusty and the cleats are a bit wobbly…LB says they’re fine mainly because the wind has us pinned on so we’re not going anywhere as yet.

Or tomorrow , if it continues to blow like this!

Penneshaw and Christmas Cove

Marnie and Lou, our very able and all round excellent crew , took off back to Melbourne and Birubi took off for a small ( first come , first served) marina at Christmas Cove near the town of Penneshaw. There seems to be only one couple on a fishing boat with their dog and the other boats are unoccupied. It is very sheltered so we were confident to leave the boat and hire a car for the day for a road trip. It’s a 150 km long Island so distance are quite significant. We headed to Seal Bay Conservation area and were able to see the sea lion pups playing on the beach, mothers suckling the pups and some big males scaring them.

They go to sea for 2-3 days , eat lots of fish then come back to lay around for 2-3 days recovering. This confirms my desire to be reincarnated as a seal, if that’s what happens.

We checked out the beautiful Vivonne Bay and campground at Harriet River ( a must do Avan destination) and had a brief look at the westernmost NP, Flinders Chase. It is huge and we couldn’t justify paying the park fee so retreated for to Kingscote and the pub overlooking the waters of Eastern Cove for fish and chips. I was tempted by the freshwater crayfish ( French call it Marron) but it was pricy.

Today, we walked in the Baudin Conservation Park to Ironstone Hill. It was 4 km return and Bryan conquered it. Wild life spotted were

– an enormous pod of dolphins

– wallabies and kangas

Unfortunately. we didn’t spot any Black Glossy Cockatoos which feed on the casuarina seeds and are endangered. The area is where , in the early 19th century a settler had a grain farm . Hardy fellow.


Birubi is off on another adventure.

We plan to sail as far as Port Lincoln inSouth Australia, then, back via Port Fairy for the folk festival.

Step one was the usual trip to Queenscliff. Our crew we’re Lou and Marnie , who are very experienced. Lou has just completed another Sydney HOBART. Maureen has never been keel boat sailing so this was a novelty and she acquitted herself well. The start involved motoring to Queenscliff and fuelling up then waiting 24 hours for an easterly. We left in the dark at 0400 hrs to catch the slack at Port Phillip Heads. As we generally avoid night sailing, it needed to be adjusted to and fairly quickly. We had a gradually building following wind , which at times reached 22kts, fortunately, during the day. The outhaul sheave shattered , severing the rope but this was also fortunate as there was no choice but to put in the first reef, without argument!

We arrived 26 hours later at 0500hrs in then still pitch darkness and Maureen , the only one of us who had a good nights sleep, cooked eggs and bacon. Now for a little shut eye.

Wildlife tally: Gannets, shearwaters, an albatross and two lolling seals.

Birubi is Home

We had a brilliant sail from Lady Barron overnight, scooting along on a beam reach in moonlight. Lucky me. Bioluminescent dolphins torpedoed past on my watch. This is a truly amazing sight. By morning sails were furled and motor was on and we slipped into the heads at slack to spend a peaceful night at QCYC. .. then home.

Flinders Island

We sailed uneventfully , with the reef shaken out to the north side of Eddystone Point where a little cove called Picnic Bay gave us shelter for the night. Setting off at 0800  hrs to get the tide through Banks Strait, we under estimated how much tide we would get and for how long. It swept us past Spike Cove on Clarke Island , where we had originally planned to spend the night. With a bit of calculation we worked out the reversal would wash us in to the town of Lady Barron . This is the second largest town on FI. Bryan’s navigation and pilotage , was superb. We plonked onto a MAST mooring and headed off to the Furness Tavern. NO CRAYFISH. An outrage! The wallaby had been hopping around for a bit but was served in a lovely pepper berry jus. Today , we’re off in a car to see the islands sights. 

Justin delivered the car on time at the pier and we set off via coffee at the Lady Barron General Store. We drove up to the Telecom tower lookout which gave beautiful view over Franklin Sound to the east where the Pot Boil and Vansitaart Shoals then further north to the Partridge NP. Then to Trousers Point where a yacht from the VDLC ” Bomoh” was bouncing around on a MAST mooring. Further round in Fotheringale Bay, it was more sheltered and another yacht was entering the Bay but I couldn’t identify it. 

View over Lady Barren from the Telecom Tower Lookout.

The yacht “Bomoh” in Trousers Bay

Yacht in Fotheringale Bay

The gorgeous Killicrankie Bay and a fishing contraption they have there. 
Whitemark is the main town, with the Flinders Insland Interstate Hotel, Bowmans machinery workshop, the bakery, PO, Newsagent and supermarket. 2 galleries were closed. After a bakery lunch, we visited the Furneux Museum. This is a beautiful collection of artifacts and photos from the sealers , the fishers, the soldiers settlement farmers and mutton birders. I learnt that mutton bird oil was used medicinally and that the birds were packed in brine and exported … whom and eaten by whom I couldn’t guess. The feathers were used in down pillows. The aboriginal community still “birds” nowadays . 

View at sundown from the Furneux Tavern , Lady Barron.

What are these , my botanical friends?

Off north 

The rainbow farewell for an early start. The southerly change has been a bit slow to come in. We’re motoring with double reefed main as I want no surprises when the 21 gusting 30 from the west catches us up. Bryan is VERY unhappy about this and I am beginning to wonder if it will eventuate.

The great climb on Schouten 

The VDL fleet met at Crockett Bay on Schouten Island , for a BBQ. Whilst others were preparing their feasts we climbed Bear Hill in sunshine. It was more of a rock scramble from halfway but the view north to Wineglass and south to Mariah. Exhausted, we returned and BBQ’d with great company. Maatsuyker, Pattern Maker and Bundaberg are Geelong yachts made by their owners and they love a party, even if it’s raining and your bare feet are warmer in the sea water than in the sand. 


After recovering from a protracted sundowners with the crews of Chakana and Its APrivilige, we motored into 20kts across the Mercury Channel to Triabunna where we pulled up alongside a big fishing boat. 

Fish & Chips for lunch. 

After provisioning, Barb and I visited the Old Colonial Tea House. Lovely home baked arvo tea and even a pianoloa playing. 

The fuel man delivered fuel..we only needed 100 L..and we were off .

Catching the fleet

The fleet of Van Diemans Land Circumnavigators from Melbourne are heading north. These include Its A Privilige and Chakana from RBYC. By amazing coincidence, whilst walking along the beach at Fortesque Bay, 2 days ago, we met up with Peter Strain who had arrived by car, enroute to Port Arthur. He was planning to exit the Dennison Canal today and sure enough as we sailed past Marion Bay bound for Orford, we came across them. To be sociable, we have diverted to Chinamans Beach on Mariah Island, where several other yachts and 2 enormous stink boats are also anchored. It’s going to blow again from the north tomorrow , so we plan to stay until tomorrow afternoon then head to Triabunna for some fuel and food before setting off for Flinders Island.