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.

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