Finally after many months of anguish and waiting the trip has finally begun, although we still haven’t made it out of Aus yet as were still currently waiting in Eden NSW until next week in the hope of getting some decent winds to blow us to NZ.
We Left George Town last Tuesday in 60Km Winds and quite rough seas for a 24Hr sail to a small Island in Bass Strait called Deal Island where we anchored at for four days.
Sailing to Deal Is was quite straight forward for our maiden voyage into a real sea with no miss haps. I was quite surprised when I walked up to speak to the care takers at Deal Is and was told that they thought we were all crazy to have sailed there when we did in such rough seas and thought we were a boat that was reported missing. I took this as a good thing to hear, as we will definitely be facing much worse weather in the future.
Our time on Deal Island was fantastic. The Island Along with Erith Island and Dover Island which are separated from Deal by a small channel, rise almost vertically up from the sea with spectacular cliffs and large bays with beautiful beaches on them.
Deal Island has a small village of houses, a small museum and various out sheds as there was once a farm on the Island. The village is situated just up a hill from a small jetty and boat shed on the western side. It also has the highest lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere which sits on a huge hill at the edge of a cliff that drops straight to the sea.
There are two care takers on the island at all times, each doing three month blocks on a voluntary basis for Parks and Wild Life. I was told that to become a voluntary care taker on the island you had to be a couple and that there was a three year waiting list before you had your chance at being there as a care taker.
As it was quite windy for our stay, with quite bad anchorages we all had to take turns at visiting the island, with one person staying on the boat at all times in case we dragged anchor.
I spent a good day walking around the Island and was amazed when the care taker offered me the key to the Light House to take for the day. The Light House was decommissioned in 1994 and had been left completely unchanged, so was fantastic to have a look in without the normal Australian restraints of safety signs, tour guides and safety chains preventing you from seeing all the good stuff. Even the generator room was still intact, complete with its old Lister Diesel Generator. Being a Diesel mechanic and seeing such an engine sitting there still being supplied by its 17 year old fuel got the better of me and I had to see if it still went. After bypassing the stop solenoid and finding the crank handle I was amazed that after only two attempts at the crank handle it was away running like the day it had been decommissioned.
We spent our last night anchored on the North side of the Island as the wind had changed and ended up leaving at three in the morning as our anchor was dragging with the swell rolling in, pushing us towards a rocky looking bay.
From deal we had a long 36 hour motor sail up to Eden with no wind which meant one of us had to be steering the boat at all times as the auto pilot requires wind to work.
Once we leave Eden we will be sailing to Nelson, New Zealand.
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