Tuesday, 10 June 2014
We had a good sleep, well protected from the westerly overnight, and woke to very cool but calm conditions, and not raining. In fact, we have had very little rain throughout the entire trip.
At 1330, Ron decides to follow the storm down the coast so we raise anchor and head for the exit out of Shark Bay in the SW corner.
As soon as we turn the corner to head out into the Indian Ocean we get a sense of what might lie ahead.
We are heading straight into a strong westerly wind and in the channel the seas are confused around a large swell.
Another night and day (24th) of getting pounded, and due to having to reduce speed we will be arriving late into Geraldton.
Fortunately, we arrive at the channel entrance just before dark, and even Ron commented as we negotiated the channel... "I wouldn't want to have done this in the dark". Geraldton is a large commercial port, also with a large fishing port, and then a marina with boat ramps.
The channel is well markered for the most part but it twists and turns and at times narrow, and for a good chunk of it we were side on to the huge swell rolling in, so it was good to do it with the last light of day.
Even entering the marina is tricky because as always there are shallow areas to avoid.
However just on dark, we tie up alongside a jetty berth and break out the rum.
I notice there is a Coles directly across the main road, so that's good for provisioning but it is late Saturday,
and nothing is open on Sundays so we will be here until at least Monday afternoon the 26th.
After provisioning all morning, we head to the fishing port to re-fuel. This is quite impressive with some large boats, haulouts, and shore infrastructure here. As soon as we have re-fueled we leave the lovely and very friendly Geraldton for an overnighter to Jurien Bay. The weather is still not that flash.... still some seas running and at times 20 knots plus but what is most noticeable is that suddenly it is so much colder!!!!
We arrive at Jurien Bay in the morning and are pleased to be able to tie up inside the marina, protected by the breakwater. There is not much here, but it is a northern getaway from Perth, so there is a lot of batches and holiday accommodation where the "Perthies" come for the long weekends with their boats and head out fishing off the reefs. We are just glad to be stationary.
After a familiar, not exciting, lumpy 80nm from Jurien Bay, at 1430 we finally pull into Mindarie Marina, Perth.
We are here!!!! Almost exactly 3 months later, from having left Phuket, and almost exactly half way home.
We negotiated the 5 Finger reef with such ease that we all sort of relaxed and headed off in different directions about the boat, except Ron of course, still at the helm.
Suddenly, there are these huge waves breaking over the Ningaloo, just 50 metres either side of us as we exit the Yalobia Passage... everyone is rushing for camera's... but I think someone only got one shot.
The weather was glorious again, and watching these breakers so close on both sides was quite spectacular.
We use an IPad with Navionics software, plus the Platinum charts on our in-house nav system, and with the two of them (hopefully operating on a reliable GPS position) we can negotiate these channels and passages with confidence. In this case we passed straight through the Yalobia Passage and the Ningaloo reef and back into the Indian Ocean. There are, of course, markers on land to guide you as well.
It is another light wind day, and not a favourable direction to fully sail... we play with the headsail a bit and motor sail when it works. We are cruising around 6 knots, because that is a good speed to be trolling lures.
And Mole has everything he can trolling behind us....
Ziizzzzzzzz...goes the reel, as nylon pours off the reel.
Mole leaps into adrenalin, while I hit neutral (my watch).
Then a marlin does a big tail walk off the stern, and everyone is "YES!!!"
Moley landed the marlin after another good struggle... a blue marlin, not overly large, probably a youngster,
and while we had every intention of returning this beautiful fish to the sea, when we landed it we could see that it had been attacked by a shark on the way in, and would not have survived if we returned it.
So, on the menu, for the next month was blue marlin...
Thank you Moley.
1800 and the weather starts deteriorating rapidly.
Huge swell developing and getting very confused and lumpy. The boat is starting to get that pounding under the wing deck again, and aft on the inside of the hulls. The boat is fine with it. It just makes sleeping off watch very difficult; ok for myself until you get one that lifts you out of bed; but impossible for Annie.
2000 and dark; 20 plus knots on the nose, and getting hammered.
Down to just 3 knots Speed Over Ground (SOG)
Gets worse as the watches change through the night, but notice a shift in the wind to coming offshore now so decision is made to head for land to see if we can find some lee closer to shore.
0430.. we lay anchor 200 metres off the coast between Red Bluff point and Gantry.
Still in a swell, but much more comfortable, and considered safe here.
1000.. still rough out past the point, and still blowing 20+, so wait until noon to make decision to continue.
We need to decide by then, so as to leave at a time that will get us to next anchorage at Shark Bay in daylight the next day.
Noon.. the wind has dropped, and we decide to go. Still pretty lumpy, but ok.
1800.. 12-18 knots, still on the nose, lighter seas, fine weather approaching Shark Bay.
2030... winds increase again, gets much colder suddenly. We are so used to just shorts and singlet but now I am wearing thermals and full wet weather gear on my watch. The seas start to lump up again like the previous night, so we change course (from heading to Denham) to Cape Peron North.
0200... we anchor at Guichenault Point, on the inside of the Peron Peninsula, in calm seas, and a light very cold breeze.
I woke before sunrise and went out on deck to a beautiful pre-dawn morning to find swallows flying and landing all about the boat, and dolphins cruising nonchalantly about the bay. I took some pics here but missed the classic one with a dolphin surfacing under the rising sun.
0800... nice day, but still cool... we head once again for Denham. We want to re-fuel there and provision.
Unfortunately this decision meant we would miss Monkey Mia.
Late afternoon, as we enter the 16nm channel into Denham, and get phone reception, we are told that we will not be able to re-fuel there for 3 days, so we do a U-turn, and head for Geraldton.
Fortunately, Annie gets a glimpse of internet reception and gets a weather forecast..... a violent storm heading down the coast overnight.
We check the Navionics and find a place to sit overnight in the lee of a predicted strong westerly.
It was a nice spot, and actually a good rest after the past few nights hammering.