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!
18 thoughts on “The great escape from Port Davey”
Well done TIE. We are thinking of visiting Tassie early 2019 so very interested in your journey. Not too keen on the weather you have had though. But as always, you write with such enthusiasm and enjoy it all, no matter what the hurdles are. Safe sailing! Amanda – Bossa Nova
Hi Amanda – yes the weather has been very average, but Tassie is magical and always special. You will be enthralled when you make the journey. We have spent a lot of time down here and will keep coming back. But rug up when you sail here, even in summer!
Lovely photos! Honestly, I’d be a bit fearful of the waves, such large trough-to-crest! 😳💕😎
Hi John, the thing about the Southern Ocean swell if there is no sea on top is that the boat floats up and down like a cork. The swell lines are regular and come through. It is impressive but not scary. Different thing if there are breaking waves!
what can I say, I really, really, really wish I had been there, sounds like it would have been amazing.
It was Leanne. There will be other times as we want to come back again!
You know it will be really calm, because I want it to be rough, lol.
The Southern Ocean is rarely flat so you might be in luck!
Sounds like your little sail was more adventurous than our Bight crossing! On a different note, large rainforest leaves would probably surfice if desperate….
We rationed everybody and made it back to Hobart! I think the Bight would be a lot more daunting than what we have done to date!
Good thing that you accomplished the great escape. The set of pictures shows clearly the swells more than the ones of previous posts. Although, I could manage rough seas but I wouldn’t survive without loo paper!… Ohh no! Take care you hear! 🙂
Hi HJ – yes in the previous posts we were in protected waters, but in this one we are out in the Southern Ocean. Glad you can see the swell as it is often hard to show it in photos! Have topped up on loo paper just in time 🤪
Those waves look bigger even in photos than on our way to LHI. What a ride. Those cliffs look wonderful, but you look cold. Still getting bad weather over Eastern Tassie, travel safe.
Hi Sue, yes it was chilly. We are in Hobart now. It has been snowing on Mt Wellington! We probably will be on our way again in a couple of days. All going well.
I love how well you conjured up the feeling of being at sea in that moody weather with the seabirds swirling around you! And of course I loved your images of it all, especially the Bullers Albatross shots!
Oh thanks for the feedback Ellen! The Buller’s Albatross was a first for us! They are really striking.
Looks like it was a fantastic journey – must be some good waves somewhere down there with all that swell!
Yap lots of them, it is just a matter of getting to the breaks! … not in this boat!