Thursday, March 26, 2020

Heading North for deep isolation.

Sunset over Cape Naturalist from Dunsborough
Hi Everyone. This is just a short message to say that after 2 weeks in Dunsborough waiting for the corona virus situation to develop we have made a decision about our immediate movements.

Our original plan was to stop in Fremantle to spend some time with Tom and Sarana's family and Jess's family, catch up with other friends and rellies, trips to Rotto and so on. Also doing some boat stuff which can only be done there. All the rellies are now enjoying home time as are we on the boat, businesses are closed and the situation has changed big time.

Therefore we have decided to give the entire Metro area a big miss and sail directly from here to the Abrolhos Islands tomorrow. We will top up with fuel and water in Busselton Marina in the morning and then catch the beginning of a nice looking southerly wind which should keep going until we arrive. The voyage is around 300nm and should take around 48hrs, our longest one so far with just the two of us aboard.

We are busy updating charts and doing on-line jobs today which we had intended to do in Freo. We are stocked up with food, enough beans and lentils to last about a year we recon! And the laundry is done.

Dunsborough al-fresco laundromat.

We hope to stay in the islands for a month or so and the phone signal will be virtually nil during that time. The last time Chris was there he got a bit of a signal by hoisting the phone up the mast so we might be able to do a text message from time to time but that will be about it.

When we are ready to leave the islands we will contact the port in Geraldton to find out what we can do about coming ashore for supplies.

That's all from us for the moment. Look after yourselves and each other in these difficult times.

Friday, March 20, 2020

When the dog bites, when the bee stings 🎵🎵 ..... go sailing!

Happy family sailing. Levi, Chris & Oli
It feels like we have been on a long journey this last 12 months, one of preparation and packing. Upgrading the boat from one which was set up for short cruises in Queensland to one fit for the open ocean has been a big job for us. Preparing Jenni’s house to be left and rented has also been a large task involving sorting and moving her belongings. A lot of things to let go! Cars and boats needed to be sold and in the case of ‘Cloud’ put into storage. Chris needed to finish moving out of the workshop on the farm and finalise arrangements with his partners in that venture. We are both very fortunate to have lovely tenants for our homes.

Deckhand Jenni
We are on the move again, yea!
Finally on Thursday 5th March we left our pen at the sailing club and headed over to Oyster Harbour for a quiet couple of nights on one of the courtesy moorings there. When we arrived all the moorings were taken by a small fleet of local boats waiting for a change in the weather so that they could leave for Esperance so we dropped our anchor nearby.

Anchor dragging.
We woke the next morning to an even stronger easterly with quite a bit of north in it and sure enough after a couple of hours Chris decided to let out a bit more chain and as he did so the anchor started to drag and we were headed for the beach very close by. Fortunately the motor was running as a precaution and we were able to motor forward just before we connected with the lovely old vessel ‘Amity’ which was moored next to us. 
We narrowly avoided colliding with the lovely old Amity
We then headed out of the harbour and dropped anchor at the pretty little Middleton Bay just outside the Emu Point channel where the wind was safely blowing offshore. The sun came out and we spent a great few hours swimming and resting before heading back into Princess Royal Harbour for a more sheltered night in town. Lloyd joined us in the evening and we set off before dawn the next day, Saturday the 7th March to head west to Cape Leeuwin and the Indian Ocean.

Farewell Albany - rounding magnificent Bald Head.
The easterly was still pretty brisk so we motor-sailed against the wind with plenty of water over the bow out to Bald Head as the sun came up. Once we turned the corner and started heading west and down-wind the motion was easier and Chris went below to make tea.

Moody West Cape Howe
Leaking boat.
Sadly he was greeted with the sight of a soaking wet bed and forward cabin, salt water everywhere. It turned out that the big hatch over the bed has a setting which just leaves it open a small gap for ventilation and this had been accidentally used instead of the fully closed position, oops! (Won't make that mistake again!)

The rest of our 30 hour journey to Hamelin Bay was easy and uneventful. We had good winds from behind for most of the way with only a couple of hours of no wind when we motored to keep to our scheduled arrival time. The night watches enjoyed beautiful clear starry skies and an almost full moon. It was lovely to have Lloyd along again to share the first leg of this new voyage.

As we rounded Cape Leeuwin in the early morning, we reflected on having now sailed the entire south coast of mainland Australia.  

Hamelin Bay.

The gorgeous turquoise waters of Hamelin Bay
Hamelin Bay just north of Cape Leeuwin was as beautiful as ever. Strong easterly winds persisted for the whole week we were there but the anchorage was comfortable and snug. The caravan park was very helpful and we made full use of the laundry for washing and drying the salty stuff from the for’d cabin. We were invited by an old client of Chris’s who is a fisherman there to use the new mooring they had installed for visiting boats. 
Crayfish anyone?  Thanks Graham!
The following morning we woke to the sound of a large diesel motor close by and 2 crayfish were dropped in our dinghy. Chris went to say thanks and went aboard the fishing boat to meet the crew including Girl [aging blue heeler] and have a look around. He thought he had made friends with the dog and was surprised to get nipped on the hand as he went to pat her goodbye. Quickly pulling his hand away meant that a sharp tooth tore the soft inside of his hand just near the thumb. It was a neat deep tear and really should have been stitched but Mr Lee was resistant to that and stuck it together himself. It is healing nicely but of course taking much longer than if it had been sutured, and unfortunately keeping it dry meant no swimming in Hamelin Bay for Chris.

While on the topic of hand injuries, the next day we had an after-school visit from Oli and her three kids for a BBQ dinner and a bit of fishing. Chris was sitting on the beach with the boys when the dinghy started to drift away, he put his good hand down on the sand to get up and put it right on top of a resting bee. Never having had a bad reaction to bee stings before, he didn’t think much of it and the evening progressed for about an hour during which time he became very itchy. Turns out he had developed a bright red rash of hives across his groin and thighs, under arms and head. Jenni rushed back to Upstart for anti-histamines and after another hour it had subsided just leaving a very swollen hand which persisted for 3 days. All in all a bad period for hand injuries that left us singing that song from the Sound of Music...   when the dog bites, when the bee stings….🎵🎵

The Albany fleet in Hamelin Bay - 6 yachts. Must be a record we think
During the week we were a bit surprised to see a sail approaching from the south. It was Darren and Linda on ‘Baudin’ the leading boat in a fleet of 6 from Albany. They had got fed up with waiting for the easterly to subside for their planned trip to Esperance and hopped on the wind going west instead. During the course of the day five boats arrived and one continued to Quindalup.

It was great to have a few mates around and we joined them sailing north to Dunsborough Bay on the 14thMarch. We had Chris’s mate Alex and his two nieces Nava and Avaz on board for the day sail along the coast of the peninsular and around Cape Naturaliste. A lovely sail and a good chance to catch up with an old friend. 
Happy Alex
We have been here on a mooring in Quindalup for a few days now and will stay for a week or so, or until the wind is making it unsafe.

Rounding Cape Naturaliste into Geographe Bay
Oli, the kids and her friend Fay joined us again earlier this week for twilight sailing and fishing. Young Isaac proved his mettle as an apprentice rigger, climbing the mast to the top spreader to retrieve a wayward halyard.  (Although he quite effortlessly free climbed the mast, we did of course have a safety harness on him!).  It was a beautiful evening and the kids had a great time exploring, hauling in the sheets, grinding the winches and learning to steer the big boat.

Rigger Isaac, a natural mast climber.

Isaac steering a steady course  - totally focused on the telltales.
We are enjoying the relative quiet here and have been provisioning and catching up with a few small jobs. Heavy rain a few days ago washed all the salt off the boat and enabled us to fill our water tanks.  We are very well placed for self-quarantining.

Most of the other Albany boats have gone further north now looking for a bit more warmth, We may see them going the other way when they head for home and we make our way north at some time.

Exploring Hamelin Island - in pictures.
Hamelin Bay was a bustling timber port in the late 1800s early 1900s with the remains of a long timber jetty still visible in the water. We took a dinghy ride across to the little island off the Bay to explore the old ship moving infrastructure still there. 

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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Standby for Cast Off!

Monday March 2nd 2020.

It’s been just over a year since our last blog entry and as we write this short pre-departure entry we are in the last stages of getting ready to leave on an unspecified voyage of discovery, curiosity and adventure.

New Year's Day at Two Peoples' Bay
Chris has been doing a major overhaul of Upstart all year including some much needed water and fuel tanks, new rigging, bottom scraping etc. [please ask if you would like more details of what we did and why.]

New 250 litre aluminium fuel tank

Diesel cleaning and delivery system

Settee repaired after installing the new fuel tank

Preparing to fit the new water tank under the forward bunk

Water tank going in - adding about 300 litres of fresh water to our supplies

Bunk all repaired, ready for a coat of varnish and then the new bedding.
Jenni has been busy on the sewing machines re-upholstering the whole boat in a lovely red fabric. We made a new ‘stack pack’ for our massive main sail,  several other sewing projects and not to mention all the triangular fitted sheets.

Sewing with the "tractor" portable industrial machine.

Learning about box corners
6 meter long mainsail stack pack under construction
Both of our houses have happy tenants in them and we have been living aboard for a month now at the sailing club. The cars are sold our possessions are in the garage or on the boat and we have started looking at the weather forecasts in detail.

Since we moved aboard the wind has been blowing hard from the east, almost continually and it looks like that will continue for the next 10 days at least. It is a good wind for us to get around Cape Leeuwin on the first leg of our voyage up the west coast, and we are looking at leaving at the end of the week.

Here are a few more pics of our labours this last year.

A few weeks on the hardstand doing hard labour including scraping off 10 years of old antifouling paint.

Blue is the new black

Back home at PRSC after haul-out, sporting our new blue mainsail stackpack
Believe it or not, this spaghetti is our new reverse osmosis water maker.

The old keel lifting cables - new ones were definitely needed!

Aerial sewing

New leather spreader boots

The new settee cushions and the lovely Sea Dragon painting from Ceduna 

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