Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fremantle to Dunsborough

The past two weeks have been spent enjoying Mandurah, a lively and well organized city just south of Fremantle. The Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club (MOFSC) were very hospitable giving us a place on the collector jetty so that we could finish the repairs to the water maker. Our sail down to Mandurah from Garden Island was the best one we had experienced on the west coast.

The first weekend at MOFSC a Seawind Regatta of 5 boats arrived for a few days of sailing and socializing. Our friend Janice took us for a drive around Mandurah showing us the beautiful Peel and Harvey Inlets as well as their canal front home where they have moored their new boat Zoa Brunk which they purchased in Mooloolaba and sailed back to WA this year. We met Jan and Mick at Lizard Island with Brian and Betty in June.

The new membranes for the water maker had arrived in Australia however it was not until Thursday 19 November that they could be installed and tested. All went well apart from us needing to purchase some new high pressure fittings. The first week in Mandurah we experienced a few days of strong winds and rain so that kept us on the boat. I caught up on some of my sewing projects. Cran unfortunately had a dental emergency (a broken tooth) and after a visit to the Dentist in Mandurah, then a trip to Perth to visit the oral surgeon, he was scheduled for the following Monday to have his tooth extracted. Many thanks to Tony the Bosun at MOFSC for lending us his car for that first trip back to Perth.

We spent the time doing yet more boat maintenance – painting and varnishing, cleaning etc etc etc, we always have a To Do List that seems to grow even as we cross things off. While installing new o’rings on the hatch handles Cran had the misfortune to drop a part of the handle and as usually happens, it falls over the side of the boat instead of through the hatch. It provided an opportunity for Cran to try out our new Power Dive hooker. After about 20 minutes feeling around the weed on the bottom in 4 metres of water Cran recovered the part which was about the size of a golf ball.

We hired a car and drove to Harvey, a picturesque town to the south where friends Vince and Blanch live. They took us to lunch at Stirling Cottage on the banks of the Harvey River which was very relaxing. They have just sold their home and plan to move back to Queensland.

This week saw us back in Perth on Monday for Cran to have surgery to remove his tooth. All went well and he did not experience any side effects which has been great. We spent Tuesday and Wednesday preparing the boat to leave Thursday for Bunbury. Unfortunately our delays have meant that we will now be sailing through lobster pot territory as the commercial lobster season has just started. Not such a problem during the day but a different story when sailing at night as we will have to do at times.

Friends from Fremantle, Steve and Mike arrived at Mandurah on their way south to Albany and we spent time with them. Steve’s boat Lazy Bones was purchased in Malaysia and he is sailing around Australia then on to the Pacific before heading back to the UK, his home. Mike is from Fremantle and he and his wife Helen are heading north next year on their yacht Proteus 11, hopefully we will meet up again on the Queensland coast some time in the future. They left Tuesday in fair weather and when we arrived in Bunbury they were anchored off the town beach, after having a wild time of it beating south then loosing their satellite navigation due to a computer problem. They decided to turn back to Bunbury to get things sorted. We had just dropped anchor when Steve phoned and invited us over for dinner which we gratefully accepted after our own wet and lumpy sail down from Mandurah. The next day Cran was able to return the favour by fixing Steve’s computer problems.

On the trip down to Bunbury we were motor sailing and encountered a problem where the engine suddenly lost power. The most likely cause was something wrapped around the prop but unfortunately it was too rough to go over the side to investigate. The beauty of having 2 engines, we were able to switch to the other engine for the rest of the trip. Cran dived on the prop the next morning and found the prop wrapped with a woven plastic bag like the type used for bulk rice sacks. Bad luck to pick up something like that 10 Nm offshore.

Koombana Bay, Bunbury is a good anchorage just off the yacht club, main beach and town. There is a Dolphin Centre just to the north of the beach where daily encounters with live dolphins can be experienced. On Friday a large school group were there for the day and we could see the dolphins as they came close to shore to be fed by the children. Our friend Roy arrived Friday flying in from Brisbane. He will join us on our journey south around Cape Leeuwin and then we start heading east, firstly to Albany, then Esperance and hopefully across the Bight to Port Lincoln then on to Adelaide for Christmas. He arrived with a Christmas cake baked by his wife Deborah however I am not sure if it will make it to Adelaide!

Yesterday we came down to Dunsborough and took a mooring off the main beach. It was a beautiful afternoon with smooth clear waters so Roy was keen to launch the kayaks and have and explore. Today we have been preparing the boat for our trip around to Albany. We will leave about 5am and should be in Albany late Tuesday afternoon. We are all looking forward to this leg where we will sail around Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. At Cape Leeuwin we will leave the Indian Ocean and enter the Southern Ocean with its big rolling swell. We are fortunate to have a favourable weather window for the next few days.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Geraldton to Fremantle

We arrived in Fremantle just over two weeks ago and have been busy with a long list of boat maintenance jobs since our arrival as well as catching up with friends and enjoying being in a major city for the first time since leaving Darwin.

After we left Geraldton our first night was spent at Port Denison. The wind picked up around lunch time and we had a lively sail south. As we were taking the sails down prior to motoring through the reef into Port Denison we received a call from the local Sea Rescue who were watching our progress along the coast. We had booked a berth with DPI on the main jetty and as we approached two very helpful locals took our lines and helped us to tie up which was greatly appreciated in the strong afternoon sea breeze. We enjoyed dinner ashore at the local pub that evening.

The following day we headed south to Green Head an interesting anchorage behind the reef close to the shore and a small fishing town. We had surf breaking both sides of the boat as we made the zigzag route through the reef however the anchorage was protected and we enjoyed a BBQ for dinner that evening. When we left early the next morning for an overnight sail to Fremantle and were lucky to enjoy a good day of sailing before taking the sails down later in the evening as we became surrounded by electrical storms and unpredictable wind direction. The lightening was quite spectacular however it is not a nice experience knowing that we had the tallest object (our mast) for miles around us. After the storms passed us we then had no wind and motored through the night and into Fremantle arriving at 9am on Monday 26 October.
The Fremantle Sailing Club has been very hospitable and has a well organized sailing program and social calendar and very professionally managed. On Tuesday evenings the local “Live-a-boards” have a BYO BBQ which is a good opportunity to share stories and gather information about the next stage of our journey. Our boat was tied up at the Collector Jetty - the main access to the other fingers where over 600 boats are moored. We had many comments and questions about the boat and its design. The crow’s nest and new wind generator were also major points of interest.

We have undertaken some major maintenance on our Generator replacing the oil pressure switch and had the starter motor overhauled. We have had a new staysail made (by Peter Carstens from Pioneer, who has now completed his circumnavigation of Australia). The old staysail was over 12 years old and the cloth was delaminating. Peter has his own sailmaking business, Shoreline Sails & Marine and we were fortunate that he rescheduled his workload and was able to make the new sail within our limited time in Fremantle. The staysail will be a much used sail when we get down into southern waters and stronger winds so it is essential we have one that is up to the task. Other work has included a new roll up cover for the back of the cockpit which looks great, new ropes installed, all ropes and rigging washed down to remove the last of the red dirt from the Pilbarra. Cleaning up the boat both inside and out, has been a major task as we have not had heavy rain since Cape York.

Many thanks to Brian and Ted, Bosons from the Freemantle Sailing Club for their friendship and invaluable information that have helped us resolve our boat maintenance issues. We first met Brian & Ted at Geraldton where they were returning from their winter cruising in the Shark Bay region and they arrived back in Fremantle the same day as us. Thanks also to all the sailors who shared their local knowledge about the sailing conditions of the WA coast especially Pam and Alex Balloch, Jack Baxter and Peter Carstens who have provided us with details for sailing south and around the Capes then east to Albany, Esperance and across the Bight to South Australia.

It is Thursday 12 November today and we are moored in a bay on the north east tip of Garden Island in Cockburn Sound. There are seals on some rocks just to our north. Tomorrow we head south to Mandurah where new membranes for the water maker will be installed.