2016 February – Melbourne to King Island

Posted by on February 28, 2016

2016-02 - MONTHLY LOG STATISTICS

Total Sailing time : 37h14m (2234 minutes)
Travelled distance : 412.799 km (222.894 nm)
Average Speed : 11.08 km/h (5.98 knots)
Peak Speed : 20.75 km/h (11.20 knots) on 2016/02/26

2016-02-07 - FROM Melbourne Docklands TO Melbourne Docklands

Trip start : 2016/02/07 11:16:15 (Adjusted Local) (2016-02-07T01:16:15Z UTC)
Trip end : 2016/02/07 12:18:23
Trip Duration : 1h02m (62 minutes)
Start Point : 144.940689,-37.818840
End Point : 144.940933,-37.818889
Travelled distance : 6.898 km (3.724 nm)
Average Speed : 6.67 km/h (3.60 knots)
Peak Speed : 8.96 km/h (4.84 knots)
Straight-line Distance : 0.022 km (0.011 nm)


We celebrated David’s 50th birthday by having the extended Downs family aboard for a day. Siblings Greg and Denise flew down from interstate, mum and dad drove down from Shepparton, Andrew and Chris popped over from Newport, Conrad and family turned up punctually as always, and Belinda eventually arrived after attending a wedding down along the bay.

We went for a little jaunt around Docklands and up the Yarra as far as the first footbridge. We opened the genoa and turned off the engines for about five minutes just to demonstrate that we were actually a sailboat. An enjoyable day!

2016-02-23 - FROM Melbourne Docklands TO Portarlington

Trip start : 2016/02/23 11:07:43 (Adjusted Local) (2016-02-23T01:07:43Z UTC)
Trip end : 2016/02/23 22:56:26
Travelling Time : 5h25m (325 minutes)
Trip Duration : 11h48m (708 minutes)
Start Point : 144.940734,-37.818828
End Point : 144.655258,-38.110130
Travelled distance : 47.662 km (25.735 nm)
Average Speed : 8.79 km/h (4.75 knots)
Peak Speed : 13.48 km/h (7.28 knots)
Straight-line Distance : 40.932 km (22.102 nm)
VMG Average Speed : 7.55 km/h (4.08 knots)


After two and a bit months, it was finally time to throw off the ropes and head to Tassie. Before we left we finished up a few more jobs, including totally rewiring the mast. We moved the 3G antenna to the masthead, installed LMR400 cable to suit the new longer 3G run, replaced the TV antenna (which meant installing a 30cm piece of stainless bar to allow the larger antenna to sit next to the VHF), and installed new LED masthead, steaming and decklights. A very tricky job squeezing all that cable into the conduits inside the mast! David spent many hours swinging in the breeze at the masthead.

LMR400 cable needed to move our 3G antenna to the top of the mast. Compare it to the normal one.

LMR400 cable needed to move our 3G antenna to the top of the mast. Compare it to the normal one.

After a few provisioning and booze trips to the very close-by Woollies, we bid our many dockside friends a fond farewell and motored downstream to the fueldock at Pier35. Wind was very strong and we really struggled to get XTsea safely tied away, but fuel was soon on the way. Encountering the usual problem of the fuel hose not being long enough to get to the other side of the boat, we tried turning around but the props were having very little effect.. especially the starboard one. We resorted to stretching the longer hi-flow hose across and filling via a funnel.

Tanks brimming, we managed to depart by taking advantage of the wind shadow from a large passing container ship and headed off. First stop was Portarlington for the night, and the genoa managed most of the journey before the wind swung around and we had 30 knots on the nose so down it went and the engines went on. Progress was still slow, so David decided to jump in and have a look, suspecting the props were fouled with growth. Sure enough, they had collected some shells and after a quick scrape we were away at speed again.

Tucking in around the Portarlington breakwater, we phoned Anthony McNair, an old mate from our days playing Hockey, and he decided to bring his two young daughters down for a visit. We enjoyed a couple of hours catching up with him, and were entertained no end by his two cuties. They were back ashore by dark, and after dinner we settled in for our first night out of the marina.

Unfortunately sleep was interrupted by a bit of bottom-banging, so we upped anchor and headed out for a bit of depth.

2016-02-24 - FROM Portarlington TO Portsea

Trip start : 2016/02/24 09:01:41 (Adjusted Local) (2016-02-23T23:01:41Z UTC)
Trip end : 2016/02/24 15:10:00
Trip Duration : 6h08m (368 minutes)
Start Point : 144.655227,-38.109809
End Point : 144.741333,-38.325828
Travelled distance : 72.303 km (39.040 nm)
Average Speed : 11.78 km/h (6.36 knots)
Peak Speed : 14.97 km/h (8.08 knots)
Straight-line Distance : 25.170 km (13.591 nm)
VMG Average Speed : 4.10 km/h (2.21 knots)


Next morning we had a slightly delayed departure as the halyard had developed some twists. Once again David was hauled to the masthead in the bosun’s chair. With a bit more sail in the air than the previous day we enjoyed a speedy trip, although the wind was such that we had to tack across the bay a couple of times to get down to Portsea.

2016-02-25 - FROM Portsea TO Lorne

Trip start : 2016/02/25 06:40:00 (Adjusted Local) (2016-02-24T20:40:00Z UTC)
Trip end : 2016/02/25 15:37:51
Trip Duration : 8h57m (537 minutes)
Start Point : 144.740905,-38.325531
End Point : 143.987258,-38.546058
Travelled distance : 94.648 km (51.106 nm)
Average Speed : 10.57 km/h (5.71 knots)
Peak Speed : 17.00 km/h (9.18 knots)
Straight-line Distance : 70.072 km (37.836 nm)
VMG Average Speed : 7.82 km/h (4.22 knots)


Wanting to get through the heads at near slackwater, we departed pretty early. The wind was still wrong for us although the forecast for outside the bay looked better. Motoring through the heads at close to slackwater was still interesting, with a container ship hailing us asking us to clear the channel quickly. We were already heading directly across it at full engines, but you can understand a massive ship constrained by draft being a little nervous. We were out of his way before he completed his turn into the channel so all was well and we soon raised sails and were off.

A very large pod of dolphins escorted us for a couple of hours. These guys were real show-offs, leaping into the air and doing barrel rolls and flips at the bow. The pod was very large, with activity in all directions for hundreds of metres.

Dolphins! Large pod escorted us near Port Phillip Heads.

Dolphins! Large pod escorted us near Port Phillip Heads.

A wind change late in the day made a trip to King Island a bit difficult so we turned right and headed to Lorne for the night instead.

2016-02-26 - FROM Lorne TO Naracoopa, King Island

Trip start : 2016/02/26 04:21:59 (Adjusted Local) (2016-02-25T18:21:59Z UTC)
Trip end : 2016/02/26 17:19:14
Trip Duration : 12h57m (777 minutes)
Start Point : 143.986938,-38.545898
End Point : 144.125167,-39.918380
Travelled distance : 167.647 km (90.522 nm)
Average Speed : 12.94 km/h (6.99 knots)
Peak Speed : 20.75 km/h (11.20 knots)
Straight-line Distance : 153.076 km (82.654 nm)
VMG Average Speed : 11.82 km/h (6.38 knots)


After raising sails for the early start Colleen headed back to bed leaving David in command. A strong wind warning with westerlies had us thinking a quick trip was in order, so we put a reef in the main and started south. Winds were good, generally 20-25 knots with gusts to 35.

Bass Strait is renowned as having a few bumps in it from time to time, and it seemed today would be no exception. Swell from cyclone Winston in the Pacific encountered the westerlies and made the journey a bit uncomfortable for us humans. XTsea did not come away unscathed, with the port trampoline popping, but all parts were recovered giving our mate PJ back at Docklands another repair to do.

Approaching the tip of King Island the winds were making it difficult to get to Currie so we decided to head down the east side instead and we spent the night just north of the jetty at Naracoopa. Plenty of rock around but we arrived with enough light to spot the sand patches.

2016-02-27 - FROM Naracoopa TO Grassy Harbour

Trip start : 2016/02/27 07:36:11 (Adjusted Local) (2016-02-26T21:36:11Z UTC)
Trip end : 2016/02/27 10:22:07
Trip Duration : 2h45m (165 minutes)
Start Point : 144.125030,-39.918319
End Point : 144.063415,-40.064758
Travelled distance : 23.639 km (12.764 nm)
Average Speed : 8.59 km/h (4.64 knots)
Peak Speed : 11.33 km/h (6.12 knots)
Straight-line Distance : 17.108 km (9.237 nm)
VMG Average Speed : 6.22 km/h (3.35 knots)


Motored down to Grassy with occasional use of the genoa. An interesting small harbour to get into but quite comfortable once inside. We picked up a mooring and arranged a hire car for the Monday to see the island properly and visit the renowned Cheese Factory!

After a quick dip in the water and a swim to shore to recover our tender after the line securing it gave way overnight, David spent the Sunday bringing this blog up to date and finishing up the installing of our Webasto diesel heater.

Our new Webasto diesel heater.. about 2/3 of the total. There are 27 hose clamps on the complete unit.

Our new Webasto diesel heater.. about 2/3 of the total. There are 27 hose clamps on the complete unit.

Barge unloading at Grassy Harbour. XTsea is missing a tramp after crossing Bass Strait.

Barge unloading at Grassy Harbour. XTsea is missing a tramp after crossing Bass Strait.

A few of our neighbors at Grassy Harbour

A few of our neighbors at Grassy Harbour

For the last day of February, we hired a car (and had it delivered to Grassy Harbour for an extra $30) and saw the sights of the island. First up we drove into Currie, and on the way passed the 40th parallel.

Forty degrees south. The realm of the Roaring Forties.

Forty degrees south. The realm of the Roaring Forties.

We grabbed a pie each for morning tea at the King Island Bakery. We were tempted to try a Crayfish Pie, but at $15 each they were a bit steep. Then it was off to the northern tip of the island to see the tallest lighthouse in the southern hemisphere.

Cape Wickham lighthouse. At 48 metres it's the tallest in the southern hemisphere.

Cape Wickham lighthouse. At 48 metres it’s the tallest in the southern hemisphere.

Next to the lighthouse is the Cape Wickham Golf Course! Newly opened, it looked magnificent with a view to die for, and fairways that looked like bowling greens. Green Fees are $150 but keen golfers would be happy to pay that.

Cape Wickham golf course. Spectacular, but green fees were $150!

Cape Wickham golf course. Spectacular, but green fees were $150!

Then it was back to the King Island Dairy. They have a cheese tasting room with a range from very light brie to the bluest of blue cheeses. Cheap too! We purchased a bag full for $50.

Colleen at the tasting room at King Island Dairy. Say Cheese!

Colleen at the tasting room at King Island Dairy. Say Cheese!

A bag full'o'cheese for $50. Happy!

A bag full’o’cheese for $50. Happy!

We rounded off the day by visiting the Calcified Forest at the southern tip. It was a struggle to avoid hitting the suicidal wallabies that seemed to swarm the region at dusk. Dinner at the Grassy Club bar finished the day for us.


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