Portland, Victoria - en route and arrival

to portland victoria off king island  

We had planned an early start, but you know how that goes. It was still dark at 0600 and quite chilly. Our bed was warm. We reasoned there was no rush since the weekly island supply ship was due that morning, usually arrived about 0630-0700, and took up a good portion of the harbor getting situated. We didn't want to meet her in the entry pass. So it was that we got up late, Searoad Mersey arrived late and we had a bit of late start. Schedules tend to elude us.


king island to portland victoria range markers


Portland is an overnight away. The weather forecast called for several days of favorable weather and for once, the forecast held true and, in fact, the icy south winds arrived earlier than scheduled. The exit through the pass was a bit exhilarating, reminiscent of some Polynesian atolls we visited. Waves were crashing on reefs and shoals all around us. Three sets of range markers helped us find the clear, narrow path through it all, to the calm on the other side. There's always a quick adrenaline rush as you commit to the channel and then there are a few minutes of tumultuous water and you're in the clear. Whew!


king island to portland victoria leaving king


Dolphins stopped by to bid us adieu. Just a few though, nothing like on our arrival. They're better at welcomes than goodbyes. Then we were skirting along King's east coast, a few miles off, with beaches and heavy surf clearly visible. Far enough off to avoid the shipwrecks and the flies!

The wind was fresh and just off the port beam. We tooled along with jib alone at 7 kts. The southern swells seemed huge (5-6m / 15-20') as we surfed down into a trough and then up again. It was hard to stand watch since things appeared on the wave crests and then disappeared again as we sank into the troughs. The radar and AIS served us well identifying freighters and oil rigs along our path long before we could see them. The wind remained steady and cold through the night. We kept up our speed and track with little adjustment to the lonely jib which was earning its keep. No drama … the best kind of passage. Despite the late start, our arrival in Portland was earlier than expected. We covered the 189 nm, anchorage to anchorage, in ~30 hours. For us, a quick trip.


king island to portland victoria woodchip piles


Three ships were anchored off Portland, another was stationary, waiting for its harbor pilot. A seal greeted us in just outside the port, one flipper up and a peeking head. We had a moment of anxiety when we started the engine to enter the breakwater and the low fuel alarm sounded. It seems with all of our jouncing about during the night, an air bubble crept into the fuel line requiring a quick burp, then all was well.

The harbor is situated behind a large, protective breakwater and turning the corner heading towards the yacht club was a pleasant respite from the rolling waters on the other side. Several ships were loading and unloading at the wharf. Huge piles of wood chips and stacks of timber lined the dock and the air smelled of fresh-cut wood.


king island to portland victoria marina


We were surprised to see a large, unoccupied marina in the process of being built. Not only was it not shown on our charts, but it took up a good portion of the anchorage area in the northwest harbor. The inner harbor near the yacht club appeared full of local boats and the two free moorings we spotted were not suitable for Cups. We reconnoitered for nearly half an hour before finally deciding on a good spot. The hook set well in the mud. Sano y salvo, the Spanish say. Too tired for exploring today, but tomorrow maybe.


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My Way Day
This is a day to have "your way" (not at Burger King!) Sounds a bit selfish to me, so share a little of the "my" and make it an "our". Make "our" favorite dinner or watch "our" favorite movie. More fun doing things together anyway.

Exploring King Island 2 - Lighthouses, Cheese and Raptors

king island pastureland  

We had high hopes for the day. A morning shower dampened us a bit as we motored ashore in the dinghy, but resulted in a rainbow over the bay. Then we saw the flat tire on the rental car.


king island changing tire


This is not quite what David had in mind when he wrote about repairs in exotic places, but he changed the tire with minimal grumbling and we were off. We stopped in Currie to get another spare and headed north.



king2_wild turkey


King Island was once quite forested, but milling, clearing and fires have rendered it mostly grassy, rolling hills now that stretch from sea to sea, good for farming and pastureland. Only a few main roads on the island are paved, the rest are gravel or hard packed dirt. Wallabies jump out of the bush at you frequently. Wild North American turkeys comb the fields for breakfast and peafowl and ring-necked pheasants roam quite freely. We probably saw more raptors (kestrels, harriers and falcons) than any other type of bird, except maybe pied magpies and ravens. An abundance of roadkill provides food for scavengers all up and down the food chain.


king island lavinia beach


We headed first to Penny's Lagoon in the Martha Lavinia Nature Reserve. This is place noted for observing a wide array of native birds, but we saw very few . Perhaps we were too late in the day with our flat tire delay. We did the circuit walk and did see two large tiger snakes in the bush which gave me an adrenaline rush. We think it was coitus interruptus because they scurried off, each in their own direction, embarrassed by our intrusion. We beach combed for a short while on sprawling Lavinia Beach known primarily for its surfing waves. The rollers were huge, but other than two surf casters, the beach was totally deserted … save massive hordes of huge biting flies.


king island cape wickham light


At the northernmost point of the island sits the Cape Wickham Lighthouse. Now, this is a traditional lighthouse, unmanned, but still in operation. It's a beauty. Completed in 1861 and constructed of local granite, it is the tallest lighthouse in Australia and the southern hemisphere. In case you're wondering, the Deal Island Lighthouse is the “highest” light, not the tallest.


king island cape wickham grave


The views of Cape Wickham, with huge rollers crashing on the reefs and rocks below, was stupendous and definitely sobering. Several stone memorials nearby marked the graves of people drowned at sea as well as lighthouse keepers and their families who had died here.


king island fromagerie tasting room


We'd sampled King Island cheese while in Tassie and there was no question that we'd stop at their Fromagerie and tasting room along the route. We were allowed to taste nearly a dozen different cheeses. We had little rating sheets to help us make our buying selection at the end. We liked them all though, so we bought a bit of everything. We'll be good on cheeses in the larder for quite some time to come.

Beyond the cheeses, we'd heard wonderful things about King Island beef, but unfortunately David didn't have the chance to try any. We're always on the lookout for unique items at each place we visit. The kelp industry and art are, of course, unique, but we found more. King Island Cloud Juice is the local gourmet bottled rain water available in lots of upscale places worldwide. King Island honey is considered quite a delicacy. At the Cultural Center in Currie, we found mutton bird oil for sale for softening leather as well as feral cat skins which I guess can be fashioned into hats, fur collars, etc. (Here, Tabby, Tabby.)


king island dairy


We reconnoitered Currie and then Grassy for a potential dinner-out alternative. Unfortunately, our budget and the menu prices were not in sync. We passed and headed back to Cups. That old frugal versus cheap thing won out. As we congratulated each other over our savings by eating aboard Cups, thoughts of how we could spend that money on another car rental down the road came to mind.

Days and Ways to Celebrate
A daily list of mostly obscure holidays and fun ways to celebrate them.
International Gumdrop Day
It might be easy to just buy gumdrops in your favorite flavor and pop them in your mouth, but where's the celebration in that? They're not hard to make yourself. Give it a try!