March 22, 2018
Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania
Tony had recommended staying at anchor a second day before completing the 40 mile leap to Hobart, but he hadn’t said why.
First light next morning revealed an open sky and Mo floating motionless on a surface made of glass. From our berth at Lady Bay, it appeared the low we’d been racing this last two weeks had blown through, the only contrary voice being the barometer, still stuck at 994.
I weighed and was underway before 7am.
Mo made quick work of D’Entrecasteaux Channel, passing the large Marine Farms, scooting by Zidpool Rock and into the Central Channel. Here the wind began to fill in from the northwest, so I moved Mo over to the more protected water of the west headland and hugged Long Bay.
By the time we reached Oyster Cove Point, winds were west at 35 knots. While crossing North West Bay, winds screamed to 45 knots, gusting 50. The bay’s several miles of fetch allowed a small chop, whose tops were blown off, and the water was streaked with white as far as I could see. Mo layed right over, rail awash, though we were flying no sail. The boats on moorings in Tinderbox Bay pitched and heaved uncomfortably.
There was cloud above the mountains, but here the day remained clear and sunny. What on earth is going on?
Turning the corner into the River Derwent, winds along the cliff went sharply north. Suddenly, Mo was headed and could only eke out 3 knots. I eased her out into the main bay. Here we were hit by the westerlies. I eased back. No good options.
At this rate, our arrival at the Customs Facility within Constitution Dock would be well after they closed for the day; actually, well after dark. I began to look for an emergency anchorage. The cliffs below Tinderbox Hills were solid rock right down to the water. Nothing there.
We crawled on…
Kingston Beach might have good holding. Taroona Beach, too.
We crawled on…
Near Cartwright Point I heard Mo being hailed on the radio. “Moli, Moli, Solomeo.” This was John Solomon, the Port Captain for the Ocean Cruising Club and my guide while I was in the area.
“Randall, all of us in Hobart wish to welcome you and thank you for the big winds you have brought with you. As if yesterday’s low wasn’t bad enough, this current low has just knocked down two trees on my property. Typically, March and April are such lovely months…”
At Constitution Dock I was met by four officers rather than the required two. One, the master of a 60 meter boat that patrolled Australia’s brutal, western coast, started immediately with questions. “What were the seas like in the Indian? How did you take them? What was the damage? How did you handle the emergency? How did you decide what to do first? If you haven’t been there, you just can’t appreciate the power of the Southern Ocean.” We talked for an hour.
At four o’clock Captain Soloman arrived to escort Mo to her temporary berth at the yacht club. “Well now, that’s very satisfying,” he said as he came on deck. “That’s the second time I’ve climbed over that damned rail of yours. Did you know this yacht used to be called Taonui, and her owner, a Tony Gooch, sailed in here once after a breakdown? I helped him move the boat to the club just as we’re doing now. You’re a Yank, aren’t you? Well, that’s OK, I guess.”
At the club Soloman immediately introduced me to anyone who would hold still. “This is that Yank whose just sailed in from Cape Horn. He started from San Francisco, a city in Southern Canada. He’ll need your help with…” A broken window, a broken rail, engine repairs…
And just like that, people materialized who knew what to do. And just like that, projects have commenced.
Welcome to Hobart.