Sun, 24th April 2011, Fremantle, Western Australia
Well this morning was decision time. We either stayed in Port Bouvard for another day & night or head back, perhaps stopping at Warnbro Sound on the way through. We checked the weather and it looked as if the winds were not going to be in our favour. Sunday morning was forecasted 20kts NW/SW and Monday & Tuesday was forecasted to be virtually nothing from anywhere from the NW to the SE and any where in between. So, we had a meeting a decided that we would head out at about 1100 and head back north, as there was going to be too much of a risk of being becalmed, and most of us needing to get back on Tuesday at the latest. And, if things looked okay perhaps we would overnight in Warnbro Sound again, but this time in the NW corner so that we would be protected from the weather.
Anyway, we set off, with Sulphur leading out quite quickly, followed by Grey Goose II who struggled to clear the Dawesvill Cut opening under just mainsail and motor, then us on Swagman, and Blondie & Miss Cath following 10-15mins later. Swell was about 2-3m's, wind wave about 1m, & the wind 20kts from the W.
We made good time out to Murray Reef's beacon and turned N to come inside Coventry Reef and the entrance to Warnbro Sound. At that point the weather started to come in with a good sized rain squall, although not very strong, so we decided to continue on to either the NE corner of Garden Island or go straight through to Fremantle, as it would have been a bit hazardous to try and enter Warnbro Sound with the risks of squalls around and reducing the visibility.
We continued up to Challenger Passage at the N end of Garden Island, and just as Sulphur, Swagman & following at about 10-15mins were Blondie & Miss Cath, reached the passage another brief squall hit, with good sized following sea coming through the passage. Sulphur got inside and decided to drop all sails and motor the rest of the way, and Brett & I on Swagman continued on under full sail straight towards Royal Perth Yacht Club Annex at Fremantle. The rain squall passed after about 15mins, and we tied up at the annex at about 1600, with the others following. Brett and I decided that we would leave Swagman there overnight and come back up river early tomorrow morning. Apparently just as we were leaving the annex at 1830, Grey Goose II was just making their way through Challenger Passage.
It was a great weekend, although cut short by the weather, but we knew that was going to be a risk at this time of year. But we had a great time, and learnt lots about ourselves, the boat and cruising.
Thanks to Dick Newnham from Sulphur for being the guide and organising the cruise.
The photo is of Brett & I just after we came through Challenger Passage after the last rain squall had passed.
See the Photo Gallery for all the photos of the SS34 Easter Cruise 2011.
Sat, 23rd April 2011, Port Bouvard Canals, Dawesville Cut, Western Australia
Had a nice quiet night at anchor in Warnbro Sound last night, and then had a light breakfast & headed back out at about 8am, the way we came before turning South and heading towards Mandurah. Winds were NW @ 15kts, which made for a very pleats broad reach down the coast. We decided to bypass Mandurah and head for the canals @ Port Bouvard. We got in there about 1230. The tide was running in pretty quickly and had to crab our way into the entrance of one of the side canals. About 3m of water in here, and very pleasant. We all tied up, and squared the boats away, and great hamburgers cooked by Rosemary Torvaldsen on Blondie. Brett went for a swim, and 5mins after he got out 2 long tailed Bluebottles floated by, very lucky to say the least. Spoke to Vera in Phuket on the way down. Surprisingly she slept in, and she was just getting ready to go to breakfast with Seb. Spoke to Dad as well to let him know of our progress and all was going well. Plan to go to dinner tonight at the Port Bouvard Restaurant, and maybe get a shower (otherwise the might kick us out).
The photo is of the 5 SS34's moored in one of the Port Bouvard Canals (L-R: Swagman, Blondie, Miss Cath, Grey Goose II, then right up in the corner is Sulphur).
Fri, 22nd April 2011, Warnbro Sound, Western Australia
Well Brett & I set off from Royal Perth Yacht Club at about 0830 Friday morning to motor down the river (2hrs) to meet the other SS34 cruisers at Royal Perth Yacht Club Annex in Fremantle.
We had a couple of dramas when we lowered the mast to go through the bridges. We had just lowered the mast in to the cradle, when a group of power boats caught up to us. Most slowed down and took care with our mast lowered. One 10m cabin cruiser (DPI Reg# 2030) powered in between the other boats and passed within 10m's of us. Way too close even without our mast down. I tried to get him to slow down, but he didnt care less and even had the nerve to tell me to move over to the other side of the river, and he was the over taking boat who has to keep clear. Another 8m centre console (DPI Reg'n DP050) passed us at about 10kts between the two bridges and just gave us the 'finger' as he went passed. Subsequently, both of those boats will be reported to the DPI on Wednesday when I get back to work.
Anyway, we got around to the annex, and discussed thje weather and our possible destinations. We were originally going to head north to Two Rocks & Lanceling, however it looked as if the winds there and back would be against us, which doesnt make for very good cruising weather. So we collectively decided to head south to Warnbro Sound, Mandurah & Port Bouvard (Dawesville).
We headed off into absolutely no wind at about 1130, SW towards the northern end of Garden Island to exit out through Challenger Pass. Sulphur (Dick Newnham), who was to be our guide for the weekend took the lead, with Blondie (Simon, Rosemary & Lucy Torvaldsent), Grey Goose (Peter Tait & wife), Swagman (myself & Brett), and we met Miss Cath (Phil Michelides) who had come down from Mindarie, on the way.
We got outside Challenger Passage motoring all the way, and the wind started to pick up to a WSW @ 5-10kts. We stopped the motor and sailed the rest of the way down to Warnbro Sound. We went through the channel, following the leads into Warnbro Sound, and headed down to the SE corner near Bridgeport?, and anchor just off shore in the lee of Long Point. By this time the wind a swung around to the SW, so it would be good for the night. We were expected a light NW the following morning & building into the afternoon.
Great sail down with Brett & I sharing the steering.
The photo is off Brett steering 185 on the compass.
Mon, 28th January 2008, Enroute Rottnest Island to Royal Perth Yacht Club, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
We went ashore for breakfast again, and left the mooring at about 11:45am. Put the No.3 blade Jib up again, with a full main.
Vera helmed it out of Thompsons Bay via the channel between Phillip Rock and the Natural Jetty. Most people come in and out of Thompsons Bay north of Phillip Rock, but this cuts about 200-300m off the trip (not much considering the overall distance).
Vera then handed it over to Brett to helm back to Fremantle. We just gave him a bearing and some landmarks to steer for, and he pretty much did it from there himself. With the occassionally re-focussing when he turned to chat and lost his bearing. But, I could see that he is a natural, and with a bit more experience and will become very good. So between Vera and Brett over the next few years, I can see I will slowly lose some of the helming. The 2 of them make a great team; that is why they work so well together on the foredeck when we are racing.
We took about 95mins to get to the Fremantle heads. Sailed inside and once we got into calmer conditions dropped the sails and prepared everything for the mast lowering to get back under the Fremantle bridges. This time of day is a harrowing time for yachts lowering their masts, because of the amount of wash from power boats who have absolutely no idea what they do to yachts and lowered masts. There have been some very serious injuries on yachts because of accidents with masts; primarily caused by excessive wash from power boats.
We got through the bridges reasonably uneventfully, and go the mast back up, and decided to put the sails back up because the following breeze had increased and we would probably end up doing a quicker speed than under motor. Plus it would be quieter without the motor on.
We got back to RPYC just before 4pm, packed the boat away, and put what we could in the back of my car and head back home. I would come back and get the rest over the next couple of days. Swagman needs to get back into racing mode for Saturday.
Sun, 27th January 2008, Mooring RIA30, Thompsons Bay (North), Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Finally got Brett awake so that we could get ashore ready to meet Vera when she comes over on the 8:45am ferry. I left Brett, and his Bacon & Eggs order at the Dome Cafe, and went and met Vera at the ferry.
It was really great to see her after a couple of days, and she was looking pretty tired after a late night (12:30am) helping Simone get ready for a trip, and an early morning (4:30am) to get Simone to the airport.
We went back to the Dome and had breakfast and decided on our events of the day; which was to sail around the island.
After breakfast we nipped over to the General Store & bakery for some provision, and Vera nipped into the gift shop to look at and buyy up some jewellery after seeing it on her last trip to the island with her Rotto girls.
We headed back to the boat, stowed a few things, got the sails up and deck and cast off for a nice trip around the island. We left the dinghy on the mooring, but decided to tow the ski behind us just in case we decided to pull into a bay, and do some exploring.
Vera helmed across the North of the island while I kept watch for craypot floats, and trimmed the boat with Brett.
We headed out past the western edge of the island and, as I hadnt been around here before I decided to give everything a wide birth using the GPS, paper charts and dead reckoning as my guide.
We tacked south as the breeze started to increase a few notes upto 18-20kts. As we got to West End (& the West Patch), I decided to tack back out west for 0.5nm just for safety's sake, and then tack back to the south, slowly bearing away to the east to go across the south side of the island.
By this time the breeze had picked up a couple more know, and the swell was a good 1.5-2.5m. So, with the wind well and truly on the beam, Swagman loved every minute of it.
About half way across we realised that the ski had gone missing, so we tacked back around to the west, and slightly north, to see if we could see it. Mainly white ski, with black speckled on a white-capped sea, we thought it would be hard to see. But, Vera's excellent eyes saw it slightly north of our original track after about 5min's. Then we spent the next 10min's trying to retrieve it, and ended up turning the motor on to get a good position coming into it. Got it back on board and lashed it down. The 2nd time on the weekend it tried to get away. it's trying to tell us something.
We headed back around the east end of the island, with me helming this time (as Vera was a bit tired). The sea & wind was increasing slightly, but nothing to worry about for an SS34.
We came back around to Thompson's Bay and came through between Phillip Rock and the Natural Jetty again. Swagman roared into Thompsons bay and was loving it. We dropped sails and picked up the mooring.
Tucked all the sails away, and sorted everything out ready to go ashore for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
It took us just over 3hrs to go around, and I will have to get a plot of the course, or at least an estimate, as my GPS cant download to the PC anymore.
We went ashore and decided to go to the Governors Bar and the Rottnest Island Lodge. That were planning to show the men's final of the Australian Open Tennis later. But before that started we thought we would head over to the Quokka Arms to see what was happening there, and decided to have pizza and chips for dinner, washed down with a couple of beers.
We then headed back to Gov's Bar, and watched the tennis. It was a good match, but after a couple of sets and many beers we could see what way the result was going to go, so we decided to head back to the boat for the evening.
Chilled for the rest of the evening in preparation for tommorrows trip back home.
Sat, 26th January 2008, Mooring RIA30, Thompsons Bay (North), Rottnest Island, Western Australia
We had a pretty good nights sleep. I only got up a couple of times to tend to some slapping halyards. Bret slept like a log, just as he always does.
Today was a little colder and windier, and it was going to be a nice row ashore, which we did and went to the General Store to get some provisions, and then back to the boat.
The wind stayed in all day, and it was a push to row to shore, so we just chilled on the boat; slept, read and listened to the cricket.
Just after 6pm we decided to make the trip ashore and cook the rest of the BBQ pack for dinner. While Brett was doing that, I quickly nipped to the General Store for some more Fruit Salad for dessert.
After dinner we decided to head back to the boat to get ready to watch the fireworks on the mainland. Initially I thought that due to the sea mist between the island and the mainland we wouldnt be able to see anything. But, as usual come 8:30pm it cleared enough to give us a view of the 3 fireworks locations we could see (Fremantle, Perth City, and Hillarys or Mindarie). We thought Fremantle had a better show than Perth, but obviously Perth's was the primary focus and thus probably went on longer.
During the day more and more boats came over, and by the end I would say only a handful of leased (personal) moorings were empty.
Then we bunked down again for the night.
Fri, 25th January 2008, Mooring RIA30, Thompson Bay (North), Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Well, after a late decision in early January we decided to go to Rotto for the Australia Day Long Weekend. At first I thought we wouldnt have a chance at getting a RIA (rental) mooring so late. But, low-and-behold we got one (RIA30) in North Thompsons Bay (half way between the ferry jetty & Bathurst Point. It was a fair way out just outside the North channel out of Thompson Bay, so there was a little bit of wash from passing boats, but they are generally travelling at a slow enough speed not to put out too much wash.
Given that Australia Day (January 26th) was on the Saturday we decided that we would head over on Friday afternoon, and come back on Monday afternoon.
Vera decided that she wouldnt come over until Sunday as she wanted to drop Simone (her daughter) off at the airport of travel interstate. And, Alysha didnt want to come over as she wanted to go to the South Perth foreshore on Saturday afternoon/evening with her friends to watch the fireworks.
So, Brett (my 15yo son & racing crew mastman) and I decided to head off from RPYC at midday. The previous three evenings I had loaded the boat up with all the cruising stuff (about 200kg's I reckon), as we are normally a racing boat.
It took us a quick 90min's to through the Fremantle bridges, then about another 20-30min's to get rigged for see (after dropping the mast to pass under the bridges), and set out from the Fremantle heads. As soon as we got outside, Swagman just took off. She got the whiff of the sea air in her sails, and felt that beautiful swell and sea water against her belly, and she was back home.
The SS34 belongs in the ocean, and is ultimately at there best for long ocean sailing. Although, they can well and truly hold their own around the bouys on a Saturday afternoon, and short passage races.
We had a beautiful 15-18kt SSW on a 33C afternoon, with the No. 3 blade Jib, and the full main, and she literally trucked along. After looking at the GPS just before Rotto we averaged about 6.2kts, absolutely beautiful. Even with all of the extra weight on board, we had her trimmed just perfectly.
As usual the closer we got to Rotto, and as the afternoon wore on the wind started to come upto about 18-20kts SSW. Anyway it took us about 95min's to get to the edge of Thompsons Bay. I decided that seen as it was such a nice sail, we would enter Thompsons Bay between Phillip Rock and the Natural Jetty, which I had only gone through coming out of the island. So, just a new experience.
We sailed right into Thompsons Bay on the edge of the moorings towards the Ferry jetty, and dropped sails, and motored over to North Thompsons to look for our mooring (5min's). It was out a little further that what I thought from when I booked it, but it was a last minute booking, so you cant complain.
We stowed the sails, and got the boat set up for a nice relaxing weekend. Because Swagman has basically been raced since she was built in 1979, and was never really targetted to do any cruising, her fit out inside is pretty basic, but accommodating. So, a couple of years ago when I took over the boat from Dad and we decided to start cruising a bit in between racing, I built some bunk boards that lies across the settee bunks on each side, and this basically gives us a Queen size bed area (if not King size) to sleep. Although it cramps up the cabin a bit, but it suits us at the moment, and we make do.
Over the last couple of years I have started to collected the required things to make cruising a bit more comfortable, and at the end of 2006 I bought a very 2nd hand Quicksilver 2.7 inflatable for $200 (no outboard though). It isnt in very good condition but it suits us for the moment. So we pumped that up. We also brought over my Spirit X-training surf ski, so we launched that out the back.
Then I quickly went ashore and got our island pass.
I came back and we did a little bit more sorting out, and then we chilled out for a little while and listened to the Australia v's India Cricket Test match on the radio (disappointing).
Around 6pm we went ashore and cooked up half of the big BBQ pack I had bought for dinner, and had a nice fruit salad and yoghurt for dessert.
Then we headed over to the Quokka Arms for a couple of beers. We then headed back to the boat and chilled for the rest of the evening; listening to the radio and reading, before having a reasonably early night.
I had the bunk boards all to myself, as Brett prefers to sleep in the bottom of the cockpit on a cushion because he likes the fresh air, and hasnt quite gotten used to sleeping below with the movement of the boat. he is slightly susceptible to sea sickness, but he will get used to it.