North till the Butter Melts

Thu 24 Sep 2020 02:20
28:19.24S 111:22.55E

Looking back for a Moment

We were so pleased to be back in the water at Emu Point after six months on the hard and Johnson’s Cove was a perfect place to be moored for a few days. The time also gave us the opportunity of taking two contrasting walks ashore. The first to explore some of the contours of the area, up to Mt Martin, which wasn’t the place for panoramic views because of the healthy flora all around us; but we did come across stands of the lovely Scarlet Banksia and a solitary Cowslip Orchid a rare find.

The second walk took us around the shoreline to which we had looked so many times on our perambulations from Zoonie in the yard. The Voyager’s Park was a treat for me. To actually stand where so many visiting navigators and botanists had landed many years ago during the exploratory voyages was food for thought; just a pity a wheeled vehicle had been down and churned up the delicate layer of green on the soft sand; he would have driven from miles away to do that. I would like to have been able to travel back through time and discuss passage planning with Matthew Flinders and maybe flora discoveries with his botanist.

However the best thing about being moored there was spending some time with Ian and Maurice, two great buddies who like nothing better than to race their boats across to Albany for a coffee and then race them back again. Maurice has an Etchel, an ex-racing boat and Ian, a doctor is the proud owner of Maid Marion a classic lady built in 1947 of Jarra only below the waterline, “Because it opens up like crazy above the waterline” Ian said.

Maurice is a rigger and I put that in the present tense because part of his enjoyment of retirement is to give freely his skills to us sailors. He had helped John and Carole with the erection of their two masts on their 50 foot Wharram design cat they have built from plans. A big day for them and what a transformation that was, from a boat under construction to a fine sailing yacht ready for the ocean. It was John who suggested Rob examine the rudder bearing as the cause of our steering stiffness; how right he was.

Soon after Maurice returned to the mooring he uses, he rowed over to us in his beautiful little tender, homebuilt from scraps around the yard to his own design and perfect for rowing, and asked if we would like him to check our rig for us, “It’s a big undertaking ahead of you both.” Not being one to look that proverbial gift horse in the mouth I accepted his offer straight away. We decided it would happen on the morrow.

Rob and I had just returned from our second walk and Maurice had just tied up once more when we noticed his dinghy was making a bolt for freedom. Ian cast off and was rushing towards it in Maid Marion, trying to reach it before it floated over very shallow water. But then suddenly he turned back, something was very wrong with his engine. He made it back to the buoy before turning it off. I was making ready the outboard so we could retrieve the dinghy when Maurice called across to just use the oars. So Rob rowed over, dropped me off with Ian and collected Maurice and off they went in hot pursuit.

Ian’s engine was smelling very hot but at least he was safe on the mooring. We chatted over a mug of tea while watching the two rescuers chasing the dinghy. For a while the gap between them seemed to widen but then all of a sudden they were connected and, joined by our painter, they were both rowing each dinghy home.

A few minutes later Ian was winching Maurice up our mast while I tailed the line. Maurice had declined a second halyard being attached to him as is our practice, but I guessed Ian had been his hoist before and Maurice trusted his friend to look after his safety. After a thorough inspection up aloft and around the decks he was pleased there was nothing about to give way but he did suggest we eventually turn around the bolt that holds the forestay and furled genoa to the pulpit as at present the weight was on the split pin. Rob tapped the bolt with a hammer so the pin no longer touches forestay.

Our friends declined the offer of hospitality as they wanted to sail Maid Marion back into the marina at Emu Point so Ian could sort out the engine. So we were alone on our mooring in Johnson’s Cove for our last night in Oyster Bay.

At 8.00am the next sunny morning, as agreed with Kylie, we approached Emu Point and waved and called out as we passed Kylie, Chris, Abbey, Zoe and Isabelle (who was on springs) and made our way gently into King George Sound. What a wonderful send off. The family then drove to Kings Point where we had watched the submarine leave a few days before and they continued to watch Zoonie until she had passed Bald Head and was out of site. We hope they will visit us in England one day.

Cape Leeuwin looked so grey and benign as we motor-sailed past our memories were stirred back to when we passed South Cape off Tasmania, the first of the three Great Capes we will pass when the weather was equally kind. Cape Leeuwin being the second and Cape Agulhas the third.

On course directly for Fremantle and with a fine sailing breeze I watched as whales breached in the far distance from whence we had come.

The very next morning the life-raft was returned to us and soon back in position. We met up again with Gavin from Infanta, his lovely Island Packet he lives aboard and he invited us over for a coffee.

Later, after our Round House visit in town we were sitting in the bar at Fremantle Sailing Club when in strolled Mark, from Albany, with Kareena, they had been on a business trip and the coincidence meant we could say a final goodbye, after a beer of course.

There was a strong blow due at the weekend so we arranged with Border Force (customs) to clear out on the Monday and Rob went off to rummage for a plank of wood to make a second bargeboard. Also we moved Zoonie to a slightly more sheltered spot where there would be less exposure to the wind.

That evening we watched the episode of Outlander that covered the battle of Prestonpan, a rare victory for the Highland Scots. As it concluded we could hear bagpipes, but the programme had closed on the computer. Were we indeed able to pass back through time and hear the rallying cry at the time of the battle? What a thought. It was the Club’s own Bagpipe Band practising upstairs just a few metres away!

Inclement weather meant we could visit the Maritime Museum and Shipwreck Museum (perhaps not such a good idea when one is about to set off across the Indian Ocean!) and well worth a visit they were too. Sustenance took the form of a shared skinny pizza and small beer at what were once station buildings by the wharves on the Swan River which leads to Perth and then we sat on the Ferris wheel for four delightful revolutions as it rose through the Norfolk Pines to give us a fine views over the bay with all the harbours and marinas and shoreside buildings.

North ‘Till the butter melts

Departure Day came on the 21st September and the Border Force were due at 1400 hrs. Time then for a quick walk in to town with our dear friends Malcolm and Christine for lunch and a beer at the Sail and Anchor before a smooth inspection and lines aboard. Gavin waved us off from the end of his pontoon as we motored out of the marina into a wind as patchy as a pirate’s pants and rain showers.

The sun rose the next morning and took a shower, at least that was what it looked like from where I was sitting.


We are motoring again right now in light airs that won’t allow us to fly the diva as we had hoped. The barometer has dropped 6 millibars since yesterday so hopefully that will bring a blow we can use. We are heading for a spot south of the Cocos Islands and will turn towards Reunion when we are happy we are in the SE Trades.

We had a night and day of winds over 20 knots which would have been great if it were not for the 2= knot SW current against us that we only identified when we looked in the Indian Ocean Pilot. Fortunately we moved out of it last night, but into very light airs! Frustrating.

Some unusual entertainment came along yesterday afternoon when all the house flies that were banned from landing in Western Australia because of the pandemic decided to come and land on us instead and inspect the inside of Zoonie’s cabin. There aren’t any flying around at the moment, they are all in the bin!

Zoonie is presently under full sail with Henry steering us northwards at 3.6 knots. I am more than happy to proceed at the pace of Cook’s collier. Des, our weather guru, confirmed that the westerly we are getting is a gift from the low to the south and we should move on to the south east corner of a new high in the next three days, which will give us southerlies becoming south easterlies and enable us to turn westwards at 26’S 138 miles from here.

Des likened crossing the IO like eating an African Elephant, one small bite at a time and hope you get there before you reach the elephant’s posterior. Well the approaching High on our Grib File looks like that part of the big fellas anatomy, so I questioned how it is we are starting at the rear end? I think we will climb aboard using his tail and scramble up along his back, taking a slide down his trunk into Reunion; don’t you?!