Guinevere.net.au
Paul's Around Australia Trip 2011

Leg 12 Esperance to Adelaide

Crew

Rick Hall

Thor Berding

Ted Varey

On our way. Heading to Duke of Orleans Bay which is 42 miles around the first corner east of Esperance. Short day. Then Thursday to middle island which is the last stop before the bight. Then the big leg to Port Lincoln which should get us there early next week.

Big high till Friday then a low coming which should give us sw winds to blow us across. Thats the plan! Two days of low key familiarisation and then 4 to 5 days of ocean.

Sun is out and doing safety brief.

Ted and Paul collected Thor and Rick from Esperance airport which was a bit out of town. The yacht was already fuelled watered gassed and food on board so we left 10 am next morning. On the dock were Al, Sue and Kirsty to farewell us on the longest leg – to Adelaide.

Not much wind so we motor sailed through the archipelago very close to the many islands. Very rugged and pretty. Also  lots of breaking bommies to duck around!

We anchored in Duke of Orleans Bay which was very pretty. Difficult to anchor as long weed over hard sand. The locals use a pointy (no fluke) old fashioned fishermans anchor for this bottom. The CQR bounce off! We set the anchor alarm so no issues but would not like to be there in a gale.

Next stop middle island and then the long hop across the bight to Port Lincoln.

The Esperance Bay sailing club was very hospitable and thanks to Gordon Macdonald who lent his pen and his sons car. I hope he visits Pittwater s car to us visitors. Very kind of him.

THE CONTINUING STORY OF THE GOOD SHIP GUINEVERE,

ON PASSAGE FROM  ESPERANCE TO THE KEYHOLE,

BEFORE WE MADE OUT ACROSS THE GREAT BIGHT

5 – to – 7  Oct 2011

We had made good use of our short stay ay Esperance, completing some minor repairs and modifications, and re-victualling the boat at what was to be our last sight of shops for another 750 miles or so. In these tasks we had been greatly helped by members and staff of the Esperance Sailing Club, prince among them being Gordon MacDonald who lent us his berthing pen, his son’s car and the keys to everything we might need.  The small town proved to be a most attractive and welcoming stopping point and we owe a great debt to the many there who helped us. 

Two days before departure we said farewell to Roger Bligh, whose energy and enthusiasm had remained at full throttle throughout.  He took off in similar style, with an Avis car and the ship’s spare keys.  He was 45 minutes down track before a phone call from Paul diverted him to the nearest Post Office, and a $5 stamp returned the keys to us overnight.

On the night before departure day we drove to the airport to collect Rick Hall and Thor Berding, and thence to a celebratory dinner where Paul and Rick revelled in the news of their victory in a prolonged battle with the taxman.

Departure day was a relaxed affair, with a final visit from Sue, Al and Kirsty for coffee at the shore-side restaurant.  Leaving the pen in daylight was an un-flustered event compared to our night time arrival.  The day was bright, the breeze light and we meandered gently eastwards under a South Australian high pressure system forecast to last for some days.  Our first port of call was to be an anchorage in the Duke of Orleans Bay. This was a short hop to bed down the new crew, though Rick had earlier accompanied Paul on a testing trip to Lord Howe Island, and so knew Guinevere well. The route took us through a continuing panorama of islands and rocks (some barely submerged, which kept us on our toes despite the lotus-eating conditions) around Cape Legrand and Hammer Head.

In the afternoon the wind stiffened enough to create idyllic sailing conditions around to the Duke’s bay, where we found anchorage along with a classically-lined ketch and a stubby motor boat. Advice in Esperance had been that the bay was one big weed bed with little holding for our CQR anchor, and that a pointy–tipped admiralty hook was the right kit. We had searched Esperance but failed to find one and, the breeze being light, placed our faith in a heavy lump and 50 metres of chain.  It worked.  The bay was another very attractive spot for a peaceful night.  No fish having taken our lures, we dined on pork and lamb chops from the gas BBQ on the stern rail, accompanied by a velvety Taylors red. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Dawn on Thursday 6 Oct was overcast and calm, but developed into bright blue and a good breeze, regrettably on our nose for the next leg.  We tip-toed back through nearby bommies, hoisted the main, handed over to George the     Autohelm and set 2000rpm. And then the aliens captured our nav systems. Dials and needles capriciously slipped from on to off and back again at random. Equally random button-pressing failed to quell the digital mutineers, and the skipper disappeared below to search for manuals.  Shortly afterwards George  threw a hard right, and only a quick decoupling kept us away from a passing bommie. In turn, cockpit lockers were emptied and bulkheads removed so that the smallest member of the crew (your author) could be stuffed inside to check the instrument connections to each steering position. No fault found, lockers re-filled and, lo and behold, the aliens had fled.  For a time.  It wasn’t long before they launched a second attack and George staged another mutiny. Thereafter hand steering became the order of the day, and the breeze stiffened enough to put a reef in the main as we crashed headlong toward the Keyhole.

The Keyhole is an aptly named mini-fjord at the south-eastern end of Middle Island, which lies just about 6 miles off Cape Arid, 120 degrees and 10 minutes east of Greenwich where I started my part of this odyssey. It is only 34 degrees south which, in my book, makes it almost tropical. Well, arid it may be but tropical it ain’t.  Also, the entrance looks daunting, and in a heavy swell might prove foolhardy, but once deep inside at the head of the inlet peace and calm reign supreme. The deep anchorage in trusty sand is surrounded by a veritable amphitheatre of terraced rock faces, with many caves cut into the rock looking for all the world like private boxes at an exclusive theatre.  Safely at anchor we felt like awe-inspired performers in an ancient Greek play.

A surprising thing was the lack of wildlife. We had played with dolphins en route, and puzzled at the sight of locust-like flocks of small black seabirds, massing as if preparing to migrate. But alone within the theatre we had no audience save a stately sea eagle, who soared the adjacent cliff for a few moments and then slipped majestically eastwards in search of better things. As  the sun went down we marvelled again at our great fortune in being able to visit spectacular natural formations in such benign conditions. I like to think that the great Matthew Flinders will have experienced similar emotions.

Ted Vary

Somewhere in the Southern Ocean

7 October 2011

 

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On our way. Heading to Duke of Orleans Bay which is 42 miles around the first corner east of Esperance. Short day. Then Thursday to middle island which is the last stop before the bight. Then the big leg to Port Lincoln which should get us there early next week.

Big high till Friday then a low coming which should give us sw winds to blow us across. Thats the plan! Two days of low key familiarisation and then 4 to 5 days of ocean.

Sun is out and doing safety brief.

Ted and Paul collected Thor and Rick from Esperance airport which was a bit out of town. The yacht was already fuelled watered gassed and food on board so we left 10 am next morning. On the dock were Al, Sue and Kirsty to farewell us on the longest leg – to Adelaide.

Not much wind so we motor sailed through the archipelago very close to the many islands. Very rugged and pretty. Also  lots of breaking bommies to duck around!

We anchored in Duke of Orleans Bay which was very pretty. Difficult to anchor as long weed over hard sand. The locals use a pointy (no fluke) old fashioned fishermans anchor for this bottom. The CQR bounce off! We set the anchor alarm so no issues but would not like to be there in a gale.

Next stop middle island and then the long hop across the bight to Port Lincoln.

The Esperance Bay sailing club was very hospitable and thanks to Gordon Macdonald who lent his pen and his sons car. I hope he visits Pittwater s car to us visitors. Very kind of him.

THE CONTINUING STORY OF THE GOOD SHIP GUINEVERE,

ON PASSAGE FROM  ESPERANCE TO THE KEYHOLE,

BEFORE WE MADE OUT ACROSS THE GREAT BIGHT

5 – to – 7  Oct 2011

We had made good use of our short stay ay Esperance, completing some minor repairs and modifications, and re-victualling the boat at what was to be our last sight of shops for another 750 miles or so. In these tasks we had been greatly helped by members and staff of the Esperance Sailing Club, prince among them being Gordon MacDonald who lent us his berthing pen, his son’s car and the keys to everything we might need.  The small town proved to be a most attractive and welcoming stopping point and we owe a great debt to the many there who helped us. 

Two days before departure we said farewell to Roger Bligh, whose energy and enthusiasm had remained at full throttle throughout.  He took off in similar style, with an Avis car and the ship’s spare keys.  He was 45 minutes down track before a phone call from Paul diverted him to the nearest Post Office, and a $5 stamp returned the keys to us overnight.

On the night before departure day we drove to the airport to collect Rick Hall and Thor Berding, and thence to a celebratory dinner where Paul and Rick revelled in the news of their victory in a prolonged battle with the taxman.

Departure day was a relaxed affair, with a final visit from Sue, Al and Kirsty for coffee at the shore-side restaurant.  Leaving the pen in daylight was an un-flustered event compared to our night time arrival.  The day was bright, the breeze light and we meandered gently eastwards under a South Australian high pressure system forecast to last for some days.  Our first port of call was to be an anchorage in the Duke of Orleans Bay. This was a short hop to bed down the new crew, though Rick had earlier accompanied Paul on a testing trip to Lord Howe Island, and so knew Guinevere well. The route took us through a continuing panorama of islands and rocks (some barely submerged, which kept us on our toes despite the lotus-eating conditions) around Cape Legrand and Hammer Head.

In the afternoon the wind stiffened enough to create idyllic sailing conditions around to the Duke’s bay, where we found anchorage along with a classically-lined ketch and a stubby motor boat. Advice in Esperance had been that the bay was one big weed bed with little holding for our CQR anchor, and that a pointy–tipped admiralty hook was the right kit. We had searched Esperance but failed to find one and, the breeze being light, placed our faith in a heavy lump and 50 metres of chain.  It worked.  The bay was another very attractive spot for a peaceful night.  No fish having taken our lures, we dined on pork and lamb chops from the gas BBQ on the stern rail, accompanied by a velvety Taylors red. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Dawn on Thursday 6 Oct was overcast and calm, but developed into bright blue and a good breeze, regrettably on our nose for the next leg.  We tip-toed back through nearby bommies, hoisted the main, handed over to George the     Autohelm and set 2000rpm. And then the aliens captured our nav systems. Dials and needles capriciously slipped from on to off and back again at random. Equally random button-pressing failed to quell the digital mutineers, and the skipper disappeared below to search for manuals.  Shortly afterwards George  threw a hard right, and only a quick decoupling kept us away from a passing bommie. In turn, cockpit lockers were emptied and bulkheads removed so that the smallest member of the crew (your author) could be stuffed inside to check the instrument connections to each steering position. No fault found, lockers re-filled and, lo and behold, the aliens had fled.  For a time.  It wasn’t long before they launched a second attack and George staged another mutiny. Thereafter hand steering became the order of the day, and the breeze stiffened enough to put a reef in the main as we crashed headlong toward the Keyhole.

The Keyhole is an aptly named mini-fjord at the south-eastern end of Middle Island, which lies just about 6 miles off Cape Arid, 120 degrees and 10 minutes east of Greenwich where I started my part of this odyssey. It is only 34 degrees south which, in my book, makes it almost tropical. Well, arid it may be but tropical it ain’t.  Also, the entrance looks daunting, and in a heavy swell might prove foolhardy, but once deep inside at the head of the inlet peace and calm reign supreme. The deep anchorage in trusty sand is surrounded by a veritable amphitheatre of terraced rock faces, with many caves cut into the rock looking for all the world like private boxes at an exclusive theatre.  Safely at anchor we felt like awe-inspired performers in an ancient Greek play.

A surprising thing was the lack of wildlife. We had played with dolphins en route, and puzzled at the sight of locust-like flocks of small black seabirds, massing as if preparing to migrate. But alone within the theatre we had no audience save a stately sea eagle, who soared the adjacent cliff for a few moments and then slipped majestically eastwards in search of better things. As  the sun went down we marvelled again at our great fortune in being able to visit spectacular natural formations in such benign conditions. I like to think that the great Matthew Flinders will have experienced similar emotions.

Ted Vary

Somewhere in the Southern Ocean

7 October 2011

 

THE BLOG OF THE GOOD SHIP GUINEVERE

AS SHE CROSSES THE GREAT BIGHT,

AND THE STRANGE CASE OF THE WEATHER THAT WASN'T

A happy new day to all our readers.  The last chapter left the heroes

marvelling at the wonders of The Keyhole, and contemplating the challenges

ahead as we prepared to leave the womb of our jump-off point and venture out

into the Great Unknown.  The GU is more properly called the GAB, but often

by jolly sailor men the GFA.

Unknown to us at first maybe, but we had picked up the experiences of both

contemporary and historical figures, in bars and books respectively.  All

warned of the potential hazards and none raised our hopes. In preparation

for the legendary prevailing Westerlies, Rick had rigged a makeshift

windbreak around the starboard quarter to protect the favoured helm station.

We had also rigged the storm jib and baby stay, then collapsed and stored it

on the foredeck ready for short order rigging.

Thus prepared, well fed, watered and dressed, on Friday 7 Oct we crept

gingerly from the shelter of the Keyhole and again set our course to the

East.  After all our preparations, we were greeted by  wind so light that we

had to motor our way through rocks and islets for a few hours before the

view ahead contained nothing but a benign ocean, and the territory of

Australia gradually slipped away to the North as the great sweep of the

Bight opened up.

Our target was Port Lincoln on the other side of the Eyre Peninsula, around

670 nautical miles over the far horizon; a full 13 degrees of longitude

away, but just over 1 degree latitude to the South of us.  We estimated a

journey time of 6 to 7 days. The fact that we completed it in just 5 days

and 2 hours, wondering what all the fuss had been about, shows how

favourably the gods viewed Cap'n Pauly's venture.

For most days the wind had an easterly component, sometimes above and

sometimes below, and mostly between 12 and 22 knots.  No signs of the rain

squalls we had experienced earlier, frequently bright blue skies by day and

diamond-bright stars by night. Long gentle swells were the order of the

week, sometimes topped by choppy little waves.  For the most part, George

the autopilot and Ray Marine the navigator coped very well, leaving behind a

track which remained almost parallel to and at the most 20 miles off the

rhumb line.  Just occasionally Guinevere pounded hard to windward, often

clocking over 7 knots and , for one glorious, continuous spell of 18knots of

wind, a steady and heady 8 knots on the log. Some of the more obstinate

lumps of ocean caused the ship to slam enough to rattle our teeth and our

nerves, testing the quality of her structures and the skill of her

designers. On more than one occasion Cap'n Pauly was sent below to

investigate the fixings hidden in places only he knew existed, more to quell

the nerves of delicate crew than in real concern for Guinevere's vitals.

Just once we benefitted from a few hours with the asymmetric spinnaker,

until the tack line chafed through and it flew ahead triumphantly like the

brightly coloured flag of a newly freed nation.

A feature of the empty ocean with a long swell is that, as you rise in

stately fashion to the highest point around, you really do sense the

curvature of the earth, with a horizon unlimited by dust or moisture.  It is

like sitting atop a deep blue, rouched velvet cushion. The sunrises and

sunsets were invariably presented in full Panavision, technicolour style

which Thor described as 'biblical skies'. A near-constant presence were the

serene albatrosses, effortless in their mastery of the wind over the waves,

graceful to a point which belies their size. No sign, thank heavens, of the

dreaded Great White whose presence is growing across The Bight, but none of

whales or dolphins either.

As our thin pencil line spread inexorably towards the right hand side of the

chart, Ray the Nav showed no further signs of mutiny but, just to keep us on

our toes, he did offer the indication that we were doing 222(!) knots across

the ocean as we sped toward the interstate boundary at 129 degrees East,

which we crossed on Sunday 9 Oct at 2100 hrs WAT.  Thereafter, calculating

local time plus or minus daylight saving became too much for simple sailors,

so we doggedly left the clock where it was.  Nine hours later, at 130

degrees East , we celebrated our half-way point by taking our first shower

at sea (Guinevere has three of them, and a good store of hot water).  After

a , further nine hours we passed the point of greatest distance from land,

where the Head of the Bight was exactly 180 miles to the North, but it was

to be another 2 days and 2 hours before we saw Australia again, in the form

of the Whidbey Isles lighthouse beckoning us home.

The final stages, around the Eyre Peninsula and up into Spencer Gulf, were

not without challenge, enlivened by the spare humour of young Matthew

Flinders who named these parts. To the North lay Point Avoid, on one arm of

Avoid Bay (look at a chart to see why). Sleaford Bay and Spalding Cove lead

round to Port Lincoln, with Boston and Louth Bays further up the Gulf.  But

direct access to the port involves a passage around Cape Catastrophe and up

the Thorny Passage, where the hydrographer's note warns sternly of dangerous

races and violent rip tides, along. with significant magnetic disturbances

to thwart the most ardent navigator. Flinders lost a boat and 6 men bringing

fresh water to his ship.

But by now dear reader, you will not be surprised that on 12 October the

gallants of Guinevere passed untroubled through these fearsome features to

register an early, safe entry to a pre-booked pen at Lincoln, grateful for

more sights of the wonders of the world but even more so for the

near-unprecedented  absence of weather.

Ted Vary

THE BLOG OF THE GOOD SHIP GUINEVERE,

ON PONTOON, ROYAL SOUTH AUSTRALIAN YACHT SQUADRON,

OUTER HARBOUR, ADELAIDE, 20 Oct 2011

Our previous entry ended with a safe arrival at Port Lincoln, having mastered the hazards of Cape Catastrophe and the Thorny Passage.  We stayed at Lincoln long enough to watch 14 gallant Welshmen just fail to overcome 15 Frenchmen who, until the closing minutes, had singularly failed to play to their numerical advantage. As Wales launched a final 10 minutes of battering ram ferocity before the French posts, needing only 3 points, the French mounted a highly reactive, ironclad defence which saved their day. Some sadness aboard Guinevere because, in the audience around Cap’n Pauly’s big screen sat a young Welsh girl, out here on a working visa and travelling with a young Cobber whom she met up North. Also present was Robert, a sea gypsy from a neighbouring yacht who feigned ignorance of the game and kept spicing the commentary with his own jocular style  “.......why are those big ugly men in red thumping those pretty men in blue..............why do they keep chasing after that little leather airbag.......” etc. He was the kind of toper who protests that he doesn’t, but then again, he doesn’t mind if he does.

Next morning we slipped our lines at 0830 and were greeted by a flat sea, a 15 knot sou’westerly and 7 to 8 knots of boat speed.  Perfect sailing, except that it wasn’t quite in the right direction for Edithburg, our next stop.  But there was promise of a bit more South in the wind later so we enjoyed the benefits of the moment, threading our way through bommies and around Wedge Island which, to our surprise showed at least half a dozen houses along its northern flank. Also on the journey across the Spencer Gulf we spotted Althorpe Island, just off Cape Spencer, the coincidence of names implying that Flinders had links with Princess Dianna’s family.

Through the day the winds varied between SSW and SSE, and for a couple of hours around midnight the iron headsail helped us keep boat speed above 5 kts as we approached the heel of Yorke (sic) Peninsula.  The village of Edithburg lies in a bay just around the heel, on the east-facing shore, but direct passage crosses the Troubridge Shoal, a trap for unwary skippers as the navigable channel is marked only by unlit posts, and is very narrow.  Not to be attempted at night by the unfamiliar navigator. 

And it was night. Thor and I went off watch at midnight, our last log entry reading “...clear night, bright stars, steady wind and sailing well...”,  leaving our fate in the hands of our gallant skipper as he carefully nudged Guinevere around the edge of the shoals. Since I am normally a heavy sleeper, I was surprised to be awoken later by some energetic engine handling and a few shouted curses but, since none were directed at the slumberers below, turned over to await the dawn. On waking, the boat was suspiciously still and quiet. What was amiss?  Fear not dear reader, our faith in the skipper had been well rewarded for we had made excellent time to our anchorage, and the on-deck frenzy had been a struggle in the dark to pick up an unusually configured mooring buoy. In the tussle a prone Pauly had lost over the side both his treasured beanie and expensive head-torch, as well as the boathook. Deckhand Rick made a snap decision on priorities and lunged for the boat hook. Like the Owl and the Pussycat, the torch and the beany sailed away into the night, to a land where no-one knows.

But it was all worth it. A trip ashore in the rubber duck revealed a well set-up holiday campsite with excellent temporary showers and toilets during a rebuild of the old facilities.  And this formed the southern suburb of a very neat little village; just three parallel streets along a well-laid out foreshore and, at right angles, the road from the jetty and tiny harbour heading out of town and over the hills to Australia. Rick and I stayed for a stroll around town and a sumptuous calamari lunch at sidewalk tables beneath the first umbrellas of the summer.  Of course, we needed a nice bottle of white to mark our safe arrival, but an apologetic proprietor explained the difference between outside tables and inside ones in terms of local alcohol legislation.  He had no licence, but if folks sitting at outside tables happened to have something to enhance the quality of the dining experience, albeit fresh-bought from the hotel across the road.............  We spent a very peaceful evening and night at anchor and, our attempts at fishing having failed again, had to return to the BBQ for our evening meal.

 

The next morning brought again a clear day with moderate breezes from generally north easterly directions, and we motor-sailed our way across the Spencer Gulf under the direction of our good friend George, whom we had instructed to follow any windshift to the north to lift us up the gulf to Adelaide. With uncanny timing this duly occurred, leaving behind a graceful curve on the chart slotting us straight into the entrance for the outer harbour.  Gentleman’s sailing again. And appropriately so because we were to spend the next few days as guests of the Royal South Australia Yacht Squadron, of which more in the next episode.

PS:  The grandeur of nature encourages man’s poetic instincts.  A sample from the log after a brilliant sunrise recorded at 0600 on 10 Oct, in the middle of the Great bight:

Mostly blue, a few white Cu*

And the sun a nuclear core

As we speed our way on this glorious day

Towards Australia’s shore

 

*Cu  is the met man’s slang for Cumulus clouds

Ted Vary

RSAYS, Adelaide

 

 

 

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