Skippers log 1/2022: Franklin, Tasmania towards Bundaberg, Queensland

At sea again writing the log after so many years ashore.

Our departure and the months of preparation leading up to last Wednesday’s farewell is just now starting to sink in, all the good friends and friendships that we have built up over the last 11 years it’s hard to imagine that we are not turning around in due course and returning to the familiar sights of the Huon Valley once again in a couple of weeks.

What a send-off! Yukon has never been heralded in such style, we as a family were deeply moved by the level of turnout. The weather played its part, Franklins waterfront community came into its own with familiar faces and vessels gently sheparding us downstream toward the sea. Huon Yacht Club rates a mention as well with a group of supporters at shipwrights point enthusiastically biding us farewell and fair winds

We snuck a quiet night in alongside at Woodbridge a good sleep was had by all before crossing Storm Bay the following day a chance to make sail and test the gear out for the first time since Port Davey in March. The conditions were near perfect with a northerly breeze filling in as forecast to carry us to our southernmost point of our voyage home, Cape Raoul before traversing the passage between Tasman island and Cape Pillar it was North toward Fortescue and the pretty Canoe bay for a peaceful night at anchor  with strong winds forecast anchor watches were set. We are 11 folks onboard for our passage to Sydney and after only a few days, the familiar rhythm of life at sea begins to remerge. Watches, sail handling food prep and housekeeping can fill a day surprisingly quickly. These past few days have been quite emotive as we bid the stunning coastal scenery of Tasmania goodbye, the log reads Tues 24th strong westerly winds carry us north through Mercury passage to our evening’s anchorage at the lovely Oakhampton Bay, picking up a 10 kg tuna on the way. 

The following morning Schouten passage and into Wineglass Bay our final Tassie anchorage appropriately as it was our first 11 years ago.

Our next landfall Eden just north of green cape on the southern New South Wales coast, but not before a relatively easy passage over Bass Strait in light to moderate South Westerly winds over a period of almost 3 days, sunrise southeast of Gabo Island and we were greeted by a large flock of Albatross sitting and no doubt engaged in deep conversation.  Humpbacks are about as well, we surmise these are the last of the Northward bound pods heading towards the warmer waters for calving.  A bit of patchwork performed by Greg our first mate on the mainsail was on the job list for Eden as were a couple of our other small projects including a cat head system for our Bruce anchor. After two nights were away again making haste to beat a south coast low into Sydney by midnight on Friday the 1st of July.

And rain and blow it did, by the time the foul weather had struck we were safely nestled up like a little sister alongside the 300ton Danish Brigantine Soren Larsen in White Bay, thanks Sydney Tall Ships it was a good spot to hide away a couple of days until we transited the Pyrmont bridge into Cockle Bay Marina on the Monday morning.

I love Sydney it’s a sailors town and to not have to drive a motor vehicle is also a blessing, we wandered over street and park till we were fit to drop. We disembarked our group of Bass Strait seadogs, managed to do some long-waited embassy business, saw the Bangara dance group at the Sydney Opera House and generally tried staying dry.

Our new guests embarked on Wednesday and we were ready to get moving again on Thursday. The beautiful Pyrmont bridge once again swinging open to allow Yukon freedom to Port Jackson.

Bunkers at White Bay and then a leisurely mooch under square sail down the magic harbour dropping anchor in Vaucluse Bay in the late afternoon.

Friday morning we bid farewell as we cleared North Head shaping a course for Port Stephens, the breeze was fairly up and we made 7 knots average under a single fore staysail and a triple reefed main rounding Point Stephens at 2300 and dropping anchor Shoal Bay to get a sleep in. We are currently operating a two watch system 6 on 6 off during the daylight hours and 3 on 3 off during the hours of darkness which are plentiful this time of year.

With 12 people on board there is a lot of food been prepared and eaten under Ea’s watchful eye and lots of coffee and tea being consumed by the hard working mob. 

We are feeling the ambient temperature e gently rising as our latitude decreases.However, the westerly wind blowing out of the Hunter Valley still has a bite to it, we are dreaming of Queensland and tropical waters.

The following couple of days saw varied weather with relatively light winds we are keen to make northing so the ever-faithful Henry our 6-cylinder Iveco diesel is logging up the hours.
We anchor up in Byron Bay for two nights as a stiff southerly blasts through, not the calmest of anchorages but offering us a reasonable lee to hide away in.

Friday the 15th at anchor Byron Bay we have problems with the pawl gear on our windlass this makes it tricky to wind in the anchor safely, but we manage to get away and shape a course toward Double Island Bay and the beautiful Rainbow Beach anchorage.

The following morning it’s heave away and chugg toward the Wide Bay Bar also known as the mad mile, this is a challenging patch of water with shifting sands and funky currents. We chat with the Tin Can Bay coast guard they know the bar like the back of their hands and give us the latest waypoints for crossing the bar. All goes well, but my steering arm was a bit sore once we had gained the calm of the Great Sandy Straits. That evening we anchored in the lovely Fig tree Creek. Wow it is getting warmer intrepid souls are swimming off the side and shorts are starting to appear on deck, decorating glaringly white legs. We are in Queensland after all.

Great Sandy Strait which separates the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island from the Australian mainland is massive not only in size but in the light that reflects from the surrounding sand shoals the distant horizons are exemplified, by small palm tree islands that dot the vista. Heaps of folks are out fishing and soaking up the rays of this sleepy Monday morning, a bit different to the photos of snow-covered hills in Franklin Tasmania that friends are posting online. We feel like we are making some good miles, such an odd feeling to know that we don’t have to turn around and head south in a few weeks.   

Our guests are enjoying the ride there has been a fairly consistent south easterly ground swell pushing us along for the last 30 days so any calm spots are remarked upon with glee. 12 people on board can be a bit squeezy sometimes but we are working together and having fun, the youngest guest on board 9 year old Clancy even treated the whole ships company to a 50 question quiz night, wonders never cease.
Our late-night arrival at the port of Bundaberg on Monday the 18th completes our second leg of 16 of the voyage back home.

Miles done 1,379
Miles to go 13,200
Cups of coffee drunk uncountable

Best Rgds David Nash.