Saturday, September 14, 2013

Exmouth to Carnarvon

Saturday - 17/08/2013

We planned to leave the marina at 1000 hours that would give us the outgoing tide and the wind behind us up to North West Cape where we change course, 'Banyandah' followed us out but did pass us before the Cape as we do not go so well with the wind directly behind us, however, when we turned the NW Cape we was on a close reach and we soon caught up and passed them, it was a good sail and we got into Tantabiddi anchorage.

(Sailing passed North West Cape with SS Mildura wreck in foreground and the lighthouse behind)

This anchorage is quite good the reef offers great protection, we anchored in 3 metres of water and the holding was good. The channel into the anchorage and boat ramp is well marked with leads and port and starboard channel markers that are lit so it is possible to enter during the night. But note the Raymarine chart plotter leads line is incorrect however the lateral markers are good for the way into the leads but not once you turn so just follow the lateral markers. The lights on all markers flash at the same time so it lights up like a runway.

We had a chat with another catamaran owner, Peter on 'Sea Whiskers' he said he and two other boats had been waiting for a weather window here for a week, I told him we did the same at the marina. I told him that we were heading out early in the morning.

Peter is doing it tough, he is a sole sailor and his cat a Seawind 1000 has only got one outboard working which he hopes to get fixed in Carnarvon.

We had a quiet night and early to bed.

Tantabiddi to Maud's Landing

Sunday - 18/08/2013

Left the anchorage before daylight had broken we have plans to get to Norwegian Bay, as we left the anchorage we heard Peter calling his other friends on the radio suggesting they follow us out, later we saw four yacht masts in the distance,  Later again we saw two of the yachts head for Yardie Creek anchorage but two continued to follow. We hoisted the sails and we had good wind to sail by but as we got further into the morning the wind dropped off and came around to the SW making it almost a head on wind so we had to start an engine. Some miles before Norwegian Bay the seas picked up with the wind and the seas got quite uncomfortable there are many contours of the seabed in this area and it pays to stay away from them. I went for a rest and Nancy was trying to keep some wind in the sail by altering course slightly and it took us into this area. Even though we headed away from them the seas were very mixed and rough.

Glen on 'Banyandah' called on the radio and said that they don't think Norwegian Bay was a good anchorage for these conditions and we agreed with him. He suggested we sail on to Maud's Landing which we did arriving at 2020 hours after travelling 82NMS.

We were bushed when we arrived and we anchored a little off shore in 6 metres of water not knowing what the seabed closer in was like, when 'Banyandah' arrived they went closer in, Glen phoned and said there is plenty of depth where they are, I explained we would stay till morning when we could see the bottom, he said that's the beauty of having a steel boat. I said that is called navigation by brail.

Just after going to bed I heard Glen talking to someone on the radio, it was the yacht 'Star Ship'  one of the yachts that followed us down he got some advice where to anchor from Glen. Later in the early hours of the morning when I checked the anchor so to speak I could see a steaming light and a starboard light about a mile from the anchorage coming closer. I knew it would be Peter on 'Sea Whiskers'  I felt sorry for him having to bash his way down by himself in these sea conditions and only having one engine working.

I had a good night sleep and it looked like we would be here for a few days with the predicted weather

Monday and Tuesday

We were confined to stay on board the winds from the SW kicked in on Monday morning and stayed it was too rough to beach the dinghy or go visit other boats everyone stayed on board their boats. The anchorage here is good and as the guide book states it can be rollie.  It was not so much the rolling with us as the short waves rocking us slightly. As Nancy said when we first got up this morning to move the boat closer to shore we could see wind generators over the hill, she said does that tell us something?

(anchorage Mauds Landing, 23⁰ 06.326' S 113⁰ 46. 593'E. there are a couple of moorings closer to the reef, there was one yacht on one of them not sure if they had less roll from the swell but they would have had full force of the wind)

(Banyandah at Mauds Landing anchored near us)

We spent the days doing a few chores and relaxing.

Maud's Landing to Gnarraloo Bay

Wednesday -  21/08/13

Tough day left Maud's Landing at 0500 hours,  as we got going I think we woke up 'Banyandah' crew as we went by the lights started to go on. Taking the weather in this bay things looked good weatherwise but when passed the reef we had wind on the nose and a confused sea, wind waves from SE and swell from SW had to at least run one engine to get somewhere. Anchored at Gnarraloo at 1350 hours.  Glen followed us in he said if he had any idea it was going to be like that he would have stayed at Maud's Landing, I think we may have done the same. The predicted weather has not come off so well the last few days.  The other yachts did not follow us this time, I think they did not trust our judgement on the conditions, I am beginning to think they might be right.  Early night 80NMS to go tomorrow to Carnarvon.

Gnarraloo Bay anchorage is quite good, it is good holding if you pick the right spot. The Fremantle guide was good although it is hard to identify the orange track and the bushes with a gap in it, the bearing given is good but you need a start point. If arriving in sunny conditions you can see the reef quite plain but there is dark spots that are alright to cross but you have to make the judgement because there are some shallow bommies around. We did not anchor in the guides recommended spot as it would be difficult to exit in the dark, we actually anchored in line with that orange track and it was quite good holding and comfortable with the strong SW winds.

(The orange track not easily seen)

(Closer look at the orange track there is a white post at the base of the track)

(Chart showing waypoint 23⁰ 45.018 S - 113⁰ 33.110 E to start track in and the place where we anchored 23⁰ 45.596 S - 113⁰ 33.342 E)

We had another quiet night and early to bed to get going very early in the morning.



Gnarraloo Bay to Carnarvon

Thurs - 22/08/13

Left Gnarraloo at 0130 hours wind speeds good went out with a reefed mainsail and it stayed in, we set course once away from the reefs unfurled the headsail leaving six turns on and we are away at 7.5 knots, we have a very bright moon  to help us see what is happening with the seas. The seas are very sloppy, swell about 2.5 metres from the SW wind waves about 1.5 metres from the SE, not comfortable. As we approach Red Bluff about 1.5NMS off the coast and the wind picks up to 30 knots our speed increases to 8.5 to 9.2 knots and we start slamming into the waves, I knew it was only the wind bending around the bluff causing the higher winds so I did not want reef down more so I just backed the sails off to slow us down to the 7.5 knots again. Daybreak comes and Nancy gets up from trying to have a sleep, she did get a few naps in. I feel like having a nap but the way things are I would not put Nancy although capable in the hot seat with the way things are as it is heavy going.

As we approach Point Quobba I get on the internet and recheck the weather and the wind charts, we should have had easterlies all night but got ESE and now we should be starting to get NE winds and we need those when we change course. As we reached the point of changing course we have SE winds almost on the nose and we have to kick in an iron sail as the wind and tide starts to work against us I started the other iron sail, the headsail is luffing so that's furled and we go with two engines and a mainsail.

(One landmark as you approach Carnarvon is the old NASA dish)

(Whale tail, the whale dives as we pass it there were quite a few whales in the area)

When we reach the port leads there is a unusual looking two mated monohull sailing into the leads ahead of us, I think he maybe a local so he would be good to follow through this very restricted course of shallow waters into the Gascoyne River. We get to the point at the fork in the waterways where you go port to the Gascoyne River to the Fascine Channel or starboard Tegg's Channel that goes to the boat harbour and the bloke that we thought was local is getting directions from the dredge operator, but this bloke does not follow those directions and runs aground, I have to pull up because all of a sudden this bloke throws his engine full astern as is coming out in front of us, the dredge operator is giving him directions which we do follow and this bloke did part the way until he runs aground again, we go around him and follow the water flow and chart plotter course. This bloke ends up running aground four times with the final time at the anchorage/mooring area. I know it is not uncommon to run aground in this place but when you have the local knowledge and that being the dredge operator that has worked the waterway, you can't get better info than that and you run aground you must be doing something awfully wrong. I have run aground before and I will again at some point they say a person who states he has not run aground has never left the marina or is a good liar.

The Fascine Channel is something else though it is not your every day port entry you have to check your tides and come and go at the right times, when I went around this bloke I had zero depth under me I was probably rolling the sand grains as we moved forward, the tide level on the tide charts at that time was 1.17 metres above datum level, I draw 1.4 metres so the datum is very small at this point and when you consider that this was a spring tide and the tide difference between high and low tide is only 1.2 metres approximately there are times when we could not get in or out.

There is an alternative and that is the Tegg's Channel you may be able to organise a dock in the boat harbour by calling the harbour master or anchoring in the channel away making sure you leave room for fishing fleet traffic.

After anchoring  we had a few visitors from other yachties that are heading north so we were able to share information with each other which was good.

(Entering the Fascine Channel is shallow but as seen in this photo under the conditions on this day the sandbar to the right stands out quite well)

(Chart showing the available anchorages, we went to the Fascine Channel (top anchorage)and you can see the narrow shallow channel, the other option is to anchor Teggs Channel keeping clear of trawler traffic)

It had been a long day for me as I had been going since 0100 hours this morning but I had got passed the tired stage so we do the next best thing sit relax have a few beers, red wine with and after dinner. Maybe a little too much red wine I find out in the morning.


(Morning light looking down the channel)

(Carnarvon waterfront)

(A place of murals, this two were on the visitors centre)

(Mural on West Bank)

(Mural on a book shop)

Friday 23/08/2013

Carnarvon is a stop to replenish some items like fresh goods, fuel and water. It would be nice to stop in some of these places and take a little more time to see what they have to offer but we also want to see some of the waterways in Shark Bay before we leave and we have to keep in mind that this area has the turning point for the weather and seas. Steep Point land form is the furthest western point of Australia. This is one of the critical points that we must get right before sailing down the coast, the next stretch is at least 130NMS no stopping and the land form of cliff faces create a rebound for the swell and waves. So when a wave from the SW goes past it will return eventually does not make things very comfortable. So we need to pick the size of the waves as well as the wind speeds and wind direction to take this next step in the journey.

(Alana Rose on a mooring at Carnarvon)

(Early morning)

(Sea Eagle having fish dinner)

(Night lights)

Looking at the current weather there is a weather window on Wednesday and Thursday to do the trek, but when you look at the predicted wave height for that period of time they are 4 - 5 metres. I have sailed in larger waves before but not by choice 2013and if I can choose I will look for a little less height in the waves and take a little stronger winds. I check weather twice a day on four different weather websites and read the synoptic charts on the BOM and Metvuw. I also have the Grib files so I check the weather from different sources and even with this Mother Nature throws a curve ball to keep us guessing.

Around 0700 hours this morning I heard Peter on 'Sea Whiskers' calling the Dredge Master but did not get a response, I figured he was after information to enter the Fascine Channel so I called him. That is what he was after so I gave him the details and he safely made entry, I did the same again for  Andrew on 'Star Ship'.

This morning once we were ready to step ashore I rang a taxi company, I checked the internet for taxi companies and picked what I thought was a local bloke and was right, I then asked if they would pick us up take us to the service station let me fill five 20 litre containers of diesel and drop us back. He said no worries, so that is what we did, got a good block he even got out and helped me with the fuelling and lifting. When looking for taxi's in these towns I ignore the ones with a 1300 number and call the local numbers because they are the local people.

Whilst we were waiting for the taxi a local yachty pulled up in his car and asked if we were going to get fuel he would run us in and bring us back, we thanked him very much but explained we had organised a taxi and we could not just leave. Later when we were shopping we bumped into him again and he asked if we wanted a lift back but we told him we had brought the dinghy up to town.

After getting the fuel back on board we set off in the dinghy again towards town and there is a small beach not far from the main street, we beached there left the dinghy and went and had a look around, had a bite of lunch and then did a little shopping for fresh goods and bread before heading back on board.

(Securing the dinghy)

(looking back to the anchorage)

(The anchorage from the main street)

(Chatting to a local girl, she didn't say much)

I spent the rest of the day doing a little maintenance and repairs that just have to be done.

Water is available at the dinghy dock in the marina, I did a water run first thing this morning before we went for fuel, there is also a skip bin for rubbish by the yacht club. We had intended to go ashore to the yacht club for dinner on the night but by the time it came around we were both a little bushed and decided to stay aboard. We have to leave here tomorrow due to the tides, the tides are not very big here between half a metre and one metre difference, with a draft of 1.4 metres we need a little water to get out.

(The Sailing Club Marina)
(Sailing Club)


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