A couple of Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania members, several months ago discussed how wonderful the Furneaux group of Islands are. This progressed to conversations surrounding Deal Island and the Hogan group. Well if we visit the Hogan group (One of these islands is Boarder Island, which defines the Victoria to Tasmania territories at 390.12 S) why not go all the way to Wilsons Promontory? The concept was born, and from March 22nd to April 10th 2016, a fleet to 5 boats experienced some of the best cruising in Tasmanian waters. Eight boats departed Hobart, but due to various business and family constraints, three had to return to Southern Tasmania, using Deal Island as the turn back point.
A tentative schedule was developed, with the Easter break included to allow those that are not enjoying retirement to come along. Serious consideration was given to the tide and related current flows. The effort expended on this analysis provided up to 4 knots of assistance in a few locations along the west coast of Flinders island.
Some of the fleet during the leg from Deal Island to Refuge cove, detoured to the Hogan group to see the area for themselves. Consideration was given to erecting a token Tasmanian flag, but with the gale force winds predicted we suspect that it would have been claimed by Bass Strait very quickly.
At Refuge Cove, obviously a very popular anchorage, our fleet shared the bay with five other vessels. Some were resting after a Fremantle to Victoria leg, others like our own fleet had come from Tasmania, and two were Sydney to Melbourne boats waiting for more favourable wind conditions prior to the final leg into Port Phillip Bay.
Originally there was a CYCT plan to visit Port Albert, but this was abandoned on the advice of the Victorian Ports Harbourmaster for the area. He was of the opinion that navigation across the bar‐way since speaking with him several weeks earlier was now compromised due to the preceding weather conditions causing a deterioration of the channel. He recommended that unless we had “local knowledge” aboard he would advise against this. The flotilla stayed another day in Port Welshpool and thoroughly enjoyed the visit. The meals at the local Pier Port Hotel were absolutely superb, and the publican (John) arranged transport for some of the crew members to travel to Yarram to re‐stock with groceries from the large supermarket there.
On the return journey, Dover Island and Erith Island in the Deal Island area were visited. We noted that two kayakers that had departed from Refuge cove four (4) days previously were resting on Erith Island at West Cove. It was surprising to encounter a 6.5 m Zodiac at Deal Island with four adults and one child who had come from Port Welshpool and were camping in the area.
During the Deal Island to Refuge Cove leg, the fleet was passed by a 5 m long single outboard vessel heading north, who knows from where it commenced its journey? Almost the entire journey was conducted in conditions with the wind at 15 knots or less with the exception of the Badger Island to Binalong Bay on the return journey, which provided 30 knots plus.
It was fortunate that the current was on the ebb as planned and this removed a portion of the sea height while traversing the notoriously rough Banks Strait.
It is difficult to arrive at any conclusion, other than cruising in company with the associated shore barbeques, fishing, camaraderie, and networking of knowledge are near the highlight. The Deal Island group, Clarke and Badger Islands were superb, yielding remarkable scenery, and very good anchorages. For those wishing to visit Deal Island, there are caretakers located on the island above East Cove, and they will provide a brief history and information relating to the attractions on the islands and the key to the small museum. Murray Pass, which is the channel between Dover and Erith Islands to the west and Deal Island to the east, experiences currents of up to 4 knots which ebb to the north. Consequently, insure you are armed with the tidal information prior to a visit there.
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