Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is it getting better? Around NW Cape and into the warm.

Tantabiddi gave us all a bit of a shake up and it took a few good days before we started to feel comfortable again. There were anxious glances at any passing cloud bank and obtaining the scheduled weather report on the HF radio was like a regular prayer meeting. SE winds 13-18 knots for the next four days. Halleluiah!
Unfortunately, rounding NW Cape added another dimension to our stress. Being on the tip of the enormous Exmouth Gulf, the tide with its 2.5 metres ebb and flow creates great areas around the cape of overflows, whirlpools and swirling water. Of course Murphy stepped in (it had nothing to do with us not checking the tides) and we had to push against a massive tide. With engines near full revs and the boat being pushed off course we crept forward at 3 knots. We made it through but the 48 mile hop to Serrurier took much longer than we expected and much relieved we dropped anchor just before the sun set.
This lovely island may be a bit of a turning point. Serrurier Island, named by the French explorer Baudin is one of our favourite anchorages along this coast. It has long sandy beaches and easy anchorage in sandy bottomed turquoise waters. At last the winds had dropped and we could enjoy the simple pleasures of cruising. A long walk along a virginal deserted beach fossicking amongst the shells and washed up coral. We fired up the BBQ on the back of the boat for the first time and enjoyed a companionable evening with Frank and Karen eating and drinking in the cockpit as the sun went down. This may not seem like much, but it was the first time in nearly two months of so call “cruising” that we really felt like we were actually doing it. Cruising that is.

Moon rise over Serrurier Island
Another first was a snorkel on the fringing reef around Serrurier Island. The coral was pretty ordinary, but the numbers and colours of the fish were amazingly aquarium like. In actual fact it was a bit too cold really for snorkelling without a wet suit, but we had to do it, the water looked too inviting.  It took a good while to warm up on the beach before we could tackle the dinghy ride back to the boat in wet bathers. We spent two wonderful days at the island before we pointed our bow towards the coast and the dusty red town of Onslow.
Onslow is a mining town that services the oil rigs off shore and it has that real out back feel to it, with its red dirt, wide deserted streets and a few basic shops. We thought we would treat ourselves to a meal out. We had heard of a five star restaurant, of all things, that was a must do. Unfortunately, not open on Saturday nights. We had to settle for a meal at the pub. Saturday night at the Onslow pub, now that was going to be interesting. We took our place at the end of a long cue to place our orders and after ten minutes queuing wondered how long a wait we had in front of us. We were pleasantly surprised by the efficiency of the kitchen and enormous plates stacked high with good wholesome tucker were in front of us in no time. I had fish and chips the size of which would have fed three people and it was, I must say magnificent. In Perth you are lucky to get a bit of cheap fish, but here I got Sweet Lip which was to die for.  In the NW you do get the best fish. This of course was no candle lit dinner with white linen table cloths and attentive waiters. We sat at plastic tables and chairs in a rough court yard that got a lick of paint maybe 15 years ago. No muted jazz music wafted over the contented diners, but the raucous yells and barracking of a small crowd watching the footy.  With each point scored there was a huge uproar and with each loss, much yelling and swearing. I had thought about asking if there was anything else on the tellie, but maybe that would not have been wise. We left the Onslow pub, well fed, but early, before the entertainment got too carried away. (the eagles went on to lose against St Kilda by 21 points, probably a good to move to get out early before the tears started....RM)

Motley keeping watch

Motley manning the main halyard

I  give up.....I have to do everything around here!
At time of writing we are slowly picking our way towards Dampier where we will stay for a while and rest up while we wait for delivery of our new main sail. The weather so far has been very kind with light winds and sunny skies. A lot of motoring of course, but we will take a day of motoring over too much or adverse winds any day.

Just out of Dampier, a Mackerel Tuna.....gave quite a fight, the line nearly slicing Rob's fingers.
PS Arrived safely in Dampier. Tied up to a mooring (thanks Col) and loving the thought of having a rest and not having to move on for a little while.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog and after sailing Freo to Carnarvon with Tony I can feel your pain (and a little of your nice times) ... I was at Coral Bay and Exmouth over the school holidays (in car) and that wasn't all rosy either ... too many people (other tourists), too crowded and expensive caravan/camp sites made me say to myself 'bring back the yacht, I'm sure it will be ok once I get use to the cruising lifestyle' ... so keep going and I hope to be in your wake next year ...