This blog is about my wife and I sailing our 13m sailing catamaran around Australia during 2012 2013 and 2014. We will sail from Brisbane at the end of April 2012 and slowly head north anticipating that we will arrive in Darwin for the cyclone season and head west when safe to do so and complete the circumnavigation.
This morning was a bit of a slow start to begin with as we
had a bad night sleep as it started raining at 0230 hours and we had to run
around closing hatches, then the brain started ticking over of things we must
do before we leave in the morning. So when we got up just after first light we
were not on the ball. After breakfast we got it together. I filled the water
tanks up and filled all that runs on petrol, then we went ashore filling all
water containers and fuel containers for outboards and generator.
Once back on board check all is secure spare water and fuel
then we got underway as planned at 1100 hours to catch the outgoing tide. It is
a short trip today of 23Nms.
We weighed anchor and got the sails up although winds were
slight, once the sails were up we shut down the engines and we started a slow
sail of 2.8 knots, this improved as we moved further away from Fannie Bay and
before long we were going 6.5 knots. Unfortunately half way to our destination
the wind dropped to zero and the an iron sail had to be started which is one
thing we are trying to avoid we need to conserve fuel and water from now on. It
is 2,000Nms to Broome and a possible three places we may be able to get fuel.
So it is important to work the tides as we did today we maintained the 6.5
knots under motor with only one engine due to the tide being with us.
The afternoon sea breeze kicked in from the north east so we
got the sails out again for the last couple of miles.
We anchored off Camp Beach in 6.5 metres of water, (6.5
appears to be a popular figure today). It is not really any different to
anchoring at Fannie Bay getting protection from winds NE through to South . I
would say though in heavy weather it would be uncomfortable and further into
Bynoe Harbour would offer more protection.
Earlier days on HMAS Attack (1968) when anchored there Mick
O'Halloran and myself would go fishing in Bynoe Harbour and it was the first
time I had seen sharks when on the line would swim towards you and you would
think they had got off the line and as you pulled the line in they wouldcome out of the water spin in the air and
snap your line.
We had a good night sleep and was up early (0430 hours) to
catch the tide.
Tapa Bay to Anson Bay - 19/05/2013
After the early start and the wind dropping as we weighed
anchor we motored up to and around Fish Reef before turning southwards to Anson
Bay. This was not plan 'A' was to go to Fog Bay, then Plan 'B' was to go to
South Peron Island and the occasional "Whatever" came into play with
anchoring in the dark late at night.
(Sailing early hours
south of Fish Reef after leaving Tapa Bay in the dark.)
We had shall we say a comedy of errors and ones I should
kick my own bum for. One of the first items of my neglect was that we had to
run the engines first up this morning before we got some wind to sail by, I had
all the spare fuel stored but when I looked at the fuel gauge on the port
engine I thought we had used more than we should have. The mistake I made was
whilst laying around the marina I decided to get things ready early. I topped
the fuel tanks right up and later filled all the spare fuel containers then
gave it no more thought. Whilst in the marina I ran the engines weekly under
load spinning the props etc. Then we left the marina called into the Dinah
Beach Club to drop the helpers off then motored around to Fannie Bay which all
takes fuel out of the tanks that I did not replace. Goes to show six months in
a marina your brain goes dead.
The next thing that happened was that I took my eye off the
ball for a very short time under sail and the wind which I knew was going to
change with the sea breeze coming in suddenly changed when I was plotting our
course on the chart, this resulted in a harsh jibe breaking a fitting on the
We reached Fog Bay and the wind was good so we kept on
sailing Nancy had picked an anchorage at South Peron Island suggested by the
Kimberley Cruising Guide which is on the southwest end of the island. We had
been given other anchorages of note from friends Ron and Barbara but the
anchorage between the Peron Islands and mainland were getting a fair beating
from the north wind.
We arrived at South Peron Island and I must admit I did not
like the look of it at first, I asked Nancy to show me the guide, unfortunately
other than pointing out the anchorage it gives little detail. When we got to
the anchorage itself there was a large break in the rocky areas and a beach,
reading the guide again it stated that this anchorage gives sure protection
from NE to SE winds. Well the only way to get protection from the SE winds is
to enter the bay itself and it looks as though it can be done safely. I started
our approach to the centre of the bay and as we neared the depth gauge went
from 4 metres to oops we mounted something. Fortunately as soon as I saw the
depth going I had already pulled both engines full astern. The starboard mini
keel mounted something but we pulled of it very quick. We tried anchoring
further out but the holding was not good, I think it is a place to be avoided.
We then set sail or should I say motor sailed to Anson Bay and dropped anchor
and downed a beer.
Anson Bay to Berkeley River - 20 & 21/05/2013
What happened to that Plan 'A' went out the window again,
whatever came into play again. Our plan to go around the coastline of Joseph Bonaparte
Gulf also known as 'Blown Apart Gulf', they say you should never sail this bay
if there is a high pressure system in the Great Australian Bight. Well after
sailing yesterday morning again early in the dark and conscious of my fuel
mistake I looked at what we could do. The choice is we can still go around the
coast and possibly go into Wyndham for additional fuel. Problem is that to go
into Wyndham is a trip of 47NMS up the river and back possibility under these
conditions we would have to motor. Do the sums nearly 100NMS round trip one
engine at 5 knots and fuel consumption 2.5 litres per hour. It would burn
nearly all the amount of fuel I require to go in and out of the place.
Then I added all the miles we need to travel around the
coast and it calculated that it was less than half the distance to go across
Blown Apart Gulf and at the moment there is hardly any wind. As we sailed very
slowly under very light winds out of Anson Bay I suggested to Nancy that we do
and overnight and go straight to Berkeley River. We had a tough sail at first
light winds sailing around 2.8 knots then after the first 15NMS the wind
changed and we decided to hoist the mainsail, we had been under headsail as the
wind was coming from behind.
(Not knowing what
fresh water is going to be available in the rivers systems we had showers on
the forward deck with the deck wash pump, yes sea water then a quick rinse with
fresh water from the transom shower aft.)
(The sun sets over
Joseph Bonaparte Gulf)
Went to start the starboard engine and nothing, bugger.
Started the port engine got the sails up turned back on course and shut the
port engine down. We sailed very well, I said to Nancy I will look at the
starboard engine in the morning. We had a good sail and with the wind
conditions it is not a bad start point to cross the gulf, if we had left from
the top end the wind would have been directly behind us where from here we had
a broad reach. As the sun started to set and the moon was about the wind picked
up to 20-25 knots and we were sailing between 7.5 and 8.8 knots. It started to
back off a little when Nancy took the watch at midnight. By 0230 hours there
was very little wind, I sensed the change and went top deck and said to Nancy
to start the port engine and we continued to motor sail.
This was to continue through most of my watch at 0400 to
0800 hours then the wind went altogether. Nancy took the watch and I went to
look at the starboard engine I knew it was an electrical fault. Checked most
things with the multimeter, removed and cleaned connections. I had Nancy
turning the key whilst I checked things and found a loose connection and all
(Head in the engine
room checking the electrics)
heading to Reveley Island near the Berkeley River mouth)