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.
We hoped that the NW winds would give us some sailing but
this did not occur so it was motor sailing once more, it was only a short sail
to Two Peoples Bay which was named after two Captains had a meeting there back
in early days, an English and a French Captain, not sure what the meeting was
about but I do know that Albany became to being because the French might have
colonised parts of Australia and this would stop them.
When we got to the Bay we searched the seabed for a clear
patch that was free from seagrass and dropped the anchor then had lunch before
pulling down the headsail. I had noticed as we sailed this morning that the UV
protection strip on the sail stitching had let go in parts. We could see storm
cells approaching so we needed to get it down before they hit.
We then got out the generator and sewing machine and got to
work. Just as we finished the sail the winds kicked in along with the rain from
the storm cell and then our anchor let go of the bottom so we started the
engines lifted the anchor and searched for a better spot, we dropped the anchor
in a large bare patch and the anchor grabbed swinging the boat around so we
knew it was a good spot.
(Nancy on the sewing machine that she loves and hates)
The sail had to sit in the cockpit till late afternoon when
the wind abated and then the boys off 'Banyandah' came over for sundowners and
helped hoist the sail back onto the furler.
We had sundowner's then a quiet night.
(Albatross gliding around us)
We sailed out of Two Peoples Bay at 0700 hours for Wrays
Bay, with the wind directly behind us I started off with the headsail and hoped
that the SW wind would kick in, this did happen a little later and we hoisted
the mainsail and we sailed well, 'Banyandah' went passed as we furled headsail
and turned into the wind to hoist the mainsail and then unfurl the headsail
again but we soon caught up and went passed them again this is due to our hull
speed being greater than theirs. We anchored in Wrays Bay in front of the
fishing huts, the book advises against this but under the light conditions it
(Wrays Bay anchorage, 'Banyandah' in front and the fishing mans house to the right)
Another 0700 hours start this morning heading for Doubtful
Island Bay where we sit out the bad weather for a few days, we sailed wing on
wing for some time and went along at a good steady rate, the seas were a little
rough and the wind was directly behind us , however, after lunch the winds
backed off and it was start an iron sail again.
(One of the many Australasian Gannets that keep us company at sea with many other birds)
When we neared Bremer Bay and Doubtful Island Bay we had to
start an engine as the swell from the SW was rebounding on the rock faces of
the shore and creating a very uncomfortable sea and shaking wind out of the
It is quite pretty the entrance through the islands into the
bay as the winds were changing to NW and the SW we anchored in the northern
corner of the southern beach, this area has clean sand and no weed or seagrass
in 3.5 metres of water, when the NW winds kicked in the wind waves bent around
the corner of the protruding shore line but was not uncomfortable. When the SW
winds kicked in we were very comfortable but for SE winds it is better to
anchor in the southern corner of the beach.
(Heading between the islands to enter Doubtful Islands Bay)
This place is beautiful with great beaches but unfortunately
the weather was so bad we did not leave the boat. Bremer Bay next door has a
substantial community and this bay has some buildings including a commercial
On Friday we had a visitor Southern Right Whale and it's
calf, it was huge it came around 'Banyandah' and they called to let us know the
whale then came between the two boats before leaving. It was an incredible
sight, they are different to the whales we had seen, these have large heads and
a bonnet which is full of crustaceanssuch as barnacles. It was great to see.
(The Southern Right Whale and calf behind near 'Banyandah')
(The Southern Right Whale's crown which is covered in barnacles and other crustaceans)
The winds continued through Saturday and we stayed on board,
the boys came over for sundowners on the Saturday as things started to clear up
and we had sunshine and sunset which made sundowner's legal.
Glen suggested we head off early in the morning to get to
Starvation Bay with some daylight left and we agreed, so the plan was set and
we had an early night.
We left for Starvation Bay at 0500 hours, seas were still up
slightly from the previous weather and this made the voyage a little
uncomfortable. Come lunch time and the wind swung around a little and
strengthened although it is supposed to drop away in the evening. We had to
take a different rhumb line than 'Banyandah', this is due to us being a
catamaran we do not point as well into the wind and care needs to be taken in
these waters as some waters are listed as unsurveyed although they have marked
the rocks on the charts accurately. 'Banyandah' arrived at Starvation Bay first
and as we started the approach to enter the bay I looked over at 'Banyandah'
and they were anchoring and rolling heavily. I got Nancy to call them on the
radio and ask what it is like? Glen said it will be alright once the wind drops
later. I said I was not happy about it and decided to continue going through
the night onto Esperance.
I turned the boat and set a course to go further out to sea
where the surveyed waters were, I did not want to chance the unsurveyed waters
at night as we could not see rocks and any othersurprises they may be and as we headed out I
noticed waves breaking and as we got closer we saw rocks and the waves breaking
over the top and these rocks were not on any of the charts. I reached the
surveyed waters just before dark which I was very pleased.
(This is a wave breaking over concealed rocks in unsurveyed waters)
A couple of hours later Glen on 'Banyandah' phoned to see
how things were, I told him we have the wind of 15-20 knots on the nose and
having to run both engines. He said that the wind had not dropped and they were
bouncing up and down and had broken the rope snubber on the anchor chain.
(Snubber is a length of nylon rope hooked on the anchor chain and secured to
the boat which takes the weight off the chain on board and creates a shock
damper so that the jarring is not on chain or anchor winch). They said things
will be alright once the wind dies.
Monday - 14/10/2013
(After a long and unplanned over night at sea the morning sun was welcome)
We continued to motor sail all night keeping four on four
off watches and finally got into Esperance at 0900 hours, we tried to ring the
Sailing Club to see if they had a berth or mooring we could use as we had been
told anchoring can be a problem in heavy weather which we expecting but we had
no joy. So then we entertained the public for quite some time trying to get the
anchor to hold without much success, we tried where there was no seagrass or
weed but still the sand would not hold. In the end we rigged the fenders and
ropes and went alongside the inside of the jetty where there are a couple of commercial
boats on the outside. Once secured I asked the commercial operator who should I
see about staying on the dock? He said the port authority. Cut a long story
short I got onto the Pilot and he had seen us trying to anchor, he said the
only place to anchor is in the harbour proper but not in the way of the ship
turning area, but he added if there is a big blow we probably would not hold in
this ground anyway, he then asked me to contact a lovely young lady Katie who
gave me the rates for staying on the dock, which I thought was very expensive
but given the situation we needed somewhere secure. Katie came down to the dock
with a security key for us and said that before we leave to return the key to
her along with payment at the office just up the road.
("Alana Rose" alongside at the Esperance Dock)
We continued to try and contact the Sailing Club but just
got the answering machine, as it turns out the club is run by volunteers and
the office is not open as per what is advertised on the website. I knew there
was not a space for us in the marina but we were trying to get a spot for when
'Banyandah' arrived, I could see one spot that they could fit in.
(The Esperance Sailing Club, great people run by volunteers, the club is a brand new building)
Once settled we went into town to look where things were,
find where to get fuel and where the shops are located. Esperance is a pretty
town and very tidy and clean. On the way back to the boat we called in the pub
and tested the beer as you do. Just after we returned on board we saw
'Banyandah' entering the harbour, I took the liberty of directing him into the
vacant spot in the marina. Just as he was approaching the marina a couple of
ladies came to the marina gate and I asked them if they were club members, they
said they were and I asked if it was alright for 'Banyandah' to take that empty
spot, I told them that I had directed them to it. Her name was Sue and she
asked when would they be in and I said they are there coming around the corner
and she took off to help them tie up. Yachties are such great people.
After the boys secured the boat they came over for our
sundowners and we made them stay for dinner which was only a steak sandwich.
They told us that they did not get much sleep the night at Starvation Bay as
the wind continued all night and without the snubber the yacht was jerking on
the chain. As I said to them I prefer to suffer lack of sleep making headway
than sitting at a bad anchorage worrying if we were going to hold in bad
Glen called to let us know he was going into the marina to
sort out about the marina berth and would find out the best way to get fuel and
asked if I could research on the net for a fuel delivery service. The Shell
service station is right up the other end of town away from the water. I
contacted Caltex they said they do not do that end of town I would have to
contact BP. I was about to do that when Glen phoned to say that berth he was in
belonged to a bloke named Kevin and that the reason the berth was empty was
that Kevin had lost his yacht to fire when it was on the hard and that he had
also offered to loan Glen his car to do our fuel runs and any other things that
we may need. We could have the car around 1200 hours.
(Going on the fuel run)
(At the service station)
(Getting the fuel aboard)
This we did a couple of fuel runs and refreshment runs
before returning Kevin's car, as we were returning to the dock we met the Sue
who helped dock 'Banyandah' she had just driven down to see if we needed her
car to run around and do things. There are some great people in this world.
Whilst Kevin was talking to us he mentioned to me that when the bad weather
comes in my position on the dock can get a battering against the dock with the
surge. He said there is that long rope by the entrance to the marina that is
chained securely get that across to your boat and secure it to the port side
and adjust it so it holds you off the dock, he said that's what it is there
for. If you sail into Esperance and you want some local information on
anchorages along this coastline check with Kevin if you can't find him at the
Sailing Club you may contact him through Subway the food place, he owns it.
(Setting up securing lines to stop hit the dock when the bad weather hits)
Our night was spent at the Pier Hotel, Katie had told us that
the good places to eat was the Best Western and the Pier Hotel, they are next
door to each other. Well we can recommend the Pier Hotel the food was excellent
as was the service and friendly staff. We had a very good night. I think it may
have been the night caps on board that brought us undone the next morning. We
had a little hangover.
(There are plaques like this one on the footpaths identifying where heritage places once were)
(Nancy showing her artistic skills, when Glen went for a drink he saw these set up for children so he brought one across for Nancy, when Nancy finished it Glen gave it to a little girl)
I got organised to do the washing with our washing machine
and hung the clothes in the cockpit to dry. We then went into town to do the
shopping, getting one lot done and getting it on board then off to the butchers
and get a bite of lunch, when all finished returned on board. The boys came
over for sundowner's and chat about our next anchorages, we had to fix up the
accounts in the morning so we could not leave before 0900 hours. The boys went
off to the pub again for dinner but we elected to stay aboard as we had got
things out for dinner.
Thursday - 17/10/2013
Got up early to get things organised, topped up fresh water
and checked everything was secure. We headed to Katie's Office at the port
authority building, she is a very pleasant person and was feeling a bit bad
about having to charge us the price that had been set, which was $6.50 per
metre in length. I said it was a shame we could not have got a space in the
sailing club marina saying that it would have been half the price. This ended
up in a quiet discussion of costs in other marinas and as we pointed out that
these places have showers, toilets and laundry facilities. I said we were not
complaining just letting you know the difference. We thanked them for what they
had done and said our goodbyes. We headed off back to the boat and just before
we got there Katie pulled up alongside us in her car. She said she had spoken
with her boss and explained what we had said and she gave us refund to the same
cost as what the marina here charges.
For anyone that wishes to sail this way and wants to use
this facility contact the lovely Katie through Esperance Ports 08-9072 3333.
The other option if you cannot get into the marina the Sailing Club has a very
strong mooring, it is a large yellow buoy mooring furthest one out from the
others almost by itself. Thanks Katie, also thanks to Kevin and Zero for their
help and local knowledge.