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Southern Spars

Van Diemen's Land Circumnavigation Cruise

by Brian Golland on 6 Jun 2011
Van Diemen’s Circumnavigation Cruise VDLCC http://www.ryct.org.au
The bi-annual 'Van Diemen's Land Circumnavigation Cruise' of Tasmania, arguably the most southerly rally in the world, has been a regular summer event since 1990. When the rally took place this year in February, Brian Golland was there on the yacht Tradition, and here is his account, the first in a multiple-part series:

Some of the sailors joining the cruise, which is open to all-comers, had to cross Bass Strait between the Australian mainland and Tasmania just to get to the departure point. Several of those were members of Queenscliff Cruising Yacht Club (QCYC), a club situated on Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay, and to which I belong. The Clubs hosting the cruise are the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania and Royal Geelong Yacht Club. Over 40 vessels took the journey.

The cruise started and ended in Hobart, and Murray McKay and others were with me on Tradition, a Hans Christian 41.

Tradition left Hobart from 'Royals' on Wed 16th Feb taking off around the southern extremities of Tassie to Port Arthur on the first night anchoring off for the night following a terse afternoon beating into a rough northerly.


On Thurs we headed around to Fortescue Bay and as a southwester hit, changed plans and hid in Canoe Bay behind an old wreck from 1953 (William Pitt) set to provide a cover for fishing boats.

On Friday a course was set for Bryan’s Corner in the Schouten Passage - a distance of approx 60 Nm. A BBQ and meeting of many crews on the beach late afternoon saw everyone gather with forecast changes in weather for the next few days.


Saturday saw a difficult day on the anchorage with increasing wind resulting in a dragging anchor just before midnight, when a decision was made to make a dash for Wineglass Bay rather than try re anchoring or moving closer to another anchorage.

This saw Tradition sail in 2 to 3 metre seas under medium conditions with a following sea and wind, to Wineglass Bay arriving around 2.30am. We settled on a quiet glass of Maple Syrup Whiskey before retiring.

Whilst in Wineglass, Sunday proved windy and disturbed, but two of the crew decided on adventures ashore and took off in the dinghy in 34 knots of breeze! Tacos and hot scones late afternoon provoked the crew’s return and a quiet night with IPod music from our Canadian crew member in Art eased us to bunks later in the night.


Monday the 21st saw us decide to take off in brisk conditions out of Wineglass around 10am, making up the east coast past many favourite towns including Bicheno and St Helens before anchoring in Skeleton Bay at 7.40pm, having progressed around 60 Nm for the day.


Anchoring 200 metres from shore in the lee of the township just outside the kelp beds to the south west was opportune. Art cooked up a lovely stir fry of mixed leftovers and washed with a lovely white wine to toast the day’s journey.

The next part of the cruise was now around into Banks Strait toward the Tamar River and Tuesday 22nd saw Tradition and others out in a slight offshore swell at 615 am and with a flood tide decided to miss Clarke Island and Flinders Island due to weather and make for Foster Inlet.

By 9.15 am Tradition was off Eddystone Light, and around 1pm heading over a spot of shoal ground in very confused but short swells before approaching Foster Inlet and anchoring in the south west corner beside another large yacht of the fleet. Unfortunately the tide was running and held Tradition sideways against the prevailing wind and swell and this proved a very uncomfortable afternoon and early evening.


The crew conference determined that with a change of tide and a settling wind toward evening our position would smooth on anchorage and as this occurred we settled for a lasagne dinner and a beautiful sunset!

Again with an early start on Wednesday Tradition headed for the Tamar and whilst enjoying a lovely morning sail, Simon, who had had lots of experience, gave the crew a quick lesson in management of the Fleming Self Steering system.

By 10 am the vessel was under Waterhouse Island and skipper Murray seized the opportunity to have a spinnaker set for a short while.

At around 2.30 pm the vessel approached Tenth Island with the large seal colony, so a deviation of course was necessary to say hello.

Finally now we were making for the Tamar River and after negotiating the marks, Tamar Yacht Club’s 'Patrick the Bosun' guided Tradition to a secure berth after a day of over 60 Nm. A quiet night follows.


Simon who joined in Hobart now headed back to Hobart. Thanks for the ride Simon!

Thursday brought a lovely day and a decision to progress up river to Rosevear’s landing and the famous pub. By midday Tradition was well on the way and tied up at their pontoon mid afternoon.

The Tamar is very interesting and eddies and flows of the river made for some helming sensations as they grabbed hold of the hull! While arriving Tradition and crew got a welcoming wave from the crew of 'Archer' who had a wonderful lunch in the garden.


A few local bikies were attracted to the yacht as Tradition sat on the pontoon and, as it happens, the crew ended up entertaining a Point Lonsdale couple who were passing on business.

Dinner was lovely in chicken wings with some roast vegies and followed by a Murray special in 'Peaches Rosevear' for desert with ice cream and maple syrup whiskey topping!

Friday on the pontoon saw another crew member in Murray’s wife, Julie arriving to join the crew for a few days. Making for the opposite side of the river the crew took on a short walk around the old church and history of the local cemetery before enjoying a lovely steak dinner with red wine complementing.

At ten days into the cruise on Saturday 26th Feb, Tradition made an early start to ride the ebb tide back to Tamar Yacht Club and in just three hours we were fuelling and nudging a berth with the club.


The crew erected the beautiful 'boom tent' over Tradition and attended a BBQ with the committee and members of the Tamar Yacht Club for the evening. This gathering was the first combined group of Van Dieman’s Land (VDL) cruise which included the afternoon arrivals of Geelong, Victorian and Queenscliff boats.

Sunday 27th began delightfully with a warm day and some early walks to town followed by most people attending the local hotel for a very reasonably priced and attractive lunch on the sunny deck.

After a quiet afternoon discussing plans for the next few days all crews were welcomed to the Tamar Yacht Club official dinner for the VDL cruise and approx 140 people crammed inside to enjoy both the superb food and great service given by the committee. It was a night of celebration and continues till late!

to be continued...

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