Straight down to Straight Up

Dot points are my saviour. Dot points and antibiotics – they are the things that enable me to make sense of the past ten days. 

  • At the dock in Kettering, catching up with our friends on Gusto.  On Sunday 24 November I become aware of a little sore just inside my right nostril. All of us on Bella Luna are afflicted with this now and again – usually when we spend time in cities after being remote for a while. No big deal.
  • Next day, sore still in situ. I feel very under the weather and stay in bed most of the day, getting up. only to cook bolognese and drink red wine. The thing in my nose seems to be trying to move in on that upper-lip moustachian area. Yellow and crusty. I assume it’s a rogue coldsore. 
  • It gets worse over the following days. Invades the other nose hole. My face starts looking like an overcooked pizza. I stay in bed feeling depleted, but not too depleted to crochet. As my face erodes I assemble the blanket I’ve been meaning to work on for a year. 
315/365 • ...such a beautiful day - my small blanket is 75% done. Trying to keep positive about sorting out a block of land here... trying... •
(A photo from a bit later after the whole drama.)
  • Thursday night I ring Healthline and they put me through to a GP. I text her some pictures of my face. “Looks like a staph infection.” 
  • I tell her we have a bountiful medical kit, courtesy of our overseas trip. I read out the names of all the drugs and when I say ‘Staphlex 500’ she says, “That’s the one.” I start taking them – waking up in the middle of the night because it says FOUR TIMES A DAY, EVERY SIX HOURS. I am convinced these things will be a magic bullet because I haven’t used antibiotics since 2010. Obviously I am RIPE for antibiotic magic. *
  • I take the goddamn drugs religiously. Every morning a Small comes in to check on pizza face. I have NEVER been in bed this long. I can get up and wander about, but I feel depleted. Face is cracked, crusty and bleeding. No improvement. 
Small DB delivering me my breakfast tray.
  • On Saturday M takes us to Copper Alley Bay where we again borrow our friend’s mooring. I wave to Copper Alley Bay out the window. 
  • On Sunday I have red streaks on my arms and right leg. We head up the Huon River to Huonville, where I know we can tie to the dock and walk to a medical clinic.
  • At 3pm I see Dr Lemon. I dislike him intensely once he starts laughing hysterically at the packet of medicine I’ve been hoping is my holy grail. He’s laughing because he’s seen it’s two months out of date.
    “Are you telling me that once they hit the use by date they stop working?” I am sure this is not correct – surely I’ve read about out of date medications being sent to the needy?
    “They’re an organic compound, so yes, they probably do.” I slump.  “What do you do for a job?” he enquires.
    I struggle to find the relevance, but maybe it’s a crucial part of my medical history.
    “I travel, I parent.”
    “Hmmmm. OK.” he sounds dubious. “OK. I’m going to prescribe you a different antibiotic – Keflex – and if you see no improvement by tomorrow afternoon you’re going to have to get yourself to hospital.” I gape at him. My face cracks a little further. “Ow. Where’s the hospital?” 
    “The Royal. The Royal Hobart Hospital.”
  • Gah. He draws a line around the red streaks under my right arm and inner right elbow. He laughs loudly again while telling me he won’t draw around the one on my face, but how it was SO FUNNY when he had to treat a 10-year-old with a staph infection on his face and had to draw a big line around it. I can’t get out of there fast enough. 

    [This is where I acknowledge my dot-pointing has been overun with needless exposition, but that doctor – he was terrible.]

I go to the chemist with my prescription for Keflex. The pharmacist looks at me with concern. I am a cornflake faced zombie. I tell her that I did not like the doctor I just saw, and does she think it would be reasonable for me to get a second opinion before filling the prescription? She encourages me to do so. 

“But the other medical clinic is full — they’re not taking on new patients.”

She looks at me. “Don’t worry – if you turn up there, believe me, they will see you. I’d drive you up there, but I’m the only one on duty.”

She’s right, I get seen straight away by two nurses and then a doctor. I am sent away with a different prescription and told to return the next day. New drugs do nothing. When I reappear they tell me to get myself to the Royal, so I get in a taxi to the emergency department, where I sit for an hour or so.

“Next,” calls one of the nurses behind the counter, and the whacked out crim who came in after me starts to make his way over. By that time I am done. Very very done. I growl menacingly through my crackled up cornflake face, “I DON’T THINK SO.” And he apologises profusely, sitting back down.

and spend the night out the back of the ED in a chair. They whack in an IV and antibiotic me – my neck starts getting itchy and the red streaks increase. Where is Hugh Laurie? Strung out on Vicodin elsewhere. 

They decide I have two ailments; the infection (cornflake face) and a reaction to penicillin (red streaks). Another bag of stuff (clindomyacin) is pumped into me and for the following two nights I’m given a bed. Hallelejah. Face begins to improve. Red streaks remain but don’t worsen. I’m on the mend. Heartrate normal. 

They let me out mid-morning and I make a beeline to <strike>heaven</strike> ‘Straight Up’ – the best cafe in Hobart. I am SO HAPPY TO BE OUT! I seem to get puffed out quite easily, so I go slow,and when I pass Spotlight and cross the road and make it into the cafe, this is what I get;

Egg and soldiers. The BEST.

(It is my current belief that you don’t hear a great deal of complaining about the absence of nutrition in the abysmal hospital food that is provided because people are so relieved to be discharged (as opposed to dead) that it immediately fades from their consciousness.   The food at the Royal isn’t even made on the premises, it arrives,  already compiled, in trucks – the predictable result of witless privatisation.)

I did not feel up to getting a bus back to Port Huon, where Bella Luna was hanging out with Gusto (their draught is so deep that it’s as far as they could get up the river) so I took myself to a blessed AirBnB in West Hobart and took the worlds longest shower.

The following day my friend Juleen happened to be in town and she drove me back to the boat. The Smalls were so happy that my zombie face had healed 🙂

A much better view than the hospital wall.

•  Note: I was delusional. It’s the infection I should hope has not been exposed to antibiotics, not my own self. 

Maria Island. Kettering. Hooray!

Maria Island is a crazy place, soaked in history, swarming with wombats and kangaroos. It used to have a cement factory, it used to have a vineyard… Now there are mostly ruins. Because of the whims of the wind we bypassed Darlington – the main harbour where the visitor’s centre and main campground – and continued on into Chinamans Bay.

Shoreline. Maria Island.
Shoreline and runaway float.

It is a very photographical place – the light! The lack of people! The wombats and wallabies! The old bits of china in the areas that used to be inhabited. Soooo many old bricks.

DB, heading down to the trees. Maria Island. Tasmania.
DB and the two trees.

Stayed for two or three nights, moving from one side of the bay to the other, according to the wind – which barely ever backed off. M had a win catching his first ever squid – he caught three!! Cooked them up for lunch on our way to Kettering – 🏆- for people down to powdered milk and carrots, they were extremely splendid.

Across the grasses on my solo walk.
The old cellblocks. Maria Island.
The old cellblock.
308/365 • ...jigging for squid - got three - super inky!! Thanks @leochskratta - Dino taught us well ✔️  •
Jigging for squid.

We left Maria Island at about 4am, disgustingly early (not that I got up for two more hours) and reached the Denison Canal before 8am – thus we had to anchor and wait until there were people around to answer our call requesting that they open the bridge and let us through. It feels like cheating to take such a shortcut – avoiding the Tasman Peninsula – but we have been that way in the past. I always feel a bit fancy – all the traffic stops (and this time all the roadwork had to stop), the bridge swings open and we glide on by…

309/365 • ...and we’re through the Denison Canal about to go past the Dunalley Fish Market. They had to stop the roadworks and all the traffic to open the bridge for us 😆•
Dunalley Fish Markets – on the Denison Canal

Kianinny Bay to Erith Island

The Smalls and I spent the day (Tuesday 22 October 2019) pretending Jean’s house was ours. Washing clothes, baking a lemon and yoghurt cake and making chocolate chip biscuits. (Oh it is excellent to have an oven!) I diligently fried the many zucchini I’d bought on sale into fritters. Tidied our bedroom, had a bath, oversaw sibling savageries… and thoroughly neglected my intention to ravish the lemon tree and the garden greens. I fear there may be some kind of mutiny in the Kent Group when our ‘fresh food’ is found to be largely carrots and frozen peas…

Down at the boat ramp, Jean and I saw M, ever the labrador, sitting in the backseat of someone’s dual cab ute. Everyday he seems to be getting on better with the locals, but this raised it more than a notch or two. Then the driver turned his head – it was a different version of M – his older brother Graeme. What the?! Such a surprise to see him, but also not so much. A (now retired) legendary abalone diver, he knows the underwater terrain of this section of coast better than almost anyone. We caught up with him for a couple of hours – it was lovely to see him and his wife. We took them up to Jean’s house and had a cup of tea.

283/365 • baked spuds on the back deck 💫👌❤️ •

Later we dined on burgers on the back deck and followed dinner with a weather meeting. It was decided to leave at daybreak and head to Erith Island – with Plan B being Lakes Entrance. We left at 6am. Ermahgerd – there was SO. LITTLE. WIND. Never have we motored for so far for so long. Inside my secret head I had wanted to stay at Kianinny until Thursday morning when there was a definite northerly, but unfortunately, a massive low from the west was predicted to move through and munch us up if we dared to try it.

We motor-sailed and motor-sailed. Then sailed. Then motored. Ford St Clair was somewhat disappointed in the benign conditions throughout. He felt cheated of the experience of ‘real sailing’ – completely oblivious to how lucky we were. We arrived at West Cove on Erith Island at about 3am on Friday 25 October – it took about two days for me to recover from the night-watches and sleep debt, which was fine – because the weather was BALLISTIC.

Williwaw: in meteorology, a williwaw is a sudden blast of wind descending from a mountainous coast to the sea. The word is of unknown origin, but was earliest used by British seamen in the 19th century. The usage appears for winds found in the Strait of Magellan, the Aleutian Islands and the coastal fjords of the Alaskan Panhandle, where the terms outflow wind and squamish wind are also used for the same phenomenon. On Greenland the word piteraq is used.
The williwaw results from the descent of cold, dense air from the snow and ice fields of coastal mountains in high latitudes, accelerated by the force of gravity. Thus the williwaw is considered a type of katabatic wind.

Ford St Clair was the most adventurous of our crew – though M wasn’t far behind him. For the first couple of days, other than visiting the hut, the Smalls and I ventured out for one Big Walk and Climb each day. The wind stole our breath. This is what a williwaw looks like:

Williwaw. Erith Island. Kent Group.

Imagine an arctic slashing slice of wind periodically scything through whatever happens to be in it’s path. Kind of like being run down by an angry ghost. Obviously we dug out our ‘Tasmania clothes’ – which have lain long-neglected in the back of the wet-weather cupboard.

The hut remains intact and I was so happy to see it – just as we all got inside for the first time, it began to rain, and we had shelter – as well as the potential for a fire in the woodstove and a few tunes on the resident guitar.

The hut. Erith Island. Kent Group.
Inside the hut. Erith Island.
Shelf in the hut. Erith Island. Kent Group.
Our entry in the visitor's book on Erith Island back in 2016.

Bermagui, Tathra and Kianinny Bay

The Bermagui Wharf is excellent. The people of Bermagui, by and large, are also excellent. It is quite possible I would be happy to spend a month or two tied up to the jetty – however, space is at a premium because of ongoing construction work, so it’s probably not an option.

Zoe! Bermagui skate bowl.

We frequented the library, the excellent Mister Hope cafe, went for walks (some went for more than others) and watched fishing boats leaving and returning with fish and cockles. Ate too many chips. Our autopilot part was delivered – we were just waiting on the wind.

Rafted up with Tarangua
Tangarau and Bella Luna rafted up together at Bermagui

On Thursday the Smalls and I awoke to find the trimaran Tarangau rafted up alongside us, and M looking gleeful – new people to chat to! Weirdly, he already knew them – Tarangau had just been sailed out of the same boatyard that we occupied for ten years. I was so intrigued to see the interior because for many years we had the 24ft version of the same boat.

Dinner on Tarangau.
Dinner on Tangarau: Zoe, DB, me, Chris, Ford.

Deb, one of the Tarangau crew, made us dinner (despite the to-ing and fro-ing of the captain on when we were actually going to leave). The Smalls and I ate a bowl of hot veg with butter – that boat is so comfy! Eventually farewelled Bermagui just as the sun was going down, disentangling from our new mates at the jetty – they were staying one more night.

It seemed to take FOR-EV-ER to get to Tathra – once the lights of the town became visible they seemed to remain the same distance away for hours and hours. We’d left late to take advantage of the wind turning around. At about midnight we were close enough to the wharf to be dazzled by the floodlights they have going at night. Anchored. There was considerable motion in the ocean, which abated when a southerly came through at about 4am.

279/365 • dropped anchor in Tathra at midnight last night, didn’t get mcih sleep, but woke up to a nearby whale, a beautiful morning, and @jindi_and_co @neisha_noodle33 and @lucyj9 waiting for us on the wharf 💛 •
Anchored in Tathra.

By 10am we were on the jetty with our friends and having a coffee in the cafe. We then trooped to the op-shop and found Small Z a pair of hiking boots, before heading toward Kianniny and Jean’s beautiful house. I felt to lucky to be able to have another opportunity to visit!! The Smalls and I stayed over there Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights – it was bliss – particularly as I’ve been feeling under the weather, and Small DB was heading the same way.

We baked a cake, made biscuits, took Jindi the Bordoodle for walks, and the Smalls had a riot of a time in the backyard on the rope swing with Small N and Small L. I made a frightening attempt at playing beach volleyball on Sunday morning (my first effort since Year 10) and we all went for a whale sighting sail.

There were no whales. “Where are all the whales,” M asked the world at large. A whale appeared not far away. “Oh. There they are!”

A daysail, and Kianinny Bay.

After sailing for a couple of hours we took Bella Luna into Kianniny Bay – something I’d been hoping to do ever since I saw it. We managed it with M’s judicious use of ropes and anchors. The former port and starboard, the latter – front and back. The locals were confounded – apparently we were the second catamaran in 13 years to do such a thing.

View this post on Instagram

281/365 • 💙 Anchoring in Kianinny Bay 💙•

A post shared by 🐦 Beth ⚓️ (@bellalunaboat) on

I did not pay the anchorage quite the attention I would have had I not had an awesome house five minutes walk up the hill to covet.

M and Ford St Clair did some snorkelling and stingray watching, Small Z and Small N jumped off a few high rocks, Jean went home to bake a lemon polenta cake, and All Was Very Good.

Kianinny stingray.

You say goodbye, I say hello. Bermagui redux.

As soon as we returned from spending a couple of nights away from the boat it was action stations. Stupid amounts of shopping. Wrapping one’s head around the possibility of not seeing a shop for two or three weeks. Trying and failing to concoct meal plans and shop accordingly. M held himself admirably in check as the boat sank lower into the water with the influx of tinned food, long life milk, rice… The freezer was packed to the top.

276/365 • late afternoon 💫 •
Bermagui late afternoon light.

It felt rushed. We left Bermagui on Friday 11 October 2019. The sky was grey, there were mists of rain in the air. We headed out to sea – east – with the aim of obtaining a good angle to get to the Kent Group in Bass Strait. The wave action made the Smalls and I fairly miserable. We sucked on Minties and endured.

Then the autopilot choked. Even at the time I was grateful that if it had to happen, it happened then. Last time, the dark of the night made everything much, much harder. It was an opportunity to Ford St Clair to the realities of Life on the Sea. Sails down, rudders up – M dismantled the helm and began poking about.

A ship chugged by, less than a mile away – never radioed to ask if we were OK – a catamaran free floating on the waves. Fuckers. After about an hour I voiced the opinion that we should head back to port while we still had the light. It was agreed. We motored the majority of the way back to Bermagui, each of us taking turns steering.

It became increasingly cold – we tied back up to the jetty in the rain – a young guy from one of the trawlers came out into the weather to give us a hand. ❤️ Blessedly, Ford’s passage meal had been kept warmed in the Thermocooker – a lamb and chickpea soup. Couldn’t imagine a more appropriate food. I had three bowls full and we all retreated to bed.

274/365 • DB and I squeezed quietly out of the hatch above the bed this morning and went to check out #misterhope for a coffee and a game of chess ♟ •
DB and I escaped in the morning, to the excellent Mister Hope.

I will finish via dot points:

  • a boat pulled up behind us the next day – their identical autopilot had also died in the same manner;
  • after a little persuasion we were allowed to stay another week at the jetty;
  • new autopilot parts took only a few days to arrive;
  • now it is fixed!
  • we had a visit from Jean and Jindi ❤️;
  • I felt very unsecretly glad at what had befallen us, and hope that when the wind turns up that enables us to leave, it will be a sunny day with flatter seas.
273/365 • no real hardship being back in Bermagui, we are waiting for a new motor for our autopilot (as is the yacht right behind us on the jetty - same autopilot, same issue). Such a beautiful sunshine soaked day today - here are Jean, Jindi and I on the
Jean, Jindi and me.