Monday, September 16, 2013

Geraldton to Fremantle via Rottnest Island

Sunday - 08/09/2013

 As I mentioned in my last post that we left Geraldton at 0930 hours there was a break in the weather or should I say heavy weather and waves although we knew that we would be heading into wind of around 5 to 15 knots but over the next 30 hours the winds were going to drop. This would again be the calm before the storm as we knew that Tuesday the high winds would be with us once again and we wanted to be further south and sheltered by this time.

I think I mentioned that we could not do day sailing and stop over at some of the points we had selected because they do not offer good shelter and the problem could be getting out of those places if there is high swell.

We have 207NMS to travel working on a 5 knot average makes it a 41 hour journey making our ETA 0230 hours Tuesday morning into Rottnest Island.

(Nancy soaking up some sun out of the wind)
Once out to sea I tried to find the Leeuwin Current, this is similar to the East Coast Current, but unfortunately it was active in August and not so much now so we were not going to get any extra speed out of that. To make it a little harder we had the tide against us at times, I had sails up and used what apparent wind I could to get some extra speed and using the two engines we motor sailed around the 6.5 to 7 knots.
(Whale passing by)
We did have slight choppy seas which buried the bows now and again and when this happens it takes your speed but we were getting along alright. I had noticed quite a few fishing traps along the way and noticed they were on certain contours of the seabed so we sailed midway between any contours and this seemed to keep us safe, we hoped this method would be good through the night hours so as they are not that visible during the dark hours.
(Fish trap floats, there are usually a good run of these in close proximity of each other)
We practiced the method of getting rest when we could during the day and kept the regular watches at night, we do 4 hours on 4 hours off as we find that one has a chance to get some sleep during the 4 hours.
(First night sunset)
Nancy had made a lamb stew in the Shuttle Chef so evening meals and leftovers would be available when needed.

Monday - 09/09/2013

Things calmed down during the night and this day proved to be very calm with only the rolling blue swell we also got a little wind change to ESE which gave us better apparent wind enough for me to only have one iron sail running to maintain the required speed to get to Rottnest Island before the change.
(Calm before the storm)

(The change is near)
There are still a lot of whales about amongst other sea life and it probably benefitted us using engines through the night so they could hear us and get out of the way, hopefully being the operative word.
We was making good time 'Banyandah' was about 6NMS behind us and we could see Rottnest Island before nightfall in the distance but it would be dark before we got there.
As we got closer and it got darker the lights of the island and of Perth and Fremantle  and their suburbs lit the sky and across the water. I had looked at AIS on the internet for ship movements, there had been two ships pass going north earlier but all looked clear now.
As I approached Rottnest Island about 3NMS before it I could see navigation light against the lights of the city, I watched closely through the binoculars and could see a large tug with towing indication lights plus its port nav light, I could also see the lights on the barge it was towing and those I could see both port and stbd lights, I continued on course and kept a close eye on the tugs lights. After a while I worked out that the tug had set its course to go around behind me, I started the other engine to get additional speed to assist in getting out of the way. We dropped sails and motored into the anchorage area in Thompson Bay using the spot light to see where the moorings were we anchored in a clear area. A little later 'Banyandah' anchored near us.
We had done quite well as far as time it was 2030 hours when we dropped the anchor and time for a beer, a beer always tastes really good once a long sail is complete, we run a dry ship at sea no matter how long the voyage.
Just after we had got to bed the change in weather hit and unfortunately not from the direction that it was predicted, we were due for NW winds and the winds came in from NE and this bay was open to this, the seas picked up to a choppy sloppy motion and we were bobbing up and down. The next thing the anchor drag alarm went off, I had set the alarm short as I often do on a first night anchorage. I got out of bed and checked the movement on the GPS, we had travelled the set distance but now seemed to be stationary, we had changed direction due to the change in wind direction. I put a waypoint where we were and watched for a while and we weren't moving. I went outside checked the anchor and checked land marks around us and we seemed to be stationary so I went back to bed not that we was going to get a great deal of sleep with the conditions. We had spurts of sleep through the night but that was all.
One thing that Nancy had found when reading about this Island was the charges that they have, to anchor here overnight there is a charge of  $21.50 per person per night, if you anchor during the day $16.50  per person. Mooring buoys and pens cost $21.50 off season, $42 shoulder season and $60 peak season, we were in shoulder season, I don't think we will be staying here long.

Tuesday - 10/09/2013

Come morning Nancy and I are discussing the options and deciding it would be better to go to Fremantle Sailing Club Marina if we can get in earlier than what we had booked. Next thing Glen phoned and said he had been in contact with Tristan the harbour master of the marina and he said we can both go into the marina if we wish, Glen said he hoped we did not mind him asking for us, we said we are very pleased.

(At Rottnest Island, in daylight you can see the light blue of sand bottom and the dark where there is sea grass, unfortunately you cannot see this at night, we picked the wrong spot)
We got ready to get going and as we started to pull the anchor up we found that it was caught under a chain that secured a mooring, it did not matter what we did we could not free ourselves, Glen on Banyandah came back and we tried to put a rope around the anchor and tow it our forward but no luck. The sea was too rough to free dive and probably a little dangerous.
(Picking up the mooring we are caught on so we can put the chain out without weight on it)

(Chart showing where we anchored)
(Chart shows where we were when I shut it down last night and where we were this morning)
(Divers come out on their boat)
(Diver on the job)
(Looking concerned, well it cost $150)
(Watching the diver)
Glen suggested that we put a float on the chain and drop the lot and come back in calmer times and pick it up and that's what I thought would be the safer option. We was preparing to do this when Nancy asked if we should let someone on the island know what we were going to do and I said yes it would be.  When she rang reception we was put onto the ranger who was most helpful. He said that he had divers there checking moorings he could give them a call and see what they could do. Well they came over and untangled us so we could get away with our chain and anchor at a cost of $150 so we was very lucky for their assistance, we thanked them and the ranger for their assistance and we made way to Fremantle.
It was about a 10NM sail across to Fremantle and we was entertained with whales on the journey across, we entered the marina and Glen and Nigel were there to help tie us up.

(Alana Rose alongside at Fremantle Sailing Club Marina)
We booked in and we are here for three weeks at this stage.



Monday - 02/09/2013

(Anchored of the beach near the sailing club)

After settling in and making sure our anchorage was secure we went ashore with the crew off 'Banyandah' , we walked around checking where things were like laundromat, supermarkets and a nice place to have dinner. Other items on the list to check is closest fuel and water.

Getting the dinghy ashore is quite easy at the boat ramp, the boat ramp has a short fixed centre dock, we used this to go alongside get out of the dinghy then I took the long painter (rope) and went to the ramp and Nancy held a stern rope on the dock to keep the dinghy straight and from being carried with the surge of the swell coming in from the heavy seas outside. I then timed the swell to bring the dinghy up the ramp. We have wheels on the dinghy so I dropped those and hauled the dinghy to the top of the ramp and on the corner of the footpath where there is a lamppost and locked the dinghy to that for security.

After walking around we had found two shopping centres, the museum, the laundromat and a very nice place to have dinner. Glen had talked to some people and asked the best place for dinner and they all said Skeeter's.

We called in a hotel for sundowners before dinner and then crossed the road to Skeeter's, the dinner was very nice food was excellent and good service. Main courses are around $35 but it is top quality. We enjoyed a nice night there before returning on board.

Tuesday - 03/09/2013

Today was laundry day so we headed to the laundromat which is a short distance away from the boat ramp around 5 minutes walk at the end of the park. Whilst the laundry was going around in the machine we went to find the place to put in our early vote, that done back to the laundry where we chatted with other travellers. These travellers were four wheel drive and caravan people.

With the laundry finished it was lunch time so we called in the Sails Cafe that had been recommended to us and had lunch before returning on board. The rest of the day was quiet other than doing a water run. Glen had found the water tap at the top of the boat ramp there is a shelter with a large stainless steel fish cleaning station for the fishermen on one of the structures posts is a tap which is covered by a steel cover to protect it from damage. Nancy filled the containers whilst I carried the containers back to the dinghy tied to the dock.

That was the work for the day and we had a quiet night.

Wednesday - 04/09/2013

Today was the day to play tourist and one of the first items on the list was the HMAS Sydney II memorial which is a good walk and up to the top of a hill. This is an incredible memorial and a lot of thought went into it.


HMAS Sydney was built at Newcastle-on-Tyne UK, the keel being laid down in 1933 as HMS Phaeton. She was one of three light cruisers of the British Modified Leander Class, but was subsequently purchased by the Commonwealth of Australia and renamed HMAS Sydney, She was launched on 22nd September 1934. (Full history of photo below).

On the 19th November 1941 HMAS Sydney was returning from Sunda Straits after escorting the Hired Transport  Zealandia to a handover with HMS Durban. That evening HMAS Sydney encountered the German Raider HSK Kormoran and became involved in an engagement which eventually lead to the loss of both ships.

No trace was ever found of HMAS Sydney or her valiant crew of 645.
The Memorial of HMAS Sydney:

(The dome of 645 stainless steel gulls and the structure representing the bow of the ship)


(HMAS Sydney and its crew)


The memorial is a must see, the lost crew of HMAS Sydney were very brave to continue their fight basically to the death to ensure the German raider did not get away to do more damage.

(The Sydney was finally found in March 2008)

(Sunrise from our anchorage, you can see in the centre the HMAS Sydney monument the Bow with the flag flying and the Dome with the 645 Silver Gulls)

From the memorial we headed back down the hill towards town and on the way  we came across the old hospital which is now used as a medical centre and a visitors centre. The visitors centre provide people to give tours to visitors at places like the museum and the HMAS Sydney memorial, times are advertised at the visitors centre.

Across from the visitors centre is the old gaol, the gaol is open to visitors for the price of a gold coin donation. The unusual thing about the gaol is that nearly all the cells are occupied by arts and crafts people. These people have been given control of the gaol and they have set up shops in the cells.

(Old Police Station attached to the gaol)

From the gaol we headed to the museum, it is another must see. I believe that you need to visit more than once to take it all in. They have many sections with lots of information, local history of Geraldton, Local Aborigines , the ships Batavia and Zeewijk, HMAS Sydney, the first training of AIF volunteers in covert operations behind enemy lines in 1940 and many more topics.

The story of Batavia:


(The above are sections of a plaque in the main street)

(These stone sections of the gateway were the ballast found in the hull of Batavia and obviously had been made for their home country)


(The stoneworks found on Batavia above)

The region has been known to be treacherous for shipping below are sections of a plaque in the museum.

From the museum we went to the Geraldton Hotel for lunch as a local told us they also served good meals for $10 and they were right, good food and good service and it is very popular. After all the walking around and a good lunch we returned on board.

Thursday - 05/09/2013


(Just a short distance from the boat ramp and near the sailing club there is this yellow submarine)
This morning it was chores we did water runs and fuel runs. The fuel station was a little way to walk around 20 minutes. We did two runs for the fuel using both fold-up two wheel trolleys Nancy had one with one 20 litre container and I had the other with two 20 litre containers on the first run. The second run Nancy had the same and I had one 20 litre container and two 8 litre containers for ULP fuel.
We had planned lunch for the Geraldton Hotel again today and I was meeting up with an ex-Naval friend Charlie Britt who lives in Geraldton the last time I saw Charlie was around 1983 when we both lived in Alice Springs. We met up with Charlie and had a nice lunch then Charlie took us to show where he lived and gave us a guided tour of the town. Then it was a quiet night on board.

(Charlie and I at the front of his house)
Each morning and night we check the weather reports to see when we sail south, the weather is changing regularly probably due to the changing season, at this stage I reckon we will leave sometime on Sunday, the boys on 'Banyandah' reckon it will be early hours Monday, so we keep watching.

Friday - 06/09/2013

We need some more warm clothes, we have not been in a wintery climate for nearly seven years usually heading north for the winter and south for the summer but we have arrived south before summer and we are feeling it and we have further south to travel yet. So we headed to River as they have specials and purchased a couple of items there then up to another shopping centre then another making sure we have enough warm clothing.
Tonight the boys on 'Banyandah' are cooking a roast for us all for dinner, Glen made it clear that tonight will be a two bottle rule night, meaning only two bottles of red wine.

Saturday - 07/09/2013

We headed for the farmers markets they had some good quality vegetables which is what we were after and prices were good. The markets were not very big I think all told there would have been no more than eight stalls and two only had vegetables. My back pack was loaded and had two other bags to carry back to the dinghy.
After taking the vegies back on board it was then off to the supermarket Nancy with her grannies  two wheel trolley both with back packs and a few more bags, we called over to "Banyandah' to let them know what the markets were like, I told Glen that I did not think much of his two bottle rule, I did not realise he meant two of ours and two of his, it was a good night but a little rough this morning. Glen asked if I had looked at the weather and I said I had and we would be leaving tomorrow Sunday, he said that he thought early hours Monday morning but I wanted to get down to Rottnest Island before the stronger winds from the NW came in. We headed off and did the shopping again loaded to the hilt we walked back to the dock and loaded the dinghy and returned on board.
Saturday afternoon and we had the latest weather and Glen agreed we move Sunday but not too early, we figured around 0930 - 1000 hours.

Sunday - 08/09/2013

We did the final checks and were ready to sail, the boys on 'Banyandah' went ashore to do the final shopping and found that Woolworths is not open on Sundays and had to go a little further to the IGA supermarket. I got them to take our rubbish ashore when they went in.
On their return we set sail or should I say motor sail as that is what we will be doing all the way with the wind although not strong it will be head on for a while.


We found Geraldton to be a very tidy place and friendly it is interesting to read about this part of the country looking at what it produces and the amount of commodities that go out through this port. We enjoyed Geraldton and found it quite interesting.

(Tug and platform heading out)

Below are a few websites that provide information.





Sunday, September 15, 2013

Abrolhos Islands to Geraldton

Wallabi Group.

Saturday - 31/08/2013

(Pigeon Island with the fisherman's houses and jetties with the sun trying to show through. These houses are only used during seasonal work, however, some fishermen are on the island and go out daily)

(Full view of Pigeon Island)
(Little Pigeon Island and Alcatraz Island just in front)
A very windy day and the waves are crashing out on the reef we are lucky to be where we are. Had a relaxing day not doing very much. Glen and Nigel off 'Banyandah' came over for sundowner's and stayed for dinner. No sooner we had sat down for a nice beer we heard the sound of a large boat, I had seen it coming in and was hoping that the mooring I had picked up was not theirs but just had a feeling it might be, Well it was so we quickly got organised and started the engines and instruments before releasing the mooring and anchoring a little away from where we were. The boat was 'Island Leader II' a charter fishing boat.
('Island Leader' coming in to the anchorage)
(Waves breaking on the reef)
After anchoring we put the covers down and returned to the more important stuff of having a beer followed by a number of red wines, Nancy told the boys they were staying for dinner and she would not accept any argument about it. So the night went on and we had a very good night.
(Chart showing anchorage, waypoint as per chart)
(Chart showing track in, electronic charts were accurate, beware of moorings after passing lateral markers.)
The following website gives information from the Department of Fisheries in relation to what you can do at these islands.
This website gives information about Pigeon Island.
 Wallabi Islands to the Easter Islands

Sunday - 01/09/2013

We thought we would head down to Rat Island today as the high winds had ceased although the seas were still up around the 3 to 4 metres and at sometimes 5 to 6 metres which are the usual run of three waves after six or seven of the smaller ones, however, they were not bad as they were around 12 to 15 seconds apart which means you just go up and down waves a lot.

(Rough seas against the island as we were leaving the passage)
It was only a short distance of 16NMS but this makes tomorrows sailing a little shorter when we head to Geraldton.
As we neared the Easter Island Group we headed towards Rat Island, again this is another island that has houses and jetties for the fishing season and is private property so we cannot go ashore here as like the islands yesterday. 'Banyandah' was ahead of us and they checked out the anchorage near Rat Island but was not happy about it so we headed for the public moorings on the inside of White Bank to the north of Rat Island and 'Banyandah' followed, we both picked up the moorings although later 'Banyandah' let theirs go and anchored because the mooring buoy kept knocking the hull.
As we approached White Bank which is a small white sandy island with reefs all around it I noticed sea lions on the beach so I called Nancy to get her camera. There are five or six on the beach and it was quite funny that after we picked up the mooring they came around our side of the island to see what we were up to then they started romping around and swimming.

(Sea Lions on White Bank)
We did not leave early this morning and arrived at lunch time so after lunch I had to go to work as one of the heads water inlet was blocked and after a couple of hours swearing I finally retrieved the piece of seaweed that was the cause of the problem. These items are not easy to work on because they are in small spaces and below in the bilges.
(Chart showing anchorages and moorings near White Bank and Rat Island, White Bank is the small island just to the north of Rat Island)
The moorings at this place is in very calm waters although you can see the waves crashing on the reef not that far away, around White Bank there are four moorings two on the inside waterway and two on the outside. There are more moorings around Easter Islands placed in strategic protection areas.
We had a quiet night as we will be leaving at first light for Geraldton as the winds and seas abate a little tomorrow. The swell will be up still but there are no wind waves.
(Pleasant sunset near White Bank)

Monday - 02/09/2013

Easter Islands to Geraldton

We slipped the mooring at first light and motored out through the Easter Islands via the Rolland Passage the water in the islands were flat calm and I noticed quite a few moorings for public use through the passage. The islands are very attractive but to go ashore you need written permission from the Fisheries Department in Geraldton and then you are not permitted to go near jetties or dwellings as they are private property.
(Two crosses on the end of Campbell Island)
We noticed a few graves on the islands as we went by these islands having quite a history and makes for some interesting reading, the main topic being that of 'Batavia' that ran aground and what happened to the passengers and crew, and later the 'Zeewijk' which was the last Dutch ship to sail near the west coast as the Dutch has lost many ships of this coast. The following websites tell the stories of both ships a must read.
As we left the East Passage moving away from Easter Islands the swell rolled in but not heavy as the islands tend to protect the waters between here and the mainland.
We were able to sail at a close reach to start with but later as we progressed the wind died and we had to motor sail, the swell was basically behind us a little to the starboard side, height of around 4 metres but around 14 seconds apart so it was not giving us much of a problem.
(These whales surfaced off the starboard beam they continued to play and totally ignored our presence)
As we neared Geraldton I noticed that there were fish traps set and quite a number of them about 4 NMS off the coast. The fish traps have a set of three small round floats two white one orange or green these can cause a problem when night sailing they can be a problem if you pick one up on a propeller.
(The large swell crashing in the shallows near Geraldton Harbour)

(In the channel it was a lot calmer but not without swell, it was the first time I had seen markers like this one actually pivoting and rolling with the waves)
As we neared the leads into Geraldton we could see the waves breaking on the reef each side of the channel, the waves were huge and rolling in. As we entered the channel to the harbour the waves just rolled, 'Banyandah' was about 200 metres in front of us and they would almost completely disappear  behind a rolling wave ahead of us. When we turned starboard to follow the channel into the harbour the rolling waves were on the beam which made us roll a lot but the waves had been reduced in height by them breaking on the reef. We exited the channel just before the main harbour and steered to the anchorage near the sailing club and boat ramp. This anchorage is well protected from the swell as it has the harbour walls and a breakwater. The only time we had a bit of wave action was when the wind came around to the northern sector.
There are two entry channels to the harbour, there is the northern channel , not advisable to use this one in such conditions, if in doubt call the duty pilot he is very helpful, we phoned him from the islands and he even suggested that Monday would be the better day to go in.
(Chart showing the track in the southern channel)
(Chart showing anchorage, a marina berth can be organised through the port authority if there is one available)
The following website is Geraldton Port Authority, if you copy and paste this address then click on the weather tab it will give you the report for Geraldton including wave heights etc.
The anchorage area is not that large and is around 3 metres in depth it is good holding in sandy mud.