Tuesday, February 2, 2010


What a different experience from our previous attempt to leave Kangaroo Island. The first time we had 28/32 kt of winds and waves breaking over the boat, this time we had very little wind for most of the way. The 150 Nm trip took just over 26 hours and we were only able to sail without a motor on for the last 5 hours, but what a good sail it was with 15 kt winds at a good angle. A nice bonus to a magic sunrise complete with an aircraft vapour trail.
Crayfish pots were a problem for the last part of the trip. We saw our first ones just after dawn 35 Nm (65Km) off shore and realized we would have past plenty before then as we could see the lights of the cray boats from 4:30am. In that situation we run one engine in case we hit pots and get their lines caught around the prop. The number of pots increased as we got closer to Robe so we had a lookout on the bow. I know it is cost driven but I can’t understand why they only put small white floats on the pots. Once the wind gets up you can’t see them amongst the whitecaps. I’m sure they wouldn’t lose as many if they had one bright coloured float in the set of three. We heard a bit of local news that was poetic justice – the cray boats also get caught in the pot lines regularly.

We arrive at Robe just after midday on Sunday before a strong wind warning front came through. It blew 20/30 kt from Sunday evening to Monday afternoon but we were in a very protected anchorage off the town beach. There is a small boat harbour here but we didn’t attempt to go in as we had been told by a number of people that it was unlikely there would be room for us as it is full of moorings and piles for the cray boats. A search on Google Earth confirmed that so we just found a good secure anchorage outside the harbour. When we went ashore on Monday we discovered that the harbour has been redeveloped in a marina style with floating pontoons, gone were the moorings and piles. The main part is still taken up the commercial fishing fleet but there is also a section for yachts that could accommodate us. Not to worry, we had no need to visit a marina and our anchorage is comfortable with a fantastic view of the town and beaches. It is also cheap !! ie free.

It has been good to spend a couple days here, Robe is a historic town with a lot of the old stone buildings from the mid 1800’s beautifully restored. It is a small coastal holiday town with some pleasant surprises. Ann found a quilting shop, The Secret Drawer, which had a very comprehensive range of fabric and accessories, so she has all she needs for her next quilt project. The Providore was another surprise, it is a deli that does great food for lunch as well as having a full range of produce. We discovered it on Monday and needless to say we were back there for lunch again today. After a filling lunch on Monday we decided a light dinner on local produce was in order – fresh crayfish & scallops with a crisp South Australian white wine. Very nice..!
Today we took advantage of the lighter winds to do the headland scenic walk. It is a spectacular coast but one we’d hate to get into trouble off. The limestone rocks would tear the bottom out of your boat in no time. This part of the coast is exposed to the predominant SE weather and the limestone rock has been sculptured by years of storms, so different from the sheltered bay we are anchored in around the corner.

Local cray boat taking a short cut between the point and outer reef.

It was hotter than normal here today, mid 30’s instead of mid 20’s and the flies came out in force. Unfortunately I found out too late that the flies were attracted to dark colours. We had to keep brushing off my back on the dinghy run back to the boat so that we didn’t bring them on board with us.
We have favourable, but again light winds for tomorrow and Thursday so we plan to leave mid morning and go down to Portland just over the Victorian border. It will be about 160 – 180 Nm as we will have to go out the edge of the continental shelf for the overnight part of the passage to stay out of the cray pot areas. Expect to get into Portland mid afternoon before another strong wind warning front comes through. Sailing friends from Qld, Brian & Margaret off Vagabond, will be meeting us there. We last saw them in May 2009 in the Sandy Straits where they helped us beach the boat and do some out of water maintenance. It will be great to catch up with them for a few days.

From Portland we plan to go across to Port Fairy where we will wait for a weather window to cross Bass Strait to King Island and Tassie.

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