Thursday, 8 July 2004

FREMANTLE TO CAPE LEVIQUE July 2004

9.00 PM 9th of July 2004 Fremantle to Steep Point 400nm
All our farewells done, some several times, we are finally ready to depart. The weather chart is a veritable Mona Lisa. A pleasure to behold. Perfect for the next 2 or 3 days. In the calm glassy waters of the Fishing Boat Harbor of Fremantle, under the pale orange glow of the lights we collect our mooring lines one last time.
As we glide softly out through the entrance past fishermen and fishing boats and all that is familiar we cant help but wonder what the future holds.
Before long we are enveloped by an inky blackness dotted with flashing green and red channel marker lights. The distance is sprinkled with huge brightly lit cargo vessels. Aboard are myself Kris, David and Sam Medcalf. Sam is a special family friend, 19 years old  and with very little experience but with all the exuberance and optimism of youth.
During the past 6 to 7 months and beyond, preparations  have left little time anything aside from Taipan. Things have been tweaked, tied, tested, tightened, tensioned and generally readied in every corner, nook and cranny of our trusty vessel. Now for the true test. The first one is fairly simple. The main sail has been serviced and placed back on the boom but is hitherto untried. So the inevitable tangle ensues as we sort out reefing lines and knots at our first attempt to hoist it. We are all grateful for the very calm seas and light wind.
We are heading north towards Carnarvon via the Abrolhos. We will sail parallel these with the migrating humpbacks and spot them regularly. Identifiable by the light misty spouts of breath, the persistent observer will see these as location marks. Our little halco lure is trailing faithfully behind Taipan in the hope of attracting some sushi. However there is scant evidence of birds fishing these cold winter waters.
10th of July
Sam
Pleasant sailing through the night leaving sight of land at Dongara and estimating arrival at the Abrolhos Islands by midday. Pleasant sailing again. Following seas and fair winds, just like the brochures. Stopped briefly at Turtle Bay, on the northern end of the group, and fixed a battery problem. We had lunch and congratulated ourselves on an excellent start.
Journey onward  to Steep Point and  we were a little over sheeted when the strong wind warning came through at 10pm. The wind had been steadily building all afternoon. We had put in one reef but in hindsight..a wonderful thing ..we would have been more comfortable with 2 reefs.
Zydorph cliffs loomed to starboard on sunrise, both spectacular and threatening. We spent the morning watching small power boats dice death with the big rollers at the cliff face in the ever seductive pursuit of the "big one". Finally Steep Point was spotted at we gratefully slid into her welcome anchorage to rest and eat. There are an amazing number of holiday makers camped ashore, given that is a very long journey over rough and sandy track to get here. Must be school holidays.
Denham has become the next focal point and without any ceremony or drama we coasted quietly into the Denham jetty for our first night tied to something.
11th of July. Denham to Carnarvon. 62nm
Fairly uneventful except for some unmarked shoals on the eastern side of Peron Prong. Sam spotted the sudden depth change and we were able to take  evasive action. Some cunning deviation and stunning guesswork had us again sailing in deep clear water.
Sams two Bonito marinated in lemon Juice after a good long soak in salt sea water make a very fair sushi. Just on dusk we  enter the DOT marina and tie up fir the night. Huck and Karen good friends from Kalgoorlie and owners of "Evergreen" arrive for drinks after dinner.
Wednesday 12th July
Sam flies out today so we filled water and went round to the Facine River anchorage. We were invited to dinner with the Westoby's. Toby and Joyce have a plantation just out of town.
Thursday 13th July
All ready for the arrival of Sebastian Cook by bus from Perth. Son of Chris Cook a good friend from
Fremantle and with no sailing experience. Lunched with Hillary and Gary Westcot and all is ready to leave on the tide on Friday morning.
Friday 14th July
Modified bow roller.
Goodbyes all round and up with the anchor to motor round to the DOT marina for fuel. Leaving the marina after fueling up... wham bang crash...collected the ladder on the side of a big green port marker which jumped out in front of us. Wrecked the pushpit and safety rails and narrowly avoided pulling the rig off!!.
Back to the DOT Marina to fill in incident report etc on poles behavior! Gary Lawson came down to see if he could make us a new pushpit and rails. Dinner at the yacht Club!! Butt of many jokes!!
Saturday 15th July
Huck came down with a welder and all the necessary stuff and he and David disassembled the damaged bow rollers and the twisted and bent anchor tackle. Hucks clever welding fixed the pin and pivot and the anchor tackle declared fit for purpose again! Dined aboard Taipan then wandered to the Yacht Club for a Quiz Night.
Sunday 16th July
Early breakfast and Huck put the finishing welds on the Anchor tackle and, minus the bow roller, and we moved Taipan back around to the Facine Anchorage again to await the stainless steel work.The afternoon was spent on Evergreen helping to pull wires and generally trying to even the score. I did manage to load and get running his navigation software. Hillary and Gary invited us to dinner and picked us up from the Yacht club at 6pm. Sebastian, meanwhile, had found a friend, Jason, who works at Chicken Treat and enjoys fishing so Seb is happy hanging round with him.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc.
Nothing to say!!
Still in Facine we await the arrival of the new pushpit.. "push bit".. Not supposed to "push poles a bit". Saturday the "bit" arrives. Mick the welder has done a good job and it fits. Sunday and Monday spent fitting the stainless back on. Monday, with Huck arrival back from Kalgoorlie, we are able to fit the bow roller and prepare for departure once again. We have to run Sebastian to ground first but some inquiries at Chicken Treat bring him to heal. Farewell to Huck and Doug and Mary on"Cartref" from Freo, Loraine on "Mendara" Steve on "Mean Feat" "Ocean Lady" with Grahame and Trish heading south. Jim Welstead is still missing at sea between Exmouth and Carnarvon in his yacht Serene. Carnarvon has had record breaking rain while we were there. 150 to 160mm in 3 days.
Tuesday 27th July Carnarvon to Onslow  270 NM
7.00 am, raining softly, pitch dark and thankfully no wind, Sebastian proves his worth with eyesight like a hawk he guides us out the unlit channel through the nightmare of sand banks between the anchorage and the open ocean, missing all the poles and make a course direct for Cape Cuvier 50 NM north. Uneventful night although we are all tired. Seb is getting into the swing and not sea sick so thats all good.
Wednesday 28th July
Bopping up the coast past Coral Bay. Still quite overcast but not so cold. Caught a tuna. Great for patties. Put the where with all together to launch the asymmetric spinnaker. Went up OK but the sock does need the tube down the inside so the ropes wont foul the launch. Very annoying.  Material is too heavy and its a big bunch of material at the head so it doesn't open properly. However all that aside its better than nothing and it speed our progress. Dropping it was easy but probably best to leave the sheets on.
Thursday the 29th July.
Beautiful dawn, I was asleep but its very calm. Motored most of the night and still motoring towards  Onslow, On with the shorts for a bit of sun. Arrived in Onslow at 430pm and uneventful anchoring  500 meters from the beach in front of the old hospital. Spoke to Linda on the phone and we arranged to dingy in to spend the evening with Peter, Linda, Jake, Andrew, and Jill a friend of Linda's from Denmark, Albany. Walked about the streets awhile, quiet a good supermarket there. Sebastian very quiet with strangers. A good nights sleep in a still anchorage is welcome change.
Friday 30th July Onslow to Dampier 90 NM
Motored out of Onslow on sea of glass. Stunning day. Mangrove Passage is the preferred course to Dampier. The computer really takes the grief out of navigation in this pass. Not uneventful passage however. First the fridge stops working?? A minute or two of investigative electricianing reveals that the meter thingo is also stuffed probably new batteries. Too much navigation talking place to investigate further. Skitched Seb onto the milk which will only go off. What is that noise in the auto pilot again? squeak grind etc. Seems to be a loose sprocket on the chain drive. A spare Alan key and some blue tack seem to help.
Damn!!!all the electrics have gone down...computer too! The  spare inverter doesn't seem to like any of the outlets any more. Stuff it!! its looking like an expensive day. At least the weather is nice!!
Hang ON!... the battery bank is very low. OOPS!!....Thinking..."I" may have accidentally disconnected the rear battery bank while modifying the auto pilot....true... problem definitely the battery disconnected. Whoopee!!... the fridge works, the inverter works, the auto pilot works, the electronics are all happy again.
Gas tanker in Dampier
Sailing through the night and the lights of  Hampton Harbor, Dampier hoves into view about 4am. Great! 4 hours sleep!
Saturday 31st July Dampier to Broome. 350 NM Dawn on a stunning day and we are headed up Flying Foam Passage. After the excellent rains in the area, Burrup Peninsular is wreathed in verdant green, grey green spinafex, fresh from the morning dew. The iron rich country is even more outstanding in its striking red coloration. Not a cloud to cast a shadow and the whole panorama is ours alone.
What looked like becoming a beat across to Port Headland, instead, turns into a westerly and once again, up goes the MPS. Ive shortened the sock rope now so there is less to get tangled in, however the fabric is too heavy and the soc tends to fall down if the sail collapses. The attachment points need to be flaps not straps to prevent sheets being accidentally attached through them causing the spinnaker to snag when you try to hoist it. Also the pull lines need to be in a sleeve. All that aside ...it works if  you are careful.
One mackerel to David
Depuch island Aboriginal rock art
David has set up his new rod with  a lovely black and gold bibbed lure and bingo a fish! Some tense moments trying to land it as we circled about trying to keep the line behind us, but after about 20 minuets we had a 1200mm Spanish Mackerel safely landed and dispatched to the galley. Plenty of fish now.
Sebastian, not to be outdone and trying to catch a fish finally snags one. He spent 4 hours battling it..with the kite up...100m to Seb and 100 m to the fish. It is huge!. Its nearly a full moon but hard to see it . Just as David was about to gaff it the line broke. Darn!! It was a very broard fish with a wide flat mouth. Maybe a Cobia?? Seb was exhausted and slept 12 hours straight! Good Effort!
Sebastian in action.
Off Port Headland and... you guessed it...short steep chop even though there is only 15 to 18 knots of breeze. Its astern so pretty rolly. Bedout Island is on the screen all night. Will we ever get there.??
Sunday 1st August. Jamie's birthday. Whales again, fish feeding frenzy and beautiful sunshine. There is a strong front crossing the south west so we have benign west to south west wind here. Motoring predominates because its too light. MPS up at dawn and providing some assistance. No fishing today. everyone too exhausted by the thought. l spend several hours with the Nordic blond cream and a trim. Looks like and aging surfie  chick now.
Pleasant afternoon MPS up, cruising along comfortably at 7kn in a light breeze on flat water. Evening draws in and a full moon rising. There is an increasing breeze so after dinner we reef, pack the MPS and secure it. Wind building and by 2am its pretty nasty and increasing, on the nose and short steep chop. Pretty uncomfortable. Off Walal, Anna Plains yukky!!
Monday 2nd August. Dawn and its disgusting. Another reef and no headies. By lunch time its flattened off again and we have to motor because the breeze is too light! Racing a strong wind warning into Broome. Drop anchor 1km of Ganthian Point anchorage and sleep welcome sleep!
Tuesday 3rd August. Broome. The wind is strong and the anchorage is rough so we are going to sit it out rather than getting soaked going ashore in this. Broome is a windy and  inconvenient anchorage. Tides are huge 14M + and the anchorage is 17 KM from town. Dad and Mum are here however so we are able to link up with them to get shopping and stuff for the Kimberly run. They are going to drive up to Cape Leveque and join us for a sail in the Kimberley.
Saturday 7th August. Broome to Beagle Bay 75nm. Sunrise has to compete with an early sea mist creating a soft expectancy shot with pink and tangerine. Stark line of scrubby tufts mark out the sand hill tops only to bleach off into the fog. Boats are all lined up into the current as the  swirly grey envelopes them. Sebastian has made his way back to Perth to find a real job. We up anchor and set off to Beagle Bay at 7.30am. Flat as glass and pleasantly warm, we motor most of the way. Late sea breeze assists our passage in to the  bay. The pearl farm is well marked with radar reflectors.  Dropped anchor at 7.30 pm
Sunday 8th August Beagle Bay to Cape Leveque 40 nm
Just a short uneventful sail. Decent breeze. Went ashore and welcomed with a $20 landing fee. Thats a new one! Dinner ashore and some phone calls to make.
We are awaiting the arrival of Colin and Edna, Kris's mum and dad, coming by car from Albany and due any time. When they arrive we will head into the Kimberley for our next leg of the voyage.


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