Mandurah, Home at last!
20 October 2011
Sunday we left Rockingham Beach, TCYC and headed north up Cockburn Sound into 15-20 knots of north easterly - on the nose yet again! Thankfully it was only until we could run off and head out through Challenger Passage. Running south along the west coast towards Mandurah and downwind with the jib polled out! As Chris was explaining to Bruce & Di on Illusion that 'Mandurah is the epi-centre of the universe and God was willing us home'!. Albeit there was a 4.5m wave running which had us white knuckled as we leapt over the waves through the Challenger Passage with the starboard marker awash as we passed. The Warnbro passage was closed over which meant we had to run outside the reef until we passed Sir James Service where we could head back in towards Mandurah. We've never seen waves so huge along this coast line and never seen breaking waves south of Sir James Service and inside Comet Bay. As we headed in towards Mandurah we had flash backs of the Wide Bay Bar incident in QLD when a large(ish) set of waves started to crumble behind us sending Kieran in a fit of panic and wrapping himself around the winch under the dodger. Just to be sure Chris quickly headed up into the wind to give us some more room from where it appeared to be steeping up the worst. Once within the protection of the Bay the waves seemed less of a threat so we dropped sail and waited for Illusion who was not far behind and after watching us luff up into the wind near Sir James Service chose to cross into the bay further south where the waves appeared to be less steep. We had to explain afterwards that Mandurah is not normally like this and that these big waves are very unusual, especially to be breaking south of Sir James Service in supposedly the safe navigable waters! Once around the entrance we were welcomed by a handful of friends who happened to be on duty for the Boat Show and were able to jump in a Club rib or rescue boat to come out and welcome us home. Thank you for the warm welcome:) Knowing that the Boat Show was on and the chance of us getting a berth at the Club was going to be impossible we had decided to moor temporarily elsewhere in the marina or Estuary until the Club was freed up again. However on hearing our imminent arrival Tim our good friend and trusty Club Manager pulled a few strings and we found ourselves moored up at the Club pens smack bang in the middle of the Boat Show!!. Thankfully we were on the end jetty system and slightly away from all the Show events, but Illusion landed right in the middle of the show alongside the Catalina boats on display in all their cruising glory after 4 weeks beating to windward. They had people enquiring as to what type of vessel this was as a show piece! As it was nearing the end of the show and there was only a few hours remaining we decided to have a quick look around and try to seek our much desired Rocna anchor. Just before closing and as most displays were packing up to return their goods to their retail outlets we finally found a store who were selling the Rocna's and at a very reasonable price were grateful to relieve them of the 25kg/ 55Lb item. Yeah - after approx 1200NM when we dragged anchor using the Delta Fast Set plough at Coppermine Creek in the Kimberly's and after which time we had since been seeking a new Rocna as we sailed along the remote west coast, we finally get home at the end of our journey and we are able to upgrade - ready for our next big trip! We spent the afternoon catching up with those friends and family able to get past the security on the Show gates and unwinding while we came to realise the reality of reaching home with our beautiful Bella and having accomplished our dream. Over the ground we have travelled more than 4,800NM after leaving Brisbane in late April to arriving home in Mandurah (much more miles through the water when looking at the log with the windward work along the west coast). The kids have matured and grown during this time and we are generally better people for such an invaluable and memorable experience. We now have a very good idea what is truly important and what reality is all about!
Monday we went home to retrieve our vehicle and drop off the dogs (now 18 months of age) so they could run silly in their back yard once again. With the Boat Show displays still taking up the bulk of the marina we found room alongside the commercial wharf where we could bring our vehicle (and trailer) alongside to dock Bella and offload 6 months of living aboard. Ahhhh back on solid ground and in a bed that doesn't rock, lunge or launch you onto the deck! While we've been away our house sitter Kelly has been marvellous at looking after the house and my beloved 18 year old pussy cat 'Patu' and even stocked the fridge with a few treats for our return (Thank You), although Im not sure about the lacy pink underwear we found hanging from the bedroom fan! Tuesday was the first day back at school for the kids where Kieran was swarmed with questions from school mates in his class and Drina was made to feel really special in kindy. Chris and I had another attempt at cleaning up Bella while the kids were at school and on Wednesday it was my turn to return to work while Chris continued to undertake domestic duties. So basically we have hit the land running and are picking up the pieces from when we left. Now that our trip has come to an end we feel a real sense of achievement but its also a little sad that after 6 months together we now all go our separate ways once more. But gee it feels good to be home! The hardest thing we will have to do as a result of this trip will be parting from Bruce and Dianne off Illusion who we have spent every day of the past 5months travelling together and who will be continuing their journey to circumnavigate Australia as they return home to Sydney. Thankfully we have the pleasure of their company for a few more months while they wait out the summer in Mandurah and prepare for their next voyage around the south coast. I don't wish to be the one who gets to tell Drina when the dreaded day finally arrives as she will be particularly most upset to say good bye! I have no doubt that our friendship will continue over the miles and they will always be a part of our life in years to come.
Thanks to all those who have followed our travels and we look forward to catching up over the coming summer. You'll probably find us out on the water! The Crew of Bella signing off..... until next time......