|Isabella 2, Survival of Bass Strait. (standard:non fiction, 2760 words)
|Author: Andre Linnell
|Added: May 13 2001
|Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
|True story about a yatching holiday turned into a survival test in the most dangerous strait of water Known.
ISABELLA 2. She was named after my mates' wife; he owned the 25-foot Top Hat. A sky blue hull with a white top and decking. A masthead sloop with a tiller instead of a steering wheel. "The last two weeks in March," I said to Dean "Should be a good trip," I half stated, half asked. Dean has fished out in Bass Strait for years and I was keen to find out the pros and cons of my friends planned adventure. I told Dean, "There's three of us going." The owner Alan, his mate Mike who was a yacht racer, and myself, a surfer who had only been on an ocean Liner and a fishing trip in the bay. "So you're going to Tasmania?" he said, "Crossing the paddock can be pretty fruity this time of year." Dean asked, "Have you ever been in big seas?" Nope, never. He said, "Well I hope you get to see it really turn it on. That's another world out there". That it was; we sailed out of Westernport Bay on March 26th at 4p.m. We took the short cut between the Nobbies and Seal Rock, then set a course for Launceston and went at it with two sails up and a slight side to following wind. We were 10 miles out as the sun set and about 300 dolphins joined us. 36 hours later we were sailing up the Tamar River, beautiful scenery on both sides, country scapes and old towns with willow trees bent for a drink. The water like a rippled mirrored sky, gold from the sunrise, grey from the cloud, dark green from the grassy banks and tall trees. The odd sploosh could be heard as a fish surfaced for moths and dragonflies. We spent a lazy two days sailing up and back with a touch of nightlife on the up. The following evening we headed toward Cape Barron Island. We were about an hour or two out from the Tamar entrance as night was falling. We witnessed shafts of white light coming up from the ocean, beaming up underneath the clouds turning them a pinkish - red for about 10 minutes. It was all a distance away but I knew from a past experience that it was the Aurora Australis, The Great Southern Lights or 'The Aura of the Earth'. I explained to the guys how I had driven down a hill in between Korumburra and Pound Creek and had actually driven through this same phenomenon. That time it was 1a.m. and 12 lights were roaring out of grass paddocks 500 metres apart and about 10 metres in diameter, shining up under the clouds and turning them red. I drove in between two of the lights and out the other side then got out of the car, looking back to check my vision and my sanity. Next morning I heard about the phenomenon on the radio. We anchored between Flinders Island and Cape Barron Island, slept the night on board and for breakfast dived for green-lipped abalone. What a meal! We sailed into Lady Barron on Flinders Island the next night for a meal in the Hotel. We held the pool table all night and came back to the boat surprisingly unscathed but too drunk to sail anywhere for a day. The next day was hot and spent onboard overcoming wicked hangovers. That evening at 6p.m. we set sail for home. The weatherman reported a high-pressure system in the Bight so we should have experienced an Easterly wind tending NE by the following night; a nice broad reach all the way home. Too easy! We fished as we left the entrance of Flinders Island and we filled an esky with pike. We put ice on them and tied the esky in the forward cabin, right up in the bow of the boat. The boys slept and I was on the helm steering all night until 5.30a.m. By the time Alan and Mike awoke we had a nice swell hitting the right side of the boat, Starboard. The waves were approx. one metre higher than the side of the Isabella and she was sliding up and over them with ease. The yacht has 3 tonne of lead in the big fin underneath,'the keel', so she self rights if toppled over. My turn to sleep, Mike on the helm and Alan trimming sail, etc. By the time I went down stairs into the galley, stripped off my wet gear and put on dry clothes the swell had increased. I could hear a slight roar as some of the waves broke into whitewater. The boys were facing the Click here to read the rest of this story (187 more lines)
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