CRUISING THE ABROLHOS.....OR DUCKING FROM ONE SHELTER TO THE NEXT
Well we can’t stay behind this island shelf forever. We have to get out there and see why so many people love the Abrolhos. We left Middle Island and ventured south into the rock strewn guts of the Pelsaert Group. We were warned to have someone keep watch on the bow for rocks and reef. We crawled southwards to the ruin of the Guano Jetty. In fact it wasn’t as treacherous as I thought and there even port and starboard lateral marks to lead the way. It still took us ages to creep only a few miles. The Pelsaert Island gave us a bit more shelter to anchor behind, but you could still see over the island to the open sea on the other side. An optical illusion made the ocean level look higher than the island which was a bit disconcerting. Looking over there we were rather glad to be anchored where we were on not in the mish mash of troubled seas to the east. I was still feeling anxious about whether the anchor would hold. It looked like we were anchored in sand, but it could just have easily been shallow sand over a base of solid limestone. Sleep was troubled as the wind continued to howl in from the north east. It did calm down slightly in the afternoons, but the respite was minimal. We are still not comfortable with this cruising life style. We just have to toughen up. (Princess) Even Motley remains doggedly (?) in her cupboard until the anchor is dropped.
We were able to get off the boat and walk over the coral strewn Pelsaert Island and look at the rough fisherman’s camp and the ruins of the old guano trade. It was great to stretch the legs and I walked along the beach to say hello to a basking seal.
|West side of Pelsaert|
|East side of Pelsaert Island|
|There once was a tale of a cast away.....|
Getting north was much easier now we knew the way and we headed towards beautiful White Bank where there were moorings. At last I could sleep without worrying that the anchor was going to drag, ending us up on the rocks. White Bank is the cutest of little islets about the size of football field. It has perfect little white beaches and some low green vegetation. Add a palm tree and you would have the classic cartoon desert island. We alighted ashore and claimed the island for ourselves, but found that we were not the only ones there. There we two families of seals sleeping nestled in the sandy hollows of the vegetation. Each group appeared to consist of a mother and calf. They are obviously used to strangers and they started cavorting in the shallows near us perhaps waiting for a hand out. They followed us back to the dinghy and escorted us back to the boat until they realized that we had no treats for them. A charted fishing and diving boat pulled up nearby and we watched as the seals and divers frolicked together. Rob did think momentarily about going in for a dip, but it was only a fleeting thought. It’s still too cold.....and WINDY!
|White Bank Easter Group|
|Come and play!|
We were pretty determined to keep heading north so we left our lovely big fat safe mooring to head up to the Easter Group, about a 15 miles sail to the north. Ugh! What a nightmare. With the winds forecast to ease in the afternoon and the need to approach any new anchorage in good light we set the bow north. The wind was still around 20 -25 knots, but the seas were like rows of brick walls marching towards the boat. The Doctor performed admirably and only fell off the back of the waves a few times. Rob steered like a pro surfer paddling up the waves and sliding down the other side. Down below was a shambles with cushions and books all over the place. Motley had chosen this day of all, to come out of her cupboard and stay up on deck. She was not happy and laid a big poo on the cockpit cushion. (New by the way. Paid a fortune.) Of course there was no way she would be able to use her tray which is up near the bow. Being in the plunging bow would be interesting in these conditions even if you weren’t trying to balance over a cat litter tray that was sliding all around. As promised the wind dropped down bit by bit and the seas abated. We were looking forward to an all- weather, sheltered anchorage, ringed by reef and with two lovely moorings available. As we approached the lee of the islands the seas smoothed out and we were feeling good. Maybe we have got this place sussed after all. We turned the corner into the anchorage. No moorings! We had got our information terribly wrong. We circled around and around the anchoring hole looking for some shallow water to anchor in. We found shallow water all right but it was only shallow because there was a bank of reef. Time and daylight were running out so we had to commit to anchoring in 20 metres of water, something we had never done before. We carry 60 metres of chain attached to our anchor and ideally you should have a ratio of 1:5 in strong wind conditions. We would have 1:3 if lucky. We were utterly disappointed. The anchorage was well protected with its ring of reef, but deep. Too deep. The anchor grabbed on to what sounded like rock but held fast even as we pulled back hard on to it using the motor. Bloody hell, another sleepless night coming up. We put on the anchor alarm on the GPS and bunked down for the night not knowing what was in store. With a limited mobile signal we managed to contact our family back at home, and friends, Frank and Karen on Kokomo. They were back in the water after being hauled out in Geraldton. The propeller shaft had been straightened and all made good. They were heading over to join us the next day. It would be good to have company. It has been a bit lonely out here.