Distance run in the last 14hrs; 46.7NM
Average speed; 3.3KN
Weather; SW by W force 3-4 skies gradually clearing, temperature 13.8°
At 1300 the call comes for some sails to be set; the Fore topsail and the Main topsail, so all watches are called on deck to go aloft and unfurl the sails. The wind is blowing a comfortable force 3-4 (7-16 knots) north by west, which is ideal for us to head South into Refuge Bay, Port Arthur where we will sit quietly until the short, sharp low pressure passes us during the early hours of the morning. The tell-tale sign of the front approaching is the barometric pressure which dramatically starts to fall, even though we still have calm seas, light winds and blue skies. By 1350 the wind drops off completely and we start the engines to try and make sure we arrive into Port Arthur before sunset.
At 1700 we pass the wondrous natural formation of Cape Raoul. A sight that from the distance looks like organ pipes on the cliff front. This is a very familiar sight for any vessel competing in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
We arrive slightly later than planned at 1920 and we anchor nearby the infamous Isle of Dead. The Isle of Dead is a graveyard for the penal settlement of Port Arthur from 1833 to 1877. There are approx. 1000 people buried on this small Island ranging from officials, soldiers, seaman, convicts, invalids, paupers and lunatics. Port Arthur is said to be one of the most haunted sites in the world although it is such a picturesque setting it is hard to imagine its cruel history.
Tonight we will keep anchor watch with the voyage crew only doing an hour of watch as not all persons are required on deck. The night orders are written up and there are particular details of procedures for the foreboding front. Upperyardsman Mark is on watch at 0400-0600 with John, Greg and Paul when at 0450 the wind increases from 5-6 knots to 10 knots. Over the mountainous landscape Mark notices a monstrous, sinister, black cloud heading our way. The wind puts our stern towards the creepy Isle of Dead and our bow facing Port Arthur. As per standing orders, Mark goes down to wake Dirk the chief officer to notify him of the threatening weather and by the time they both arrive back up on deck moments later, the wind has increased to 20 knots and the anchor cable is bar tight. Dirk asks Mark to wake Captain Ross and let him know the pre-empted situation, again once back up on deck with the Captain just moments later, the wind has increased to thirty knots and the sinister cloud is heading our way. The chief engineer is given a shake to stroke the cats (start the engines.) The rest of the Foremast watch and some of the professional crew are woken up to standby to weigh anchor, in haste that the anchor is going to drag in these strong winds and sure enough she does. We start to slowly drag towards the Isle of Dead. It is no longer looking picturesque with the pitch black cloud looming over us, occasionally showing a glimpse of the full moon that casts eerie shadows of the trees bending in half. Sheets of cold, sharp, stinging, horizontal rain is now hitting us with ferocity, and to the sounds of the screaming winds now gusting 57 -60 knots, the Isle of dead is slowly getting closer and closer off our stern. Foremast do a sensational job of weighing anchor and persevering in the icy cold wet weather as do some of the professional crew who are still in their pyjamas! Once the anchor is aweigh we are feeling the full force of the wind and are soon being blow sideways towards the island. In not a moment too soon the ship is turned away from the lee shores and moves to more safer waters.
From the forecast we know that the low pressure should pass through quickly and so we keep within the sheltered waters but slowly to and fro from Carnarvon Bay and Safety cove. Sure enough the rain turns to light drizzles and the wind eases back down to 15knots, unfortunately the seas will take longer to settle. By 1200 we are preparing to anchor just off Port Arthur again.