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Cap'n Jack 01-24-2012 11:17 PM

Banyandah from Australia
Banyandah, meaning 'Home on the Water' was homebuilt (photos) in Sydney, launched in 1973 then Jack and Jude sailed off with two sons aged 2 and 3, never expecting we'd travel around Earth for the next 16 years. (photos)

Boat educating our boys while touring Earth's fascinating destinations proved rewarding for both, parents and children. We returned to land for their final year of high school then both attended university while Jack and Jude went to work to secure their future. Banyandah was craned from the sea and placed on our front lawn, where she stood for the next 16 years!

In that period, we gutted our lady. Everything came out; accommodation, machinery, electrics, plumbing - everything back to bare hull! Then we rebuilt her with a new rig and all new gear except for her faithful, rather long in the tooth, engine and gearbox.

With wrinkles and gray hairs, when our grandchildren began to grow in numbers, we thought we'd better relaunch our veteran and try cruising once again.

Our first voyage: Circumnavigating Australia in two years. Photos and notes at: Banyandah circumnavigates

Then two years ago, instead of sailing north again, we sailed south, back to Tasmania to look over the Bass Strait Islands and revisit Macquarie Harbour and enter Hell's Gate a second time. Three months later, the autumn chill sent us north to South Australia for our a visit. (photos)

When spring came last year we sailed across the Great Australian Bight, going west as far as Albany before heading back east across the Southern Ocean - destination Tasmania for a third visit. But the weather gods had other ideas blowing us well north into Portland Victoria. We persevered, finally arriving in the Apple Isle with winter's frost. (photos)

Now a new spring sees us down the west coast of Tasmania with a double kayak on board to take our cameras and explore rain forest rivers and Piners Camps.

During recent years, we've written three books. The first, Two's A Crew, covers our exploration of Australia. Where Wild Winds Blow chronicles our exploration of the islands and coastline exposed to the Southern Ocean with snippets of our early sailing days with the boys, and a Practical what works best - easy simple solutions for boats. We've also produced three DVDs of our adventures on land and at sea.

On our website is an online cruising guide to Australian anchorages, mud maps for the fabulous and dangerous Kimberley, plus wall posters of some very lovely Australian marine views.

Be happy to answer questions. Our info on world destinations may be a bit out of date, but Australian ports and anchorages is good. We are cruisers, not marina hoppers.

Fair winds and smooth seas from Jack and Jude on the good ship BANYANDAH.

Cap'n Jack 01-24-2012 11:25 PM

Australian Cruising Guide online
Hi everyone.
We're new here and would like to mention our online cruising guide for Australian anchorages. They're up to date with GPS positions, depth, bottom, facilities, photos and maps.

We're not in competition with Wiki, just started before it did as we believe this information should be freely shared. And if anyone would like to add their favorite spot, drop us an email with the information.

PS check out our lovely wall posters available for download

Cheers from Strahan, Tasmania.

Cap'n Jack 02-02-2012 10:09 PM

Voyages of Banyandah ~ week 1
WEDNESDAY: After an enjoyable albeit hectic Christmas down in Hobart filming the Sydney to Hobart yacht race (view our YouTube clip) We have finally cast loose the mooring lines and departed George Town Tasmania, into what was suppose to be a pleasant, off the land breeze. But those nasty weather gods had been waiting for just that moment to unleash a real humdinger windstorm, and by days end we were drenched, wet below, with a few bits of gear damaged, and limping into a hideout behind the isolated Rocky Cape. A big test for our brand new furling headsail.

Such is sailing the high seas!

But we are away from civilization and beauty surrounds us. We even managed to catch a few flathead fish for a late dinner.

A good night’s rest found our bodies sore and stiff, so a lay-day was declared. Was time to soak up the beautiful uninhabited rocky coastline, and catch a few more fishes for our dinner table. There’s a road leading to a boat ramp in this bay and we might even explore the winding foot track leading towards the white light structure at its tip. We’re anchored in 5 m of crystal clear water showing a clean white sand bottom, and there is absolutely no ripple from swell although Bass Strait can be seen on the horizon.

FRIDAY: The sun’s bright and the wind seems friendlier, so we’re going to chance our luck once again. OMG, its Friday! Sailors never leave port on a Friday, bad luck. But hey, who’s leaving a port. We are sailing on to the Three Hummocks Islands, first discovered by Bass and Flinders in 1798, to visit John and Beverly, the island’s caretakers. Lovely spot we’ve visited before.
Wish us luck…
Jack and Jude

Cap'n Jack 02-02-2012 10:22 PM

Voyages of Banyandah ~ week 2
Week 2

Going cruising again is not quite like riding a bike. Our sedentary winter took its toil and finding our cat-like balance and energy reserves are taking time. Nevertheless, on day three, with winds still forward of our beam we sailed past the Stanley Nut, its sheer basalt sides gleaming gold in the low morning light.

Then when passing the last slip of land, naughty green seas slopped aboard. Fearing another wetting, a moan escaped our lips, and then sucking in a sharp breath, Jack shucked his dry jumper and quickly braved the foredeck to double reef the mainsail. We love it when Banyandah instantly rewards us by sailing upright, ploughing even faster through seas that shone Caribbean blue when the patchy clouds were whisked away. In fact the sunshine grew so bright; crow’s feet wrinkled our faces while the sun’s intensity burnt noses still tender from its last blast.

Searching the blue ahead for our destination we saw only seabirds marauding in clouds that formed then stretched thin, searching like us. Boredom set in. The ship’s log has not been working since we left the Tamar River although we’d cleaned it before leaving. Must be fouled by a bit of winter weed. Jude volunteers jumping in when we anchor, then a hand absently switches it on again, and we laugh when it’s found working again. Maybe our hard sailing is washing off the slime. But we’re hating our new, incorrectly set, headsail that’s shaking the whole boat. So again Jack throws off his dry gear and gingerly goes forward to barber-haul down the sail’s sheet to reduce its twist.

Aah! The shaking stops! And another knot is added to our speed. Banyandah’s bottom must have had all her winter weed washed away for she is ploughing through the seas like a workhorse heading for the stables.

An easy, cracker and cheese lunch saw the first of the Three Hummocks rise above the horizon. And along with it came wind of additional strength. But we’ve planned well. We have gained upwind ground and can layoff to run with sails more free. Faster and faster, closing the island and finding a safe haven after threading the gap between island and nasty submerged rock close off its NE cape. Back to Mermaid Bay, where we’d anchored only seven months previously with Lyn and John from King Island.

After anchoring, a wee bit of motion rocked us in the strong wind blowing off the beautiful green island laced with those amazing granite rocks dabbed with orange algae. Duty called straightaway. We’d lost a batten somewhere during our first two days under sail. And that pesky new headsail needed sheeting correctly before it destroyed more than our peace. After that, we looked forward to being early in bed.

What a change! Those cool south winds eased and the bright sun brought a holiday mood to the beautiful Three Hummocks Island. Launching Little Red, Jack rowed his darling along bold granite rocks into a miniature cove at dead low tide. Bull Kelp waved in easy sea surge as if Mermaids greeting us while the hills echoed with the sharp, peep-peep of Pied Oyster Catchers. An occasional glimpse of brilliant red beaks on black bodies hopped atop the boulders. Wildlife must abound on this island. All the previous night we’d heard the continuous yammering of fairy penguins, and wondered, don’t those little birds ever sleep.

Landing on a sand patch, we set off exploring the uninhabited coast, framing wonderful photos of Banyandah and Reliance, a Sydney yacht sharing our anchorage, between bold, buff stone dabbed with orange and yellow against a cobalt sea and baby blue sky.

Rowing Little Red felt good. Stretching and using muscles made energy flow and confidence build. Now this was cruising. To explore using our strength and skills, to witness glorious Nature, for us that makes the outside world retreat and appear even more mad. Hearing Nature’s sounds, inhaling its invigorating freshness, seeing such vivid un-artificial colours brought sanity back, along with the hope that maybe humans won’t destroy everything before a solution can be found to our cancerous growth.

A local boat, Stormy Petrel, who’s been coming here for 20 years, showed us a north side anchorage at Rape Bay that’s out the annoying swell. Jack has updated our cruising guide with its location.

When the south wind abated, Banyandah rode her anchor in front of the homestead at Chimney Corner and we spent another very enjoyable day with the island’s caretakers John and Beverly. Jack got all his desires fulfilled when he traded with Bev his latest book, Where Wild Winds Blow, for a unique “Three Hummock’s cap.” You’ve got to go there to get one!

Tonight we challenge the seas once again. A mild northeasterly is blowing; the harbinger of a westerly change due the day after tomorrow. So tonight we sail down Tasmania’s wild west coast to Hell’s Gate. There awaits a big challenge. With strong winds up our backside we must negotiate that much-feared narrow entry. Wish us good luck.
Jack and Jude

Cap'n Jack 02-28-2012 04:16 AM

Jack and Jude Life Afloat - The Green Machine

28 Feb 2012

If a few months ago I’d been told that every yacht needs a green machine I would have wondered why have one of those yuppie things on board, they’re only good for the young or physical fanatic. But, as we were about to head into wilderness filled with rivers and creeks only possible to explore by small boat, I thought why not look into it?
Like everything Jack and Jude do, research became our first priority. And didn’t that show up a multitude of possibilities. Why, kayaks come in single and doubles, sit ins and sit ons, wood, rubber, plastic, rigid, blow up or fold up - in just about every combination of the above.
After nearly five decades of doing everything as a team, Jack and Jude figured a double kayak was the right configuration, but having some rigid big thing on our ocean going yacht would muck us up, so the dang thing would have to store out of the way. We crossed out rigid and pencilled in folding or inflatable.
Discovering a new folding “Feather Light” would cost five to six thousand dollars, well out the reach of two retirees, we located several online kayaking forums and recorded our need for a second-hand folding or blow up double kayak.
Months went by, nothing was heard, Jude still unconvinced about spending so much. Then magic things started happening. A Melbourne couple offered us their leaky blow-up for free. And a man wrote about an ex-Navy folding kayak he had. Made 25 years ago, he said it still floated but needed some repair. So we drove 400 kilometres to meet him at his local dam. Crikey! Behind his sedan was a box trailer loaded with two black rubber bags and two paddles. Straight away, the size of the bags had us wonder where we’d store them on Banyandah, but hey, just the paddles looked worth his asking price.
In a flash, groaning from lugging their weight, we got the bags out the trailer and the mass of bits out their bags onto the ground where they looked like a dried up baby whale. But the magic continued. The bits unfolded and took shape as each nicely crafted fibreglass bulkhead snapped into place. Mind, several bits were broken, and its outer skin had taken a few hits, but, like the man had said, it floated, so away Jack and Jude went for a trial paddle.
Now, kayaks are new to us. And while we are water people, we’re more at home on bigger floating things. Still, that funny folding gizmo had hidden charms, so we shook hands with the man, handed him the dosh, an autographed book and thanked him sincerely. We also gave him our card, so hopefully he’ll be reading this. Built for burly commandos to invade hostile shores, it’s in camouflage colours; hence we straightaway dub her the “Green Machine.”
Okay, down to the serious reasons for having a Green Machine on an ocean going yacht? Well, we took those two bags of bits down Tasmania’s wild west coast and sailed them straight through Hell’s Gate lashed on our deck. The broken bits I fixed with some epoxy then assembled the whole thing not knowing what we’d do next.
Thursday: Kelly Basin
A hasty breakfast lead straight to launching the kayak. What a surprise, she floated! Well, not really a surprise; but what was - after a whole bunch of rolling about getting in, I released its launching harness from the halyard without being flipped out. Then with a plop I was down in my seat, icy cold water dripping off the paddles into my lap before I noticed two rubber cups especially designed to prevent just that. Paddling the Green Machine easily, I was amazed its tiny rudder actually turned the brute. She was apples! Silently slipping through calm waters towards tall trees and reeds, even the ducks and black swans didn’t notice me coming. One flick of a paddle sent me into their space, where my camera captured them in peace. Flicking another, I headed for open space and started stroking at pace. A cool breeze rushed past my face, my lungs tasted sweetness while my arms and torso delighted in the workout. In that outing, I became a kayaking addict.
After hoisting the Green Machine out the water, at about ten we joined Chris and Suzanne, the crew from Reliance, for a walk up the Bird River. Picture perfect weather, green lush forest, too lush in fact, the track was thickly overgrown with bracken ferns, causing us to wonder why Parks would let one of their premier walking tracks become so dangerous. We had to be very careful finding our footing amongst the tangle of tree roots crisscrossing Earth’s surface. Small complaint for a bonza day.
Showers of white petals from leatherwoods drifted through the super fresh air as we followed the river until it noisily raced through a gorge, raising the day’s tempo. Sunshine filtered through small leaf myrtles, fallen leaves carpeted our path. For two hours, we marvelled through an ever-changing parade of small wonders until the Bird River Bridge hove into view. All was bliss until quite suddenly our day was shattered. An ungodly modern plastic grating marred the full length of that historic bridge ruining its aura, too ungodly for Jude to photograph. The massive wooden structure had supported freight trains and withstood the ravages of Tasmania’s west coast weather for more than eleven decades, becoming graced by a lush carpet of mosses as it aged, now had plastic grating plum down its middle. Installed by Parks - but why? If to make it more safe, they achieved quite the opposite. The scantling timbers holding the grating in place were perfect to trip the unwary over the unprotected sides, quite possibly to their death.
It’s our opinion the money could have been more wisely used. There’s not one information sign describing the flora or fauna along the entire six-kilometre walk and they’re so important in getting families into the bush and inspiring the young to respect planet Earth. Exemplifying this poor use of limited funds, during our return, doctor Suzanne tripped in that overgrown section because it was so thick she couldn’t see a stump, and fell flat on her face!
Upon our return to Banyandah, during a cuppa with Chris and Suzanne, we went over Trevor Norton’s chart of the Gordon River, and for their use we copied our waypoints from two years ago. Chris also photographed our chart so they’re well prepared for a grand experience. Bon Voyage Reliance.
Next morning in a quiet, thickly forested Kelly Basin, I jumped into the Green Machine and straightaway nearly rolled the blasted thing over. Oops! Hope Jude didn’t notice.
When closer to seventy than sixty, getting into a slender capsule off Banyandah is quite a challenge, especially for a grandmother of eight with sagging arm muscles. But Jude’s a game lady, and with some coaxing and help, she managed to plonk into the front position of our Green Machine. Then came the bigger challenge of propelling our craft. Three, four strokes, then our paddles clashed and we rocked while expletives ripped the silence.
It might have taken several outings but we found the rhythm and our aging bodies are finding more vitality and trim, and Jude’s in love. In love with both, her devilishly handsome man and her Green Machine. Each day we go for a paddle, further and faster, round bends, up creeks. We now realise its potential.
“Let’s go up the fabled Gordon and snoop out old Piners’ camps. Let’s take our camping gear and live life on the river.” By outboard we’d already been up to the confluence with the Franklin, where the outboard noise seemed grossly out of place. “In the kayak we might get all the way up to the rocky Sprent River, where in the 20s and 30s real river men cut down mighty Huon pines.”
Our Green Machine waits on our foredeck, filled fore and aft with tent, sleeping gear, provisions, cameras, and bush-tramping boots. We’re all set. Tell you next time how our river journey turns out.... In the meanwhile, take a peek at a Super 8 movie we found lost in storage, of us in ’82 working the Banyandah in the Coral Sea. Who’s that luscious lady and devilishly handsome sailor??
Jack and Jude

Cap'n Jack 03-05-2012 10:04 PM

Voyages of Banyandah ~ week 5
Searching for Lost Treasure

In February 2012, Jack and Jude made a two-week journey up the Gordon aboard Banyandah to Sir John Falls, then a further 12 km upstream to the “Rocky” Sprent River in the Green Machine kayak in search of Huon Piners remnants from the early 1900s.

Pining in the Gordon River area was carried out between 1816 to the late 1930s. Two or three man teams worked four-month stints, leaving after Christmas, returning to Strahan for Easter, then rowing back up the mighty Gordon River at the start of winter to work in snow and ice harvesting logs ready for the summer thaw that would flood them down river. Morrison from Morrison Timber Mill

Families such as the Abels, Doherty, Cranes and Morrisons had several generations of men working on the banks of the Gordon River and its tributaries harvesting the trees with axe and crosscut saw, and then moving them into the rivers using just block and tackle, and lots of muscle.

It was not always carried out at the same intensity, pining had its peaks and collapse periods, and material evidence of these activities is generally in very poor condition due to the harsh nature of the environment and the fast speed at which the flora regenerates and covers everything, as well as the temporary nature of the original huts and camps.

The only survey conducted was by National Parks in 1987, pre-GPS, with site locations recorded to within 100 metres on a topo-map. Many times we were to find their data in error by considerably more than 100 metres.

Our expedition, privately funded and organized, was to record what still remains today, with an exact GPS location of our findings.

Cruising per se can be fun and adventurous, but when boat-handling skills are applied to achieve a goal, the fun is magnified by a lasting reward. During the late 80s and 90s, in-between our long lay-off from the sea, Jack and Jude turned to wilderness walking to get their Nature fix, and we gained additional survival skills and the ability to track through difficult terrain. At one time we worked with Parks to help document lost mining sites deep inside World Heritage forests and it was those experiences that helped us in the thick Gordon River “horizontal” rain forest where leeches and ticks thrive and deadly snakes lay hidden.

Our first goal, to “find” a relatively easy target, Duncan’s hut, built in the 50s by fishermen. We needed to compare our GPS with the survey’s recorded position to determine which co-ordinate system had been used by the surveyor. There are several and the report did not specify which system had been used. Two miles into the Gordon, we found Duncan’s hut easily in a clearing surrounded by a tangle of saplings, leaning over at an alarming angle. Examining its rotting innards, we concluded it would collapse in years not decades. Its famous dunny was also found, flattened under a fallen blackwood tree. Comparing the data, we had a 150 m discrepancy no matter which mapping system was selected.

Out next easy target was not a remnant from the Piners’ past, but dates further back to the Sarah Island Penal colony of 1823, when lime was extracted from the cliffs along the Gordon River then burnt for use in mortar and fertilizers. Convicts built and used a limekiln that still survives today and to find it we used the stated position from the survey as a starting point. It provided several hours of pushing through thick-forested hillsides draped in lush green mosses, but no kiln.

Thinking laterally, remembering what a local had said about the kiln being just after the third lime cliff, we paddled 500 metres downstream and landed basically right on the limekiln’s doorstep. During these searches we visualized the hut, or in this case the kiln, in its working state to better figure where it would have been sited. The huts often had views along the river with easy access from shore and the kiln also needed a loading flat, neither often found along this abrupt shoreline. At the same time, keeping in mind both the Piners and convicts would have flattened the forests, often clearing an area by burning.

The limekiln certainly is impressive. Constructed from red bricks made on Sarah Island in the early 1820s, it is domed, about 2 metres in diameter, and stands a metre out a thickly leaf mulched hillside. The original posts used as lintels are still holding up the bricks surrounding its entry. Its position being even further away from its reported spot was the second indicator of the 1987 survey imprecision.

Next we looked for two bottle caches, finding one in a lovely leafy mulched knoll on Limekiln Reach in the shade of numerous man ferns,Dicksonia antarctica, also known as the Soft Tree Fern or Tasmanian Tree Fern. They can grow up to 15 m but these were typically about 5 m. Consisting of an erect rhizome forming a trunk that is very hairy at the base, with large, dark green, roughly-textured fronds spreading in a canopy up to 6 m in diameter. The trunk is merely the decaying remains of earlier growth and forms a medium through which the roots grow, but will not regenerate since it is dead organic matter.

The bottles, found nestled in the decaying bole of a fallen tree lying across a small stream, when excavated from thick moss proved to be mostly green champagne bottles with one H & P sauce bottle and another of an unknown type. Picking up one of the champagne bottles while gazing through the shady landscape to an expanse of river, it was easy to imagine a picnic spread upon that gentle slope. For many decades, holiday excursions up the Gordon have been a favourite.

Near Butler Island, a rock splinter rising mid-river between two cliff-faces, there had been several Piners’ camps and one used by the HEC. Just downstream, Abel Creek provided access to the hinterland with a track crossing button grass plains to Gould’s Landing above Sir John Falls. From there it carried on up to the Sprent. In olden days, supplies were taken in on this track. Later, teams of draught horses laboured along it dragging Huon logs down from inland stands. Today, Abel Creek has regrowth of saplings and thick “horizontal” Anodopetalum biglandulosum, a small tree endemic to western Tasmania. As it grows, the trunk bends over under its own weight and ends up parallel with the ground. Vertical branches grow from these and bend over in time; hence the tree becomes a tangled mass of branches that is nearly impenetrable. We made two exhaustive searches for camp remnants in Abel’s, spending the better part of two days slogging in bog, picking off leaches, fighting through regrowth. And what we found was nothing more than a patch of flat ground that may have been the campsite.
Further downriver we had better luck at what had once been the Ghost Creek camp, locating a lone bedpost rising out a carpet of moss. What a beautiful image! Situated on a high bank, the bed runner, now a mound of moss, led the eyes towards a fine view of the mighty Gordon. Next to this tiny relic, a half sheet of corrugated iron lay nearly covered in green.

On the upstream side of Butler Island, the HEC had drilled into the bedrock, testing for as a possible dam site. Searching their camp area revealed a few rusting steel drilling pipes and several rotten joists from their temporary hut.

Further round a few river bends is the site of the 1982 protest against the Franklin below Gordon Dam that took place at the HEC work area at Warners Landing. The jetty can still be used although some iron pokes out the large logs. The boggy wet track from it leads up to a clearing with abandon equipment. Thirty years ago, that track continued on through forest to the proposed dam site. Across the large body of water is Sir John Falls, where above them had been the residence of a forestry manager whose job was to count Huon logs floating down river in order to collect the correct levy. The house was shifted years ago, but the foundations and some steelwork remains.

We secured Banyandah to Warners Landing, upstream of the motor vessel Opal Lady, and when they departed, we moved forward for a more secure grip on the landing as we planned to leave our lady there for several days while kayaking upriver to the Sprent River in search of three more camps. Late that night, while Jude packed, a possum came on board, – looks like we’ll have to shut up the boat.
Tell you how that went next time.
Jack and Jude

Cap'n Jack 05-03-2012 03:22 AM

Voyages of Banyandah ~ Blog week 12
Hermit's Camp at Hidden Bay

Have you ever been to a place, even briefly, and been so moved by its beauty that you dreamt of escaping there again, thinking to recapture that sublime moment when Earth’s magic filled you with the hope that our planet can survive the human experience.
Well! We found such a place, almost as far from mankind as one can get and still be on Earth.
But to get there we exposed all our treasures to danger because this place has both an angel’s smile and devil’s grin. And while there that brief moment we continuously monitored sea and sky, worried over harbingers of destruction, and thinking next time we’d march across the deserted land after first mooring Banyandah in a safe haven. Years then drifted by until an opportunity to revisit Tasmania’s far south coast became a reality.
When I last wrote we were speeding away from The Davey River Gorge, rushing Banyandah for the safety of Bathurst Channel to bunker her down against a strong gale that when it struck pelted down marble sized bits of ice. For two days, we stuck well in the thick gooey mud of Frogs Hollow. And when the weather cleared, many visiting vessels hightailed it around the capes to Tasmania’s east coast.
You beauty! That left the jetty at Clayton’s Corner available. And our luck continued when a large high-pressure bubble lingered in The Bight. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, we quickly packed our rucksacks, strapped them on top the Green Machine, then after shutting all sea-cocks, Jude and I paddled away on a new adventure, hoping to again experience Earth’s wild beauty.
Our journey began when first light landed on Win and Clyde’s historical tin roof, the one shifted from Bond Bay after their ten years hard living, isolated, the furthest southwest of any Australian. Pretending we were in Deny King’s ‘blue boat’ and remembering his life, we paddled the five miles up Melaleuca Inlet and through the lagoon into Moth Creek taking two hours. The day before, two Friends of Melaleuca had visited and when discussing our plans, they suggested using Deny King’s old derrick to remove our Green Machine from the waters of Moth Creek.
Eventually we found ourselves loaded with backpacks, on the same boardwalk that takes walkers across flat buttongrass plains to the arduous south coast track. After an hour of absolutely nothing manmade in sight, at the crossroads we changed direction for the notorious Southwest Cape. Bounding our horizons, abrupt mountains lay bare except for the ubiquitous yellow green buttongrass spread evenly over every bump. This wet southwest averages 249 rain days a year so underfoot can be muddy mush, and the tiniest crease can become a raging creek.

In years gone by, fires from Signal Hill signalled a rare mail delivery. But on this day, no smoke clouded the heavens as we plodded through mud and slush, dodging the deeper pools only to slip a boot under at the next creek.
With waning energy and lessening enthusiasm, it became hard yakka to negotiate the last hill down through lush mossy rainforest, emerging to view small surf breaking on a vacant beige beach slashed by a deep black stream oozing from the buttongrass plains. Jude, lugging a 15-kilo load, looked dismayed to have to wade across that obstacle for a place to camp.
Then voices ahead urged us to follow the creek, now appearing like a silver ribbon, until we were amazed to spy a set camp in a clearing under myrtle trees. Moments later we were thrilled to be meeting Deny King’s daughter, Janet Fenton and husband Geoff along with two friends, and have an invitation to join their camp. Once established, we wandered from under the canopy as the setting sun cast red flames down upon the meandering silver, while from behind the hills, pink primrose and golden rays shot up into the heavens.
Needless to say we slept like two zombies, drifting off into a world where purple mushrooms talked and towering swamp gums walked. Opening our eyes after what seemed seconds found the dim light of next day. Thick fog swirled about, and we thought ourselves still dreaming until we heard Janet’s voice calling us to a wonderful photo opportunity. Supercharged by those words, my lady jumped out her sleeping bag while reaching for her cameras. Hardly a step behind, I had the video purring, capturing wispy mist swirling along the dark creek, where in shadows at the base of those hills lurked the monsters seen in our dreams, and they seemed to be moving towards us through swirling mist.
A golden orb burnt away that mist, revealing a glorious blue ocean extending unobstructed to the far South Pole, except for tiny Maatsuyker, Australia’s southernmost continental shelf island named in 1642 by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. Across that narrow gap some of the world’s most powerful seas can be generated by winds sometimes gusting 100 knots.
Standing on this exposed beach at New Harbour, as we had done a few years earlier, we again observed a strange phenomenon. Each swell was turning from white to pink, then red as it peaked. And I remembered the clumps of red gelatinous material floating about Banyandah on our first visit, and soon cast my eyes on the felt-like blanket dried on the beach. Janet remembers always seeing it here, even in her childhood. But not on any other South Coast beach.
Janet Fenton’s party hiked out mid-morning and shortly after Jude and I hefted rucksacks to continue over the next ridge into Hidden Bay. Up we climbed through even lusher greens now dripping with morning dew that sparkled in the hot morning light. Then magically after a stiff slog, we emerged into completely open spaces, the view snatching away our gasping breath. The purest colours of Nature had our cameras whipped out to capture that oddity of blue turning pink then red. From that high vantage point we could see great clouds of a rose bloom discolouring the bay and we wondered why just there!

That day we left behind the last of Earth as it’s known to enter a very private domain. Upon a trail without footprints, we forged through a littoral rainforest then down a sand hill to a bay where large foaming breakers smashed into cliffs of white granite, the noise shaking the earth as we strolled towards a rivulet flowing out between twin sand mounts that then crossed the beach. Following that waterway into the forest we found a mini-bit of paradise lost. By that creek a brilliant white sand strip entered an open tea tree forest neatly carpeted in leaf mulch, perfect for our camp. Protected from the wind, birds sang in the forest as we gazed upon a wide-open vista just a step away from drinking water that had me thinking a hermit could happily live here forever.
After setting up camp we set off exploring our Hidden Bay and immediately grabbing our attention were tiny footprints loping across the smooth sand. Tiny toes with sharp nails were laid down in a pattern indicating the creature didn’t hop. Later we had the joy of sighting a Tiger Cat, its long thin tail half again that of its body.
I could fill pages on the charms of this remote spot, but moving on; the next day we scaled the ridge separating Hidden Bay from New Harbour. Leaving the rough track to chance finding a way to the ridge through scrub and buttongrass proved a brilliant move, but not something you’d do unless experienced bushmen. Climbing steeply, our cumbersome rucksacks held us back, so it was fortunate we soon found the remnant of a long disused track. Who knows! Perhaps one used by Deny and his dorts. The track wound up past a small waterfall, then breasting the ridge a long held dream was fulfilled when our gaze fell upon the spectacular view across both bays, silky smooth and domed by an eternity of cerulean blue, the colour of peace.
Like fingers tracing a map, our eyes followed a coastline rarely visited, sighting first New Harbour rocks - bold, craggy, looking dangerous, obstructing the entrance to our first camping bay. And as we gazed, our mind’s eye could see Win and Clyde, once trapped inside that bay by gale formed combers that forced them to abandon their small fishing craft and jump into storm seas, no doubt praying to their maker.
All those who challenge the elements know the wildness of Nature can easily snuff out life’s breath. But to risk life is necessary to gain the full experience of ones short time on this amazing planet. Be it on land or sea, take precautions, remembering no matter what, there’s always risk. Slip off your ship or trip on a loose stone, both might end in a fatal fall. Struggle up hills or do battle with heavy weather might burst something internal. For Jude and I, that’s no reason to become a couch potato. Life is for living til the very last breath. It’s the opportunity to witness the creation. And if there is a God, surely he’d be pleased if we don’t muck it up.
Jack and Jude

Cap'n Jack 05-08-2012 12:19 AM

Voyages of Banyandah ~ blog week 13
The Last Stand

In the early morning after a mild storm had passed, the sky brightened to clear lapis blue and the air stilled as if Aeolus the wind god was holding his breath. Nudging Jude from her first moments of waking, I whispered “C’mon. The day’s perfect to try crossing the Old River Bar.”

Across the mirror smooth basin surrounded by bare mountains of buttongrass and white rock, the river conquered by early Huon piners had been tantalising us since arriving in Bathurst Harbour. Draining tall mountains to its northeast and more from Ripple Mountain and Mt Picton where in the 1860s piners Doherty and Longley dragged their punts up rapids, risking life and limb to harvest timber that’s feather light and never rots.

The day before the storm, Andrew and Judy off <em>Reflections</em> out of Hobart had rafted alongside. While the ladies brewed coffee, Andrew, an engineer and Coast Radio volunteer with a keen interest in the remote South West Tasmania, took me below to dig out a sounding device he’d constructed that clips onto his rubber ducky and connects to an upmarket GPS which then records data from the sounder. Clever. All he has to do is traverse back and forth to sound a river mouth or bay and the device will log depths at exact locations.

“You beauty,” I’d exclaimed when he offered his soundings for the notoriously shallow Old River Bar exposed to the stormy southwest. Andrew explained he’d just confirmed this data the other day when taking <em>Reflections,</em> drawing five and a half feet, a mile upstream. Great! Now Jude and I could do just that very same thing, take our six-foot draught <em>Banyandah</em> into the safety of the river to launch the Green Machine for a paddle up river.

Andrew then further delighted me by handing across his coordinates of a stand of mature Huon pines found further up that river. Isn’t it grand how the yachting fraternity helps each other.

When we got underway Andrew’s waypoints were already programmed into our GPS, coloured blue for those with sufficient water and red for those too shallow. (Anchoring Guide updated )

To the slow throb of our six-cylinder diesel <em>Banyandah</em> edged closer to Swan Point, its abrupt rock ledge a mere boat length off when we turned to face a calm expanse of mirror bright water surrounded by rising land topped with green forests. Across the mile gap to a narrow opening we could just make out odd bits of timber poking up and wondered whether they were old channel markers or the limbs of dead trees stuck on shallow flats. With little time to ponder, a hundred metres on lay our first challenge, a patch of skinny water with just our draught if Andrew’s soundings were correct.


Cap'n Jack 05-15-2012 11:40 PM

Dreams, Daring and Death
Our summer has flown and storms are now striking the far South West nearly one a week, their screech and cold fury focusing our thoughts on planning an escape. This summer we’ve accomplished so much, in both Macquarie Harbour and Port Davey, but it’s time to skedaddle round Tasmania’s sometimes-vicious south coast, a voyage often dreaded. Intimidating many say.Jude and I first made this journey in 2009, motoring pretty much every mile on a limp flat sea that let us poke into several south coast bays, admittedly while casting many a long look over our shoulders.

Some wait for a storm to pass then motor at speed across windless, big swells. Not us this time. We wanted to sail the seventy-odd miles around the stegosaurus spine of South West Cape where big swells roll in from the Great Southern Ocean, then past the lonely wind blasted isles of Maatsuyker and the solid bulk of Cox Bluff, and on along the rugged coastline to the dramatic perpendicular cliffs of South Cape to finally pass the jagged South East Cape into the safety of Recherche Bay.

But before leaving we had one last goal to achieve - locate the enigma of Bathurst Harbour, the gravesite of Critchley Parker. In March of ’42, a young man arrived filled with passion and ideals, hoping to find a suitable location for a refugee settlement for Jews under persecution from the Nazis. He envisaged a Jewish homeland encompassing the whole of the South West with a city named Poyunduc, the Aboriginal name for Port Davey that would manufacture all manner of products using hydroelectric power.

Ill equipped for his solo trek in the South West’s harsh terrain and changeable weather, gambling all, he lost his life in horrible lonely conditions, his body undiscovered for months even though a large manhunt had been mounted. Not till half a year later when Clyde’s dog hunting 'roos' found his decomposing body in a tattered sleeping bag, the tent in shreds. Janet Fenton states in her book about her aunt and uncle, “Clyde was so affected by the sight that he had a horror of sleeping bags for the rest of his live.” Buried where he died, a simple cross marked the spot for five years until Critchley’s mother arranged for a gravestone to be erected by Hobart stonemason Leo Luckman. Its position is marked in some guides, but you’d be lucky to find it without a GPS position, kindly given to us by Andrew off Reflections from Hobart.

After our exploration of the Old River, we passed the night tied to trees, where next morning high above our mast echoed melodious singing that woke us to bright sun and a completely calm Good Friday. With decks so wet as if it had rained, a sign the weather would turn stormy, we quickly retrieved our lines and made a beeline over the river bar without mishap.
Anchored in Parker Bay two hours later, before going ashore we searched the lower slopes of Mt. Mackenzie for signs of Critchley’s grave, wanting the closest landing place. But all we saw were obstacles of small creeks, melaleuca, tea-tree, and buttongrass.
Parker Bay with cone shaped Balmoral Hill across Bathurst Channel

Jude and I clamoured onto shore next to a small stream convinced we’d find his grave just up that slope, and started following the GPS to the position less than a hundred meters away. But after gaining the knoll we had to descend into thick stuff up to our shoulders, cross the stream, then force our way through dense melaleuca, skirting razor grass in the deep gulley, ever watchful for Tasmania’s deadly snakes. When mere metres away, we still couldn’t see it, until a final push through more head height clumps suddenly revealed the large headstone crafted from grey quartzite collected from Balmoral Hill across Bathurst Channel. So far from family and friends, Critchley might as well have been laid to rest on the moon.
Late afternoon saw the barometer falling fast, so we shifted into Frogs Hollow and weathered a gale that heaped heavy hail around our scuppers. Waiting another few days for the south-west swell to abate, Banyandah was shifted to Schooner Cove and made ready for departure. That night upon calm water I slept poorly, worried the forecast wind would arrive too early and make our westward passage across the exposed Port Davey difficult, maybe dangerous in predawn darkness.

After hearing midnight’s eight bells I’m sure I heard every bell until four the following morning and rose ready for action into blurry moonshine between thin clouds. The scant light helped us see the black cliffs as we motored through the passage to Breaksea Island, clearly outlined by glittering white breakers. Immediately I felt both foolish and chuffed, the light wind was in our favour. But not having seen either sea or swell for more than a month, we at first found it disconcerting until old routines kicked in.

Before the advent of satellite navigation, Jude would have been at the helm with me on the foredeck, probably freezing cold, searching the abyss for any hint of breaking water or black silhouettes of small islands. But this morning, outside of watching the repetitive two blinks on Whalers Point, Jude steered while every few minutes I popped up from the nav station for a prudent look round. Motor sailing at speed, our course cleared Nares Rocks then to seaward of Big Caroline Island and Hilliard Head, both still vague dark shapes.

The eastern skies started getting lighter as the breeze increased so we shut our Perkins down. Must say, slipping silently up and over swells of less than two metres while the giant teeth of East Pyramids could just be seen in soft early light simply thrilled us. Half an hour later, red and golden rays of dawn, like a meteorite striking, shot rays over the South West Cape Range behind Window Pane Bay.

Abeam SW Cape in increasing wind, we were scampering along at sixes and sevens, and I put out the trolling lure. Five minutes later our digestive juices got a kick-start as I hauled in a yellow-fin tuna nearly half my length. Muscling him over the railing took both our strengths but thankfully my knife quickly ended his struggle. Having not caught a big pelagic fish for quite some time we were ready to celebrate, but first, butchering the animal in those seas required a danseur’s balance. We wasted little. Besides lunch and the immediate two dinners, Jude had plans to preserve the remainder in bottles.

To appreciate its full majesty, SW Cape must be witnessed. Photos simply don’t convey the raw Nature of this rocky spine boldly withstanding the Southern Ocean’s powerful onslaught. Adding greatly to our fascination, the fresh breeze gave lift to Giant Albatross and they soared past our wake, wingtips brushing wave tops. Also on display were Fairy Prions, the bluest of all with a bold black W across their wings and body. They hopped across the seas looking for tiny krill and other titbits. Now in their domain, the open sea no matter how huge provides them food; the wind, no matter how strong provides their means of travel.

An hour after rounding the Cape, wind from the west started bowling us along. Now recording eights and touching nines, we put three reefs in the mainsail as Maatsuyker Island approached. We had seen its wind-shorn green capped ridge from the north twice before, once at sea, once on land. This time we were keen to see its southern side and shot the gap between black Needle Rocks silhouetted against Maatsuyker lighthouse, and the straight sided Mewstone.

Ever increasing, the wind got to gale force and not just once did we half-wish we’d just doused the mainsail. But at the start of a new blow, the sea remained fairly gentle, so we hung on sitting under the protection of our dodger, enjoying the magic of sailing the southern sea within sight of the south coast while racing the sundown into the safety of Recherche. Unchanged except by nature, it thrilled us as it had Matthew Flinders and D’Entrecasteaux before us. So imagine our horror when rounding the last barrier of SE Cape, we saw the effect man has had.

Well before anchoring at The Coal Bins, the grey-white skeletons of so many dead trees had us shaking our heads in disbelief. The devastating plant disease Phytophthora is arguably the greatest threat to biodiversity. Already widespread, with few management options available to control this spiralling disease, it is spread primarily by people. Crikey! Most often we mean well. But struth! We sure screw up sometimes. And Jack and Jude wonder if our plague proportions aren’t affecting all life on this beautiful planet. Isn’t it time to seriously discuss our rapidly increasing numbers.

Cap'n Jack 05-15-2012 11:52 PM

DVD of Far South West Tasmania by sail, kayak and trekking
DVD of Far South West Tasmania by sail, kayak and trekking

I don't want to sound like a tyre kicking capitalist, but we've just produced a 90 minute DVD of our summer in the Far South West of Tasmania and it's great! If you've been reading our blogs, on it are the rivers we've explored, the hunt for Huon Pine remnants, our trek to Tasmania's south coast, and other titbits including a clip of us back in '82 sailing the Coral Sea doing an Amateur Radio expedition. But it costs! Crikey doesn't everything. Got to recover costs - about the price of a counter lunch.

This is the fourth DVD in a series.
The first covers our two year circumnavigation of Australia aboard the SY Banyandah.
Jack and Jude ( She's a Geordie!!) have sailed the Banyandah since building her in Sydney back in 1973, raising two children aboard while sailing the world.

redbopeep 05-16-2012 01:18 AM

Phytophthora? What is this?

Your trip looks amazing, however that Phytophthora looks to be serious stuff.

Cap'n Jack 05-16-2012 02:06 AM

Phytophthora cinnamomi
Hi Redbopeep
It has been a memorable voyage. The addition of a two person kayak has opened up areas we would never have explored. It is getting a tad cold down here, so we're going home for a bit, better let the kids know we're still alive ;>)

Phytophthora cinnamomi is a growing worldwide problem.
P. cinnamomi belongs to a primitive group of fungi-like organisms sometimes called water molds.

While the first record of P. cinnamomi in Tasmania was from a Hobart garden in 1956, surveys in the 1970’s revealed it was widespread in Tasmania suggesting a much earlier introduction to the State. Quite possibly it was introduced in the early years of colonisation by Europeans with the importation of potted plants.

Cap'n Jack 09-20-2012 03:23 AM

Tasmania Cruising Guide ~ electronic format
To all thinking of cruising Australian waters, online we have a cruising guide for most of the popular areas. Filled with anchorages we've personally reconnoitered, they are free to read and download.

Because we have sailed local and foreign waters for nearly 40 years, we know just what is needed to safely command a vessel in strange new areas. Many of the anchorages have GPS positions, depth, bottom, and facilities. The more difficult have aerial views with tracks shown.

We also have a downloadable version of the guide for Tasmania, King Island and the Fourneaux Group in three formats suitable for printing, iPad, iPhone and kindle.

Ebooks are becoming more popular and why not! More photos all in color, easily updated, live links to more information. This one has been updated with 2012 marina prices and information, plus heaps more info on weather and walks, fishing, services.

Dream, Discover, Explore,
Jack and Jude

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