Sunday, April 26, 2020

Isolation serenity

We will have been in Shark Bay for 4 weeks on Tuesday practicing self isolation with great dedication and loving it. We are getting really good at it!

From aloft.
We have moved around a few times to different bays depending on the wind and are enjoying just generally having a look around. Check out the photo captions to see where they were taken.

Serene Upstart at anchor.
Dirk Hartog Island is looking wonderful compared to the last time Chris was here in 2012. The removal of the sheep and then the eradication of feral goats, foxes and cats has made a huge and visible difference to the land and has allowed the release of small colonies of native creatures back to the island. You can see from the water that the undergrowth is managing to creep its way across the naked sand dunes. How it does this is a mystery to us, the wind howls and there is precious little water. We spent a good week or so there visiting 3 anchorages.

The post-sheep landscape coming back to life on Dirk Hartog Island.

Plenty of empty apartments at Quoin Bluff.
Some Dirk Hartog Island wildlife...

Dolphin family with babies.

The eyes have it!

Lovely little sandpipers running on the beach.

Such succulent green colours on the beach.

A raft of Cormorants. We thought it was a reef from a distance.
It was these guys having a party.
Appropriately named Notch Point.

Eagles nest at Notch Point.

Sunday Bay. Restoration project, not burnt just a bit rusty.


We went to Denham after about 2 weeks to do some laundry and get some fresh veggies and milk. It was a successful mission and the town was very chill, no tourists in town, only locals so it wasn't too much of a shock to us after 3 weeks of being remote and only speaking to one other human on a passing boat.

It was great to have a strong mobile signal for a change and so we caught up on phone calls and watched loads of YouTube. Chris bought some more fishing gear and got a few tips from the locals.

Emu chicks in Denham's main street.
We went bush again after a few days and had an interesting time getting into a little spot that Chris loved from the last time he was here in Cloud. We sailed past the brilliant white of the salt mountain at Useless Loop and on to the entrance to Boat Haven Loop.

Salt works at Useless Loop from a distance.
Finding the channel is tricky and the entrance is shifting, so the charts are not very accurate. We knew once we found the channel we could get in but as you can see from the Google Earth image it just disappears and meanders at both ends.  Inevitably we ran aground trying to find the main channel at the beginning and once again when we followed the wrong path where it is like a web.

Google Earth image of the channel, finding the beginning was tricky.
We were aground for about 15 mins in 1.4 metres  with keel set at 1.5m – had the rising tide and wind on our side and got off easily after lifting the centreboard 100mm.  

Our track going in to Boat Haven Loop showing where we ran aground [twice]
It was all plain sailing from there to the lovely little bay nestled in between the limestone.  We think rubbing the bottom occasionally is par for the course in these Shark Bay ‘loops’.

Hiding behind the rocks in Boat Haven Loop
Thick sea grass on the beach in our private bay at Boat Haven Loop.
At anchor in Boat Haven Loop on a windy evening.

Abandoned camp site in Boat Haven Loop.
A lovely path to the old dunny and even a rare stash of toilet paper! And of course a kitchen sink.
Mr Lee having a bath.
Occasionally we found the time and energy to do a few jobs on board. Chris repaired the autopilot which had developed a nasty clonk on the long sail up from Busselton. He found that all the bolts holding it together inside had come loose, in fact one was so loose it was floating around inside.

Repairing the autopilot.
Jenni was up the mast again for another session of sewing on the leather boots to the ends of the spreaders and taking some great photos. 

Mr Flottmann up the mast again.
Notch point from up the mast. 
Jenni  was also up for baking and non-baking of sweet things and lots of delicious dinners. Chris has been kneading dough and baked a couple of loaves of bread. We thought the tantalising aroma might bring a few visitors by, but social distancing prevailed!

Jenni's wicked cherry ripe slab.

Ship's bread.
Generally we seem to spend our days in a fairly leisurely fashion. A slow coffee and breakfast after tea in bed, followed by some small task on board before a light and crunchy salad for lunch. In the afternoon we walk, read and nap depending on the weather. It was so rough for a few days in Denham that we couldn't get off the boat.

Grinding the week's coffee. What will we do when the Naked Beans run out??
The days just flow by...

Sun rise through the porthole.

Sunset of the week.
Super Moon rising.
We hope you enjoy the photos, next time we will share the other side of Cape Peron with you.
Stay safe and well. 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Further north than we thought.

Upstart in Shelter Bay
We left Dunsborough in the morning of Friday 27th as planned to get some fuel and water from the marina at Busselton. When we left we had in mind that we would either return to Dunsborough in the afternoon, in fact we nearly left the dinghy there to pick up later, or spend the night in the eye-wateringly expensive marina and leave for the Abrolhos in the morning.

What is that saying? Something about if you want to make God laugh just tell her your plan! While we were filling up the tanks Jenni learned from the woman in the office  that the Abrolhos Islands were now closed and being patrolled by Govt. vessels refusing people entry. On top of that a total ban on inter-regional travel within Western Australia would come into effect on the following Tuesday 31st March at midnight.

Well that certainly got us both thinking hard. There are not many places on the west coast where a yacht can find safe anchorage in all weathers. The Abrolhos are only reasonably safe but they do have the port of Geraldton about 5 or 6 hours away if needed. The other place which is good is Shark Bay, about 170 miles further north. Shark Bay covers an enormous area and with its many arms and bays a yacht can always find a good spot in a blow from any direction.

Within half an hour we had decided that Shark Bay was do-able in the time and weather forecast that we had, and we would go for it. However, it meant leaving before the ideal time by about 12 hours and those hours were spent close hauled on the wind and getting pounded in order to make headway north. In the early hours of the morning we were hit by a 35 knot rain squall for a short time and as it passed the wind shifted, as forecast, to the south west and we were off with the strong wind behind us. We took a straight line course which meant that we passed the Perth Metro area a safe 40 miles or so to seaward, and settled in for a more comfortable ride for the rest of the passage.

Happy Birthday Enid! Toasting Jenni's Aunty who turned 90 whilst we were at sea.
We were making good time and found ourselves due to arrive at Steep Point, the southern entrance to Shark Bay as the sun would be going down on Monday evening. If we had continued at our normal speed we would have covered the 500 miles in just over three days. As it was, we needed to wait not only for daylight but also for an incoming tide, all of which happened first thing the next morning.

Passing Steep Point on the way into Shark Bay at dawn
We spent the night just drifting along very slowly and then comfortably motored into Shark Bay at 7am on Tuesday 31st March, anchoring in the aptly named and completely deserted Shelter Bay. Normally it would be full of camping and fishing people and at least a few other boats but it was now eerily empty.

Shelter Bay all to ourselves.
We have been here  for 5 days now and have only seen one other human who came by to say hello. He is with his family on a big motor yacht doing the same as us in another bay around the corner.

Shagsville. The birds are our only neighbours above the water.

So many dead starfish - we wonder what happened to them.
We are planning to move to Sunday Bay tomorrow which is very close by and sounds lovely for swimming, snorkeling etc. It also has a phone signal without having to hoist a phone up the mast so we  will be able to talk to family and friends. We also want to phone the shop in Denham and see if we can order some long-life milk and a few other things that make our life even more luxurious.

Old school SSB radio weather forecast and news.
We are glad we did the mad dash to get here. It was a slightly worrying time as we had no idea what sort of reception we would get when we arrived but so far so good despite reports along the way telling us that Border Force had some big vessel here. We have seen no black clad, gun toting warriors so far. We are feeling very lucky to be where we are and in our own little self-sufficient floating isolation resort.

Take care everyone and stay well.
Collecting a bit of starter bait.
First catch, a Long Tom.

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