Mendana – Journal #1

We are off! It’s hard to believe that more that two weeks have past since we finally left Fremantle. We motored out of Success harbour at 09:40 on Thursday the 10th March with our diesel blowing great gouts of black smoke and generally misbehaving.

At the time this was attributed to a heavily fouled prop, and the engine sound proofing I had fitted the day before blocking the air intake. It wasn’t until we had to sail out of Mandurah at 02:30, a couple of days later, that the real extent of the problem became apparent. Later that morning on the sail south to Bunbury we described the sick engine’s symptoms to Doug Barber aboard Cartref via HF radio. He and Mary were anchored at Quindalup waiting for favourable weather to round Cape Naturaliste and Leeuwin. Doug’s prognosis wasn’t good, and without hesitating he and Mary weighed anchor and motored back north to Bunbury to assist. Four days, three cracked pistons and over a $1000 dollars in spare parts and machining later and our little yanmar was ready run once more. We will forever be in Doug and Mary’s debt for their wonderful generosity and assistance, it would have been a heartbreaking task to face on our own.

From Bunbury we sailed south a day behind Cartref, stopping at Quindalup for a day’s rest, before moving on. We rounded Cape Naturaliste the next day, and Cape Leeuwin the day following, after an overnight stop at beautiful Hamelin bay. The notorious and formidable Cape Leeuwin greeted us with glassy seas and judging by the forecast we thought we would have to motor all the way to Albany. However as the sun set a gusty southerly sprang up and both yachts had a fast and boisterous sail through that night and most of the next day. Late afternoon on Monday 21st March we motored past the stately granite domes that protect the entrance to Albany and into Oyster Harbour. Our anchorage at Johnson cove near Emu point has to rank as one of the prettiest we’ve so far visited. The untouched bush on the hill that protects Oyster harbour to the south comes right down to the water’s edge. Kookaburras and a sea eagle guard the big jarrahs that fringe the white beach just a stone’s throw from our anchored boats.

The approaching winter and friends waiting in Esperance urged us onwards and after a week in Albany catching up with family and outstanding boat chores we are on our way further east. Last night we dropped the pick in ‘Two Peoples Bay’ just a few miles east of Albany after a pleasant half day’s motor sail from Oyster Harbour, and now this morning we are motoring towards Investigator Island about 140 nautical miles further to the east. We plan to arrive there some time late tomorrow morning and stay one or two nights before crossing the remaining 60 or so miles to Esperance.

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