Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Leaving Tasmania (if we get past the guard dogs!)

We are very sad to be leaving Tassie after a wonderful four and a half weeks. We've only scratched the surface of the place and the summer (which the locals all rated as 'poor' when we arrived) has now decided to deliver the goods. However, we have an eye on the calendar and another on the weather forecast and it looks as though the next few days will present us with a good window to cross the Bass Strait.

Our anchorage tonight is a slightly eerie place called Eaglehawk Neck. The view from the masthead this afternoon, as we completed a rig safety check, showed a glimpse of the open ocean across a narrow spit of land:

Looking due east towards Eaglehawk Neck
However, when you have a look at the place on Google Earth, its rather macabre history becomes much more understandable. This was once the natural barrier to prevent 19th Century convicts from escaping incarceration.

Maunie is anchored at the yellow square

A closer view of Eaglehawk Neck
To the south of this narrow spit of land is the Tasman Peninsula, which became the home for many hundreds of unhappy convicts. Port Arthur, photos of which we posted a couple of weeks ago, was the main prison and workhouse and lies at the southern end. The narrow neck of land provided the only, easily patrolled, link to the rest of Tasmania and ferocious dogs were chained up across it to deter any would-be freedom-seekers. The waters either side of it would be an option, of course, but the word was put out that they were stiff with sharks and, in any case, in the 1870's most people didn't learn to swim (and certainly not how to swim when manacled with heavy leg irons!).

For Maunie, this is a perfectly sheltered spot to allow us to prepare for the 3-day passage north. Graham has dived under the hull to clean it of speed-reducing weed and barnacles (and reported no sharks, thankfully) whilst the forward fridge is now running as a freezer with some pre-prepared meals already stashed in it. The latest lasagne (a favourite on-passage meal) has a slightly different key ingredient (locally sourced of course):

Tomorrow we head north via a shortcut, rather than having to 'retrace our steps' around the often rough seas of Tasman Island. We are going through the Denison Canal, built in 1905 to give coastal vessels a very welcome alternative route to and from Hobart. Today the entrance to Blackman Bay to the north-east has silted up fairly badly so only small boats can get through - we'll have to wait until a couple of hours after low water and will have to follow the buoyed channel very carefully so we've planned to do it on a rising tide, just in case we get in wrong and touch the mud! We're secretly hoping that we'll be able to follow a local boat!

The hand-dug canal at Dunally is about 900m long and transfers us into Blackman Bay 

The Narrows look as though they might be a bit challenging!!
Once through this little chicane, we'll sail north towards Wineglass Bay, where we first made our Tasmanian landfall, and then north to the SE corner of mainland Australia.

The weather models suggest that we'll get a healthy southerly wind on Thursday night and Friday but then a high pressure ridge will pass over us so there'll be a bit of a wind hole. We are hoping to get the timing right in order to cross that with minimal motoring and then get more ESE winds on the west side of the High (winds go anticlockwise around Highs here, of course) to push us up to the New South Wales coast. We'll see - we seldom get it entirely right but we'll be happy to do some motoring rather than bashing into heavy winds and seas. It'll come as a bit of a shock, as well, to have just the two of us aboard - four-hours-on, four-hours-off night watches won't compare to the two-on, six-off luxury of the sail down with Suzie and Roald!

As ever, we'll be updating our position on yit.nz/yacht/maunieofardwall as we cross.

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