Miss Cath refitted, back in the water and Cruising again.
Cruising has resumed after the yacht Miss Cath, owned by Carol & Phil Michelides, has undergone a refit and commenced a journey to the Sunshine Coast. Miss Cath is currently in Darwin until October/November 2015, when the trade winds normally allow some wind direction changes to get to Cape York and down the east coast. Phil is actively looking for crew to join him on the next leg of his journey.
In February 2013 Miss Cath was hauled out of the water at Hillarys boat harbour and transported by Haulcraft boat transporter to the industrial site of Malaga, about 20 Klms inland. Once there she was craned onto a custom made cradle that was constructed by Greg Fraser from Orbital Welding. Miss Cath was to become a feature of Gregs working days for some time to come. Like many major refit jobs the time schedule was to blow out from 3 months to 17months! The works carried out over the next year and a half included all new standing rigging, mast compression post modified to include new deck directly between it and the new tabernacle, new centre hatch, new toe rails, fitting of Aries wind vane, installing new Super Wind wind generator, new Raymarine chart plotter, new VHF radio, High gain Next G mast top antenna and onboard wifi router and AIS system. Internally all new wiring complete with 24 LED lights, redesigned forward leakproof hatch, hull lining throughout, new dodger and new shade covers. Also a new 3 blade folding prop and self tailing primary winches and a brand new headsail from Doyle sails, the mast was repainted and a new cockpit sole (non slip) installed and many more things too numerous to mention. The practical assistance, support and encouragement from Greg and the staff at Orbital Welding was utterly invaluable.
We finally relaunched her in September 2014 and berthed her back at Mindarie marina, where we quickly ran some sea trials preparing for the intended voyage across the Great Australian Bight to the eastern seaboard, and onwards to the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Phil and Mike (his crew member) set out from Mindarie marina on 14th October 2014, a glorious sunny day, and charted a course out to sea in a moderate SE wind, headed for Albany. We sailed into the night on a course SW, out to sea about 40 Nm before tacking back hoping to make Cape Naturaliste. Unfortunately the dreaded seasickness struck, most likely due to a lack of sea time before we left, and so we decided that we should go into Koombana Bay, Bunbury to get our sea legs before we continued. Then the bomb shell went off! Mike told me he was getting off and returning home to Perth, he didn’t give me a reason and I don’t know to this day why. I felt it was best that I didn’t ask him. I considered my options and returned to Mindarie to find new crew. It was now decided that that the best option was to try to find a new crew member and to sail around the top to the final destination, Queensland. I found a new crewman who had the time but had almost no sailing experience. And so Robert joined me.
We set sail from Mindarie late April 2015 and made our way north coastal sailing and day sailing as much as practical. We docked at Two Rocks the first night, much to my wife’s amusement (its about 40 minutes drive from our home) and had a meal at the local restaurant before getting our heads down for the night. We departed 0705 Two Rocks for Lancelin, after which we sailed from there on Roberts first overnighter to Port Denison. We had 28 knot WSW winds and choppy seas and then had to motor sail into Port Denison. By that time the wind was on the nose for a 10 Nm approach into port. We spent 3 nice days there and met some interesting people and had an enjoyable time. We departed Port Denison at 0600 hrs 30/4/15 and had smooth sailing with NNE winds and arrived at Geraldton at1430 Hrs. We berthed at the DPI marina pens for a very nice extended stay in Geraldton, waiting for some strong winds and poor weather to pass. We arranged with two other yacht owners to cruise in company to our next anchorage which was Sandy Point in Shelter Bay and from there our yachting company left us and we continued up to Broadhurst Bight (Cape Peron).
The next day we sailed to Carnarvon which has a winding, narrow entry into what is called a “fascine”. We were fortunate to be able to tie off onto a public mooring. We stayed there two days, where we re-provisioned fuel, water and food and departed Carnarvon on a high tide at 0400 Hrs 12/5/15 headed for Cape Cuvier 55 Nm North. We dropped the pick at 1730 hrs in the shelter of a cliff near the salt loading facility at Cape Cuvier. Departed Cape Cuvier at 0200hrs for Point Maud in Bateman Bay and dropped anchor at 1730hrs in the bay. We spent the next day waiting for more favourable winds and then moved into more sheltered water at Boat Passage. The wind was still gusting to 30knots from the north. At 1100 the next day we sailed to Point Cloats and from there to Norwegian Bay. The next destination, Tantabbidi, turned out to have no holding. After using two types of anchor and then diving on the anchors to see that the bottom was flat rock with a thin layer of sand over it in places, I made a decision to depart Tantabbidi at 0400 hrs and head for Dampier.
We sailed and motored for two days and two nights until we came across large areas of floating sea weed that got sucked into the engine heat exchanger and blocked the flow of cooling water to point were the engine was starved from cooling and steam started appear from the exhaust outlet. By slowing the engine we managed to get to an anchorage off Great Sandy Island and drop anchor at 1830 hrs. The next day I removed the blockage by removing the end cap from the heat exchanger stack tubes and removing the weed. We departed Great Sandy Island the next day and set sail again for Dampier. An overnight sail got us into Mermaid straight and motoring against the tide and wind at 2 knots to finally arrive in Dampier Hampton Harbour at 1630hrs 22/5/15. We were well looked after by the Dampier Harbour Sailing club and had some very enjoyable days there before the next leg to Broome. The lady at Dampier Sailing club even let us use her car to get to Karratha for shopping and re provisioning.
At 1245 hrs we departed for Broome in small choppy seas and a 15Knot SE breeze with no moon at night. We sailed for 4 days and on the fourth night dropped anchor at Cable Beach Broome at 2230hrs, with 55 meters of chain out plus 30 meters of rope to deal with the 7.1 meter tide. Our stay in Broome was made easy and very comfortable by friends Bob and Marie Kiss and other yachties. Fantastic good will and generosity with a van and mooring supplied. We departed Broome at 0800hrs on 5/6/15, headed for James Price Point where we arrived at 1600hrs, then headed for Beagle Bay arriving there by 1745hrs with a 0.7m low tide and a 6.7m high (all chain was out plus rope). The next anchorage was made at Cape Leveque. We met Jason and Fiona on the cat Kinetic Energy in Dampier and were invited to sail in company and also to see some of the sights that we didn’t intend to go to because our inflatable was not easy to deploy from the V berth and seemed too much effort for just for one day, so they offered to collect us in their fast 15 HP tender and took us to see the sights. We sailed and motored (little wind) to Copper Mine Creek and to Silver Gull Creek were we got to go to the well known water tank meet the remote residents and enjoy a refreshing swim in the constant fresh water that runs through the water tank (this place has become a popular tour destination for chartered boats large and small).
After leaving Silver Gull Creek we headed for Raft Point and then Deception Bay were we needed to leave Kinetic Energy because our fuel and food supply was getting a little too low to provide a safe margin. We departed Decision Bay at 0530hrs on 16/6/15 and intended to sail to Darwin which proved to be challenging because of head winds, currents and no wind and the lack of a prop that could dive the boat forward at 1200 RPH which is our most fuel efficient rev range. We decided that we should divert to Broome Napier bay (McGowan Beach) to get more fuel and food provisions. The wind and current situation was testing my patience as our attempt to sail or motor into the mouth of Broome Napier Bay had to be aborted. The sharp tide combined with wind waves and failing wind strength (head wind) could not be overcome by tacking so we turned and headed down wind to hide behind Sir Graham Moore Island. Our new approach to get into Broome Napier Bay was now going to be through the Geranium Harbour channel against a head wind gusting to 20 kts direct on the nose, bare pole under motor at 2 knots @2000 RPM SOG; this took 2 or 3 hours to cover 2 or 3 Nm until we could get some angle off the wind to motor sail and then sail only and then motor sail into McGowan Beach.
We filled the empty jerrycans with 90 Litres of diesel and got some more food supplies from a small store that can only be reached by vehicle at Kalumburu. Cost of vehicle use $80! We waited for a strong wind warning to subside and departed for the crossing of the Bonaparte Gulf which took 3 days and 3 nights. We dropped anchor in Fannie Bay at 0730 NT time.
ADDIT: from the wife – Phil will be staying in Darwin until late October 2015, during which time he will leave Miss Cath for a week (yes – I know – a big ask) to attend his sons wedding in Lombok, before returning to Darwin to re-commence the journey to Queensland. Phil is in the Bayview Marina and enjoying spending time exploring Darwin on a bicycle, and catching up with family members and friends. His crewman Robert has bought himself a camper van and is currently in Townsville en route back to Perth. He is having a life changing experience. Phil is actively looking for crew to join him on the voyage from Darwin to Queensland, so if you feel the need for a sea change……