Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bass Strait

We spent our last day on the Australian mainland flushing saltwater out of the outboard and rinsing the sand out of our clothes.  We recuperated that night with a feast of local mussels kindly passed along to us by the crew of Ice Dancer, another Alaskan boat that was waiting to make the crossing to Tasmania.

We began the crossing of Bass Strait, the body of water between the mainland and Tasmania, with 20 hours of motoring, most of it into a light southerly wind and a confused swell.  Since, two years into this adventure, we still do not have a working autopilot, this was a dreary experience in constant hand-steering.  Things were made worse by the fact that Alisa and I both turned green with the motion.  Elias, as always, was completely unaffected.

The next morning a northeast breeze came up, which meant that the wind was behind us, and we were soon flying along under jib and main with the windvane steering.  But the swell was still confused, and Alisa wasn't feeling great.  We were both tired, and considered spending a night in an anchorage off one of the islands scattered off the northeast corner of Tassie.  But even the most optimistic reading of our average speed showed us falling short of the closest anchorage by nightfall.  So we kept going, consoling ourselves with the idea that we had a great sailing wind.

The next day was gray, as you would expect for the forties, south latitude.  Alisa was at this point completely laid up by the combined negative effects of pregnancy and offshore sailing.  Nothing serious, but her third trimester is nearly here, and she is clearly getting past the point at which overnight sailing is a very good idea.

Elias and I kept each other company in the cockpit most of the day.

Lighten up, kid, this is supposed to be fun!

By this point we were only about ten miles off the east coast of Tasmania, but we couldn't see land because of the intervening clouds and mist.  We had great views of pelagic birds as we sailed along, including these short-tailed shearwaters:

and lots of shy albatross, which I believe nest in Tassie:

Two days and a few hours after we left Eden, we ended our crossing at Shouten Passage.  By now the weather had progressed from windy and wavey to windy and wavey and rainy and foggy.  We began to feel at home.

Crap weather - we like it!

Our first impressions of Tasmania have been very positive, even when the inclement weather ended and we were left with more monotonous Australian sunshine.  It's been fun meeting a few locals and, when they ask us how long we plan to stay in Tassie, answering, "a year!".

The anchorage at Wineglass Bay, where we spent our first few days in Tasmania.

The end.


  1. yay! you are there! you going to keep us posted on this upcoming year, too? hope so!

  2. Wow. You made it. Congratulations!

  3. I visited Wineglass Bay way back in 1990. I stayed at a hostel and then hiked on a trail overland to the Bay. It was in July and there were no boats at all in the bay. Next day it snowed on the mountains inland and I took a bus to the top of the mountain and went downhill and cross country skiing! I got lots of awesome pictures from wineglass bay. Patrick

  4. Well done, guys! Nice one.
    We may even be passing through Hobart in February, so we'll see where you've got to.