We left Fortescue at 5am, with the setting moon.
It was cold but refreshing to be underway early. I really like an early start. We needed to maintain 5 knots to cover the distance and arrive at the Marion Narrows by high tide, or just before. 9:44am was high tide along this part of the coast, so we had to have an early start.
Our trip up started off very peaceful and placid, but by the time the sun came up an hour and a half later, ERIK was setting her shoulder against a 20 to 25 knot north westerly with a short sea coming out of Pirates Bay.
The coastline is spectacular here, just amazing. Cliffs rise up sheer from the water, topped with trees. It looks so fantastically rugged and untamed.
Once we got into the lee of the cliffs you can see in the picture above, the conditions backed off for a while. However, as we followed the coastline north, the north by northwest, conditions became very gusty and challenging. We were hit by a 40kt gust from the northeast, blowing spume off the water in all directions. ERIK heeled heavily while I put the helm hard over to bring head to wind as the sails flapped and the boat shook. The gust knocked 4 knots off our speed in one hit.
I figured that these gusts were turbulence from the cliffs. There was a fishing boat going north with us, but much, much closer to the cliffs, only a few dozen meters from their base. I wasn’t keen going in that close… The alternative was to head further offshore. Looking out that way the seas were picking up, although the swells would have been with us. I didn’t want to risk our 5 knot average and miss the tide. I figured that we weathered the 40kt blast okay, so if they didn’t get any worse, and I kept an eye out for them, we should be fine. If not, offshore we would go and shelter in Lagoon Bay if we missed the tide.
As it turned out, we didn’t get another as bad, and as the coastline rounded to the north west, the wind steadied and built to steady 25 to 30 knots. ERIK plugged away, under staysail and mizzen with engine on 1500rpm helping us point. We kept up a steady 5 to 5.5 knots albeit with spray washing the boat from stem to stern. Oh for a pilot house!
I sent the good wife up the mast as we approached the Narrows, and set the eldest to calling the depth from the sounder. We downloaded the chartlet from MAST to aid us, and we had chatted to a fisherman in Port Arthur to get a bit of local knowledge of the bar.
Coming over the bar was fine, the wind shifted westerly and faded as we approached, thankfully. As per our advice, we kept close to port on the way in, swinging heavily to starboard as soon as it shallows and keeping close to the sand spit on the way around. Once inside, weeds obscure the bottom and cause the depth sounder to give some alarming readings, but there’s at least 2.5m of water at high tide (0.8m above datum) all the way in.
We tied up to the jetty at 11am, exactly 6 hours after departure. No rest for the wicked, however. We needed to take all perishables off the boat and pack clothes for our next trip. A call to my dear Dad had him showing up with the trailer at short notice. We loaded the trailer up while the boys played inside it. We will stay with my Dad for a week or so before flying to Victoria for a big family do! Does this adventure never end?
*smiling* I hope not.
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