Saturday, September 26, 2009

Onslow to Tantabiddi Anchorage (Ningaloo Reef)

The past week has been spent sitting out strong wind warnings then taking advantage of breaks in the weather to make passage along the coast. We spent 3 days anchored off the township of Onslow. It is a small holiday town that also provides support to the offshore gas and oil facilities. We were able to purchase the weekend papers and replenish our fresh fruit and vegetables while ashore, and visit the local Goods Shed Museum which houses an eclectic display of local memorabilia. We enjoyed lunch at the pub on Monday after investigating the boardwalk which joins Sunset and Sunrise Beaches through the sand dunes at Beadon Point. From the walk you can observe the salt loading facility at the end of a long jetty. The dunes are home to an interesting range of plants that somehow survive the dry conditions. At the start of the walk is Onslow War Memorial depicting a Diggers Badge. It was designed for the sun to rise through the centre every Anzac Day.

On Tuesday 22nd Sept we set sail for Serrurier Island, a spectacular long sandy island with good snorkelling and fishing (21.36S 114.41E). We enjoyed a lazy day there on Wednesday before heading south to Ningaloo Reef and our present anchorage at Tantabiddi. We left Serrurier at 3am and had a good sail until we were abeam of North West Cape where the seas were very confused with large waves coming from all directions. The tall communications towers on the Cape (built by the US Navy) were visible from 5 miles offshore. No longer operational, the site has become a tourist attraction and a few of the towers are taller than the Eiffel Tower.

We are anchored inside Ningaloo Reef surrounded by sea grass beds with large waves breaking on the reef about 2 kilometres away (21.54S 113.59E). On shore we have a back drop of limestone ridges – the Cape Range National Park. There is a boat ramp with a tourist information shed and a bitumen road regularly traversed by cars towing caravans. We are experiencing very strong winds 25 to 35 knots with several gusts over 40 knots and a maximum of 48 knots. This morning at 2 am we were woken by the sound of the anchor chain grinding on the anchor winch. The chain is normally connected to a bridle that takes the strain off the winch; however the stainless steel shackle that connects the bridle to the chain broke as a result of the hours of straining against the winds and the currents. So there we were in the early hours of the morning on a pitching deck doing repairs in gale force winds. Fortunately the anchor didn’t drag nor the winch clutch let go so it was a good outcome. As we say “Cruising is an adventure everyday”

The conditions are forecast to ease off for the next 3 days before the next set of strong winds arrive. We will use that weather window to travel down to Coral Bay before heading for Carnarvon late next week. The weather is quite warm with the winds blowing from the south east and the humidity is 28 %, so it is time for a quick swim off the back of the boat before lunch, then a snorkel and walk along the beach this afternoon.

1 comment:

Brett Clarke said...

Great article with excellent idea! I appreciate your post. Thanks so much and let keep on sharing your stuffs keep it up.

Sailing Ningaloo Reef