Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kangaroo Island

The past few days we have enjoyed the social aspects of cruising. On Wednesday we decided to accept an invitation from Peter, a part time resident of Kangaroo Island whom we had met at the winery on Monday, to join in the “Strawbridge Pointers” sailing day. Greg the organizer writes an article for “The Islander” newspaper about each sailing adventure which Peter had read with some interest and thought it would be a good way to meet people from his local community in American River. The residents enjoy a social sail each fortnight visiting different destinations and investigating the history of the island or just generally solving the problems of the world. This Wednesday the topic to be debated was the location of “Kanguroo Head”, where Matthew Flinders first landed on Kangaroo Island. A number of residents meet at the American River Jetty and those without a boat are allocated to crew on one of the participating yachts. We were fortunate to be introduced to Robert & Margaret Bruce as crew and were joined also by Peter for the day sail. There were 9 yachts participating this day of all shapes and sizes including some beautiful 1940’s timber boats. The route after clearing the leads of American River was across Easter Cove to the current Kangaroo Head. We enjoyed a lively sail across the bay and dropped anchor under the cliffs just off a small sandy cove, where two of the yachts rafted up next to us. We shared our cockpit for lunch and discussed the merits of monohulls and multihulls and shared tales tall and true about our collective sailing adventures. The debate, normally held over lunch was postponed until sunset drinks ashore as we could not raft all the participating boats along side one another.

It was a good sail back to American River and Robert used his local knowledge to sail us up the channel where we took a mooring just off the boat ramp for the night. It was interesting to watch Robert’s reaction to characteristics of a sailing catamaran as he is having an ongoing debate with friends David & Glen Churchill regarding the merits of catamarans. David & Glen are thinking of purchasing a cat and Robert has been trying to talk them out of it. This was Robert’s first sail on a cat and now he may have to rethink his argument, but having seen the friendly banter between them I think the debate will continue.

We enjoyed an early drink in our cockpit, while we waited for the last of the boats to return, then once ashore headed to the Churchill’s home where they made us all very welcome. Once we had completed the important business of meeting the locals and pouring that first glass of wine the debate began between the two nominated teams. Our team led by Robert was of course the best – had the most accurate information and logical arguments however the opposing team won the day using a little poetic license and spin a more convincing yarn, also they addressed the topic whereas Robert’s team were very convincing but apparently were off topic . Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, as they say!!

David & Glen had commitments the day of the social sail and were unable to participate but were keen to check out our boat so we had them on the boat for dinner on Thursday along with Peter. It was a good evening where a few of the local Kangaroo Island wines were sampled over conversation about the community on the island.

It turned out to be a fortunate decision to turn around return to Kangaroo Is as we have met some interesting people and enjoyed participating briefly in community activities. We now have a short weather window to get to Robe and have just left our anchorage at Eastern Cove, KI. We expect to be in Robe mid morning tomorrow and hope that a forecasted window on Tuesday/Wednesday will hold for us to go on to Portland.

One of the many great beach houses around the shore of Eastern Cove on Kangaroo Island.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kangaroo Island

Happy Australia Day. We are anchored in Eastern Cove on Kangaroo Island enjoying balmy weather and the beautiful coastline with its many anchorages and long sandy beaches. As you can see we did not make it to Robe or Portland. When we emerged from Backstairs Passage last Friday the wind and sea conditions were quite challenging and were greater than forecast. A front from the south west was building and the winds were 28 - 32 knots in a very short sharp chop, with waves breaking over the boat and slamming us around and making life a little uncomfortable. After 5 hours underway and 3 hours of getting knocked around we decided that we did not need to experience this for the next 24 hours so we turned around and headed back to Kangaroo Island to find a calm anchorage in Antechamber bay on the north eastern side of the Island, with two yachts anchored not far away.

Saturday morning we awoke to find a few more boats had anchored in the bay overnight including a large fishing boat. The bay is surrounded by farming properties which run sheep and cattle and grow olives. The locals use their tractors to drive their fishing boats down to the beach and launch them. We met the sailors from the other yachts when we went ashore for a walk. They had been catching squid and King George Whiting in the bay however we did not have much luck that afternoon.

We have spent the last few days enjoying the company of our fellow sailors, in particular a couple from the Yacht Calista, Colin and Deirdre(Cookie). They are planning a trip to the Louisiades this year leaving SA in April. They were in the Louisiades two years ago when we were there with the Rally. They were on a motor vessel that was travelling independently, however our paths did not cross. It was great to share sailing experiences, receive some sound advice on sailing these unpredictable South Australian waters and the locations of some of the best anchorages on Kangaroo Island. In return we were able to show them some of our favourite Queensland anchorages and sailing guides. We look forward to catching up with them again later in the year on the east coast.

Yesterday we enjoyed lunch with Colin, Cookie and a friend of theirs, Peter Thompson, at a local winery. It was just behind the American Beach in Eastern Cove a short walk up the hill. The winery does a great tasting platter of local produce to have with the wine tasting. A good way to spend a few hours on a beautiful day - good company, good food & wine and a fantastic outlook over the bay with our yachts at anchor.

We plan to spend the next few days in this area venturing into American River tomorrow. We have a few maintenance jobs to complete. Cran is currently replacing a snapped bolt on the traveler on the boom. It broke last Friday during our wild time in the Southern Ocean but we didn’t discover it until a few days later. It was fortunate that we turned back as the stresses on the damaged traveler could have resulted in more serious outcomes. The long range weather forecast for this Saturday night is looking promising for a departure for Portland – will keep you posted.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Adelaide to Kangaroo Island

Quick update before we are out of internet range.

We left Adelaide on Tuesday and arrived at Kangaroo Is yesterday looking for a weather window to head east towards Portland in Victoria on route to Tasmania. While in Adelaide we decided to buy a new anchor as we had experienced some problems with our Sarca anchor in the sea grass and wanted something with more holding power before we get to Tasmania. As everyone is closed over the holiday period we could not get it to Adelaide until Jan 14. So we flew back to Brisbane to catch up with family and see the accountant so that he can lodge our tax returns etc.

While we enjoyed our time in Adelaide, it is good to be out of the marina environment and on our way again. There is something special in anchoring in a new little bay after a day making passage. We spent our first night at Myponga Beach about 30 nautical miles south of Adelaide – just beautiful.

Then at Rapid Bay and last night we were in Eastern Cove just outside American River on Kangaroo Island.

We left Kangaroo Is late this morning for possibly Robe or if the weather holds we will go on to Portland. Unfortunately, the weather is fairly rough clearing Kangaroo Is so it looks like a long slow trip.