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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dampier to Montebello Islands and Montebello Islands to Exmouth via Thevenard Island


Wednesday - 07/08/2013


I woke up around 0250 hours and could see the stern light of 'Banyandah' in the distance, Nancy was also awake so I made a cup of tea and we got ready to sail, we set off at 0315 hours and motor sailed out of the  anchorage and into the side of the shipping channel. I could just make out 'Banyandah' as she runs a tri-light at the top of the mast which can be seen at a further distance due to height, they are probably 5-6 nautical miles ahead of us.
(Chart showing anchorage at Enderby Island where we left from for the Montebello's)

I also had two other sets of lights which looking at the iPad AIS on the net was tugs towing barges coming my way I passed the first one near the end of the shipping channel and the other a little way out to sea. We had some good wind and we sailed quite well as dawn broke I could see we were gaining on 'Banyandah'  gradually we had 63NMS to cover today and we had to get to the islands in good light. Out near the islands are some major gas plants, gas wells linked together via under sea pipe works to I Varanus Island where there is gas and oil plants, these have restricted zones where we can't sail so we have to go around the marked areas and these areas are only marked on the charts.

(Chart showing the no go areas each place is a gas well head)

(One of the well heads)

 

(Chart showing track into the Northern Passage, lat/long for each waypoint as on the chart)
(Disturbed water with the tide flow at the entrance of Northern Passage)

We were just behind 'Banyandah' when we entered the Northern Passage into the Montebello's we anchored at the first bay on Trimouille Island, this island is where the British tested the atomic bomb in 1956, there are three sites where this occurred, once on the island there are some warning signs advising not to stay more than one hour per day as radiation could cause problems. The problem is the weather has to rule us and it tells us we can only really stay one night or a week. A week would be nice but then we may miss the right weather for getting down this western coast line which can be treacherous. So it is good that we sailed early so we got here early enough to have a look around. We left the first anchorage after going ashore and went to the southern anchorage on the same island. The islands here are beautiful and it is a shame we have to leave after such a short visit. The end of the day we went over to 'Banyandah' for sundowner's.

 
(North anchorage at Trimouille Island, waypoint as on chart)
(The above warns that a British Atomic Weapon was test exploded above this point in 1956, there are a total of three areas that this happened in these islands)

(This sign is near the beach)
(View from land of the northern anchorage)
 

(This chopper landed on the hill and then hovered over the water for some time, they had something lowered on its hoist, not sure whether they were taking readings or what)

(This monitor does not appear to be affected by the radiation levels its and others tracks were all over the place along with many old turtle nests)
(Main Bay anchorage at the southern end, waypoint as on chart)

We discussed what we were going to do the next day Glen said they were going out to the western side of the islands and heading for Serrurier Island, at this point I thought we would head back towards the coast as the wind predicted did not suit us being a catamaran we do not point into the wind as well as a monohull, so it maybe we head different directions but we would catch up somewhere going down the coast.

We wished each other fair sailing before we left their boat and went back on board for dinner and an early night.

Montebello Islands to Exmouth via Thevenard Island

Thursday - 08/08/2013

Ready before first light although we need the light to see our way through the maze of islands, although a very short visit I am pleased we made the effort to see them. At this point with the wind blowing and it's direction I have not made up my mind which way we will go, I will wait until we get outside of the island and make the decision then. We went through the small gap north of Daisy Island and steered a course to bypass the restricted area when I realised we have to go out of our way a fair distance and when we turn we would have the wind in the wrong area for sailing so we decided to go with 'Banyandah' idea. We had to sail south before crossing the islands to the western side where water depth allowed. We took a slightly different path to 'Banyandah' due to the pointing into the wind difference. I had found both chart plotters accurate in this area and now hoped they continued to be true as we passed over water 3 metres deep. The unnerving part was the water is so clear you can see the bottom and it looks so close. Banyandah was able to short cut across but we maintained the same level going down the island, they were able to stay in a straight line on course where we had to tack, as soon as we got passed the shallows at the bottom of Barrow Island I was able to tack SSE and that put us quite a way ahead of our mates.
We did not make the miles we had hoped for so we all decided to anchor at Thevenard Island and we anchored there at 2040 hours so it was a long day.

(Anchorage at Thevenard Island, waypoint as on chart)

Friday  - 09/08/2013


Up at sparrows as usual before first light getting ready to sail, at first light we weighed anchor  and motored to the gutter channel of shallow water and found our way out through that passage, once clear of the passage we hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the headsail and we were away under sail. It was a beautiful morning blue skies and bright blue seas, ahead of us was a couple of ships one appeared to be on the move and I tried to call them but did not get a response, it was moving in front of us and I wanted to know if it was towing the other vessel.
(The track out through the gully of Thevenard Island, chart plotters were quite accurate)
I continued with caution and kept checking with the binoculars and could not see any tow lines so we continued on our way enjoying the sail. We got to Flat Island some 25NMS from where we started and the wind died, at first I thought it was because of the island but it did not recover to what it was and we slowed somewhat.
We had booked a berth at Exmouth Marina, they have a new finger (dock with number of berths) there now with a 20 metre catamaran berth which they allocated to us, we told them that we may not get there in office hours and would confirm our ETA when we get closer. They were very obliging, it is run by the Department of Transport and have very nice staff being Ainsley and Marcie.
We had to continue to sail towards Sunday Island as that is where the wind favoured us for sailing when we reached this point we had to turn towards Exmouth, this meant head on wind and tide against us. We were motor sailing at 6.2 knots through the water but only 4.2 knots across the ground, losing 2 knots is quite big but we were still on target for 1730 hours.
Nancy rang Ainsley and told her of our ETA and she said she would leave all the necessary stuff in the power box, she also emailed us a layout of the new section of marina so we could see where our berth was.
As we approach Exmouth one item stands out well before you see land and that is the aerial farm of the naval base, these antennas are very high, taller than the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building. I will tell more later.
(Radio antennas, when first seen they look like they are coming out of the sea.)

(I had to change course to give way to this big boat 'Mermaid Cove')

We was allocated the 20 metre cat berth, thinking it was a cat berth we assumed that the dock would run both sides and rigged up for a stern starboard side to. However, the design of the marina is that one side of the berth is pontoon and the other is poles with securing devices on it, so when we were rigged for starboard side to we had to go in bow first. This caused another problem and that was that the power and water was so far away, so we went out of the berth Nancy with some grumbling at me raced around changing ropes and fenders over for a port side stern to. Just as we got settled 'Banyandah' came in passed us and said they will pop over for a belated sundowner's once secured alongside.

(One thing we had to do on arrival was wash the dock due to the droppings from this and many more friends)

After sorting everything out we went for a walk to check out where everything was, the toilet block is a good walk and is very airy with a good gap between walls and roof, the men's similar to that of the women's has two toilets, one being a disabled toilet that also has a cold shower, there is one other shower for marina guests that is locked and the key is supplied that has hot and cold shower taps. On the marina complex is a Game Fishing Club which is probably the majority of type of sailors in the area, their facilities are much larger with a lot more toilets and showers, I would imagine members have a key to these, but they are open when the restaurant is open.

After our sundowner's we had a meal and crashed in bed. 


Cheers.

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