Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Tamar River - Launceston

Hi everyone!

We're winding up our little sojourn in the Tamar River, and we have a lot of catching up to do, so we'll  fill you in over two posts - one about our time in the river and Launceston, and the other about the road trip we took over the last week.

We entered the Tamar River excited and with some trepidation as we'd been regaled by friends with stories of whirlpools and ripping currents! The Tamar is wide, incredibly deep (50 metres in parts!) and has huge 3 metre tides which makes for very strong currents. We timed our entrance so that we didn't have too much current behind us, but even so we flew through the heads at over 8 knots! Fortunately the entrance is very wide and well marked, so it was really fun.

This photo gives a bit of an idea of the currents and whirlpools that are typical along the lower part of the river. Click on the image for a closer look.

3 metre tides!

We stopped at George Town on the eastern side of the river, and then tucked into West Arm on the western side for a few days of relaxation and fishing. Our anchorage was called "Dark Hollow" - very Lord of the Rings!

River sailing is awesome. Flat water! No swell! No rolling anchorages! No worries about wind direction and speed (well, too a point.) Kitty was particularly pleased about the new environment - we hadn't seen her this relaxed since we left the marina at North Haven!

We then spent a couple of days at Beauty Point which is quite pretty, but apparently named after a cow, not its aesthetics. hehe

One thing that surprised us about the Tamar (or perhaps shows how little we knew about it) is the amount of heavy industry along the river, particularly the first third or so. Aluminium, hydro electric ...

... but there were also some really pretty parts too ...

Church at Windermere

Riverside property

Next we travelled under the Batman Bridge and stayed overnight at the pontoon at the Rosevears Hotel - the oldest continuously licensed pub in Australia, apparently. The food was good!

We then headed into Launceston and pulled in to the Seaport Marina where we stayed for two weeks. The marina was excellent - walking distance from the CBD and the best chandlery we've been to since Adelaide, plus - did I mention the tapas bar on the dock?? The marina manager Callum was terrific and gave us heaps of local advice.

The marina is lovely, although as you'll see from the photos below because of the huge tides half of the pontoons dry out for a couple of hours on low tide. It was a pretty amazing sight.  Now, the philosophy we've adopted in Tassie is don't talk environmental politics! Everyone has such a strong opinions and as outsiders, who are we to judge (at least publicly)? We heard three different stories about why the marina is silted out. One person blamed the farmers - too much land clearing and run-off from the farmland. Another blamed the greenies for insisting that a bunch of non-native trees be removed up-river. The third (and I suspect most likely, but who knows) suggested it was the hydroelectric dam on the South Esk river which had stopped the river flooding, leaving nothing to counteract the huge tides bringing the silt in. Not to matter, the local businesses have embraced it with restaurants with names like "Mud" and "Silt" and for yachties its not an issue because Callum gives visiting yachts berths with plenty of water under them.

Now for the coolest part of our time in Lonnie. Within three hours of our arrival word had spread (i.e. the manager Callum had made a phone call) and we were visited by Arnold - the man who built Bass Voyager! It was such a thrill to meet him, and I think he got a kick out of seeing the boat and checking out what had changed. Better yet, the next day Arnold came back with a CD of photos of BV when she was first built!  And it gets better ... a few days later he returned with Bass Voyager's original plans. Such a precious and unique gift! Arnold built BV in Invermay, just a mile or so north of the Launceston marina. How cool is that??!

Anyway, here are couple of fabulous photos from Arnold's collection, during and just after BV's construction, circa 1989.

Most steel boats start out upsidedown...

Look! No rust stains!

OK, so this is a very long post! Sorry!

So we spent the next week exploring Lonnie, and Michael did some great work on the boat, including fixing some issues with the fuel tanks and installing a TV aerial so that we can continue to watch hardly any TV!

Here are a few shots from our time in pretty Launceston.

Beautiful Cataract Gorge - can you believe this is a 10 minute walk from the city??

Monkeys!!! (Japanese Macaques actually, in the City Park!)

OK, well that's pretty much it! Next up, our fantastic road trip around Tassie, checking out some of the amazing inland areas.

Stay tuned sports fans!

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