Paul's Around Australia Trip 2011

Leg 11 Bunbury to Esperance


Ted Vary

Roger Bligh

Steven Clarke (To Albury)

Suzanne Clarke (Albury to Esperance)

Leg 11

We left Bunbury with a pile of local food. Cake from Aunty Judy; biscuits and oranges from Aunty Marge; cookies from Aunty Cec and jam, sauce and pre cooked meals from Sam YUM!!!

Roger arrived without and bags as Qantas lost it – arrived in a courier just in time before we left.

The first night was at Bunker Bay in Geographe Bay which was a delightful  anchorage and very close to the shore and a beautiful beach. The out into the big swells which were predicted to be 3 – 4 m over the next couple of days. The winds were NW to start which gave us a great run down to Cape Leeuwin. This is a very dangerous cape with lots of hazards and rocks to avoid so we stood well off.

The around the corner heading east with a strong wind from the SW. It was pretty  lousy weather with squalls gusting to just under 40 knots and very cold. After shorts for 5 months out came the long johns gloves beanie and all the wet weather gear.

We made excellent time and did the 240 mile run in 36 hours averaging 6.7 knots. It was a real thrill to surf down the waves and we peaked (for a second) at 12.2 knots. With wind so strong our sails were very small  but we still averaged a good speed.

Albany is a beautiful harbour (Prince Royal) and we arrived at night. The Marina is brand new so great facilities right within walking distance from town.

(will add more but time to go)


Or     Three Men and One Lady in a Boat

Ted ‘the younger’ Reilly called it “the most anticipated yacht leg in history. It took Susanne 18 months to prepare and pack her bag”.

I had been working towards the Albany to Esperance leg since the rumour was out that Paul was recruiting  west- coast cousins for Guinevere’s crew. The male representatives of the family had put their names down for the lolly legs, so why not I?

The decision prompted me to offer myself as ballast on a 21foot yacht at Albany’s Princess Royal Sailing Club’s 2010 season. This experience introduced me to a whole new nautical language. However, by the end of the season I could barely tell the difference between a jib and a jybe, a sheet and a pillowcase, but I could tie a pretty good bow knot ( which, of course, was of absolutely no use on Paul’s trip).

On Monday 26th at 8pm, Paul, Steve Clarke, ‘young’  Ted Vary and Roger Bligh docked at Albany Waterfront Marina after a safe passage around Cape Leeuwin, the most boisterous cape in Australia, according to Matthew Flinders. I was locked out of the Marina, standing on the nearby groin, very excited. Steve came home with us that night.  The next day, Gerry’s 1988 old commodore, alias the ‘Red Devil’, was sighted doing a ‘Yorkie’ (cruising up the main street of Albany) with “three randoms” on board. The lads were sightseeing.

Tuesday night saw a small gathering at Target Road to welcome the crew, celebrate Steve’s birthday, and meet a few locals who were loosely ‘nautically’ linked:

       Deb and Kevin (sailing tragic), who are fitting out a yacht to do the same as Paul.

       Al Hordacre, who had recently crewed around the Leeuwin on Doug and Kirsten’s boat.  Al and Kylie are picking me up at Esperance.

       Doug and Kirsten helped guide the Guinevere into dock the night before. Kirsten is Kylie’s cousin. Doug had sailed round Australia umpteen times.

       Karen and Steve Quain, who knew Roger 25 years ago

       Pete Merry, sailing director at PRSC.

Got all that? Anyway, a jolly night was had.

Wed 28th, and Steve was dispatched at short notice on the bus home to Waterloo.

 On to the Albany to Esperance leg:

That evening, I had my first night aboard Guinevere for ‘acclimatisation’. Serious attention was given to safety procedures, and even more serious attention to Paul’s instructions on how to operate the much-feared head (ladies take note):

Paul: “make sure the lever is to the right, pump a bit, see the effluent disappear, switch lever to left, pump again to flush with seawater.” Kirsten had also told me to repeat the sequence at least three times. God, how was I ever going to remember all that on the high seas?

On Thursday 29th, after due consulting of charts and electronic navigation devices, a course was plotted to Two Peoples Bay. For all factual nautical reports, please consult any other crew member.

Around 10.30am we departed, waved on by Ted and Al and with good wishes from others. Having been lulled into the notion of a leisurely cruise to Two Peoples Bay, we headed past Michaelmas and Breaksea Islands and then promptly sailed hard south-east instead. I eventually gathered that a change of course had been decided, and we were headed for the Southern Ocean and an overnight sail. Eek. I took the helm under instruction. Guinevere’s bow wobbled like mad. I was advised by Paul to “cut out the ooo’s, eee’s, woah’s and other alarmist utterances as being too disturbing”. Alright, I controlled myself, but Guinevere’s nose still swayed from side to side in a 1-1.5m swell. This was fun.

Several hours later, with no land in sight, cobolt blue rolling sea, white caps, faint with self-enforced reduced fluid intake to avoid sitting on a bucking toilet seat, but with a contradictory bursting bladder, a thought did momentarily cross my mind: “What am I doing here? What WAS I thinking?” It passed.

Paul has a remarkable ability of not only skippering the vessel, but procuring just the right sort of tucker to suit ones’ slightly queezy stomach...a  cup of Earl Grey, Aunty Judy’s fruit cake, Aunty Marj’s coconut cookies and oranges, or a cheese and vegemite sandwich were supplied at intervals throughout the day and night from the rollicking galley.

We rocked and rolled into the night. Ted kindly  tolerated my raving on about goodness-knows-what during  our 02.30 to dawn shift, beautiful star-spangled dome above us, indigo black seas heaving around us. Thanks Ted, for your fountain of information on worldly topics, delivered in a David Attenboroughesque style crossed with Ronnie Corbett’s  accent and humour. Seven layers of clothes comprised of T-shirt, shirt, two fleecy  jackets, leggings, trackie pants, Kirsten’s waterproof overalls, Gortex jacket, life vest, scarf, gloves and beanie kept the chill at bay. What a kerfuffle to go to the head – wrestling six layers off – no spills, thank goodness.

After the all-nighter, at 11.30 am on Friday 30th, we arrived at the elusive Investigator Island, mysteriously alluded to by various salty Albany folk as “Rocky Island”.  Anyway, it was a magic little spot, 15NM south off the coast, east of Hopetown. The island is actually two crescent-shaped rocky scrub-covered islands, joined at the southern end by a stretch of rocks, over which the sea can break. The island is open to the north-west, creating a horseshoe-shaped protected haven to moor the boat over 12 m of clear water. We spied an elephant seal, black and brown seals nestled in the rocks, and lots of sea birds.

Paul cooked us brunch of bacon, eggs, corn and toast. We lolled about, and I could have been mistaken for a seal myself, when I took Paul’s example and jumped off the stern to freshen up. The cold water rendered me speechless, and I had to be unceremoniously heaved aboard, a most unseemly sight. Composure was restored when Roger produced a magnificent loaf of freshly baked bread. BBQ steak dinner and a good sleep in the forward bunk followed.

Saturday the 1st Oct saw us up early, and set off at about 6am with a NE wind, and us heading south. A long day’s sail ensued. Thanks to Roger, for his generously patient efforts to educate me in the principles of vectors, true and apparent wind, physics and sails, magnetic and true north. I did try, but on noting my eyes glaze over and  vague ‘yes, yes’ responses, he detected that I had reached information overload very quickly. We tacked southeast into a NE wind, and northeast into the easterly, with choppy conditions and a 1-1.5 m swell. Guinevere gallantly pressed on through the waves. I did nothing but wedge myself in possies on deck, swapping sides with each tack, only taking the helm for 10 minutes, and hauling or easing the odd sheet when asked. I braved the head about 4pm. ..thanks, Paul, for launching Guinevere through a couple of big waves  with the deck at 45 degrees. This ensured a harrowing time down below, with me hanging on to any rail, basin, wall and corner for dear life.   Oh, the horror. I reappeared relatively unscathed, but with fuel for future nightmares about small smelly spaces.

We approached Esperance in the dark, under lights, sail and motor. After some tense moments and fruity language from Paul, we were secured in our pen by 9.45pm. The marina gate was locked from the inside, so we were imprisoned for the night without access to a flush button toilet.  Pasties for tea and a good sleep.

On Sunday 2nd morning, I hailed a passing salty type who kindly unlocked the gate so we could go ashore. This fellow, Jim Prott, turned out to be a full bottle on local sailing conditions. Gee, these yachtie types (P, T and R included) can talk about yachts and sailing ‘til the cows come home!  We spent a relaxed day: land-lubber showers, blogging, lunch taken at the Jetty Tearooms, and a stroll around town.

Thankyou Paul, for the wonderful opportunity to board Guinevere, and to share your company, and adventure. It was an experience to treasure.

On your next leg, may you find the safe and speedy highs and lows  you seek as you cross the Bight.

Susanne Reilly XXX


PS     Tips for Novices:

1            Best remedy to avoid seasickness: take 2 Stugeron tablets the night before OR

2            Tape your big toe and second toe of each foot together...the toes, not the feet!

3            Pump and flush 3 times.


My leg started from Mandurah with captain Paul and Tony.The sky was grey and the sea was dark green,as was Tony and I after half an hour of sailing.

The crew weren’t of much assistance to Paul for a while until conditions eased about half way to Bunno.Tony and I both had a go on the helm and we cruised into harbour with the dolphins.

Next leg was a delightful run across geographe bay with sunshine, fair winds and humpbacks breaching in the distance. Roger tweaked the sails for maximum speed to arrive at Bunkers bay before nightfall in time for a barby on the deck.

After a leisurely breakfast we upped anchor and rounded Cape Naturaliste for Cape Leeuwin . Ray spotted us from Cape Freycinet on the way south.

Now into the southern ocean and my first ever night sail. Wind and swell increased during the night (38 knots @ 4m swell ) Genevieve really started to buzz at times with 12.2 knots noted on the speed indicator down one big swell. Paul was woken ( rolled a few times ) when we heeled a bit much ( my mistake ) but with help from the experienced Ted we were soon going nicely again.

Making very good time next day we arrived King George Sound 8 pm and the new marina Albany about 9.

 Thanks Paul for having me aboard it was great fun and an experience to be treasured.