25 December 2017

Tasmania Dreaming

Katmai in her "pen" at Fremantle Sailing Club
The last part of 2017 has been spent preparing for a 1900 nautical mile offshore passage from Fremantle, Western Australia to Tasmania, Australia.  We plan to make the voyage during January 2018, assuming we can get a decent weather window.  For the first time, we'll make the passage on Katmai with one additional person, a friend from Tasmania.  This Southern Ocean voyage can be rather challenging!
Eric replacing the mainsail 'tell tails'
The last several weeks have been spent attended to many small things  on Katmai and we made some improvements as well.  The list includes:
- Installing a new system on the boat, an IridiumGO! with a subscription via PredictWind.  Combined, they will allow us to get weather forecasts/data as well as send basic emails while at sea over the iridium satellite network.  In the past we have relied on our HF radio to do this, and while that is still possible, technology moves fast and fewer and fewer shore based HF Winlink radio stations are available.  So far, we have been happy with the Iridium.
-  We replaced all the sealing gaskets on the opening hatches.  Last year we replaced the acrylic lenses, so it was time to complete the renewal of the windows.
- Installed a manual foot pump for the fresh water system on the boat, so we can get fresh water from the tanks even if we lose power.

Inspecting the Main sail on the lawn at the Club
- Eric modified the way the storm trysail hoists, and checked all sails and made a few minor repairs.

- A long list of miscellaneous items was also accomplished including procuring additional marine charts for the new regions we will sail through, and importantly checking all boat systems and inventories.

OK, there was a fair bit of socializing with old and new friends in Perth and at the yacht club.  Laurie also found some time to catch a batch or two of lovely blue swimmer crabs.
Merry Christmas Everyone!

03 December 2017

Clipper Round the World Race boats in Fremantle

The Clipper race fleet departing Dec 2 from Fremantle, Australia

We arrived back in Fremantle to our sailboat Katmai just before the arrival of the Clipper Around the World race boats arrived from their last stop in South Africa. It was wonderful to see so much activity around the Fremantle Sailing Club during the 10 days or so that the fleet of 11 boats were hosted. One of the entries was from Seattle, and it was this boat we able to tour during the open house day.

The seventy foot long boats carry a crew of up to 20 or so people, people from every walk of life. Many without sailing experience but with a huge appetite for adventure. The restart of the race was Dec 2nd, with this third leg of the voyage from Fremantle on the west coast of Australia, across the Southern Ocean and up the east coast of Australia to the city of Sidney. We watched the race on the website race viewer as for most of the journey they took a similar route that we plan on taking from Fremantle to Hobart, Tasmania in January 2018. The whole atmosphere was very festive and colorful here at the club.

19 February 2017

Sailing Along - Fremantle to Cape Naturaliste

January 25 - February 5, 2017

Katmai's Sailing Route
We were delighted and really excited to have our nephew Kristean and his partner Katie join us in Australia for a several weeks, which included a two week sail down the west coast and back to Fremantle.  We cruised about 250 miles, stopping in Mandurah, Bunbury, Meelup Bay, Port Geographe Marina (Busselton) and Garden Island for the evenings. We had fantastic weather with morning easterly winds to help us make tracks south before the afternoon southerly seabreeze arrived.  On the way back, we sailed a long day leaving Bunbury just before sunrise and arriving at the north end of Garden Island by 4 pm, a distance of about 75 miles. Below are a few of our favorite photos from this trip.  

Success at crab fishing in Bunbury.  These local blue crabs are sweet and tasty

The sunset at Meelup Bay was breath-taking

We also took at 3 day road trip down to the Margaret River area to enjoy the beaches, forests and even a few wineries. We also took at 3 day road trip down to the Margaret River area to enjoy the beaches, forests and even a few wineries.

Near Augusta, the Wrenwood Chalets are our favorite place to stay when in the wine country.
Great Kangaroo viewing, lots of bird life and lovely proprietors
One of the two Chalets at Wrenwood.
 Amazing coastal forest of Marri and grass trees is home to diverse wildlife.
Kangaroos come out to feed in the early evening in at the forest edge.
Hiking in the Bonarup Forest is one of our favorite things to do in SW Australia.

A male Fairy Wren in his blue splendor.   Seems to be a blue theme going on!

There are also numerous hikes along the coast through the coastal heath habitat.
Miles and miles of coastline is preserved in the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park and makes for wonderful hiking and beach walking.

The Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean at Cape Leeuwin

Cape Leeuwin lighthouse sits on one of the 5 great capes of the world.
A refreshing swim at "Cozy Corner" beach after a long hot hike.

We had a nice spinnaker run on the way back to Garden Island from Bunbury

And finally a lovely view of Perth from King's Park overlook

19 January 2017

Hatch Lens Replacement

Removing the old lenses from the hatches.
After 30 years, it was time to replace the acrylic lenses in Katmai's hatches.  We spent two weeks in January finally completing the project.  The original lenses were crazed and a couple had small cracks.  In 2015, we tried to source new acyclic in Australia but were unable to get 'cast' acrylic as recommended by boat manufacturer. 

Installing the bedding compound
Back in the USA, Beneteau recommended we contact Tony at SelectPlastics.com who specializes in repairing and replacing marine hatch and porthole lenses.  Tony provided a lot of advice and supplied cut  ChemCast GP Cast Acrylic in slightly oversized blanks of the various sizes and thicknesses we needed.  He shipped them to us in Seattle before our departure and we carried them, well packed/padded, as checked luggage when we flew to Perth late last year.  Yes, it was a bit awkward travelling with about 75 lbs of acrylic lenses in two rather large boxes, but it was worth it!  (and the airlines were fantastic by the way with these oversized 'bags'!)

New lenses in the deck top hatches
We removed the old lenses and used them as templates to shape the new ones.  Fortunately, woodworking tools can be used to shape cast acrylic and on Tony's advice we used new plastic drill bits and new router bits.  We also greatly appreciate the advice and help we got from Tracey at Perth Wood School! We are very fortunate to have the Perth Wood School as a resource for various woodworking projects when we are in Perth.  It is a fantastic facility, with wonderful people and really nicely arranged workshop/tools. 

Meanwhile the big job of preparing the hatch hardware to receive new lenses commenced.  The hatches were cleaned, serviced and all the old silicone removed in preparation of bedding the new lenses.  We used the recommendations from Tony again, and bedded the main deck hatch new lenses with Sika 295UV and applied the manufacturer recommended primers etc.  For the small side portlights we installed the new lenses using Dow 795, the same product that is used to attach windows into skyscrapers,  that should be good enough for us!

It was a big project that took 14 very long days, but we are really happy with the results.

And now, it is back to sailing with the arrival of our nephew and his friend! 

06 January 2017

Bunbury to Fremantle

At Anchor in Bunbury

Enjoying the evening at the
Koombana Bay Sailing Club with fellow sailors from FSC
The anchorage in Koombama Bay, Bunbury is rather large by Australia west coast standards.  Reportedly the name means 'Bay of Spouting Whales' in the local Aboriginal language.  While we did not see any whales, there were a large number or playful porpoise that swam to the bow of Katmai and greeted us as we arrived at the entrance to the bay.  We stayed for two nights, and were fortunate to share the company of several boats from the Fremantle Sailing Club and the hospitality of the Koombana Bay Sailing Club. 

I tried my hand at fishing and crabbing from the boat.  The local crabs are called Blue Swimmers, and I finally did catch one, but (of course) it was undersized, so went back to the sea.  A few small herrings, and one large ray that fortunately got away were all the fish that I caught.  Par for my course with fishing! 

We departed before 5 am on Wednesday, January 4th bound for the north end of Garden Island where we planned to anchor for the night.  One of the FSC boats, Divided Sky, left with us so it was great to sail in company of another boat.  Winds were mostly light southeasterly to southwesterly and we did a bit of sailing and motoring to make the 75 miles by late afternoon. 

Garden Island from the cockpit on Katmai
It did feel good to stop for the evening at the northern end of Garden Island.  Garden Island is only about 7 miles from our home harbor at Fremantle, and is a lovely place.  The area has a long history and was one of the first places Europeans settled, until a harbor was established in Perth/Fremantle.  Later during the mid 1900's it was marketed as a vacation
A nice view of Divided Sky as she passed us at Garden Island

Small holiday homes were removed when the Australian Navy took control of the island in 1978.  The southern end of the island is now the base of operations for submarines.  The environment of the island probably has benefited from this, as it has not been developed and still contains many unique species of plants and animals, including the Tammar Wallaby.  The Tammar is a small kangaroo like animal, the size of a rabbit.   There are also walking trails with nice views from the north end of the island.

Enjoying the short sail between
Garden Island and Rockingham

The next day we accompanied Divided Sky south to Rockingham, a place we had never been before.   The trip was very nice morning sail past moored grain cargo ships to the resort area of Rockingham were we picked up a 'courtesy mooring' placed by the Australian Department of Transporation.  The wind was expected to pick up for the evening with the passing of a weather system, so it was great to be in such a large sheltered bay. 

Rockingham has a amazingly lovely  broad sand beach, lots of beach side cafe's and holiday homes.  It hardly feels like Perth is only 14 miles to the north.  Tomorrow, we'll head back to the harbor for a few weeks.
Update, Saturday 7 January: After an crack of dawn sail to Fremantle, we are back in the harbor! As Australian friends would say, we were up before the swallow's.  We'll be here in Fremantle for a couple weeks until our nephew and his GF arrive later in January...then more sailing adventures.

Jetty at Rockingham is a popular place to fish and swim

Our Dinghy on shore and Katmai in the very far distance. 
What a fantastic beach in Rockingham!

A good reminder that pedestrians
do not have any special right of way in Australia. 
At least the rules are very clear!

03 January 2017

Type of Sailing We All Dream About

Early Morning Light
Sailing at last -  Fremantle to Bunbury! 
We departed the Fremantle Sailing Club (FSC) harbor before dawn on New Year’s day for the 35 mile sail south to Mandurah.  We departed at 5 am to catch the morning easterly winds.  The east wind was predicted to shift to the south at noon, and it did.  It was just a fantastic, ideal day of sailing and we arrived Mandurah midday.  By evening several other FSC boats joined us in the anchorage. We were part of the group heading south during the holiday season. 

With several mornings of lovely easterly winds forecast, it was an excellent time to go south.  The predominate summer wind pattern here is easterly winds in the morning, and southerly ‘sea breeze’ winds in the afternoon and evenings.  The southerlies can be quite strong, more of a gale than a breeze at times.  Regardless of strength, wind from the south makes it difficult to sail south, and certainly uncomfortable as the seas tend to be rather lumpy along the coast when the south wind blows!

Cockburn sound is the body of water just outside of the harbor, and it is quite shallow, so Katmai must use the channel that is dredged for cargo ships for at least part of the way.  You can see our zigzag in the first part of the trip as we sail out of the harbor.  Once we rounded the north end of Garden Island, it was a lovely beam reach between the two reef complexes until it was time to make the turn in to Mandurah and anchor off of Robert Point.  It is fantastic to sail as the sunrises; it is so peaceful.
FSC sailboats at anchor with us off Mandurah for the evening of 1 January 2017

Sunset at Robert Point, Mandurah. 

People fishing on the spit at Robert Point, Mandurah

Enjoying the evening in the cockpit

That evening at anchor was just fantastic with a light breeze to cool us off from the days' heat, and a nice sunset with fishers and walkers silhouetted on the beach.
Mandurah to Bunbury
Koniara left with us just before sunrise.
Here her sails glow in the pre-dawn
light of 2 Jan 2017
The next morning, January 2nd, we again departed before sunrise, about 4:30 am with several other FSC boats.  It was a magical ride down the coast on easterly winds that ranged from 10-25 knots.  We were inside of the main reef complex called the ‘Boulevards’. 
We did however keep out eye on the depth sounder at all times as we had about 20 feet under the keel the whole way.  It was once of the nicest sails we ever had, with perfect weather, incredible scenery of the sand dunes along the coast, porpoise, flat seas and turquoise blue water, friends sailing along in their boats and lovely warm light.
We arrived in Bunbury about 1 pm.  It was a lovely 50 mile sail.  There were already several FSC boats here, including ‘Divided Sky and ‘John Barley Corn’.  

We passed by 50 miles of amazing
 coastal sand dunes on the way to Bunbury
By evening, Miss Saigon, Koniara, Pegasus II, Eucalypt and Celeste were all anchored and we did what cruising sailors all over the world do….we took our tender inflatables to shore and shared a few drinks and appetizers and enjoyed the lovely company of friends both old and new.
We plan on staying here for two nights and then returning to Fremantle on Wednesday.  It will give some time to fish and crab and perhaps take a swim!