2020 Aus Keels to Wheels in Albany
Keels to Wheels
Marina Matters in Albany
It is 5.30am on a tranquil blue morning in Emu Point Boat Yard and a Pacific Raven is noisily fighting its reflection in a boat window, its mate calling to it from the deck of another stranded vessel. A lot of excited chatter is coming from the rowing club next door as keen oars folk prepare for an early morning sortie onto the smooth waters of Oyster Bay and I am late starting this blog.
In three days we leave Zoonie for nearly five months and there is still work to do, so today I must get almost up to date with our news; this blogger is never more than ‘almost’ up to date, so that I can tell you of our Perth and beyond adventures as they happen and while they are still fresh in my mind, depending on internet access of course.
Mark has been a constant friend helping us with errands and ideas. He sourced a fuse for the bow thruster, a totally different fuse to anything I have ever seen, and he recently visited us in the yard (also an idea of his for us to come here) and, over a cup of tea, told us about another English couple, Jeremy and Kathy Spencer (the surname is significant late in this blog) who entered Esperance near Woody Island in their Westerly Solway only to be “sent back out into 40 knot winds because their electric and gas installations did not comply with the law.”
Appalled and aroused I said to Rob we had to find them if they are still here if only to congratulate them for crossing the Bight.
Jeannie from Whangarei’s brother Malcolm lives two hours up the Perth road from here and on a visit to his daughter, Kylie just around the corner from us, he and his wife Christine had very kindly brought with them their spare car for our use until we return it to them on our way to Perth this Sunday.
So we drove up over the hill to Albany, noting the P &O Cruise liner Arcadia was in on her detoured circumnavigation to avoid coronavirus stricken parts. Some of the passengers weren’t happy that their long anticipated ports of call were changing, for me it would have become a fascinating mystery voyage, a little like ours as far as destinations are concerned!
Of course we had checked out of the marina, giving back our key fob, so Rob called to the nice chap in his shoe box house boat and he came and opened the gate.
Notice the pontoons occupied only by non-paying feathered gulls from where previously moored vessels have left because of the rising, unaffordable and unjustified prices. It seems ironic that the Minister for Transport in Western Australia majored in……. ECONOMICS!
This is Jeremy and Kathy’s second circumnavigation in their dependable Westerly Solway bilge-keeler Sal Darago and we chatted and shared our stories and routes over two consecutive cups of tea. They were a few days behind us in their crossing and weren’t aware of the moorings at Woody Island, in hindsight how lucky we had been that Hannes told us about them.
They had gone into the Dept of Transport marina at Bandy Creek in Esperance with a 40 knot wind up their tail and were relieved to tie onto something that would let them relax, but not for long. What seemed would be a secure respite for them soon turned into a nightmare when two male employees rudely and aggressively enforced the law on gas and electricity regs and told them they could not stay there unless they arranged for Gas and Electricity engineers to come on board immediately to assess the work, this on the Friday of a bank holiday weekend, another fact unbeknown to newly visiting yachts.
The forecasted wind in the next few hours was to be over 30 knots and as forecasts can understate the conditions, then to be told to leave was inhuman and hostile beyond what we had ever come across. Ironic also that the mantra for the Department of Transport reads ‘responsible for the implementation of the state’s vehicle licensing, MARINE SAFETY, taxi, ports, transport policies.’ The local yacht club berths were all taken and they had had problems getting permission to expand from the Planning Dept, another state Government Agency, surprised are we?
Fortunately there was the town jetty where they spent an uncomfortable night pitching into the strong wind fetching across the bay. Jeremy was up and down checking his vessel and by the morning nine lines were holding her secure. A kind gentleman loaned them his mooring for the weekend as he was going off so they were able to rest and take stock before setting off to Albany.
When we first arrived this same situation arose over the compliance to laws we didn’t even know about, even though they cover all of Australia and New Zealand. It seems only the over-zealous and money minded state government was enforcing them. When we told the courteous lady on the desk that we would be lifting Zoonie soon and not living on board for five months she was happy to waive the requirement.
Jeremy and Kathy had to arrange G and E engineer visits and they passed the electricity requirements with a new, screw on plug for their cable from the boat to the mains socket, but she will need to be lifted to do the gas work, so they planned to leave the marina as soon as an engine part arrived. In the meantime we arranged to meet for Sunday lunch at our ‘local’ The Earl of Spencer. The Earl arrived in Albany in 1833 and became the governor in residence and pioneer for the town, moving in high political circles, his second daughter married Governor George Grey we know from here and Kawau Island New Zealand and his grandson was named after Gov. Grey.
The fact that he shared Kathy and Jeremy’s surname was interesting and unless they have done so already maybe they will check out their ancestry.
This was our third visit to this delightfully cosy pub with its warm welcome to folk since 1884, 45 years after the namesake had died. The first time we came we sat at the bar and consequently chatted to lots of people on both sides of it. Halfway through the evening a shanty band arrived and the bar manager told us their arrival had one of two effects, it either filled or emptied the pub. Fortunately on this evening it filled it and we sang or hummed along to familiar and unfamiliar songs. One singer came out and said he had seen us singing the shanty he had led and did we hear him dedicate it to us circumnavigators? Sadly we hadn’t but how quickly word gets around eh!
As I type Sal Darago is tied up to one of the moorings where we stayed the night before lifting Zoons. Kathy and Jeremy came ashore to chat with us in the yard for a while and I have a sneaky feeling they will disappear west soon, make it to Fremantle and then head across the Indian Ocean months before us. On their first circumnavigation they left in May, just at the end of the cyclone season. We will keep in touch.