Thursday, December 24, 2009

Esperance to South Australia

Hello from South Australia. We arrived safely after experiencing a mixture of sailing conditions, from mild to moderate to lively, but never Oh #*#@ !!!!!

Last phone calls leaving Esperance

After leaving Esperance we sailed out through the Recherche Archipelago where the islands consist of large granite cliffs and boulders weathered smooth by the winds and seas which surround them. To catch the best winds we sailed south reaching 37 degrees which put us approximately 300 nautical miles (550 Kilometres) off shore at one stage.

Our blog posted from the Bight on Friday 11 December indicated that we could be motoring the following day. Well, the wind moved into the south west and was blowing between 12 to 15 knots, the seas moderated so on Saturday we put up the spinnaker and started to head north east towards South Australia. We had a fantastic sail that day enjoying balmy conditions after three days of cool to cold winds and overcast skies and the occasional rain squall with choppy seas and large swells that either slammed into the boat making it shudder and shake or pushed us from behind as we surfed down them. In Fremantle we had a screen made for the back of the cockpit which protected us from the worst of the winds and salt spray from the waves – a great investment.

During the day we started to plan where we would make landfall. As we had headed further south it looked like it might be Tasmania at one stage. After some discussion we decided that instead of going to Port Lincoln we could go further east to Kangaroo Island. Sunday morning we sailed past Cape Borda and along the north coast of the island before dropping anchor at Hawk’s Nest Bay, near Cape Dutton, 830Nm (1500Km) covered from Esperance. We went ashore in the dinghy through light surf to feel sand between our toes after 6 days at sea and enjoyed a spectacular sunset from the beach.

Washing the salt off the windows & clears

Monday 14 December we set off for Adelaide however the wind pushed us towards the Yorke Peninsula then veered south east so after another spinnaker run Port Vincent was our destination. We were not able to set our anchor in the soft sandy mud and sea grass. After two attempts and advice from a local sailor we headed for the marina where we tied up for the night. The following morning we set sail to cross the Gulf for Adelaide with the wind dropping out and the seas becoming glassy as we approached the port.

Our friend Richard was able to organize a berth for us at the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron at the Outer Harbour. So here we are in a rather surreal location with a container loading facility to our north and a car loading wharf to our east. The yacht club has been very busy over the past week with special sailing evenings and Christmas Parties. We spent our last day with Roy in the McLaren Vale and enjoyed a late lunch at Port Willunga before taking him to the airport for his flight back to Queensland.

Our main sail required repairs with a seam starting to come undone. Richard put us in touch with a local sail maker, Alex from Alegayter Sails, who fitted us in before Christmas. He found some additional wear from the topping lift and we also needed new pockets for some of the battens. Thanks to Alex we now have our sail back on the boat ready for our departure after Christmas.

Adelaide is a very enjoyable city to visit, with the famous Adelaide Markets where we have purchased most of our Christmas produce, the wine growing areas of the Barossa, Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale close by and some fantastic restaurants. Cran’s Mum and Sister arrived this week to share Christmas with us and we are taking the opportunity to enjoy many of the things that Adelaide and it environs has to offer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Great Australian Bight

Quick update to advise we are going well with our crossing of the Bight.

Left Esperance with light to moderate southerly winds and were able to lay a south easterly course to get some valuable southern miles logged. With the forecasted winds we needed to get a far way south of the rhumb line to make the most of the weather and not get too knocked around. It got a bit lively Weds & Thurs but has settled down now with reasonable winds albeit just not quite the right direction with a bit too much west in them. These should shift later today and get lighter to the point where we will have to motor for a while. Better than getting knocked around though. We have a slow moving high pressure system in the Bight and we are on the right side of it for favourable winds. Expect to be in Port Lincoln Sunday if the weather holds.

A more detailed update with photos will be posted once we are back in normal internet range.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dunsborough to Esperance

We have just left the harbour of Esperance (Tuesday 8 Dec) and are heading out into the Southern Ocean on our way across the Bight to South Australia.

We had a beautiful day to motor sail down the coast from Dunsborough around the two capes - Naturaliste and Leeuwin. Whales joined us during the day and were sailed close to the coast so that we could see the townships and pick out the geographical features along the way. Cape Clairault, Cape Freycinet, Hamelin Bay to name a few - sounds like wine country over those hills!!

The sun was setting as we rounded Cape Leeuwin and headed to Albany. The overnight sail into Albany proved to be quite choppy and uncomfortable and our comfortable anchorage in Frenchman's Bay the next evening was a welcome haven. The following day we tried twice to get an anchorage near the town however we were not able to set our anchor due to the thick sea grass. We headed for Oyster Bay where we picked up a mooring and spent the night, heading into Albany the next morning for some provisions and a coffee shop experience. That afternoon, Thursday 3 Dec we motored around to Two People's Bay for the night. Friday we sailed to Cheyne Island via Waychinicup Inlet, a small fiord with a narrow entrance between large granite bolders. As we sailed along the coast we could see the Sterling Range peaks in the distance. We were able to go ashore on Cheyne Island where there is a small Penguin colony and many seabirds nesting on the headland. A very picturesque anchorage and protected close to shore. (Photos to be added when we get to SA.)

Saturday we sailed to Dillon Bay, a large bay just east of Bremer Bay. There were people on the beach fishing and even swimming in the surf. Dillon Bay has some interesting homes located in the rugged but spectacular bushland. Sunday we headed off for an overnight sail to Esperance in confused seas and moderately strong winds so it was with relief that we dropped anchor off the sailing club in Esperance on Monday morning. We had a hearty breakfast then a sleep before hitting town to collect mail at the Post Office and do some last minute shopping as the weather looks promising for us to make our crossing of the Bight. We plan to arrive in SA on Sunday.

We are all well and enjoying this challenging sailing experience. Roy's sailing experience is helping us refine our techniques and it is a pleasure to have his company.

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