Summer Storm at Kettering
On Sunday 9 February at storm front swept through south-eastern Tasmania. At Kettering, winds estimated at 70 knots battered Little Oyster Cove. That weekend was also the annual rally of the Wooden Boat Guild of Tasmania with many visiting yachts in Kettering and with races scheduled each day of the weekend. From Geoff Pickard's vantage point high above the Bay he saw the drama unfold as roofing was torn off waterside buildings, including the Mermaid Café, and many furled headsails were shredded.
In particular at least four yachts broke free from their mooring with one yacht, Neptune, deciding to relocate itself (mooring intact) to another site closer to Bruny! Amazingly she avoided contact with any other boat in doing so.
Even the Mirrambena, the Bruny Island ferry, lost her steering and was blown sideways down The Channel.
Geoff was greatly impressed with the rescue efforts of many people and wanted to particularly single out the following people:
"Tassal and their rostered crew that day - three of the four boats that left the bay in appalling conditions were retrieved by Tassal crews in the very trying conditions which prevailed after the weather moderated a little. One of the vessels retrieved was a wholly overturned catamaran, with its mast down in the water." Quite how the apparently solo hand on the Tassal work boat managed to even get a line on it is both amazing and unknown to Geoff.
That Sunday was also a race day for the Kettering Wooden Boat Rally. A number of yachts were caught in the gale and forced to shelter off Kettering Point. Heroically Saona (Ben Maris) and Solquest (Garth Wigston) stood by the newly launched Wilson Brothers built Varg as she struggled to keep clear of rocks on North Bruny Island. At one stage the outboard powered RIB was flipped bow over stern, tossing skipper Craig Carlstrom into the water. Eventually Solquest was able to get a line to Varg and she was towed back to Kettering.
The Tassal vessels, Saona and Solquest and their crews all deserve the highest praise for their seamanship and courage.
As vessels all over southern Tasmania were also affected by this storm front, it should similarly be noted with gratitude that the volunteers at Coast Radio Hobart worked tirelessly to coordinate rescue attempts, gather information from those in dire need and keep them informed about who would be helping them and when or if they could expect assistance.