Saturday 30 August 2014

Crossing the monster

From anchorage in peaceful Oyster Bay, that's Port Hedland in the distance, about 5 miles away.

We didn’t want to stop at Port Hedland, not particularly yacht friendly as its very industrial, we could see the dust over the town from the water. Susie with her asthma to think about was happy to see it pass by. The place is Australia’s busiest port in terms of tonnage and we’ve been there before by land, I having worked in the place in the 80’s. After an overnight at nearby Oyster Bay we streamed over Port Hedland’s shipping channel, giving way to one ore carrier, who at 5 miles away had given us a blast with its horn, and was heading in for his turn at the loading dock. If we thought Dampier and Port Walcott were big, both with a dozen of so ships waiting outside. Try this place. We counted 40 giant ore carriers anchored in the roads, these were monster ships, with a carrying capacity of 200,000 tons and up. A lot of dirt. We heard another was asking for anchorage on the VHF. The reply was, anchor anywhere, the roads are full. There’s talk of the boom levelling off, but from here, Asia still looks hungry for our dirt and hungry for the steel smelted from it.

Which place typifies the power of the Aussie economy more than any other? Here it is, Port Hedand. Doesn't look much does it?

Small portion of the road stead. I don't possess a lens wide enough to capture the entire breadth. Would be minimum 8 million tons of capacity floating out there.

Some miles before Port Hedland I heard a ping, then the main yard clanged against the mast. The yard hauling parrel was no longer connected as the little stainless saddle had pulled from the yard. I had used aluminium rivets, cheap me, monel would be doing it properly. I told Susie aluminium rivets were a tenth of the price of monel, so she asked how much monel rivets were. A dollar each, so..  “You skimped for two dollars?!” Umm.. yeah.  I made a temporary lashing to get us through, which was quick and easy. In fact a lashing would be more permanent solution as the current trend is, set by offshore racing yachts, is for webbing and high tech ropes like Dyneema and Spectra are replacing stainless steel fittings. So now the yard parrel block is lashed with a piece of 4mm Dyneema cord, that stuff has no stretch and a breaking strain of over a ton. Sounds enough to me.

That afternoon we made our 40 miles to anchor at Spit Point. The distance as the crow flies is 29 miles, but the zig zag at midday during the two hour stint by the easterlies had us going the wrong way.

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