We are poised to leave Deal island on the 15th of March. The Parks manager arrived with the new caretakers today and we are officially off duty. And the weather couldn’t be better. It’s warm, like summer. It was calm this morning for their trip out. We’ll see how we fare in two days. We’ve spent the past couple of days cleaning and getting everything in order. Now we’ve moved over to the visitor’s house and are visitors. Yesterday we walked to the lighthouse and had fun looking at our shadows.
At the end of the day, I had a home brewed stout, which had a creamy foam.
Today, I put the work gloves away. It’s official.
We saw Deal Island from a new perspective yesterday. A luxury yacht anchored in the cove the night before and called us and said they wanted to see a little of the island. They didn’t have a lot of time but checked out the museum and Barn Hill, which has some spectacular views of Murray Passage. Then they asked us if we wanted to come with them to Erith Island before they left. You betcha!
It was strange because it was our first time off the island for three months. Sort of a practice run for this weekend. The passage between Erith and Deal Islands is much more open then it seems from up at the caretaker cottage. We got to look back at the island and the compound from the water and then from Erith.
While we were anchoring, we saw our first sea eagle on the rocks of Erith.
We walked the tracks to explore the shack and campsites we knew were there. Then on the way back, we were joined by dolphins.
When we got back we walked to the lighthouse which was shrouded in fog. Quite a day.
We awakened yesterday to the smell of smoke. Not a good thing when you are trying to protect an island. There wasn’t lightening the night before so we thought if it was here, it would be from an open fire on one of the beaches. So we hopped in the ute and checked Winter Cove, where the campground is (and our recent sign, “No Open Fires”). No smoke or flames. We returned home but then as the day progressed, it got smokier and smokier. We went to the north beach, Garden Cove, where we doubted any boats were anchored because of the wind direction, no smoke or flames. Then we heard on the radio, there was a bush fire in Victoria. The smoke kept getting thicker and thicker here until our view of Erith island was obscured. The fire was 100 miles away but with a wind from the north and the pure air here, we smelled it like it was in our own backyard.
Next we were involved in a search and rescue. There was a boat here, which left a few days ago, who asked us to report their position to the local coast guard. They never checked in at their home port. The coast guard called us and asked if we knew anything more. We could only add that they were headed home since we knew they had run out of food and only hope they forget to check in when they arrived.
Then we saw a tinny (metal dinghy) with lines out fishing in Murray Passage. We radioed them and informed them they were in a no take zone and they headed out.
After dinner, we walked down to the new bench to get internet reception, view the stars, which were finally visible again and watch and listen to the fairy penguins come home.
It has been a good caretaking day.
Seasons are strictly by the calendar in Australia. None of this equinox, solstice stuff. Summer ended on February 28 and Fall began today. I’ve made a silent vow to walk a track a day until we leave. These photos are along the creek to Little Squally Cove on the south eastern side of the island.
The view from the lighthouse overlooking the compound and Erith Island.
Returning home on the lighthouse track with a mother and joey wallaby.
Yesterday, I submitted the monthly totals of rainfall to the Bureau of Meteorology. We had 121.6 mm of rain for the month, which is the most rainfall on Deal Island since 1939. We experienced one of the wettest summers in 72 years! And it was wonderful.
Since it’s the first day of Fall, we have cold gale winds. The garden is looking so good. I hope it survives. When the sun comes up, I’ll check and consider setting up barriers around the smaller plants again. Then rinse the sea salt and keep my fingers crossed. We’ll see if I take a walk today.
I’m not dreaming. This morning, while we were finishing up breakfast, we heard a low flying plane buzz the house. We ran outside and saw it circling and coming back. Then a package fell from the sky…and the package had chocolate. And it was good.
I don’t know if I like nice or bad weather better. Nice weather is nice. Bad weather is dramatic. We are enjoying nice weather and a group of kayakers arrived in the early afternoon. They are on a fundraiser to clean up the beaches of the islands in the Bass Strait and the event is called Clean Across Bass Strait. They spend time at each of the islands cleaning debris off the beach. They have mostly found debris off ships, recreational visitors are pretty tidy. I saw them pull in and then they walked up to the house and even walked up to the lighthouse before picking up a bag of debris along the rocks of east cove.
I was in the middle of my encounter with the giant sea creature. I boiled water in a very tall stock pot and put him in. There was some thrashing about and I had to hold the lid on. Pretty horrible. Tim had already vacated the premises. Things settled down and it cooked up beautifully. I chilled it then got a ton of meat from the tail and claws and we ate it with a dipping sauce of tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, red pepper and milk taken from the Lighthouse Cookbook.
We had a nice dinner on the jetty with the kayakers with stimulating conversation. Several had spent some time either visiting or living in the United States or Canada, in beautiful places: Vermont; Whistler, BC; Aspen, CO and Marin County.
We are all moved by the beauty of Deal Island and the Kent Group. It is awe inspiring to approach from the sea with the soaring cliffs, bright orange lichen covered rocks and aquamarine water. It was also heartwarming to see everyone individually walk up the hill to the new bench to get a good phone signal and call family and friends.
Since there are gianormous spiders and man-eating ants here, I have developed the habit of turning my shoes upside down and tapping them before I slide my foot in. I usually wear my hiking boots but today I only planned to do a little work in the garden so was putting on my sneakers, which I haven’t worn for a while. I noticed a small dead beetle in the heel and was getting ready to dump it out when I realized it was dinner for my sneaker’s inhabitant who was lurking up by the toe. There was a small skink curled up in there. I think it’s the one I see walking around in the sun room, where the shoe rack is. I decided to wear my boots.
So off I went to the garden to finish my clean up. I tested a rat trap by putting my pinky in it (by accident). Luckily I was wearing leather gloves and only have a slightly purple finger to show for it. I sort of knew something like that was going to happen when I got the traps out. I was weeding and saw the Tasmanian version of a Praying Mantis or some sort of twig insect.
And for dinner tomorrow, we have this insect like creature from a local fisherman. I’m sure there will fun afoot in the kitchen ala Annie Hall. It’s huge! It must weigh about five pounds.
The wind settled down overnight after four days of 30 knots with gusts to 70. The garden survived. After the first night of strong winds, I barricaded the small seedlings as best I could from the wind. They had been spinning around in circles while the wind blew. A large group of tomato plants took a nose dive. Today I removed the wind screens and resupported my fallen tomatoes.
I noticed one of the beet seedlings missing just like in the cartoons. It was dug out of the bed and there was a small pile of dirt nearby. I smelled a rat. I knew there was a reason there were a hundred rat traps lying around the garden when we arrived. They’ve moved back up to the garden. I thought I noticed some of the tomatoes had small bites taken out of them but I think I suppressed it. So I got out the peanut butter and set a few traps. This is war! So far it’s two points for the Home team and 0 for the visitors. Or should they be the home team and we the visitors? I’ve been coddling these seedlings along for two months. During this last gale, even after it rained, I had to go out and water the garden to wash the sea spray, which blew in from Little Squally Cove, 1/4 mile away, off the leaves. Just like “Jaws”, “First the shark, then the rogue wave, then the tomatoes falling overboard!”
During a walk yesterday, I saw some strange vegetation. Glowing, bright red fungus, Eucalyptus trees that bleed and shed their bark instead of their leaves. Some sort of berry or parasite that grows on the leaves not from the stems. And of course more rocks where I found half a man but is he lying down or sitting up?
Tim has been wearing a hat most of the time because his sunglasses died. Two days ago, when we went to Squally Cove, a willy waugh whipped it off his head, took it straight up in back of him and then deposited it about 20 feet in front of him. Later that night, one of the fishermen in the cove recorded wind speeds of 70 knots and all three boats in the cove dragged their anchors during the night. And it continues today with 15 foot seas off the island.
We have a small fishing boat sort of stranded here. They can’t leave because of the weather and weren’t planning to be here more than a day or two. It’s been five days now. Maybe tomorrow will be calm enough for them to go home. Sometime this week a group of kayakers from Surfriders should arrive as part of a fundraiser/clean up effort. They plan to spend the first hour on each island cleaning up the beach. They’ll have it easy here unless we scatter our trash, packed to take off the island, on the beach.
The wind shifted to the west and yesterday I walked to a couple of lookouts to see the surf. Squalls blew by. Waves crashed on Erith island with surf rising at least 200 feet up the cliffs. It’s nice to come back to the comfort of the cottage on days like this.
We’ve been buffeted by a gale for a couple of days. It began with a front with lots of rain that pounded the roof. We had caulked leaks in the roof in preparation, to no avail. We listened to the beat of water dripping into a couple of bowls the early part of the day. Then the skies cleared but the wind remained and we went for a walk to Squally Cove on the southeast side of the island. We were exposed to the wind on some bare spots and at times I had to keep my head down to prevent the wind from blowing me away. This posture enabled me to see some interesting ground photos though.
When we got to the cove, we were surprised to find three boats there. One fisherman had been anchored at Hogan Island, to the northwest of us, but got blown out to sea in 50 knot winds. While we sat on the beach, we saw sea smoke: clouds of water blown across the surface. We initially thought it was sand, but there are only rocks in Squally. As we watched the water, we saw williwaws hit the surface and the water would spiral out from it as if a fan had blown it in a circle.
The picture of the tree in the compound looks like a nice, bright sunny day. What it doesn’t clearly depict is the tree’s leaves being blown in 30 knot winds. I think we had at least a Force 7 on the Beaufort Scale.