For our 24th and last post on our Summer 2016-17 Cruise, we thought we would do a recap of this very satisfying voyage right around Bass Strait. We were away for 11 weeks, the longest we have ever been on board Take It Easy. We covered about 1000 nautical miles during this circumnavigation of a fascinating yet misunderstood body of water and discovered many superb anchorages all along its coast and islands.
Although it may have a mean reputation, Bass Strait can be enjoyed safely if you pick your weather and throw away your calendar. Few people realise there are some 80 islands around Bass Strait, with the two largest being King Island at the western end and Flinders Island at the eastern end, but many smaller ones in between, reserving some stunning scenery to those who take the time to explore.
So what was it like?
From the onset, we wanted to take our time and not fill rushed nor stressed. So the decision to abandon the circumnavigation of Tasmania and instead opt for a tour of Bass Strait was the right one for us and we were rewarded with breathtaking anchorages and a relaxing pace.
We had unusually fast moving weather patterns. At times it made it difficult to find coves that were protected in several wind directions, because the forecasts were changing so fast. We sometimes needed to make two moves during the day or sail to a spot or in a direction we did not really want to, or had to put up with uncomfortable conditions at anchor. It certainly kept us on our toes. We had to check the forecasts carefully and multiple times a day. You always do, but it often got tricky and we really needed internet coverage to better understand how the systems were developing, and to make sound decisions in swiftly changing conditions.
- Our systems – power generation, new electronics – all worked really well and made life easier. We were not worried about electricity usage, navigation was simple, interfacing between instruments was easy… money well spent.
- We had time and enjoyed being able to linger in places we wanted to explore without feeling rushed. This gave us a taste of things to come when work schedules no longer restrict us.
- Our anchorages were spectacular and we felt lucky to have them mostly to ourselves. In an increasingly crowded boating scene, this is rather special and precious.
- There were moments we shared with other yachties, like fellow catamaran owners Ian and Wendie from Purrfection, and with long time friends Greg and Ann. This was fun. We exchanged experiences, we watched with glee as our friends relished their adventure with us.
- We had some really good sails, whether under main and jib or spinnaker and had some very swift ones! It is really exciting to speed along without stressing the boat nor ourselves.
- We taught our pussycat to walk on the lead. Bengie now copes with dinghy rides and can get some exercise ashore regularly instead of being cooped up on board all the time.
- We enjoyed just doing all this together, relying on each other and on our own selves, confirming in our mind that life afloat is what we want for the next phase of our life.
The low lights
- We still don’t like overnighters. They are hard, so where possible, we avoid them.
- The damage to our wind generator was a bit scary, but we learnt a few lessons from that which will lead us to make improvements to our set up and high wind safety procedures.
- We had to come back to work this second week of February. We will bring remedy to that situation soon!
- Repairs and maintenance will fill the next month or two to ready the boat for full time cruising. This includes repainting the decks and top sides, new sheets (ropes), new blades for the windmill, new or improved frame supporting the wind generator, solar panels and dinghy davits. There are other bits and pieces and the to do list keeps growing, but that’s boating for you!
- Our next big spend is the purchase of a water maker (H2O On The Go). This will make life aboard more comfortable, allowing us to be less drastic with freshwater usage.
- I will collate the journal of the voyage, put a Bass Strait photo book together and publish a few articles in various magazines.
- And then there is the transition from life on land to life afloat at some stage during the year, a massive project which will be the subject of a whole new category of posts!
And now we leave you with a selection of our favourite images of the voyage. If you enjoyed our posts and photos, do let us know by leaving a comment on the site. Your feedback is always appreciated.