Having been weather bound ever since we had got into Port Davey, we were not going to miss the weather window to escape out two weeks later. And besides we were running dangerously low on loo paper! So on Friday 6 April, we headed out.
About a dozen boats were ready to use a brief window of calmer and less rainy weather to clear out of there. If we did not, we would be stuck for at least another week to ten days of gale and deluge. Two boats went north, the rest of us went south around the bottom of Tasmania.
The 70 mile passage from Spain Bay to Recherche, a protected bay on the southeast coast of Tasmania, is spectacular. You get to round three capes: South West Cape, the most impressive, South Cape with its sheer cliffs and waterfalls, and South East Cape, a bit less dramatic but once there you are nearly done. And as well as passing the capes, you weave your way through a group of islands – the Maatsuyker Group. We had sailed this passage twice before, but our third time was still really special, and having our friends with us who had never experienced anything like this before made it even more so.
There is something awe inspiring about South West Cape in particular. It is a thin promontory that juts out a long way into the ocean. It really is on the corner of Tasmania and you have to give it a wide berth as you do a right angle turn to round it. The ocean might look flat as a tack in the photos, but let us tell you: it was not!
Just imagine: you are only in two or three meter swell, but you are really feeling the movement and speed of the boat through the water; you have a steady NW breeze on your back quarter filling your sails; the sky is looking tormented above, casting a teal colour on the ocean; you catch sight of yachts appearing and disappearing in the swell; your instruments show you are catching up to them and will soon leave them in your wake; squalls are descending on you, with stronger wind gusts and white horses on the water, and rainbows are forming; hundreds of seabirds are flying everywhere and you feel dizzy just watching them whiz past; it is cold and a bit wet, but you have to be out in the cockpit, hanging on to dear life, seeing and experiencing it all. Are you excited? We were!
Once around South West Cape, we were sailing under spinnaker, a pretty cool thing to do! We made great time and reached Recherche by 4pm, a good run, despite the rain.
Here is a gallery of this momentous passage. Enjoy the ride!