Monkey Mia

After a five hour sail we finally made it into Monkey Mia. We had a few dolphins come to greet us but no fish jumped on our lines. Smiley was already there, and they had the same plan to leave on Monday but go north to Carnarvon via Turtle Bay.

We dropped anchor in a very scenic little part of the world, just to the SE of the resort. We sat on the back steps watching the dolphins play and fish all around us. Cas even had a few come right up to the back step as she sat there.

Then it was over for drinks and a meal on Kinchega – everyone brought over a meal and we mixed them all together. Allan was having a few problems with his anchor and we were trying to work out if he had a smaller one (anchor). He suggested I go up the front and take a look. So off I went (half way) before I realised what a stupid thing I just did (as the anchor was currently anchoring the boat at the bottom of the bay!!!). I thought I had been set up by Allan but Allan had suggested it quite innocently so I wasn’t the only fool. Everyone had a great laugh at the one. We spent Saturday lazying around Monkey Mia and the resort. We must have spent 4 hours on the beach soaking in the sun, swimming, reading the paper and eating an icecream. Then it was back to the boat to change and off again into the Monkey Bar to watch Hawthorn (Michael’s team) play the Eagles (Cas’ team). It was a bit bizarre watching it bucket down in Perth after we had a beautiful sunny afternoon in Monkey Mia. Anyway good on the Eagles for slogging that one out for a win. Michael’s footy team may have lost but he was cleaning up on the pool table. We didn’t really mind as the Monkey Bar had the last palette of Corona’s to be had in state (evidently) and we were helping them to finish it.

Sunday we were up early to see the Dolphins, which Monkey Mia is so famous for. They do a great job of protecting the dolphins natural way of being, whilst allowing everyone to get a good close up look at them. At all times it is done on the dolphins terms. If they don’t want to come in they just don’t come in. They only feed 5 of them and sometimes only one of the 5 takes the free feed. And its only a snack so the dolphins still have to continue to hunt. They only do it three times a morning for 30 minutes each time so the dolphins have the afternoon to hunt and feed their young. The mothers need to go into deeper water to feed their calves. We got a great look at one of the dolphins in particular as it was chasing fish and a fish used the line of people standing knee deep in water to hide from the dolphin. The dolphin came right up keeping its eye on the fish. We all had to back out of the water to let the dolphin continue hunting. It was quite a show. They feed the dolphins right at the end of the 30 minutes and after that they all swim off to do their own thing. It was quite a show.

That afternoon Cas and I checked into the resort to spend a night on land. The resort is really relaxed with great staff – it felt a bit like the resort at Happy Bay in the Whitsundays. The emus, however, were a bit of a pain and got very cheeky when there was a sniff of food to be had. We were treated to an unbelievable sunset in the bay with the Leeuwin in the background and a couple of charter cats doing their sunset sail. We topped off the day with a great meal at the restaurant that night with far too much food. It didn’t seem to deter me as we had a buffet breakfast the next morning which was challenging but achievable. Then it was back to the boat and off to Broadhurst Bight along with Smiley and Kinchega. We caught the tide going out and this gave us an extra couple of knots going round Cape Peron. The winds were gentle and right behind us and we chugged along at 5 knots as we sailed straight past the Leeuwin on the way out. We tucked in between the bommie and the beach at Broadhurst Bight after a 5 hour sail and saw Allan and Joan heading for an oyster patch on the beach. Despite having just poured a Gin and Tonic, the words “fresh oysters” invoked a prompt set of instructions to follow suite. So off we went with a hammer and crow bar and started to separate the oysters from the rocks. Allan was eating every second oyster and Cas managed to down a couple as well. They were small but tasty and we brought a good catch back to the boat where there was much hammering and extraction of fresh oyster flesh. We had them all sorts of ways – cooked on the BBQ with with blue cheese, lemon juice, between crackers and au natural. A nice bit of hunting and gathering.

Quoin Bluff

Having picked up Cas and dropped off Amanda, we headed off, together with Allan and Joan aboard Kinchega, on Monday morning bound for Quoin Bluff on Dirk Hartog Island. Dirk Hartog Island is about 80kms long and is Western Australia’s largest and most western island.

It was a lovely sail across, with the winds light and behind us, right up until when we finished our 20nm passage when they picked up above 20kts. We tucked in nicely behind the bluff, dropped anchor and had a great walk along the beach.

Image

Quoin Bluff is the site of the now famous Shark vs Brother Brad in a dingy fishing incident last year where the dingy came off second best with the shark managing to puncture it nicely. Michael and Elaine took the dingy fishing that afternoon and managed to avoid hooking any sharks, instead catching a nice mullaway for dinner.

Next morning, we hit the beach again and headed left to climb to the top of Quoin Bluff. It was very spectacular up there with great 360 degree views up and down the coast and back towards the mainland. We saw Egg island on the other side of the Bluff and took lots of obligatory photos of the two Seawind 1160’s. We also could look down othe cliffs and see all the sea life including quite a few sharks. It was so clear you could easily pick the Tiger Sharks as their stripes stood out quite spectacularly. There were also giant turtles, sting rays and lots of fish as well as sea eagles circling round.    ImageBack on Camelot and Kinchega, we put the sails up and headed for Turtle Bay on the top of Dirk Hartog. Along the way we managed to catch a couple of mackerel but lost my old faithful lure when something managed to cut the rope that I use to fish. Allan thought it might have been a North West Blowie as these are known as Northern Boltcutters. Oh well.

We also managed to see a couple of manta rays, which swam right up to the boat – very exciting – and some dolphins as well as a whale tail. Another lovely sail. Image

I Want to Visit all the Turtle Bays in the world

Easter Sunday

After a day of boat fixing it was time to relax. After a lazy morning we pulled anchor and headed to the fish sanctuary zone at the top of Long Island for some snorkelling. We drop everyone off at the giant brain coral and everybody enjoyed the coral and fish life. Amazing to have such a tropical setting so close to Perth. The Abrolhos is the southernmost coral reef in the Indian Ocean.  After snorkelling and lunch – no Easter Eggs as we didn’t end up stopping in Geraldton for a shop as planned – we set off to walk along Long Island – the site where all the mutineers were quartered and hung. From Long Island we could look across Grosse Passage to Beacon Island where all the massacres took place. What a gruesome story played itself out her in the lonely Abrolhos all those years ago in 1629.   Walking along the island we came across various single sea lions – guessing these were young males who hadn’t been successful as yet in securing themselves a harem. Bad luck boys, keep trying.

Next stop was Fish Point for some fishing on the basis that it was called this for a reason. And it was. We hooked dinner – a nice big queenie snapper plus some bait fish. Having achieved our mission of catching dinner it was back to pick up the last mooring at Turtle Bay. Both motors worked so that was a good thing. After tying up, I hopped into the dingy and headed over to say hello to Smiley. I had previously met Magna and Stewart at my Safety at Sea course – Magna, despite not being able to swim was attending it and Stewart came along the second day to take some photos as he’d done a similar course at TAFE. We’d been following each other’s blog and it was good to catch up at a beautiful location – I assuming the first of many rendezvous as we both travel around Australia.

Next stop was to see Indigo and Kinchega who were both rafted up together. Indigo was like a factory ship with fish being gutted, bagged and distributed. They kindly gave us a side of mackerel which we have frozen for later. The rest of Camelot came over and we had a great night eating tuna and a dhufish carcass.

Easter Monday

We decided Easter Monday would be a relaxing day in preparation for our 24 hour sail to Steep Point. By relaxing, I meant heaps of snorkelling, paddle boarding and walking along the beach. We started with stand-up paddle boarding and everyone had a good go. Then we found a nice reef on the eastern side of Turtle Beach and went for a great snorkel. Allan had a cray pot where we were snorkelling and we found a nice cod trapped inside it. We managed to pull it up and we had fresh cod for lunch, along with mackerel, lasagne (for David) and Easter Eggs (bonus as we didn’t think we would get Easter Eggs this Easter).

After lunch it was more snorkelling – this time with Stewart from Smiley and Claire and then a long paddle board.

That got us to about 5 – just in time for drinks on board Camelot. Allan brought some crays over (delicious) and the Indigo boys brought some tuna and another dhufish carcass over. We had everyone from Smiley, Indigo, Kinchega (just Allan as Jamie and Lucy flew out at 4.30pm) and Camelot. We’ve had some great drinks on Camelot – the best seem to be in a variety of Turtle Bays and this one was one of the best (especially counting on the number of bottles and cans we had in the morning).

Tuesday 10th April

7am the genset and stereo came on, 7.05am the coffee maker and toast went on and by 8am we were separating ourselves from our overnight morning in Turtle Bay and heading north towards Steep Point. We “loaned” Amanda to Allan as crew as he was on his lonesome. We sailed up in company with both Kinchega and Smiley – Smiley getting a bit of a head start as they only had outboards and a short mast.

The day was fairy uneventful. They was 10kts of wind to start with but it quickly dropped down to nothing in the middle of the day with the sea starting to glass over. It picked up later in the afternoon swinging SW and we managed a good sail. Other than catching up on blog writing it was a day of mainly sleeping and reading.

Night time came and the moon and the stars came out and the wind died down to under 10 knots. we meandered along at 4-5 knots, occasionally turning on the motors when our speed dropped to nothing. The night air was warm and inviting and the night watches were magical. I found that I didn’t want to come off watch – I was quite content reading and looking at the stars and the moon.

Claire and David did their watches together – David’s first time on watch at night and they both seemed to enjoy themselves. They also scored the excitement of the night when they spotted a big ship heading straight towards Smiley. Allan also saw it and could’nt raise Smiley so he radio’ed the ship and got it to change course.

Next morning we awoke to the 200m high Zuytdorp Cliffs. What a brilliant nights sailing.

Pigeon Island – Abrolhos

Easter Saturday

Well it’s been quite eventful since my last update. Talk about an adventure.

Our stay on White Banks was highlighted with snorkelling with the sea lions. They really know how to play. Michael was doing loop the loops and the sea lion was doing loop the loops. Back on board Camelot, I decided I definitely needed to get some video to put on the blog.  So back in the water, this time with the GoPro. Out came the sea lion on queue and I swam out over the reef thinking he would follow me into deeper water. But not to be – it was low water and I think it must have been too shallow for them. I went back to fetch them but lying on the beach seemed to be preferable to playing with Steve. Bummer!

Next morning it was up early (ish) to sail to Geraldton to pick up David and Claire. As we prepared the wind was blowing reasonable hard from the SE – exactly the direction Geraldton was. With 3 reefs in, it was going to be a rough trip.  Tacking along the Eastern edge of the islands, we decided a call to the air charter company might be better option than trying to sail. A few minutes later we had Claire and David on a flight to East Wallabi and we did a 180 and headed there too. Suddenly we had turned an ugly sail against the wind into a beautiful sail with it. Memo to self – through away that calendar and just go according to the weather.

Two more fish decided to escape our clutches on the way up. We got one Mack onto the deck before Michael’s swivel broke and it took another lure with it back to the deep blue sea.

A couple of hours later we were pulling down sails and turning on motors to find one motor was vibrating like hell. Got to a mooring on the remaining motor and over the side to have a look. Talk about deja vue. A missing blade on the same prop as we lost a blade from last time we were in the Abrolhos. The Abrolhos doesn’t seem to like my starboard Gori prop. Got on the phone to Allan who was just round the corner at Pigeon Island and as luck would have it he had my old prop that was replaced under warranty last time.

So round to Pigeon Island we went on one engine and anchored in a nice sandy patch with a couple of metres under us – ideal for fixing a prop. By now it was mid-afternoon and we decided that eating crayfish and drinking beer was a far preferable option that fixing a prop which is better done in the morning (don’t ask me why but its true!). So off we trotted to Kinchega to eat their crayfish and drink their beer.

Then it was off to the pub for a big Easter Friday night. It was great to wonder around the crayfishermen huts as we made our way there. They’ve managed to get hold of a cessna that crashed landed and put it next to the pub. the pub was liuvely and we met a few locals as well as some boaties from Bunbury.

Next morning we were up early to get the mew hookah I got from Powerdive assembled and working so we could do the work on the prop. We needed to shift Camelot into shallower water and up came the anchor pulling the chain stripper out again. It wasn’t my day. Doing a closer inspection we found that the locking nut on a second blade had also fallen out – we were lucky we didnt loose two blades. Allan and Jamie came over from Kinchega with my old prop and we had some fun getting the locking nut out. they are never supposed to come out after all. After heating it on the gas cooker and applying a bit of persuasion it came out. for the other locking nut, allan found a suitable screw and cut it down to size.  Allan managed to finish putting the new blade on and securing the locking nuts on snorkel as the battery for the hookah wasn’t fully charged. Thanks Allan. Will need to get on the phone on Tuesday to get a proper replacement prop – hopefully on warranty as the prop that failed is only two years old.

With all this going on, our mobile phone signal had gone missing in action and there was no way for Claire and Cowe to let us know they were on an earlier flight. They arrived at Camelot courtesy of a couple of locals who dropped them off in their tinny.

Meanwhile Michael had got a piece of aluminium off Kinchega and we’d done some running repairs on the anchor winch. Hopefully it will hang together until we get something properly fabricated. tasted really nice after

The chocolate cake that Michael had whipped up the day before tasted really good after all that boat work.

Pelsheart Group – Abrolhos Islands

Wednesday 4th April

We’ve just spent a couple of relaxing days at the Pelshaert Group, the southern most islands in the abrolhos. After arriving just after lunch, we decided our legs needed a bit of land based action so off we went for a 3km walk across millions and millions of dead shells and broken coral. We were aiming for the light house but stopped just short to watch some professional surfers being towed into 8 foot barrels by jet skis. There was a guy filming on shore for a Fuel TV doco. Amazing how long they disappeared into the barrel before reappearing successfully. There were crews from a couple of other power boats there – we were the only yacht amongst 4 other stink boats.

Back at the dingy, michael managed to both start the dingy and clunk Elaine in the head at the same time. Ice for both Elaine’s head and michael’s hand. Ouch!!! The G&T and some fresh crayfish seemed to do a better job of removing the swelling. Everyone retired early to get over the previous night’s night watches and all slept soundly and late.

Next day out came the fishing lines after we saw a school of fish swim by. The scoreline at the end of the day looked fairly dismal – fish 3 Camelot 0. We had a small shovel nose shark take a fancy to the tuna on the end of the hook and he kept coming back and taking the bait and the hooks. Nothing much else happened on a very lazy day. That night we sat down and laughed our heads off watching Tim Minchen live at Royal Albert Hall.

Next morning it’s up early to sail to the Middle Group.

Do just once what others say you cannot do and you will never pay attention to their limitations again …. Captain James Cook

20120405-154036.jpg

20120405-135940.jpg

Easter Group – Abrolhos Islands

Thursday 5th April

We got up early (well 7 something), had breakfast, and prepared to leave. The new stripper on the anchor winch decided to misbehave and that delayed us a bit whilst we retightened it back to the boat. Mmm – hope this doesn’t misbehave itself all the way round.

Underway and out went the fishing lines. Going through the narrow passageway between the reefs we got two strikes both at once. Bit hard to slow the boat going down wind with reefs either side so we ended up losing both. Lost a lure in the process.

But all was not lost – Elaine pulled in a spotted mackerel half an hour later. On the way to the Easter Group we decided to stop and fish on Gee Banks (where brad caught a dhufish last trip). No dhufish this time but two lovely baldchin groper. Can’t complain about that. There was a bit of excitement when Elaine hooked a small shark – she was quite relieved when it took the line – saved us cutting it.

Off to the middle group, we planned to enter via the south passage but after reading the warnings on the charts and seeing the swell still up we decided we’d take the long way around and enter via the Rolland passage. This added about an hour to our trip, which gave us enough time to cook Mr. and Mrs. baldchin. What beautiful sweet meat that was. I could still remember eating one from last time.

Having chosen a different entry point we chose a different anchorage. We went past Rat Island (don’t you love that name!) and picked up a mooring at White Banks. There was a cray boat on the other mooring so off went amanda to try and barter some beers in return for some crays. Didn’t get very far as it illegal for cray fishermen to sell their crabs off the back of the boat.

Next stop was a trip to the sandy mini island that is white banks to visit the sealions. There was a big male living there along with his harem and a few pups. A few came into the water and gave us a show leaping out of the water and generally showing off.