After our landing in Flinders Island, we headed toward Badger Island where we scored three big flathead in less than a couple of hours and sighted not less than seven fishes. They were very playful and responded handsomely to the lures. Good fun.
We then made sail for Bridport. From there, we were visiting Ben’s family, his aunts and especially his nan; who is a cricket fan (the ICC was then on);a very amazing person, strong minded and amazingly alert being 97 years old.
So Inara was landed on the beach in Bridport. We were spending most of the day at the family house. Bridport is a small town which sport a caravan park, a salmon farm, few shops but nonetheless a fishing activity on the decline. The ferry for Flinders Island (loaded with cattle) leaves from there several times a week. The creek being quite narrow and shallow we had no other choice than getting out of the way of the steel barge that sometimes run aground even at high tide. With the cows onboard panicking and carrying on, it’s somewhat funny, a pure glimpse of Tasmania.
Other things are less glamorous though. For example, at some times on Saturdays, the water of the creek turns as black as coal and thick even at high tide just next to the salmon farm. Curiously, we never have seen any sign of fish, bait fish or even normal proof of life in this creek… The soldiers crabs are very few and look a bit sick. Even if the water is very clear most of the days, the global feeling is very similar to Moreton bay. Highly contaminated from the farms… But apparently EPA doesn’t have a strong word in Tasmania.
Anyway, a couple of days before the very important match (ICC) between India and Australia, we came back at night to our boat. A Westerly change was forecast this night with winds in the 25-30 knots range.
We noticed another boat was beached 500 meters far from us downstream to the northwest. This fishing trawler didn’t seem of any threat at all being very far.
Around 1 am, the change kicked in, just at the top of the tide (Murphy Law). Strong winds and battering rain (and probably some instinct) pulled Ben out of bed (I usually stay nice and warm buried under mounts of blankets) to check if the anchor was holding alright. We were then floating in 1.5 meters of water. Behind us, 25 meters away, was a big solid wooden pole delimitating the channel. I wasn’t too worried, we have a good anchor and those blows usually last just over half an hour.
When, all sudden, I hear the voice of Ben panicked (extremely rare, my skipper being of the cool headed sort):
“Anna, come on deck, the trawler, it’s gonna get us!”
Before I understand how, in a quarter of a second, I am in the cockpit, naked and shivering while the rain was drawing curtains all around us. I wasn’t cold though; so much my heart was racing. I could make out clearly the ominous dark form coming straight toward us at 2 knots, pushed by the tide and the shrieking wind. Thirty tons of screaming unforgivable metal with no one onboard which was aiming to grab our anchor pin us against the pole and reduce us to splinters in the blink of the eye. Absolutely nothing could be done and both our heads were racing to find a solution in the longest 20 seconds of our sailing life. Already our body were running around setting the outboards and getting ready for impact. I was on the verge of crying, praying, busting for a miracle to happen when suddenly Ben exclaims with relief, joy and emotion (also very unlikely, him being of the reserved sort):
“It’s gonna miss us, oh my God, It’s missing us!!!”
And it did. Against all odds, the current and the wind sightly pushed the Abomination and it passed just a couple of meters away from our delicate shiny sterns. That’s when you know that both our mums have been sacrificing to the right gods to grant us safe life at sea. When you think that you did well to release such and such fish and somewhere maybe someone is counting for all the bit of plastic you have been fishing out of the ocean.
That’s when the air seems lighter and the rain warm even when it is actually icy. This great feeling of immense gratitude directed towards everything on Earth for sparing Inara.
We watched the Thing going into the main stream of the flowing creek, turned around a couple of times before it hit the river bank on the other side. It hung there, looking as it wanted a second go at us, revengeful and full of hatred for nice shiny looking fast catamarans.
After a couple of hours watching the tide starting to recede, we finally were convinced that it couldn’t come back toward us and grind us to pieces. We went back to bed. I was seriously praying for this Horror to either sink (and block the ferry, haha), either to be taken out at sea with the ebbing tide and never be heard of, ever again. It would only have been fair for the owner.
Oh, did I mention that the owner DID NOT PUT ANY ANCHORS OUT WHILE BEACHING!!!???
He just let that Monstrosity on the beach, on its own, with absolutely no anchors, while a westerly change was forecast and went back to his home to warm his feet to the fire. Nooo Wooorries maaaate…!!! What a moron!
Anyway, in the early hours of the morning, we heard a huge splash. The Bloody trawler was back in the water for God’s sake! It had fallen from the high bank it was hanging to. A nice fall of two meters that put it a bit on its side and it started taking water. Finally!!!! Yeaaah!!!
Alas, the tide was still ebbing and before the water had finished its work on burying this mountain of worries, the owner was back. He was quite surprised, the damn fellow to find his boat taking the water on the other side of the river. “How this can possibly happen?” he might have thought.
Ben went to have a serious talk with him but he quickly realized the depth of the guy’s wits when he sheepishly announced:
“Well, back in the days, we used to beach it there and it wouldn’t go anywhere.”
Yeah sure, and back in the day, the tides were smaller too?
Anyway, he eventually emptied the water out of his boat and put it back afloat. And then he beached it on the exact same spot, a bit on higher ground. He put an anchor out, a small one. Ben went to give him a tide chart and he also he told him that the tides were going to the neap tide, meaning the range was getting smaller. We put Inara a bit higher, just to be sure that we would be out of reach for the Monster. We missed the very important cricket match India VS Australia because we were so worried for Inara, so we stayed aboard (with the radio on the cricket though…)
The obvious thing happened: His boat didn’t float on the next high tide and neither on the following one. After being a great Danger for the creek users, it was stuck for good!
But the story doesn’t stop here, for the next three following days, the owner brought a huge pump and he literally dug his boat out of the beach, moving hundred of kilos of sand. Finally, it worked and the Thing left a huge hole of 10 X 3 meters in the sandbank.
Ben joked saying “You think he will tie his boat to the jetty or just leave it there without any mooring line thinking that it would be alright?”.
Apart from this, I fell in love with Tasmania. I mean : “Waaahoo!!!”. This island gives you so much a feeling of freedom and wilderness; the air is sooooooo clean, the wildlife is everywhere, there are creeks at every corner and mountains tickling the horizon. There is also a strong spirit of self sustainability, largely increased these last decade, so you can find locals dairies (cheese, yogurt), veggies grown by the amish, free range everything, RAW honey and a larger range of organic products than on the continent. And all the fruits that we get in Europe (similar climate), and the seafood and so on….
What about the TASMANIANS though? Well, they sure are not the best welcoming people on Earth. But you can’t really hold a grudge against them when you consider that most of them live in semi isolation in farms or acreages and that they go through a very hard winter copping with all those westerlies coming from the Antarctic…. Brrrr…. And if they all look alike, it’s because they are not so many cousins you can actually marry. (hahaha) Joke apart, I think they are two very distinct categories of people in Tasmania: the farmers/ loggers/ miners and the hippies/ greenies/alternative genre. They have fought well for twenty years now, but in the last years, I would say the second group (which I like a lot) is having the upper hand.
Anyway, with all of that, Tasmania has a plethora of National Parks (none of them free by the way, but we usually never enter through a door; coming from the water; so, we don’t pay). And also Tasmania has this delicate trendy development taste for eco-tourism; in their first priorities: MOUNTAIN BIKING !!!! YEAHHH!!
Oh yeah, I forgot to explain: the BenAnna Team is an “Aquatic” team in … Summer (or when the temperature is over 20C in the water) with plenty of windsurfing, spearfishing, snorkeling, fishing. But in… Winter, we change our coats and we jump our MTB 29er that we love so much.
It happens that they built the ultimate last MTB complex in Derby, Tasmania. They did it for the Worl wide Cup in May 2015 and it opened in February. We were there in April…. J. Just awesome, there is no other word for it. The complete loop is around 20 km, taking you through not less than 5 different types of forests. The track is PERFECT with heaps of obstacles, boulder riding, bumps, jumps, rock garden, mud and an endless succession of smooth beams while going down. It’s unbelievable the work they have done through such a beautiful valley, culminating at the top around the 200-300 m climb, a stream in the middle, gullies with tree ferns, huge massive eucalypts several centuries old. A day there and it’s a journey you would never forget.
What else happened in Tasmania worth saying…? Heaps, but I will shorten this post already long. We caught up with a friend and went walking up to the Myall waterfall and then to the plateau. A good hike, the top being at 1600 m. We came back knacked, well past dark.
Oh and Port Sorel. At the moment it’s probably the most probable place I would think of, if I was buying a block of land. It’s just awesome. A nice clear river, sea anchorage, national park around, the best French bakery up to now, wildlife absolutely EVERYWHERE and the state reserve free of people up to the Tamar river. Briggs reserve is criss crossed by trails, forest trails, and fire trails, pretty hilly, awesome mountain biking. There is NO ONE (no car allowed, and no tourists hiking as the smallest loop is 20km); it’s not advertised, it so beautiful and perfect.
Anyway, I loved Tasmania and I am looking forward to go back there. Here are some of the animals we had the chance seeing while there: Wombats, Potorroos, Benett’s wallaby, Echnidae, Yellow Wattle birds, King Parrot, Tiger snake.