It took a real leap of faith to cast off yesterday morning and head out through the Potboil (!) Shoal, forsaking the safety of Franklin Sound for what promised to be a rough crossing. The wind had howled all night and I had very little sleep. From the forecasts I knew, however, that we really only had a 36hour window to get across, unless we wanted to stay another 10 days in the hope of a better crossing.
So off we went, trailing our new friends on Carribean Blue (also RMYC members) by about an hour. In the lee of Flinders for the first 6 hours, the seas were not too bad and the wind kept abating until we were broad reaching with full canvas up, making 7 to 8 knots.
Once we got into Bass Strait proper, however, the seas got a lot bigger, I reckon about 3 meters, short and steep, with some braking waves. We also had it right on the beam which was a bit uncomfortable. It was now blowing 20-25 knots out of the west and we were still broad reaching with two reefs in the main and half the #2 genoa rolled away. Wild sailing but at least we were making good time!
Just after sunset the wind abated as forecast, the pressure started rising and it looked like our faith in the forecast would be rewarded. We started steaming as soon as the boat speed fell below 5.5 knots, knowing there would be a nasty nor-easter to punch into later on Thursday.
So we motored all night and all day on Thursday. When the nor-easter came through we decided to call it a day and went into the anchorage at Gabo Island where we had a lovely night. I was shattered and went to sleep after our dinner (bbq snags and potato salad). The crew went exploring ashore in the moonlight, petting penguins and lying alongside the lighthouse, staring up at the sky…
Gabo Island is a great anchorage in good weather and provides good relief from the north through the east to the south. However, the holding is not good, with the bay being mostly a smooth rocky bottom or kelp and thin patches of sand here and there. In a big blow the jetty probably is the safest option. We had about 3.5 meters of water at high tide and the tidal range was only 600 mm. I would think twice about sitting out a storm here though. We reset the anchor four times and found it lying upside down on a rocky bottom when going round by snorkel to check…
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