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......
Junior Sailing at TCYC
15 October 2011
Minows, Flying Ants and 29er's TCYC beach.
TCYC, Rockingham Beach
14 October 2011
Friday we left a very rolly Thompson Bay and headed to TCYC, Rockingham on a westerly breeze and 4m swell. Whaahoooo... We've never seen Success Bank and surrounding shoals breaking before but the seas were very wild today! As we were leaving Rotto Drina was below and made a comment to Uncle FOS that she would make a colouring for him but not until we made the anchorage as it was 'rolling its box off out there'. Inside the sheltered waters of Cockburn Sound it was flat waters and eased sheets dodging tug boats in the channel until we reached the mooring area of TCYC at Rockingham Beach. A short dinghy ride ashore where we met Grandma who was joining us for the night and to enjoy the beach front restaurants for lunch. Later we paid our account at TCYC ready for the start of Kieran's junior sailing the next day. Back on board it wasn't long before we recognised a fellow sailor coming into the mooring area and were joined by Stuart from Fremantle, a long time friend from early offshore days. TCYC have meals and a band for dinner so after we enjoy the use of their showers we plan on looking forward to a meal at the Club. With both FOS and Stuart joining us this could be a messy night!
For those who are wondering our imminent arrival at Mandurah (you can stop asking now), we plan on spending tomorrow (Saturday)at TCYC for Kieran's junior sailing and Sunday we will head for Mandurah along with Illusion and pray that the North Easterly breeze in the forecast holds to give us a nice run home. With the Boat Show at the Club in Mandurah we are unsure where exactly we'll end up but we're hoping that by Monday there will be a little room on the jetty or somehwere in the Marina so that we can unload and move back in home sufficiently so we can get ready for the kids to go to school on Tuesday. Not long now until we are 'Home Sweet Home'! Its been a really long ride, but as a family it is one that we will be forever grateful and appreciative to those who helped us make it happen!
Thomson Bay, Rotto
14 October 2011
After a day of rest at Jurien to recover and repair Illusion’s steering issue, and clear their prop we made ready for the next leg and finally headed on our last overnighter to Rotto on Wednesday morning with the prospect of a westerly and eased sheets. 22hrs later after an awesome run down the coast, ducking and weaving between shipping containers as we made Thompson Bay, Rotto at 4am just in time to catch up on some shut eye before the kids were up and ready for a day on the Island. Our first stop was the bakery, followed by a few refreshments at the Quakka Arms while the kids enjoyed the beach. Ahhh, home at last! After all the cruising grounds we have journeyed through over the past 6 months Rotto is still hard to beat and holds a special place in our hearts. We now have a new appreciation for our local cruising grounds, the east and north coast is nice but our SW-metro waters aren’t too bad after all.
10 October 2011
Sunday the forecast looked good to head the 120NM to Jurien with the prospect of some downwind northerly to help us along. We left the Abrolhos Islands between the Easter and Pelseart Group headed west into the massive swells rolling between the two island groups. Once clear of the islands the swell evened out and we were able to sail eased sheets for Jurien, doing 8-8.5 knots. Over night the angle became tighter and tighter as the wind went more east. (wasn’t meant to do that until south of Jurien!!) Eventually by 2 am we had 25-30 knots of south easterly, which on top of a south westerly swell, and some left over north westerly wind chop made for really lumpy sea!!! We ended up 20 miles from Jurien as the wind died out leaving a confused sea. We received a call from Illusion who’s steering had gone, 40 miles from Jurien. Then while starting their motor got a jib sheet wrapped around their prop!!! So poor Bruce and Di were dead in the water. A call to Jurien Sea rescue was made and a cray boat from Leeman towed them into Jurien, arriving at 4pm and $1500 lighter. A couple of straight Jameson Irish whiskies and a couple of beers soon settled everyones nerves, followed by a meal at the tavern. The west coast just keeps on dishing it up!
Kia Ora from the “ BELLA GHOST WRITTER “ what a character building experience for us all on that last passage, as you know I am not the most religious bloke on the yacht but I found myself mumbling to the Maori Gods on the odd occasion, the manager and cook at the Jurien tavern have become new friends and have looked after us on a number of occasions with more to come I’m guessing, heading Sth again soon and looking forward to what is in front, please keep the cards and letters pouring in I have them stuck to the ceiling of my cabin !!! Kia Kaha....
Morley & Wooded Island
10 October 2011
By midmorning we were finally able to leave Leo’s in sufficient light to see the narrow passage through the reef and headed towards Morley Island. We arrived in time for lunch and later went ashore to inspect the masses of coral washed up on the south west side of the island and the destructive power of the massive waves crashing on the windward side. After a leisurely stroll along the sheltered beach on the North East side of the island we decided to dinghy across to Wooded Island where we had previously seen an Osprey nest on our visit 18 months prior. The giant nest was still there but seemed to be in need of repairs, possibly after the last winter storms. Out of the wind the beach was lovely and warm and hard to find the energy to leave, but the call of sundowners back onboard soon found everyone back in their dinghy’s and headed back to Bella and Illusion in the bay.