Oh brother! What a day. The best laid plans were in disarray for a long time.
Our last day in Tasmania at Narawntapu was a beautiful sunny winter day. The native hens and the fairy wrens kept us entertained for a while.
We left for Devonport at 3:30 pm so we would be in line for the start of the boarding process at 4:30pm. The weather behaved during the drive and the roads were in good condition, but you could see the detritus along the sides of the roads from the heavy wind in the days previous.
We arrived at Devonport just before they began the process of putting us into our loading lines, getting our boarding passes, and then going through the checking process to ensure there were no items that could cause trouble or were banned to be taken abord. We were clean of butane gas, firearms, and any petrol. The diesel is not a problem for transporting as long as it is in the correct containers and stowed, as it has a much higher flash point than petrol or gas.
We were loaded aboard the Spirit of Tasmania 1 in plenty of time and there were not a great number of vehicles to be processed, probably due to Covid. We grabbed some dinner at The Tasmanian Market Kitchen. Russ had a seafood combination in crumbs with chips and I opted for the roast chicken pieces with gravy, potato and pumpkin. Fairly ordinary fare but easy to have plenty and get more if required.
We were in our cabin when we finally drew away from the dock and headed down the estuary and out into the Bass Strait. We were informed that we were on time and should dock at 6:30am the next morning in Port Melbourne. However, it wasn’t to be.
Apparently, Melbourne was in the grip of a fierce storm with gusty winds, rain and fog. The Spirit of Tasmania 2 does not have its own bow thrusters so requires the tugboats (usually three) to move it from the pier and they were unable to get from their position in the Yarra River estuary due to the high winds and high tide.
So shortly after the first announcement we had a second one providing us with the advice that because Spirit 2 couldn’t yet be moved they were behind their departing time of 7:30pm and therefore, it was expected that we would now arrive in Melbourne at 8:30am. Goody, we all said (including the crew as we were later informed) we can have a sleep in.
The rest of the evening and night passed without any problems although we slowed from 25 knots down to 19 knots. The seas were running 1-2 metre waves when we began, and these were expected to get to 3-4 metres by the time we entered the heads of Port Phillip Bay. Russ took some travel calm and read for a while before falling asleep and I wasn’t too far behind him.
At 8:00am the next morning the announcement chimes rang out and it was Captain Watts advising us that Spirit 2 still hadn’t left the dock in Melbourne due to the continuing weather, but the situation was being monitored on a regular basis and he would have an update for us within the hour. Text messages were sent to those who were expecting our arrival anytime in Learmonth, including the Caravan Park, and there was some jocularity about the situation and us swimming to shore and collecting the car and van later, lol.
Russ and I had our breakfast, cleaned our teeth etc and started reading the news from our phones. This continued on for another hour when the next announcement advised that we were cruising Port Phillip Bay and still waiting for the Spirit 2 to be tugged from the pier.
Around 11:00 a further announcement advised that the time frame had been shifted to our docking around 2:30pm and Russ and I took screenshots of our little dot in the bay via GPS. We continued to cruise, and we were advised that lunch would be complimentary and thanking us all for our good cheer and apologising for the delays.
Around 2:00pm we were updated that Spirit 1 was hopefully due to move out soon as the tugs were able to get to them as conditions had calmed somewhat.
About 2:30 we were told we could all wave to Spirit 1 as it passed us in the bay and we were now heading to dock. We finally were able to move to the car and van at 3:40 pm and start our delayed departure from Spirit 2. There had been lots of texts and telephone calls each time there was an extension to the arrival, but all went okay at the end.
By the time we got into Port Melbourne suburb heading for Ballarat the weather was sunny but cool in Melbourne, but we could see lots of trees and branches pulled to the sides of the roads from the aftermath of the storm.
Of course, we were now losing the light and were into peak hour traffic all going home to the far northern suburbs (although much lighter than usual due to Covid restrictions).
It started a fine mizzle the closer we got to Ballarat and was getting steadily colder the further north and higher we went. By the time we arrived at Learmonth Caravan Park it was almost completely dark, and we were both tired and cranky.
Laney, (Manager of the Park) asked Mick (permanent resident) to wander over and see if he could provide some assistance, and he was able to help considerably to the extent that we were parked on the site next to the spot we had originally been given but were able to connect power and water and start the heater and something to eat. Laney was fine with the change of site as most of her bookings for the long weekend had been cancelled due to Covid. We thanked Mick for his assistance, and proceeded to send texts to those who needed them, and rang mum to say we were there.