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.


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