Broome to Fremantle
Tuesday – 16/07/2013
The first thing we need to do is to see where we can get the anchor winch motor repaired, a friend had given me a place that thought would be the better place but when I rang the bloke yesterday on the way in he did not sound that confident so this morning I called friend Sandy on ‘Fayze Too’ on the radio and said I needed some local knowledge, he invited us over stating he had a couple of people that had more local knowledge.
We met Brendon and Jodie, Brendon is local and is a fitter machinist by trade, he said that he and Jodie were going into town and he could take us to a couple of places that could probably help us. He ended up taking us to Red Dirt Marine where we met Sam, Sam had a look at the motor and with a little push from Brendon the motor was stripped down, Brendon had the rotor in the lathe and turned down the damaged area. Next we went and purchased a new bearing dropped it back to Sam, he said it would probably be back together by the next day. Brendan then gave us a bit of a guided tour around Broome and we had lunch in town and then did a little shopping, beer and wine of course.
Naturally I hardly recognise Broome these days as the last time I was here was 1971 when I was on HMAS Moresby, a survey ship, we conducted a 9 month survey around these waters. Those days there was the Roebuck Hotel, an old timber building that I believe was partially wrecked in a cyclone during the late 70’s and has been burnt down and rebuilt since then. Also since those days Cable Beach resort area has been established which is one of the major places of tourism. Tourism has brought many people to the area and this in itself has created jobs. The Kimberley area has opened up to tourist via land sea and air and that was probably kicked off in the past 30 years. Friends I have spoken about in Darwin, Ron and Barbara was one if not the first to start charters by sea in the Kimberley and that started some 30 years ago, now there is numerous boats involved in taking people by sea through the Kimberley areas. I have spoken about the campgrounds that we have seen that attract the road tourist many being the grey nomad. Broome is very spread out over about an 8km distance.
We also met a couple on another catamaran ‘Sonra’ they called out to us stating that they had just been reading our blog, they are heading north and over to Cairns and have been interested in the anchorages we have mentioned. I mentioned to Lloyd that we would be getting rid of the old tinnie here if he was interested as he has a similar inflatable as we have and I explained the dangers with those with the sharp barnacles and oysters on the rocks plus they say they are teething rings for crocs, he asked how much I wanted for it, I said the asking price is two cartons of XXXX Gold cans (beer), the next day the deal was done.
We then went back on board and returned to Brendon’s yacht for sundowners.
Wednesday – 17/07/2013
I stripped down the tinnie removing outboard, fuel tank and anchor and we refloated our inflatable, Lloyd came over and took the tinnie to see if it fitted on his davit, once was alright he kept the tinnie and delivered the cartons.
Brendan called over and said my winch motor was ready would I like him to pick it up when he goes into town, he said it was going to cost $200, I said that is alright, he thought it a little expensive. I thanked him for his help. He said it was his birthday and would be having a few beers in the afternoon if we would like to come over to his yacht, which naturally we did.
So that was the day, once you have a few beers in the afternoon the day is lost.
Thursday – 18/07/2013
We had organised a hire car for a few days and had to get ashore to meet the only bus that comes this way once per day at 0755 hours, however, it was cold and high winds and I was in no hurry to tackle going inshore and I thought we would miss the bus and have to call a taxi. When we got ashore we found the bus was late and we got it anyway.
When we got the car we went on a bit of a tour around Broome, after a morning tea at one of the cafes we then went out to the Port to check out the wharf area, a little changed since 1971, like all ports today there is security everywhere, in 1971 anyone could drive down the wharf and fish off it, not today. We had a phone call from Raighne Renshaw, he drives for Greyhound Coaches out of Darwin and was in Broome so we met up with him for a coffee and a chat.
Broome is spread out which could be a bit of a pain in the neck for locals as you have to travel all over the place to get things. They have a light industrial area some 5 kms from the CBD, there are two main shopping complex areas, the one with Woolworths is about 2 kms from the CBD, the complex with Coles is in the CBD. The CBD is really China Town.
The area where we are moored is some 10 kms from the CBD, the port where the main wharf is, is 8 kms from the CBD, Cable Beach Resort area is about 8 kms from the CBD, so transport is required.
The place does not cater for recreational boats as far as services. It is possible to book a place at the main wharf for water and fuel which can only be done at high tide when you see a 9 metre tide difference. This will cost $100 for going alongside and another $48 for fuel delivery that you have to organise. The main wharf can be a frightening experience if the wind kicks in and there is swell to deal with.
Basically for a yachty there are two options, one is what we are doing anchor off Cable Beach, hire a car and transport everything, the other option is to go around to the harbour and anchor off Streeter’s Jetty area at half incoming tide dinghy into the Jetty which is a narrow passage through the mangroves, do your shopping get fuel from a servo and get back before the tide drops to block you off and leave your yacht high and dry.
Cable Beach is the common anchorage whilst the dry season SE and E winds blow and the anchor in the harbour for any NW to W winds. The Cable Beach anchorage can still suffer from SW to NW swell at times even when the SE winds are blowing but generally not too bad.
Anyway we had a bit of a look around and then returned on board to do some work. The wind had backed off as it seems to do in the afternoons. Wind is great when sailing but to work in it irritates to the point of getting a headache. So it was time to put the winch motor back on and see if it works. The only problem was that when I went to fit it, it had been assembled incorrectly and it was not going to fit back together. Some angry words were said. We had centre popped marks on each part to make sure all parts went back together in line. (Have a beer John and calm down).
Friday – 19/07/2013
We went ashore at 0800 hours and back to the workshop with the winch motor, Sam was not there and one of his boys asked what he could do for us and I think it was the same bloke that put it together wrong. I pointed out the centre pop marks and said they have to line up along with the electrical connections with the top bolt hole. He said he would do it, if we could come back in an hour or so. We headed off for a free talk about pearls at a pearl shop next to the information centre. They hold these every Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 1000 hours and it is well worth going to. When you come out of there you have a fair idea what is good quality and what is of a lower quality. So if you are buying your wife some pearls, don’t take her to the talk, only joking. What is interesting is the people in the pearling industry do not have a set standard of evaluation of quality and then you get the rip offs you may see on internet saying recommended retail price ex-$’s, the fact is there is no recommended retail price for a pearl, it’s value is what the person that values it puts on it.
The talk went on to describe the different qualities as well as the difference between South Seas Pearls, (Salt water pearls) and Fresh Water Pearls. The salt water pearls are very labour intensive and more difficult to culture and that is one of the reasons they are expensive, Fresh Water Pearls are basically cheaper for the simple fact that China is pumping them out in the thousands as they are produced in a controlled fresh water environment, like in large swimming pools.
The talk went on for two hours which probably went over the time they had meant but everyone enjoyed it and so did the shop owner. Naturally there was a marketing ploy which was quite good. They had an pearl oyster they opened to show us how and where the pearl comes from. For a $20 gift voucher you could enter the draw for the pearl that was produced out of this oyster. You did not have to do it, but when a woman is involved would they give up a chance of obtaining a salt water pearl for a mere $20. I won’t go into all the details but the lady that won the draw ended up with a pearl to the value of around $80, that is a pearl not in a setting.
At the end we had a gift voucher of $20, so I said to Nancy you better see what you like within our budget. In the end she walked away with her coming birthday present of a pearl in a gold seahorse setting. (Yes fresh water pearl, the other was a little out of reach).
We then went for lunch at The Roey’s, the Pearler’s Bar, which is part of the Roebuck Hotel, had a very nice lunch and when we left I looked at our hire car and saw these marks that I had not seen before, thinking someone had scraped me and I am going to be out of pocket for the excess. I contacted the hire car company and they said bring it around which we did the next morning, the boss had a look and said look don’t worry about it, it won’t cost you the excess we will just get a quote which will be less and get it fixed up. I was relieved, but I was more relieved when we found out that that mark was already on the paperwork as being done before we had the car. I think as we get older we need to take photos of the cars we hire, this car has about six marks on it from previous users and I honestly cannot remember the girl pointing this mark out to me but she did.
Each day we use the car we take our fresh water containers and a couple of fuel containers and fill them all up at the Caltex service station at the Boulevard Shopping Centre as we return back to the boat.
Saturday – 20/07/2013
After going into town and sorting the car out which I have already mentioned we went to The Court House Markets, which is as suggests at the old court house grounds. The markets here are quite good. a good selection of items, some markets tend to have the same old things but there was good variety at these. We had lunch there before returning to the chores of yachting more fuel more water and get organised for diner. Brendan and Jodie came over for drinks and dinner and we had a good night. They are nice people.
Sunday – 21/07/2013
Today was a quick run into town to do another fuel and water run. I had better explain something, I am not getting that much fuel at this stage, I have a few small ULP petrol containers for the outboard motors and generator, so I take one or two in fuel them and top up the six 10 litre water containers, I think it would be a bit cheeky to just go and take their water.
As a result of last night’s dinner Jodie asked us over for lunch today on Brendan’s yacht, I should probably explain one thing Brendan and Jodie are not exactly a couple they have been mates for many years, Jodie lives in town here and Brendan is on his yacht, Brendan will be sailing this week to Darwin then over to Asia.
Well it’s always a lost day when you have such a nice lunch with great people and a few amber fluids, it slows you down from doing anything else and so that was a great Sunday with good comp any.
Monday – 22/07/2013
We have to get serious we have the car for two more days and lots to do. Today was washing day so we took it to the Laundromat. I left Nancy there and fortunately there was a tap and a hose next door at a car place and I asked if I could take water, they said I was the first person to ever ask most just take it. So I did a water run, took the water back on board put it in the tanks then went back for Nancy and another load of water. We got back on board hung some of the washing out that did not fully dry in the driers, I emptied the water containers then we went back into town and got the gas bottles filled and another load of water. By the time we got back to the dinghy the water was way out on low tide, so I had to get the dinghy to the water, Nancy drove the car down to the water’s edge after dropping me off where the dinghy was. After two breather breaks I got the dinghy to the water and I said to Nancy, that thought I had of doing a diesel and another water run today forget it I’m stuffed.
I had a little rest for twenty minutes after emptying the water containers in the tank which thank heavens are now full. After that we saw a magical sunset and had a beer.
Tuesday – 23/07/2013
Today Nancy cleaned the fridge/freezer before we headed into town and what a busy day, we started off by doing the first run in for diesel 100 litres, returned on board and the tanks took eighty litres, so back into town with the four fuel containers and some more water containers, filled those and then returned them back on board and stowed them. Then back into town again, I said to Nancy we can go and have lunch and then do the shopping.
So we went to the Pearler’s Bar again at the Roebuck Hotel and had a very nice seafood basket and a couple of refreshing drinks. Then off to the BWS store (beer, Wines and Spirits), they had a special on three cartons of xxxx gold for $108, then red wine and a bottle of gin for Nancy. Then off to the other shopping food. We returned to the beach with car fully loaded. I had to do the usual get the dinghy half a mile to the water’s edge. Then I think we entertained some onlookers as we loaded the dinghy, it was totally full with two small areas left to stick our feet. We made it back to the boat without sinking or losing anything and after unloading everything and stacking it away we were both done in. Our plan was to go ashore tonight to see the stairway to the moon which occurs around the three nights of full moon times. We decided we did not want to drag the dinghy up the beach and back down again we had done enough of that so we missed out on seeing it.
Wednesday – 24/07/2013
We had to take the car back this morning so we did a little shopping on the way and the young lady at the car rental firm drove us back to the beach with our goods and we headed back on board.
There is one major thing I have to say is that all the guide books and information about Broome they indicate that they are not yacht friendly, I would like to clarify that statement. The port is not designed for yachts and that is because of the location of Broome and the tides vs. winds. The whole of the west coast is yacht unfriendly due to the weather, but the people are friendly through and through in fact they are very accommodating. One of the biggest problems regarding boating in Broome is the tides, 9 metre tides are regular and naturally taking the dinghy ashore for a period of time means that you have to drag it for quite a distance. The charter boats that cruise the Kimberley have the same problems, everything has to be carted from the beach. Delivery from suppliers are taken from the beach and that can be fun when there is a wind and a swell.
The beach is a good solid beach that can handle two wheel drive vehicles and it is permitted with Broome Broome hire cars.
We have befriended Brendan and Jodie who I have mentioned and have had some time together, tonight we were invited to Jodie’s house for dinner and a very nice house it is, very open Broome style house and very nice, Jodie loves local art and has many samples on the walls. This lady is very down to earth and sincere, she has three children aging from mid teens to around eleven, her husband died some four years back and I know she still suffers from that but she is a gracious lady and I am privileged to meet her. Jodie cooked a very nice dinner and we had a very pleasant night.
Thursday – 25/07/2013
Our original plan was to leave today but looking at the weather south of us the wind would be on the nose so we are waiting for sailing weather. Brendon and crew member Joel left today to head north, visiting the Kimberly and then onto Darwin before heading over to Asia. He came by as he sailed out to say farewell. The anchorage has been clearing out a few yachts the last couple of days.
Nancy had a call on the phone from a friend from her photography website who lives in Broome at the moment so we made plans to go ashore and have sundowner’s on the beach this afternoon, so we went ashore and met Sharon and sat and had a talk and watched the sun go down with a nice drink. Sharon’s son and his girlfriend came down for sundowner’s to. We returned on board for dinner and had a quiet night.
Friday – 26/07/2013
I don’t think we will be sailing until Sunday, the weather has changed but now there is little wind, Sunday should see some SE winds of 15-20 knots which should remain for a few days.
I have also got myself a head cold coughing and sniffing, this is what happens when you come to civilised places you catch germs.
So today I did one job I had been putting off and that was to dive on the props and clean the barnacles off them, the water here is a bit cooler after the winds we have had. The other job was to turn the anchor chain around, something I was told you should not do because it is usually the first 20 metres of chain that works on the bottom of the ocean removing the galvanising and by turning it around and placing that section in the cable lockers bottom where it is usually damp and has air to create further rusting will damage the chain. Well our problem is that around the 15-20 metre mark the chain is either worn or stretched because it jumps out of the gypsy when pulling the anchor up, so I think next major service it will be a new chain rather than re-galvanising.
We also re-marked the chain at 5 metre intervals, we do this by cutting into lengths of 800 mm different coloured cheep plastic rope (type from the supermarket for clothes lines), and we weave it in and out of the chain links therefore each 5 metres is colour coded. With all that done for the day it was time to relax.
Jodie contacted Nancy and said if she wanted anything she was free to run her around tomorrow so Nancy arranged a time for them to meet up.
Saturday – 27/07/2013
Caught up with some of the blog notes this morning, dropped Nancy in at the beach to meet Jodie which was interesting with the waves crashing on the beach, Nancy wore her bathers and a good job as when she jumped off the dinghy she was waist deep. It would have been nice to go to but with this cold I did not want to spread it onto others.
I sat on board reading a book when I heard a radio call it was ‘Oscar Blue’ , Stephen had arrived and picked up the mooring next door as we are on his mooring which was arranged. We did not expect him until August. I explained Nancy was ashore and as soon as she returns we can swap moorings.
Nancy phoned a short time after and I went to pick her up, the tide had changed and the wind had backed off a little so the waves were not as bad. We said farewell to Jodie and returned on board via ‘Oscar Blue’ I had a chat with Stephen and then we changed moorings, Stephen said he did not know who owned the mooring but one night was not going to hurt. We had an early night ready to leave in the morning.
Broome to Gourdon Bay
Sunday – 28/07/2013
Up at first light getting a cup of tea before getting things ready to sail. We hoisted the mainsail whilst on the mooring there was some wind but it had not kicked in to what is predicted yet. Letting go the mooring lines we motor sailed out of the anchorage and then set a course for south as we did we unfurled the headsail and shut the engine down.
As we crossed the Broome Port entrance HMAS Huon a mine hunter entered the port in front of us and there was also a large oil rig tug coming in on our starboard side but passed behind us. We had a good sail down, at times we were slow due to the wind dropping but we continued to sail until the wind dropped right away and we had to motor sail the last few miles.
Gourdon Bay has some pearl leasing area but it is marked and there is plenty of room to go around the inside and ends of the area. We anchored near the advised spot in the Fremantle Cruising Guide, I think we could have gone in a lot closer to shore as the wind kicked in 15-20 knots around 0130 hours and it made it a bumpy anchorage. We noticed another catamaran anchored in the bottom SW corner of the bay just off the beach and I think that this would have been the ideal anchorage. But I think we are going to have a few of these on this WA coast. There appears to be a pattern in the weather that the wind comes around 0130 – 0200 hours and cuts out around 1400 hours to near calm conditions.
After anchoring we just relaxed and after dark I checked to see where the pearl farm markers as the corners had lights flashing, not bright but they did have lights, it indicated that there was a very wide area to go passed on the southern end when we sail out in the morning.
Gourdon Bay to Lagrange Bay
Monday – 29/07/2013
Up again at first light, winds from SE around 18 knots, we had a quick cup of tea and the weighed anchor, we first set the headsail as going out of the bay the wind was directly behind us. As we turned south and cleared the headland we furled the headsail turned into the wind and hoisted the mainsail with two reefs in it, the winds now are 20 – 29 knots, after setting course we unfurled a small section of the headsail and we were away at 8 – 9 knots. We kept as close to the coast as was safe to reduce the wind waves and it was a good sail with only 25 NMS to go we should be there quite early.
Nancy cooked breakfast and I ate mine at the helm keeping an eye out for whales, we saw whales yesterday and last night was treated to two visiting whales in the bay just before sunset. This morning was no different we saw some in the distance and one that dived off our port side you could see the tale slide down into the water they are incredible to watch I never get sick of seeing them but sometimes when they come so close to the boat without any warning it puts your heart in your mouth.
We anchored at Lagrange Bay in 4 metres of water as close as I felt safe from the beach which is a fair way as the beach shoals out, with the winds still blowing the anchorage was still lumpy so we will probably have the same again tonight.
We have about 200 Nms to go to Port Hedland and the Eighty Mile Beach between us so we are hoping to make some good miles over the next two days as there is harsher weather coming on Friday and Saturday.
Lagrange Bay to the Eighty Mile Beach
Tuesday – 30/07/2013
Having 200NMS to go before we get to Port Hedland our original plan was to do an overnight sail along Eighty Mile Beach due to the fact that anchorages can only be made under certain conditions, very light conditions and the fact that due to the amount of shoaling you have to anchor out around 4 Nms from the shore. However, after seeing the amount of whales in the area we are reluctant to sail at night for the fear of hitting one. Fortunately we have picked the weather for sailing down this section of the coast with SE winds being dominant. The unfortunate part about this wind is that it starts at around 0130 hours and dies around 1330 hours. During the night hours it is around 10 – 12 knots and because the shore shoals so far out that we get some wind waves slapping the hull and some swell combined does not make for a comfortable night.
We set sail under good winds from Lagrange Bay at first light and taking note of the marine farm zones headed out to sea to clear them to finding out that they are not actually there, these areas are only marked on the up to date charts. They cannot be ignored as the further south we went we found some very active.
When we weighed anchor we had already hoisted the mainsail with two reefs in as the winds predicted were over 25 knots and as I have said before it is easier to shake a reef out than put one in, so being basically lazy that’s what I do on a regular basis. Once we cleared the marine farm area we set course on a close reach and we sailed well under the reefed conditions with the headsail also reefed sailing at a comfortable 8 to 9 knots, we could have taken a reef out and gone a little faster but it would not be comfortable, we are cruisers not racers, not unless there is another boat ahead then we may get a little competitive.
Our aim was to hug the coast to reduce wave effect with the strong winds and that is what we tried to do one thing though is that the WA coast shoals out quite a distance so you cannot get too close and the fact that the depths beneath do not equate to what the paper and electronic charts indicate it is safer to be a little further off the coast. We sailed in waters with depth of 5 to 6 metres and located some 6 Nms off the coastline.
There are also unsurveyed waters along this coastline that you do not want to be sailing at good speeds with uncertain depths.
The wind died out mid afternoon and changed direction to being on the nose so a slight change in course and start one of the iron sails and motor sailed until near sunset having sailed 61 Nms for the day it was time to drop the pick and have a beer.
We nosed into the coast with consideration of time of tide and what low tide would be tonight, I headed for an area that showed a datum of 2 metres this would give plenty below us at low tide, with a 3 metre tide difference we anchored at near high tide in 5.5 metres of water, at low tide we had a depth of 1.7 metres, so the datum is a little bit out or the chart is or both. We draw 1.4 metres so we had 300mm below us.
Considering we are actually at the edge of the Indian Ocean the seas were flat and calm when we anchored it was only the wind from the land that set up the wind waves and the fact that the anchorage was 2.7 Nms off the shore because the depths we could not get closer that it became uncomfortable at 0130 hours in the morning.
We soldiered on through the night trying to sleep without much success, I did toy with the idea of sailing then thought of the safety with all the whales around, by 0300 hours we got up and had a cup of tea and waited for first light so we could get underway. Nanna naps later in the day will be had.
Eighty Mile Beach – anchorage one to anchorage two
Wednesday – 31/07/2013
Getting underway at first light which is around 0540 hours (WST) we set the full mainsail as winds were around 15 knots, weighed anchor and set the headsail and headed out from the anchorage. To the south of us charts indicate a finger of sand around 1.6 metres at half tide that should not be a problem but again we have proved the charts wrong already, so I went out a little and skirted the contours and crossed the 1.6 metres at 12 metres deep. Does not give one faith in charts on this coast. Yesterday we sailed along for many hours in varying depths keeping as close to the shore as to be safe and the depth hardly varied from around 6 – 8 metres.
We had a very good sail up to 1330 hours and the wind just dropped to nothing and the iron sail came into play, we needed to get along this stretch of coast as Fridays wind are up around the 25-30 knots which we will be sailing in but hopefully just the last distance into Port Hedland.
With all these things I talk about the days have been magical with the whale sightings as they breach the water or roll over and play with their young many not being captured on camera, because as soon as you get the camera they stop doing what they were doing or they are now too far away. We have also had magical moments with dolphins and turtles.
This sea life does not appear to be used to sea traffic like us, today I passed four turtles close by floating on the surface and they look at you as though they are seeing this type of thing for the first time. On the east coast they look from a distance and dive.
So the day has been good we have sailed another 61 Nms as we did yesterday, we finished a little earlier today choosing the anchorage that is on the chart and was entertained by a couple of whales nearby, Tonight we are only 1.5 Nms off the coast.
19⁰ 50.835′ S – 120⁰ 19.381′ E
We also saw quite a few cars on the beach today within about 14 Nms either side of the Wallal Downs Caravan Park which is located approximately half way between Port Hedland and Broome not far off the beach. It appears to be a good stop for the grey nomads on the around Australia route.
It was another big day but a pleasant one with another big day tomorrow, we had our sundowners then dinner and early to bed.
Thursday – 01/08/2013
We were underway by 0600 hours and under sail until midday, the weather most days brings SE winds around 0130 hours and it drops away around midday then the SW sea breeze comes in around 1500 hours so it is motor sailing from midday on. The coastline looks basically the same long beach and small sand hills.
Again we saw many whales, dolphins, turtles and even sea snakes. The whales putting on a show at times breaching out of the water or waving a flipper out of the water but mostly too far away for a decent photo.
We had to burn a bit of diesel towards the end of the day because we needed to get to the anchorage before the dark set in so mid afternoon we ran both engines to get there and we dropped anchor with very little light left and even then we anchored short of our targeted spot. We did manage to get fairly close to land around 1.5 Nms, so we knew when the wind kicked in at around 0130 hours we would get some wind waves slapping on the hull.
So today we had a late sundowners before dinner and after dinner I went out of the cockpit to see if we could see the glow in the sky from Port Hedland and I was totally surprised as when I looked in the southerly direction I could see the lights very clear and I could also see the lights of the ships anchored out from the port. I called Nancy and she was as surprised as I was, our anchorage is 32 Nms in a straight line to Port Hedland it was as though the port was only a few miles away showing the clear orange lights of the port docks and streets..
I went inside and looked at the charts to see if there is another town closer to us, nothing showed so I got the road atlas out and again there was no place other than Port Hedland. Then two hours later all you could see was the glow in the sky the lights we had seen were no longer there. This had us totally confused. No I had not had too much to drink I had only had two beers.
Some days later after meeting Glen and Nigel on ‘Banyandah’ in Port Hedland I mentioned our experience with the lights and they were anchored in the same bay but a couple of miles closer to the port than us and they had the same experience.
The only thing that we could put it down to is that at that time the sea was mirror flat and the air was very damp with a heavy dew dropping in, this combined with the dust from the loading ships could have caused mirrored images which is very similar to the min min lights.
Friday – 02/08/2013
Up early and underway before first light, the wind had kicked in as we thought it would during the night and now around 20-25 knots from the SE. It was a 42 Nm sail to Port Hedland needless to say we were reefed down and sailing at around 8 knots in a lumpy sea. It was quite a distance before we saw the anchored ships and the port structures which made it more confusing about the lights we had seen the night before.
As we neared the port I brought up the live ships website, (AIS), and checked what ships were nearby and what was moving, it identified a ship entering port for loading and it was steaming at 4 knots we were at 8 knots and we were entering the channel just outside the shallow waters so I had to change course so I did not go in front of the cargo ship. We called up the port authority on the radio and they gave permission for us to enter, they did request that we stay on the left hand edge of the channel as there was another ship coming in behind us, we did this although we were out of the channel prior to the ship getting near to us.
Nancy had contacted the Yacht Club caretaker to ask for local information regarding anchoring as the guide book suggest local knowledge would benefit. He said we could pick up a mooring, when Nancy asked which one he said to contact the port authority. Well we just headed for a suitable mooring picked it up and then called the port authority to say that we were out of the channel and had picked up a mooring. The lady asked Nancy to ring her on the phone which she did, she said that the moorings belonged to people not the yacht club and if the person came in we would have to vacate, she was very nice about it and we found out later that she is a yacht club member. I said to Nancy with the amount of growth on the mooring line which I washed off I don’t think that mooring has been used for a long time.
Port Hedland is one of the busiest ports on the coast it is not unusual to have ten large ship movements in one day in daylight hours and they also do movements through the night, this with the four tugs going out to bring a ship in or coming back after taking a ship out is a lot of movements and a lot of wash, this wash carries right through the anchorage so there is a bit of rolling from time to time. Reminded me of being moored at Balboa Yacht Club at the Pacific side inlet to the Panama Canal.
Later in the day we thought we may head ashore and visit the yacht club but just before we was to head off I noticed a yacht that was anchored had people returning on board, I had seen the yacht in Broome ‘Banyandah’ from Tasmania. We went over in the dinghy to have a chat and get any information about the place that they had. Glen introduced himself and told us that they had gone to the club the night before and that it is not that easy to get to. The beach is a gritty soft sand and is hard to pull the dinghy up even with wheels they dig in, also there are four wheel motor bikes that race up and down the beach after dark. We asked about getting fuel and water as we believed there was a dock in the port that you could get both items from. Well the port authority tries to discourage that because of the busy port. Glen said don’t let me spoil it for you give it a go and see what you reckon. He said that they had booked with the port authority to leave at at 0600 hours and was told that they would not be able to leave after this time as they have ten ship movements and the channel will be closed for those movements.
Nancy and I left and went and had a look at getting ashore, Glen was right and the other thing was that the club looked as though it was on the beachfront from the boat but it is not, it is a fair distance and actually over the other side of the roadway. The motorbikes had already started going up and down the beach so we gave it a miss. We got back on board and phoned the port authority and asked if we could leave behind ‘Banyandah’ in the morning, they thanked us for calling and seemed quite pleased with our decision.
We had dinner on board rather than the club had a couple of drinks before heading to bed.
Port Hedland to Dampier
Port Hedland to West Moore Island
Saturday – 03/08/2013
We were ready at first light and followed ‘Banyandah’ out of Port Hedland, when I got up at 0530 hours there was one ship already passing us on its way out of port with the four tugs and after we had got out of the port there was one on its way in. We had notified the port authority that we were entering the channel and let them know when we had left it.
There was favourable winds again for the morning and up until mid afternoon and we sailed quite well until then although we could not quite keep up with ‘Banyandah’ and in the very light winds after lunch they crept away in the end we had to start an engine
It was our plan to sail to Cape Conssigny and because we were sailing so well in the morning Glen called on the radio and suggested we keep going to Depuch Island, we agreed we would follow. Later when they were creeping away from us I called Glen and asked if he was getting some wind that I wasn’t, he said no unless they have strong winds they motor sail, they had been doing that all day so I was quite pleased to see that we had been keeping up with them most the day under sail.
We ended up anchoring just on dark at West Moore Island, it used to be a pearling farm but has closed down, it now has a fisherman’s lodge, (West Moore Island Fishing Lodge), the owner was very obliging and offered a mooring there which ‘Banyandah’ took they did offer it to us but we said no they could take it. It is very protected in the bay behind the island, it may also be worth mentioning that the wreck that is marked on the chart is no longer there as it has totally rotted away.
We had a beer and then dinner and had an early night.
West Moore Island to Port Robinson
Sunday – 04/08/2013
Setting sail again just after first light leaving a very comfortable anchorage of West Moore Island’s Bay we headed towards Point Samson one problem we were looking at was a place to anchor and Glen suggested that we may be able to go into the marina there, he had spoken to a bloke in Darwin that came from there, he said he would contact the harbour master when we were closer.
We had a good sail and as we neared Point Samson Glen made contact with the harbour master, the problem was that we had to get there before 1330 hours or we would not get in as there would not be enough water to get in. The entrance is dredged to zero datum so there is only the tide height to get in and out, we could not do so we had to look at another plan.
We had a discussion and we suggested Port Robinson and so we agreed we would go there so we changed course to round Cape Lambert a loading wharf for iron ore and then headed down to Port Robinson. Charts indicate pearl farm on the way there but these have also been removed. We entered the port following the guide as the water is shallow and there are some reef areas. The shallowest we had was 2.2 metres and this was near low tide.
We dropped anchor and settled down we invited the boys on ‘Banyandah’ over for sundowners and dinner. We had only met Glen (owner/skipper) before we had not met Nigel. Glen bought over some potatoes and onions saying he never comes empty handed, Nancy told him to take them back but he would not have it. We had a good night and a few laughs not to mention some refreshments. We had a very enjoyable night, with these two very nice blokes.
Nearby is a caravan park which has many caravans parked there are also some caravans and campervans parked on the beach or near the beach, one campervan on top of the hill would have had a great view.
Port Robinson to Dampier, via Flying Foam Passage
Monday – 05/08/2013
Setting sail early again but with light winds we had to motor sail most of the way. We headed to Flying Foam Passage which conjure up many thoughts of racing waters and I believe it can be if you enter at the wrong tide times, we had picked the time of near slack water and had no difficulty whatsoever, it was very calm. The other concern we had was that the passage was choked with pearl farming only enough room for two boats to pass. Well again the pearl farms have gone, there are large boat moorings near Collier Rocks to the edge of the centre of the channel, I did see a light on the near last buoy we passed near where you have to change course to keep in the deeper water.
As we left the passage we enter a massive harbour area and the chart indicates channels to the many different docks, I got the iPad out and checked the AIS on the internet for ship movements, there was a couple of tugs and a large ship going to the salt loading wharf not near us. We called the harbour authority to let them know our intentions and they thanked us for that. We headed across all the channels making sure we stayed out of the restricted circles by the loading docks and continued to the channel that leads to the small boat anchorage near the sailing club which is right at the other end of the harbour.
When we arrived we noticed that the anchorage areas was quite full of moorings many of them are used by working boats for the mines and gas and oil rigs, we anchored on the outside edge of these although we could have gone closer in near the beach where Glen went.
Once secure we thought we would go ashore and see where things were we wanted to get a few supplies, fuel and water. We went to the Hampton Harbour Boat & Sailing Club where the office was open and spoke with Lyn, a really helpful person, she explained that they only have a small supermarket now with limited supplies as all the big shops have moved to Karratha, diesel fuel and water is available on the dock but ULP fuel is from the Truck Stop or Karratha both quite a distance away.
We headed up to see the supermarket and checked what they had to sell and did the shopping whilst we were there. They also have a bottle shop there and their prices are reasonable not that we needed anything there.
After checking things out we headed back to the boat to get some chores done. I started with a water run taking all our containers ashore which totalled 160 litres, Nancy operated the tap whilst I filled the containers in the dinghy then once back aboard I transferred the water into the starboard tank which near filled it. By the time we did this and had showers it was time to go ashore for dinner.
There is the Mermaid Hotel which has a nice restaurant, although we were told the main bar can become rather rowdy and they have girls come from time to time showing quite a bit of skin, we missed out on that. (Bugger). We had dinner with Glen and Nigel at the restaurant which was very pleasant, when we first arrived at the hotel for drinks then dinner we bumped into the manager and he made us feel really welcome explaining where things were and what’s on.
At dinner we discussed what we was going to do we wanted to head out to the Montebello Islands which is due west about 63 Nms sail, Glen and Nigel said they would like to see them also, looking at the weather we were not sure if we could fit it in, my concern was the wind direction when we had to head back to the mainland. After much chatter we decided we would go the plan was for another day in Dampier then leave.
It was unfortunate that the Sailing Club only opens a few nights a week and we were leaving before one of the open nights.
The Sailing Club has a great complex with a double boat ramp with floating docks, a dinghy dock for dinghies less than 3.5 metres opposite this dock is another dock that some of the smaller working boats use, very large tinnies which they use to ship crews out to the larger working boats, this dock has a water tap and hose where you can top up water containers. These docks are well protected with a rock wall around it. Outside this dock is the fuel dock that is very busy, you have to book phone Shirley on 0400 238 724, she is a bit of a character and not backward of telling you off if you do the wrong thing. Diesel prices are quite good at $1.85 per litre same as the service station in Exmouth.
Tuesday – 06/08/2013
As soon as I was awake I went with all the water containers and topped them up and used this on board to do the washing. The sailing club has one washing machine and we knew the boys wanted to use that so we used our own on board. I did the washing and Nancy did the hanging out after that was finished I did another water run which was enough to fill the tanks and have our normal 60 litres reserve.
Glen contacted us and said he was organising the fuel run so I asked if he could tag me on the same run and I would meet him there at the awarded time. This he did and we had to go to the dock at 1000 hours, this is when we both got into trouble with Shirley, Glen got told off for organising me to come along I got told off because I did not ring her and give her my details. Actually she was alright but she was pointing out how things should work. We filled our containers and said we needed to return for more so she organised 1400 hours for us.
Later Glen contacted us to tell me that Shirley would be a little later and that he had talked to a local bloke who suggested that we sail out to Enderby Island this afternoon, around 10 Nms which would make our trip shorter to the Montebello Islands. So after fuelling up we readied for sailing and set off for the island. Between the port and the island there are a lot of moored barges and working boats some are lit at night some are not. I had a good sail out there until the last mile when we ran out of wind. We had an early night, ‘Banyandah’ was going to set out at 0200 hours in the morning we decided we would go later.
Dampier to Montebello Islands
Wednesday – 07/08/2013
I woke up around 0250 hours and could see the stern light of ‘Banyandah’ in the distance, Nancy was also awake so I made a cup of tea and we got ready to sail, we set off at 0315 hours and motor sailed out of the anchorage and into the side of the shipping channel. I could just make out ‘Banyandah’ as she runs a tri-light at the top of the mast which can be seen at a further distance due to height, they are probably 5-6 nautical miles ahead of us.
I also had two other sets of lights which looking at the iPad AIS on the net was tugs towing barges coming my way I passed the first one near the end of the shipping channel and the other a little way out to sea. We had some good wind and we sailed quite well as dawn broke I could see we were gaining on ‘Banyandah’ gradually we had 63 Nms to cover today and we had to get to the islands in good light. Out near the islands are some major gas plants, gas wells linked together via under sea pipe works to Varanus Island where there are gas and oil plants, these have restricted zones where we can’t sail so we have to go around the marked areas and these areas are marked on the charts but no marker in the sea.
We were just behind ‘Banyandah’ when we entered the Northern Passage into the Montebello’s we anchored at the first bay on Trimouille Island, this island is where the British tested the atomic bomb in 1956, there are three sites where this occurred. Once we were on the island there are some warning signs advising not to stay more than one hour per day as radiation could cause problems. The problem is the weather has to rule us and it tells us we can only really stay one night or a week. A week would be nice but then we may miss the right weather for getting down this western coast line which can be treacherous. So it is good that we sailed early so we got here early enough to have a look around. We left the first anchorage after going ashore and went to the southern anchorage on the same island. The islands here are beautiful and it is a shame we have to leave after such a short visit. The end of the day we went over to ‘Banyandah’ for sundowner’s.
We discussed what we were going to do the next day Glen said they were going out to the western side of the islands and heading for Serrurier Island, at this point I thought we would head back towards the coast as the wind predicted did not suit us being a catamaran we do not point into the wind as well as a monohull, so it maybe we head different directions but we would catch up somewhere going down the coast.
We wished each other fair sailing before we left their boat and went back on board for dinner and an early night.
Montebello Islands to Exmouth via Thevenard Island
Thursday – 08/08/2013
Ready before first light although we need the light to see our way through the maze of islands, although a very short visit I am pleased we made the effort to see them. At this point with the wind blowing and it’s direction I have not made up my mind which way we will go, I will wait until we get outside of the island and make the decision then. We went through the small gap north of Daisy Island and steered a course to bypass the restricted area when I realised we have to go out of our way a fair distance and when we turn we would have the wind in the wrong area for sailing so we decided to go with the ‘Banyandah’ idea. We had to sail south before crossing the islands to the western side where water depth allowed. We took a slightly different path to ‘Banyandah’ due to the pointing into the wind difference. I had found both chart plotters accurate in this area and now hoped they continued to be true as we passed over water 3 metres deep. The unnerving part was the water is so clear you can see the bottom and it looks so close. Banyandah was able to short cut across but we maintained the same level going down the island, they were able to stay in a straight line on course where we had to tack, as soon as we got passed the shallows at the bottom of Barrow Island I was able to tack SSE and that put us quite a way ahead of our mates.We did not make the miles we had hoped for so we all decided to anchor at Thevenard Island and we anchored there at 2040 hours so it was a long day.
Friday – 09/08/2013
Up at sparrows as usual before first light getting ready to sail, at first light we weighed anchor and motored to the gutter channel of shallow water and found our way out through that passage, once clear of the passage we hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the headsail and we were away under sail. It was a beautiful morning blue skies and bright blue seas, ahead of us was a couple of ships one appeared to be on the move and I tried to call them but did not get a response, it was moving in front of us and I wanted to know if it was towing the other vessel.
I continued with caution and kept checking with the binoculars and could not see any tow lines so we continued on our way enjoying the sail. We got to Flat Island some 25Nms from where we started and the wind died, at first I thought it was because of the island but it did not recover to what it was and we slowed somewhat.
We had booked a berth at Exmouth Marina, they have a new finger (dock with number of berths) there now with a 20 metre catamaran berth which they allocated to us, we told them that we may not get there in office hours and would confirm our ETA when we get closer. They were very obliging, it is run by the Department of Transport and have very nice staff being Ainsley and Marcie.
We had to continue to sail towards Sunday Island as that is where the wind favoured us for sailing when we reached this point we had to turn towards Exmouth, this meant head on wind and tide against us. We were motor sailing at 6.2 knots through the water but only 4.2 knots across the ground, losing 2 knots is quite big but we were still on target for 1730 hours.
Nancy rang Ainsley and told her of our ETA and she said she would leave all the necessary stuff in the power box, she also emailed us a layout of the new section of marina so we could see where our berth was.
As we approach Exmouth one item stands out well before you see land and that is the aerial farm of the naval base, these antennas are very high, taller than the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building. I will tell more later.
We was allocated the 20 metre cat berth, thinking it was a cat berth we assumed that the dock would run both sides and rigged up for a stern starboard side to. However, the design of the marina is that one side of the berth is pontoon and the other is poles with securing devices on it, so when we were rigged for starboard side to we had to go in bow first. This caused another problem and that was that the power and water was so far away, so we went out of the berth Nancy with some grumbling at me raced around changing ropes and fenders over for a port side stern to. Just as we got settled ‘Banyandah’ came in passed us and said they will pop over for a belated sundowners once secured alongside.
After sorting everything out we went for a walk to check out where everything was, the toilet block is a good walk and is very airy with a good gap between walls and roof, the men’s similar to that of the women’s has two toilets, one being a disabled toilet that also has a cold shower, there is one other shower for marina guests that is locked and the key is supplied that has hot and cold shower taps. On the marina complex is a Game Fishing Club which is probably the majority of type of sailors in the area, their facilities are much larger with a lot more toilets and showers, I would imagine members have a key to these, but they are open when the restaurant is open.
After our sundowners we had a meal and crashed in bed.
Saturday – 10/08/2013
One of the first jobs we had to do when we got in the marina was wash the dock down, this section of the marina is a brand new dock the whole finger was still being completed whilst we were there, the work commenced in March when they drove the poles in and then May they commenced installing the floating docks. No sooner than they had the first section in a colony of sea gulls (hundreds) moved in and they stay on the dock most of the day and night so you can imagine the droppings and the smell was a little high. The marina management do not know what to do about them they are not allowed to shoot them so they are hoping that when the boats start moving in the gulls will find somewhere else.
We are told that we were lucky to get a berth as when all the work is completed which was completed the day before we left, all the berths are booked out by locals and there is a waiting list with a lot more people wanting berths.
I did a search for a car hire in town there are the four usual services with cars at $97 per day plus insurance, then I found Allen’s Car Hire, he has his own fleet plus an agent for Hertz, his own fleet is aged cars in good running order not flash but alright at $55 per day plus $20 per day insurance so we organised that and the crew on ‘Banyandah’ went halves in the costs and we ran around together. Glen has another crew member flew up from Tassie Lowie she is going as far as Geraldton.
So Nancy and I walked to town picked up a cheap hire car from Allen’s Car Hire, we drove up to the CBD which is quite small checked things out and went back to the marina. Allen’s Car Hire is also a car and boating gear store so we were able to pick up some gear whilst we were there.
We called into ‘Banyandah’ on the way passed and told them about the car and discussed what they wanted to do about fuel runs and shopping and having a look around. We decided to do the fuel run in the morning and then go for a drive, do the big shopping on Tuesday car goes back Wednesday.
After that we returned on board to do work, ‘Alana Rose’ has not had a good wash since Darwin and she is filthy and crusty with sea water. Anchoring off the coast with SE winds brings the desert dust plus places like Port Hedland and Dampier with the iron ore loading, although I must say these two places were quite good as they spray the storage down with water which keep the dust levels down. Nancy cleaned inside whilst I cleaned outside and that is how the afternoon was spent.
Whilst washing the boat Nigel came to see me and said that a bloke heard us talking fuel and he has some fuel that is surplus to his needs and he would sell it at a discounted price, was I interested, silly question, course I was interested with fuel prices at the bowsers at $1.85 litre. So we went then and picked up our discounted fuel in our containers.
Fuel prices in Exmouth that we saw was as follows:
Caltex main service station in town $1.85
Exmouth Fuel Supplies next to Allen’s Hire Car $1.81
Caravan Parks out of town $1.81
After all the work and showered we all had dinner at the Exmouth Game Fishing Club which is located at the marina just at the top of the finger we was on so not far to walk home. Very good food very friendly service and drink prices very good. We all had a good night before returning on board for a good night’s sleep.
Sunday – 11/08/2013
We all piled into the car and went into town for a look around sourced the Laundromat for the ‘Banyandah’ crew had coffee picked up a few items from the IGA stores, there are two of them and I have been told owned by the same person, it pays to look in both before buying as prices differ between the shops on different items.
We had coffee before heading back to the marina via the Thirsty Camel, they had my beer on special and some wine specials so I picked some up.
At dinner last night the young lady that served us told us that they had roast dinner Sunday nights so we asked if we could book, but unfortunately they were booked out which is the case for most Sunday’s you have to book early. So Lowie said that she would cook us a roast dinner so we had roast dinner on ‘Banyandah’ and a good entertaining night with much liquid refreshments.
Monday – 12/08/2013
All in the car for a tour of Exmouth. We headed out of town towards Tantabiddi Boat ramp and anchorage as we were interested to see where our first anchorage would be. On the way we stopped at the Harold E Holt Communications Naval Base which is detached from the aerial farm a few kilometres away. This base used to be the USA base for communications with their Submarines which was back in the cold war days.
Out the front of the base is a model submarine or part thereof, at the back of it is a door with a window and when looking inside there appears to be a mini submarine but I cannot find any information about it.
Websites of interest:
From here went continued down the track until we reached the turn off to the light house
the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse is located 17km north of the Exmouth. The Lighthouse overlooks Lighthouse Bay and has the distinction of being one of the few places in Australia where you can watch the sun rise and set. The Lighthouse was built in 1912 and stands on the northernmost tip of the Cape Range.
This site was also used during the war having a radar tower and this was camouflaged with sandbags in front of a timber wall and camouflaged netting, the steel structure still standing and there are some sand bags or the contents of them remaining probably due to the rain wetting them and the sun drying them making them like mud bricks.
From here we went to Tantabiddi boat ramp and had a good look at the anchorage, when we get here in the boat we have to pass through reefs, this is well marked with leads and port and starboard markers. After checking this out we drove up the road a short way to the rangers station but decided we would not go into the National Park. We then headed back towards town calling in at the Homestead Caravan Park to see if we could get a coffee but we struck out on that cold drinks only.
We then called in at the Turtle Centre, although it is not the time now for turtles to come ashore to lay eggs the centre has a lot of information and has the story of the turtles life. We walked onto the beach front and watched the crashing surf from the SW swell and I suppose we all quietly thought about being out there in this type of seas on this coast.
The turtle story.
Hatching turtles from sand to sea, the mother lays eggs in the sand on the beach,
we grow down below out of reach, when the sands are warm only girls are born, when the sand is cool it is boys as a rule,
we hatch out in the sand after 8-12 weeks, it takes 6 days to the surface, then the ocean we seek,
We dodge gulls and crabs to reach the waves on the shore, the dangers won’t stop there will always be more,
as we enter the surf we swim for our lives, to avoid hungry fish we have to dart and dive,
for the next 8 years you may think we are ‘long gone’, but we drift on the currents growing big and strong,
more than 20 years later we start heading for home, only one in a thousand will arrive fully grown,
between the reef and the shore near the beach where we hatched, we meet in October to look for a match,
high tide at night people must take care, for females on the beach are easy to scare,
we dig holes in the sand and lay eggs in our nest, we leave about a hundred there’s no time to rest,
the cycle of this journey is a natural trend, with your support and care, we will be back to breed again.
We then called in to the Lighthouse Caravan Park for that caffeine hit, but again disappointed. Many places here have some days of operation only and this was not one of them.
Before going back to town we detoured to the cape to see the wreck of SS Mildura there is not much left these days as the sea has taken most away.
So it was back to town for a coffee and lunch, after lunch we did the important shopping, the needed and probably not needed but wanted refreshments, beer, wines and spirits. My XXXX beer was still on special so got some more of that, the back of the car was filled with goodies. So we returned on board storing our goods.
As ‘Banyandah’ supplied dinner last night we did tonight, so dinner on ‘Alana Rose’ and a few more liquids, Nancy had a surprise belated birthday cake from Nigel. Nancy’s birthday was on the 4 August and we were in Dampier and had dinner at the Mermaid Hotel Restaurant and we did not tell Glen and Nigel it was Nancy’s birthday only that we did not want them to do anything special. This had come up in conversation about ages last night when it was pointed out I was the old man of the group. Well Nigel had put his talents to work and made a cake. So when our dinner was finished and Nancy was washing the dishes Nigel went back to their boat got the cake and brought it back lit the candles and sang happy belated birthday to Nancy. The comical part was the only candles that they had on their boat was left over from someone else’s birthday, two numbers ’65’, they could have put them 56 but Glen thought it would be funnier having 65. So we had another great night with great company.
Tuesday – 13/08/2013
Today all back in the car to town to get food stores, the big shop and the ‘Banyandah’ crew did their laundry whilst we all shopped, with all groceries loaded we went for coffee then back to the boats to unload and pack away. After lunch Glen and I went back into town to get unleaded fuel, oil, gas and a few items we required. Then returned on board.
We are waiting for the weather to change for favourable sailing down the coast, meantime doing a little maintenance to the boat today I scrubbed the grass skirt off the hulls, the moss around the waterline is growing well.
Tonight we all had a quiet night on board.
Wednesday – 14/08/2013
I started the washing early as we had a lot to do the car had to go back this morning so Nancy took the car back and I stayed on board and finished our laundry, when that was finished I checked the engines and gave them a bit of a run.
The afternoon was spent getting some blog notes together and photos.
Another quiet night aboard.
Thursday – 15/08/2013
Today is the big challenge, testing our skills on eighteen holes of golf. The five of us walked to town and hired our clubs and ball at the mini golf course, yes 18 holes of mini golf. What a fun time we had, I think we changed a few rules along the way or at least made some up.
This was followed by lunch at the Grace’s Tavern before walking back to the marina and the rest of the day was quiet.
Friday – 16/08/2013
Looks like we sail tomorrow after checking the weather strong winds behind us to start with but should be a good sail.
Nancy went into town to do the fresh goods shopping whilst I did checks on the boat, checked bilges, giving them a clean out and checking bilge pumps and alarms, give the engines another run in and out of gear, toped up fresh water tanks . Gave the boat a hose down cleaning the week of dust off it.
Glen and Nigel came over for a quick sundowner s before we all went to the Exmouth Game Fishing Club for dinner again, very nice meals at good prices. We had the mandatory bottles of red wine, it was a good night. Back on board for a good night sleep as we will sail in the morning.
Exmouth to Carnarvon
Saturday – 17/08/2013
We planned to leave the marina at 1000 hours that would give us the outgoing tide and the wind behind us up to North West Cape where we change course, ‘Banyandah’ followed us out but did pass us before the Cape as we do not go so well with the wind directly behind us, however, when we turned the NW Cape we was on a close reach and we soon caught up and passed them, it was a good sail and we got into Tantabiddi anchorage.
This anchorage is quite good the reef offers great protection, we anchored in 3 metres of water and the holding was good. The channel into the anchorage and boat ramp is well marked with leads and port and starboard channel markers that are lit so it is possible to enter during the night. But note the Raymarine chart plotter leads line is incorrect however the lateral markers are good for the way into the leads but not once you turn so just follow the lateral markers. The lights on all markers flash at the same time so it lights up like a runway.
We had a chat with another catamaran owner, Peter on ‘Sea Whiskers’ he said he and two other boats had been waiting for a weather window here for a week, I told him we did the same at the marina. I told him that we were heading out early in the morning.
Peter is doing it tough, he is a sole sailor and his cat a Seawind 1000 has only got one outboard working which he hopes to get fixed in Carnarvon.
We had a quiet night and early to bed.
Tantabiddi to Maud’s Landing
Sunday – 18/08/2013
Left the anchorage before daylight had broken we have plans to get to Norwegian Bay, as we left the anchorage we heard Peter calling his other friends on the radio suggesting they follow us out, later we saw four yacht masts in the distance, Later again we saw two of the yachts head for Yardie Creek anchorage but two continued to follow. We hoisted the sails and we had good wind to sail by but as we got further into the morning the wind dropped off and came around to the SW making it almost a head on wind so we had to start an engine. Some miles before Norwegian Bay the seas picked up with the wind and the seas got quite uncomfortable there are many contours of the seabed in this area and it pays to stay away from them. I went for a rest and Nancy was trying to keep some wind in the sail by altering course slightly and it took us into this area. Even though we headed away from them the seas were very mixed and rough.
Glen on ‘Banyandah’ called on the radio and said that they don’t think Norwegian Bay was a good anchorage for these conditions and we agreed with him. He suggested we sail on to Maud’s Landing which we did arriving at 2020 hours after travelling 82NMS.
We were bushed when we arrived and we anchored a little off shore in 6 metres of water not knowing what the seabed closer in was like, when ‘Banyandah’ arrived they went closer in, Glen phoned and said there is plenty of depth where they are, I explained we would stay till morning when we could see the bottom, he said that’s the beauty of having a steel boat. I said that is called navigation by brail.
Just after going to bed I heard Glen talking to someone on the radio, it was the yacht ‘Star Ship’ one of the yachts that followed us down he got some advice where to anchor from Glen. Later in the early hours of the morning when I checked the anchor so to speak I could see a steaming light and a starboard light about a mile from the anchorage coming closer. I knew it would be Peter on ‘Sea Whiskers’ I felt sorry for him having to bash his way down by himself in these sea conditions and only having one engine working.
I had a good night sleep and it looked like we would be here for a few days with the predicted weather
Monday and Tuesday
We were confined to stay on board the winds from the SW kicked in on Monday morning and stayed it was too rough to beach the dinghy or go visit other boats everyone stayed on board their boats. The anchorage here is good and as the guide book states it can be rollie. It was not so much the rolling with us as the short waves rocking us slightly. As Nancy said when we first got up this morning to move the boat closer to shore we could see wind generators over the hill, she said does that tell us something?
Maud’s Landing to Gnarraloo Bay
Wednesday – 21/08/13
Tough day left Maud’s Landing at 0500 hours, as we got going I think we woke up ‘Banyandah’ crew as we went by the lights started to go on. Taking the weather in this bay things looked good weatherwise but when passed the reef we had wind on the nose and a confused sea, wind waves from SE and swell from SW had to at least run one engine to get somewhere. Anchored at Gnarraloo at 1350 hours. Glen followed us in he said if he had any idea it was going to be like that he would have stayed at Maud’s Landing, I think we may have done the same. The predicted weather has not come off so well the last few days. The other yachts did not follow us this time, I think they did not trust our judgement on the conditions, I am beginning to think they might be right. Early night 80NMS to go tomorrow to Carnarvon.
Gnarraloo Bay anchorage is quite good, it is good holding if you pick the right spot. The Fremantle guide was good although it is hard to identify the orange track and the bushes with a gap in it, the bearing given is good but you need a start point. If arriving in sunny conditions you can see the reef quite plain but there is dark spots that are alright to cross but you have to make the judgement because there are some shallow bommies around. We did not anchor in the guides recommended spot as it would be difficult to exit in the dark, we actually anchored in line with that orange track and it was quite good holding and comfortable with the strong SW winds.
Gnarraloo Bay to Carnarvon
Thurs – 22/08/13
Left Gnarraloo at 0130 hours wind speeds good went out with a reefed mainsail and it stayed in, we set course once away from the reefs unfurled the headsail leaving six turns on and we are away at 7.5 knots, we have a very bright moon to help us see what is happening with the seas. The seas are very sloppy, swell about 2.5 metres from the SW wind waves about 1.5 metres from the SE, not comfortable. As we approach Red Bluff about 1.5NMS off the coast and the wind picks up to 30 knots our speed increases to 8.5 to 9.2 knots and we start slamming into the waves, I knew it was only the wind bending around the bluff causing the higher winds so I did not want reef down more so I just backed the sails off to slow us down to the 7.5 knots again. Daybreak comes and Nancy gets up from trying to have a sleep, she did get a few naps in. I feel like having a nap but the way things are I would not put Nancy although capable in the hot seat with the way things are as it is heavy going.
As we approach Point Quobba I get on the internet and recheck the weather and the wind charts, we should have had easterlies all night but got ESE and now we should be starting to get NE winds and we need those when we change course. As we reached the point of changing course we have SE winds almost on the nose and we have to kick in an iron sail as the wind and tide starts to work against us I started the other iron sail, the headsail is luffing so that’s furled and we go with two engines and a mainsail.
When we reach the port leads there is a unusual looking two mated monohull sailing into the leads ahead of us, I think he maybe a local so he would be good to follow through this very restricted course of shallow waters into the Gascoyne River. We get to the point at the fork in the waterways where you go port to the Gascoyne River to the Fascine Channel or starboard Tegg’s Channel that goes to the boat harbour and the bloke that we thought was local is getting directions from the dredge operator, but this bloke does not follow those directions and runs aground, I have to pull up because all of a sudden this bloke throws his engine full astern as is coming out in front of us, the dredge operator is giving him directions which we do follow and this bloke did part the way until he runs aground again, we go around him and follow the water flow and chart plotter course. This bloke ends up running aground four times with the final time at the anchorage/mooring area. I know it is not uncommon to run aground in this place but when you have the local knowledge and that being the dredge operator that has worked the waterway, you can’t get better info than that and you run aground you must be doing something awfully wrong. I have run aground before and I will again at some point they say a person who states he has not run aground has never left the marina or is a good liar.
The Fascine Channel is something else though it is not your every day port entry you have to check your tides and come and go at the right times, when I went around this bloke I had zero depth under me I was probably rolling the sand grains as we moved forward, the tide level on the tide charts at that time was 1.17 metres above datum level, I draw 1.4 metres so the datum is very small at this point and when you consider that this was a spring tide and the tide difference between high and low tide is only 1.2 metres approximately there are times when we could not get in or out.
There is an alternative and that is the Tegg’s Channel you may be able to organise a dock in the boat harbour by calling the harbour master or anchoring in the channel away making sure you leave room for fishing fleet traffic.
After anchoring we had a few visitors from other yachties that are heading north so we were able to share information with each other which was good.
It had been a long day for me as I had been going since 0100 hours this morning but I had got passed the tired stage so we do the next best thing sit relax have a few beers, red wine with and after dinner. Maybe a little too much red wine I find out in the morning.
Carnarvon is a stop to replenish some items like fresh goods, fuel and water. It would be nice to stop in some of these places and take a little more time to see what they have to offer but we also want to see some of the waterways in Shark Bay before we leave and we have to keep in mind that this area has the turning point for the weather and seas. Steep Point land form is the furthest western point of Australia. This is one of the critical points that we must get right before sailing down the coast, the next stretch is at least 130 Nms no stopping and the land form of cliff faces create a rebound for the swell and waves. So when a wave from the SW goes past us it will return eventually and it does not make things very comfortable. So we need to pick the size of the waves as well as the wind speeds and wind direction to take this next step in the journey.
Looking at the current weather there is a weather window on Wednesday and Thursday to do the trek, but when you look at the predicted wave height for that period of time they are 4 – 5 metres. I have sailed in larger waves before but not by choice and if I can choose I will look for a little less height in the waves and take a little stronger winds. I check weather twice a day on four different weather websites and read the synoptic charts on the BOM and Metvuw. I also have the Grib files so I check the weather from different sources and even with this Mother Nature throws a curve ball to keep us guessing.
Around 0700 hours this morning I heard Peter on ‘Sea Whiskers’ calling the Dredge Master but did not get a response, I figured he was after information to enter the Fascine Channel so I called him. That is what he was after so I gave him the details and he safely made entry, I did the same again for Andrew on ‘Star Ship’.
This morning once we were ready to step ashore I rang a taxi company, I checked the internet for taxi companies and picked what I thought was a local bloke and was right, I then asked if they would pick us up take us to the service station let me fill five 20 litre containers of diesel and drop us back. He said no worries, so that is what we did, got a good bloke he even got out and helped me with the fuelling and lifting. When looking for taxi’s in these towns I ignore the ones with a 1300 number and call the local numbers because they are the local people.
Whilst we were waiting for the taxi a local yachty pulled up in his car and asked if we were going to get fuel he would run us in and bring us back, we thanked him very much but explained we had organised a taxi and we could not just leave. Later when we were shopping we bumped into him again and he asked if we wanted a lift back but we told him we had brought the dinghy up to town.
After getting the fuel back on board we set off in the dinghy again towards town and there is a small beach not far from the main street, we beached there left the dinghy and went and had a look around, had a bite of lunch and then did a little shopping for fresh goods and bread before heading back on board.
I spent the rest of the day doing a little maintenance and repairs that just have to be done.
Water is available at the dinghy dock in the marina, I did a water run first thing this morning before we went for fuel, there is also a skip bin for rubbish by the yacht club. We had intended to go ashore to the yacht club for dinner on the night but by the time it came around we were both a little bushed and decided to stay aboard. We have to leave here tomorrow due to the tides, the tides are not very big here between half a metre and one metre difference, with a draft of 1.4 metres we need a little water to get out.
Shark Bay, Monkey Mia, Quoin Bluff to Cape Ransonnet
Saturday – 24/08/2013
Before getting ready to leave Carnarvon I did another water and rubbish run then got everything ready to leave around 1000 hours, I figured there would be about the same water levels as when we entered and I was wanting to get to the shallow part where we had no water under us on the way in as it is a rising tide so if we did touch bottom it would only be for a few minutes until the water rises.
I watched the depth gauge as soon as we had 2.1 metres at the anchorage I said lets go, we let go the mooring and slowly edged our way into the cannel, when we got to the shallowest point near where the dredge which was working I was not disappointed, we had the same as when we entered, no water under us, we must have just stirred the silt as we slid across at that point.
With no wind we had to motor although I had sails up for a little help here or there or just show at times. We headed for Herald Bight for an overnight anchorage, we were entertained all the way with whales playing, either breaching out of the water or flapping their fins. Plus all the other life of turtles, birds and dolphins.
We dropped the anchor at 1730 hours just in time for sundowners a pleasant night.
The anchorage were we stopped at was good, but like most places on the west coast you cannot get very close to shore for wind protection we had to anchor nearly one nautical mile of the beach because it shoals so far out. So in windy conditions you will get some fetch causing the wind waves although not uncomfortable but can be noisy on the hull.
Sunday – 25/08/2013
No rush this morning we had breakfast and listened to Macca on the radio before weighing anchor and heading to Monkey Mia about a 19 Nm sail or should I say motor sail. We caught the tide down there which provides an extra two knots speed. When we had travelled a couple of miles we met ‘Banyandah’ coming back the other way, we had a chat to them and said we may catch up with them tomorrow or the next day. We arrived at Monkey Mia around lunchtime as a storm squall decided to join us. I said to Nancy we could go ashore for lunch. What wife says no to that?
We lowered the dinghy and conditions were a little choppy, when we got inshore the waves were crashing on the shoreline so we used the jetty to get off and then guided the dinghy ashore with the painter (head rope), dragging the dinghy ashore backwards that stopped the dinghy from being swamped.
We had just about finished our lunch when some rain came in so we headed back to the dinghy did the reverse method of getting the dinghy to the jetty, got the dinghy bow into the water near the jetty, Nancy took the head rope I took the stern and we pulled the dinghy passed the breakers and then got aboard and headed back to the boat.
Had a quiet night aboard we intend to leave early in the morning to head to Denham where ‘Banyandah’ have anchored, it is about 50 Nms so we need the day to get there and there is no wind.
Monday – 26/08/2013
We left Monkey Mia when there was just a glow of morning in the sky, conditions were calm not a breath of air, another iron sail day.
Again with flat seas we are entertained with nature, dolphins, turtles and birds and later whales. You have to love this life. As we rounded Cape Peron North I checked the weather and realised that Denham is open to the predicted winds, also it is the same distance to go there as to go to Quoin Bluff where we intend to go the next day. So I made that executive decision and headed for Quoin Bluff and we have the required protection from the predicted winds. I contacted Glen by phone and he will see us over here tomorrow.
We did another 50 Nms today and as soon as we anchored and got settled I grabbed a coldie, I reckon I earned it.
Quoin Bluff to Cape Ransonnet
Tuesday – 27/08/2013
We were nice and relaxed taking things easy at the Quoin Bluff anchorage then mid morning Glen rang and said that he had gone to Cape Ransonnet south end of Dirk Hartog Island and was thinking about leaving tomorrow. We had a discussion about the conditions and the weather, I was thinking the waves are too great to leave but said I would check again and if we weren’t happy about it we would not be going. Each skipper has to look at the situation and call what is the safest move.
I then did some research on the net re-weather/wave heights and directions. There is one unknown quantity and that is what the effect of the waves on the cliffs as we know they rebound, so my theory is that the smaller the swell the smaller the rebound. There are the Zuydorp Cliffs that face south west and the swell and waves from that direction especially hit the cliff face and rebound back to sea, it is not like a beach where the waves just break and roll onto the beach, here they hit a wall and bounce back.
Nancy and I discussed the issue and we decided we would head down to where they are and keep checking the weather at least by going down to where ‘Banyandah’ was anchored we are closer to the exit at Steep Point.
So we sailed and motor sailed down the 15 Nms through the channel to Cape Ransonnet and steered up the channel to the bay nearby. The channel or Blind Strait has markers, on the chart it shows leads, they are not there and also some of the lateral markers that are shown on the chart are missing. However, the electronic charts show the correct path to travel.
When we first set out we had to motor and I unfurled the headsail as there was a little wind from behind, as we got to Blind Strait the wind changed direction to NW and I had 26 knots at times so it was a good ride through the strait.
We got to the anchorage and there is a lot of weed growing on the seabed so after trying to drop the anchor in a clear spot with 26 knots of wind blowing was fun, it took three goes before we could get hold of the bottom, Nancy had to clean the anchor the first two tries.
Glen and Nigel came over for sundowners and to discuss the weather. Glen asked what I thought and I said the jury is still out and probably will be until the weather reports in the morning. He agreed with me, we will revisit it in the morning. One advantage we have is that the BOM update the wind charts between 0400 and 0500 hours EST so due to our time difference we get them nice and early WST.
They dropped Lowie off this morning she was going through to Geraldton but times getting along and with the weather we are not sure when we will all get there.
We have 25 to 30 knot winds out there at this present time and I believe the seas have a swell of around 5.6 metres outside our safe anchorage so we are staying put. This anchorage is good for all SW to N winds, holding is good when you find a clear patch as the seagrass is quite thick in places. The entrance via the southern end is quite narrow and there are some rocks to the southern point of the land where care needs to be taken making sure the tide flow does not push you in that direction.
Wednesday – 28/08/2013
Up early to check the weather the boys on ‘Banyandah’ are itching to get away today, but I think if we go it will be later in the day, I think it will be very late in the day after checking the weather charts.
I check a few internet weather websites, the BOM is one of the good ones in looking at wind charts and wave charts as they update twice a day, usually around 0500 hours and 1700 hours (EST). Metvuw is another good site. Other sites like Buoy weather, Grib files and Seabreeze are good but I have not found them that reliable as far as sailing, with the first two are American and their updating times are probably when they are awake and we are asleep but they do give good reference. Seabreeze is not designed for yachting and they state that on their site it is for the surf and board riders, it identifies what is happening on the shore. Some yachties rely on this site alone and that maybe alright if they sail close to the coast only.
After checking the weather sites I think the better times for the 150 Nm sail will be either late tonight or a little before if things calm down wave heights by the weather man state they will drop to 2 metres at 0200 hours in the morning and stay like that until Friday midday winds SW to W 10 – 15 knots reducing down to 5 – 10 knots, not good for sailing but calmer conditions that the 5.6 metre waves of yesterday and this morning.
Glen and I had a discussion regarding the weather and the window we have this next stretch has wave rebound on the cliffs so the smaller the waves the smaller the rebound. Glen suggested we go at first light in the morning conditions would have calmed down a lot more by that time and we have plenty of time before the wind kicks in on Friday.
So we had sundowners and dinner then an early night.
Cape Ransonnet to Wallabi Islands.
Thursday – 29/08/2013
I was out of bed by 0450 hours so put the kettle on to make a tea for Nancy and I, I took Nancy a cup of tea and said don’t rush to get up I am just checking weather and latest wave heights.
After Nancy got up we started preparing to leave and we pulled the anchor at first sign of light ‘Banyandah’ did the same as soon as we headed into South Passage we felt the NW wind of around 10-15 knots and whilst heading into it we hoisted the mainsail. As we neared the bar crossing I could see the waves breaking. Checking the sketch in the guide book was a little unclear so I followed the chart and watched where the waves were breaking as we got closer it was quite clear the track to take as the water rippled heavily where the shallow bar was and also breaking in other areas but identified a clear path out.
Naturally with the SW swell and wind waves from the NW it was a little lumpy getting out of the passage and it stayed lumpy until we got out to the 100 metre water depths, so for some time it was quite uncomfortable. Steep Point at the head of the passage is Australia’s mainland furthest western point and this is where the cliffs really start and the wave rebounding of the cliff and back to sea, combined with wind waves makes it like a washing machine.
Also as we neared the bar just before Steep Point we noticed campers on the flat area of Steep Point, they all came to the edge to watch us go out to sea.
Once we got out to the deeper water the rebounding waves ceased but the seas were still a little lumpy but we sailed well, after a few miles I noticed the winds rising and could see a storm squall to the starboard side near the horizon and thought that would be the cause. As it got closer the winds picked up to 30 knots. We very quickly furled the headsail and started an engine turned into the wind and put a reef in the mainsail, turned back on course unfurled the headsail leaving six turns on so we were well reefed down and we stayed like this most of the voyage.
The storm squalls became a pattern for the day and night, after the first squall and like most squalls we were left without wind for a short time, so it was drop speed start one engine to keep going then as the wind came back shut the engine down.
After things settled down a little and I mean a little, I went and had a sleep and Nancy took over after an hour dozing we swapped places. It is important on these overnight runs more so when it is only one or two nights that you get as much rest as you can when you can because you do not know what the conditions will be later and through the night. When you get rough seas it is not only rough but very noisy with waves slamming the hulls of the boat. On a long voyage where one sails for many days and nights after three days you get used to this and can usually sleep on demand but it takes three days to condition to it.
After lunch I went for another rest this time I lasted two hours this put me in good stead for the night, Nancy stayed up until after dinner. Dinner was also prepared before we even left the anchorage. Nancy uses the Shuttle Chef Thermo cooker, this way the leftovers stay hot in there over night so if it is cold which it was you can have something hot to eat during the night watch.
Nancy went for a sleep after dark and I took the watch through to midnight, I was going to go longer to give her more sleep but by 0020 hours I was feeling very sleepy and safety comes first, so I went down and woke her, she said she had slept for short periods which is what we do until you get conditioned as I said before. I put the kettle on before going out to the cockpit so she could make a hot drink to bring out with her when she takes the watch. This is a habit we have always got into when sailing overnight.
It had been an interesting watch with the squalls but the last one left us without any wind and the sails were just slapping from side to side, the little wind we had was from behind so I decided to leave the headsail up that was being blocked by the mainsail and drop the mainsail. So I went out to the mast dropped the mainsail and motor sailed with the headsail unfurled about two thirds.
We always do a proper handover of the watch, we have usually plotted where we are at that point in time on the paper chart showing the track we have taken and the plotted course we hope to stay on. All other information if there are ships about, where our mates are on ‘Banyandah’ and any other information such as what weather conditions we have had what sails we have, what engine to start if we need one. Yes my Navy training has stayed with me, but it comes to safety.
I remember reading an article of a couple sailing to Fiji, the husband took the watch at 0400 hours, no hand over, he looked at the electronic charts all appeared to be alright, so he made himself a coffee before venturing into the cockpit to have a look around, the wife already in bed, then suddenly a crash and the yacht is on its side. It had hit a flat top reef and every crashing wave pushed them further onto the reef. They were lucky they put out a call and two other yachts in the area came to their aid and was able to pull the yacht off the reef, fortunately a good solid yacht and suffered little damage. The skipper admitted that he found that he had the electronic chart plotter on the wrong projection and he had not checked his paper charts for more than eleven hours. I can tell you after sailing these waters it is not a good place to make mistakes, they say if you fly over the Fijian waters you would never sail it because of the network of reefs. Complacency has been the cause of many injuries and deaths the sea is not a place to become complacent.
That’s the end of today’s lecture, let us get back to sailing to the Wallabi Islands.
Nancy took the watch and also suffered the rain squalls, I think she had more rain than I got on my watch, she had an interesting night we were motor sailing at the time because the last storm I had it left us with no wind at all and the wind direction swung around the clock. I know at one stage that I got up and asked her if we had slowed down because we seemed to be rocking more, so much so I had to go down the aft cabin to try and sleep. Nancy said no just going through another squall.
I went back to try and sleep, again I dropped off and woke at the change of movement or noise of the boat, Nancy came and woke me at 0415 hours, she wanted to hang on but we were getting close to the islands with only 10 Nms to go.
We did the hand over and Nancy said she would try and get an hour in before we get in to anchor, I backed off on the speed to wait for a little more light, but I must say the electronic charts were spot on and you could come in when it was dark with no problems other than where we ended up you have to pass some moorings so you would need to be alert and have a spot light or strong torch. Personally though I would wait until light in this place, it would be alright in the northern bay but this area daylight would be better.
When we got in we actually picked up a very solid yellow mooring thinking it was one of the public moorings, looking at the website later I don’t think it is but I don’t think anyone is going to arrive in this weather looking for it so we will stay on it unless someone comes and asks us to move.
Looking at the weather we will be here until Sunday or Monday when the winds die down some. You know a fellow sailor in Broome asked where we were going and I said down the west coast, his reply was, poor bastard, he had done it once and said that was enough. Well I don’t regret what we are doing but I think once is enough. The vast expanse of the Indian Ocean and the weather coming from the SW and not many hiding holes to anchor is a constant concern. The weather gurus do well but the seas and winds are not always what is predicted. I always said that sailing this coast is a bigger challenge than crossing the Pacific Ocean and I stand by that statement. We have been very lucky, consider the forecast for the area of Eighty Mile Beach now, there is nowhere to anchor in the weather it is getting and it is not as bad as here. As you may have read in past notes you have to anchor 1.5 to 3.5 nautical miles off the coast up there and all that is behind you is the Indian Ocean. The east coast is a lot easier to sail as it has many sheltered areas when the proverbial hits the fan.
However, in stating this I am also enjoying the challenge and the beauty this coast has to offer, unfortunately like most years of sailing we don’t get to stay long enough to see everything we would like to see and that’s what usually makes us come back.
Sailing gets to you as I have said before that there was a plaque on the wall of the Pirates Bar in Bonaire, “Many a vow made in a storm is soon forgotten in calm waters”. How true is that, well to sailors it is. I remember talking to a skipper of ‘Poppins’ about to start the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 2006, I asked about the boat in the race, she was not a big boat, he said well I wasn’t going to enter this year but then I checked the flares and they were still in date so I did. So I asked will this be your last year, his reply was, “Well maybe, unless I buy new flares”.
So when a sailor says he won’t go there again, it may not be totally true.
Anyway we are safely tucked away and having a nice red wine.
Saturday – 31/08/2013
A very windy day and the waves are crashing out on the reef we are lucky to be where we are. Had a relaxing day not doing very much. Glen and Nigel off ‘Banyandah’ came over for sundowners and stayed for dinner. No sooner we had sat down for a nice beer we heard the sound of a large boat, I had seen it coming in and was hoping that the mooring I had picked up was not theirs but just had a feeling it might be, Well it was so we quickly got organised and started the engines and instruments before releasing the mooring and anchoring a little away from where we were. The boat was ‘Island Leader II’ a charter fishing boat.
After anchoring we put the covers down and returned to the more important stuff of having a beer followed by a number of red wines, Nancy told the boys they were staying for dinner and she would not accept any argument about it. So the night went on and we had a very good night.
The following website gives information from the Dept of Fisheries in relation to what you can do at these islands.
This website gives information about Pigeon Island.
Wallabi Islands to the Easter Islands
Sunday – 01/09/2013
We thought we would head down to Rat Island today as the high winds had ceased although the seas were still up around the 3 to 4 metres and at sometimes 5 to 6 metres which are the usual run of three waves after six or seven of the smaller ones, however, they were not bad as they were around 12 to 15 seconds apart which means you just go up and down waves a lot.
It was only a short distance of 16 Nms but this makes tomorrows sailing a little shorter when we head to Geraldton.
As we neared the Easter Island Group we headed towards Rat Island, again this is another island that has houses and jetties for the fishing season and is private property so we cannot go ashore here as like the islands yesterday. ‘Banyandah’ was ahead of us and they checked out the anchorage near Rat Island but was not happy about it so we headed for the public moorings on the inside of White Bank to the north of Rat Island and ‘Banyandah’ followed, we both picked up the moorings although later ‘Banyandah’ let theirs go and anchored because the mooring buoy kept knocking the hull.
As we approached White Bank which is a small white sandy island with reefs all around it I noticed sea lions on the beach so I called Nancy to get her camera. There are five or six on the beach and it was quite funny that after we picked up the mooring they came around our side of the island to see what we were up to then they started romping around and swimming.
We did not leave early this morning and arrived at lunch time so after lunch I had to go to work as one of the heads water inlet was blocked and after a couple of hours swearing I finally retrieved the piece of seaweed that was the cause of the problem. These items are not easy to work on because they are in small spaces and below in the bilges.
The moorings at this place is in very calm waters although you can see the waves crashing on the reef not that far away, around White Bank there are four moorings two on the inside waterway and two on the outside. There are more moorings around Easter Islands placed in strategic protection areas.
We had a quiet night as we will be leaving at first light for Geraldton as the winds and seas abate a little tomorrow. The swell will be up still but there are no wind waves.
Monday – 02/09/2013
Easter Islands to Geraldton
We slipped the mooring at first light and motored out through the Easter Islands via the Rolland Passage the water in the islands were flat calm and I noticed quite a few moorings for public use through the passage. The islands are very attractive but to go ashore you need written permission from the Fisheries Department in Geraldton and then you are not permitted to go near jetties or dwellings as they are private property.
We noticed a few graves on the islands as we went by these islands having quite a history and makes for some interesting reading, the main topic being that of ‘Batavia’ that ran aground and what happened to the passengers and crew, and later the ‘Zeewijk’ which was the last Dutch ship to sail near the west coast as the Dutch has lost many ships of this coast. The following websites tell the stories of both ships a must read.
As we left the East Passage moving away from Easter Islands the swell rolled in but not heavy as the islands tend to protect the waters between here and the mainland.
We were able to sail at a close reach to start with but later as we progressed the wind died and we had to motor sail, the swell was basically behind us a little to the starboard side, height of around 4 metres but around 14 seconds apart so it was not giving us much of a problem.
As we neared Geraldton I noticed that there were fish traps set and quite a number of them about 4 Nms off the coast. The fish traps have a set of three small round floats two white one orange or green these can cause a problem when night sailing they can be a problem if you pick one up on a propeller.
As we neared the leads into Geraldton we could see the waves breaking on the reef each side of the channel, the waves were huge and rolling in. As we entered the channel to the harbour the waves just rolled, ‘Banyandah’ was about 200 metres in front of us and they would almost completely disappear behind a rolling wave ahead of us. When we turned starboard to follow the channel into the harbour the rolling waves were on the beam which made us roll a lot but the waves had been reduced in height by them breaking on the reef. We exited the channel just before the main harbour and steered to the anchorage near the sailing club and boat ramp. This anchorage is well protected from the swell as it has the harbour walls and a breakwater. The only time we had a bit of wave action was when the wind came around to the northern sector.There are two entry channels to the harbour, there is the northern channel , not advisable to use this one in such conditions, if in doubt call the duty pilot he is very helpful, we phoned him from the islands and he even suggested that Monday would be the better day to come in.
The following website is Geraldton Port Authority, if you copy and paste this address then click on the weather tab it will give you the report for Geraldton including wave heights etc.
The anchorage area is not that large and is around 3 metres in depth it is good holding in sandy mud.
Monday – 02/09/2013
After settling in and making sure our anchorage was secure we went ashore with the crew off ‘Banyandah’ , we walked around checking where things were like laundromats, supermarkets and a nice place to have dinner. Other items on the list to check is closest fuel and water.
Getting the dinghy ashore is quite easy at the boat ramp, the boat ramp has a short fixed centre dock, we used this to go alongside get out of the dinghy then I took the long painter (rope) and went to the ramp and Nancy held a stern rope on the dock to keep the dinghy straight and from being carried with the surge of the swell coming in from the heavy seas outside. I then timed the swell to bring the dinghy up the ramp. We have wheels on the dinghy so I dropped those and hauled the dinghy to the top of the ramp and on the corner of the footpath where there is a lamppost and locked the dinghy to that for security.
After walking around we had found two shopping centres, the museum, the laundromat and a very nice place to have dinner. Glen had talked to some people and asked the best place for dinner and they all said Skeeter’s.
We called in a hotel for sundowners before dinner and then crossed the road to Skeeter’s, the dinner was very nice food was excellent and good service. Main courses are around $35 but it is top quality. We enjoyed a nice night there before returning on board.
Tuesday – 03/09/2013
Today was laundry day so we headed to the laundromat which is a short distance away from the boat ramp around 5 minutes walk at the end of the park. Whilst the laundry was going around in the machine we went to find the place to put in our early vote for the coming election, that done back to the laundry where we chatted with other travellers. These travellers were four wheel drive and caravan people.
With the laundry finished it was lunch time so we called in the Sails Cafe that had been recommended to us and had lunch before returning on board. The rest of the day was quiet other than doing a water run. Glen had found the water tap at the top of the boat ramp there is a shelter with a large stainless steel fish cleaning station for the fishermen on one of the structures posts is a tap which is covered by a steel cover to protect it from damage. Nancy filled the containers whilst I carried the containers back to the dinghy tied to the dock.
That was the work for the day and we had a quiet night.
Wednesday – 04/09/2013
Today was the day to play tourist and one of the first items on the list was the HMAS Sydney II memorial which is a good walk and up to the top of a hill. This is an incredible memorial and a lot of thought went into it.
HMAS SYDNEY – History
HMAS Sydney was built at Newcastle-on-Tyne UK, the keel being laid down in 1933 as HMS Phaeton. She was one of three light cruisers of the British Modified Leander Class, but was subsequently purchased by the Commonwealth of Australia and renamed HMAS Sydney, She was launched on 22nd September 1934. (Full history of photo below).
On the 19th November 1941 HMAS Sydney was returning from Sunda Straits after escorting the Hired Transport Zealandia to a handover with HMS Durban. That evening HMAS Sydney encountered the German Raider HSK Kormoran and became involved in an engagement which eventually lead to the loss of both ships.
No trace was ever found of HMAS Sydney II or her valiant crew of 645.
The Memorial of HMAS Sydney II:
The memorial is a must see, the lost crew of HMAS Sydney II were very brave to continue their fight basically to the death to ensure the German raider did not get away to do more damage.
From the memorial we headed back down the hill towards town and on the way we came across the old hospital which is now used as a medical centre and a visitors centre. The visitors centre provide people to give tours to visitors at places like the museum and the HMAS Sydney II memorial, times are advertised at the visitors centre.
Across from the visitors centre is the old gaol, the gaol is open to visitors for the price of a gold coin donation. The unusual thing about the gaol is that nearly all the cells are occupied by arts and crafts people. These people have been given control of the gaol and they have set up shops in the cells.
From the gaol we headed to the museum, it is another must see. I believe that you need to visit more than once to take it all in. They have many sections with lots of information, local history of Geraldton, Local Aborigines , the ships Batavia and Zeewijk, HMAS Sydney II, the first training of AIF volunteers in covert operations behind enemy lines in 1940 and many more topics.
The story of Batavia:
The region has been known to be treacherous for shipping below are sections of a plaque in the museum.
From the museum we went to the Geraldton Hotel for lunch as a local told us they also served good meals for $10 and they were right, good food and good service and it is very popular. After all the walking around and a good lunch we returned on board.
Thursday – 05/09/2013
This morning it was chores we did water runs and fuel runs. The fuel station was a little way to walk around 20 minutes. We did two runs for the fuel using both fold-up two wheel trolleys Nancy had one with one 20 litre container and I had the other with two 20 litre containers on the first run. The second run Nancy had the same and I had one 20 litre container and two 8 litre containers for ULP fuel.
Each morning and night we check the weather reports to see when we sail south, the weather is changing regularly probably due to the changing season, at this stage I reckon we will leave sometime on Sunday, the boys on ‘Banyandah’ reckon it will be early hours Monday, so we keep watching.
Friday – 06/09/2013
We need some more warm clothes, we have not been in a wintery climate for nearly seven years usually heading north for the winter and south for the summer but we have arrived south before summer and we are feeling it and we have further south to travel yet. So we headed to River’s store as they have specials and purchased a couple of items there then up to another shopping centre then another making sure we have enough warm clothing.
Tonight the boys on ‘Banyandah’ are cooking a roast for us all for dinner, Glen made it clear that tonight will be a two bottle rule night, meaning only two bottles of red wine so I said I would bring the wine.
Saturday – 07/09/2013
We headed for the farmers markets they had some good quality vegetables which is what we were after and prices were good. The markets were not very big I think all told there would have been no more than eight stalls and two only had vegetables. My back pack was loaded and had two other bags to carry back to the dinghy.
After taking the vegies back on board it was then off to the supermarket Nancy with her grannies two wheel trolley both with back packs and a few more bags, we called over to “Banyandah’ to let them know what the markets were like, I told Glen that I did not think much of his two bottle rule, I did not realise he meant two of ours and two of his, it was a good night but a little rough this morning. Glen asked if I had looked at the weather and I said I had and we would be leaving tomorrow Sunday, he said that he thought early hours Monday morning but I wanted to get down to Rottnest Island before the stronger winds from the NW came in. We headed off and did the shopping again loaded to the hilt we walked back to the dock and loaded the dinghy and returned on board.
Saturday afternoon and we had the latest weather and Glen agreed we move Sunday but not too early, we figured around 0930 – 1000 hours.
Sunday – 08/09/2013
We did the final checks and were ready to sail, the boys on ‘Banyandah’ went ashore to do the final shopping and found that Woolworths is not open on Sundays and had to go a little further to the IGA supermarket. I got them to take our rubbish ashore when they went in.
On their return we set sail or should I say motor sail as that is what we will be doing all the way with the wind although not strong it will be head on for a while.
Summary on Geraldton
We found Geraldton to be a very tidy place and friendly it is interesting to read about this part of the country looking at what it produces and the amount of commodities that go out through this port. We enjoyed Geraldton and found it quite interesting.
Below are a few websites that provide information.
Geraldton to Fremantle via Rottnest Island
Sunday – 08/09/2013
As I mentioned in my last post that we left Geraldton at 0930 hours there was a break in the weather or should I say heavy weather and waves although we knew that we would be heading into wind of around 5 to 15 knots but over the next 30 hours the winds were going to drop. This would again be the calm before the storm as we knew that Tuesday the high winds would be with us once again and we wanted to be further south and sheltered by this time.
I think I mentioned that we could not do day sailing and stop over at some of the ports we had selected because they do not offer good shelter and the problem could be getting out of those places if there is high swell.
We have 207 Nms sail working on a 5 knot average makes it a 41 hour journey making our ETA 0230 hours Tuesday morning into Rottnest Island.
Once out to sea I tried to find the Leeuwin Current, this is similar to the East Coast Current, but unfortunately it was active in August and not so much now so we were not going to get any extra speed out of that. To make it a little harder we had the tide against us at times, I had sails up and used what apparent wind I could to get some extra speed and using the two engines we motor sailed around the 6.5 to 7 knots.
We did have slight choppy seas which buried the bows now and again and when this happens it takes your speed but we were getting along alright. I had noticed quite a few fishing traps along the way and noticed they were on certain contours of the seabed so we sailed midway between any contours and this seemed to keep us safe, we hoped this method would be good through the night hours so as they are not that visible during the dark hours.
We practised the method of getting rest when we could during the day and kept the regular watches at night, we do 4 hours on 4 hours off as we find that one has a chance to get some sleep during the 4 hours off.
Nancy had made a lamb stew in the Shuttle Chef so evening meals and leftovers would be available when needed.
Monday – 09/09/2013
Things calmed down during the night and this day proved to be very calm with only the rolling blue swell we also got a little wind change to ESE which gave us better apparent wind enough for me to only have one iron sail running to maintain the required speed to get to Rottnest Island before the change.
There are still a lot of whales about amongst other sea life and it probably benefited us using engines through the night so they could hear us and get out of the way, hopefully being the operative word.
We was making good time ‘Banyandah’ was about 6NMS behind us and we could see Rottnest Island before nightfall in the distance but it would be dark before we got there.
As we got closer and it got darker the lights of the island and of Perth and Fremantle and their suburbs lit the sky and across the water. I had looked at AIS on the internet for ship movements, there had been two ships pass going north earlier but all looked clear now.
As I approached Rottnest Island about 3NMS before it I could see navigation light against the lights of the city, I watched closely through the binoculars and could see a large tug with towing indication lights plus its port nav light, I could also see the lights on the barge it was towing and those I could see both port and stbd lights, I continued on course and kept a close eye on the tugs lights. After a while I worked out that the tug had set its course to go around behind me, I started the other engine to get additional speed to assist in getting out of the way. We dropped sails and motored into the anchorage area in Thompson Bay using the spot light to see where the moorings were we anchored in a clear area. A little later ‘Banyandah’ anchored near us.
We had done quite well as far as time it was 2030 hours when we dropped the anchor and time for a beer, a beer always tastes really good once a long sail is complete, we run a dry ship at sea no matter how long the voyage.
Just after we had got to bed the change in weather hit and unfortunately not from the direction that it was predicted, we were due for NW winds and the winds came in from NE and this bay was open to this, the seas picked up to a choppy sloppy motion and we were bobbing up and down. The next thing the anchor drag alarm went off, I had set the alarm short as I often do on a first night anchorage. I got out of bed and checked the movement on the GPS, we had travelled the set distance but now seemed to be stationary, we had changed direction due to the change in wind direction. I put a waypoint where we were and watched for a while and we weren’t moving. I went outside checked the anchor and checked land marks around us and we seemed to be stationary so I went back to bed not that we were going to get a great deal of sleep with the conditions. We had spurts of sleep through the night but that was all.
One thing that Nancy had found when reading about this Island was the charges that they have, to anchor here overnight there is a charge of $21.50 per person per night, if you anchor during the day $16.50 per person. Mooring buoys and pens cost $21.50 off season, $42 shoulder season and $60 peak season, we were in shoulder season, I don’t think we will be staying here long.
Tuesday – 10/09/2013
Come morning Nancy and I are discussing the options and deciding it would be better to go to Fremantle Sailing Club Marina if we can get in earlier than what we had booked. Next thing Glen phoned and said he had been in contact with Tristan the harbour master of the marina and he said we can both go into the marina if we wish, Glen said he hoped we did not mind him asking for us, we said we are very pleased.
We got ready to get going and as we started to pull the anchor up we found that it was caught under a chain that secured a mooring, it did not matter what we did we could not free ourselves, Glen on Banyandah came back and we tried to put a rope around the anchor and tow it out forward but no luck. The sea was too rough to free dive and probably a little dangerous.
Glen suggested that we put a float on the chain and drop the lot and come back in calmer times and pick it up and that’s what I thought would be the safer option. We was preparing to do this when Nancy asked if we should let someone on the island know what we were going to do and I said yes it would be. When she rang reception we was put onto the ranger who was most helpful. He said that he had divers there checking moorings he could give them a call and see what they could do. Well they came over and untangled us so we could get away with our chain and anchor at a cost of $150 so we was very lucky for their assistance, we thanked them and the ranger for their assistance and we made way to Fremantle.
Once free and money for the dive paid we set off.
It was about a 10 Nm sail across to Fremantle and we was entertained with whales on the journey across, we entered the marina and Glen and Nigel were there to help tie us up.
Glen and Nigel’s wives are arriving in Perth to spend some time with the boys so we booked in and we are here for three weeks at this stage.