Monday, July 8, 2013

Darwin to the Berkeley River

Saturday 18/05/2013

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 would  come 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 boom.
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 was fixed.
(Head in the engine room checking the electrics)

(Kimberley's ahead, heading to Reveley Island near the Berkeley River mouth)

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