Triabunna to Hobart


TRIABUNNA to PORT ARTHUR – Meteye was predicting 15kt southerlies in the afternoon of Wednesday 09-09-2020 turning to variable overnight & into Thursday then 15-20kt northerlies after midday. This was a perfect time to leave Triabunna heading to the next stop Port Arthur via a night at Maria Is. There was another stop on the way, Canoe Bay inside Fortescue Bay, which would have been good for a night but weather window did not allow it. I wanted to sail/motor close to the cliffs to get some photos of this wonderful coast line of the Tasman Peninsula.

I certainly felt the southerly heading to Maria Is. & had to tack all the way with jib & motor & head winds. I found ‘the hole’ in close south side of the large Shoal Bay in 4m water arriving at 1700hr. Distance was 15nm for 3.5hr. By time I arrived, the wind stopped as usual. In the one month at Triabunna while working, I did not make the time to visit Maria Is. The weekends were so windy & cold in Triabunna, it would have been worse on the island. There is a passenger ferry going to the island 5 days a week for $45 return + $10/bike. One also requires a park pass so I purchased a 1yr pass with my seniors card at a discount.

After a good nights sleep the alarm went off at 0215hr Thursday & I left at 0230hr with motor only as there was no wind. In fact I motored the whole 46nm to Port Arthur, with partial jib out to Tasman Island then full jib for balance of journey. The scenery along the Tasman Peninsula is fantastic with vertically inclined rock soaring into the sky. It would seem the rock is the same under the water going to sea bed 50-70m deep. There did not seem to be a ledge under the water as the slight swell was breaking against the vertical rock face.

As soon as I got to Tasman Is., about 10am, the forecast 15-20kt northerly wind came in which meant a head wind once I passed west of Tasman Is. however with a SW swell this was no problem. I arrived in Stewarts Bay dropping the anchor on sand in 4m at noon on 10-09 sheltered from all winds except S to SE & any southerly swell. However after 2 days a swell came in & the wind was turning to southerly directions 20-30kts so moved south side of the bay into Ladies Bay. I chained an admiralty anchor 0.6m in front of the plough anchor as there is a lot of weed so with 40m of 8mm chain out I did not move except in small circles. Upon lifting the anchors 7 days later I found out why – the chain below the bow picked up the weed acting as a kellet. So for the nine days, I worked while walking the surrounding area including Port Arthur with winds changing to the dreaded NW. However with tall gum tress to my north I was fully sheltered. One has to pay to enter the Port Arthur grounds but I was too early on my walks. At one stage I dinghy’ed out into the bay fishing in 20m and caught a couple of dinners of flathead. Late on Friday 18-09 I lifted the anchors cleaning the weed off and motored around to the public mooring south side of Port Arthur ready to leave about 0630hr next morning for Taranna. I also ordered a small cheap Chinese drone to be delivered to my Melbourne address.

PORT ARTHUR to NUBEENA – 0630hr on Saturday 19-09 I left Port Arthur for the 26nm journey to Nubeena past Cape Raoul, mostly motor sailing as there was very little wind, arriving 1245hr onto a Derwent Sailing Squadron mooring. There was a good SW swell with waves crashing into the vertical cliffs so I was able to motor close to the cliff & get some good photos of the crashing waves..

I rang DSS to get permission & stayed for two weeks working. Nubeena seemed to be ‘the town that was’. I required petrol for the generator but the petrol station closed some time ago – should have filled up in Port Arthur. There were many houses with ‘memorabilia’ from past years – cars, machinery, cray pots, runabouts etc. This was a good place for exercising as the steep hills were close by testing my heart. I pushed my bicycle up a steep hill – Nubeena Back Road – to Taranna & back – a round trip of 34km. I never took any food thinking I could get fish&chips in Taranna – it was closed. I did however have a beer & meal at Rosedale Homestead, Taranna. The drone had arrived in Melbourne so my wife posted it to Nubeena so had to wait for it to arrive. I had no time to try it out before leaving at 0730hr Saturday 03-10 for Taranna. There is a wharf with fresh water & small floating pontoon (for dinghy’s only). There is also a well stocked IGA with wonderful local eggs with a rich coloured yoke & marscarpone cheese for my favorite desert – tiramisu.

NUBEENA to TARANNA – The only petrol in the area was just before the next stop Taranna at a place called Premaydena facing the north. I anchored in 2.5m water a long way out from shore near low tide & walked across the sand/mud flats with 2x10l & 2x5l plastic jerry cans. Once full the 5l cans sat in my back pack with a 10l in each hand walking about 600m around the road this time, back to the dinghy which was high & dry. Impression Bay is very shallow. A northerly was predicted so I had limited time & lifted anchor just as it arrived. I found another DSS mooring in Taranna so tied to it for another 9 days. Anchoring in both Nubeena & Taranna is apparently OK with good holding in sand/mud and there is no swell. Both are open to the strong NW gales which seem to frequent Tasmania this time of the year. There are no shops in Taranna but it does have a very friendly boat club so presented myself on the Friday arvo for a beer & snacks. The clubhouse was built by the members on the waters edge with a rather steep railway line ramp for yachts. I caught a number of good size flathead while drift fishing. It was also a great place for walking up hills with many wild flowers. One can motor along a narrow causeway east to Eaglehawk Neck, but I never made the time due to the wind & my work. While in Port Arthur a friend, Stan, drove from Port Huon to pick me up & show me some of the area ending up in Eaglehawk Neck viewing the tessellated pavement & a light lunch at Lufra Hotel. From Wikipedia – in geology and geomorphology, a tessellated pavement is a relatively flat rock surface that is subdivided into more or less regular rectangles. On the ocean side of Eaglehawk Neck is Pirates Bay. See the photos below in the slide show.

TARANNA TO MURDUNNA – I left Taranna 0830hr on Saturday 13-10 for the 17nm sail to next stop Murdunna tying up to a floating pontoon with 1m under the keel at 1000hr. I checked the tide & decided the water was deep enough, but later in the day checked again to find I must have made a mistake as I was about to sit on the bottom so instantly decided to tie up to a large mooring buoy. No one told me to get off so stayed for 1wk. I met a French guy & his friend on their 25′ Django yacht named L’Envol, which means’ into the wind’ – web address Christophe sailed from France, down the east coast of South America, thru’ the fiords of Patagonia (where he met Carina who gave up her job & jumped at the chance of a sailing life), up thru’ the numerous fiords of Chili & across the pacific to NZ, New Caledonia & around Australia mainland & Tasmania anticlockwise before stopping at Franklin on the Huon River in April at the start of the COVID pandemic. They could not leave Tasmania due to border closures. Once we could move around Tasmania they have sailed up the Tassie east coast including St. Helens & as of December they are in River Tamar at Beauty Point with a view to obtaining work picking fruit etc. There is an IGA at Mudunna – that serves ice cream. There were perhaps 15 vessels on moorings, one rather dilapidated vessel called El Desperado. I was invited to a local house, who befriended Christophe & Carina for a very nice dinner one night. Tim & Carol own a yacht moored in the harbour & have plans to untie the land strings in December to sail somewhere – around Tassie or east coast mainland Aussie depending on COVID. A few years ago the area was badly burnt so many locals built a number of seats around the harbour track to sit & enjoy the view.

Time was running out for me to visit other areas south of Hobart in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel so on Saturday 17-10 I left Murdunna at 0300hr for the 36nm motor/sail to Derwent Sailing Squadron marina arriving at 1200hr. The weather was overcast with light winds. After stopping east side of Betsey Is. fishing in 15m (caught nothing) I rounded the Iron Pot at 0900hr & then it seemed to take ages motoring up the Derwent to DSS. Not far from DSS I saw a yacht I had seen in Darwin & met the owner & crew Stan (whom I have kept in contact with) in Geraldton 2017. I rather liked Hobart, which has house properties lapping the waters edge like Sydney. I found a fantastic baker with great cakes & bread – Jackman & McRoss at Battery Point. Salamanca Market was rather depleted due to COVID. One of the great views around Hobart is of Mt Wellington, looking down like ‘big brother’. I stayed 8 days, filling up with diesel, water & food. I tried to leave after 7 days but the southerly head wind coming up the Derwent River was too hard to negotiate so returned & left the following day. The autopilot motor was not working so was able to fix it somehow when I returned.

Next episode will be from Hobart to Dover & back to Hobart to complete the 2020 cruising year.


Launceston to Devonport & Triabunna

On Wednesday 29th January, 2020 I said goodbye to my wife & flew back to Launceston leaving Tullamarine Airport at a sensible hour of 1310hr arriving Launceston 1415hr. Ophelia was in good condition with both lithium batteries nicely topped up due to 2x120w of solar panels. I had to shop for food next day as well as work. The supermarket is about 1.1km from the Old Seaport Marina so with my full back pack & shopping bag in each hand I set about walking back. It took a while. From memory I had a short nap to re-cover. Work continued each day until my eldest daughter & granddaughter, Diandra & Indi, arrived on 1st Feb. for a week. It was the first time for Indi to sleep on a boat which she enjoyed. That was a great week walking many places, including visiting the annual Launceston Festivale with face painting & dancing, breakfast at Peppers & a play in the great new park near Peppers. I hired a car & we visited Jan & Peter in Penguin & Seahorse World at Beauty Point. Seahorses are sent all over the world. It was such a big day Indi slept on the way back to Launceston. While I had the car I filled the 5x20l jerry cans with diesel. The Old Seaport Marina is in need of a make over & dredge. Many vessels are sitting in the mud at low tide.

After they left, it was time for more food shopping so I could leave on 9th Feb. heading back down River Tamar 20nm to Spring Bay for a week working. I caught some small flathead from my yacht & made some bread. After a week I moved 10nm further down the river under Batman Bridge & the fast flowing river to Beauty Point on anchor out of the current. I miss-timed the tides slightly with current against me under the bridge so could only travel at 2.5 to 3kts. After an hour tide changed so all was good. I had a few days of strong northerlies & southerlies which is same direction as the river, although the surface was smooth due to being out of the current.

After continually looking at the forecasts for a suitable weather window to head down the Tasmanian west coast to Strahan, I decided to leave here on Wed. 19th Feb. to stay at Mersey Yacht Club pontoon, Devonport, for the night & leave there about 1300hr next day. That would give me about 15hr to get to south end of Hunter Is. (north west corner of Tasmania) & wait a few hours to catch the tide & slight breeze heading west. I was informed the tide runs fast through this area & don’t go through tide against wind.

Upon leaving Devonport I untied all mooring lines except one stern & bow line. The tide was going out so I stepped backwards onto the pontoon from the bow to release that rope first & landed in the river with some very sore right side ribs which I though I was just winded. They hit the pontoon timber edge on the way down. From memory Ophelia was moving away from the pontoon slightly & in my hurry to leave I jumped backwards. That was my mistake – being in a hurry. I managed to pull myself along the pontoon edge against the current to a ‘stink boat’ in front & clamber onto the low duck board – I was lucky it was there. I changed clothes & headed out the river, un-furled the jib, but after 3/4hr my ribs were so sore I had to turn back to Devonport. Furling the jib using the winch was very difficult & any body movement created pain. I rang the yacht club manager explaining what had happened & asked for help to berth. I closed up the yacht & a club member took me the 10km to Devonport Hospital. After receiving pain killers & about midnight I was transfered to Burnie Hospital ICU for 4 days. The lowest rib was broken in 4 places & next 3 above were broken in one place each. The concern was fluid (blood) below the right lung which could cause pneumonia. They said I had to cough, but I could not – it was way to sore. I was discharged on 26th Feb. to Jan & Peter’s place – once again they came to the rescue. So that was the end of my 2020 trip around Tasmania. It would take 3 months to heal. On 29th Feb. with the help of a club member I moved Ophelia out onto a mooring amongst the seagulls. That was a concern. I caught the ferry back to Melbourne on 4th March to recuperate.

However COVID-19 came onboard & the Tassie border was to be closed midnight Friday 20th March. I had a return ferry ticket booked for end of March but changed it to the night sailing of 19th March. Lucky I did as that was the last chance to enter Tasmania unless one was an essential traveler or lived in Tasmania. I was also concerned the seagulls will take over Ophelia if she was left unattended for months, like some other vessels on moorings in the river. I had to be careful stepping from yacht to dinghy while on the mooring & onto the pontoon from the dinghy. After one month it was getting colder & more windy/rainy so the yacht club put me behind the pontoon in a blow-off position out of the waves. The horrible NW gales belt straight into the yacht club across the river from the city. After a couple of weeks I bought a 21 speed bike to get around & was able to exercise much more including fast walking up a hill to the water supply tank. I stayed at Devonport for 3 months although once we could move I motored 3hr NW to Penguin for a weekend. I had to repair the chain driving the rudder from the helm at one stage as it broke. I cleaned the anchor well & painted the anchor fire engine red. I also painted inside some storage lockers in the cabin & many more maintenance jobs, all while working. I even tried to learn the mandolin but never put enough effort into it – working too much. Devonport has many ships berthing unloading gas & fertilizer and loading cement. The fishing boats have to move to the gas terminal wharf when a cargo ship is in port, then move back for the gas supply ship.

Close to the yacht club was a car park for all the returning Tasmanian’s from the ferry. From here they were bused to a hotel. At one stage early on, the car park was full – perhaps up to 200 cars. Once restrictions were eased the local Dragon boats made their appearance on the water – practice only. The club named Nipples on Ripples is the paddling home of breast cancer survivors & supporters. I spent one weekend with Jan & Peter who took me to Burnie, Wynyard, Smithton & Stanely where we climbed The Nut. I had hoped to sail to these places but the weather was too cold. Eventually I purchased a cheap Chinese diesel 5kw heater. 1kw setting is quite sufficient for my cabin.

By end of July I was getting ‘itchy feet’ – it was time to move on. So on Tuesday 4th August I left Devonport motoring to Port Sorell onto a mooring owned by a Mercy YC member, Lance. I stayed here for one week after Lance showed me around the area. It would be a great place in the summer months. They have a ‘mud berth’ where vessels sit on the bottom at low tide & float at high tide. My next place to stay was St. Helens – since watching the tv show Gourmet Farmer Afloat a few years ago, I wanted to visit St. Helens. I phoned the marine rescue & booked the bar crossing on Tuesday 1300hr. So on Sunday 8th August I left at 1300hr for the overnight 125nm journey passing the notorious Banks Strait (NE tip of Tasmania) at 0230hr Wednesday morning. I had planed a perfect trip arriving spot on high tide to ‘go with the flow’ east & the surface was a mirror reflecting the moon which had risen at 2330hr. I arrived Binalong Bay on the public mooring at 1000hr Monday. The whole journey used the motor as there was very little wind. Ophelia was rocking a lot on the mooring & I was concerned about the bar crossing next day so I motored the 2nm to take a look – wow, no way was I going to cross that bar – the rollers were breaking right across the bar. An easterly swell had developed. After a phone call to Marine Rescue, who agreed, I set sail for the next safe haven, Triabunna arriving there at 0830hr Tuesday. I had phoned the Triabunna Boat Club before leaving Binalong Bay to book a berth.

I stayed at Triabunna for 1 month working, departing for Port Arthur via Maria Is. on Wed. 09-09. In that time we had 2 NW gales – luckily Ophelia was very protected by 2 long vessels on the windy side. Winds reached 42kts during the 2nd gale. There was a very nice cafe – Colonial Food & Wine – which had some very nice cakes & meals. I tried my hand at the cheese cake & also made my usual bread from Laucke mix.

Adelaide to Launceston

I returned to Adelaide, completely refreshed, on 20-09-2019 after three months in Melbourne with family & two weeks with my wife in Bali at Uluwatu & Seminyak. Following day I removed the mast & slipped Ophelia on the hard stand for a few maintenance jobs :- antifoul, replace batteries to Lithium, replace cutlass bearing (for the prop) as it has been leaking for two years. The bearing was burnt so at some stage water was not lubricating the bearing. The cutlass bearing was replaced in Mandurah November 2017. The last time the mast was down was in Bowen 2016 where I replaced the VHF aerial & added an internet aerial so had two 10mm super low loss cables plus three electrical cables. The VHF cable & electrical cables went down inside the mast but with no more room inside the conduit & my allocated time running out, I had to fix the internet cable down the back stay with sail hanks. I had trouble ever since with the wire main halyard being wrapped around the back stay & hanks a few times. So I inserted another conduit & ran the internet cable inside the mast.

So on 12-10-2019 at 0915hr it was time to leave Outer Harbour, Adelaide & head to Launceston by 09-12-2019 to catch the plane back to Melbourne on 14-12. I had 8 weeks & 6 to 7 places to stop for a week working. First stop was a patch of sand amongst the weed at Brighton Beach for the 100th opening day of the Brighton & Seacliff YC about 4hr motoring since no wind.

I had dinner & left at 2000hr for the 11hr sail & motor across Backstair Passage to Christmas Cove marina, Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. The entrance is rather shallow with 0.2m under the keel near low tide. It is a great marina very protected in the hollow, although I am told a strong NW is rather swelly. It was while walking up the hill to the town I noticed I was getting puffed out & did get some pain in the left side chest & lower left jaw – same pain as I had a couple of times in Melbourne after some strenuous exercising. Marina cost is $20/day if staying 8 days or more, otherwise $30/day. After 9 days working I moved around to Hog Bay, the main beach for Penneshaw ready to leave at 1900hr for the 28hr, 130nm, journey to Robe, S.A. which took 31hr due to no wind for at least half the distance, arriving at 2300hr.

The channel at Robe was very narrow & difficult to see at night & ran aground so anchored outside the first channel markers only to be awakened about 3am with around 20 cray boats leaving with their bright lights on. I went into the marina at 0700hr with a 0.7m high tide & 0.5m under the keel. Ophelia’s draft is 1.5m. I believe some cray boats hit the bottom at times but with huge props they work their way through. I did watch a few boats navigate the short channel. There are ideas to dredge & with about 30 cray boats, one wonders why it has not happened already. Inside the marina depth is approx. 3m. The boats must bring in a lot of money. I saw many 45l boxes stuffed full of live crays every day bound for the Chinese market. I stayed here for nine days & hired a bicycle for $20/wk to get around. Robe has a number of women’s clothing shops for which it is well known for. I sat out a 40kt easterly gale side on (blow on berth) which bent a couple of safety rail stanchions as Ophelia lent over forced into the pontoon. Cost for a berth was $25/day.

On 30-10, I left Robe at 1330hr for the 28hr, 136nm trip to Portland in Victoria. I had a good motor/sail in SW breezes arriving at a respectable time of 1700hr. For each place I had arranged a few days beforehand a berth. For Portland there was no room in the marina so had to sit rather exposed behind a floating pontoon on the visitors berth. The yacht club members are very friendly, some 15 min. walk away. I did show my ‘show’ videos one night to 30 members. There were numerous strong winds from all directions and we survived. One very interesting chap I met was Gary Kerr, a cray fisherperson & video maker of history. Some of his videos are about cray fishing around SW Tassie, Huon Pine loggers in the Gordon River Tassie, Pearl luggers around Thursday Is. top of Australia & many more. He gave me six videos which I passed onto Royal Brighton Yacht Club after watching them. Another chap very kindly drove me around the area & out to Cape Nelson Light House. Portland is home to a large wood chip exporting terminal & making wind turbine columns & lets not forget the aluminium smelter. However the wood chip dust is blowing onto the main beach which is now brown silt, not white sand. Cost for pontoon berth was $20/day.

After 11 days in Portland a weather window opened on 10-11 for the 8hr, 34nm, journey to Port Fairy. After passing Lady Julia Percy Island, just over half way, the bay opened to the ocean & the sea was rather rolly. Port Fairy is tucked in behind an easterly point giving quite good shelter from the SW & S. I did wonder what the entrance would be like but once inside the reef the water was smooth as. The Moyne River depth varies 4-6m for the 0.5nm into town, but at the jetty where visitors tie up was very shallow at 1.5m normal low tide. Ophelia sat in the mud, but upright. This is a very sheltered place with very high Norfolk Pine trees planted many years ago which shelter the river precinct from the westerly gales. Protection is also from all directions. There is a yacht club & council owned great facilities with kitchen, laundry, toilet & showers. I rather liked Port Fairy.

Time was running out for me to get to Launceston so on 16-11 at 0830hr I left Port Fairy heading to Warrnabool to pick up Scott (who caught the train from Geelong) about 1100hr who was joining me for the 85nm trip to Apollo Bay. The wind was a good sea breeze 15-25kt SW with some rocking motion and was the first time in ages we could sail the whole distance without the motor. We passed Cape Otway lighthouse which was so dim one could quite easily miss it. Scott steered Ophelia into Apollo Bay arriving at 0200hr Sunday 17-11-2019 into an allocated berth – very swelly. Upon arrival we had the usual nip (or 2) of Timboon Christie’s Cut single malt whisky – very expensive which I bought at a fair in Portland – before retiring for the rest of the night. Mandy came down from Ocean Grove to pick up Scott, who like me had to work next day. Apollo Bay is home to the famous scallop pie – I had a couple during the week – was very nice but had to be careful of the hot sauce. I met John who had a small yacht in the marina – he invited me to his place for a very enjoyable evening & meal with his wife one night. There is a fish shop at the wharf with lots of varieties to purchase including $120 crays.

I had been very lucky with weather windows since leaving Adelaide – there were a lot of SW gales for days on end. The gales subsided for a week which allowed me to leave Apollo Bay 0300hr on Saturday 23-11 heading to Grassy on SE corner of King Island, almost due south of Apollo Bay. I was going to stop east side of Christmas Is. & New Year Is. at NW corner of King Island for the night sheltering from a 20-25kt W wind, but the wind got up too strong before I got there so headed down the east side straight to Grassy onto a public mooring. I stayed here for two weeks sheltering from the gales. Some were from the south straight into the entrance of the bay with a swell. However on the mooring it was comfortable, but disconcerting with the rock wall 50m behind. Landing a dinghy at the concrete embankment was tricky as the swell would rise onto the embankment. I often took the dinghy up the ramp out of harms way or landing on the adjacent beach. Grassy township, about an hours walk up the hill, is now deserted with no facilities except a mechanic & ‘eco’ restaurant. The main town Currie, with a terrible harbour, is 30km away. I hitched a ride into Currie to pick up a hire car for two days on the first weekend & drove north to Cape Wickham Lighthouse & golf course, stopping at King Is. Dairy to taste all the cheeses, one day & to south of the island next day to Stokes Point & Seal Rocks. Grassy was the home to a scheelite mine many years ago. The infrastructures have almost disappeared but there is still a large open cut mine with some water in it. While walking around this area I had the left chest & lower jaw pain so had to limit my exercising. I googled the symptom & found out the possible problem. The Grassy Yacht Club is a great place with a number of school children involved. They spend Sunday mornings on the water learning to sail with some more advanced sailors. Being nearly Xmas the club was selling Xmas cakes for fundraising – I bought two and eat them with custard & whisky.

I spent another week on board due to the SW gales & finally at 2130hr on 07-12, I could leave heading direct to Beauty Point in River Tamar – 28hr & 143nm. The first 6hr crossing between Grassy & mainland Tassie was good breezes but then gradually dropped out as predicted by BOM. I had to work the sails a few times and felt the pain again. I had been informed of the very strong currents in the Tamar so had to stop at Beauty Point on someones large mooring for 6hr to wait for the flood tide heading to Launceston some 40nm upstream. The current was against me entering the Tamar which is 50m deep at the entrance and 30m deep at Beauty Point mid river. Huge eddies abounded but we made it. Beauty Point is on the west side of the river with Darylimple Bay (or Bell Bay) on East side. This is home to Bell Bay Aluminium, South 32 (processing manganese), Ecka Granules, TasPorts, Qube, Forico, Timberlink and a diverse range of businesses. I stopped at Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory in 2016 where South32 mines manganese & ships it to their Bell Bay Refinery for processing which then goes to mainland Australia, Asia, North America & NZ.

After the customary nip of whisky I got some sleep & left 0600hr on the turn of the flooding tide heading to Launceston which I made in good time, being with the current, doing 7-8kts at times. Under the Batman Bridge the river was 30m deep & perhaps 50m wide with twirling water. I could not use the autopilot in these conditions as Ophelia was almost side on in places. I did unfurl the jib in places but had to be careful with the heart condition. We arrived Launceston on the high tide slack & motored into the nominated berth at Old Seaport Marina for $256/mth. For that you get a great berth & sit in the mud at low tide with lots of restaurants at top of walkway. Showers ($2/4 min), toilet & laundry is about 5 min. walk way. I made an appointment to see a doctor next morning 0830hr. On the way I had the pains but this time tingly arm – the doctor called the ambulance & next day had a stent put in – 98% blockage with two more at 25% & 50% blockage. My problem is Diabetes & high cholesterol. I never made that plane on 14-12 but ended up at a friends house in Penguin, west of Devonport, for a day before booking a cabin on the Devonport to Melboune ferry on 14-12-2019. Jan & Peter took me on a journey into the hills which was very nice before catching the ferry later same day.

The cost of the ferry trip was reimbursed by travel insurance – $311 less $88 (air fare). I was very lucky. I spent the next two months in Melbourne recuperating. The 10 minute ambulance trip cost $1200 paid by private health insurance.

Adelaide to Adelaide via Spencer Gulf

After three weeks at CYCSA it was time to move on. I decided to head south down Gulf of St. Vincent to American River, then north west to Kingscote, both on Kangaroo Is. before heading NW across Investigator Strait back to Port Lincoln to make my assault up west side of Spencer Gulf to Port Augusta. After that I would make my way down east side of Spencer Gulf back to Adelaide by end of June to catch the plane to Melbourne on 02-08-2019. I had 3.5 months to travel 820nm working week by week as I go. I thoroughly enjoyed my time, however by mid June the air temperature was very cold at night – a beanie & fingerless gloves with warm pj’s was the norm.

During my time at North Haven, some days I would leave the hot marina & anchor in 5m water depth in Largs Bay for the day working & catching blue swimmer crabs with the crab pot. I would always retain 2 to 3 good size male crabs – threw many small ones back. One day I was going for dinner at a friends house & caught 20 in no time.

North Haven to American River was 87nm which I motor sailed in 19hr, after leaving North Haven 0815hr on 16-03-2019, passing another wind farm & crossing the notorious Backstairs Passage (between mainland Australia & Kangaroo Is.) where the current can run at 2.5kt. Wind against tide I am told can be very rough. My crossing around midnight was good during the flood slack high tide. Flood tide runs north west & ebb runs south east through the passage. Ships use the passage between Melbourne & Adelaide. I anchored off the beach west of the river for a week & then organised a mooring in the very fast flowing river opposite the main wharf. I had to lift the dinghy onto the yacht each night due to wind against tide conditions. I did sit out a few strong southerlies in the two weeks on the mooring. Interestingly a replica of the old sailing schooner Independence is being built by local labour. The frames were in place & awaiting the arrival of the planks from Canada I believe. The next stage was the keel which is a solid piece of timber full lenth of the vessel – a rather large piece. I bought 4 planks for $40 to help the process. The progress can be tracked at original 45-foot top sail schooner was built at American River, between April and August 1803 by the crew of the visiting American sealing brig “Union”. The Independence set sail from Sydney in June 1805 bound for the Antipodes Islands south of New Zealand and was lost on the return journey, never to be seen again. (As for communication an article I read said there were other sailing vessels around the islands who did return). I caught my largest blue swimmer crab measuring 600mm across the outstretched nippers.

After 10 days I moved into the Christmas Cove marina at Penneshaw on 26-03-2018 for nine nights to fill up with fresh water (desalinated) which tasted great. Also to load up with food for the next month. Penneshaw is not the main town, although the ferries berth here, so does not have much in the way of shops – no laundromat. It does have a pub, restaurant, cafe, post office, supermarket & a very green footy/cricket field – all the basics. I even caught a Blue Gropper, which I returned to the water. I returned to Christmas Cove later in the year on my way to Launceston.

Next move was to Kingscote on 06-04-2019 for three days, the main town on K.I. where one can anchor on each side of the disused ferry wharf, depending on wind direction from north to west to south – the wharf sits approx. east-west. The welcome sign is OK, but you wonder when you look at the old shed. When it gets too rocky, one can go into Bay Of Shoals amongst the moorings with wind against tide as well, but current no where near as strong as American River. The anchorage is about 5km from town. I never walked the distance as I was too busy working for the fours days I was there. Bay of Shoals sits behind a long tidal bank called The Spit giving it good wave/swell shelter from all winds.

So I left Kingscote 0300hr 13-04-2019 for the 120nm motor sail across Investigator Strait to the wonderful town of Port Lincoln, arriving 0430hr next day – 26.5hrs travel. I had a lure out the back but lost all my 100m of braid & $25 lure about half way across. I never saw the culprit. After crossing the Bight I anchored not far from a rather large mooring buoy. A heavy 50′ launch tied to it while I was there, so I tied to it this time & tried to contact the owner. He did turn up after three days & was happy for me to tie to the stern of his launch.

It was only for one day because I set sail for Whyalla 1915hr on 17-04-2019 for the 140nm sail through the night in a northerly direction up Spencer Gulf. The aim was to get to Whyalla before the next southerly change on 19-04 & hopefully not get any northerlies. I passed Sir Joseph Banks Group of islands at midnight & did not stop. This group while very low lying is supposed to be sheltered from swell & a great spot for fishing. I arrived at Whyalla midnight 18-04 into the allocated berth for $60/week – cheapest ever, but it does come with free coal dust with northerlies. The easterlies breezes were 15-25kts when I started but dissipated to 0kts by midday so had to motor for 12hrs. The berths lie north/south. If the bow is pointing north to minimise the dust in the cabin, one gets the southerlies over the stern & into the cabin. Can’t win. I stayed here for nine days, enjoying the Whyalla Festival & plenty of walking, before moving 30nm to Port Pirie (up a long river system) on 27-04-2019. An 85 y.o. dude who owned a yacht in the marina came across with me & caught the bus back to Whyalla. He was a very interesting person who had sailed all over the Gulf in his younger days. There used to be a yacht club, but is now closed due to no one being interested. Most yachts in the harbour are derelect with seagulls taking over. A couple of weeks after I left, the council was to start upgrading the berth – It seems from their FB page it did happen. The town is a fascinating place with the industry close by. I saw a rather large barge being loaded with coal at one of the wharves & then towed out to a waiting ship perhaps 2nm out & unloaded – double handling – which shows how much the product is worth. It is too shallow for the ships to tie to the wharf. They sit in a drowned valley 25m deep. Hummock Hill sits above the town with 360 deg. views. There were four anti-aircraft guns during WW2 to protect BHP’s infrastructure. There are also tame dolphins in the marina which certain locals feed.

I was looking forward to staying in Port Pirie – when one looks on maps & Google Earth it is difficult to see that there is a river here that can take ships with 5-6m draft. From Wikipedia – Port Pirie is one of the world’s largest primary lead smelting facilities, starting in the 1880s and the third largest silver producer that has been in continuous operation since 1889. Port Pirie is strategically linked to the Hobart smelter through flows of by-products such as paragoethite and leach products. The most striking feature is the recently added 205m high stack which outputs the vapours higher & further afield – There are also many grain silos, but sadly ships do not call to load grain – trains & trucks are used now. I did see the local play ground & streets being hosed down twice a week – in response to the lead problem from the smelter. The houses within the town are very old & most have been renovated to keep original styling. The local fish & chip place was very nice offering cooked meals as well. On my return to PP end of May I did show some of my videos to the yacht club members and also PP Rotary Club. I was also interviewed by the local ABC Radio. I hired a bicycle for three weeks. There is a sand bank at the entrance to Port Pirie which is about 1m above low water – the Royal Port Pirie YC holds a cricket match every March (except 2020) – a great time is had by all –

After two weeks here I set off for Port Augusta, 60nm north, and the extent of travel for yachts due to a low bridge for the main east-west highway Perth to Adelaide. I had intended to take a week but the great anchoring places I was informed about were open to the south & so was not inviting for me. I stayed one night in a sheltered bay & then went straight to PA on the flood tide arriving 1900hr. The last 20nm was rather winding with many port lights not working. Ophelia went off course at one stage & onto a sand reef, while I was organising a cuppa, due to EV1 autopilot giving up. It took me an hour to back off with the flood tide & anchor out the back to winch onto. After many phone calls to Raymarine over the next two weeks & methods to fix the problem, it was eventually suggested to reverse the polarity of the power leaving the computer to the chart plotter – that worked – no idea why. I had southerly light breezes so could use the spinnaker for a couple of hours. I even had dolphins for a time. Berthing was also at a floating pontoon free of charge, but one gets all the bow waves from passing speeding boats whose drivers were oblivious to the damage they were causing. I parked on the inside of the pontoon.The waves would pass under the pontoon, hit Ophelia’s keel, & rebound on the wall under the heritage wharf back onto Ophelia’s keel. The wave action has cracked the concrete pontoon in many places. I did not go many places here, although I had a bike, as I was very busy work wise. A few aboriginal children came down to the pontoon one day so I took them out on Ophelia & they took turns to helm to their delight. I also meet a lovely couple from Sydney driving around the area who took me to the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden which was full of flowering plants. We all took many photos. I also met another interesting piano playing gentleman in his 70’s by name of Doug Wallace who circumnavigated Australia solo in 1992-1993 taking 18 months. He wrote a book of his journey aboard his 36′ ferrocement yacht called Mistery- fantastic reading. There is a very large solid wharf from the early 1900’s. Sailing vessels would call into PA from Adelaide to pick up grain. The story goes – at one stage the vessels filled the river and one could walk from one side to the other – they were waiting 3 months for the southerlies to cease. The yacht club is active with 4-5 yachts racing up/down the tidal channel. The whole of the Spencer Gulf and all it’s ports are steeped in history with the grain removal to Adelaide & overseas – perhaps the most famous was told in the book The Last Grain Race. A 1956 book by Eric Newby, a travel writer, about his time spent on the four-masted steel barque Moshulu during the vessel’s last voyage in the Australian grain trade – fabulous reading.

I left PA twelve days later at 2100hr on 24-05-2019 to catch the ebb tide arriving at Port Pirie again to give my talks. I left PP two weeks later heading to Port Broughton arriving at 1700hr just after a low tide. Another hour & I would have had a very fast tide to contend with. I had no idea how fast the tide runs. If one missed the pontoon the shallows are about 50m past the pontoon to run aground. Syd on his 40′ yacht arrived from PP two hours before & had no problem. Another small yacht with Kaz aboard arrived after dark & after hitting a buoy, hit the end of the wharf side on & sat for 2hr pinned to the wharf until the fast flowing flood tide stopped at 2130hr. One safety rail post snapped off in the accident. Kaz left for Wallaroo next day. The narrow channel is 4.5nm long with 3-4m depth at half tide – 1m variation.This is another interesting place, not only to get into, but the history of the grain ships. The larger ships had to stay in the Gulf while smaller sailing vessels carried the grain in large bags out to them. How they managed the current I don’t know. More information at

I tried to leave PB on the flooding tide 15-06-2019 0400hr but ran aground twice 100m from the wharf so returned & waited for daylight & higher tide, eventually leaving at 1000hr on the high tide. It was 35nm to the next stop Wallaroo, arriving 1915hr, which took me 9hr instead of 6hr – can’t remember why so long now. I stayed 6 nights & paid $40/day – rather expensive compared to my frugal living the previous 3 months. Wallaroo seemed a nice place with a recent real estate being completed overlooking the marina and south westerly gales. There were some still for sale – very nice living except for the gales. It would get quite rough in the marina under those conditions. There are trawlers tied to the floating pontoon inside the entrance – don’t know if they stay there when the gales are on. It is a great marina for model yacht races & a lot cheaper than owning a yacht.

After six days I left Wallaroo, midnight Friday 21-06-2019, for the 215nm journey to Royal South Australia Yacht Squadron (RSAYS) at Outer Harbour, Adelaide’s port . There are places to stop but I was running out of time & there were a few southerlies starting to arrive making it unwise to stop on the south coast of Yorke Peninsula. While the days were warm & sunny, the nights got cold. The winds were forecast to be light from the east & north, exactly the direction I was heading. So after 51.5hr sailing & motoring I arrived at RSAYS 0330hr Monday 24-06-2019. The journey was un-eventful & could use Fleming when there was wind & the EV1 autopilot when no wind. I decided to keep to west side of Gulf St. Vincent out of the way of shipping but just when I wanted to cross to Outer Harbour a slow moving ship came up the gulf so had to wait to cross behind it. Being a major shipping channel there were lots of lights around & was difficult to see the extent of the rock wall south side of the channel entering Outer Harbour. It was icy cold at the helm with no bimini for shelter – luckily wind was not blowing too much. I had eight days to work & book Ophelia into the hardstand upon my return on 20-09-2019. By this time Ophelia had mammoth amounts of barnacle growth on her hull so had her taken out for a wash down ready for the three month spell while I flew to Melbourne to continue my working/holiday. The best place was Adelaide Markets which I could take a train from Outer Harbour to the city for $5 per trip – the ticket lasted 2hr. In the marina are two former Royal Brighton yachts – Audacious & Gusto (being re-organised is the best word).

Mandurah to Esperance

Ophelia spent 11 months in Mandurah (09-10-2017 to 22-09-2018), while I spent some time back home in Melbourne with my family. I picked up a job so decided to stay I was hoping to move from Busselton in the south to Rottnest Island to the north, but due to constant storms in June & July, and home trips, my movements were limited.

I flew to Melbourne middle of December with a rash appearing around my chest & back, between the tummy button and nipple right hand side. This turned out to be shingles which lasted for a full two months. For two weeks after the blisters healed up I was in pain – from the web ‘neuralgia is a sharp pain that you feel in the skin in one part of your body. It is usually caused by irritation or damage to the nerve that goes to that body part. It is also sometimes called neuropathic pain.’ Clothes against the skin causes irritation so had to spend the day & night with no shirt on. Luckily the weather was warm. Night time, I slept on the couch with a tent over me so no clothes touched my skin. I work from home, how do people get on working in an office ? When the blisters almost healed I could use a neuralgic patch under a 2XU compression sleeveless vest. This stops cloths moving on the skin & allowed me to go outside with ‘normal’ cloths on. This was a life saver.

I flew back to Perth on 16-01-2018 to prepare for the next leg to Adelaide, however I was offered a job to work on the New Museum Perth detailing steel in the old heritage buildings so decided to stay around WA for 6months. Some other detailing company detailed the monstrous structure over top of the Heritage building in the picky below.

My part of the project went on longer than I had quoted so have lost a fair bit of money. As I sit in Adelaide (March 2019) I am detailing the last of my quoted scope of work.

I was hoping to move from Bussleton in the south to Rottnest Is. out from Freemantle but due to many storms in July & August I was marina bound in Mandurah. However I did manage to spend sometime in Freemantle Sailing Club, Rockingham on a public mooring & a week on anchor in Longreach Bay Rottnest Is. in April, open to northerlies. Luckily there were not many vessels on the moorings for that week. There is a sand patch east end of the bay which is ideal for anchors. And I went searching for the Quokka in the sand hills – found a cutie as well. When a northerly breeze was forecast I moved back to Freemantle & flew to Melbourne for two weeks late May.

Longreach Bay, Rottnest Island
a Quokka busy eating a very tough leaf.

I spent one week on a mooring in Rockingham which is open to the northerlies. This is not a place to be in a northerly, as is Bussleton, due to a completely open fetch of water many hundreds of miles into the Indian Ocean. On one occasion I heard of a number of yachts being beached during a storm, must have broken away from their moorings.

Rockingham – red buoys are public moorings

I arrived Mandurah beginning of June 2018 & flew to Melbourne end of August for a two week holiday in Bali. Altogether I spent 12 months around Mandurah to Freemantle. Mandurah would be the best place for families that I have visited on my trip around Australia due to the Peel-Harvey Estuary where one can go crabbing & many other activities on water & on shore.

The new bridge in Mandurah

While at Mandurah, I house sat for Mike & Tessa (of Sunny Girl catamaran fame) while they were enjoying themselves on their Seawind 1260 catamaran around Raja Ampat area of Indonesia. At one stage a pair of Willy Wagtails made a nest & produced 3 babies in a large tree in the backyard of Mike’s property – below is a video I produced of the family. They came back for the following two years. I had a wonderful time at Mandurah.

At 0200hr on 22th September I left Mandurah for the final time heading to Bunbury for the night & then onto Bussleton where I anchored in 4m close to Geographe Bay Yacht Club. Bussleton is the home town of a cousin, Heather, whom I had not seen for about 40 years. So I spent 2 weeks there with a few days in the marina to shelter from some northerly breezes. Heather made me a large fruit cake which went very nicely with a scotch each night. This cake lasted until I reached Esperance late October, about one month. Heather & Ray took me to look at numerous places – Cape Naturaliste, Cape Leeuwin, Augusta Boat Harbour, Mary River township and a winery. Many thanks to Heather & Ray & best wishes to Heather after her hip surgery.

Busselton Wharf

On 11th October 1600hr I left Busselton heading to Augusta Boat Harbour 86nm distant. The aim was to pass Cape Leeuwin between the many rocks just after day break when hopefully the wind was blowing too hard. After light head winds from Cape Naturaliste to Leeuwin I did round the cape at 0900hr in perfect conditions arriving Augusta at 1130hr. The water depth thru’ the rocks got to 5m with sandy sea bed and crystal clear water. Like so many marinas in WA it is owned by DOT WA & costs $52/night for a mono.

Augusta Boat Harbour

I stayed here three days before heading to Albany 140nm & 27hr later arriving at Emu Point on a curtesy mooring 16th October. The trip to Albany was an eye opener for me as I had not travelled in waters so rough before. Ophelia was rocking violently side to side with light SW breezes, almost directly behind us. There was no use using the main as the apparent wind was only 5-7kts. The jib had to be set with a whisker pole to stop it from slapping. I had to replace the jib in Adelaide as it had such a large belly from stretching.

Just another wave action

I travelled perhaps 500m to 1000m from the shore edge & saw some amazing water spouts.

Beside the Emu Point anchorage there is the Nature Reserve which was full of small flowers of many varieties that I have no idea what they were – some looked like orchids with their distinctive shape. Take a look at the video mentioned below – A Walk in the Park. One morning I decided I would motor my light weight 15kg dinghy, with 2.3HP outboard, from Emu Point to Albany Town Centre – some 2.5nm away. Going there was no problem with a 10kt following breeze, which was supposed to stop 2hr later. It never did, but increased to perhaps 15kts & was too rough to motor back. I managed to find an open tray ute and offered the driver $50 to take me back – of course he obliged as it was on his way home.

After a few days I took Ophelia into the town centre & tied up to the free public floating pontoon (max. stay 4hr) for 2 days where I met numerous people who came down to say hi. When a stronger wind was approaching I moved into the marina. There was a yacht that I came across while in Exmouth 2yrs previous. The owner had solo sailed around Australia in 18mth – way to quick for me.

After 2 weeks the weather was suitable (24-10-2019) to set sail, at 0500hr, towards Esperance via Two Peoples Bay (19nm) on anchor over weed for 1 night, Waychinicup River (9nm) for 1hr, Bremer Bay Boat Harbour (71nm) on a free mooring for 1 night, past a mysterious island not on any maps, except Navionics, called Investigator Island & onto Esperance (142nm). This Island is locally called Rocky Is. but was changed officially in honour of Matthew Flinders for some reason. After 3 days I arrived at Esperance upon daybreak and anchored to the south of the marina entrance over sand & weed. After a week I moved into the yacht club marina, where Ophelia eventually stayed for three months after a failed attempt to cross the GAB to Ceduna.

Videos :-

Exmouth to Mandurah

The next section was always going to be the hardest – down to Perth – this time of the year southerly winds in the afternoon up to 25kt are common, while easterly to northerly often dominate during the night to midday. There are not enough ports for day hops to suit a 5kn vessel so at some stage I know I will hit a 25kt period along with the southerly swell. Oh well, just have wait & see.

Looking at BOM’s Meteye, late on 3rd of September looked like a good time to leave so I could get to Coral Bay (87nm) & wait for the next cycle of easterly breezes. So at 1800hr I set off in mirror conditions with whales around me and rounded N.W. Cape 2hr later where a slight NW breeze started – perfect when travelling south. Off Tantabiddi (20nm) about 2230hr the winds switched to SW 10kt & then freshened to 20kt and by midnight gusting 25-30kt – oh well so much for Meteye. Ophelia handled the conditions OK with furled genoa to the mast base & two reefs in the main & motor. The wind ceased during next day & approaching Coral Bay (87nm) at 1600hr, Meteye was showing favourable southerly winds so I kept going to Denham (290nm), being the next stop. However off Cape Cuvier (184nm) at 0500hr day two the winds shifted to SE & being a headland was rough. We handled the conditions and eventually ended up at Denham on anchor in weed at 0900hr 6th September – 63hr for 290nm which I was happy motor/sailing 4.6kt average into the wind. This is the first time I have had to sail into the wind for so long. The autopilot handled the 20kt & sail configuration.

From the time I left Darwin to Denham, I had sunny days all day, every day, however later that day rain came in & with it a sudden violent storm from the NW not predicted by BOM. When the wind got to 20kt, Ophelia was dragging anchor in the weed so I managed to pick up the anchor (manual winch) & slowly make my way out to the largest mooring buoy I could find. It was very rough with wind up to 30kt when I poked my head to check conditions. Little did I know Urchin & five other yachts were anchored at Shelter Bay 20nm to the east – Urchin landed on the beach with no damage & headed back to Denham for checking next day. Another 50′ cat. hit rocks but was still afloat & set off for Perth next morning. Another 40′ mono Honey Bee tried to bring up the anchor but the motor kept tripping. They fared OK as is & sailed on down the coast next morning. Two other yachts fared OK & left early next morning. I have no photos of Denham due to the weather. The first storm went from 1630hr for 4hr then a 1hr calm period followed by another 4hr front from the south. I wanted to visit Monkey Mia, but there was no time due to more consistent stronger southerly winds.

I left Denham next day being 7th September 0700hr heading past Shelter Bay & Steep Point, being the most westerly part of mainland Australia. A not very nice rain front was approaching from the NW & my thoughts turned to last night, however it moved south & out to sea so I never received any rain or wind – perhaps the weather gods remembered my acts previously releasing the two large fish.

Steep Point

A few sea miles south of Steep Pt. is the Zuytdorp Cliffs – 150km long they range from 50m to 250m above sea level & are spectacular with waves crashing into them forming many caves & water spouts. The cliffs are named after a trading ship called Zuytdorp which was wrecked against the cliffs in 1712. I sailed/motored 2-5nm off the cliffs in 20m to 40m of water. I was amazed at the fountains of water & took many photos with the telephoto, many were too blurred to keep.

I had a good passage with no rough weather, but the autopilot ‘ecompass’ stopped working about 2230hr due to a shorting fault. I could still use the autopilot but could not track along the route I had made on the chart plotter. I arrived at Geraldton 0350hr 9th September in berth L41 as it was spare. Luckily the marina staff accepted me & I stayed put for 3 weeks. The whole marina area is very swelly & requires the vessel to be tied up tightly to stop movement. I met up with Urchin, Time & Honey Bee & met Catherine & Peter who were on their way back to Adelaide after completing an eight year world circumnavigation on their 45′ catamaran ‘The Southern Cross’. They arrived back in Adelaide November 2017. Honey Bee was returning after their 2014 Indonesian & Malayasian jaunt to somewhere – their Hobart house is still rented out. As at beginning of January they were in Portland, VIC. I met Time in Exmouth & he was returning to Albany from his very quick mostly solo circumnavigation of Australia.

Replica of Batavia Longboat

Geraldton Main Beach

I spent the next ten days in Geraldton working, fixing the NMEA network for the navigation instruments, raw water engine leak & making a box to protect the chart plotter. I also visited the Geraldton Museum which has some fantastic displays of various ship wrecks in the 1700’s & the Australian HMAS Sydney (II). I also visited the Sydney Memorial over looking the ocean. I learnt that the dome has 645 seagulls which is the number of men lost at sea on Sydney. She sank on 19-11-1941, but was not found until 16-03-2008 112nm west of Steep Pt in 2480m of water. After paying $35/day, on Tuesday 19th September, I left Geraldton for the short 8-10hr sail to Port Denison (or Dongara) but 1hr out, the NMEA network went out again so I returned to Geraldton.

A mother looking out to sea to HMAS Sydney (II)

I paid a specialist $187 to fix the problem – don’t know what he did that was any different to what I did, but it worked. So after more working & waiting for a weather window I left for the second time 0530hr Saturday 30th September to Denison arriving at 1600hr & tied to a fixed jetty for $52/ night – first one for a couple of years. I went past many cray pot buoys in 40-70m water depth – a danger to those with exposed rudders & props. I left next morning hoping to arrive Fremantle 26hr later, but 70nm out & going past Jurien Bay, I noticed the motor was vibrating so made an emergency call in Jurien Bay marina. I paid an expert $390 to realign the motor. Four of six 10mm bolts had sheared at the universal joint probably due to motor shifting slightly in the rough conditions of the WA coast.  I was very lucky. The WA Department of Transport (DOT) have a condition where they allow 3 days grace of payment due to emergencies so I only had to pay for one day at $52/night.

Jurien Bay

On Wednesday 4th October looking at Meteye there was a 20-25kt front coming through early next day & all gone by 1100hr Thursday. So that was my leave time. Next day there was no front so I thought it did not develop, although Meteye was still showing it disappearing same time. So I left at 1100hr & got hit by it 4hr later. I had to do 110 deg. tacks at 4.5kt with furled genoa & motor for 1nm to make any headway for 8hr. Ophelia handled it very well with not much water in the cockpit. The autopilot worked as well, which was a godsend. 33hr for 120nm – slow at 3.6nm/hr – but I made it safely to Freemantle Sailing Club Friday 6th October 2030hr just before another southerly front came through. I tied up to the collector jetty & was moved elsewhere in the morning. Three days was free. I met up with Honey Bee, Time & The Southern Cross as well. On the hardstand I noticed a fast looking yacht used by Gaetano Mura in his record attempt to circumnavigate the world – his yacht impacted with an unidentified floating object on the night of December 9th, just after passing Cape of Good Hope. His attempt ended.

My final destination for the year – Mandurah – an 8hr motor/sail south in light 5-10kt S breeze (head on) – where I house sat for Mike & Tessa of Sunny Girl fame, sailing in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. I left Freemantle at 0200hr & arrived Mandurah 1000hr same day – Monday 9th October, 2017. I was given a berth after tying to the 200m long collector jetty & had a good size scotch once tied up. So after 2271nm, 9 weeks, using the motor 476hr from Darwin to Mandurah I flew to Melbourne on 11th December to spend two months with my family. Considering it took me 10 months for each of the previous two years to get to Whitsunday & Darwin, this was a very quick trip – due to late leaving Darwin.

Oh, and stress is supposed to bring on shingles – my stomach came out in blisters 2 days before leaving Mandurah to fly home. At time of writing, although the blisters have cleared I am in a lot of ‘dagger stabbing’ pain. Hope it clears up soon.

These are links to a couple of videos in the area. Mr & Mrs Wagtail are in the backyard of the place I am house sitting. The fantastic music is by a local artist Glen Ridgwell. As soon as I heard the Manna Crab song I knew what I wanted to produce. :-

  1. All in a Days Sail –
  2. Mandurah Tinnie Trip –
  3. Mr & Mr Wagtail –

Broome to Exmouth

While on anchor in Roebuck Bay, Broome I met another couple on Urchin, a 40′ Fountain Pajot catamaran, from Mandurah nearing the end of their circumnavigation of Australia. I believe their trip took 4 years by the time they flew back to Perth twice a year. Over some cider/wines & cheese we were discussing the best time to depart Broome as the winds were starting to increase in intensity during the day. I decided to leave Broome on Friday 18th August at 2100hr. Brian & Maree left a couple of days later & got hammered by 40kn winds for a few hours. I had completed my work to allow me to travel three days to Port Hedland. It seems most cruiser’s by pass Port Hedland, but having detailed a number of jobs in the area I wanted to see the area. BOM’s Meteye was showing good SE to SW breezes for the next three days. I decided on 2100hr which allowed me to arrive approx. 68hr & 313nm later in Port Hedland in the morning day light – based on 5kn/hr. If it took me longer I still had the whole day.

SW breezes are a problem as I would be travelling SW, WSW & later SW into Port Hedland. I decided I would follow the coast about 10nm from shore instead of straight across – reason, if it did blow up the waves would not be as large 10nm out as 30nm. I had calm conditions the whole time with no more than 15tn wind – the motor was used a lot.

Once I turned SW I had the breezes head on so had to change my sail set up with the furled genoa fixed to base of mast as photo shows.

Port Hedland is probably the busiest port in Australia with very large ore ships arriving/leaving every 1/2hr or so. Since the port is not set up for cruiser’s it is my responsibility to keep clear & inform the harbour authority upon my arrival & intentions. They would see me on AIS since I transmit & receive AIS. As I got closer I could see all the ships at anchor and the continuous movement of the ships on the chart plotter. Another cruiser friend had to wait for 2hr until the channel cleared to cross. About 10nm out I contacted harbour control, but they never heard me until 5nm out. I stated my intentions to anchor in front of the yacht club so was allowed to motor port side of the port channel markers, about 10m from them as it was very shallow 20m away. I anchored at 1715hr in 2.5m water – about 1hr after low water with a 5.3m tide. I had to move two days later as I was close to hitting the bottom. Although many ships pass, they don’t present any bow wave. The tugs present much larger bow waves. The trip took longer at 71hr with motor on for 65hr.

A diesel hose decided to leak so had to organise a new hose with banjo fittings each end – Port Hedland was a good place to replace it – plenty of hydraulic hoses in the area, but would they carry a small hose ?. $35 taxi each way and $120 for the 1/2″ x 12″ length.

Ships – they were large – one I noticed upon arrival – Amber Horizon at 300m long – was sitting at 8m with top water line at 18m – that is up to 10m of product on board upon leaving. It had 3 tugs to control her – each one 35m long. Everything was stained in a reddish tinge from the disused yachts at the yacht club to concrete footpaths to buildings & off course the ground. However the salt pile was very white – there is a large salt works at Port Hedland. The yacht club has a ‘duck pond’ which I could have gone into on high tide but the high tide was too low for me when leaving. The entrance is high & dry 3hr after high tide.

I left Port Hedland 2230hr on Wednesday 23rd August for the 63nm journey to Depuch Is. and arrived at 1030hr, motoring the whole distance. I anchored in 8.5m water with 5m tide. This island is covered in red rock about 30 to 50cm long. One has to be very careful walking over it due to the loose rocks.

Depuch Island

View from Dampier Yacht Club

I stayed over night & after doing some work left at 1830hr Friday 24th August for Dampier – 73nm away – via Flying Foam Passage. Leaving at that time allowed me to get to top of FFP at day break, tide running with me & before a stronger SE breeze came in. I timed the passage perfectly with up to 30kn wind side on & down the passage into Dampier at 1200hr on Saturday 25th. Anchorage was in mud in 5.5m water at high tide with 3m tide. Urchin had arrived 2 days before me having sailed direct from Port Hedland to Dampier. Once again the motor was used the whole trip. While in Broome I organised replacement parts for the autopilot to be sent to Dampier so now have two spare gear boxes & two belts. I enjoyed my very short stay in Dampier, leaving 1930hr Monday 28th August for Exmouth via Onslo – 183nm & 37hr at 5kn/hr.

Once again BOM’e Meteye was showing more SE to SW breezes 10-15kt with 20kt on Exmouth Gulf. I had to anchor off Onslo for 6hr to miss the stronger gulf wind. So arriving at Onslo on Tuesday 29th about 2200hr with no moon, I was lowering the main when I looked in front & saw a huge black object in front of me. I raced to the wheel to disengage the autopilot & turn to starboard just in time to miss a large black tug on mooring. The only lights were four orange lights up high which I took as being on shore – why would a vessel have orange lights ? This is the closest I have come to destroying my yacht. I felt I could have reached out & touched the black object. So after motoring over the 15cm diam. mooring line I anchored with knees still shaking & slept. I left Onslow, Wednesday 30th 0100hr for the 12hr crossing of Exmouth Gulf arriving at the huge naval towers & then 5nm south into the Exmouth marina by 1430hr. I felt a huge relief arriving with no strong winds since leaving Broome – 627nm in 11 days with 3 stops. From the log I motored 98% of the distance from Broome. I caught my first ever cobia about 1m long, but let it go as it was too big for me to eat – wind gods looking.

Exmouth  is home to the ‘Big Prawn’ & some very powerful cyclones as shown by the height of the piles in the marina. Ophelia’s mast is about 12.5m above water level. I had been informed by cruiser’s that unless one has time to anchor other side of the peninsula (with suitable weather), to hire a car & visit Ningaloo Reef & others.

This I did and thoroughly enjoyed the day. I visited the Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt north of Exmouth (which is an impressive site from the water), crossed over to the west side of the peninsula & drove down to the end of the sealed road to Yardie Creek, stopping off at numerous places including Turtle Rookery, Tantabiddi, Mangrove Bay, Turquoise Bay for a drift swim, Oyster Stacks, Sandy Bay for another swim & Osprey Bay. Apparently Turquoise Bay is where one swims with the whale sharks & manta rays.

Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt

There were lots of wild flowers on the road side and also lots of campers in designated areas along the coast.

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One video can be seen at – TBA

Darwin to Broome

I left Darwin on 1st August 2017, for the second time, & arrived Mandurah, south of Perth on 9th October 2017, nine weeks & 2271nm of travel. I have been so busy I have not had time to update this blog until now.

From the time I had to return to Darwin, after the first attempt with John to 1st August, I worked my butt off, sailed to Tiwi Islands (mid June) for a weekend & flew to Melbourne for the month of July to see my family. The trip to Tiwi Is. up the Aspley Strait between the two islands, Bathurst & Melville, was cut short due to a bush fire crossing the strait making it too dangerous with embers in the air. Also one cannot land on Tiwi Is. without an invitation from a Tiwi Islander & permit – I did not have a permit.

So after refuelling at Cullen Bay Marina & saying goodbye to fellow cruisers Albert, who was on his way east to Airlie Beach after a short trip to the Kimberley’s and Mike & Tessa on their way to Indonesia on their Seawind 1250 cat., I was on my way at 1030hr Tuesday 1st August heading to Wadeye 140nm south where I anchored for 24hr waiting for a strong southerly to abate. I had a total of 150l of diesel on board which should take me 700nm safely. On my way I caught a nice size spanish mackerel. At Wadeye, I had to move across the bay as the stronger wind came from a different direction & put me on a lee shore – 1m deep reef. Wadeye was the last anchorage that I could access internet so I emailed the last job to my client. The next anchorage with internet would be Broome, 660nm away. I had to start a new job on Monday, 13th August. This mean’t I could not spend time in the Kimberley’s.
Darwin-Berkley RiverThe second part of my journey was across Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, 105nm, to Berkeley River & a neap high tide river bar entrance. Leaving Wadeye at 0745hr on Friday 4th August, I made good time & crossed the inner bar at 0600hr Northern Territory time in pitch black darkness. The moon disappeared at 0500hr. There are two channels from the east on the Navionics chart & a cruising book recommends the south entrance west of Reveley Is., but both seemed to go over a shallow area. Ophelia’s keel is 1.5m deep & we had 0.8m under the keel at shallowest place. I normally zigzag along a channel so I keep in the deepest part. The crossing took 1hr due to the slow progress in the dark & I dropped the anchor inside the river before sun rise & had a two hour sleep. I do sleep while travelling – roughly 2hr on watch & 2hr sleep.
IMG_6162-cropAfter a good sleep & breakfast I motored 4nm into Casurina Ck. arriving about 1000hr. After launching the dinghy & looking out for croc’s I went ashore via a rocky oyster ridden ledge & clambered up the cliff. The rock face could be very dangerous due to the loose small rocks, but there appeared to be a path which leads to top of the nearly dry water falls. I had the obligatory cool fresh water swim before taking many photos & returning to Ophelia. No croc’s were seen.
Later same day I left Casurina Ck. & motored back down to the river mouth for the high tide crossing at 0600hr next day and the 44nm, 7.5hr motor/sail to Koolama Bay. Crossing the bar on Sunday 6th August was without incident with 0.8m under the keel, but I had moved too far off the northern channel so with zigzagging I found it with 2m under the keel. I noticed the Berkeley River Lodges on the cliff edges to the south overlooking the J.P. Gulf.


The weather was sunny with up to 10-15kt SE breezes near journey’s end. I arrived at 1330hr dropping the anchor in 5m of water. The log showing the motor was used for 5hr of the 7.5hr. I could see a catamaran inside King George River & a small cruise ship called TRUE NORTH – a 36 guest luxury vessel anchored other side of the bay.

After a good sleep, dinner & another sleep I left Koolama at midnight same day, Sunday 6th August to pass Cape Londondery (the most northerly mainland part of WA) at 0600hr with the ebb tide & hopefully easterly breeze. According to others, this cape is notorious for wind against tide conditions, however with neap tides, perhaps not so bad. I had been warned by others with much more knowledge than me. I made it right round the cape with the tide & no wind, moving up to 7.5kn SOG. There were large eddy’s which tried to turn Ophelia so I had to hand steer rather than use the autopilot. I had intended to spend a night in Honeymoon Bay, but the thought of 12hr motoring there & back (24hr total) put me off so continued onto Bigge Is., which was on my route for the next stop. I arrived 1145hr on 8th August at Boomerang Bay, Bigge Is. The log shows nearly 36hr & 167nm. The motor was used 23hr of the time. By now I had no idea of the weather so while passing Wary Bay, Bigge Is. I called up the captain of a cruise liner L’Austral at anchor who said much the same weather for the next three days. Perfect, as it would take three days to Broome. I had been travelling 8 days of the 11 day trip so the 7 day BOM forecast from Darwin was now gone.

Wary Bay, Bigge Island

While at anchor I had a swim (watching for croc’s), filled the diesel tank & made dinner all in 1.25hr. I left at 1300hr heading for Cape Leveque, pronounced Lee Veek. The breeze disappeared so had to motor through the night – the log saying the sea was a mirror. At 0600hr I passed Champagny Is. with full main & furled genoa poled out in a light northerly breeze. At 0700hr I replaced the genoa with the symmetrical spinaker but within an hour the wind started turning to the west & did not function properly. Most days the wind is from north early morning changing to south by midday & east during the night back to north early morning.

All the time travelling during daylight hours I had a lure out the back & at 1530hr I brought an estimated 1.5m spanish mackerel to the side of the yacht, after at least 1/2hr back & forth on 80lb braid & 150lb s/s trace. It was just too big for me so I managed to extract the lure & let it go, hoping the wind gods would see my act & be kind to me. Soon after a light south west breeze came in so I motored for a while with main only.


I then decided to call into Powerful Is., Yampi Sound where there were two tugs & a large heavy ship loader at anchor – I could see them on AIS. I arrived at 2230hr 9th August in moonlight and anchored on rubble in 10m water depth. I could make out a dark patch changing to a light patch on the rock wall perhaps 30m away. After a good sleep I awoke at day break & noticed the dark patch was the tide variation – 9m during the king tides. Leaving at 0600hr on 10th August to catch the tides, I also saw a sleeping whale, which I initially thought was a large crocodile.

This area was my first time travelling in strong currents, narrow channels & large tidal variation – I had to work the tides to make headway with the 10HP engine. I passed Cape Leveque with tides generally in my favour about 1430hr and anchoring in Pender Bay at 2215hr same day 10th August with a 15tn head on SW breeze. From Bigge Is. to Pender Bay I had travelled 225nm in 52hr actual travel time using the engine for 47hr. Pender Bay is very large but well protected from the south to east to north. The wind dropped off during the night. I did try to anchor in a bay not far from Cape Leveque but was too shallow & exposed. While dropping the main in preparation for a suitable anchorage I was hit by a moving large eddy which stripped the autopilot cogs again. This mean’t hand steering the 6hr to Pender Bay & 95nm to Broome next day.


Cape Leveque

So I left Pender Bay at 0800hr on Friday 11th August with a slight head wind travelling SW for most of the day. I had to re-arrange the sail set up, furling most of the genoa & bringing the clew to base of mast. The mainsail was slightly backed and engine running. I could travel at 4.5kn in a 15kt head wind. I had to stop along the way for a 3hr sleep. I also ran over some buoys nominating a fish aquaculture area while dozing in the cockpit during the night. Upon hearing some birds I sat up & saw the buoys strung together with rope. Luckily with a full length keel the rope never got caught by the propeller. The wind dropped out during the night as usual.  I arrived at the south end of Broome’s Cable Beach on a $30/night mooring at 1015hr Saturday 12th August. I felt so relieved having spent 12 days travelling without getting off the yacht for exercise, except Berkeley River. I spent two days on the mooring rocking in every direction due to a southerly swell, before moving into Roebuck Bay on anchor. This was heaven and close to town with a 10 minute dinghy trip and 5 min bus ride.

IMG_6418RCable Beach-01

Cable Beach is a meca for 4 wheel drives – locals and ‘grey nomads’ with a beer, wine & sometimes shade watching the sun go down. The yellow ‘rubber ducky’ is on wheels to ferry passengers from ship to shore.


Looking north with the Cable Bay Resort in the far distance

I arranged for new autopilot cogs & a spare gear box to be flown from Sydney so spent six days working, walking and a bit of time in town. Broome is not a good place in strong winds & therefore not a cruiser’s paradise, but I did enjoy my time here.

In summary Darwin to Broome was 798nm, 11 days exactly, stopped 3 nights for 8hr, used 110l of diesel, motored 147hr = approx. 60% of travel time.

Apart from Koolama & Wary Bay and Powerful Is. I did not see any other vessel. I guess I was nearing the end of the Kimberly cruise season. I saw lots of whales – most kept away from me apparently due to motor noise.

Three videos from Darwin to Broome can be seen at :-

  1. Darwin to Berkeley River –
  2. Berkeley River to Bigge Is. –
  3. Bigge Is. to Broome –


I arrived in the Cullen Bay Lock on 27-10-2016 & left the lock (temporarily) on 03-05-2017 – 5 months in the lock at $595/month. This lock is very good with great shelter, restaurants & bus service, but very hot & humid. Not much wind in the marina due to the private houses surrounding the marina. The last week of May & 1st week of June has been cooler due to a high pressure system over Victoria bring SE winds all the way up the east coast to Darwin. The humidity has been around 30% instead of the +80%. Nights see temperatures around 22 deg. instead of 26+ deg.
The major shopping centres – Casuarina & Palmerston are a 1/2hr bus trip away – $3 for 3hr – or $1 if you hold a seniors card – not too bad. As with Townsville CBD, Darwin CBD has no department stores & seems very few people around during the day. Night time is a different story with most restaurants full. There are a lot of Aborigines wondering about, seemingly homeless  – some young men ‘talk’ with very loud voices, but I don’t know what they are saying – they seem angry. There seems to be a lot of backpackers – especially with Queens English accent. I see many Aborigine women slapping & telling men off – quite funny really. I was approached by an Aborigine man to call the cops, because his woman was holding a weapon (stick) & he felt for his safety. I said no & reminded him he was probably doing something wrong. Most young Aborigines sit at the back of the bus & are very noisy, while the older generation sit near the front, perhaps discarding those noisy blighters.

One cannot go to Darwin without visiting the Mindil Beach markets on a Thursday night & Sunday arvo/night.

Darwin has a great wave pool & lap pool. The lap pool was hot February to April, although fed from the Darwin Harbour.


Darwin Lap Pool

I found out, in the CBD one can only purchase 2l wine casks & only 1 per customer/day. However, if there was a different person serving later in the day one could purchase a second cask.
I did quite a lot of maintenance on the yacht – replaced the rigging chain plate bolts, replaced engine mounts & seating angles with s/s ones, antifouled, checked rudder in case it was loose (was good), repainted cockpit & engine oil change to name a few. I did not check the alternator but did replace some wiring in the area.

I flew to Melbourne early November 2016 & returned early February 2017 (via Sydney) & worked on board with an air conditioner – unfortunately I did not have much work so relied on my superannuation. In Sydney I attended the Compass Yacht regatta & was awarded the Jim Brown trophy (by last years winners) for the longest journey in a Compass during 2016 – 2160NM.

Phil & Di presenting Allan (Ophelia) with Trophy20170205_195348

Early April, I made a date to leave the marina & head west on 03-05-2017 with a friend John McDonald from Melbourne – he arrived on 01-05-2017, the same day I returned from 2 weeks holiday with my wife in Thailand & Singapore. So after purchasing supplies we went through the marina lock on 03-05-2017 at 10am & anchored near the marina for the night.
A client was hopeful to get a job, so I intended to call into Truscott airbase, hopefully catch a vehicle 30km into a town to call my client. Truscott was about 1/2 between Darwin & Broome & a place I could re-fuel. So it meant I could start on the job once I got to Broome 3 weeks later. That never eventuated.

There were 3 cyclones – all passing Darwin with category 1 or 2 intensity – all about 80NM north of Darwin battering the Tiwi Is. (Melville & Bathurst Is.). For a second cyclone season I missed them.
The Cullen Bay Marina beach is a great place to sit while watching the sun set, but cannot swim in the wet season due to stingers – never mind the crocs as I saw only one at 0530hr one morning.

The 3m to 6.5m tidal variation is not a problem around Darwin. The Cullen Bay lock opens (when required) on the hour from 0600hr to 2200hr & has been designed to hold enough water. It sits about 5m on the Darwin tide charts. The water level varies up to 350mm maximum between tide changes.


Cullen Bay Marina Beach at near low tide

On 04-05-2017 we left Darwin at 1000hr with spinnaker for the 36NM sail/motor to Bynoe
Darwin-Spinaker Harbour catching the ebb tide from Darwin & flood tide around the corner into Bynoe Harbour, arriving at 1830hr & a wonderful sunset. Not a good place to go walkabout as no beaches. At 0700hr on 05-05-2017 we left for the 50NM journey to Fog Bay anchoring at 1800hr 2NM offshore due to very shallow water. We caught a Spanish Mackerel along the way.

There was no internet here & I had to complete some work so next day backtracked some 13NM to Dundee Beach (famous for it’s fishing) anchoring in thick grey mud 300m from shore. This place has a pub next to the boat ramp – perfect place for a week, except in westerlies. We left next day for the 65NM sail/motor to Cape Ford – a wonderful sheltered area from the SE breezes. I even had internet from the mast head aerial but no cell phone reception. No reception according to the Telstra coverage map.
On the 4th day at 0700hr on 08-05-17 we left for the 48NM sail to Wadeye (or Port Keats) arriving at 1400hr, where according to the Telstra coverage there was 4GX internet & they were correct. I had to complete some more work here before losing internet into the Kimberley’s. Again, not a good place to spend time as no beach – all mangroves. Our intention was to cross the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf from Wadeye to the Berkeley River – a distance of 110NM. That never happened.

While at Dundee Beach I noticed the alternator didn’t seem to be charging the batteries & the solar panel regulators didn’t seem to be working properly. By the time we arrived at Wadeye I could not fix the problems so we decided to return to Darwin a.s.a.p. to get them fixed. That was 2 very long days to get back – 160NM from Darwin. However, I received 6wks work from my client (who I was going to call from Truscott) so decided to stay in Darwin. After a week in Darwin, having a 120A alternator installed (‘The Beast’ I call it) & new solar panel regs (all for $2,400 installed), we did go 35NM north to the Vernon Is. for the weekend. It was rather horrible as there are no beaches & anchored in 15m water 30m from a 1.2m deep reef at low tide.

Vernon Is

Vernon Islands

We did not catch any fish. More engine problems with the engine overheating. After limping back to Darwin & contacting Bukh in Sydney (Ophelia has a 10HP Bukh engine) it was decided air was entering the raw water filter bowl causing pulsating & low water levels – I fixed that & then the syphon started leaking salt water all over part of the engine. I have been waiting for eight working days for a new one to be delivered from Brisbane. I found one in Darwin so installed that today (03-06-2017) – motor now fixed with a spare syphon.

Perhaps I was not meant to travel through the Kimberley’s this time.

Unfortunately, John had to go back to Melbourne three weeks into the six week holiday. I now intend to leave Darwin mid August but will have to bypass The Kimberley’s to get to Perth by mid December. Darwin – no beaches so not a cruiser’s holiday area.

The map above shows our track from Darwin at top of map to Bynoe, to Fog Bay, north to Dundee Beach, south to Cape Ford & then further south to Wadeye.

When I came into Darwin (October 2016) from Cape Don, 100NM north, I got the tides wrong & now realise why (see map below) :-
– An ebb tide in Beagle Gulf – north of Darwin Harbour – sucks the water from Van Diemen Gulf west through the Vernon Is. thus creating the appearance of a flood tide in Van Diemen Gulf.
– Conversely a flood tide in Beagle Gulf creates the appearance of an ebb tide in Van Diemen Gulf by pushing water east through the Vernon Is.

This is the reason why one can leave Cape Don 4hr before a Beagle Gulf ebb tide, reach the Vernon Is. in 8hr & pick up the change in tides to get a flood tide to Darwin – 12-14hr  travelling at approx. 8kn, instead of 20+hr travelling at 5kn against the tides as I did.CapeDon-Darwin.

Here are some videos of my journey :-

  1. Lazy Sailing Day Darwin Harbour –